Am-Herat: A Gazetteer
Located between the south-western coast between An-Teng and the Violet Coast. The Swamp of Bitter Tears marks it’s southern edge while in the East it is bordered by the Silent Crescent jungles. Dividing North from South is the mighty River Ptah which runs from jungle to sea bringing trade and fertility to the land. Annual flooding close to the river makes the land incredibly fertile, allowing it to poduce enough grain for the entire kingdom. Away from the river, the land is characterised by rolling savannah where herding and hunting are the main source of food. In the East and North the savannahs give way to thick jungle while in the south they slowly degenerate into foul swamps. The north and south are joined by the great Ribbon-grass road which passes through the capital where it crosses the River Ptah.
The greatest city of Am-Herat is Menes, seat of King Ziyad and home to a multitude of First Age ruins. Apart from Menes, the kingdom is home to six other cities, each known only by number. The lower the number, the closer to the (now destroyed) Royal family the nobles of that city were.
The Ptah Delta is home to hundreds of islands. The island folk are fiercely independent after centuries of having to defend themselves against the Lintha but the local presence of Kraken has forced them into obedience. Drifting between the islands are the mysterious Sargasso people who live on great rafts of kelp.
Further out to sea, a great whirlpool known as The Maelstrom destroys any ship which passes through it. Fortunately it can be hear from miles away if the winds are right, allowing perceptive captains to change course in time to avoid its grasp.
During the First Age, this was the land of one of the greatest architects of the Solar Deliberative, a Twilight whose name has now been obliterated by the march of history. The unnamed Solar's marks still remain indelibly upon the land. Vast pyramids, obelisks and idols tower everywhere in Am-Herat, but especially in its capital, Menes. Most of these monuments are covered in the pictograms of the First Age, though portions of some have been destroyed by the elements or the work of itinerant Immaculates. Because of this, and the influence of the Hetshukamet, the language of the First Age is still widely known by nobles and learned men in Am-Herat.
The Dragon-Blooded Realm has never held great sway in Am-Herat, despite their powerful position to the North, in An-Teng. Though Am-Herat is rich in grain and precious metals, its isolated position makes it difficult to invade, except by sea; and until campaigns of Seventh Promise of the Wind and Kraken drove them out, the islands west of Am-Herat and the Ptah Delta were dominated by Lintha pirates.
When Khan Ziyad arrived in Am-Herat, he came as a conqueror at the head of an army of Delzahn. He fought his way through the Lintha in the Ptah Delta and landed at Menes, defeating the defenders of the Oldest City in a single battle and destroying the ancient noble family who had ruled Menes for centuries. He installed his own loyal Delzahn at the head of the nobility. For the next several years, he laid seige to city after city in Am-Herat. Three cities defied him to the bitter end, and were eventually conquered by force of arms and their leaders decimated. Three more cities bent the knee without a fight, and so were allowed to maintain their old governments and nobility, under the purvey of a Delzahn governor.
Julibie, Goddess of the Ribbon-grass Road, and her consort Aken, Lord of Bridges, are loyal to King Ziyad.
Lord Sekra of the Rapids remains reluctant to meet the Circle.
Kuenekina, god of the River Ptah appears as a grossly fat bronze skinned man carried on a platform of woven rushes by burly bearer-spirits and has grown lazier and lazier due to the unconditional worship given to him by those who depend on the silt-laden waters of the river for their lives (and so the river is flooding more erratically as he forgets his duties and fails to keep watch over his subordinates).
Culture & Customs
Am-Herat is an ancient land where people have learnt to respect history and it’s teachings. As such it is considered a mark of pride to learnthe ancient tongue.
Ownership of the rare Windchime blossom is another mark of pride in Am-Herat. This golden flower who's petals tinkle pleasantly in the wind is impossible to cultivate, and must be obtained from the jungle.
The ruling class are all Delzahn warriors loyal to King Ziyad. Under them are the native nobles of the six cities of Am-Heart each of which has a major family and a number of lesser families.
Each city has a Delzahn Governor who either rules alone (if the native family resisted King Ziyad) or with the aid of the head of the major noble family (if they pledged allegiance).
Justice is handled by itinerant magistrates headed by the Solar Exalt, Seventh Promise of the Wind. Governors handle minor cases locally but major cases must wait for a magistrate to visit and preside over a trial. Many prisoners pray for the arrival of the flying ship Mantis Maiden so that Windy will be their judge as his fairness and compassion is legendary.
King Ziyad and his Lunar queen, Fair Heart Impaler head the military which has Ziyad’s fanatical household Delzahn troops at it’s core and otherwise consists of Am-Heratite levies. King Ziyad acts as General for military operations while his queen leads the vanguard or takes care of special operations as necessary.
Naval command is in the hands of Kraken, a Lunar sorcerer of immense power who rules over the Sargasso people from his island of living coral off the coast. It is through the (many) hands of Kraken that both the fair folk and Lintha pirates have been kept from Am-Heart’s shores.
Overall, King Ziyad’s level-handed rule and military prowess have led Am-Herat into a time of great prosperity. With new trade links being forged surely the Kingdom can only continue to grow in wealth and power…
A cult of Cecylene continues to bubble up in Am-Herat, especially near the coasts and the River Ptah where they concentrate on disrupting irrigation and sacrifices to the river god, Kuenekina. Some whisper that the Lintha are behind it’s appearance. Unable to take the area through violence they have turned to their demon patron for aid in destabilising the Kingdom.
Jungle ruins of Kephra appear to be home to dream-devouring fae.
Rumours of a fearsome jungle behemoth persist though it evades all attempts to hunt it down.
Troops of An-Tengan soldiers with their Realm allies have broken themselves on the defences of Am-Herat in the past. Still, they cannot be seen to allow the Anathema to prosper on their borders so another attack is merely a matter of time.
Silent Crescent tribes capturing slaves to sell to the Guild?
Guild’s Worshipful Company meeting with spirit courts?
Many villages to the East remain aloof from Am-Herat, preferring to pay tribute to a local jaguar-totemed Lunar.
The Lintha continue to covet the islands and coastline they drew rich plunder from.
"Delzahn Ancestry and Caste Laws" - A series of laws that creates a de facto fifth caste out of the Delzahn, sometimes refered by native Am-Heratites as the Rulers, the Horsemen, or the Tyrants. So long as at least one grandparent is Delzahn, any Am-Heratite can claim membership in this caste. The Delzahn "caste" is exempt from certain taxes and serve as both administrators and elite warriors - the nobility, in other words. To some degree this has decreased the importance of the Teacher and Warrior castes. These laws have created the greatest friction between the conquerers and conquered in Am-Herat but Ziyad is adamant about maintaining both the cultural integrity and political dominance of his people.
"Laws Forbidding Blasphemy" - The mortal population of Am-Herat is strictly forbidden from worshipping the Exalted as gods. Promoting any speech, text or sentiment which refers to the Exalted as 'divine' or 'godlike' is punishable by fines, imprisionment, and the lash. Pangreyics and gifts are permitted; prayers and sacrifice are not. Several Exalt-worshipping cults sprang up in the wake of Ziyad's conquest of Am-Herat and have since been supressed under this law. This was enacted in the main to avoid offending the Circle's divine allies, though something about the idea of being worshipped as a god is deeply disturbing to Ziyad, for reasons he cannot fully express...
"Slavery Laws" - Mostly at the urging of his Chief Magistrate, Ziyad has enacted several laws which restrict but do not outlaw, slavery in Am-Herat. Importation or exportation of new slaves into the country is prohibited. The children of free women (or men, if patrimony can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt) are considered free individuals, under the care of their free parent. The children of two slaves are considered slaves. Slaves can be freed from bondage by their masters simply by registering their intent to do so with a magistrate. Free people cannot be enslaved, except in instances of criminal debt (owing debt to such a degree that it causes provable harm to the lender); though with Windy as Chief Magistrate, very few debtors recieve this punishment. Taking prisoners of war, buying a slave from another Am-Heratite, or breeding one's own slaves are the only legal methods for obtaining new slaves. A negative consequence of these laws is that certain unscrupulous members of the Warrior caste have been greatly enriched by conducting raids against the Silent Crescent Tribes, capturing slaves, and reselling them. Though technically legal, Ziyad, Windy and Fair Heart actively discourage this practice.
"Fsck the Lintha" - The Lintha Family is outlawed throughout Am-Herat. Lintha are considered persona non grata in the kingdom and are actively hunted. Lintha ships are not allowed to trade, or even dock in, Am-Heratite harbors. Of course, the demon-pirates still maintain an active presence in the surrounding seas and help to feed the growing black market for slaves and luxury items from the Realm in Am-Herat.
"Fsck the Immaculates" - The Immaculate Order is outlawed in Am-Herat. While Immaculate Monks are not actively hunted or discriminated against, it is illegal to evangelize the Immaculate religion or establish places of gathering and worship. As Am-Herat has never been ruled by the Realm, the Immaculate Order has never been powerful spiritual force in the kingdom and most Am-Heratites were not affected by this law.
"Khan, not King" - When Ziyad conquered Menes and destroyed the family of the previous King, he declined to assume the former royal dignity of his foe. He maintains that his title of Khan, or War-leader, of the Delzahn is superior to any mere kingship.
"No Conquest" - Despite that Ziyad conquered Am-Herat by force of arms, he does not actively seek to expand his dominion. Already the Circle has had to battle the armies of the Realm, and there have been more attempts on their lives from the Wyld Hunt than they can conveniently count. For the present, Ziyad believes the best strategy for the Circle, and Am-Herat, is to bide their time and gather their strength, while they wait for the shaky political situation in the Realm to change (hopefully for the worse). The Silent Crescent Tribes are useful as a buffer between Am-Herat and An-Teng and Ziyad sees no particular gain in conquering the jungle, though Fair Heart Impaler's attempts to sway the Tribes are useful.