When designing Temir, I wanted to use some of the variant races presented in supplements, and one of them that really appealed to me was the Shoal Halflings, from Stormwrack. Unlike most aquatic races, they’re amphibious, and can breathe air and water equally well (other races start to suffocate after a brief time out of water, which is an impediment to adventuring). Malkara started as an underwater village with a shoreline trading post, but I realized the region didn’t have any stone quarries. Instead of being a fishing village, it became the site of an underwater quarry. More money meant more people, and more people means more specialization, et cetera, until it became the Malkara you’re about to see.
On the northwest coast of the Lankaeran sea, Malkara is actually two towns, one beside the other. Malkara above is a thriving centre of commerce and trade, while Malkara below is a site of underwater industry. It’s the primary source of stone and stonework in the region. Both the Rhiast and the Celestial Cathedral of Satu Mare are built of Malkaran stone, as well as the fighting circle of Volos. The halflings quarry the stone and bring it to the surface, where the aboveground races can trade for it.
Malkara is ruled by a young prince, whose father was assassinated before the war. He is advised by a council of nobles and merchants. The merchant class is very strong, and has been known to buy titles or offices, though the church has recently forbidden the practice. In Satu Mare, they have a saying “In the Market of Silks, anything is for sale. In Malkara, everything is for sale.” The bourgeoisie have proved an irresistible temptation for the Camonna Tong, who have made Malkara the centre of their operations in Temir. Smuggling, extortion, and second story jobs are only some of the pies the Tong have their fingers in, and they’re rapidly becoming more feared than the city watch. Below the sea, the halflings have a council made up of the masters of each trade, and host an ambassador from the town above in special quarters. Trade was not interrupted by the siege, though pressure from the Tong is putting a strain on relations.
The alliance between the trading post of Malkara and the Shoal Halflings began when the aquatic Kuo-Toa began raiding halfling settlements, below the sea. Humans and other races began trading weapons for fine stone, a practice which continues to this day. Malkara has no standing army, fighting with militias and relying on its treaties with Tachros and Isard instead. It was laid siege to during the war and unable to free itself, was forced to endure until the armies of Tachros could rout the enemy at their gates. The victory was tense however, as the last time the forces of Tachros stood at the gates of Malkara, it wasn’t to break a siege but to lay one. During the reign of the current king’s grandfather, Tachros pushed to annex Malkara, and it defended its sovereignty fiercely, hiring the entirety of the Rilador to conduct brutal raids on Tachros’ outlying settlements and run the blockade on their harbour until the armies were required to return home.
Locations of Note
The first thing everyone notices about Malkara is the walls. Almost sixty feet high and tens of feet thick, they have withstood more sieges than anyone cares to count. Each section of the three layers of walls is named after some battle or another, and they bear the scars of repeated assaults. The Hunter’s Hall also stands in Malkara, near the city centre. Home of the first Taer’Sulei, the rangers of the frontier, it stands now as a monument to the order. Malkara has always supported the Taer’Sulei, even as the order waned, though lately it seems reluctant to continue. The harbour is not as industrious as the Shipwright’s harbour in Isard, but in the evening, the lights of the halfling city shine through the water, making the sea look like the night sky. Onlookers understand immediately why at night, the Bay of Stone is referred to as the Bay of Stars.