Geography of Stony HIlls
Lovely place. Not the sort of land you’d expect a Harrfoot to settle, but a friendly enough plot. Not much for farming, but there’s good pasture and if the soil is stony and prone to frosty winters, but figs and currants seem to like it fine.
But let us not lie, we of the Stony Hills are no planters. These are iron hills, and we are an iron folk. Drawing it up out of the hills has been our business for generations, or more properly, seeing to it that the Stout draw it from the hills. We Harrfoot keep those dwarflings housed, fed, clothed, and free, all toward the aim of keeping them happy with their lot. That’s getting to be more of a job as the centuries roll on.
It’s politics, and politics is Harrfoot business. Like all politic, the political problem has all but else to do with where the land of Stony Hill likes to lie, which is to say that our spot in the world makes the governance of our plot the business of many parties. The Hills are right at the dangling end of the Aegir Mountains, and those peaks are all that keeps the worst of the world from touching humanity’s Empire. But, politics being geography and geography being politics, its not so simple as that.
Those mountains, like all mountains, were once and long ago the sprawled realm of dwarvenkind. Dwarfs are none happy to let go of anything, least of all land, so they still keep their claim, and though an arrangement with the Empire the Dwarves still oversee the Stony Hills, even though it is by right technicality the property of the Empire.
It’s a tizzy diplomacy, but a few words on a few papers and everyone is happy, mostly the Harrfoot, who make most of the money from the mines and enjoy most of the benefits of political representation. Every few decades the Five Families have to sit down with whomever the Stouts are listening to right then and we talk them into rearrangements not much unlike the arrangements and all goes back to fig pudding pies.
Once a century though, the Families pick a voice to send to the Imperial Capital, there to sit with the Emperor himself and the voice of the dwarves and the larger arrangements are rearranged. Now that meet is not moot.
But, like I say, all these politics are really about placement. As I say, to our north and our west is the long western arm of the Aegir, running north to the Forbidden Lands. Go east and you have the interminable fields of the Vetaris heartland, long and lengthy leagues of settled human lands, their ancestral home before they made themselves conquerors. Somewhere out there is the River Thidden, and also Erasin, first city of human kind. Somewhere less near is Vetar, capital of the Old Empire.
South of us you’ll find a special place, a sacred place to the humans, the place where their curious non-religious religion started. They call it Arndulum, and its grand, truly it is. Many pilgrims pass through our lands to reach this place, though I can’t say I’ve been there myself. Truth be told, we stick to our own ways here; we worship as we like, though its politic to not speak of the Goddesses when Imperials are about. The dwarves tend to be sympathetic to our religious independence, though if the iron stopped flowing I’m sure it would come up, if only as an excuse to crack down and get the works working again.
Souther still and you’d find yourself right at the Imperial Capital, Kalis Vetar, Heart and Crown of Civilization, the Fabled City. Never seen that neither, though I’m told its something to see.
Now this means that of course our main road runs North-South, the route from Aegiron to Kalis Vetar. Smack in the middle of Stony Hills is the city of Stonyhill, because a halfling never tried to confuse anyone. This is one of the few proper halfling cities in the Empire, the others being in the Elven Kingdoms at the center of the continent and scattered within the Great Harvest near the Southern Frontier. So, while not unique, Stonyhill is important. Somewhere over ten thousand of us have homes here, but greater than the size of Stonyhill is the stability it represents. With Stonyhill at its center, the Hills are as close as halflings have ever come to having a kingdom of our own, we being latecomers to the game of kingdoming. Why, we’ve never even managed to have a king yet! Though a body might consider whether kingdoms come before kings or kings come before kingdoms…
At any rate, Stonyhill anchors nearly seventy leagues of halfling settlements in any direction. May not seem much to a human or even a dwarf
-though dwarfs tend to measure up-and-down, not across- but for a halfling its an immensity. So it matters that Stonyhill is so big and so important, even to the too-talls that run the world and the elder race allied with them.
Its also important to keep the place stable and safe. I reckon this is much what kings and empires are about, but for us the Five Families do just as well. Two heads are better than one, not so? So, why not five!
We don’t vote on it precisely, mind you, but the Families settled here with the Stouts in ages past and in word and deed made the city what it is, so naturally they have the say in how its run. They keep the arrangements with our neighbors in our favor, keep us out of the larger troubles of the world and make sure the trade never wanes.