The Halflands Guide
This page is intended to provide the reader with an introduction to the “geography” of the Halflands. Saying that is a little misleading, as the Halflands aren’t located on Earth or any planet, or even in what we think of as our universe. Rather, they are a “world between worlds” existing outside our universe. They can act as a path between universes or other mystic realms. Rather than sitting on the surface of a spinning globe, they are just an unbounded plane that fades into other realms.
Since they have no magnetic field, compasses—at least magnetic ones—don’t work in the Halflands. Still, people name directions, and it is convenient to call the direction from which the sun rises “East”, the one towards which it travels “West” and the other two “North” and “South”. Within the Halflands, it is more common to speak of them as “Dawn”, “Dusk”, “Winter” and “Summer”, but both sets of words are used.
In the descriptions below, I’ve generally used the East/West/North/South terminology, and the map is oriented in a way that would be familiar to most Westerners.
Running through the Halflands are networks of rocky ridges and old, worn mountain ranges. In the center lies a huge lake, almost an inland sea. The hills and mountains divide the land into eight relatively distinct realms. The natures of the realms suggest the set of compass directions mentioned above.
To the “East” lies a realm known as Dawn, a land of nearly perpetual light, and a huge golden desert, flanked both north and south by lush garden-like vegetation. The sun (or a sun) rises there and travels “westward”, though it never seems to leave Dawn, but merely shrinks in size as it travels. Its light diminishes as it shrinks. When it reaches point size, it immediately rises once more. The Rivers of the Sun and the Golden River, which acts as the border with the Lost Lands to the “South”, flow into the Great Lake. Dawn is essentially on the same level as the Lake. Wild things live in the Dawn lands, especially its harsher wildernesses, such as the Burning Lands.
In the Northeast lie the emerald Mountains of Qaf, and Jinnistan, the homeland of the genies or Jinn. The Emerald River flows southwest to the Great Lake. The sun seems to act much as it does in New England or Great Britain, appearing to be traveling east to west, south of the mountains. Besides the Jinn, Jinnistan and the marches around it are home to Peris, Nephilim, Dryads and other magical folk.
In the North lie the Great White Mountains and the Top of the World and the land known as the Winterlands, the home of the giants, a place of ice, snow and fog. The sun appears to be well to the south and to be small and cold. Well up into the mountains lies the Winter Spring, source of the White River, which cascades down to the Great Lake. In its west lie the Swan Vales, haven of the Valkyries
In the Northwest lie, first, foot hills known as the Wolf Dales, a wild and hostile frontier, home to men, wolves and Wolfkin who claim descent from them both. It is said among the Wolfkin that civilization traces its origin back to when wolves first domesticated apes, not far along the Paths from the Wolfdales. Dark mountains rise from them into a perpetual shroud of clouds, above which lies the Dreamland. The black River of Dreams flows down from the Dreamland to the Great Lake.
In the West lies Twilight, a dusky, silvery land dominated by the moon and, for part of the day, the distant tiny sun. (If the sun never seems to leave Dawn, it never seems to truly arrive in Twilight.) The Forests of Twilight support unique forms of vegetation of a fay nature, both black and silvery green. The Silver River flows eastward from the Mountains of Night to the Great Lake. Twilight is home to Ashetta, Lady of Twilight and Slayer of Monsters, daughter of Aiyia, the Nightmother.
In the Southwest lie first the Darkling Wood and then the Open Sea. A great river flows from the Great Lake down the Darkling Cascade, through the Darkling Wood to the Open Sea. The Mortal Marches, where the Veil Between Worlds is thin, lie largely in this area.
In the South lie the Summerlands of Faerie. The largest of the three great falls, the Summer Fall, which is actually a whole series of falls, cascades from the Great Lake to water the Roots of the World and the great World Tree. Some of the branches of the Tree stretch out below parts of the Fall, and there are rivers that flow down the branches. Most flow away from the Trunk, but a few flow towards it and even into its interior. The Tree is enormous.
In the Southeast we find the Dellingtide flowing from the Great Lake through the idyllic garden-like Golden Fields to the Endless Ocean. The nights are short here and the sun warm. Along the shore, between the Fields and the wild wastes of Dawn is the Place of Reeds, home of the Nagas. Patala lies further to the East.
In the Great Lake itself, there are several islands and a city built up around, and even over, the Summer Fall. The Islands are homes to many of The Eleven Great Ladies, the Queens of Avalon. These Ladies oversee (rule being far too much an overstatement) the Halflands, though not the greater Realms—Jinnistan, the Winterlands, the Dreamlands, the Summerlands—beyond them.
Along the ridges and ranges of the Halflands, and in many of the valleys nestled between them, you also find scattered keeps and houses of the Marcher Lords and Ladies. Some are humans from the mortal lands, others feys, mixed blood or the like. Each attempts to preserve a little order in the Chaos of the Marches, and all are affected by the nature of the Halflands, the humans often living far longer that they would in the mortal lands.
The City of Irem
On the shore of the River of Gold, which essentially forms the border between Dawn and the Lost Lands, we find the city of Irem, known as the City of Pillars or the City of Towers. It is a place of magic and technology that could just as easily be taken for John Carter’s Mars, Flash Gordon’s Mongo, or the setting of the Arabian Nights. It is dominated by towering spires and buildings connected by sky bridges, acting as docks for flying boats and other craft. The scientists, artisans, craftsmen and wizards have been working wonders for thousands of years. They say that some of the finest minds of Bagdad’s House of Knowledge, Rome, Alexandria and Minoan Crete, came to Irem when barbarians, disasters and dogmatic religion heralded dark ages. Some of their technology is even rumored to trace back to the unimaginably ancient ancestors of the modern Lizard Men.