Banner of Hakeshar
Hakeshar, with view of the Temple Circle and the Red Lake beyond a mass of slums, with a view of The Black Tor and the estates of its Great Houses
|Historical states:||Dominion of the Black Sun (13,349 - 12,900 B.S.R.|
Great Kingdom (12,900 - 1797 B.S.R.)
House of Bleeding Sands (1770 - 1748 B.S.R.)
|Government:||- Agha-Bey Emre Altan Enshaddon|
|Population:||500,000 (75% Men)|
|Major industries:||beef, cattle, leather, pottery, slaves|
Work In Progress
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Hakeshar (Solani: tr. Hakeshar) is called The City of Champions or the City of Monuments for it is proud beyond hubris of its many legends and heroes. Less flatteringly it is called the City of Blood, for many of those legends and heroes have come to a dark end. The city is ruled by an oligarchy of decadent, aristocratic merchant Houses; with the lead house selected by a contest of champions. Its patron Beast God is The Bull.
The city boasts a dizzying, chaotic layout and even natives are hard-pressed to navigate areas outside their neighborhoods. It is said Hakeshar has five hearts: circles within circles where the Great Houses reside. The Inner Circles are monuments to avarice, sprawling gardens filled with statues of renown Bannermen, reflecting pools, fountains, and a riot of flowers and trees. Even these delights pale in comparison to the contents of the compounds of the Great Houses that reside within them. Surrounding these enclaves of excess are the Outer Circles, where even taller trees and statues form a natural barrier between the circles and the larger districts that surround them, sparing the elite the sights, sounds, and smells of the masses around them. Each of these circles has a name and history of its own, they are...
The Circle of Swords and Stars - Set roughly in the center of Hakeshar, surrounded by Mazeyard to the northeast, Shacklehome to the southeast, Redclay to the southwest, and Brazensmoke to the northwest. This circle holds more wealth than much of the rest of the city put together. In the days of the Great Kingdom, the Pharaohs kept their local palace here, in the center of the circle. In these modern times, the Great Houses have set an honor guard to keep thieves out and the secrets of the Pharaohs within. Radiating out in the cardinal directions from the palace are the compounds of the mightiest of the Houses. Enshaddon to the north, their bitter foes Zolon to the south, neutral Halarrad to the east, and fading Reirnas to the west. The Circle of Bleeding Sands - This circle lay to the north, surrounded by the Liongate district to the west and the Wheelgate district to the east. The Bleeding Sands is considered to be the most safe and placid of the circles, due in part to the traditional lore which states that Gozenram, the nearest city to the circle has never dared attack Hakeshar. A cluster of Great Houses reside here: Assurbani, Boruk, Hassak, Kizshadad, Musam-Mir, Shulam, Vultham, and Zukud. The Temple Circle - This circle lay to the west, surrounded by the Lakeside district and on the shore of the eponymous Red Lake., The two great monuments to The Bull reside here: His temple, The Black Tor and the majestic arena known as The Rivenstone. It is the most accessible of the five circles, for worshipers and enthusiasts of the blood games pour in daily. The temple's attack dogs, the blood-mad House Shemai dominates this circle but they do not hold it entirely. Houses Ganzir, Lathvas, Rogdad, Torkug, Xedex, and Yakubher hold court here as well. The Circle of Brass and Gold - This circle lay to the east, with Wheelgate to the north, Giltgate to the south, and Mazeyard to the west. It is somewhat more fortified than the norther and western circles, as it and Giltgate contain numerous monuments meant to insult and antagonize the Mumuye and document the victory of The Bull over The Elephant, including domesticated elephants in the gardens. The bold, if wary Great Houses Durada, Gulthias, Julara, Mythlan, Shupurak, and Ulthras reside here. The Circle of Iron and Glass - The circle lay to the south, with Grovegate to the south, Shacklehome to the northeast and Redclay to the northwest. It is fortified intensely as it is closest circle in the direction of the Aushjar Forest and Maram, but from behind it's tall walls, it bristles with icons and monuments of mockery and disdain for Hakeshar's enemies. The Great Houses Al-Arwat, Atlaka, Cydnar, Kothor, Murdias, Nevita, Tydalos, Ur-Shamas, and Zedek reside here.
The districts surrounding the Outer Circles are widely considered to be nightmarish failures of civic planning. Other than a few, vital arterial roads, the city consists of narrow roads, overshadowed by piles of tenement housing. Generations of the poor have simply stacked their houses higher and higher on top of each other. Every few decades, when they risk getting into view of the nobles within the Circles, the Banner Cults issue out and perform a cull, burning and smashing the offending buildings. Otherwise, the districts are filled with ladders and rope bridges, as many navigate the city without ever setting foot on street level.
The Rivenstone is the city's premiere arena, and the largest amphitheater in all the Shining South, with enough space to seat a hundred thousand spectators who could potentially watch two small armies clash. It is a single, lozenge shaped mass of glossy, blood-red marble. A thousand, thousand statues of warriors, beasts, and monsters in miniature are arrayed atop the walls and among the stands; tributes to great heroes and epic battles of the last few thousand years. The exterior walls are a busy maze of high and bas-relief sculptures; portraying historical and/or mythical events in a distinctly pro-Hakeshar light. Some of these are covered by the long banners of Hakeshar's houses, which show their extended banner cults; many outsiders have trouble understanding the banners, but there are more natives who can read these banners than can even write their own names.
The arena floor is usually sand over wood, but it can be replaced with enough water from the Red Lake to stage small-scale naval battles or transformed into a number of different arrangements of terrain features to craft interesting events. Underneath the arena are an elaborate network of service tunnels, pipes, and machinery that support the arena's different layouts, as well as housing for slaves and beasts. None of the mechanisms break "single stone" nature of Rivenstone, a feat surely accomplished with magic, though few now know the truth of it.
The stands are all carved from the single, monolithic slab of marble that forms the arena, though the seats have been covered with wood slats to protect them from wear; many people bring blankets to cover their seats. There are several "boxes" made from wood, draped in colorful silk, where the great Houses sit in shaded isolation from the throngs. Vendors move among the crowd, selling food and drink; and the mood is usually cheery, casual, and loud, save during the seasonal Championship Final; when the crowd watch in awed silence.
The Rivenstone hosts events all day, every day from sunrise to sunset. During the darkness between, a legion of slaves cleans the place and performs minimal maintenance; though in truth the sturdy, magical construction has held up rather well despite the passing of thousands of years.
The Black TorEdit
The Black Tor is the center of The Bull's worship and priesthood...
During the time of the Great Kingdom of the South, Hakeshar was governed by a satrap installed by the Pharaoh. Like the other satraps in the kingdom, they were responsible for the administration of the city and its adherence to Pharaohnic law and commands. In modern times, the city boasts an Agha-Bey, more of an honorary position whose primary responsibilities are arbitrating disputes between the nobility and leading in times of war, the title comes with a number of privileges, such as the first pick of spoils after battle, and a portion of the Rivenstone's revenue. The Agha-Bey's title is up for grabs every year, as the title is decided by a contest of champions between Bannermen of every Great House.
The Great HousesEdit
Unlike other Southern nobles, the elite of Hakeshar banded together in great, extended clans that stick together. Whereas Gozenrami or Marami Beys who share blood might plot against each other for each other's lands, Hakeshari nobles capitulate to a single matriarch or patriarch. The thought of a younger scion plotting against an elder to steal away an inheritance is an alien concept, thought of as the failing of foreign nobility. The Great Houses own much of the property in the city and its territories, including the client villages, and they squeeze these lands for all they can get in rents, tolls, fees, and resources. Every Great House is served by a Banner Cult, a group of elite warriors who cultivate an air of exoticism and affect extreme gaudiness in hopes of making of themselves legendary figures, remembered for all time. Their eponymous banners relate the tale of their deeds and those of their predecessors, using a language of picture-symbols.