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Ahnatep

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Ahnatep
RegionEyktol
NotabilityFamed
LeaderPressorah Bashti
Races
Eypharians75%
Viper Dhani4%
Other21%
LanguagesCommon, Snake-Tongue, Arumenic



Contents

The City

A testimony to old glories and rising powers, Ahnatep glitters in northern Eyktol, surrounded by sand, springs and sea. It is the home of the Eypharians and serves as a reflection of their culture and mores.

The city thrives due to the ambition of its citizens. Eypharians revel in beauty and power and compete to possess both. Fame, wealth and strength can be obtained and wielded in Ahnatep, and there is more to living than quietly surviving. The city, boasts amphitheaters, temples, a Librum, floating palaces, and gardens of concubines.

Ahnatep also holds those who have fallen into the mire of indulgence without means: Dusk eaters, slaves, larks of the evening. They malinger as a warning to those who would compete without the ability to win.

Withstanding the centuries, Ahnatep is a city both beautiful and merciless. She woos adorers, choosing from them whom she will bless or devour.

Weather

Due to Ahnatep's coastal location and estuary, its weather is milder than the rest of Eyktol. Days are bright and sunny and evenings are invariably cool. There are three seasons of weather, none especially distinct. The subtle differences are daily temperatures, seasonal winds and sporadic rain. "Winters" are pleasant, save the occasional bout of hale. Snow is incredibly rare, but not unheard of. For the most, the evenings are damp and cold and the days temperate. With "spring" comes the hot dusty winds, usually kept at bay by the city's walls. With spring also comes the rainfall. Rain is still rare, but more common here in the northern part of Eyktol than the rest of the region. Summer and autumn blend together in a string of hot cloudless days and brisk nights.

History

The city of rivers

Before the Valterrian, four Eypharian-dominated cities were in the region: Ahnatep, Menehat, Naphu and Bisret. The area’s annexation by the Alahean Empire was a peaceful one and its ruling figures were allowed to keep their ceremonial titles. They served the cities as governors and protectors.

Ahnatep was the seat of governance in the summer, home to the Pressor’s floating palace and an escape from the oppressive heat of Menehat, the primary city of the Eypharians.

Built along the deltas of the region’s rivers, boasting dozens of waterways and a vast estuary extending to the sea, Ahnatep was a commercial center for the inland regions. It specialized in agriculture, trading food and linens for industrial products.

While not as glorious as Menehat, Ahnatep was a wealthy region, able to support the building of schools and temples. It was not militarily strong, compared to the other cities, but the network of rivers surrounding it proved protection enough against attacks from the land.

The Valterrian shifted the size and climate of Ahnatep. All but two of the springs dried up, and the riverbeds filled with silt. At least a third of the city collapsed and was buried under sand.

Ahnatep now sits on the coast. A spring pours from above the city and another at its heart, the Eye of Syna. The water from above the city is diverted mostly for farming, while the Eye of Syna feeds wells that tend to the city's needs. What water remains flows underground into the greatly diminished estuary before reaching the sea.

Despite enormous changes to the scale and pomp of the city, its people view Ahnatep’s survival as a miracle. It still stood when the desert devoured all others, and it was still a sight to behold on the gold horizon.

Slowly, the destroyed parts of the city are being unearthed and rebuilt. Each Pressor or Pressorah striving to outdo their predecessor’s work.

Politics

Ahnatep is the only region of Mizahar that boasts a kind of nobility and a centralized ruling figure, known as a Pressor (m) or Pressorah (f). Noble status is both attained and maintained; nothing comes free. Old blood, new ambition and control over limited resources allows several families and lines to fix themselves in a position of dominance. While ranks shift within the hierarchy, and houses vie against one another, the noble class itself is intractable.

Ahantep is a city that lives and dies by rank, following a very precise order of importance. Citizens can sometimes rise and always fall in status. The hierarchy is as follows from most important to least.

1. The Pressorah Bashti

2. Sun Bearers or Inkara: The Pressorah's family, including only those with royal blood.

3. Jibade: Non-royal family members. A form of nobility, despite not being tied to any of the Four Winds. Their "House" is considered to be the Pressorah's. Jibade roles tend to be ceremonial.

4. Scepters: The Pressorah's most trusted. Overseers of particular areas. Commonly drawn from either the Four Winds or the Gilded.

5. Hawks: Martial Leaders moving in ranks from 1st (highest) to 3rd (lowest).

And The Houses of the Four Winds: the noble houses divided by North, South, East and West, defined by their relation to the original grantees of the first Pressor's blessing. Each has their own guard and enough means to pose threats to one another.

6. Gilded: the wealthy and clever who populate the Pressorah's court and feasts, but lack a title from the Four Winds. The pool from which she draws those fit for higher purposes.

7. Jackals: members of the guard, divided into various ranks.

8. Servants to the city.

9. Palace concubines.

10. Foxes: general foot soldiers in training who have not yet attained the rank of Jackal.

11. All other Eypharians and Dhani.

12. Humanoid races.

13. Monstrous races.

Economy

Small ships along the coast

Unlike the rest of the desert, Ahnatep frequently trades with outsiders. The area is still rich with resources and hungry to solidify its image as a Queen among cities. It is also a rare purveyor and purchaser of luxury goods. While most people are fighting to survive, Ahnatep endeavors to showcase the finer things in life.

Industry

The most prominent industries in Ahnatep are governed by either the Pressorah or a noble house, securing their political position through tactile means. However, niche luxury industries tend to sprout from smaller entities. Perfumeries, dye makers, jewelers and weavers are invariably small, family-run businesses each with their own reputation and style.

The largest industries are wadj production, beer brewing, mirage (a powerful opiate), mining marble and salt, and sailing.

The city's position on the coast is capitalized. Swift boats glide in and out of the ports carrying travelers and cargo to far off places. An orderly system of piers and merchant stations allows for efficient trade and organized cargos. This system is overseen by the Souths (The House of the Southwinds), though it benefits more than their own interests.

The mystique of fragrance

Boats come in all shapes and sizes, from personal pleasure vessels to broad sailed cargo ships from Zeltiva. However, a common theme of Eypharian vessels, the most common here, is speed and maneuverability. Most the ships are smaller. Heavier cargo, such as marble, tends to be transported by caravan across land.

Ahnatep currency is in mizas or gems, as they are frequently dealing with buyers and seller from abroad. A local currency would hinder their expansion. In turn, other local currencies are not accepted. Bartering is less common, but will sometimes suffice.

Notable Exports

The most common export from Ahnatep is wadj, a sturdy paper used throughout Mizahar. An exceptional barley beer is a close second in popularity. Gems and salt are also sent abroad from desert mines. As for more luxury goods, Ahnatep exports linen in deep colors, perfumes, oils, jewelry and makeup. An enticing mystique is commonly associated with beauty goods from Ahnatep, especially perfumes. While Eypharians naturally produce an attractive pheromone, it is rumored they have learned to reproduce the effects in their perfumes.

Exports are usually small but valuable objects, as Eypharian ships are not large enough to hold considerable cargo. Trade via caravan is possible, but avoided. The trek through the desert is long and dangerous, and merchants would be wary of having caravans full of linens and gems.

Culture

Social Mores

The culture of Ahnatep is both hedonistic and ambitious, with a great allowance for behavior that would not be tolerated in cities like Syliras or Yahebah. However, the city's active adherence to order makes it far cry from the lawless Sunberth. It is a generally safe city with crime in concentrated areas.

Most everything is permitted: magic, slavery, gambling, bloodsport, mirage use, but social scorn is an effective restraint where the law is silent. For example, active mirage users are looked down upon as weak, as the drug eventually robs all but the most wealthy of their health and livelihood. It is not a moral apprehension that governs the city, but a merciless attitude towards any unable to make their way in it.

Slavery In Ahnatep

Slavery is accepted within Ahnatep with a few governing principles. Slaves cannot be captured inside city walls, but they can be sold in the Slave Market. When dealing in Eypharian or Dhani slaves, there must be an obvious, legitimate record of why the person was originally enslaved. Legitimate reasons include inability to pay a debt or compensation for a crime. All other races may be enslaved through any effective means. However, an opportunity to buy one's freedom always exists for any slave. At the time of a slave's purchase, a ransom price is set and proclaimed by the auctioneer after a brief conference with the new owner. Any who can pay the owner the ransom price is entitled to the slave under law. While the arrangement seems just on wadj, in practice the ransom price can be up to ten times what the slave was originally purchased for.

Fitting the setting, there is a hierarchy of slaves. From top to bottom, they are as follows:

1. Sprisen Slaves: Of the bound and kissed. A slave that has bound itself irrevocably to another. See section below.

The distinct earring of a Sprisen and his master.

2. A Sworn Slave or "Shajeb": This is a rare slave that is more like an exceptionally loyal servant. The Arumenic term, means to clothe and command, implying care and governance. Shajeb are given room and board, paid a small amount and have one day for leisure in every five. Some may be in a position to buy their freedom, but are content with their position. Often an affection for the family has developed or they are attached to a fellow slave who cannot buy their freedom yet. They usually oversee other slaves and have a special ability that endears them to the owner. To show status and affiliation, they wear a light chain about the neck, sometimes bearing a symbol of the master.

A sworn slave may voluntarily become a permanent servant to the house or a particular member through a ritual of Sprisen, meaning roughly "to bind and kiss". In this ritual, both the owner and the servant have an ear pierced with a distinctive ring. The slave vows fealty and the master vows protection. An owner may only have one Sprisen slave at a time. This is a common ritual for Kelvic bondmates who are especially subservient. A man who mistreats a Sprisen slave can be punished under Ahnatep law.

3. A Kept Slave or "Phet" : A household slave, usually a comely creature meant for refined tasks or sexual use, but not at the level of a true concubine. Most common sort in noble houses. Status is shown through lightweight, inscribed collars.

4. Slave or "Kefasha": This class is the traditional slave who is bought and given few rights. They perform manual labor or tasks within the home. While in the employ of their master, they are renamed. They are known by a tattoo on the wrist that says Minajim translated "mine". If ever freed, the word is struck through in red ink.

Architecture

A typical stair.

The architecture of Ahnatep mixes the outdoors with the indoors while still appearing solid. Airier building materials such as wood and grass are shunned. Ahnatep is built with the express purpose of enduring. Additionally, as the city is uncovered and rebuilt, the new does not want to appear out of place next to the ancient.

A lovely courtyard

The city uses marble and sandstone with a tendency to embellish with gold and to paint floral designs on surfaces. Floors are usually a smooth but plain stone covered with rugs or decorative pelts.

Homes are typically rectangular or square on the exterior with a solid foundation that raises the first floor at least five feet from the ground. A columned patio encircles the whole structure. The columns, shaped like elongated pears, hold a flat roof aloft. A wide staircase leads up to the main doors from the street on one side. The steps are flanked by sculptures, usually of animals or gods.

Within this "cage" of columns is a ring shape at least two levels high. The second level rises above the roof line, so the roof may be used as a patio. At the very heart of the structure is often a courtyard or garden with an unimpeded view of the sky. Stairwells and hallways are built to pass through this area instead of winding through the interior.

Shapes and heights may vary, such as the Pressorah's long rectangular palace, but the format is almost always the same: an outer wall or patio, multiple levels, and and inner structure encircling a courtyard. Sometimes the outer wall and inner living structure are combined.

Civic buildings follow the model, but tend to be one immense level with stairs and doors on all sides.


Cuisine

The staples

Bread and beer are the staples of cuisine in Ahnatep. Beer is drunk in a cup through a metal straw to filter out what has not been strained from the brew. The metal straw and cup are highly personal items and even brought to meals eaten outside the home. Beer is commonly made from barley, but may also include lotus seeds or jackal nut. Brewing it is an art form with the main supplier being the noble house of the West Winds. Due to its habit of parsing land between family units, the West Winds are able to achieve a good variety in their beers.

Bread in Ahnatep tends to be made from barley or wheat and is served in round shapes at every meal. The Pressorah is the almost exclusive provider of bread and the crops used to make it.

Common meats are fish, eel and beef. The latter tends to be served only on tables of the middle class and upward. Quail and partridge are also eaten, but not as frequently. Beans, peas, lentils, carob and the buttery jackal nut (often found in desserts) are also sources of protein in Ahnatep's cuisine.

Vegetables are predominantly tubers and also include celery, garlic and gourds. Native fruits are palm dates, red dates, figs, and sweet variation of avocado.

These are the foodstuffs native to Ahnatep, but wealthy homes import foods from around Mizahar so they are no stranger to varied cuisines.

Breakfast is usually eaten on the run, comprised of bread and an herbal tonic to treat maladies from the previous night's revelries. Lunch is a more relaxed affair lasting two bells. A typical lunch is bread, and fish or stew served around a fire pit, finished with a handful of dried red dates. Beer is drunk freely, but it is a great shame to show signs of intoxication. If you drink during the day, you must hold your liquor well.

The last meal of the day is more a display of rank than a time to eat. Guests of honor and those of higher rank sit on chairs or benches at a table, those beneath them sit on footstools and the lowest sit on the ground. Food is served on platters moving from the higher ranks to the low. A dinner has several courses that usually go in this order with bread served throughout: beer and bean soup, melon, meat cooked with vegetables, more beer, then a melange of fruit and nuts.

Holidays

The Eypharians will seize on any opportunity to throw lavish and decadent parties. Holidays tend to be less religious or historical and more an occasion for elaborate celebration, and Eypharians spare no expense.

Spring

The Festival of Makutsi, held at the Garden of Concubines

Summer

The Festival of Syna, held at the Garden of Concubines

The Pageant of the Concubines: The day where the chosen women compete for a place in the Garden of Concubines.

Fall

The Festival of Bala, held at the Garden of Concubines

The Harvest of the West Winds: A two day celebration open to all nobles and gilded. The first day begins with a morning harvest of fruit in the orchards. This "harvest" is more playful and conducted in leisure. It is followed by a meal amidst the palms. In the evening the guests are separated. The married couples judge and taste the brews of the season in the garden, while the unmarried guests hold a midnight horse race in a desert valley. To compete in the midnight race, the men must provide the horse and choose a lady rider. Those who are not chosen watch the race from above, protected by house guards. The winner of the race wins a sizable purse and bragging rights.

The second day opens with the threshing dance, where married women don scarlet to thresh the first grains of the season. Offerings to Bala are then presented in the small temple on the Villa grounds. Day's end is celebrated with a mostly amateur play that is usually a thinly veiled satire of the days prior, followed by what is considered the most delicious feast of the year. While the West Winds provide most the fare, other nobles and some gilded bring dishes that reflect their traditions.


Leth's Crowning: Ten days after the first Crown of Leth blooms in the Pressorah's Garden, an evening dance is held in the Eye of Syna. Women don white and carry lights through the streets to reach the oasis where the flower blooms. Men are not allowed to join them until eighth bell. In the time before, the Pressorah listens to petitions from the women.

Winter

The Festival of Dira, held at the Garden of Concubines marks the beginning of the Twenty Days of Shadow, called Shuuda (Shaded Days). In desert culture, shadow is a symbol of rest and protection, so this is a time of celebration. The holiday arises from a regional myth detailing the twenty days when Dira visited Eyktol after a plague struck one of its great cities. Instead of grimness, she spoke of peace and the journey of the indestructible soul and djed. She encouraged the people to not take the years and one another for granted. Each of the twenty days has a tradition ranging from fasting to dancing to redressing past wrongs. It is the longest and most anticipated holiday of the year.

The Swan Parade: A yearly boat parade held to honor Cheva. Small vessels are decorated to match a theme and carry representatives from prominent social classes. The parade moves around the banks of the estuary for all to see. Games and feasts also take place on the shore with an emphasis on beauty and amorous intentions. Men and women alike are known to throw swan eggs hollowed out and filled with perfume at the feet of those they fancy. Representatives from the Semhu school will perform the story of Eypha in the day, and in the evening two gifted performers will perform a piece known only as "The Seduction". This performance is invitation only. All who attend this latter performance must be accompanied by another. When "The Seduction" ends, it is customary to give your companion a kiss. Only those who attend this production will progress to the evening's celebration. It is, therefore, common to have a perfunctory companion for the performance to reach the main party. The evening's revels are two separate parties hosted by two noble houses. Every year the competition is fierce as to who hosted the finest and most creative event. The hosts are designated by a yearly rotation.

Locations of interest

Listed below are some of Ahnatep's important locations.

The Pressorah's Palace: The floating home of the Pressorah and Inkaras, the seat of governance and pinnacle of Eypharian luxury.

The Garden of Concubines: A place where slaves and concubines are trained to please and made beautiful

The Courtyard of Jackals: The training school for the royal guards and those willing to pay, it is also the location of the city's dungeons.

Halls of Peret: A public campus for various lessons, a bazaar of knowledge left from better eras.

Dira's Chapel: An homage to the goddess of Death located over the city's catacombs. The chapel is built from the bones of her worshippers.

The Temple of Syna: A glorious dedication to one of the city's patron goddesses on the edges of the Eye of Syna. Rumored to have once been a temple to Makutsi.

The Golden Watchtower: One of the great gates of Mizahar and timekeepers.

The Librum of Ahnatep: A training center for the Ano Cult to teach initiates to overcome their fears and master their emotions.

The Ports of Ahnatep: Where the ships come and go and the merchants squabble over coppers.

The Dwelling of the North Winds

The Bay of the South Winds

The Palace of the East Winds

The Villa of the West Winds

People of Ahnatep

Please see Eypharians and Dhani. The former are much more abundant than the latter.