Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Kismet: The 7 Great Cities of the Caliphate

The Caliph, peace be upon him, makes his home in Golden Murmesh, located on the juncture of the Tiger and Arrow Rivers.  It is renowned for its architectural landmarks: the Gate of Beasts, Arch of Dawn, Font of Merciful Angels, the Mosque of the Living Word, God's Needle and dozens of other fine dwellings of lesser note.  All of these pale before the Palace of the Crescent Moon, the Caliph's residence.  The populace take pride in their city's prominence as the chosen home of royalty, and put on airs accordingly.  Wearing their finest clothes, bearing an arrogant mien, and exercising antiquated manners; even the most casual interaction with the common Murmeshan takes on an officious air.

While temporal power may rest in Golden Murmesh, the Hanging City of Teshra houses the Caliphate's intellect. Founded by scholars once rogue, the city was legitimized by groundbreaking understanding and mastery over the breath of angels. Distant from most of the Caliphate in the borders of the former Black Empire, its prominence has led to the establishment of a frontier stronghold as well as a Salt Cartel Wayhouse.  Clockwork marvels that would command awe in other cities are commonplace here.
Sitting at the intersection of major trade routesand the shores of an inner sea, Lake Hali, is the Jewel of the Caliphate, Huzabba. A city dominated by mercantile interests, you will find everyone who is anyone here: the Salt Cartels, the Blue Square Consortium, the Golden Wasps, and the Arachne Sisterhood to name a few of the trade houses with a local prescence.  The city is also dubbed the "City of Kings" for it's long, unbroken line of rulers dating back before the coming of of the Prophet.  The governor's cabinet of viziers and closest confidants are selected from an inner circle of nobility, married to the Great House of Pearls.

Like Huzabba, about 600 km to the west, Hiyat lies on the shores of Lake Hali.  There the similarity ends, however.  While Huzabba is relatively welcoming of outsiders, Hiyat has become a closed society under occupation by its own military forces.  Hiyat's previous title, the "City of Brotherhood," has lost its meaning.  Of late, most call it the Sentinel City or the City of Eyes.  A heresy of the Beast Gods, Priga the Leopard Queen, has taken root there and necessitated frequent patrols and checkpoints.  The threat is real: these heretics set fires, destroyed supplies, and assassinated prominent officials.  Rumors swirl that the Caliph will put the city to the sword if it isn't dealt with soon.

Currently under seige, the Holy City has lost much of its population and stature to savage steel.  It was within those walls the Prophet spoke her last, poisoned by a spurned lover.  Her last words took seed in the ground and sprouted  the Living Tree.  Naive zealots stole cuttings from this miracle and went to the savage north, eager to provide concrete proof that the Almighty had touched the Wide World.  The Warlanders saw the marvels wrought from these immortal twigs and killed the emissaries, grafting the branches to their own bodies.  Eager for more power the 5 Lords of War mustered a host and sent the least of their number, Crowned With Blood, to claim the Tree of Life for themselves.  Before war camped outside their gates, the somber populace were searching for further enlightenment and truth, desperate for some happiness either could bring.

Westernmost of the Great Cities, Surakhet is situated at the base of rising hills.  The slopes have been terraced and cultivated into beautiful gardens, earning the city its sobriquet "the City of Flowers."  Higher up lie coffee plantations, whose harvest is renowned throughout the Caliphate.  The rish, poweful coffe is not the only export of renown, Surakhet is also known for its thriving artistic culture.  Bards and artists from across the Caliphate, and sometime beyond, flock to Surakhet's coffehouses for an oppurtunity at membership and instruction at one of the myriad reteats around the city.

Located at the narrow end of Ruq Bay, Panaveh lies on a major trade route linking Huzabba to Golden Murmesh.  Despite its central location, however, it proves to be a sleepy town unruffled by the prodigious traffic that flows through it.  The Gateway City is a quaint waystation for caravans that travel the Golden Road, and its residents are content with the placid arrangement.