The Free City of Ij

The Free City of Ij: An outlier among nations both literally and figuratively, the Free City of Ij is an island city-state located far out in the Western Ocean, and marks the westernmost settlement known to humanity. Ijians are renowned for their skills upon the waves, as many of them are expert sailors and fisherfolk by necessity. Their skills in these matters are impressive enough that unscrupulous captains from other nations will sometimes hire them as navigators, pilots, and gunnery officers. Such actions are frowned upon by most for two primary reasons: the Ijian propensity for piracy, and the fact that a large number of Ijians are heathens*.

Ijian pirates and privateers are both known and feared across the face of Haven. For Ijians, though, piracy is not generally considered to be a full-time vocation, nor an endeavor undertaken by all, or even most, sailors. Rather, piracy can be thought of as an activity pursued by young captains building their reputations, or as a last resort in trying times. While Kraekirk's merchant fleet and navy have commanded respect for a number of generations, Ijian raiders have caused havoc in the shipping lanes for centuries. Ij has only ever called up and committed its forces as an armada a handful of times throughout history, each time known as “the Day of Black Sails.” And, each time, the other nations of Haven have been forced to pen bloody chapters of their histories in sunken ships, dead marines, and burning coastlines.

The Free City of Ij is removed enough from the continent that the worst aspects of the Harrowing have fallen lightly on its shores, though only the strict enforcement of quarantine has prevented the plagues from taking hold—some harbors are practically choked with dead plague ships. The exception to the island's good fortune has been a staggering increase in the number of leviathans and aquatic monsters attacking ships.

The Free City of Ij is a remarkably democratic meritocracy, with internal affairs handled by a counsel of farmers and tradesfolk, and external affairs largely determined by a counsel of ship's captains.

Ijian travelers wear long coats, sashes, tricorns, and other clothes practical for a life at sea or on the road. Likewise, they tend to wear their wealth, or keep it in easily usable, saleable, or tradeable formats, giving rise to the notion of pirates bedecked in jewelry or privateers with a surplus of weapons for trade.

*The Free City of Ij has the largest population of Hanashim on the face of Haven—after their expulsions from Maraq and Andiva, many of the Hanashim booked passage to Ij. The majority of the most powerful Houses on the island can trace their lineage (and success) to these immigrants. For obvious reasons, Ij was largely unconcerned by the Schism.