Zhakatar - Seat of the Last Sultan

The Legends of the Fairest of Cities

Tales in the Near South have often spoken of a city beyond the arid flats known as Khalkhatul, where men topple and fall as easy as the trees before a axe. A place beyond the wild river of Waqara, whose waters have swallowed walls as well as men.
A land that can barely be seen in the lands of scorpions, where the stinged terrors grow as large as elephants, with a hunger to match.

Those tales speak of fair Zhakatar, she of golden spires and gardens of never-ending growth.
Here, the wells were deep and all of the children of Zhakatar savoured the joys of their orchards and fields, drinking the sweetest wine and wearing the finest of silks.
From behind the cloud-white walls, the inhabitants of this paradise dwelt in absolute peace, as killing was a aberration to the languid people of the Fairest of Cities.

But, those stories of a bygone age also speak of grief and misfortune.
In Zhakatar, sultans rose and fell by their own folly and pride, as betrayal begot betrayal.
The taleweavers are quick to point out the twist of the ironic , that such a place of plenty would be a place of malice.
In the end, all storytellers agree that the end of Zhakatar was fitting. The walls were toppled by the wild riders of the desert, as such is the way of the world. As the land was abandoned, the great sands swelled in size, and soon, no rider found their way to Zhakatar.

Many believed this to be the end of this jewel of plenty, and it faded from maps and memory. However, centuries later, the winds of fate blew across the sands once more, and Zhakatar was once again a name to be remembered.

The War of Shade

Fleeing the purges of the eastern desert during the establishment of the Scorpion Empire, the people of Marara had little to lose but their lives. Their leader, the Prince Halim al-Raqiz, had saved thousands from the ruthless zouaves of the Empire, yet the agrarian Mararans had little to no knowledge of the deep desert. They would all be bleached bones beneath the sun if they could not find shelter.
Yet, in spite of the friendly nomads, the refugees found no place to settle.

One night, after having buried his youngest son, the prince wept in the solitude of the darkness beyond their camp. And it was here that the darkness, moved by his sorrow, came to him and offered him a path to solace.
The mericful god was Selim Marih, the Blessed Darkness, and he told the prince the path to the forgotten city of Zhakatar. And though the journey may be perilous to his people, the alternative was to die a ignominious death in the treacherous wastes of Khalkhatul.

And so, the haggard throng of Mararans marched into the Sea of Sand. And even though hundreds died to the perils of the sands, the prince lead his people to Zhakatar.
Fallen into ruins by the travails of time, Zhakatar was still a sorely needed haven for the thousands of souls that had survived so much horror.
At that time, they did not know that the worst was yet to come.
In the hours of midnight, the spirits that had claimed Zhakatar returned, seeking to wrest their domain away from the intruders. Those were spirits of water and shade along with the spirits of the dead Zhakatarans, all under the rule of an embittered marid who styled himself High-Emperor of Zhakatar. Bloated and corrupt, the great spirit sought to devour the heart of the prince who had dared to bring his rats to his grand abode.
As such, war was inevitable, in spite of Prince Halim’s attempts at peace.

The War of Shade was the conflict that laid the foundations for the land we would come to know today, and Zhakatar still bears the scars of those battles today.
A full moon later, the marid was banished to the Underworld, and Zhakatar was once more the domain of mortal men. How that came about is the subject of debate among storytellers and scholars alike.
Some stories claim that the Prince brokered a deal with those gods that would later be worshiped in Zhakatar. Different sources say that he made a deal with a cruel entity of fire and smoke, who gave him speartips of the purest silver to battle the spectres.
Yet others claim that he fooled the marid into a game of ifranjiah to settle their conflict, a game that the prince had been a master of since childhood.
All that is the subject of legends and myths.

Yet, what is known, is that Zhakatar was built anew and the whitest of walls once more heralds to weary travelers of the glory they are about to witness. Come, oh traveler, and gaze upon the light of all lights, the beacon of wisdom itself, bountiful Zhakatar, she of endless joy and serenity!

The Land of The Garden

Built beneath a towering peak, Zhakatar is not only renowned for the city itself.
The Mountain of the Five Rocs is only the beginning, as stretching south on a large raised plateau of mountainous terrain, hundreds of orchards and plantations dot the landscape.
This vibrant place of life is called the Great Garden. When the sun is harshest, in months of dry summer, great, grey clouds shelters the plateau and the following rainfall can last for several days. As such, this place is unlike anything else in Zhakatar.
Great forests of juniper, leaved fig and almond spread across the plateau, painting it the deepest of green. Wild flowers bloom in their dazzling colors, surmounting the sun’s viscous warmth, as if defying nature itself. Honeysuckle and pistachios grow wild, granting their fruits to the wildlife that dwell here. Red-pelted baboon and black oryx dwell in the wood-covered ravines, and the sly leopards hunt those in turn. The leopards themselves are prized as pets by Zhakataran nobles and merchant lords. A fact that the patron spirit of the leopard finds to be a grave offence. Asir the Wild seeks to establish his rule of the Great Garden, yet is countered in every turn by his rival, the rain-godess Jidana Grey-Eyes, favored concubine of the lord of all the Cerulean Court.
Her patronage to the Great Garden is what brings the rain, and as such and the people who dwell here love their goddess above all else. Here, in the Great Garden of Dreams, one could be lost and die in happiness, in the lush glades that seemingly have been spared the ravages of the surrounding desert.
And quite a few have. The towering waterfalls have seen their share of melancholic poets and artists, who could not bear to ever leave this place of plenty and plunged themselves to a eternal rest in the embrace of the deep pools. What few such darkened souls realize is that their decision has been subtly influenced by the locals. Be they wise words from elders, the advice from priests or even the whispers from a lover’s lips. This is their sacrifice to their beloved rain-bringer.
And Jidana loves the savory taste of such sacrifices. One day, her power will be great enough.

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