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The Twenty-Five City States of the Caliphate
Surrounding the city of Shalazar are twenty five city-states, each ruled by a Steward and controlled, directly or indirectly, by one of the Great Families. The numbers beside each city-state below represents its position on the map.
(12) Harbad - the Desert Rose
The city of Harbad is built around an unquenchable stream of water that springs from the desert wastes in a fountain 40' high. It is the only reliable watersource on the trade route between Elmiyah and Karmak, so all caravans to Punt rest within its walls, and pay the fees of the Guild of Water-Dividers to refill their waterskins for the journey ahead. Since the loss of Elmiyah to the Bookwala, caravans from Elmiyah have frequently been charged exhorbitantly for that water, and Harbad has become the major market for Puntish goods and pygmy slaves.
Steward: Tardek al Jerezad
The second greatest city in the world, after Shalazar the incomparable, Huzuz is the jewel in the crown of the Jerezad. Centre for all trade with the Jade empire, the only college of sorcery outside Shalazar itself, the second largest temple to Shaliq, and many other wonders make it the hub of culture as well as commerce for the eastern half of the lands of the Calipha. The city lies at the center of a fertile and well irrigated plain, which supplies all its food needs and provides more for export. It has a bazaar, where many Jadian items can be found, but more important are the quarterly trade fairs, timed just after the arrival of large Jerezad caravans. Since the death of Abdul-Karim, his young nephew Tardek has been the steward, but he still leans heavily on Munir the Crafty, a sorcerer and alchemist of great renown. Munir's guidance is as fair as ever, but the common folk still wonder what goes on within the closed portals of his private estate.
Steward: Gara al'Jerezad
This city stands on the very edge of the settled lands, at the end of the only known trail across the desert to the Pass of Falling Ice, which leads through the mountains to the Empire of Jade. Despite the dangers of the desert and the pass, this is still the swiftest route to the empire, and the trade caravans made Guise a wealthy city. But a plague came upon the city, and the name of the plague was Ancar the Scourge. From his hidden tower, this most foul of necromancers demanded tribute of the town, and what he was not given, he took. Many expeditions were sent after him, but they never found his tower, and many failed to return. 50 years ago, the great hero Davisham of the North set out to find and slay the necromancer. He never returned, but since then the town has been freed from Ancar's depredations. The town has fully recovered from that terror, and is now the melting pot of east and west, as caravans both to and from the Empire of Jade meet and trade.
Steward: Marduk al Jerezad
This is more of a fort than a city. The only route across the desert to Punt leads along a single valley that stretches the whole length of the Desertstooth Mountain range. Slave labour irrigates the fields, and still more slaves are locked in caves carved into the valley walls, as they wait to be taken to the markets. Their constant wailing echoes through the valley. The Steward is Marduk al'Jerezad, one of the paramount military leaders in the Jerezad conquest of Punt.
Steward: Bannan al'Jerezad
The heart of the Jerezad Puntish trading empire, the city of Harkan-Karim has only existed for 30 years. It is heavily defended, to fend off Puntish freedom fighters, and to guard the entrances to the gemstone mines of the Betrachian Mountains. The mines are worked by countless pygmy slaves, who toil their lives away grubbing for emeralds in the muddy cliffs. The city also houses a large temple, and a sizeable collection of priestesses, who work to bring the pygmy tribes into the light of worship of Shaliq. A branch of the Order of Kal'Nayak is also housed here, to cleanse with fire those pygmy tribes that refuse to give up there demonic ancestral rites.
(6) City of Teshel
Steward: Dera al'Bookwala
Teshel is the furthermost South of the cites on the coast. As such, it harbours a certain independence of spirit among its citizens and although such a spirit has never reached outright rebellion, or even close, it never the less means that certain kinds of trade, provenance of certain goods, and other practices, can be conducted in Teshel, where elsewhere there might be more trouble. There is much trade with the nearer islanders, and a number of ships make Teshel their home port despite greater distances. The word piracy is never mentioned, although Teshel also sends numbers of prospectors out into the desert who seem remarkably lucky at finding lost caravans or ancient treasures of gold. The city itself is a raucous, jolly, hap-hazard sort of a place with many taverns and bazaars with smoky corners. The architecture is interesting and odd, as many of the houses and shop fronts have been built with driftwood. Since its takeover by the Bookwala, the port has grown in size to accommodate the quarterly Puntish trade fleets. Many of the honest sailors of the port are hired by the Bookwala to guard the fleet as it travels.
Steward: Zared al'Bookwala
In the past, Elmiyah benefited enormously being on the major trade route to the lands of Punt. It called itself the Gateway to Mysteries to enhance its reputation as a purveyor of all that is exotic and encouraged its visitors to sample all manner of foreign delights. it was the jewel in the crown of the House of the Ruchbah. It was conquered by the Jerezad, and all rebellion was crushed. When the Bookwala broke from the Jerezad, Elmiyah rose in support. Many of the most vicious battles of that conflict were fought across its walls. Since the end of the war, the trade route south has been almost unused, as the Jerezad refuse to water any caravans travelling from Elmiyah. Caravans now wind their way through the desert on a multitude of smaller trails, to the delight of the bandits of the region.
Elmiyah, architecturally, is a maze for the unwary. There has apparently been no planning in the placing of the city's streets and unwary visitors may very easily find themselves lost. In fact, Elmiyah has deliberately cultivated a certain twistyness to its layout, and each seeming random turn or blind alley is as likely to lead to a grotto or secluded public garden or shrouded colonnade, as it is to a shabby backstreet. It would be wise as a visitor to hire a guide however, as unfortunately, much though it is discouraged and punished severely, this design, delightful though it is, has a tendency to encourage a certain amount of criminal activity.
Steward: Adsiz al Ash-Kenz
The city of Amarat is prosperous, and prides itself on its beauty and hospitality. It calmly accepted the Bookwala when the Ashkenz fell, and has not suffered from the battles and revolts that have damaged so many cities. Its central location on the River Shamir, and on the route taken by caravans to the East, and trade from the cities to the North, means that a wide variety of people and goods flows through the streets of Amarat. Its people consider themselves cosmopolitan and sophisticated and have concentrated on making Amarat a welcoming and pleasant place to do business, not least because of a hearty economic rivalry with Huzuz. Amarat is traditionally known as the city of the flowers, as the citizenry cultivate glorious displays all over the city, in hanging baskets, and grottos, and gardens, or merely in window boxes, to complement the displays in their fields and orchards. Amarat primarily cultivates many different varieties of soft fruits, all of which come into blossom and fruit at different times of the year. It is also known as being one of the most hospitable cities, it has one of the largest numbers of shrines to Shaliq, most of which are open plan, and double as hostels. This means the city has a lot of migrants, but as they can then be hired to pick the fruit, this is considered no bad thing.
(25) City of Londarmeldarol
Steward: Jorhun al'Bookwala
This small city stands father west than any other city of the Caliphate, on the western edge of the continent. It was set up by the Bookwala to provide a secure harbor for ships to repair and restock before rounding the point into the dangerous Ocean of Steams. It allows the Bookwala trade fleet to sail comparatively safely all the way to the southern coast of Punt. The city also supports a small fishing fleet.
(3) City of Gazala
Steward: Ramoun al Hadar
The biggest of the Hadar cities, Gazala is the centrepiece of both their military and trade. It is here that the Hadar have their own Military Academy, said to rival Shalazar's for the harshness of its training if not for the quality of the troops. With a million inhabitants, this is one of the largest cities outside of Shalazar. It was home to the notorious summer palace of the Hadar, in whose expansive halls, it was said, orgies never stop. They have stopped now, and a new temple stands in the gardens where the palace used to be. The visitor to the city will still find much to enjoy in the rich bazaar with its multitude of pearls and jewellery.
The Steward of the city is a man reknowned for his faith in the strength and might in the strength of his family. He takes a very public interest in the success of the Hadar military academy and was a forerunner in the proposal and execution of the building of the great temple that now stands proudly in the city's main quarter.
Steward: Calesh al Hadar
The island fortress of Tobrukh is of strategic importance to both Shalazar and the Hadar, as it controls most of the naval trade through the bay. It is heavily garrisoned, with secret docks hidden throughout the island. Formerly a minor city, it has grown in size since the Hadar moved most of their palaces and homes there, to take advantage of the seclusion that its island location brings. The Hadar keep a close eye on who wishes to travel there, and strict priestesses and members of the Order of Kal'Nayak find it curiously difficult to obtain passage. Tobrukh is also vital because of its wine production - the vineyards of the Hadar are legendary for their vintages.
The Steward of Tobrukh is, according to many, a very charming young man. Publicly his charm, wit and knack for diplomacy are a pride of the city and the family. Privately Calesh takes the success of the city very seriously, and is a decisive political leader that many are glad to follow.
Steward: Tambar al Hadar
After many battles between the Hadar and the Zaniah, the ownership of this city was finally decided by the Calipha, when she commanded the execution of the moneylenders. The Zaniah collapsed, and the Hadar reclaimed Marinia. Revolution still boils in the gutters of this city, but it has no leaders and no goals, only a hatred for the Hadar oppression. As a result the city has shrunk in size and power, with nearly all mercantile shipping giving it a miss in favour of Teshel to the South. The steward of Marinia is an old warrior of the Hadar, who ruthlessly crushed the last rebellion. Unlike most other Hadar rulers, he has welcomed a chapter of the Order of Kal'Nayak into his city, in return for their aid in seeking out revolt.
(7) City of Usk
Steward: Merina al Hadar
Usk used to be the least prosperous city in this part of the lands of Shalazar: the desert was too dry for farming, it was not close enough to either trading routes or the coast, and with near neighbours who could monopolise both, Usk had a precarious existence keeping the peace and a viable economic place for itself. With the collapse of the Zaniah, it was taken over by the armies of the Hadar. The conflict between the Jerezad and the Bookwala has begun to bring a change to the fortunes of the city, as the Jerezad caravans that used to flow through Elmiyah are starting to take the longer route through Usk instead. Usk is also known for its fine gemwork, but there has been a certain amount of speculation that the numbers of gems found in Usk do not match up to the numbers of gems bought. This together with the frequent forays by citizens into the desert surrounding them, has led to rumours of a secret gemstone mine, at which Usk is swift to scoff and deny. The Emira of the Hadar has placed one of her own daughters in command of the city, and the legendary charms of the Hadar have convince many merchants to travel the Usk road.
Steward: Damara al Yildun
Al-Hadeen is a rural community with a relatively small population which is situated a good way from the river and main trade routes. With the collapse of the Izar, a popular uprising in support of the Yildun brought the city swiftly and peaceably under their control. The citizens are a dour people who farm grain and herd cattle, sheep and goats. Their lands skirt the borders of the great grass plains to the North, and perhaps due to a mingling of those peoples, their skin has a lighter caste and their build is slightly shorter than those of folk in other lands of Shalazar. They herd horses too, which are of exceptional quality, and which they keep protected from nomad raiders within their high city walls. These walls are particularly impressive for a city the size of Al-Hadeen, and are a great source of pride to its people. Many generations ago, their most famous citizen was born, Sholanar of the Rainbow, who became renowned as a fresco painter in Shalazar itself, and was honoured by the 7th Calipha for his work, but before he left Al-Hadeen, he painted his frescos all over the city walls, inside and out. Painters and other visitors will travel far to see the beauty of Sholanar's early work.
(17) Abib of the Grey Tower
Steward: Talima al Yildun
A prosperous farming comunity, and sited at the end of the north caravan route to the Jade empire, Abib is principally distinguished by the mysterious grey tower that rises from the centre of the city. When Abib the General came here, he found a tribe of nomads who worshipped it as a god, and his army defeated them, and they swore fealty to the Calipha and bowed to the altars of Shaliq. But the worship of the grey tower has never completely ceased, and despite the ceaseless guard upon it, offerings are still found upon its steps. With the arrival of the Yildun the guard has been redoubled, but the prayers of the priestesses and the swords of their guards have failed to discover what the tower is, or who controls it. In desparation, the Emira of the Yildun has offered the stewardship of the city to any of the faithful who can bring down the tower. The city has another problem, as its caravans travelling the Northern route to the empire of Jade have been disappearing without trace in unusual numbers.
(19) City of Mudjaadan
Steward: Harama al Izar
Mudjaadan survives as a city on semi-subsistance farming in an arid land, only remaining viable due to the determination of its people, and the fact that what little moisture carried in the air is released by the tired djinn of the air before they start their steep climb over the mountains. The people of Mudjaadan know that their city is on the edge of civilisation, and they lose a steady drain of their young people to more wealthy or more pleasant climes, but Mudjaadan does attract those people who appreciate the loneliness, or austere beauty of the landscape, or the challenge of that edge. It is a fact that more great poets have been born in, or moved to, Mudjaadan than any other of the cities of Shalazar. Possibly because poetry and religeon mix poorly, there has been a steady upwelling of discontent here since the city was taken by the Yildun.
(21) City of Huda
Steward: Abdul-Azeem al Yildun
The largest city state under a steward of the Yildun, the once great steward Abdul-Azeem: an ancient man who sleeps most of the day. The day to day running of the city is by a council of high ranking priestesses. Situated on the great river, fishing, trading between other port cities and farming from their rich soils are the prime sources of income for this thriving state. Visitors to the city are taken aback by its warm and welcoming atmosphere, and its glorious, ornate architecture, culminating in a truly glorious temple to Shaliq in the city centre. Traders from Huda are very well respected, and affluent, and actually encourage competition in markets to give themselves a challenge. The success and wealth of the city have redoubled with the troubles in the west of the caliphate, and cause great jealousy among the other great houses: Huda is without a doubt the jewel in the crown of the house of Yildun.
(22) City of Asalah
Steward: Makeena al Yildun
The smallest of the city-states of the Yildun, this city is ruled by the steward Makeena - the daughter of the previous steward. The city is prosperous in its farming of many varied crops, and river trade is quite prolific. Makeena has maintained her father's ban of any use of medicinal magic or any form of medical treatment beyond herbalism; tales abound of the city-state officials turning offending sorcerers out of their homes and indeed out of the city. Sorcerers are treated as potential risks by the city-state's official institutions, sensing the general hostility of officials towards them, very few practitioners of magic actually choose to reside in Asalah.
The city itself is a large, stern-looking place. Huge square buildings tower high above the straight streets in uniform, even, grid-shaped blocks. The city lacks colour, life and any feeling of hospitality that is common in other areas of Shalazar. However it is a frequent place of pilgrimage by the men of the Yildun, who travel there for the aniversary of the death of Waleed al'Din.
The city is also the founding place of the Order of Kal'Nayak, and the location of its largest chapter. All who wish to join the order must travel there to take their vows.
(23) City of Rashad
Steward: Fadheela al Yildun
The second largest city under a steward of the Yildun, Rashad is situated in the glorious foothills of the eastern mountain ranges, well renown for its clean air and awe-inspiring scenery. The people are a curious, yet amicable mix of miners, explorers, and artists. The miners are famed for their rigid, uncompromising work ethic, and devotion to religious dogma. Consequently, the mines are highly productive, and a major source of income to this thriving city. However, work hard-play hard is also a fiercely held doctrine in Rashad, and in the evening coloured paper lamps light up every street and music and the sound of hearty laughter echoes off every wall and out of every window.
Rashad operates under the watchful eyes of Fadheela, the city's steward and second niece of former Emira Nadia. She is quite elderly now, but still keeps a close eye on her city. Church and religious ceremonies are very well attended, and the doctrine of Shaliq strictly adhered to in moral and social matters. Some have nicknamed the city the 'Peak of Happiness' - and it certainly lives up to the reputation. Crime rates are the lowest in all Shalazar, challenged perhaps only by Asalah, and this, plus Rashad's warm hospitality, beautiful scenery, and festive atmosphere, makes it a popular destination for travellers and artists.
( 1) City of Muna
Steward: Handin al Fesk
Muna is barely a city. The Great Bone Dragon of the Northern wastes has twice swooped down upon it and razed chunks of it to the ground. What is left is principally a city of tents, as merchants gather to trade with the nomads of the north. The official steward of the city refuses to come near the place.
(2) City of Tharaa
Steward: Nadeem al Fesk
Tharaa is the largest of the cities under one of the house of Fesk's stewards. Beneath the watchful eyes of Nadeem, who lives in the huge 'Steward's tower' in the city centre, Tharaa's 200,000-odd citizens enjoy liberal trading laws, allowing profits to flow freely between the city's traders. A very popular place on the coast to visit and trade, Tharaa has very profitable relations with many islands, as well as its farming and huge fishing sector. The port provides a convenient trade route into Shalazar and consequently the city enjoys tremendous profits from trading both within and from the outside of the city.
Crime rates are kept right down by Nadeem's extremely efficient, personal militia, so trade is conducted at all hours of the day and night without fear and in complete openness. However, the streets of Tharaa, beyond the six main market streets, which all converge in the shape of a star towards the huge city square in which sits the 'Steward's Tower', are a confusing maze of small and winding back streets and alleys. This network is truly impressive to behold from above. The streets are a dense tapestry of passageways between houses and streets, and not one is wide enough for two people to walk down side by side. The six main streets, however, are enough for several carts to travel down side by side, as they do almost every day. Tharaa is a truly magnificent, and thriving city, and Fesk would be loath to ever lose possession of it.
(8) City of Najaah
Steward: Hellah al Fesk
Najaah is a largely undistinguished city. Its streets and architecture are plain and simple. The steward resides in a small, simple castle on the East Side, and the markets are quiet calm places where trade is conducted with the minimum of hassle. However, two things are worth noting in Najaah. Firstly is right in the centre of the city is the largest water fountain outside of Shalazar. This huge, beautiful, ornate, gold, emerald and sapphire fountain depicts the famed sea dragons of the Archipelago leaping and entwining around each other in a truly awe-inspiring design, while jets of water shoot out of their mouths in an array of patterns and timings. The fountain is tremendously huge, the base having a radius of about 60 feet, ands the central display of dragons towering 100 feet into the air. Every year, with the great Horse Fair, a well respected sorcerer of the city enchants the fountain to make the dragons temporarily come to 'life' and act out their beautiful dance in fluid, graceful, life-like movement. The fair is always a huge success, attracting visitors from miles around, and is always the highlight of Najaah's calendar.
The second thing notable about the city is the tremendous horse and livestock market on the West Side of the city. A large source of profit for the city is its regular farming industry, however, this is nothing compared to the income made by the horse breeders, and the city's herders. Every month the huge market opens its doors and trading for some of the finest animals in Shalazar begins, and doesn't stop for three days. Horses are paraded for renting as studs, and cattle are bought, sold and bartered: it is a thriving industry and something the Najaah bases its tremendous pride upon. Consequently, any people who specialise in veterinary medicine or magic can make a very healthy living in Najaah, and many travel to the city with that aim in mind.
Steward: Ahlam al Fesk
Only ever so slightly smaller that Tharaa, Yumn is primarily a farming town, and quite a profitable one at that. However, even for its size, there is no way that the wealth generated in Yumn could ever be achieved by farming alone, and the puzzle has caused many varied rumours to abound about the legitimacy of the city's economic activities, especially from the house of Yildun. However, both the House of Fesk, and the steward of the city, Ahlam, a woman renowned for her beauty and wit, ignore all the rumours as simple jealous libel.
Yumn itself is, like its sister city, Tharaa, a maze of back alleys and narrow, winding streets. The city's farmers, supposedly conduct 'business', at all hours of the day and night is darkened rooms, and dimly lit taverns. Yumn is a very secretive and dangerous city, and only those who can defend themselves physically, mentally, and financially, would ever try to make a profit here in anything other than farming.
(10) City of Takhbad
Takhbad is a comfortable prosperous city which makes much of its wealth from the trade that comes down the river from the mines, and exotic goods from the East. It is also one of the closest cities to Shalazar itself, and has thriving markets and wharfs passing crafted goods up the river to the lesser cities. But it gains its character from the fertile farmlands that surround the widely spread city. The river is a resource Takhbad has harnessed in more than one way: its farms are irrigated by many water channels and canals fed from the river but Takhbad has taken this practical achievement and turned it into an art form. It is easier to paddle around Takhbad than it is to walk; the bright sun sparkles off all the water until it appears the city is sheathed in silver coracles; pleasure boats and floating houseboats are everywhere; and delicate bridges and paths cross the waters at frequent intervals.
Since the takeover by the Fesk, the city has also gained a reputation as a good place to make a deal, and it is suspected of some shady dealings.
(13) City of Caspar
Steward: Jessamin al Ruchbah
Caspar is a small city that lies off the main trade routes. It is nestled in a bowl of shallow hills and its main attraction is its quiet and slightly sleepy charm. It depends largely for its livelihood on the produce it grows, but in this regard Caspar is well served. It is justly proud of its orchards; date and olive and orange trees march up and down the slopes of the hills in orderly, leafy rows. The people of Caspar are happy to know that their fruit grace the dinner tables of nobles and lesser mortals all over Shalazar.
Jessamin, the Steward of Caspar, is said to be vengeful and angry. It is well-known that she hates Caspar and considers it to be a useless backwater. The rumours are that she made a bid for power within the Ruchbah which failed, and that she was exiled here to prevent her from causing more trouble.
The location of the former city of Barminta is now filled with a large and picturesque lake, after an unfortunate alchemical accident obliterated the center of the city and caused the remainder to subside beneath the waters of the river. The majority of the populace fled to the nearby cities of the Yildun. The crater itself is deserted, and seen as a place of great misfortune. The trade route divert to avoid it, and river traffic across the lake is virtually nil. The lake is left to its population of abnormally large and curiously intelligent frogs.
Craters of Note