This planet was to have been originally named Halarion after the Solstice effect observed by the exploration team, but an error in transcription meant that the name Hilarion was gazetted.
The majority of the inhabitants of this Agri world are peasants or serfs whose existence is spent working the fields of their masters, and in the brief time allotted to them, attending to their own crops. The villages work the surrounding lands on a field rotation system, with each field being left to lie fallow one season in five. A peasant is entitled to a small plot of land as long as he/she works a nine-hour day in the service of their master. This service need not all be in tending the land, so some peasants specialise in the other crafts required to maintain a population: Blacksmith, Charcoal Burner, Farrier, Woodsman, Hunter, Fisherman, Messenger, Rodent Wrangler, Craftsman and Wagoneer to name a few. Almost all of the peasants have no concept of a world beyond their horizons; apart from the fact that the Emperor watches over them and that their labours benefit the Imperium of Mankind.
The Noble Spectrum Houses each control a portion of the Planet surface, as it was decreed in the beginning: One colour to each region, no house to hold too much land, but all tied together by blood. A blending of the spectra may create minor houses, but their holdings must be ratified by the Council of Colours, and be held only in trust. Thus the Spectrum uses the minor houses to oversee the extent of their holdings. Each house may maintain a corps of armsmen, but their numbers must be maintained in parity across all houses to ensure balance remains. Martial contests are an indulgence of the Noble class, allowing the tension between individuals and houses to be settled in an “amicable” and none too costly manner.
There is a considerable Ecclesiarchy presence on the planet; as a result of the significance of one of the major export products, and the weight of the Imperial Cult within the populace. All houses will have a priest in residence, and members of the clergy can be found throughout the populace, even the meanest village will have a priest to lead services in praise of the Emperor, and to remind all of their duties to the Spectrum, and the Emperor.
EQUATORIAL CIRCUMFRENCE: 59,757 Miles.
YEARS AND DAYS: Hilarion takes 590 Terran days to Orbit its star and spins on its axis every 28 Terran hours.
SATELLITES: 2 “Moons”. These spin in opposite directions at 90° to each other, and at 30° to either side of the planet’s axis. This causes a slight wobble in the planetary orbit, but the phenomena seems relatively stable. Due to the difference in size of the two moons, and their distance from the planet’s surface, they appear quite different for most of their cycles, however during Solstice there is a great celestial conjunction celebrated across the planet. This event occurs every 5 years and marks the point where the Sun, and both moons align – forming the Emperor’s Halo – a fiery corona visible around the moons. The smaller moon seems to glow with it’s own light during Solstice, even though its larger sibling stands between it and the Solar light.
The majority of the populace is not aware that the smaller, closer moon is in fact artificial, simply an satellite spaceport for quarantine and administrative purposes. The Agriculture of the planet must be protected at all costs; hence all ships visiting must be decontaminated (by crews from the satellite port) prior to receiving landing clearance. Visiting crews are encouraged to keep to themselves so as to not destabilise the resident populace with tales of the worlds beyond the sky.
POPULATION: Approximately 750,000,000 - although an exact count of the peasant class is impossible.
TROPOSPHERIC COMPOSITION: Nitrogen 75%, Oxygen 21.95%, Argon 0.93%, Carbon Dioxide 0.137%, trace amounts of other gases, and a variable amount (average around 2%) of Water Vapour.
PLANETARY GOVERNER: The planet is ruled by the Council of Colours, which is composed of the heads of the Seven Great Houses – or the Spectrum Houses. Each house is ascendant in turn; dominance decreed during Solstice by the divine light of the Emperor’s Halo – in the ritual of the Eagle’s Light. The statute of the council states that a majority must ratify major decisions and agreements. These decisions may not be made in the first year after Solstice, nor in the last year of the cycle. This prevents a certain amount of political backstabbing, and smooths the transition between the Houses ascension. As all major houses are bound by some degree in blood, there is rarely major tension, more often petty bickering over trade quotas, tithes and the general “one-upmanship” that goes with being the ruling elite.
The Ecclesiarchy assists by providing diplomatic envoys where necessary, and provides the personnel to oversee the transport hubs where goods are assembled for export. Their neutrality ensures that one house cannot gain advantage over another; a system that has been stable for so long, that it is now rarely tested.
RELIGION: The people believe they are chosen for this life, and it is the divine will of the Emperor that they carry out the tasks they are born to. The strong presence of the Ecclesiarchy reinforces this on a daily basis: Each house will attend prayer at least once a day, and the peasants are joined by their priest who will provides insight and encouragement to them whilst they labour.
There are two other significant factors that reinforce the teachings of the Imperial Cult. The Solstice which occurs every five years and bathes the populace in the light of the Emperor’s Halo – a sign of blessing visible to all and indisputable proof of the Divine purpose.
The second is the Sacred Aquila, protected by the Ecclesiarchy, and known only to the Spectrum houses (although it’s presence is the subject of awed rumours and whispers amongst the wider population). The Aquila is the focus of the ritual of the Eagle’s Light – the focus for determining the ascendance of a new Spectrum House during Solstice. The Aquila was there when the first settlers arrived on the planet – a sign that this was the world that had been destined to serve the Imperium, the Emperor and the Church. Seven pillars of creamy white stone make up the Aquila, each composed of graceful curves and veined with traces of gold like pristine marble. Their placement marks the outline of the Aquila: Heads, Wingtips, Feet and Tail with a Heart Stone to one side of the central axis. Perhaps it is due to the fairly constant temperature, or the light of the sun, but the pillars feel warm to the touch. Each pillar has been set with a glass orb of a different hue; one for each Spectrum House – Vermillion, Ambre, Citron, Emeralde, Saphir, Amethyste, Violette. During the Ritual of the Eagle’s Light, the Solstice conjunction will illuminate the house that will rule for the following five years. The divine light from the Emperor’s Halo shines through one of the coloured orbs set upon the Aquila’s pinions and a beam of the Spectrum touches the Heart stone.
The Sacred Aquila has been protected by the Ecclesiarchy, and now lies within the precinct of the Sensoria; a garden set with many of the species grown upon the planet, and intertwined with streams and sculptures dedicated to the Emperor and his saints. The Sensoria is maintained and protected by a dedicated Imperial Cult, who oversees the Ritual and plantings, the White Brethren. It is also rumoured, that these brethren provide a subtle enforcement for the Ecclesiarchy should the need arise, and are the means to discipline a House should that unfortunate necessity arise. However no proof of these so-called Black Brethren has been recorded, and if the rumours are correct, those who could verify its existence are no longer in a position to do so.
Members of the Noble Houses use the Sensoria as a place of refuge and inspiration, should their petitions for admittance be recognised by the White Brethren. The scholars and composers of the Ecclesiarchy also frequent the grounds of the Sensoria, awaiting the muse that will inspire them to further creations in the name of the Emperor. One of the most beautiful songs of praise – The Emperor’s Lament, was composed and arranged to a traditional Herrmotzardt tune in the grounds of the Sensoria.
CLIMATIC REGIONS: The planet surface is 59% land; the remainder is covered by water, the majority of which is fresh. Rainfall is regular and keeps the land moist and the rivers flowing. Storms occur from time to time, especially during the months leading up to Solstice, and although dramatic lightning and thunder often accompany these, they rarely cause much damage to the well-drained landscape.
The soil is rich and seems to support any species introduced to it, returning bountiful crops. There is very little of the land that cannot be turned to agriculture, in some places it is hard to site the villages and towns, as all the land is so verdant. Spilled grains must be cleaned up quickly, not because they attract vermin (although this can be the case) but because they will sink into the loam and sprout shortly after. For this reason many larger buildings are floored with stone cut from the hills and mountains, even though this is expensive to obtain and transport.
The poles are mountainous regions, which are sparsely populated, as they have little flat land suitable for agriculture. The mountains do provide an environment suitable for some herbaceous plants, so these have been seeded throughout, and are harvested occasionally by intrepid peasants who accept the solitude and hardship for the bounty theses plants provide.
SEAS: Hilarion has several small seas, or Brines, but the greatest proportion of surface water is fresh, flowing from streams to rivers and then to the large lakes of Sweetwater. These are now populated with various aquatic forms, and a subculture exists to harvest these as an addition to the available foodstuffs. Some of the Brine species are particularly difficult to catch and are highly prized for feast-foods by the Noble Houses. A solstice feast would not be considered complete without the small rainbow-hued Sweetwater Motley.
There are a few coastal islands, but these are the domain of the White Brethren, and trespass is firmly discouraged.
TERRA-FORMING: None of the present inhabitants (the generations within recorded history) have conducted terra-forming – the concept is unknown to them. The world is perfect as it is; perhaps even a little too perfect…
NATIVE FLORA AND FAUNA: There was little animal life endemic to the planet when the settlers arrived, but now it teems with life both botanical and zoological – but of an introduced nature. Some areas still have native vegetation, but most of this has been replaced by introduced species.
The only native species that has been adopted (and domesticated) is the Falcohawke. This species has become the hunting companion of many nobles, and the Falconer is a highly regarded servant responsible for the care and training of these creatures. Strict carnivores, the Falcohawke are avians similar to a Terran raptor, but much more vibrantly coloured; their plumage ranges from rich brown, through red and gold with some rarer individuals even sporting feathers of blues and greens. It is the ultimate vogue to have your house hunting party escorted by Falcohawkes in their spectrum shade; for some houses this presents more of a challenge, but gives the falconers something to breed for. The feathers cover the body except for the face (which is slightly reptilian) and the feet. The legs have longer feathers similar to those on the wings, giving the Falcohawke a four-winged appearance, which is heightened by the long and flexible tail, which also sports longer feathers down the sides of the spine. Unlike the Terran Raptors, the animal possesses jaws full of tiny sharp recurved teeth rather than a beak, but this does not make them any less effective as hunters.
There are records of a large reptilian species, although these are rarely encountered, as they inhabit the mountainous regions that are sparsely populated and the deep oceans. Several families possess trophies from these beasts, but they have become far less common over the past centuries, so much so that they have slipped into legend in some areas. The peasants will blame any disappearance of stock or fellow on the beasts if there is no other obvious explanation, and those who see a fiery trail across the sky explain it as the flight of one of the monsters – which are said to be able to breathe fire. The priests do not discourage this talk as it helps to keep the serfs in line, and attentive to their tasks, although they know the true nature of the sky trails, none would be able to say for certain wether the beasts do exist or not. Occasionally a quest for one of these beasts will be mounted, and young nobles from various houses will come together to organise hunting parties before setting off on their expeditions. This practice keeps the lesser nobles amused, and occupied as well as encouraging cooperation between the houses. Should any trophy be returned, great prowess will go to the victors.
ALIEN FLORA AND FAUNA: The planet grows food sufficient to feed its population, as well as the exotic plants for export off world. Many species have also been introduced as pollinators for the various crops, and there have been a few vermin species that escaped quarantine in the early days of settlement to plague the population here, as they do on so many other worlds. The Noble Houses have arranged for diverse species to be introduced over the years for sport, although these have to be monitored and culled occasionally if their numbers increase to a point where they impact on the industry of the planet. Beasts of burden and similar animals form the basis of the transport system on Hilarion, you ride or walk – there is no other option.
ECONOMY: The majority of the population of Hilarion is composed of the peasant and serf class (small distinction between these two). They work in service to the Noble Houses and toil to produce the Spices and incenses for their Lords, who then export them off world, (but this is not known to the peasants – they simply believe that the Emperor requires their labour). The Serfs and Peasants use barter amongst themselves for the majority of transactions although occasionally they may come to possess some of the Imperials or Eagles (the local coins). The Noble Houses will deal with one another, using barter or Coin: Imperials, Eagles or even Throne Gelt (although this is less common). 7 Eagles constitute an Imperial, and 3 Imperials constitute a Throne Gelt. The economy is stable, feudal and balanced with no House holding unfair advantage over another, as all the Houses are bound by blood, and ruled under the statute of the Council of Colours.
The tithe of Hilarion consists almost entirely of the Incense produced for the Ecclesiarchy and other spices produced to satisfy the demands of Nobles throughout the Calixis Sector.
SOCIETY: Hilarion is populated by a majority of Peasants. A smaller number of Nobles make up the ruling class while the balance of the populace is a very small percentage of Serfs; who have become indentured for failure to meet their contractual obligations of service and provide for their families. The Technology level is mostly medieval, although the Noble Houses have a small number of devices that would be seen in the wider Imperium. The Ecclesiarchy has perhaps the highest level of technology on the planet, used for their religious requirements, and to provide a means to oversee the Noble Houses and the production of their important crops.
WATER SUPPLY: Each area is responsible for producing its own food for the populace, although there is trade for particular goods amongst the houses. Water is free-flowing with many streams and rivers, and villages are not built where there is not water from such a source, unless a spring or a well has been constructed.
The serfs produce food for the Noble houses, and also for themselves. There has not been any incidence of food shortage during the history of the settlement, even in the earliest years when the crops were adapting. However should this occur, the Statute provides that other houses share their supplies until the crisis is over.
PRINCIPLE EXPORTS: Incense aromatics are the principal export of Hilarion, almost all of which are used by the Ecclesiarchy throughout the Calixis sector. The delicate nature of these fragrances, such as Frankincense and Myrrh, requires that the plants be harvested and processed manually – otherwise the purity is lessened through mechanical contamination. This factor is behind the very structure of society on Hilarion – the peasants are the only viable means of managing this production. Once this system was established it was a natural extension to include other fragrant plants and spices, which would benefit from such a hospitable environment and manual labour force, including cinnamon and saffron. These are rare commodities for trade, and their “Hand-picked” nature increases their value. These small quantities of luxury goods enable the Noble Houses to maintain their status and occasionally import luxury items in return, such as quality fabrics and tutors for their children.
PRINCIPLE IMPORTS: Few goods are imported to Hilarion due to the strict Quarantine protocols. However on exceedingly rare occasions new crops are developed that are deemed to be suitable for the Hilarion climate, and seed for these is brought down after rigorous testing and established upon one of the coastal islands. The plants are closely monitored by members of the White Brethren (the task is too important to trust to mere Peasants), and are destroyed immediately at any sign of incompatibility with existing species. The White Brethren also use coastal islands for cross-breeding existing species and other purposes, although these are not defined.
CONFLICTS: Unlike many worlds in the Imperium, the political climate is relatively stable. The feudal nature of the system, given the vast majority of the uneducated peasants, requires the nobles to find diplomatic solutions to squabbles (usually these involve marriage), as drawing serfs from the fields (and Emperor forbid arming them) would mean loss of harvest and therefore income.
DEFENCES: Not as far as the general populace is concerned. The Spaceport satellite does in fact have the capacity to offer limited planetary defence – mostly in the form of defence lasers and missiles used to defend the quarantine regulations, and encourage captains to be cooperative. Should a threat majoris arise there would be very little the inhabitants could do except appeal to others for aid and offer sincere prayers to The Emperor.
IMPERIAL GUARD RECRUITMENT: None. The general populace would have an extremely difficult time coping with being off world, let alone with any type of technology beyond their medieval experience.
CONTACT WITH OTHER WORLDS: Hilarion is not well known outside the Hazeroth subsector, in fact the existence of the planet is not widely publicised so as to protect it from unsanctioned traffic. All planetary trade must be processed by the Quarantine station on the smaller “moon” and only selected Traders holding an Ecclesiarchal charter are permitted to send Landers down to collect trade and tithe goods – these vehicles must only land in designated zones, and are supervised during their entire planetfall by an observer from the Order Famulous.
Many thanks to Jenni Creagh for all her ideas about Hilarion.