The Jumhuria of Halrizuud is a small state on the the Northern Coast of the Southern Continent. A Qanthrathi City-State controlling about 6,800 square kilometers of territory along the Rizuud river which is home to some 440,000 people (70,000 in the city itself). Like several of it's neighboring states its run by a council composed mostly of elected Patricians along with some Qanthrathi Judges, scholars and Priests. While it has some local agriculture, quarrying and minor industries as well as having a respectable trade fleet and being prominent in local finance, the foundation of it's economy is in the Slave Trade. Most of these come from the south while some come from pirates. Either way about 30,000 people pass through it's slave markets every year to be sold to various human and Drow buyers, making it one of the largest largest of the seven major human slave ports of the western world. In general the city's free population is wealthy and well off, a state of affairs which has endured for six centuries. But while the citizens of Halrizuud have no desire for expansion their state is often threatened by those who'd seek to plunder it. From the land come bands of nomadic raiders and from the sea come rivals. Defending the Jumhuria is a fleet of 30 cannon armed galleys, but more famously there is the Sterling Guard.
It is said that the Sterling Guard has an ignoble origin but a glorious history. Originally the Jumharia relied on a militia composed of an armed citizenry to defend itself with wealthy landowners owning warships, occasionally hiring mercenaries in times of war. This sufficed for the modest forces required by it in it's early days but it did lead to an embarrassing incident in 522 BIA in which a group of militia assembled to serve as an honor guard for a visiting northern noble that they disliked decided to make a scene in protest, insulting and throwing dead rats at him and his entorage. This lead to him leaving without making any business deals and costing the merchants a lot of money. As such they elected to retain a small standing force of a hundred men to serve the Jumharia and The Laws, defend it from attackers and act as honor guards on formal occasions. They were given maile and suits of mirror plate and were expected to keep it well polished, thus the force soon acquired its name. Over the next three centuries the Sterling Guard would gradually increase in size, primarially due to three factors.
- A: The population and wealth of the Jumharia increased.
- B: The fact that a well drilled force of soldiers proved to be more effective in a fight then a mobs of loosely organized people with weapons.
- C: The fact that they fought off four attempted coups were launched those who sought to overthrow the government.
Gradually the militia system atrophied away to as the Sterling Guard rose in prominence until it became a loose collection of armed individuals. Most men in the city would serve in the Silver Guard for either two or four years. Elite soldiers, officers and NCOs serve for longer. The army is well paid, with even a common soldier earning the equivalent of 5 Imperial pfennigs a day in wages plus bonuses. Moreover it is also well known for it's loyalty to it's state. Never in it's long history has it attempted to rebel.
Since 40 BIA the Sterling Guard has been a force 12,000 men strong (though in 37 IA efforts were made to expand it to 15,000), most of which are heavy infantry mixed with some light cavalry, support mages and defensive artillery crews. Sterling Guardsmen wear helmets, chainmaile and mirror plate (with some shock troops and officers ranked captain or up having runic armor) with the insignia of the Jumharia (an Olive Leaf with two crossed scimitars) inscribed on it's torso. Traditionally they were armed with heavy scimitars and either crossbows, arquebuses or halberds for infantry while cavalry had spears, bucklers, composite bows and specially made carbines. In more modern times they've traded in these traditional weapons (baring the scimitars) for rifles (mostly rifled muskets but increasingly they're investing in screw breech-loaders). Each soldier also has a backpack. The artillery corps has also been expanded in recent years. They man the three garrison forts which protects the frontiers of the small nation, patroling it's borders against raiders and runaways. The rest are based in the city of Halrizuud itself, where they man he defensive fortifications and stand guard over the slave pens.
In general the Sterling Guard has proven to be an effective force with a respectable level of professionalism. It's biggest problem is that is an expensive force to maintain. As such one thing that the Jumhuria has been known to do is to rent out the services of it's to several battalions of the Sterling Guard to other states (usually the city states of the Anvosi Peninsula). Though there have been some defeats more often than not the Jumhuria's picks the winning team and 1,000 to 3,000 solid troops can usually tip the balance in such conflicts. In recent years due to increased casualty rates these policies the Jumhuria has become less willing to rent out it's forces, but with the fall of Avesia they are currently engaged in a crash armament program.