Halas is a city like its inhabitants, simple and to the point. Only barbarians would even consider swimming in the lake that provides them protection instead of waiting for the raft to carry them across, swimming without fear in the frigid waters. The city is relatively small, but has everything that any larger city has in half the space. Barbarians are usually the only ones in the streets, but you can occasionally see a human or half-elf, or even other more tropical races. Frequent snowstorms keep the streets and rooftops white year-round.
The area surrounding Halas is an area deceptively teeming with life. Many creatures have adapted to living in the cold, and regularly roam the Everfrost Peaks. The narrow valleys of these mountains make some of the stronger creatures even more dangerous, as there is often nowhere to flee from them if need be. Perhaps this is why the barbarians have developed into one of the bravest races in Norrath, standing the ground while a lesser man might flee.
From the Everfrost Peaks, an intrepid explorer can find the cavern home of the Blackburrow gnolls, a vicious enemy of the Barbarians. Through their home lies the way to other lands to the south of the Barbarians' homeland. Many adventurers, often from far off lands, can be found braving the wastes of the Permafrost, also adjacent to the Everfrost Peaks. Rumors of ancient civilizations and ruins dotting the snowy wastes bring in many a curious explorer (such as myself).
Traveling To and From
The only way to get to the city of Halas is to brave both the gnoll land of Blackburrow as well as the Everfrost Peaks Peaks themselves. Passing through these leads to the lands north of Qeynos and, from there, the rest of Norrath.
For many years, the Barbarians (or Northmen as they call themselves) were ruled by a King, from the capital city of Dun Lir. The King was chosen not by heredity but by a Council of fourteen Elders, based on merit. This powerful centralized government caused the fourteen scattered tribes of Northmen to unite and flourish, which resulted in retaliation from the Northmen's enemies. Ice giants weakened the walls of Dun Lir, Goblins destroyed the road system that connected it to all the other villages, and finally the gnolls invaded and razed Dun Lir to the ground, killing the last King and utterly destroying the Kingdom.
The Ice Giants ruled the Northmen for many years, until the fleet-footed Burke Wingfoot began to organize a resistance. He went from village to village spreading news and battle plans, and at last the giants were defeated. The Council of Elders was reestablished, but Wingfoot refused the title of King and spoke eloquently against the perils of centralized government. He devised a new plan, where the fourteen Elders would loosely unite the Nation but would remain with their tribes during most of the year, and meet at a randomly selected location when needed. Communication would take place via a system of scouts and messengers. It took some time for other races to stop trying to conquer the seemingly disorganized lands, but soon it became apparent that the Northlands were, in fact a Nation.
Some time not long after the new Council of Elders was formed, a Shaman by the name of Bran had a vision of a city that would belong to no tribe, but instead to all Northmen. It was built with the aid of the Dwarves near the ruins of Dun Lir, designed as a meeting place and trading center for all tribes and foreigners. Named Halas, the city was set up to appear to be a capital city, thus making it clearer to would-be invaders that the Northlands were a strong nation. There is even a building set up for the Council of Elders (though anyone who investigated would discover that it is rarely occupied). The word Halas, as pronounced by foreigners, means "focus." But the slightly different intonation given by a native Northman changes its meaning to "diversion."
You can obtain 2 containers by talking to the NPCs associated with the following first two quests in Halas before you head out to Everfrost Peaks, which can help until you can afford better bags. Most of them only hold tiny or small items, but when you are a broke level 1 every bit of carrying capacity helps!
Talk to Waltor Felligan in the Shaman guild for an 8-slot jar, in which this quest will have you combine 8 wooly fungus from spiders/spiderlings in Everfrost. (Caution: You will eat them unless you have other food above them in your inventory!)
Reward: XP, money, low-level Shaman spell
Reward: XP, money
Reward: XP, a random piece of leather armor
Bring Shamus Felligan outside the Shaman guild any beads from ice goblin casters (in the igloos on the edge of the tundra). If you find non-shattered beads, you should get the Shaman weapon Gavel of Justice. You need 4 per turn-in.
Places The city of Halas has more than its share of bars, probably to keep these tundra dwellers warm on a winter night. These are humming with life during the drinking festivals, carried out regularly across Norrath on the same evenings every week. Armories are also a common sight, and frequented almost as much as the bars. Most of the inhabitants of this city know well how to use a sword, and I almost feel badly for the gnolls to whom they are mortal enemies.
People The people of Halas generally keep to themselves. Their life requires a great deal of what other races might term menial work, so their days are consumed with the process of survival. This is not to say that there aren't very frequent brawls in the streets as young (and old) warriors demonstrate their skills for others, or drinking bouts ending in dozens of unconscious champions, but the Barbarians could be termed a simple people.