Barikala is one of the Independent Cities, a wild and windswept island off the delta of the Urt River, on Alastari's eastern coast. Seven hundred years ago, before their kingdom toppled in the Chaos Wars, the Van Kings built the great Barikal Lighthouse on Barikala's eastward heights, where it stands to this day. Until the opening of the arena, the Lighthouse has been Barikala's claim to fame amongst the cities of Alastari. For hundreds of years, its great beams have guided ships away from the dangerous shoals off the Urt Delta, and southward to the safer ports of Monuntial and Chimlevtal.
Isolated from the wars which devastated the mainland after the fall of the Van Kingdoms, Barikala remains a bastion of ancient Van traditions and customs. Save for a small admixture of Harkenic tribesfolk who have migrated steadily to the island over the past five hundred years, escaping first the Shews, the Frafrejans, and lastly the Karnhorn armies which battled the Harkene tribes for possession of the Shewish Forest, the people are pure Van stock, and still speak the old Van tongue among themselves. Fisherfolk for the most part, their ships ply the icy waters of the Storm Sea in search of shoals of pichen and takko, two popular food fish of coastal Alastari. The more adventurous captains may set sail for the archipelagoes to the east, in hopes of trade, or even further east to fabled Serevada and Ferencia. Barikalan sailors are known as the most daring on the Storm Sea, which is not named the Storm in jest.
The closest mainland city is Arvat. The two towns are in little competition. The shoals and shallows that make Arvat unsuited to being a center of shipping have caused its people to make their living off the salt marshes of the Urt Delta. And the Barikal Lighthouse is as trustworthy a guide to the shallow-keeled smuggling boats that make their way to the Delta as it is to the fishing and trade vessels that pass on its seaward side.
Barikala is governed by Lord Warhal of Windhover Rock, more or less the scion of the last Van nobility left on the island. Lord Windhover is a small man in his late forties, terse, stubborn and observant. He has never married and there is some speculation as to who will take over his position if he dies heirless. Lord Windhover is advised by the Captian's Guild, a loose association which, technically, includes every citizen over the age of twenty-five who owns both land and a ship. Barikala has a small (five guards and a constable) city guard and a somewhat larger coast guard. This and the operation of the Lighthouse are funded by fees levied by the Lord Windhover on the cities which use the Lighthouse's services--mainly Zuwayza, Arvat, Chimlevtal, Monuntial, Lapur and Stormcrowe. The yearly fees are paid promptly, if sometimes grudgingly, for on the few occasions that some recalcitrant city's government has held back, the Lighthouse is shut off--and woe to the city whose penny-pinching causes the loss of everyone else's ships! Barikala's arena was opened in the hopes of bringing more gold into the city's coffers.
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