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Helskir (Kingdom of)
Location: Northern tip of the Isle of Dawn, north of Westrourke and northwest of the province of Dunadale.
Area: 28,932 sq. mi.
Languages: Thyatian Common (Redstone dialect), Alphatian Common (East Portage dialect).
Coinage: Thyatian Standard: Emperor (pp), lucin (gp), asterius (sp), denarius (cp). Alphatian coins are also very common: Crown (gp), mirror (sp), judge (cp).
Taxes: 20% income tax, collected 4 times a year (Va. 1, Ya. 1, Fy. 3, and Ei. 1). 5% sales tax on all items except food and clothing.
Government Type: Independent Monarchy with formality ties to the Empire of Thyatis.
Industries: Trade and fishing.
Important Figures: Eruul Zaar (King, human, male, F18), Asteriela Torion (Queen, human, female, M12).
Flora and Fauna: Standard for its climate, notably herds of sheep and goats. Dangerous monsters include goblinoids and bandits that are common throughout the Isle of Dawn. Giant lizards and other unknown monsters inhabit the Demeran Moor.
Further Reading: M5 - Talons of Night, Dawn of the Emperors boxed Set, AC1010 - Poor Wizard's Almanac to AC1012 - Poor Wizard's Almanac 3.
Description: by Titia Solenius
Helskir was the first independent kingdom to be accepted into the Empire of Thyatis. As such, the king and queen of the land have absolute control over the laws, even to the point where they can overrule any Thyatian Imperial Law. In fact, the nation doesn't even pay any taxes to the Empire, nor must it provide military troops for the Legion. In all respects, it is an independent nation with only formal ties to the Empire. Only if the Emperor himself declares war on another nation must Helskir participate in Imperial politics and send its troops out with the Legion.
Helskir has its own armies and navies, yet the Legion is also present in this nation. A Helskan officer is always considered to be of higher rank than a Legionnaire, and their orders always come first. They can give us orders, yet the Legion has no say as to what the Helskan Army does. In fact, Helskir still has its own senator representing them in the Imperial Senate. Helskir is therefore independent of Thyatian orders, yet able to itself influence the orders of the Empire.
Is this in fact the start of a new age for the Empire of Thyatis? Is the chain of command among the nobility being destroyed and replaced with this new form of government? I can't help but noticing that independent kingdoms loosely allied together with an Emperor in charge of only the military and foreign affairs sounds way too much like the Empire of Alphatia. Is it a better system? I personally don't think so, as each nation has its own armies, and it makes coordinating military activities extremely difficult. Still, I'm a warrior and not a politician, so I'll let our leaders decide what will become of our Empire.
Helskir is a very small kingdom, and it only takes a couple of days to patrol the entire border. The vast majority of the northern coastal area is fertile farmlands which provides slightly more food than needed by the people of Helskir.
The southwestern borders end at Demeran's Moor. The land is often shrouded in fog, making it very dangerous to patrol. Various bandits, goblinoids, and lizard-monsters make their lairs in this swamp, and strike from their fog-hidden ambushes. In fact, many a brave Legionnaire has lost his life patrolling that area.
The southeastern borders of the land are much more rocky and unsuitable for farming. This is were the Helskans herd their goats. Further past the border into Dunadale, the land rises higher and higher until it finally drops several hundred meters and the Herdane Escarpment. This natural feature is in fact clearly within the borders of Dunadale, patrols of Helskir often go as far as the Escarpment. Another one of their "enter Thyatian territory with impunity but we follow their orders" advantages. I'll never understand nobles and politicians.
The city of Helskir itself is rapidly growing. New city walls have been built to better defend the thriving community, and Helskir is becoming one of the major trade centres of this region of the world. Strategic buildings also have a wooden palisade protecting them. Helskir has a deep harbour which can dock many ships at once, a fact that has helped them achieve their trade market dominance.
Like most Isle of Dawners, Helskans have learned to ignore most rulers and simply get on with their lives. In fact, Helskir has changed from Thyatian to Alphatian rulership and vice-versa so many times that Helskans have lost count. Strangely enough, regardless of which Empire Helskir has belonged to, Eruul Zaar has always been the ruler of this town.
Helskians are of Alphatian descent, but have abandoned all ties to the Empire of Alphatia. Until recently, many feared that Helskir would be the first place to be destroyed should the two empires go to war. In fact, this has been the only city spared from the famous Wrath of the Immortals and the aftermath that followed. This is another reason their economy is prospering. Helskans now look forward to a bright future.
Helskir is a young nation. Just over 40 years ago, Helskir was nothing more than a simple fishing village. In fact, Eruul Zaar himself founded the village and brought it to the predominance it has today. When the fishing trade started to become lucrative, both the Empires of Thyatis and Alphatia began to take interest in the town, and both have claimed it numerous times. Eruul Zaar remained independent from both, yet claimed to follow whoever was in charge. He had the armies fight for rulership outside of town and declared that he would dutifully follow whoever won the battle. Hence, whenever Helskir changed empires, Zaar still remained the ruler of the town. On many occasions, especially when the Alphatians and Thyatians almost wiped each other out, Zaar even went so far as declaring Helskir independent from both Empires. With all this shuffling around and battles for the small town, it is no wonder that most Helskans feared the future.
In AC 994, Helskir served as the neutral meeting grounds to discuss future expansions for both Empires. Hotly contested were the lands of Norwold, recently granted [that is, in AC 990. Ed.] to Ericall, son of Empress Eriadna of Alphatia. In fact, Emperor Thincol and Empress Eriadna themselves both appeared at this meeting, only to be kidnapped by forces of Alphaks. Brave adventurers rescued the two rulers in a heroic quest onto the Great Escarpment where they faced the intelligent spiders that are now plaguing the southern Isle of Dawn once more [this heroic quest is often told by bards; just ask them to tell you about the M5 - Talons of Night adventure. Ed.]. In the end, King Ericall retained his title over Norwold.
In AC 1008, during the heat of the battle for the Isle of Dawn, Eruul Zaar married Asteriela Torion, daughter of the Emperor of Thyatis, and was declared king of Helskir by the Empress of Alphatia. Thyatis was forced to recognise the kingship in AC 1009 when it signed a peace treaty with Alphatia, shortly before the Immortals sank their continent.
Helskir remained independent until AC 1012, when it voluntarily joined the Empire of Thyatis in fear of an invasion from Thothia. Emperor Eusebius agreed that the ties between Helskir and Thyatis would be mere formalities and that Helskir would in fact remain an independent nation with the protection of the Empire. Thothia never did invade, and peace was re-established with the Isle of Dawn Treaty that same year.
There is not much to see in Helskir proper, except for the lighthouse which guides ships to the safe deep-water harbour. This building is a good 15 stories in height, and its base must be at least 15 meters. A huge magical fire lights the top of this tower, and this reportedly allows ships to spot it from at least 150 kilometres (100 miles) away. In fact, this is the biggest lighthouse known in the world. Luckily, mirrors aim the light toward the sea, otherwise people would hardly be able to sleep during the night.
The market of Helskir is also a popular place for off-duty Legionnaires. Here, they can find trinkets from all around the world. In fact, any ship that has sailed the Alphatian Sea of Sea of Dawn has probably stopped in Helskir at one point. Although Thyatian coins are the standard for this kingdom, coins from any nation are accepted by most merchants from the market of Helskir.