Tales From Janus Valley
“Atop a limestone bluff lies a city in the trees.” Such began the first human account of Hala Xel, sacred city of the elves. Hala Xel (Roughly, “Stonetree” in the local dialect) was settled roughly at the same time as Maynard’s Crossing by a group of elvish shaman who decreed the forest grown on rock to be a sacred site to their people. Hala Xel is a strange paradox. The base is a limestone mountain, honeycombed with caverns. On a hollow atop this rock is a rich, fertile basin, upon which a forest grew. The forest became a haven for birds, as well as climbing creatures that could scale the rock below, and beasts that wandered up from the caves.
It was in the treetops of this forest that the elves built their city. Hardwood treehouses connected by networks of rope and plank bridges form a unique architecture. Virtually all business in Hala Xel is conducted off the ground. Rooftop gardens provide crops for each family, and fruits and nuts are gathered daily. Towering even above the city proper is the Pinnacle Elm, a tree of awe-inspiring height that is reputed to be the oldest in the forest. Visitors to Hala Xel should be prepared for far more climbing than they are used to.
Down on the forest floor, elvish druids commune with nature and guide the growth of the city. Governance is performed by a conclave of shaman who pronounce law in accordance with spirtual guidance. The so-called Eldergrove is a meeting place in the forest’s heart where the conclave communes with the Xelian Primal Spirits. The elves of Hala Xel are glad to share the wonders of their city, but do expect all visitors to be respectful of their home and contribute to the community.
Hala Xel is more advanced than their communal society would indicate. Businesses operate in the Merchant’s Bower much like in any other city, though with a decidedly environmental bent. Metal armor and weapons are quite rare here, and any that are to be found have been imported from elsewhere. The network of bridges make wheeled vehicles a liability, but the elves have domesticated a species of giant spider to make transportation easier. Visitors to the city might patronize Tazzi’s or, for the more well-heeled, the Wildvine Lodge
Elvish scouts who venture into the caverns beneath Hala Xel occasionally return with tales of strange creatures in the lightless depths. Rumors persist too of a secret organization operating in plain sight with a nefarious agenda. Stories like these are regarded as fabrications around the hearthfires at night, but they persist. Visitors should carefully weigh Hala Xel’s glorious views against the mysteries of this unparalleled city.