Called the Golden City, and the Jewel of the Desert, Essyrn is a sovereign city-state
located near the eastern coast of Le'raana. It is currently the largest and oldest city on
the continent, having grown up over the centuries from a loose collection of settlements to
the significant economic force that it is today.
1. Kingdom colors
Purple and gold.
A purple, winged cobra on a field of gold.
5. Ethnic Groups
90% Essyrni, 5% Adelan, 5% Other
Unlike what many outsiders might assume, the desert is not a barren wasteland; it's
actually quite alive and vibrant. The city-state of Essyrn is located deep in the Moraki
Desert and situated along the Niafi river, a major river that flows through the desert and
into the Tuor ocean. There the land is rich, green, and vibrant with plenty of date palms
The city itself is built primarily of mudstone, limestone, granite, basalt, alabaster,
and sandstone, given its proximity to the river and the number of natural quarries around
it. Granite and alabaster, however, is used more sparingly and is generally only accessible
to wealthier citizens. Essyrn's protective wall, which envelops the city, is constructed of
granite and has thus far withstood the tests of time though it’s been battered and repaired
Beyond the oasis, golden sands, dotted here and there with low-growing shrubs, make up
the scenery. Sandstorms are common and while most are mild, some can be devastating. They
have been known to bury whole caravans as well as cause significant damage to the city
As far as the weather goes, the climate is dry and hot, reaching incredible, blistering temperatures during the day. However, at night it's a different story. With no clouds to trap in heat, the temperature can drop down to well below freezing.
As far as the local fauna goes, the lands surrounding Essyrn are rich with wildlife. It
plays host to everything from lions, leopards, and cheetahs to jackals, foxes, gazelles,
buffalo, elephants, and many different species of reptile, many venomous. The Niafi river,
though life-giving, is also quite dangerous. Crocodiles over twenty feet long have been
sighted there and they prey as readily on humans as they do on larger beasts. Hippopatami
can be just as deadly. With the tall grasses and reeds that line the river, it can often be
difficult to see either before it's too late.
Sandworms can also be found in the Moraki desert, some growing to mammoth proportions. They tend to travel beneath the sand and rarely give much warning before they attack.
Essyrni are proud, noble, strong, and believe that they are the First People. They
believe that Essyrn is the oasis from which all life originated and that, as the Chosen
People, it is their destiny and right to rule all others. Though Essyrn is no longer the
power it once was, that does not faze the Essyrni who view themselves as superior; in fact,
they view other cultures and countries as subjects rather than as sovereign nations.
Essyrni value wealth, opulence, and beauty, and their culture is such that anyone can
gain their fortune should they play their cards right. Likewise, it's just as easy to lose
it all if one isn't careful. They can be very competitive and cutthroat when it comes to
making a profit, especially when it comes to foreigners, who they are not afraid of
swindling. After all, it's their fault for being ignorant.
Essyrni are very ritualistic in what they do. They do what they do because it's worked
for them for centuries and they see no point in fixing a system they don't view as broken.
That said, while they may be set in their ways, they are not entirely rigid; they are a
very expressive people that loves all forms of art and beauty, from dance to performing
arts to painting to poetry and song and storytelling. Dance is a favorite and they find
ways to incorporate it into all their festivals, as both a religious expression and simply
for the fun of it; they regard it as the purest art form because other mediums can be
included with it. Dance can be combined with singing, it can be used to tell a story, and
it can be as a living painting. The most common form of dancing is belly-dancing, which can
be performed by both men and women, solo or in groups. Though the dance can be sensual, it
is not viewed as inherently sexual. More risque versions are often performed by
foreigners, and many Essyrni consider them to be a perversion.
Despite having no schools, most Essyrni can read and write though generally not very
well, as most are simply taught by their parents or older siblings. Most know how to read
and write well enough to get by in everyday life and frequent the marketplaces that often
sell foreign products. Nobility, however, is very well educated and schooled by hired
2. Views on Magic
Magecraft in general is rare among Essyrni, though gifts of geomancy and divination
(particularly astromancy) run unusually high in their population. It is those two gifts
that Essyrni find most useful. While they do not shun people for other types of magic, they
also don't consider it as impressive or useful. There are two exceptions, two forbidden
types of magic that can swiftly lead to exile: conjuring water is one, for it is considered
to be a direct insult to the very oasis which gives life so freely. Dark magic is
another--basically, anything used to cause harm to another, or anything used to conjure
spirits and/or demons.
To the Essyrni, the stars are highly important. The sky is the map by which they
navigate the vast sea of the desert and, because of that, knowing the sky can be life-
saving when one is lost. They also believe their fate is tied to the stars and so a great
deal of effort is put into charting the skies--and also into reading the stars to tell
3. International Relations
Commanding a trade fleet to rival any of the kingdoms and holding a monopoly on all
trade coming up from the south--which must pass through the desert and thus, through the
city--Essyrn's power lies in its coffers and its ability to control the resources and
luxuries required by the Three Kingdoms to the north. It has formed a tight alliance with
Adela, providing Essyrn with the backing of a considerable military (something Essyrn
lacks) and Adela with favorable trade deals for the resources unavailable in its heavily
forested and mountainous land.
That said, Essyrn trades heavily with other nations, as well, and doesn't really get
involved with the politics of those nations unless it directly affects them and their
trading prospects. However, many powerful merchants could potentially have a lot of sway
over the politics of other nations, as the government doesn't really regulate trade and it
is the merchant princes who are the true movers and shakers of the nation.
For this reason, trade can be very cut-throat. There is a lot of competition between
merchants and it can often be a race to see who gets the best deals and the best items.
Essyrn generally exports beautiful glass creations, fine silk and flaxen clothing,
cosmetics, paper made from reeds, desert spices, coffee, alcohol, and narcotics. It imports food
from Adela and Serendipity as well as art and clothing, though they usually on purchase the
finest, sheerest materials as they have no use for heavier clothing, nor do they consider
Foreigners are viewed both as barbarians and subjects. Essyrn hasn't yet realized
that it is no longer the huge, vast empire it once was and its people tend to view
foreigners not as part of them, but as still under their rule.
Pale skin and light hair is considered to be ugly and piggish (rather than beautiful and
exotic), and a majority of Essyrn's slaves are pale and foreign-blooded. Essyrni find
sunburns particularly amusing as it turns the skin pink and, thus, makes it look even
When greeting someone of the same sex, it is customary to kiss their cheek while
shaking hands. When greeting someone of the opposite sex, cheek kissing does not occur. It
is proper to wait for the woman to extend her hand first, and if she does not, the man
should bow his head in greeting.
Essyrni are built tall, lean, and lithe with strong bodies. Only the very wealthy can
afford to be heavyset, and as such, curvy, voluptuous bodies and a little meat around the
middle are often considered desirable. Essyrni men tend to average a height of 5'10" - 6'2"
while women tend to average a height of 5'7" - 5'11".
Essyrni have black hair that is commonly thick and curly. Their skin tone ranges from
brown to deep umber, and their eyes are commonly red-brown, brown, or almost black, with gray or hazel occurring rarely. Other colors (such as blue, green, violet, or amber) do not occur naturally in Essyrni and are typically the result of having a foreign ancestor.
Essyrn is a patriarchal society, though women have been making more and more progress. Mostly, though, Essyrni cling to old traditions and old ways because that's the way it's always been done and they see no point in changing that, as it worked for their ancestors and thus must work for them. As such, gender roles are rather rigid; typically, women tend to the house and domestic duties such as cooking, cleaning, tending their crops, and raising their children. Men, on the other hand, are responsible for teaching their male children their trade, tending their livestock, and protecting the city.
That said, though gender roles are rigid they're not set completely in stone. If a woman wanted to do men's work, for example, she would be free to do so--as long as she dressed and presented as a man, and so long as her family (or husband) permitted her to do so. After all, as a patriarchal society they view men as superior, and thus it's understandable (even admirable!) to them that a woman might want to emulate them. A man could technically do woman's work, but he would be regarded as strange, or even as a failure.
For this reason, transgender and/or non-binary men have a slightly easier time in Essyrni society than transgender and/or non-binary women, though the unfortunate reality is that transgender issues are not fully understood, and it is still confused with cross-dressing. A trans man, for example, would still be expected to marry a cisgender man, and he would still be treated, ultimately, as a woman. Things are, unfortunately, more difficult for trans women who are not as readily accepted as trans men. While trans men tend to be patronized, trans women tend to be abused.
Men can have as many wives as they can afford to keep, and the order in which they get married determines their hierarchy within the household. The first wife to marry, for example, is the one with the most power within the household, though a favored wife can also attain more sway. Concubines are next on the social hierachy, and slaves fall down at the very bottom.
Women are expected to be virginal until marriage. A woman who has had premarital sex could potentially ruin her prospects of a good marriage, and may instead have to marry below her station, if she can marry at all.
Men, on the other hand, are not expected to remain chaste until marriage, and it's not uncommon for their first experience to be with a slave, concubine, or temple priestess. Concubines are kept by those who can afford them, mostly the very wealthy. Many women enter into concubinage willingly (or are given away by their family) for the social benefits and economic security, but others are slaves purchased for that purpose. While on the surface it may seem like the difference between wives and concubines is superficial, in truth the difference is significant; wives are married, and the unions unite families, determine inheritance, and may even be used for social and political maneuvers. Wives are also of higher status than concubines and are respected as such.
Children born from concubines remain with the father, even if the concubine is later sold (if a slave) or dismissed. These children are not considered to be bastards and are loved as dearly as children produced between the man and a wife. However, these children do not inherit property.
Children born from a slave, however, are seen as illigitimate.
Despite the limits placed upon female sexuality, women can find a lot of freedom in the temples as priestesses where they are freed from the social obligations to marry and have children. There, some even choose to serve as sacred prostitutes.
Most priestesses enter into the priesthood (or are dedicated to it by their parents) when they are very young, so they can grow up learning all the sacred texts and rituals of their religion. While many remain chaste, entering into spiritual marriages with their deity, some do service upper caste devotees and some may even bear children as a result of these unions. In addition to serving as spiritual leaders, dancers, and guides, they are prized for their fertility and may also serve as midwives or even surrogates, aiding those who have trouble bearing children of their own. For that they are venerated.
As far as homosexuality goes, it is not stigmatized. While people of the same gender cannot marry each other, they may still have deep relationships with one another. In fact, two women can have a romantic and even sexual relationship with one another without it "counting" as premarital sex, since there is no risk of impregnation. And a man might take a male lover to fill that void if he can't afford a wife or concubine. While every Essyrni is expected to marry the opposite sex and produce children, they may still maintain same-sex relationships without it being considered adultery, as they do not consider it to be "real" sex. However, even within a marriage it may be viewed as beneficial to the relationship since, for example, a man with many wives may not be able to give them all equal attention.
Because of the harsh, hot environment, Essyrni wear very little clothing and are not at
all prudish about nudity.
They favor light clothing made of plant fibers, as wool is far too hot and heavy for the
climate. Flax is the preferred material, though wealthier individuals can afford silk.
Generally, the wealthier a person is, the more transparent their clothing. Essyrni do
not wear breeches, as they find them uncomfortably hot.
The clothing itself consists of simple wraps and drapings; both men and women wear
skirts, sarongs, kilts held in place by colorful sashes, or light robes. Men commonly go
bare-chested, and it's not unusual for women to bare one or both breasts. Within the
household, men and women alike may go completely nude.
To make up for the simplicity of the clothing, Essyrni tend to accent their outfits
with vibrant dyes and lots of accessories--bangles, necklaces, anklets, rings, and even
headdresses and wigs for religious leaders and the very wealthy. For footwear, Essyrni typically
wear sandals that lace around the ankle.
Long hair is a sign of wealth, as it's usually only the wealthy who have the time and
money to maintain it. Essyrni like to put perfumed oils in their hair to keep it moisturized, and oily hair is not considered dirty but healthy and glamorous. They also love
elaborate hairstyles--including hairstyles that don't require a lot of upkeep but still
look beautiful. A popular style is braiding the hair into lots of tiny, thin rows that are often accented with beads or feathers, a style
that takes a lot of time to do but which can keep for even longer. Many wealthy families even own a slave whose sole job is to style hair.
Cosmetics are also frequently used in Essyrn by both men and women. Both sexes
(including children) line their eyes with kohl, and women often put rouge on their cheeks
and paint their lips.
Perfumes and oils are highly valued and most people wear them. In a nation where water
is scarce and precious, Essyrni do not usually bathe by submerging themselves in water, as
that would be grossly wasteful. Instead, they rub down with oils and then scrape the dirt
off their skin with a special tool. Once in a while, to get thoroughly clean, they visit
communal baths and soak in the water after scraping their skin.
While this style of dress is practical on hot days in the city, once one travels outside the city walls it becomes necessary to cover up. Beyond the river oasis is a harsh desert, so travelers tend to cover up completely, from head to toe, in white or beige linen while leaving only their eyes exposed. This helps to keep them cool in the unforgiving heat and warm when the temperature drops, and also prevents them from getting blasted by sand on windy days.
Essyrni don't eat a lot of meat; a meal may include some, but it is dominated by
grains, dates, vegetables, legumes, and other fruits. Their meals tend to be heavily
accented with onions, their preferred spice, and beer is drunk with most meals. Essyrni have also discovered coffee, a drink popular throughout the city.
As Essyrn is close to the ocean, fish and shellfish is also available, though like other
meats it is expensive. Therefore, most Essyrni dishes are based around whatever grows in
It is considered polite and proper to always offer a guest food, even if you don't have
enough to feed yourself. It is also considered rude to decline a food offering if you are a
guest in someone's house, even if you don't like that particular dish.
Most Essyrni are bilingual, speaking Essyrni as well as Common, the trader's tongue.
Nowadays, Common is spoken most frequently, though Essyrni is used in religious
practices--and also spoken when they don't want a foreigner eavesdropping.
The Kaadir is a type of lesser, flightless dragon common to the Moraki desert. Unlike
other species of dragon, they are not fully sentient and can only communicate through grunts,
growls, roars, and body language. Kaadir are also capable of producing fire, and they're warm-blooded
like a mammal. The word "Kaadir" roughly translates to "fire lizard".
Kaadir are bipedal and walk upright with strong hind legs that feature wicked black
claws, including an especially large, hooked spur that they use in battle to rip open the
belly of their opponent or prey. Their front claws are small and nimble but lack opposable
thumbs. They have long, powerful tails capable of whipping an opponent and breaking bones,
and their neck is long and sleek, their jaws filled with rows of bone-crushing teeth.
Kaadir average about seven feet in height and fifteen feet in length.
While Kaadir eat meat, they're omnivorous and are capable or surviving on fruits and
vegetables. They're tough creatures with bodies well adapted to water conservation, so they
can go days and sometimes weeks without needing to drink, surviving mostly off of the
morning dew that collects on their scales.
Kaadir come in all manner of colors, generally shades of brown, red, and yellow. Their
eyes tend to be brilliant shades of red, green, orange, and yellow, reptilian in nature
with slitted pupils. Their scales may be decorated with darker stripes or spots, and some
Kaadir sport horns or tusks. Some even grow hair from the top of their head clear down to
their shoulders, like the mane of a horse.
Though not fully sentient, Kaadir are intelligent animals capable of problem-solving and
working as a unified team. They're social animals, as well, and enjoy the company of other
Kaadir and humans. As such, they're highly prized among Essyrni, for Essyrni are capable of
bonding Kaadir from a young age, after which that Kaadir will be forever linked to that
Essyrni use Kaadir for all manner of things. In the past, Kaadir were the Essyrni
warhorse, a force to be reckoned with. Nowadays, they serve mostly as companions, beasts of
burden, and for transportation. Most wealthy families are able to get a Kaadir, after which
it becomes like a member of the family, and some Essyrni guards even use Kaadir as mounts.
A rich merchant may even be able to rent a Kaadir to travel across the desert, for there is
no safer, hardier mount than that.
Because of their importance in Essyrni society, harming a Kaadir is a crime punishable
Essyrni love any chance to throw a celebration and marriages are no exception--though
it is only the first marriage that receives a full-blown reception. Most Essyrni marry when
very young, around the age of fifteen. Most marriages are arranged in some fashion, with
families giving their prettiest daughters to wealthier or more successful men in the hopes
of gaining good fortune. Still, some marriages are unions of love; even if the pairing is
arranged, the couple may not be total strangers to each other.
Once a couple is set to wed, they can expect to be showered with gifts from both
families. They can also expect no less than three days of celebratory feasting leading up
to the actual wedding. On the final day, the bride is moved to the groom's home where the
wedding ceremony is performed.
A prayer rug is laid out for the couple to kneel on. It is decorated on each corner with
a symbol of fertility, wealth, health, and sweetness: on one corner, decorated eggs and fruits to
represent fertility; on another corner, a cup of honey to represent a rich, sweet union; on
another corner, a bowl of coins to represent prosperity; and on the final corner, a loaf of
bread to represent health.
A priest or priestess then performs a simple ceremony asking for the couple's mutual
consent in accepting each other in marriage. When consent is given, the priest/priestess
asks for Hakeshna's blessing, then the couple dips their finger into the honey and feeds it
to one another, symbolizing beginning their marriage with sweetness. The ceremony is
wrapped up with a kiss, and then the celebration continues long into the night. At least,
until the couple manages to escape their family.
Wives other than the first may not get the full celebration, depending on how close
together the marriages are, due simply to the cost of it. They can still expect the wedding
ceremony, however, which the former wives also attend. They kneel to the right of the groom
beside the prayer rug for the duration of the ceremony and, once the new wife's consent is
given, they welcome her as a sister.
Probably one of Essyrn's most famous attractions, the Colosseum is host to a variety of events and is a popular place for people from all walks of life to gather. The Colosseum is host to such events as simulated animal hunts, plays, religious ceremonies, mock battles, executions, and gladiatorial shows.
In a simulated animal hunt, animals may be imported from all over and have even been known to include such beasts as lions, rhinoceroses, and even elephants.
In a mock battle, the focus is on theatrics rather than hurting an opponent. These battles usually simulate battles of the past, or battles from mythology, and may include very elaborate sets and props. There are competitive matches as well, but they are about showmanship and skill rather than violence. Participants are heavily armored and armed with blunted weapons, and the match is called when blood is drawn. Points are awarded whenever one participant lands a hit on the other.
Most notorious, however, are the gladiatorial shows.
While some gladiators are volunteers, making a living as professional gladiators, more people--men and women alike--are forced into the lifestyle. Most gladiators are slaves and condemned criminals, forced into violent and often deadly matches against other slaves, criminals, and professional gladiators. Some matches even place unarmed combatants against armed combatants, or against dangerous animals.
Spectators often bet on these matches, and a truly successful gladiator could earn
themselves a following. If they stay alive long enough, they could even earn back their freedom, just by virtue of being a fan favorite.
Activity in Essyrn comes to sudden halt when the town crier declares it Noontime, or
high noon, when the day is at its hottest. At this time, the marketplace shuts down to
allow everyone to go home for three hours to pray, rest, eat, and give the day a chance to
cool down a little. Once the break is over, life in Essyrn resumes as normal.
Slavery is common in Essyrn and there is a lot of variety in how slaves are treated.
While some slaves are treated like a member of the family and able to live plush,
comfortable lives as the favorite of some noble, others (commonly former criminals) are
beaten, literally worked to death, or forced to fight in Essyrn's Colosseum. It all depends
on the slave's master and their own particular talents; a strong slave may be used for hard
labor, a pretty slave sold as a concubine, and a clever slave sold as a scribe.
The only thing they all have in common is that they may work for their freedom. A kind
master may even give them their freedom as a gift, if they have been a particularly loyal
Most Essyrni slaves are captured criminals or foreigners who had their caravans raided
by local slavers. Essyrn is not really picky about where their slave stock comes from.
Slaves are easily recognizable for the sheer veils they wear over their faces and hair,
which they must always wear in public.
Essyrni practice soft-monotheism; they have multiple minor deities with one main God
that all others stem from. This God is known as Hakeshna and is depicted as a winged cobra
with two heads and a sea-snake's striped tail. One head is believed to be male while the
other head is believed to be female. Thus this deity represents sky, land, and sea, as well
as the masculine and the feminine.
Essyrni strongly believe in fate, luck, and destiny, and they believe their fates are
tied to the stars and the sky. Most important religious ceremonies are performed at dawn,
noon, dusk, and midnight, when spiritual energy is believed to be heightened, and it's
considered to be at its strongest during celestial events, such as during eclipses or the
presence of a comet. Rituals often involve some combination of dance, prayer, sacrifice,
and reading the sky, though it is only the priests and priestesses who perform these
sacred, secret rituals. For example, an animal may be slaughtered during a celestial event
so its entrails may be read, or its blood may be used for scrying.
As for the masses,
spirituality tends to be more personal. Most Essyrni have a prayer rug that they keep
immaculately clean and well-tended, and they do their worshiping and praying there,
typically at dawn, noon, dusk, and midnight (in the case of the very devout). They tend to
move the rug throughout the day so that they may have a clear view of the sun or moon
through their window while they pray.
While they believe their destiny can be read in the stars and that it is largely
unchangeable, they also do not believe they are powerless. They believe that the truest
mark of character is in how someone reacts to the obstacles life places in their path.
Obstacles should be met without fear, and cowardice is horrifically shameful. How you behave
in this life, and how you handle what life throws your way, will influence how you are
judged by Hakeshna in the afterlife.
Those who meet their fate fearlessly in this life have the potential to change their
stars, alter their fate, and have a better life in their next life. They may even break the
cycle and be able to rest in the afterlife, a place of bliss and peace. Those who run from
their fate, who act as cowards, will only have it worse in their next life.
Essyrni believe that there are many different demons that attempt to lead people astray.
These are the djinn, creatures born from fire and earth that believe themselves superior to
humans (and believe they came before humans, and that they ought to be the First
People) and so try to sabotage them. These djinn may be both literal and symbolic; there
are desert creatures called djinn that may promise humans wishes--though these often
come at a price. Symbolically, a djinn can be any vice that may lead a person away from
their destiny and to their doom, such as an addiction to gambling that leads someone to
debt rather than fortune.
Alternatively, Essyrni also believe in the Seytil, otherworldly messengers from
Hakeshna. These creatures resemble humans, though they possess an ethereal, genderless
beauty, and they possess the wings of their deity. They are featured throughout Essyrni
folklore and legend as both messengers, guardians, and warriors of Hakeshna. They are
believed to be holy, but are feared as much as they are honored, for they are believed to
be the ones who carry out Hakeshna's judgment in the afterlife.
1. Religious Leaders
While the Shah, or leader of Essyrn, is considered to be Hakeshna incarnate, just below
the Shah is the Head Priest or Priestess. This individual is also thought to be touched by
the divine. They do not enter into the position by choice but take on the position after
the last Head Priest/Priestess dies, though they may have been selected much sooner than
that, even from childhood, and would spend most of their life under the tutelage of the
current Head Priest or Priestess.
While the Shah runs the city-state (in theory, at least), the Head Priest or Priestess
works side by side with the Shah, tending to the Shah's spiritual needs and also leading in
temple services and rituals.
Every Essyrni is expected to go on a pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime. While
Essyrn itself is considered a sacred place as the oasis from which all life sprung, there
is another place that is equally holy for it is believed that it was touched by Hakeshna,
This place is called Seraj Isa, or the "glass desert". It is an expanse of desert that
stretches for miles, as far as the eye can see--only the sand and everything on it has been
blasted into glass, including the dunes. It's highly detailed and beautiful, so detailed
one can make out the ripples on a dune or the footprints of some animal that had been
traveling through the sand before it was changed. No one knows what caused it or when, but
it is a truly amazing and breath-taking sight. Essyrni believe it could only be the work of
Essyrni are skilled when it comes to algebra, geometry, and medicine which affords Essyrni luxuries that many other nations lack. For example, the city has basic indoor plumbing; homes typically have a bathroom, which consists of a hole in the ground that feeds into a small channel. The channel empties into a small bowl outside, which must be baled out by hand. Essyrn also has public hospitals, has pioneered in stringed instruments, and has produced the first paper money. While paper money is not yet popular in other nations, it's widely used in Essyrn to replace heavier metal coins.
Alchemy (and pharmacology) are
one of their most popular occupations and they produce a variety of potions, medicines,
poisons, narcotics, oils, and perfumes from that. It is a highly valued and guarded trade,
though most alchemists specialize in only one or two different areas that they seek to
master and perfect.
However, foreigners beware! Not every alchemical cure-all in the marketplace is
legitimate. Some natives (as well as foreigners) often sell fake products masquerading as
the real thing. So that magical cure-all might be able to cure one's sickness,
sure--or it may just be donkey piss.
Essyrni are also unmatched when it comes to astronomy and have successfully charted the
stars, providing maps by which to navigate--which many other nations utilize. They also observe and record all manner of
celestial activity and have even created a telescope.
As far as transportation goes, Essyrni use Kaadir in place of horses and camels as
beasts of burden, as they are capable of long treks through the desert.
The leader of Essyrn is known as the Shah, who can be either male or female.
Traditionally, the Shah is male, but there have been exceptions throughout history and
female rulers have become more common in recent history.
The Shah is believed to not only be a political leader but also a religious one, chosen
by divine right to rule. They are, in a sense, believed to be Hakeshna's avatar.
The right to rule is passed through blood, and so the royal family sticks to marrying
close relatives. This means they usually marry cousins, but there have been cases where siblings have
A male Shah has the wealth to have as many wives as he wants (so long as they share his bloodline) and even more concubines. That plus the concubine's children, servants, and eunuchs represents the royal harem, which can be massive. In the past, when Essyrn was at its peak, one Shah in particular had thousands of concubines. Unlike with other Essyrni families, children produced between the Shah and his concubines are not considered to be candidates for Shah and are considered illegitimate,
left to grow up in the harem.
Female Shahs may not have a harem, as they may take only one husband, and they may not have relationships with other men. However, that may not stop them from seeking out their husband's concubines or even the eunuchs guarding them. To produce a
child with someone not of royal blood would be impure and blasphemous.
The first-born is the heir to the Shah position when the current Shah steps down. The
wives or husband of the Shah receives little to no political power, though they might be
able to influence the Shah from behind the scenes.
However, today the Shah has very little political power and is mostly viewed as a
figurehead, a non-entity that lives their life in opulence and makes a public appearance
every now and then.
The true movers and shakers of Essyrn are the merchant princes that control
Essyrn's trade. Because of their incredible wealth, power, and the sway they hold over
trade, they are more than capable of paying large bribes to various officials who keep them
in power and let them make laws and decisions for Essyrn.
However, though it is difficult to attain such a position of wealth and power, it is
very easy to lose it. If a merchant prince isn't careful, for example, he could easily find
himself sold into slavery as easily as the slaves he himself sold. Essyrn can be a great
place to excel if one has the head for it, but mix with the wrong people or make the wrong
decisions and it's even easier to lose everything.
That said, Essyrn's merchants and nobility are rather cutthroat. If they can see a
profit in something--including a war--they will jump on it.
Long ago, when Essyrn was a true nation, it used to have powerful, vicious military
that was feared by all. Essyrn was infamous for conquering its neighbors and swallowing
entire tribes, but as Essyrn has lost power and fallen into decline, so its military has
also shrunk. Today Essyrn's military is no more than a police force.
Essyrn doesn't really raid neighboring tribes anymore, though an opportunistic group of
soldiers may take on a small nomadic camp. Still, the primary function of Essyrn's military
is to keep the peace and protect against raiding bandits.
Essyrn does not deal with crime lightly. Murder, rape, and intentionally harming a
Kaadir are instant death sentences. Theft is dealt with by flogging (forty
lashes, to be exact), though repeat offenses is an instant slavery sentence. As for a
continuously violent individual? They may also find themselves wearing a slave's veil.
In addition, water magic and dark magic (magic used to harm or summon demons and
spirits) is forbidden, and using either within Essyrn results in flogging and exile.
Adultery is also a serious crime in Essyrn. While an adulterous man may only be forced to divorce, an adulterous woman could face public shaming. She would be forced to shave her head and eyebrows and have her face tattooed with the symbol for "adulteress". No one will marry a confirmed adulterer.
Essyrn is one of the oldest nations and was, long ago, a large empire that stretched
into the Kishahn jungle and spread into Adela. As a nation, it reached its peak ages ago
and has long since fallen into a decline, though its people haven't quite acknowledged that
Today, it is no longer a nation but a city-state, though many Essyrni still refer to
Essyrn as a nation.