Marontik was the largest human community on Erde-Tyrene in the years prior to the activation of the Halo Array. It was home to both chamanune and hamanune and its denizens were among those processed for conservation by the Librarian as the Forerunners' war against the Flood grew more desperate.
Following the final defeat of human civilization by the Forerunner Ecumene after a long series of armed conflicts, mankind was purposefully "devolved" and subsequently shattered into multiple forms. The Ecumene Council gave the Librarian charge of the race's world of birth, Erde-Tyrene, and by around one thousand years after the Forerunner victory, she had moved one of the last surviving populations there. Near the planet's equator, on the eastern edge of the continent that would later be known as Africa, she established a primary research station for Lifeworkers at this time as well. Over the next nine thousand years, humans evolved to be represented by twenty distinct varieties, some of whom even resembled the form common before their defeat and "devolution". Some of these forms of human eventually turned to building cities. By the point shortly before the Halo Array was fired in 97,445 BCE, over nine thousand years had passed since humans were reintroduced and Marontik, built at the confluence of two great rivers just south of the Lifeworker research station, had become the largest community on the planet. At some point centuries prior to this time, the humans of the area had been ruled by kings and queens who were eventually entombed beneath the city. The research station had also been long-abandoned by this later point, though an automated craft continued to ferry supplies to it from the next-nearest world, Edom, every few months. When the Librarian returned to Erde-Tyrene to index its species for preservation, Marontik was one of the last communities to have individuals collected from.
Geography, architecture, and layout
Marontik was located at the meeting of two large rivers and it spread over dozens of square kilometers. Boats could be taken via one of these rivers to the inland wastes one hundred kilometers in the direction of the continent's interior, where there was a flooded crater known as Djamonkin Augh. Not far from Djamonkin Augh and Marontik there lay an imposing range of mountains, and on the other side of this range were equatorial grasslands home to thorny trees and b'ashamanune. Grasslands lay immediately outside the city and the northern highlands a short distance away were home to great black apes. Sacred caves outside the city were used for a religious ceremonies in which manhood would be conferred upon males at a certain point in their lives.
A wall surrounded Marontik and its constructed buildings were wooden and reed shacks and mud huts, which were arranged in crowded collections on either side of alleys which branched into other alleys, winding in no particular direction. These alleys oft served as walkways and gutters both. Some of the city's structures stood three or four stories high. Come nightfall, the streets were lit with lanterns. One portion of Marontik was considered to be the Old City, and it was surrounded by its own wall. The gate at the western section of the Old City was known as the Moon Gate and a makeshift temple devoted to the Librarian was located near it. Part of the Old City was made up of farm-to-market squares and there were power stations nearby it which had been left behind by Forerunners. Marontik boasted multiple markets and neighborhoods. Underground catacombs were filled human remains, including those of ancient kings and queens preserved in rum and honey. Doorways led to these underground passages through which noxious smells, at least by the standards of Bornstellar-Makes-Eternal-Lasting, arose. Heaps of trash could be found on Marontik's outskirts and the surrounding area included farms.
The Lifeworker research station north of the city was separated from it by a long stretch of grasslands and prairie. It included a barracks, but by the time just prior to the activation of the Halos, it was home only to a family of lemurs. Even then, some automated processes continued and supplies were brought regularly from off-world.
Economy and society
The sky over Marontik was frequented by hot-air balloon airships of all sizes and colors. These airships provided a regular means of conveyance about the city, oft ferrying merchants, travelers, spectators, and animals meant for consumption by the people of the city. Chamanune in the city were known to sometimes eat meat raw, but also supplemented their diets with fruits. Crops were grown on farms in the areas around the city. Wagons, often in the employ of wealthy merchants, traveled to and from the city along rutted paths.
In the years preceding the firing of the Halo Array, there was a collective of guides to be found in Marontik's largest market which could lead the curious to centers of local legend. One known as the matriarch of guides maintained an ancient river-stone storefront in a rambling sloven of alleys. Markets were not only meant for the sale of treasure and other forms of commerce, but as places of gathering where stories could be sung.
Monetary transactions in Marontik could be undertaken with a form of scrip and those who undertook menial tasks could expect a modest wage. Young girls who found themselves destitute were afforded the chance to become Prayer Maidens at the Old City's temple to the Lifeshaper, where they were then required to live. The city and surrounding area was no stranger to scams, violence, theft, and other cruelties, sometimes meted out at the behest of powerful barons in control of important commodities like water. Large parts of the city eventually were essentially run by a chamanune called Day-Chaser Makes Paths Long-stretch Morning Riser, who employed thieves and swindlers.
Merchants traveling beyond the safety of the city were common targets. Families and clans could form agreements with one another wherein one group became responsible for the protection of the other in exchange for material accommodation. The narrow alleys of the city were frequently chosen for fights by young boys and men.
At least two varieties of human, chamanune and hamanune, lived in Marontik, and were organized into families and clans. At least one neighborhood was reserved for chamanune in particular. Though some thugs rarely mistook the small stature of chamanune as a sign that they would make easy prey, most hamanune in Marontik respected them and were wary of wronging them, in part due to stories in which chamanune banded together to punish those that had wronged their kind. A geas impressed by the Librarian at some point made the city's residents generally docile toward Forerunners, wary toward strangers, and discrete in all other matters. To Bornstellar-Makes-Eternal-Lasting, a Manipular who visited the city shortly before the Halos' activation, the people seemed rudely dressed and unkempt. He could tell that they had experience with Forerunners, as he was looked upon as no more than a minor curiosity, but he also felt that they did not show him the respect he was due. During his time there, however, he was singled out by a group of urchins as being one for whose eyes the dead in review beneath the city, including ancient monarchs, were reserved.
List of appearances