The Land of Cerulean Flame

The great southern desert. By some called the burning sands.
In this place the desert sands all seem to linger the longest, creating endless rows of dunes.
Thirst here is unavoidable, as the sun bears it’s baleful gaze, seeking to wither away all beneath his radiance. In the deep sands, little to nothing can grow, as the winds harrows away all but the strongest seeds who attempt to grasp hold of the shifting surface.

Any sane man would turn around.
But most who dare venture here understand that this place is much more than a premature death from an tormenting thirst and the searing rays of a uncaring sun.

Centuries ago, a flock of wandering tribesmen found a place of solace in the midst of a land thought to be arid and forsaken, that bountiful garden that was the glorious Zhakatar, a city that legends had spoken of and forgotten as the ages had passed.
A valiant warrior faced those avaricious spirits that had laid claim to this greatest of treasures, and founded a stalwart nation in the face of the ravages of nature, crowning himself sultan of that lost city, with a vision of great things to come.
Within the span of a single lifetime, one city gave birth to nine more.
On islands amidst the sands, on ancient ruins, within caves and stones, beneath mountain ranges and on patches of rocks, nine younger siblings rose to join in the nascent nation.
Each of them pearls in a glittering necklace, drawing attention from both poet, merchant and traveler alike, as their beauty cannot be denied, even among the most surly of boors.
Cities of white marble and sandstone, mighty walls built with the knowledge draw from across the southern Threshold. That greatest of Sultanates, built on gold and ivory, of marble and lapis, that land was supposed to endure for all times.
And in those days of the first Sultan, Raqiz the Fair, there would have been little doubt. Thousands of souls prospered, and the songs speak of days of plenty and wealth for even the lowest of beggars.
It was said that in those days, everyone drank freely from the sweet water of the oases, no man or woman alive would have to bow to drink her fill.

Yet, for such days of unbound glory, there is always a price to pay.

Upon the death of the sultan who built the foundation of their realm, the lords of his land began to squabble among themselves. In every gilded tower or silvered manse, the bickering took hold. And that petty bile soon turned into strife and knife and poison turned Raqiz’s lifework into tattered remnants of a bygone age, as swift as the desert winds blew across the lands.

Today, these cities are known as the Pasharates of Cerulean Flames, named for the ever-burning flames of the Great Lighthouse, the beacon from where all of the region navigates.
And there is no sultan in the fair city of Zhakatar.
Only Ten Pashas, and hundreds of Water Lords, nobles empowered by their control of the precious water, men and women who all ply their intrigues, seeking to replace the current Pashas with their own candidate as soon as possible.

Even in these lands, it is indeed an age of sorrows.

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