The kingdom of Halta exists in the Northeast within the large redwood forest that dominates the area. It is connected by several river tributaries to the rest of The Scavenger Lands, including the city of Nexus.
The Haltans have long been at war with the Linowan, a group of plains-dwellers that live to the west of Halta. This is a brutal and long-standing war that has involved both the Realm (on the side of Linowan) and the powerful Solar known as the Bull of the North (on the side of the Haltans).
Haltan settlements are built in the trees. The reason for dwelling within the trees is due mainly to ancient pacts with the Fair Folk. The Haltans are safe from raid and attack by the Fair Folk so long as they remain in the trees. Should they touch the ground, however, the Haltans (or visitors to Halta) become fair game and the Haltans cannot retaliate against the Fair Folk in this case. The reverse also holds true. Haltans cannot attack Fair Folk on the ground, but if one of the fae enters the trees, they are bound by Haltan law.
As a result of this pact, the Haltans have adapted over the centuries to living within the trees. A common spice, known as Monkey Tea, that is used to flavor nearly all Haltan dishes and is also drunk on a regular basis by Haltans, have given nearly every Haltan citizen, and anyone that spends a large amount of time in Halta, more flexibility than other humans and human-like beings. Their toes are more prehenstile (helping to grip tree branches and the like) and they tend to be double or triple jointed, and cases of arthritis in Halta are extremely rare. Monkey Tea is even shipped abroad, and is favored in some Nexus brothels to keep their prostitutes more nimble and flexible, capable of performing complex positions.
Layout of the Cities
Haltan cities are sculpted from both living wood and dead wood by special arboreal sorceries. Most cities contain several dozen platforms, formed by woven living tree branches and supported by ironwood (see below) or sturdy peices of dead wood trimmed from living trees. Roofs of structures are similar, being made of hundreds of living wood branches woven together. Depending on size, a living platform can hold dozens of houses, shops and businesses and often connect two or more redwoods into one large community. The living platforms are warded by magics against fire and decay.
Some of the redwood trees that communities are built on (and communities are only built on redwood trees) have hollows in the upper portions of the trees. These hollows make confortable living spaces for the rich and prosperous.
Most communities have six to a dozen different levels, with counter-weight elevators that carry citizens from one level to the next. Some communities, like Chanta, have taken a few First Age elevator tubes, taken from the ruins of one of the three known First Age city ruins, that operate by themselves.
Haltans are capable of mass producing popular books, as they print using carved wooden blocks. Most people own one or two books, and most are at least somewhat literate. The Haltans have also learned to grow and harvest a special luminescent fungus to provide lite in Haltan cities and towns. This fungus is known as a glow-pod. Specially-grown vines can be tapped to provide water for communities not built on rivers.
Travel between communities is done over huge branches, connected by wooden bridges when necessary. Because it is so difficult to ride mounts on these branches, almost all travel is done by foot. Travellers can generally get in a good 20 miles of travel per day. Close to settlements, the branches are kept mostly free of debris, but the forest is large, and travellers who are away from settlements generally have to clear off their path while travelling. In the more populated western areas of Halta, settlements are generally no more than 2 1/2 weeks from one another.
Metal is somewhat-scarce in Halta, though wood is plentiful. Many tools are made from ironwood, imported from the southern areas of Halta. This wood is magically treated to be as hard as iron or steel.
The forests of Halta are plentiful, and food is not scarce. Because the forest is so large, and food is so plentiful, there are no farms in Halta; the surrounding forest can easily provide for even a large city such as Chalta. Plants of all sorts, both mundane and magically altered, are common and less expensive in Halta than in much of the rest of Creation. Messages can even be sent by attaching them to large seeds that float on essence currents between villages.
Never touch the ground unless you want to face the wrath and devious desire of the fae. Treaties between the Fae and Haltans have secured the trees as the only zone of safety for living. There are disputed areas of open warfare outside of the protectorate of these treaties.
Beasts and Animals
Animals hold a special place in Halta, and Haltans are widely known for their pets and domesticated animals like giant wolf spiders and strix. Animals, such as strix and forest baboons, perform much of the simple manual labor in Halta. Trained animals harfest food, carry messages, stoke forge fires, clean and so on. Some animals are smarter even that trained animals, as smart as a human child, and are called san-beasts (for example, san-forest baboon or san-strix). Both mundane animals and san-beasts are considered property in Halta. Almost every Haltan has a pet, and most have several. Food animals have no san-beasts, and eating a san-beast is considered only slightly less distasteful than cannibalism.
Thanks to First Age sorcery, even more intelligent beasts, called ata-beasts (ata-forest baboon, etc) live among the Haltans. These creatures are as intelligent as the Haltans around them and can even speak and understand human speech with perfect clarity. These ata-beasts are treated as citizens and are given the same rights and priviledges in Haltan communities.
Religiously, the Haltans are very open-minded, worshipping a plethora of forest gods and not looking down upon the so-called “anathema” that are the Solar and Lunar Exalted. The Shaman-Priests of Halta expect everyone to worship at least some of the many forest gods, though ancestor cults, cults dedicated to the Celestial Exalted or even the worship of the Dragon-Blooded are permitted, but anyone who does not openly revere the gods of the forest tend to be both highly suspicious and potentially treasonous.
Common gods include Caltia the Eternal, Yesryk the Hawk God, animal avatars of serpents and monkyes, the local forest walkers (the most powerful of whic is Glorious Jade Branch, the god of the entire Haltan forest) and the dryads of the trees that form an intrigal part of the worshipers’ homes. Most Haltans deeply love their forest, and their worship is sincere and universal.
Cities of Halta
Chanta is the capital city of Halta, and the city in which the game initially takes place. The arboreal city of Chanta is the largest city in the Haltan Republic and one of the wonders of the Threshold. In addition to being the capital of Halta, Chanta is also the center of Haltan life and cluture—it is the residence of the Haltan queen, Chaltra Evamal, and the meeting place for the Council of Nobles. Many of the finest craftsmen live here and allthough it is far from any ofHalta’s borders, its location on one of the larger rivers means that it has access to imported goods from all over Creation. Chantra is also a center of Haltan military activity and the location of the Varigeth Military Academy, where Haltan commandos receive specialized training.
Chanta has a population of over a million people, and they reside in the trunks and on the branches of hundreds of huge redwoods that are all at lest 300 feet tall and 30 feet in diameter. The weathiest residents live within the naturally hollow upper portions of some of hte trees. However, most Haltans live and work on the large platforms that are either anchored to the trunk of one tree and supported by two or more branches or that stretch between several of the forest’s closely spaced trees. The largest of these platforms are almost 1,000 feet across. Chanta consists of many thousands of these platforms
Other Haltan Cities of Import
Kajeth—Kajeth is located on the headwaters of the Rock River at the souther nedge of the Great Redwood Forest. Much of Kajeth sits in the branches, but the foreigners’ quarter rests entirely on the ground; the treaty with the Fair Folk does not extend this far south and mortals may safely walk upon the ground. Kajeth is a trade city.
Resplendent Peak—Resplendent Peak is the northernmost Haltan settlement, and center for trade with the Haslanti, icewalkers and elk beastmen. Many visitors to Resplendent Peak arrive by air, and the city contains a mooring mast for Haslanti airboats. Like Kajeth, Resplendent Peak is a trade city.
Sal-Maneth—Sal-Maneth is a floating city, a ruin of the First Age, many of its’ towers laying on the ground or still floating but twisted and ruined. Of the intact towers, nearly a third remain sealed. It is home to about 100 scholars, several madmen and damngerous beasts.