National Alignment: NG
Size: 350 thousand square miles
Government: Theocratic Monarchy
Ruler: Sultan Hinas'olfora al Azim
Law: Sultan's Will, Priestly Law, Clan Traditions
Al Fahim is an isolationist nation on the eastern, desert peninsula of Baroneth. The people are dedicated heart and soul to the service of Galanus, the God of Stealth; apart from two permanent cities, the majority of the population are desert nomads expert in fading away. Though most of the population is the red-skinned Destanae human, a small number of desert elves are welcomed within the borders of Al Fahim. The natives tend to dissuade outsiders from visiting, and the only place in all Al Fahim open to foreigners is the trading enclave of Aboris'shifa near the capital of Aboris. A fair amount of wealth flows in and out of Aboris'shifa, but otherwise the Al Fahimans have little to do with the outside world. It owes no allegiances and no alliances, preferring to keep to itself and not involve itself in worldly matters.
The nation of Al Fahim arose as recently as the First Crusades, circa 870 Avard. Prior to that time, the Gintala Desert held a number of nomads of varying faiths and alignments, with no unified rulership. Around 870, however, a Desolate Disciple of Galanus began ushering a number of his people into the lands claimed by the local Destanae humans. Conflict arose, but the Disciple of Galanus, known as Emshander Elkaaraastas, managed to convert a great number of the human nomads over from the worship of Elinthar the Hunter and Rahne the Protector.
Disciple Emshander earned the bloody name of Ember, as he led combined human and desert followers of Galanus to victory after victory. The followers of Galanus used strike-and-fade tactics in the harsh wilderness lands of the deserts, and powers that the Disciple could bring to bear far out-stripped those of the other nomads. With most of the Inquisition's forces committed to the First Crusades, Galanus' followers achieved an easy dominance of the Gintala Desert.
Resistance held out in the Simien Hills for another generation or so, but the hills were eventually integrated into the overall theocracy.
Disciple Emshander established a permanent residence in the fertile valley of the Al'harin River mouth, residing as a theocratic leader. The human populace, however, was reluctant to follow the lead of an elven priest, or an elven god, despite their conversions. The conversions were based on principles of the desert, stealth, and a close relationship with death. Essentially, the Destanae nomads of Galanus were unafraid to die, because of Galanus' former status as the God of the Dead. The intense heat of the inner desert, coupled with a fierce will to survive, also made the Destanae nomads formidable.
Emshander helped the nomads to organize behind their senior Sultan, a clan chief by the name of Shul'fahim al Emen. Sultan Shul'fahim went about consolidating his hold on his own clan in the valley, and then – with Disciple Emshander's aid – began consolidating his hold over all the clans in a relatively peaceable fashion. Realizing the need to keep the First Crusaders and the Inquisition out of a unified land, Shul'fahim created Al Fahim – a nation named for him. Though named for a mortal man, Shul'fahim passed the sultancy on in a bid for immortality through his own blood line, which has reined well since that time.
Shul'fahim only united Al Fahim in name only, as the desert nomads really only follow the theocracy of Disciple Emshander. Emshander eventually left for the deep desert of his own accord, leaving the theocracy under the control of one of the human priests, a man by the name of Seyel ser Sushel. High Priest Seyel created the title of Sheik for himself, and his own line has since ruled Shir Galanus – the Fortress of Galanus – the only permanent temple to the God of Stealth in Al Fahim.
The descendants of Shul'fahim and the descendants of Seyel have historically had an easy-going, and sometimes even friendly, relationship. Currently, the Sultan and the Sheik tolerate one another, and work together grudgingly for the good of Al Fahim – both having worked well together during the War of the Undead.
Land: Three-quarters of Al Fahim's land is desert, and one-quarter is sandstone hills. The desert lands are rather desolate, for the most part, with salt flats, ancient river beds, and scratchy vegetation. The hills are rugged and broken, and in some places nearly impenetrable – folded from beneath by tremendous geothermal forces. The land is quite deadly.
Use: Several oases dot the desert, and a fair amount of irrigated land near the mouth of the Al'harin River sustains Aboris proper. Several river valleys to the south also support Al Fahim, and provide nearly forty percent of the food and taxes alone. These lands are known as the Hundred Cities, and are really about seventy separate town-sized elements. In the sparse desert, goats and sheep are the rule, moving from bush to bush as the shepherds dictate.
Water: Fresh drinking water is one of the most valuable commodities – because there is so very little of it. The few river valleys supply but a trickle of water, and are mainly fed by underground aquifers and rivers. During the rare rains, the flash floods quickly scour out deeper river beds, slowing only closer to their mouths.
Weather: Dry and arid, for the most part, Al Fahim has little weather. In the summers, the temperatures soar to near one-hundred fifty degrees during the day, and then plunge in the night to near ninety at night. During the winters, the days might reach one-hundred thirty, and then plunge to well below zero at night. The vast differences in temperature can sometimes generate fierce windstorms and sandstorms. The northern Simien Hills are somewhat wetter, and because of their height, the dew point and weather is significantly more sane.
Animals: Most of the desert animals have developed considerable coping mechanisms for the extreme heat and temperature differences. Small, hopping rats, jack-rabbits, larger camels, and a variety of beetles and insects exist in the brushier desert. The desert predators tend to be smaller, poisonous, and quite aggressive. The most dangerous animals are the camel spiders and the sand sharks (also known as bulettes).
Keynotes: The Tul'brikar Rise is the remains of a single, ancient volcano. Within its heart, volcanic magma still seethes – especially with Maroth once more returned. Lave tubes and catacombs have turned the rise into a labyrinthine set of corridors and pits, with deadly gases, intense heat, and incinerating lava awaiting the unwary.
Backbone: Without a formal military of sorts, the citizenry itself is the backbone of the Al Fahiman defenses. Every Al Fahiman male is indoctrinated to swordplay as soon as he can walk, learning basic scimitar use. Composite shortbows are used quite commonly, though the desert elves tend to favor shortspears. Each of the nomadic clans travels in numbers of thirty to fifty – with perhaps fifteen to thirty being combat capable.
Nomad Warriors: The nomads of the desert tend to have scimitars and daggers, and rarely ranged weapons of any kind. Excellent animal tenders and desert survivors, they live off of the rugged land of the deserts – and are just as rugged as the land. They tend to be leery of outsiders, but once trust is earned, give it fiercely.
Cavalry: Camel-riders capable of traveling great distances in a short period of time, the nomads of the Gintala Desert can be fearsome strike-and-fade warriors. The nomads usually travel in bands or extended family groups of nearly a dozen per grouping.
Desert Elves: The desert elves tend to live much as the nomads do, though rarely with them. The tall, muscular elves tend to keep to themselves, unseen even by the nomads of the deserts, until someone or something sparks them to engage in battle with powerful longbows, boomerangs, and spears.
Artillery: Because of the lack of timber available for ballistae, catapults, and trebuchets, the Al Fahimans have no experience with crew-served weapons of any kind.
Navy: They only sailing vessels available to Al Fahim tend to be half-reed, half-wood affairs, because of the scarcity of wood. The Sultan and the Sheik have purchased whole vessels from other lands, but their numbers are small. Masters of stealth, however, they can be quite effective.
Elite: Cleric-trained and desert-born, the Shuzel'esethir are guardians of the faith, dispersed throughout the deserts by the will of the Sheik. Powerful rangers with close ties to Galanus, their name translates as 'Invisible Destroyers'. The Shuzel'esethir are often armed with twin scimitars or shortspears.
Royal Guard: The Sultan's personal guard, the Hyer'kullan, must be powerful fighters before they even dare to enter the elite training of the Royal Guard. The Hyer'kullan are usually veterans when they begin their training, and zealots when they complete it. Afraid of nothing, they are willing to die for their Sultan, to protect their Sultan. Cocky and arrogant, they know that even the Shuzel'esethir fear their falchions.
Assignments: The regular military – the Hyer'kullan and the Shuzel'esethir – can be found wherever the Sultan or the Sheik need them, but most often in Aboris and Aboris'shifa.
Philosophy: Al Fahimans are closet-xenophobes with a strong familial pride turned to national pride, and even greater pride in their harsh deserts. The clans occasionally fight with one another, over oases or honor, but the Sultan's Hyer'kullan and the Sheik's Shuzel'esethir prevent the clans and the families from fertilizing the desert over-much with blood. Outsiders are unwelcome – spies, barbarians, and uncivilized primps that could not survive in the deserts. Family first, and the desert second, is a common mind-theme among them.
Languages: The Al Fahiman tongue is a distant descendant of Sholin, mixed with Elven, and several local dialects. Highly resistant to change, thanks in part to the elves that make up a strong part of the community, Al Fahiman rarely changes. It is a language that is very good when discussing weather or natural phenomena, and also works well with politics and family. It has few sea-based concepts, and is very resistant to even simple machines or advanced techniques. Elven is also spoken in Al Fahim, and some few speak the common tongue.
Taboos: They do not speak to outsiders without good cause, be it coin, barter, or something else. Children are not to be seen in public (so as to teach them stealth at an early age).
Commonlaws: Any individual may seek food or water from a clan, and the clan is expected to provide for one day and one night. If the food or water is bad, then a duel may be declared, but most clans give freely of what they have – for one day and one night. After the allotted time has expired, that individual must move on. Foreigners, of course, do not count, and are often ignored. If they cannot be ignored, then they can forcibly be turned back – the law always sides against foreigners.
From noon until three marks past noon is a 'no business' part of the day. Trade may take place well after dark, but inns and establishments are expected to have considerable chairs or divans for napping visitors. With no trade taking place during that time because of the heat, it often goes on into the night, and so Al Fahiman shop owners rarely stop just because the sun has set.
Foreigners are often the last to know about Komedan – the Right of Challenge. Should a dispute arise, usually of a family matter, then one or the other side can call Komedan. The Right of Challenge is a Kiman-controlled fight until defeat, basically with either side betting the dispute on the matter. Blood Komedans can result in banishment, though neither side can bet murder. Common challenges include banishment, forfeiture of goods, branding, payments of varying amounts, and even land. The Kimans have the right to declare a Komedan unjust, and dismiss the Komedan. Right of appeal takes the Komedan to the Shifa, but a Shifa's word is absolute in the ruling of a Komedan. Most Shifa's keep the Komedan somewhat honorable, and the only general rule is that no armor is allowed.
Mannerisms: Al Fahimans tend to have husky or raspy voices, depending on station and gender. Enclosed areas tend to make them uncomfortable, unless there are plenty of windows or lots of overhead space.
Holidays: Trivor the 27th is one of the most serious of holidays in Al Fahim. That summer's day – the first of the Freeze for the month – is spent dressed as ghosts and the dead, to celebrate Galanus' change from the God of the Dead, to the God of Stealth. The War of the Undead only emphasized the holiday, because on that day, Galanus' archons protect the large gatherings of nomads and elves against any real undead. If undead walk among the living on the 27th of Trivor, they can do no harm in Al Fahim.
Appearance: When in the desert, men tend to wear robes of earth-tone colors, designed and intended to keep out the arid heat. Aifads (head coverings), sashes, sandals, and scimitars complete the appearance for males. Sometimes, the men will go only in loose-fitting trousers with smaller vests, especially in the more humid (and shaded) city areas. Women tend to wear burnooses – full-body coverings the colors of desert sand and sandstone. The burnooses are not mandated, but women who do not wear them are considered less in touch with the desert – and the camouflaging will of Galanus – than those who do not wear them. Without the burnooses, the women tend to dress as the men, though there is no nudity taboo in Al Fahim.
Foods: Al Fahiman food tends to be either very chewy, very crunchy, or very mushy – and is generally heavily spiced. Mutton and goat's milk are quite common, and a fermented type of camel's milk is known as kyum. Kyum has been known to turn foreigner's guts inside-out, and the alcohol-content is considerable.
Classes: The Al Fahimans cherish family, and their nomadic way of life. The only true lower-class is that of the city-folk who are too poor or too foolish to survive in the desert. Rank can be achieved through skillful maneuvering, and political skill is a highly-prized art.
There are seven essential ranks to the Al Fahiman society – although there are really six, with a sub-class. Merchants and workers rank below even a child of the nomads, as city folk are considered almost sub-human.
|the Sultan||the Sheik||–||–||–|
Family: Nomad, Warrior, Clan Leader, Clan Chief, Consul, the Sultan
Church: Priest, Ezchen, Shuzel'esethir, Shuzel'esethir'khel, the Sheik
Military: Guard, Kiman, Shifa, Hyer'kullan, Hyer'kullan'khol
Guilds: Merchant, Apprentice, Journeyman, Master
Trades: Worker, Expert, Artisan
Al Fahim has a peaceable treaty with Rakore and Kur Maeth – more to keep the trade flowing, than anything else. It also deals with Sandar, Chandral, and the Sholin Tribes, though only through the capital city of Aboris'shifa. No one would want to invade Al Fahim, for its rare fertile areas can be defended by far too many desert warriors vent on vengeance to make the tiny fertile zones worth holding. No army could survive long enough in the desert to give Al Fahim retribution. Their isolationism protects them, as well as their home does.
Coinage: Jadats are produced by the only temple of Lul in all Al Fahim, located in Tanel on the west side of the country. Jadats are five-sized coins with bifurcations in them, allowing each coin to be broken easily into five pieces. A griyim is a fifth of a jadat, be it copper, silver, gold, or even platinum. Only the original jadat the original stamp of Lul on it, and it takes, on average, about sixteen griyim to assemble one whole jadat with the stamp of purity on it. A silver griyim is worth about two copper, or one-fifth of a golden jadat.
Barter: Platinum jadats make up the more lucrative end of the market, although coins of any country are acceptable if they pass the Teeth Test – that is, if they're pure enough to be bitten into a certain amount. Away from the Hundred Cities and the capital, barter is the norm, with good steel being a fairly rare product.
Exports: Al Fahim has one of the largest sources of jade on Gaeleth. The mines in the Tul'brikar Rise produce some of the most beautiful rubies in all the west, and the shores of the Hundred Cities produce enormous pearls. Lemons, oranges, and other citrus fruits are also produced in abundance in the Hundred Cities, for export through Aboris'shifa.
Imports: Aboris'shifa takes in a considerable amount of wood, lumber, dyes, and odd luxury goods. Books and scrolls flow into the temple of Lul in Tanel, though they often have to take a circumspect route through the interior from Aboris'shifa.
Customs: Because of the Al Fahiman isolationism, customs is very thorough and very strict. Quarantines for incoming animals, random smelt-checks of metals, and more thoroughly dissuade random traders. Only dedicated, high-income traders ever dare to try Aboris'shifa.
Contraband: Just about anything goes, in Aboris'shifa – but beyond that, there are a number of things that are not tolerated. Drugs, body parts, and holy items not of the Neutral Good gods are strictly forbidden – save paladins.
Noteable: Aboris'shifa, under the leadership of the Shifas, is the money-maker of Al Fahim. The Hundred Cities are the bread-basket of the nation, supplying dried and salted fish, wines, fruits, and more for the nation.
Capital: Al Fahim's capital is also it's largest city, and it is divided into two parts. Aboris'shifa is the harbor portion of the city, where foreigners are allowed to do business with the shifty Al Fahiman merchants. Aboris'shifa is walled off from Aboris proper by a twenty-foot tall, ten-foot thick wall, with minarets and archers every hundred feet. Each of the six gates that leads into (or out of) Aboris'shifa is well-guarded by Gate Kimans and at least six well-trained soldiers. Aboris itself hosts Shir Galanus, the high temple to Galanus in Al Fahim, and Shir al Fahim, the sultan's palace. A fairly large city, Aboris and Aboris'shifa together have a population of nearly sixty-thousand.
Aboris'shifa Guards: No-nonsense Destanae men armed with scimitars and bucklers, they tend to speak both the Common tongue and their native Al Fahiman. They are quite alert, though often city-bred and street-wise, much to the disgust of their nomad kin. They interact with the variety of traders in Aboris'shifa often enough, and sometimes speak other tongues, as well.
Minaret Guards: These Destanae men tend to have composite shortbows, as well as scimitars. They are good at hiding in plain site atop the minarets and then unleashing arrows upon the unsuspecting or those foolish enough to attempt to scale the walls. They rarely speak the Common tongue.
Gate Kimans and Shifas: Small stables are kept near the gates, allowing the Gate Kimans and Shifas the ability to hunt down enemies, and track them down in Aboris or even out into the desert. Tough, grizzled veterans, these Destanae men tend to come from the elite of the nomads, and are dedicated to preserving the purity of Aboris from its foreigners. Speaking only Al Fahiman or the elven of the Desert Elves, they are often on guard with scimitars at the ready.
The Hundred Cities: Spread out over a set of river valleys with as many names as there are cities, the Hundred Cities is a loose collection of town-sized elements, each with its own Clan Chief, guard, and more. Devoted mainly to farming and peasantry, the Hundred Cities is somewhat looked down on by the rest of Al Fahim, but it houses close to seventy-thousand people spread out among them.
Cities: Tanel is the only other city, than the Hundred Cities, and the capital of Aboris. Tanel itself is a small city, dedicated only to the monastery of Lul, and the loose aggregation of other temples. Walled in atop the Ul'thruthel Escarpment, Tanel is considered an impregnable fortress.
Temples: Shir Galanus is the main temple to Galanus, but there are smaller, scattered temples among the Hundred Cities. As well, Tanel supports one temple for each of the Neutral Good gods, based around a monastery to Lul. Va'anon's Forge is a series of rain-swept canyons that are dedicated to Brigain, the God of Destinies.
Fortresses: Shir Tanel (or more often, just Tanel) is the only real, permanent fortress in all Al Fahim. Preferring strike-and-fade tactics, the locals see no need for permanent facilities.
Galanus dominates the Al Fahimans, though the method of the worship is unique from the rest of Gaeleth. The Church of Galanus is practically non-existent, and so Al Fahim does as it pleases, with the Sheik answering only to a wandering Disciple among the desert elves. Lul and Rahne are loosely followed by the merchants and the warriors, respectively, but the Al Fahimans themselves generally tend to spit upon most other religions. As with all nations, Brigain is feared and tolerated.
The Tul'brikar Rise is rumored to house an ancient red dragon, though the Inquisition has denied this for centuries. Even if there is no dragon, many feel that his treasure might be somewhere in the labyrinthine corridors of the rise, just waiting to be found. The dangers of rise prevent many from exploring, but dozens die each year trying.
Rumors of a land shark, or bulette, big enough to swallow an entire caravan circulate among the nomads of the deep desert. If anyone could kill a bulette so large, the stones to be found in its crop and digestive track would be extremely valuable, indeed.
Sultan Hinas'olfora al Azim al Surak: The tall and imposing Sultan Hinas'olfora is rumored to have some desert elven blood somewhere back in his line. A master of the desert, as well as a political genius, the sultan comes from a long line of highly intelligent and highly skilled diplomats. Sultan Hinas'olfora has something of a short temper, and his great scimitar has been known to kill members of his Hyer'kullan who fail him.
Sheik Hu'siyem al Yikir al Kirel: Thickly built with a thick belly, the Sheik can be a formidable man. Bedecked in wealth such as rings of gold and diamond brooches, the Sheik tempts thieves whenever possible. He perhaps asks for too much glory for Shir Galanus and the Church of Galanus in Al Fahim, but his wisdom and his wily cunning have kept him in charge of the Al Fahiman religious structure for nearly fifty years.
Disciple Emshander Elkaaraastas: The Desolate follower of Galanus still wanders the desert, half a legend even among his own peoples. The other desert elves revere Ember, and the humans fear him. Wandering alone with only the faith of Galanus to protect him, Ember is seen often enough by the wandering nomads of the desert to assure all in Al Fahim that he still lives.