Twin Cities of Ja’Hagon and Tarpier
These two cities were constructed on opposite ends of a massive oasis that lies within the vast dunes of the Amon’Zod deserts. These cities are home to a great many people, primarily the trade princes of the Scharazad tribes, who deal mostly in the mercantile businesses. The cities serve as a hub across the whole of the desert by which all law is set into motion, and so the ruling class are comprised of trade princes under the guidance of the Sultanate which resides primarily in Ja’Hagon.
Known as the “Anchor that holds the Sea to the Sands”, and regarded as the richest of the cities, this place is seen as the haven for merchants. Many lower caste denizens of the twin cities travel here to peddle wares, or to impress one of the many trade princes enough to hire them. The city bustles with constant deals and trade agreements and so the most lucrative business ventures here are many hookah lounges where many of these deals take place.
Reviled as a city of evil and monstrous people, the city, ruled by the Pharaoh, is little more than its counterparts to the east in economic function and daily processes. However, the city is home to a powerful organization of assassins with impressive political influence known as “Bayt Ala’Qarab” who have been known to shape the political climate of the desert cities.
The roaming city, populated primarily by the Khali tribe, has been a sight to see for those lucky enough come across it in their journeys. The city is comprised of tents covered in the scrawled history of the people owned them along with relics and trinkets collected over time. The city is a wondrous sight to behold due to the unusual nature of it’s design.
The Z'Hadeem are a nomadic people who have adapted to the harsh climate of the southern deserts of Amon’Zad and the jungles of Jorgan’Fen. Adept at surviving off of very little, they are a reserved and secret people who have quietly existed through the Ages. Though their secrecy sometimes raises suspicions from others who encounter them, the Z'Hadeem are respected by most other civilized races. Ranging from wealthy merchants to vile assassins, few Z'Hadeem tribes are known to the rest of the civilized world.
The Khali tribe, have prided themselves on their worldly travels and collections of goods all across the desert. Because of this open access to the rest of the trading world, the people of this tribe are seen more commonly than the other tribes. Many seek out pilgrimages outside of the desert to be unseen treasures back to their homeland and stories of the world around them. They are a peaceful people, caring only to continue on their lives and enjoy life in its simplicity.
The Scharazad boast a more arrogant view on the world, as many come from extremely wealthy families. This does afford them a great deal of education, making them also a very intelligent tribe who, while being frugal in business, are always willing to partake in a good smoke and enlightening philosophical debates.
The Amu’Set have for much of their lives been believed to be a sinister and vile people with no regard for others, but in reality their ways of life as equally as rich as the other tribes. Many claim to be the greatest of craftsman, having built a fair amount of the pharaonic tombs and exquisite tomb guardian statues that now reside within the Valley of Kings.
Among all the tribes, the castes are separated in several ways, a traditional value that has remained strong even beyond the separation of the desert people. In terms of social class, the lowest caste - “Khadim” or Common Caste - make up the majority of the craftsman, laborers, and other artisanal jobs. The “Tajir” or Merchant Caste, serve as the middle class, comprised of the families who work directly for the trade princes. And finally, the “Nabil” or Ruling Caste are comprised of the trade princes themselves as well as any royalty.
The other method upon which the tribes of the desert separate their castes is by secular and religious responsibilities. It is primarily the male population that deal in political matters of the desert cities, while the women are most commonly associated with the religious hierarchy. Each hold a great deal of sway among the people as religious and political practices play an equal part in the daily lives of the people.
Women and men have separate yet equally important responsibilities to their tribes; a woman in a position of secular leadership is an extremely rare thing, as is a man dedicating himself to any religious sect. Women are believed to have a closer connection to the divine, and for them to waste their talents on politics is as strange to Z'Hadeem as men attempting to replicate that sacred bond. It has been noted that some of the fiercest warriors of the sands have been the divine warriors of the religious caste, and some of the most peaceful diplomats have come from the Sultanate in Ja’Hagon.
In the month of October, the tribes of the desert collectively celebrate a triumph over a powerful pharaoh, Jahal al-Vasiq, who once rose from the dead to conquer the sands. To commemorate the ancient victory, the people dress themselves in costumes representing the long dead heroes who drove back undead or dress as the villainous pharaoh and his minions to mock their failure. They place skeletal figures arounds the homes and tents to symbolize the beaten enemy and partake in candied sweets as the great treasures that were saved by Jahal’s defeat.
The tribes of the desert all revere the same deific structure - “Iijat Al’Qadr” or The Wheel of Fate - which is comprised of the Ahmenu-set, the Reaper (Galmachis), patron of the Amu-Set; Khemen’nut, the Scribe (Chronicler), patron of the Scharazad; and Imenkas, the Ferryman (Galladel), patron of the Khali. While the whole of the Iijat Al’Qadr is given reverence by all the tribes, many choose a patron deity.
The structure of the religious caste differs greatly from traditional churches. Among the tribes, the followers and “clergy” refer to themselves not by a title that denotes station in the eyes of the masses, but rather titles that denote their relationship to their god. The Z'Hadeem people, in the practice of religion, find greater enlightenment and devotion through this act.
The women who pledge themselves as the hand of their deity are given the titles of Mahka (Loyal One), which is the lower caste of combatants, and Baht A’tal (Devoted One), being the higher caste, more commonly called Templar in other cultures. The speakers are given the title of Muqad (Holy One), for the lower caste, and Z’hade Enam (Voice of God), for the higher caste. The Z’hade Enam is the one who, by their beliefs, no longer speaks for their god, but instead as their god.
The Z'Hadeem tribes and the Sultanate of Ja’Hagon have made a great deal of effort in pursuing non-violent political relations with all the kingdoms across the face of Arawyn. As much of their involvement with the world outside the desert relies on the sea port of Amon’Tahet, it was imperative that the governing body maintain good relations with other seafaring nations. With the Chaos Wastes to the west and the mountains of Sid to the east, much of their borders is difficult to access. Though the Sultanate has formed more specific relations on land with Coast Haven, they do try to not favor any nation over any other, as it may disrupt any current trade agreements.
Ardashir Rahim ibn Kaveh al-Bukhari, Sultan of the Oasis
Ardashir has been the ruling Sultan in Ja’Hagon since 1173. He has been regaled as a man of both saintly patience and a wrath more terrible than the desert sandstorms. The sultan has suffered through the loss of three of his children to the demonic invasions of Xualla and has since taken a much less relaxed and leisure approach to his rule, instead now, fiercely supporting the safety of his people.
Parisa Azar Nasreen, Z’Hade Enam of Khemen’nut
Daughter of a merchant who died in the demon wars, she was later adopted by the Sultan of Ja’Hagon. She has served as the scribe to the Sultanate, as well as prophet of the desert. Parisa has done a great deal documenting the history, especially recent, of Amon’Zod. The rumor among the common caste is that she is the one true Chronicler.
Niyayesh Mahtab al-Rouhani, Baht A’tal of Imenkas
Among the people of Nawar, Niyayesh is spoken of with great praise. Her skills in combat have afforded her the respect and command of the city’s forces, protecting them from both the living and dead threats that would come to destroy it. She believes the greatest weapon that the divine could ever give someone is their own body, and thus trains many of those who follow her in the same manner, making for an unusual but effective army to fight against.
Auset Keket Elkadi, Z’Hade Enam of Ahmenu-set
Auset, deeply seated and feared in Amon’Kas, not because she would kill any who cross her, but because she walks without fear, and commands respect from those around her, since she alone sees the moment each desert dweller dies. She is most commonly known for making appearances shortly before both men and women of greatness die in Amon’Zod. Some have claimed that she kills them, while others believe she is there to usher the spirit from the living world into that of the dead as they pass.
As rulers of the desert rise and fall, their tombs are often adorned with riches and servants to carry on with them into the afterlife. One such amenity that is crafted is unlike any other within the tombs. A guardian statue, commonly made from bronze or other precious metals is crafted to be the watcher of sorts, protecting the tomb from any harm. To destroy the statue or steal from the tomb invokes the curse of the guardian, though each ruler boasted a different doom to befall any who dare challenge the claim.
In the desert, water is scarce. Outside of the great Oasis, one is not likely to find water outside of a cactus. So in this, water is a precious commodity for travelling beyond city walls. It has been said that the waters of the Oasis are the heart of a great spring from deep beneath the sands, though it has not always been there. In ancient times a great djinn of sand, Marudeva, walked the savannah dunes, bringing a blighted famine to every city he came across. A brave and mighty Mahka of Imenkas, Aashirya, saw her people suffering and ventured to face the djinn. It was in the heart of the savannah where she met the beast, and a great battle ensued.
The djinn was no match for the mighty warrior and fell, but in his dying breath, cursed the sky to never shed a tear for the land again, making it dry and wither into a barren desert. Aashirya, thrust her pike into the desert and dug her way down deep into the world where the water spirits hid from the burning fire spirit of the sky. With spirit in hand, she returned to the surface and made a pact with the spirit to bring water forth once again. It was in this spot, where the demon fell, that water sprung forth, bringing life back to the Z'Hadeem people.
Mahavir and the Sky Beast
In a time where great winged scaled beasts roamed the world, one laid claim over the dunes of Amon’Zod. Retajagar was a terror to the desert people. He would steal away the wealth of any who would find it, leaving the hard working people too poor to afford food or shelter. The beast was insatiable with greed. Anything of value was unsafe, anything with a glint of metal was taken away and his horde grew larger and larger.
When the people could no longer stand the strife, they cried for a hero to destroy the beast. Mahavir, who also had suffered at the greed of this wicked creature answered the call. He was a strong, valiant hero, who some claimed to have a supernatural sense about him. He was far stronger than any warrior and surely the beast would be no match. He scoured the desert in search of the beast’s lair, where he found it asleep on it’s pile of ill gotten goods. Mahavir struck out at the beast, and for fourteen days and fourteen nights he wrestled the scaled beast, which was far bigger than he. On the fifteenth day, he finally had the creature submitted. He, being the peaceful man he was, did not kill the creature, but instead forced it to carry the stolen wealth back to the people.
Retajagar had stolen so much from the people, that it took many years to even begin to give back all it had taken. And so Mahavir wrestled the beast’s brood into submission as well, and for generations, he forced the monsters into returning what Retajagar stole, and as the generations went on, they became far more capable of transporting the wealth. Their wings vanished in favor of powerful limbs and a sturdy back, until they could no longer fly and became restricted to the ground. After everything was given back, the beasts only knew how to serve the desert folk. Many took them in over other beasts of burden, and in time became the Xiorne used now.
The Culture and Life of Amon'Zod