capital of the Haslanti League. For merchants from more civilized nations from the South, the East or the Realm, the city seems considerably more barbaric and savage than anything they are used to. For the Haslanti themselves, the city seems more soft and easy than they would like. Outlying peoples feel Icehome may have played out its usefulness as a center of trade and government within the League and its population should be disbanded.
ICEHOME GREENFIELD Edit
Icehome Greenfield is the largest in the League, and it supports a population of slightly more than 250,000 persons, of whom more than 100,000 live within or within sight of the capital city’s walls. About 100 miles long and averaging 32 miles wide, the greenfield is walled in by cliffs more than 100 feet high. A black, slush-filled river flows sluggishly through the center of the greenfield, irrigating fields and orchards; numerous canals also crisscross the land, to supply managed forests with moisture and ease transportation. Ice-skating contests running several miles in length are common in winter.
Numerous towns and villages dot the landscape, appearing to travelers first as a pillar of thin smoke rising into the sky and then as a squat, close group of low houses within a strong wall. Gravel roads bordered by walls of black stones join villages to towns across the fields. Typical family compounds are laid out in a regular L-shape, with a whitewashed summer house, containing workshops and large summer quarters on one wing of the L, a barn for animals and provisions on the other and a two-story winter house with a kitchen on the first floor at the corner.
Usually two such houses will share a courtyard, though occasionally four do.
ICEHOME THE CITY Edit
The capital city itself stands in the lee of the black rock outcrop called Citadel Rock, just to the west of a broad harbor. The city’s three main districts — the Old Market, the Artisans’ Precinct and the Orchard Quarter — all lie to the south of the Citadel. Sixty-foot-high walls with 80-foot towers encircle the districts and join with the cyclopean blocks of the Citadel’s bastions. The surrounding territory is divided into fields, managed forests and small farms, while the cliff walls overshadowing the city are mined for building stone and small amounts of iron. To the east of the city and outside the walls lie the docks, where new iceships are constructed and iceholts tie up in winter.
THE DOCKS Edit
Seven fingers of granite extend into the frozen harbor of black ice. Five hundred vessels ranging from day skaters to 100-foot-long iceholts can crowd in for winter. From Ascending Air to Resplendent Water, men can cross the harbor, stepping deck to deck. On shore, between the corniche and the city wall, lies a rough-and-tumble collection of houses and shops. Some are old-style Haslanti longhouses, while others are Outwall-style aghars of reindeer bones and hides. More stone and brick structures rise here every year: warehouses for Haslanti traders, foreign merchants and Guild caravans who have neither the prestige nor legal right to own land within the walls. The Docks District’s streets are mud and frozen slush in spring and summer and muddied snow in winter.
Loosely, the district is separated into three bands. The northernmost region holds ship construction and warehouses, along the main road from the corniche to the city wall echoes the noise of taverns, hostels, theaters and dueling and the south holds the most odorous businesses, including the slaughtering of animals and the tanning of hides. Despite the distance, however, the smells from this district infect the nostrils of the whole city.
OLD MARKET Edit
Within the walls lies Old Market. This district, more than any other, frames reports of the League in other lands.
Here, 20 blocks of roofed arcades form a grid of “winter streets” centered around five small squares open to the sky.
On the roofs of the winter streets lies a second set of “summer streets.” These are more haphazard and wild, crossing roofs and navigating around both huts and tents.
Two-thirds of the city dwell in winter apartments here, among common rooms and halls for dances, parties and ceremonies. Socialites and traders use the winter streets only during the dark months. The rest of the time, these inhabitants prefer the summer streets, since a black market operates in the dark roads below.
Much of Old Market is built of stone and brick, with roofs of red tiles. Inside, frescoes of life on the Ice and in the emeralds adorn walls. To foreigners, Old Market feels like one of the few truly warm places in the North, while, to herdfolk, Old Market feels like a prison. Old Market thus represents the struggle in Haslanti society between old barbarian ways and the emerging new civilization.
Foreign merchants have a particularly hard time dealing with this tension. Old Market looks like a business district one might encounter in any city of the Second Age: there are shops, banks, moneychangers, caravan guards, pickpockets and courtesans. At the same time, however, violent duels occur in the broader parts of the streets and squares, and League arbitrators actually preside over these lethal contests.
THE CITADEL Edit
Rising above the rest of Icehome like a dream is the Citadel, one of the great achievements of Haslanti society. This the official residence of the Council of Oligarchs, the national temple of the League and the Ennead, the treasure house for the League’s wealth and the longhouse of the people. Built of white marble instead of the black and gray granite common to the rest of the city, the Citadel seems to be one white cloud in a sky of storm.
A cyclopean wall supports and defends the Citadel. Within, five major buildings crown the summit of Citadel Rock. The first of these is the Longhouse, which serves as the Oligarchs’ council chamber and the League’s guesthouse.
A white marble sheath shelters an inner longhouse made of wood, horn, elk hide and other traditional materials, to remind the Oligarchs of the League’s beginnings.
Ambassadors to the League sleep here their first night in the city, especially if they intend to be seen as friends.
Arranged around the Longhouse is the U-shaped House of the Oligarchs. The House holds 12 comfortable apartments joined by a gallery of glass, with meeting rooms for private consultations. Most of the Profitable Men disdain the use of these chambers for more luxurious dwellings in the city. Both the Deft Hands and the Landless Party make a point of using this house as their own, to emphasize their claims as representatives of the people.
Behind this stands the Treasury, a beehive of stone buried in the granite, with numerous galleries and chambers tunneled beneath. The Treasury is the League’s central bank and emergency fund. It contains 100 jade talents and 12,000 silver talents, as well as trophies and mementoes from Haslanti victories. Some of its galleries are open to public view. Part of the building is given over to Haslanti records, which citizens may consult at any time.
Two more buildings stand at the northernmost point of the Citadel. The larger of the two is the Pantheon of the Ennead, a greenfielder-style godhouse with doubled porches, hearth room and godroom. Decorated with gold, silver, silk wall hangings and precious stones, the Pantheon is the most luxurious temple in the League. The walls are lined with trophies from military victories; having the symbols of victories set here, rather than in the Treasury, is a symbol of great honor throughout the League.
A smaller stone building beside the Pantheon, built to resemble an overgrown aghar, is much more modest. The Tholos is home to the Haslanti’s national hearth fire, and it is the largest of eight similar structures each located in a city of the League. The Tholos is the depository for stories of heroes and their sorrows. Any song of valor or tale of epic woe spoken or sung in the Tholos echoes instantly in the other eight tholoi. In a lesser way, any story told in the other chambers will echo softly here. The Tholos is the beating heart that binds the League together — so long as tales of individuals are told here, the Haslanti will always retain some of their barbarian character. The Twisted Stone Covenant, an elaborate net of shells, beads and bones that functions as the constitution, lies hidden here.
It is brought out only on rare occasions.
THE ARTISANS’ PRECINCT Edit
Below the Citadel is the Artisan’s District. Less closely packed than the Old Market, most houses here are small compounds: a workshop and a barn or stable, a summer dwelling for guests and visitors to use in the warm months and a much smaller kitchen and winter dwelling for the cold months. Homes are packed into triangular blocks with narrow alleys between them. Icehome’s craftsmen and artists, from makers of Outwall-style tents to master armorers, live in this district. Foreigners and outsiders are rarely welcome in this part of town. In fact, ordinary citizens often challenge those they do not recognize. Traveling with a resident lessens the chance of a rude welcome.
THE ORCHARD QUARTER Edit
The Orchard Quarter is a densely packed region within the walls where there are only a few small housecompounds.
Narrow lanes and low stone walls divide the area into numerous orchards for fruit and nut trees, garden plots and meadows set with beehives. Apples, pears, walnuts and hazelnuts are the most common trees.
In summer, young boys and girls run wild here: chasing rabbits and squirrels, stalking each other and terrorizing visitors with toy spears and tiny bows with padded arrows. While the Orchard Quarter looks like the estates of the wealthy, it is instead home to specialty farmers who raise export-quality honey, fruit, cider and nuts.
children here seem to be a terrible nuisance, but the Orchard Quarter is one of the ways the Haslanti maintain their connection to their barbarian past. Although hardly a dangerous place, the trees and meadows provide a semblance of wildness in the city. Beehives and angry farmers provide mild threats. The fruit, the rabbits and the squirrels provide targets, and less-cautious visitors teach opportunism.
CHARACTER CONCEPTS FOR ICEHOME
- Warrior: Cliffguard, Warden of the Citadel
- Holy Man: Dreamseer, Roundhouse Firetender
- Savant: Genealogist, Orchardist, Soil Manager
- Criminal: House-Breaker, Dice-Tosser, Highwaywoman
- Entertainer: Tholos Singer, Street Juggler
- Bureaucrat: Arbitrator, Treasurer, Oligarch’s Secretary