The city-state of Halerode lies on an island southwest of Telma, about a month's journey by ship from the port of Estelee-By-The-Sea. Halerode is known primarily for it's fine artists, and as an excellent tourist destination for the wealthy. They are governed by a matriarchal lineage of Sultanas, who spend their lives shrouded behind veils and screens after their coronation. The current Sultana of Halerode is Cinoli lyn'Nyso, daughter of the late Sultana, Isytha lyn'Nyso.
The date of Halerode's founding is unclear, as none of the early settlers could read or write. The earliest record comes from 5000 years before the fall of the Elven Empire, when a slave, being interrogated on his missing wife and children, said under torture they had been taken to Halerode. The elves searched unsuccessfully for this mythical place until they gave it up as a 'slave's fancy'. Lo and behold, after the empires fell, some ex-slaves took out following the directions of their legends, and found a flourishing, and welcoming, civilization of ex-slaves and their descendants, ruled over by a mysterious Sultana. Since, Halerode has been considered to be on the cutting edge of art and fashion, though some find their matriarchal leanings 'backwards'.
Halerodian culture revolves around the worship of beauty. Inscribed at the foot of the statue of the first Sultana in the Plaza of Stars are the words "Mono no Aware" which roughly translates to "Beauty is precious because it is fleeting." Many masters of their crafts lust after the most prestigious award they can receive, the Sultana's Invitation, which invites them to move to the city-state, and receive a monthly salary to live there, so long as they 'produce works of great beauty, teach others their craft, and enjoy their twilight years'.
All crafters living in Halerode pay no taxes, be they painters, sculptors, cobblers, or butchers, however, Halerode HEAVILY taxes all exports, ensuring the city can stay afloat, financially. Due to the exquisite beauty with which even the very paving stones of the city are crafted, people come from far and wide, happy to pay the fees for the exclusivity of the goods.
Halerode is also noted for it's class based naming system:
|lyn||denotes blood descent from a Sultana. most of the nobility has lyn' at this point.|
|val||esteemed or respected. lesser nobility, or someone who has performed a great service for the Sultana.|
|cyn||a master craftsman or craftswoman, who has received a Sultana's Invitation.|
|sil||Educated woman, craftswoman in her own right.|
|del||Educated man, craftsman in his own right.|
|en||Slave who has bought their freedom, or had it gifted to them|
|eth||currently enslaved, uses the family name of their master's house|
*more will be added as they are introduced in game.
Slavery is a very important part of Halerodian culture. They firmly believe that all people have come from slaves, and must never forget that. As such, all children begin their lives enslaved to their parents. Their parents may buy and sell their children, swapping them among parents, until everyone is happy with what they have, or the child reaches ten years of age.
At ten, all children (save those in the Sultana's immediate family) are sold by their parents, to someone they believe is qualified to teach them to serve in whatever capacity the parents have decided. They spend seven years enslaved to this master, with the last year being dedicated to their 'great project'. This project is a demonstration of everything they have learned. Provided this meets the rigorous standards of the associated guild or overseeing body, the slave is then freed, and given a surname prefix that indicates their status. For those who engage in crafts, this is del' or sil'.
This does not, of course, mean that there are other types of slavery practiced in Halerode. Some slaves are sold for life to pay off certain debts owed by their parents or masters. Others will enslave themselves for a period of time to learn a new skill, or to stay close to someone they love or care about. Many nobles in Halerode will buy young orphans under 10, and keep them until they come of age, then sell them to themselves to become part of their harem.
Slaves under Halerodian law have considerably more rights than slaves in other countries. Some examples are, as follows:
- No one save a slave's master may strike them at any time. This means the master cannot even hire someone else to do it.
- A slave who is unhappy with their lot in life may petition the Office of the Sultana to force their sale. Their master is then forced to auction them off to the highest bidder. This is often done when children's parents pick a trade for them that they do not enjoy.
- No one below the rank of cyn' may involve themselves sexually with a slave without that slave's consent.
- A slave may not be removed from their Master's property without his consent.
- A slave between the ages of 10 and 17 may not be sold without the slave's consent.
- A slave who finishes their service but does not meet with their overseeing body's standards, is given the prefix en', but may choose to re-enslave themselves to continue learning. This is very common in trades that take more than seven years to master.
The Sultana Edit
Halerode is ruled over primarily by the Sultana, who is an absolute monarch of the islands. However, she is often advised by the nobility, who come before her to make known their opinions on pressing matters. All Sultanas have remained veiled and hidden away, since Halerode began to record their own history. After her coronation, the Sultana will sit for a single portrait, and then she will be publically veiled, and never show her face again. The reason for this is to 'preserve the image of the exultant Sultana's beauty in the eyes of her people'. The only ones who see her without the veils are her immediate family and servants. Most Sultana's have a handful of daughters, and the oldest usually succeeds her, though it is up to the sitting Sultana if she would like to name another as her heir.