City of Irillion (Hidden Valley Setting, Part VIII)
Cities and Towns in the Hidden Valley
This is a large, independent city located south of The Ring on the banks of the Long River. Irillion is currently home to some 55,000 people, barely half of its population before the Kinstrife.
Irillion was founded after the Great Exodus by more independent-minded refugees from the Sack of Girwyllan who did not like the very structured life of the Girwyllan Empire. For many years, it remained little more than a collection of hovels beside a ford on the Long River. Then the Hero Wray discovered a fortune in gems on the Shelf. Irillion grew rapidly to over 100,000 citizens. It attracted many adventures and explorers, those few of whom who survived their expeditions to the Doompit founded the great merchant houses which dominated Irillion life until the Kinstrife. The growth of the city also attracted the attention of the large orc and goblin tribes in the Outer Mountains to the north. They repeatedly tried to sack the fledgling city before being finally all but wiped out in “Bscyan’s Fist”, a great battle that was the final triumph in a 15 year war against the humanoid tribes. Irillion maintained its grandeur and power until the Kinstrife. The Great Plague introduced by the Priests of Celaeno wiped out three-quarters of the city’s population, including virtually all of the great merchant houses — and with them died the secret locations of the gem beds.
With the exception of the six-year reign of the Tyrant Mendelous a generation ago, Irillion (and the Hills of Choth and northwestern portion of Thornewood) has been ruled by a Council composed of 8 elected Aldermen and the current Guild representative and the Guard Commander, one of whom is selected by lot each New Year to serve as Mayor. One Alderman is elected each year at Midsummer for an eight-year term. Any resident of Irillion may vote by paying a 5 silver fee. In the past, each Major House (a merchant house worth more than 1 million silvers) had a representative on the Council and each Great House (a merchant house worth more than 5 million silvers) had a representative on the Council who had veto power. However, there has not been a Major House, let alone a Great House, since before the Kinstrife. The Guilds vote on their representative every third year. The Guard Commander is appointed by vote of the Council. Due to an agreement with the Sorceress Diane dating from the revolt that removed Mendelous from power, Diane has a permanent seat on the Council with veto power. She seldom attends council meetings and has only vetoed one action of the council, an exile/pardon for Mendelous.
The city of Irillion can be a dangerous place to live. Much of the city stands abandoned and empty and the city has a very narrow definition of crime. Murder, tax evasion, breach of House contract, and major theft or property damage are dealt with swiftly and surely. Most other matters are left up to the persons involved to settle as any “fair fight” resulting in death or injury will not bring criminal penalties, although duels and blood feuds are likely results. Justice is administered by ten Magistrates (two for each major portion of Irillion) appointed by the Council to ten year terms. One term expires each year and once appointed, a Magistrate may not be removed from office until his term expires. As each Magistrate is allowed to establish his own court procedures and requirements, which Magistrate hears a case can be a major factor. Cases are assigned by casting lots, but rumor says that an appropriate donation can often affect the way the lots fall. In practice, the entire system is corrupt, from the rawest recruit on the Watch to the Magistrates themselves. One gets what justice one can pay for.
Irillion is divided into five major sections (plus the large open air market): The Commons, Hightown, Old Town, Riverside, and The Warrens. Each section has its own flavor.
The Commons is an older section of Irillion, filled with small private houses, boarding houses, shops, and the occasional tavern and inn. It is also the home of most of the city’s temples and religious institutions. Of course, many of the buildings here are vacant. The Watch patrols this section once or twice a day.
Hightown is a large park-like setting dotted with the declining and abandoned multi-acre estates of Irillion’s merchant houses. Before the Kinstrife, it was beautiful and well-maintained. Now it is, for the most part, overgrown and decaying. Most of the estates were confiscated for unpaid taxes long ago and are rented out by the city to almost anyone who can afford to pay. House Eric, House Arabella, and House Norton (the three largest merchant Houses in Irillion) have directly purchased estates from the city, as has the Wizard Lyndon. The deposed Tyrant has a small estate here, watched and guarded 24 hours a day by elite members of the City Guard. The City Guard also patrols the other inhabited areas of Hightown regularly, but seldom make more than a show of patrolling the uninhabited portions.
Old Town is the commercial center of the city. Businesses ranging from the lavish on Gold Walk Way to the money changers on Coin Street to the small, packed shop/residences of the North End can be found here. Many of the buildings seem as old as the city and, like most of the rest of the city, fully 50% are vacant. It’s well-lit at night by expensive magic lamps at intervals along the major streets. Most of Irillion’s Guilds have their Guildhouses in this section of the city. Old Town is the only part of the city that is actually well-patrolled by the Watch, partly because they are paid well to do so by the Guilds and partly because the Guard Barracks are in this section of town. The Council Hall, the courthouse and the Saucy Sorceress Inn are also located in Old Town. The Saucy Sorceress is Irillion’s most popular dining establishment and its largest Inn. Due to the same agreement with the inn’s owner, the Sorceress Diane, that gives Diane a seat on the Irillion Council, Diane’s rules are the sole law on the grounds of her inn.
This section of Irillion includes the commercial docks on Long River and is mainly warehouses and businesses catering to the river boats and their crews. While the Watch makes its presence felt in this section, they mainly patrol the warehouse areas and leave the sailors and other river rats to their own devices — unless called in because a major crime has been committed and reported. The area around the southern outer gate is the low rent district: mainly tenements and seedier businesses. The watch makes a token effort to patrol by day, but is never seen at night.
A sprawling area of tightly packed buildings that overhang narrow, dark streets, the Warrens are Irillion’s ghetto . Only those with no other choice live or work deep in the Warrens — the smell alone is enough to drive most away. The Watch never enters this part of the city. The outer edges of the Warrens are the home of brothels, feasthouses, and other darker outlets of hedonism run rampant.
Irillion has a large open air market (big enough for two football fields side by side). While some stalls are permanently owned or leased for a long term, space can also be rented by the day or week. The market is open 24 hours a day, although many (if not most) of the businesses are only open in during the daylight hours. If it isn’t sold in the market, it probably isn’t for sale. The Guard is present here in small numbers, but well paid to keep its eyes closed. The Market is a paradise for pickpockets and other petty thieves.
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