The Kingdom of Hala

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Sovereign Kingdom of the Knights of Hala

Region: Caelea

Common Name: Hala

Government: Military Dictatorship under the Knights of Hala

Ruling Bodies: The Soverign Council of the Knights of Hala

Current Rulers: High Lords Rasheed bin-Said (Human male Psychic Warrior 15), Abdullah al-Rashied (Xeph male Paladin 13), Martin Lucias (Human male Fighter 14), Fatima abd-al-Malik (Human female Paladin 10), Duncan Jargen (Dwarf male Fighter 9)

Economic Type: Merchantilism

Currency: Halashi Dinar 

Area: 2,800 sq. miles

Population: 1,131,480

Demographics: 59% Human, 18% Xeph, 8% Gnome, 6% Half-giant, 4% Kith, 3% Skarn, 1.4% Ilumian, 0.3% Halfling, 0.2% Kobold, 0.1% Other (Dwarf, Half-elf, Spellscale)

Capitol/Largest City: Raslokk (122,000)

Official Religion: The Imperial Church has the largest base of support, enforced by the Knights of Hala, though the Church of Qalitz and several smaller churches do have their followers on the island nation

Major Languages: Halic is the predominate language of the nation

Symbol: A gold moon on a green field






The Sovereign Republic of Hala is an archipelago of several islands located in the center of the Iren Sea. It has long been a center of trade, commerce and diplomacy for nations that bordered on the Iren and Vathian seas, once the center of Human culture in Caelea. For much of it's history, trade on the isle became controlled by several powerful local barons, who became the Trade Princes of Hala. Under their reign, corruption flourished, and the garish opulence of the noble manors on the mountainsides gleamed in stark contrast to the squalor of the serfs who lived in valleys. A little over a century ago, under orders from the Imperial Church to seize a foothold against advances made by the Qalic church, the Knights of the Temple staged a brilliant coup to become the new rulers of the Halashi. Banishing the Princes into exile, the re-branded Knights of Hala seized control of the isle, to the delight of Caelea, but much to cargin of both Stillia-Portoro and Qalitz. The isles have experienced explosive growth since then, and now are home to nearly a million citizens, and it's clean, orderly streets reflect the prosperity of the average citizen. However, despite the best efforts of the Knights (or maybe because of them), corruption and decadence still flourish, in the back rooms and alleyways of the cities. Thus, though Hala is not unknown, uncharted, or forgotten, it has more secrets, lies, and mysteries than any one nation is wont to have.


Geography of Hala


Hala is composed of five main islands, six smaller ones, and a good dozen minor cays. The major islands from north to south are Cedeq, Zawduna, Hala, Ghedex and Corzo. The islands are mountainous, proving an indented coastline with numerous bays and natural harbor's, the most famous being Raslokk's winding bay. Though largely arid, the eastern regions have fertile soil, and can support significant agricultural activity. In the past, this was what made Hala a popular stoping-point on voyages, but now it can't even feed the ballooning population of it's cities, relying increasingly on imports of grain, fruits, and cattle. However, in certain metropoli, or districts, the terraced farms are still common, and local cuisine is considered a delicacy to those who can afford it.


The dominant features of the islands, however, is not natural but man-made. The metropolis of Zantos Xulien-Raslokk covers a third of Hala, and has a population in the hundreds of thousands, while it's neighbor, Xygarz-Gotano now borders on half that. The area bordering upon the Strait of Tuzan consists of literally mile upon mile of city-scape, townhouses taking the place of trees, cobblestone roads the place of streams. Under the earth, in the place of the underdark, runs an extensive, magically-maintained sewer system. Above circle the endless flocks of gulls and other seabirds, who feast off the mounds of refuse generated by the cities and artfully dodge the gnomish sky-trains that rattle along tracks above the largest of the cities.




The climate is largely Mediterranean, with mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers. Normally, crops can be grown year-round, though on occasion a particularly nasty cold snap in the middle of winter can destroy a harvest. Normally, however, plant growth is restricted not by temperature, but by rainfall, and summer droughts have caused more crop failures than frosts ever will. Still, despite the normally pleasant climate of the isles, late winter and early spring windstorms bring cold northern winds to the islands, causing residents to moan about the cool temperatures for hours on end.


Watter is of greatest concern for Hala. A few rivers run through the isles from the higher mountains, but these have recently begun to run dry in the summer months, their springs taxed to the limit. In contrast to the aridity of summer, however, in winter rainfall (and even snowfall at the higher altitudes) is abundant, and a vast majority of this downpour is runoff, turning streets into streams and the normally tame rivers into swelling monsters. Flooding has been a problem, and an intricate series of dikes protect some of the more upscale neighborhoods from these threats. An ingenious system of reservoirs have been set up in recent years, trapping some of this water underground to be used in later months. Still, nearly 90% of the water used by the cities is produced through magic, and the kingdom employs a small army of adepts to produce and maintain the arcane fountains that provide most of the populace with their share of the vital liquid.


Average temperature ranges from lows of about +3C in the winter, to highs of around +30C in the summer.




Though much of Hala is covered with cobblestone and brick, there are still places where the natural flora of Hala thrives. On some of the smaller, less inhabited isles (Ghedex is a prime example), tall shrubs such as juniper, sage, myrtle and holm oak are the norm, while lavender, rosemary, thyme, heather, heath, mesquite, sagebrush, and gorse can also be found. Occasional taller trees, such as cedars, pines or furs, dot the landscape, but most of the plants do not grow taller that 4 meters. Palms can be found along the seashore on some of the smaller islands, or planted along boulevards in the cities.




Most indigenous species to the isle have found themselves crowded out, replaced by humanoids and domesticated animals. Now, it is far more common to see cows, pigs, cats and dogs then it is to see any of the native species. Still, some species have found a new niche, and can still be found in the rural regions of the isles, not exactly thriving but continuing to survive.


Many of the native species are either birds or sea mammals. Halashi monk seals sun along the rocky coast, while tazani dolphins are a common sight further out to sea. Terns and gulls thrive in the cities, while vultures rule the countryside. Several species of amphibians and reptiles, such as the spined viper and the cedeqi salamander, can still be found in the mountain scrubland, while a a particularly hardy breed of wild sheep can be found grazing on the southern slopes of Hala. Other native species include the southern elf-eared bat, spiny shrews, southern rock monitors, blue-headed snakes, five-horned lizards, and cedeqi toads.


Political Structure of Hala


The Sovereign Kingdom of Hala really isn't a kingdom at all, it is more a military dictatorship with several features of a theocracy. The Knights of Hala are the self-appointed protectors of the isles, and rule them with a stern, yet often fair, hand. Lead by the Sovereign Council that meets in The Citadel of the Cross, at the mouth of Raslokk's harbor, while local leadership is carried out by appointed Grand Officers and Colonels.


Previously, Hala was divided up into several dozen duchies, counties and baronies, but the Knights have consolidated these noble holdings into 27 separate metropoli, that function much as provinces in terms of sovereignty and responsibilities.


The Knights serve not only as the executive branch of government, but as the legislative and judicial as well, in addition to proving military services and law enforcement. Those wishing to join the knights must prove their worth to a ranking member first, and hope to be invited to join the order. The knights police themselves, but so far have not fallen too far into corruption and abuse of power, as the more virtuous members still hold a great deal of influence.


Despite the best efforts of the Knights, however, their control is far from absolute. Minor nobles still control a significant portion of the isles, through their considerable wealth, while the Church of Cael seeks to subvert the Knight's rule, slowly subverting their allies rule and replacing the knightly institutions with clerical ones. In addition, the descendants of the exiled Princes eagerly plot to return, hoping to take back their forefather's rightful positions, and foreign nations seek to wrest the isle from the Knights, as those that control the isle control one of the richest and most profitable trade routes in the world. Numerous other organizations or individuals also desire to control the island, from elder dragons to adventurers, to nationalist reformers. However, this diversity of opposition is likely what saves the Knight's rule...most would rather keep the isles stable under the nights then risk having the islands fall to another organization or into war.



Peoples of Hala


The Halashi


Though not the first inhabitants of the isle, the Halashi humans have lived on Hala for the past thousand years, having settled on the uninhabited isles as part of human expansion. The Halashi are a short, olive skinned race of people whose defining traits include tick eyebrows, large hazel or dark blue eyes, and slim shoulders. Halashi hair tends to dark brown or black, and is usually fairly curly.


As Hala is an extremely rich nation, even the poor try to keep up with the shifting fashions of the nations. Currently, a long, loose white cotton pair of tunic and hose for men or a dress of similar length for women, both accented by an elaborate vest and waist-sash are in fashion at the moment. Head scarves and loose turbans are traditional wear among the Halashi, and despite the changing fashions, some variation of these coverings are always part of their wardrobe. Also omnipresent is the curved sheath of the syktall, the curved and serated dagger that is the favored weapon of the Halashi.


The Halashi are a brutally deceptive people. It has been said the day a Halashi says what they actually mean is the day devils and demons make peace. Indeed, most Halashi sleep with their syktalls under their pillows, and children are taught the skills of lying and deceit from a young age. Bribery and extortion is common, as is blackmail and other more refined forms of corruption. However, despite assumptions by outsiders that this would lead to anarchy and chaos, the Halashi are able to maintain a fairly stable society, as they can always trust one another to do what is best for themselves.


Though much diminished since the rise of the Knights, the Halashi nobility is still influential, though their power comes more from their money and ownership of businesses and trading companies than from military or political power. The middle class among the Halashi is extremely large, and many of the city dwellers may make more in a single season than someone in a similar station on the mainland could make in a year. Even the common laborers: the dock hands, carpenters, and farmers, make considerable profit, and are able to maintain an decent standard of living.



The Knights of Hala


An militant order devoted to a god of law and honor, Cael the God-Emperor, the Knights of Hala, formerly the Knights of the Temple, are the most recent of Hala's myriad of rulers. Seizing the isle from the corrupt Princes a century ago, the Knights were charged by the Imperial Church to protect and govern the isles, as a neutral party not interested in land or profit. The Knights have taken this mandate to heart, and have transformed themselves from an order of crusaders, to a combination city watch, navy, and bureaucracy.


In comparison to the vibrant colors of the native Halashi, the Knights wear a more subdued wardrobe. The standard-issue uniform for the knights is a chain shirt, leather braces, and a red tabard marked with gold and white embroidery to form a set of Borromean rings. The standard weapon of the Knights is a long spear or pike, though they are also given a short sword and light crossbow to round out their arsenal.


The Knights draw their recruits from around the world, and their members can range from fair-haired northerners to the pale elves to the swarthy xephs. However, they carry themselves with a certain manner of dignity and honor that other foreigners tend to lack. Most Knights are fairly pious individuals, and see themselves preforming the the Living Emperor's acts on the isles by protecting the Caelean Halashi from foreign influences, and helping the spread of faith to foreign lands. Most are not blind zealots however, and are worldly enough to understand that controlling these isles is not only important for spreading the faith, but also for ensuring peace and stability for their homelands. On a whole, the Knights are an honorable and just organization that does its best to maintain law and order on the isles, and despite grumblings from the locals, most will admit that their lives are better under the knights than they were under previous rulers.





Making up two thirds the population of the isles, and coming in every stripe imaginable, the foreigners residing on Hala make the island the most diverse city the world over. Dozens of races, from drow to half-dragons to gnomes to orcs even stranger creatures can be found carousing Hala's streets, and a hundred different languages and dialects can be heard spoken amongst the stalls and businesses. The churches, temples and shrines to their many gods can be found here, vying for both followers and influence. Ships from across the world dock in the harbors, trading for goods from lands on the far side of the sea, and supplying the residents of the isle with their lifeblood. It is impossible to place a concrete number on the foreigners, as many of them are transient, visiting the isle for a few weeks to several months before moving on, but there is a significant portion who have made their homes in the metropoli, adding their own customs and traditions to the already diverse patchwork of Hala.





Though the Halashi do indeed have their own traditional cuisine, it is now only a small part of their own diet, their selection in foodstuffs having increased exponentially over the past century. Many Halashi now enjoy foreign foods as a regular part of their diet, just as foreigners enjoy sampling the local cuisine in Hala's many restaurants and taverns. Much of Hala's foods are imported, as there is no way for the islands to support even a hundred thousand people, let alone a million, and so a varied diet is necessary just to survive on the isles. Fresh fruit is rare, and meet is rather expensive, turning many towards the consumption of dried fruits and seafood, the latter of which Hala has in abundance. Both pastas and wines are staples of a Halashi diet, and though pasta dishes are the most common, both rice and cornmeal have begun to be used in local cuisine. Thanks to it's position on a major trade route, Hala has access to more than it's fare share of spices, and much of Hala's distinctive cuisine comes from unusual combinations of these spices.




The Knucklebones


The largest criminal syndicate on the isles, the Knucklebones' members number well over a thousand thieves, cutthroats, prostitutes, beggars, information dealers, drug dealers, pirates, bruisers, slavers, blackmailers, and hired muscles. The Knucklebones, or Thaga il-Bakim as they are known in Halic, rule the city's underworld, and have considerable influence on the more legitimate aspects of Halashi life, as many barons, merchants and more then a few grand officers have been bought by the sprawling thieves guild. Though the Knights of Hala rule the city by day, once the sun has set it is the Knucklebones who are the true power in the city, and decisions made small, walled enclave in Cdina that serves as their central authority affect the daily lives of the citizens almost as much as those made in the Citadel of the Cross.


All members of the guild are trained in stealth, combat, and information gathering. In fact it is from the later that the guild gains most of it's money from, as thanks to their training they posses eyes on every street corner, and even the 'beggars' are on the lookout for scraps of information. Indeed, 'beggars' must be put in quotations, as many of the beggars in the streets of Hala are rich men in their off hours, being paid healthy sums by the guild to dress in rags and sit in the gutter, begging for charity one day, and carouse with nobles in their finest livery the next. Furthermore, the Knuckebones have a stranglehold on the isle's bustling, if illegal, slave trade, which they run out of the many warehouses and taverns they own along the docks. Nearly a hundred slaves pass though Hala a month, their lives and freedoms being traded by others in exchange for gold, and the Knucklebones are not hesitant to add those who pry to closely into their activities to that number.


The syndicate is run much like a mockery of the Sovereign Council, with the six 'Dukes' of the Second Council meeting regularly to evaluate current activities and finances and plan future endeavors. The six dukes are currently Sael il-Basari (Human male rogue 15), Mehmet Itmad (Xeph male urban ranger 13), Jerome Thaedon (Human male wizard (necromancer) 12), Dallah Kargan (Half-Orc female fighter 12), Ordun Rudel (Dwarf male expert 10), and Faiza Hussein (Xeph female bard 10). Each of the six masters controls a certain region (Cedeq Nota and Aests Nota, Cedeq Ante, Zawduna and Jorda Kavano, Hala Dargo, Hala Omdar, and Hala Ante and Aests Ante) and has numerous 'ministers' who serve under them and run the day-to-day activites in the various guild buisnesses. Appointments to the Second Council are for life or until one chooses to resign, upon which the remaining members of the council will elect one of their subordinates to become a Duke and join them at the table. The remainder of the membership of spread throughout the isles, reporting to the various guildhalls sporadically. Most Knuclebones are native Halashi, and blend right in with the native population, those there is a small but growing number of foreigners among their number, and two of them have even made their way to the Second Council (Dukes Thaedon and Rudel).


However, despite it's initial appearances, the Second Council is not the true seat of power for the Knucklebones. Unbeknownst to all but the dukes themselves, the syndicate is run from the shadows by Baron Assif il-Zoddena, a former Merchant Prince of Hala. However, unlike most of fellows, Baron il-Zoddena did not leave the isle. Instead, he hid himself and his fortunes in the caves that line the mountains of his former barony. And there he waited and watched. When it became obvious to him that the Knights would not fall in his lifetime, the Baron, being a fairly formidable wizard, made the transition to undeath and lichhood. Now nearly 170 years of age, the Baron (Human male lich wizard 18) directly controls the organization he founded using the fortunes of his barony to slowly eat away at the knights and their rival organizations. He makes use of a rather large network of undead of both the intelligent and unintelligent varieties, to bring to heel many powerful merchants and officers who are too moral to be bought out. Furthermore, the Baron is the one responsible for the packs of undead that crawl through the sewers of the city, and take up much of the Knights time and attention. Just another of his plot to topple the Knights and seize control of the isles he one ruled.

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