Way of the Wicked
“Many stories are told about the place called “Utopia”… If you ever laid eyes on Matharyn, you would know you have found it."
Capital and jewel of Talingarde
Government: hereditary autocracy
Population: 105,000 (89,450 humans; 6,700 dwarves; 5,200 half-elves, 1,400 halflings, 850 elves, 210 aasimar; 1190 other )
- King Markadian V called the Brave
- Princess Bellinda of Darius – daughter of Markadian
- High Inquisitor Solomon Tyrath
- High Cardinal Vitallian of Estyllis – head of the Mitra Church in Talingarde
- Lord Vastenus Barca – General of the King’s Army
- Brother Quintus of Austea – spiritual advisor to the king
- Heironymous Thatch – court wizard and tutor to the princess
- Mayor Hubert Rowen
- Sir Janus – Adarium Watch-Captain
The Elder City
To understand the history of this great city, you must understand the history of Talingarde itself. Every major civilization on the island has claimed this place for its own at one time or another. Matharyn is the oldest human settlement in all of Talingarde. Located at the southernmost reaches of the island – it enjoys a mild climate. By the sea and the bay, the fishing is legendary. The promontory here commands entrance to the rich Cambrian Bay beyond. And the land upon the nearby peninsula is rich and arable. The only surprise about Matharyn would be if it were ever uninhabited.
The first civilized settlers here were dwarves and they likely took it from the bugbears that once spread across this entire island. The old dwarven fortress controlled access to the bay and guarded against threats to the wealthy dwarven mountain holds within the inner kingdom. The old dwarvish word for ‘gate’ is ‘maat’ and likely that is where this place first got its name.
When the first humans came – the Iraen – they settled here and in when the dwarves fell from prominence, the fortress fell into the hands of the barbarians. What name it bore then, none now know. Exact timelines become difficult throughout an age of illerate barbarian warlords. Exactly how many claimed lordship and how long they reigned is a matter of conjecture for scholars. However, the town was little more than a hill fort built from crumbling dwarven ruins surrounded by hovels when the Talireans arrived. Through the following years, what was once a single village had split into two, because of the squabbling of ancient chieftains. And so it was the Iraen who gave the city the second part of its name.
Ira Annoch Araen means roughly ‘the place of great lordship over all the people’. Of course foreigners could make little sense of such a complex and unpronouneable title, and so the second village was often simply called ‘Araen’.
The twin villages of Maath and Araen were amongst the Talireans first conquests. The Iraen were caught off guard by the foreign invaders and unable to defend against their superior military might and unity. Maath- Aryn (this being the invaders’ best attempt at pronouncing the old Iraen words) was born under the Barcan kings of old. It became their capital. Then they built the sister city of Aath-Aryn. Though Aath was lost in a disastrous earthquake and now lies at the bottom of the sea, legends of lost Aath persist to this day.
In time the Barcan kingdoms unified after a grueling civil war and the nation of Talingarde was born. By then, the name of Maath-Aryn had shifted to its modern spelling Matharyn and the city began to take on its more modern character. At first, it was a small city by the standards of the kingdoms of the mainland. The isle of Talingarde was always regarded as a remote backwater by more established kingdoms and Matharyn was scarcely known outside of the realm.
It was only under the reign of the Victor that the city truly exploded in size and influence. The Victor, always a confident ruler, swept away the xenophobic isolationism of the Barcan regime and opened up trade with the mainland. Even though much of that trade ended up going through Ghastenhall, some went to Matharyn and the king taxed it all. The city grew rich and prosperous. From across the land, settlers moved to live near the shining court of the Victor. Matharyn doubled in size and doubled again. It became a true metropolis by the end of the Victor’s fourty-six year reign.
With the Victor’s much mourned death, his son Markadian II came to power. Though Markadian II was a poor and disinterested king who only lasted six years upon the throne, he did fancy himself an architect. Under his reign, many public works projects were commissioned and he founded several of Talingarde’s universities, libraries and places of learning. To this day the colleges of Talingarde still celebrate “the Scholar King”. Perhaps most famously, the great palace across the channel – the Adarium – was built at his command.
Markadian III called the Mad reigned far too briefly to have any true impact upon the city. He did leave one lasting legacy. He had the highest tower of the Castle Darian expanded upwards to he could fly about the city from this high perch. It was from this very tower where he ended his reign after several of his knights tossed him from it when he began plotting an invasion against hell itself. To this day, the high tower stands and is sometimes called “Angel Height” or even “the King’s Plunge”.
With the death of the mad Angel-King, Markadian IV called the Zealot came to power. This King would transform the city as well. The faith of Mitra has always been prominent under the Darian regime, but under the Zealot, it became the state religion. He destroyed every trace of the Asmodean faith by fire and inquest.
The other faiths he did not persecute directly, but they were sufficiently discouraged that they largely fell into obscurity. Now few even remember that under the Barcan regime, Matharyn was a nation of many gods. The Zealot reigned for twelve years and during that time, he build the great cathedral of Matharyn and innumerable other religious structures. He turned the city of Matharyn into a city of Mitra. His mark is still indelibly stamped across the polis and he has been canonized into the Mitra Faith as St. Markadian Pious.
By comparison the current king’s impact, though he has already reigned longer than his father, has been more negligible. He has allowed the city to grow of its own accord. He did expand the Adarium considerably to accommodate his daughter and her needs. There are also a few monuments about town of his deeds, but largely Markadian V called the Brave was happy with the city he had inherited – Matharyn, City of Light.
Still, there are those that whisper that hints of its past remain. There are stories of dwarven ghosts, ancient Iraen burial mounds connected by the sewers, bugbear artifacts and Barcan secret chambers in the old castles. The old ghosts still linger, the storytellers say. The elder Matharyn still bears its secrets and even today there are places where the light of Mitra has never shone.
The City of Light
In the entire world, there is perhaps no other city the size of Matharyn so dedicated to the concepts of law and good. Matharyn is not perfect by any means, but this is a city of more than a hundred thousand people where many citizens do not lock their doors at night. This is a thriving metropolis that once went five months without a single reported mugging. Matharyn is not paradise, but it may be as close to paradise as this mortal plane could produce without the direct intervention of the divine.
Throughout Talingarde, a few statues of the Victor, the first Darian King of Talingarde, have been raised . Here in this city, they are inescapable. Depictions of the Victor and the current king are everywhere. There are hundreds of marble monuments honoring the deeds of the Victor and the Brave. Markadian IV the Zealot has a few here and there, mostly connected with religious institutions. Even the Princess Bellinda has a statue of her erected just last year in the Circus Virginius just south of Arynsill. These statues may be erected by state decree, but the care and attention they receive prove that the people of Matharyn truly love their royal family.
Likewise the Church of Mitra is beloved in this city of light. In places like Ghastenhall and Farholde with their malcontent remnant of Barcan nobility, it may be easy to convince oneself that the Mitran faith was forced on the Talireans. Here that is a hard sell. The faith of the Shining Lord is everywhere. Nary a home is without a wooden holy symbol hung over the gate. Churches and houses of faith are ubiquitous. Chandlers can barely keep sacred candles in stock and every night a thousand lights burn in defiance of the darkness.
Matharyn is also a city of charity. While there are places of excess like the mansion of the Golden Bow, there are also numerous hospitals and houses of healing. Even with the tragic destruction of the Order of St. Macarius, healers are not a rare profession in this town. And though they charge well-off citizens to make ends meet, almost all of them donate some part of their labor to ease the suffering of the poor and unfortunate. It is better to be poor here than any other city in the world.