Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Emirates of Ylaruam

Ylaruam

What Everyone Knows About the Emirates

Tavern Rumors From Neighboring Lands

The People: "The people of Ylaruam hate outsiders. None of them speak any civilised tongues, and if they do, they pretend they don't. They're hot-tempered and always fighting among themselves. They dress funny, all wrapped up in these long robes and headdresses, which they wear even in the hot sun. They live in the desert in tents, though some live in crude brick houses in the cities.

"They all ride camels and horses, and great horses they are, mind you, and they're pretty sharp traders. They aren't very civilised since they live outside all the time, and they haven't got any princes, lords, or nobles like we have, just tribal chiefs."

The Land: "It's one big desert. There is nothing but sand, sandstorms, and rocks. I can't imagine how anyone could live there."

Ylaruam: "That's the city in the desert where the Sultan or Emir or something lives. There are some tall, pointed spires covered with gold, they say, and there's a university full of scientists and lawyers."

Other Towns: "Tameronikas is a nice port and has lots of foreigners. Abbashan is a big oasis full of exceptionally nasty people."

How to Get Rich and Famous: "Ride camels on long caravans. Look for lamps with djinni in them. Find magic carpets in the desert, and rings and efreeti in chests in ruins. Get sorcerers to find hidden treasure, then trick them out of their share."

Hot Tips: "The government is hiring mercenaries and irregulars to suppress goblins and giants from Altan Tepes."

"There's plenty of caravan and expedition escort work around. Check around in taverns for merchants."

From Conversations With a Veteran Adventurer

The People: "Most are honest and honorable. When they give their word, they mean to keep it. They are extremely religious, always praying and quoting Al-Kalim, their hero and prophet. Debating fine points of law and ethics is a pleasant pastime for them. They have little trust or respect for Unbelievers and foreigners, and from what I've seen of the world, with some justice."

"As a people they're most touchy about honor, and quick with a sword when you offend it. Most citizens are armed and quite with weapons, and are happy to use them. The soldiery is first-rate. They are disciplined, well-trained, and fiercely loyal."

The Land: "It's warm and pleasant along the eastern coast, and hot and dry in the central desert and highlands. Learn native ways, and there's little danger from the weather, except during violent storms. The nation is safe if you stick to caravan routes and towns, but its wilderness regions are among the most dangerous in the world. There are few humans, but plenty of monsters and otherworldly horrors. Stay away from Nithia unless you like trouble."

Ylaruam: "It's comfortable for foreigners. Plenty of merchants and government officials are hiring experienced adventurers. Information and scholarship are plentiful if you know where and how to look."

Other Towns: "In Parsa local Makistani tribesmen live in hut-and-tent towns; they're like Ethengars, only cheerful and pleasant. They are more hospitable and easy-going with strangers than desert people. Tameronikas is pretty much like coastal towns around the world. At Ctesiphon and Cinsa-Men-Noo the locals cater to travellers and adventurers. There's plenty of wilderness escort and expedition work, and outfitters and guides are available for all types of expeditions."

How to Get Rich and Famous: "The conservative route is to start off in caravan or expedition escort work. Build a reputation, get connected to nobles or rich merchants, earn the respect and gratitude of a ruler, and win a dominion.

"The dangerous way is to hunt treasure and exotic creatures in the wilderness, but it's hard to judge the risks, and you're a long way from help if you get in trouble.

"If you don't care about money, but do want to tame the wilderness and punish evil, there's plenty to do in the wilderness, and you'll quickly earn the respect of the locals."

Hot Tips: "Do not lie or break an oath. Even if the locals don't kill you for it, they'll never deal with you again.

"Once you've got a reputation as a tough adventurer, there's plenty of work. The best native fighters, magic-users, and clerics are in the military so locals routinely hire reliable foreigners as mercenaries, guards, for missions into the wilderness, or for rough stuff. Sit around the taverns and keep your ears open, or make contacts in the Vouchery of the Provinces who'll send tips your way

"If you're going to freelance, stay conservative or carefully research your objective. Seek out reliable informants and pay them well.

"The natives are superstitious. They do have some pretty odd stories about the uninhabited regions. They are not sissies. If they are nervous about something, it's worth being careful."

As Told by a Young Desert Nomad

The People: "Desert folks are obviously tougher, more honorable and fearless, than house-dwellers. City folk are liars and cowards, they can't ride or fight, and would die in a minute in the desert. Foreigners are just as as bad, though it's said that some are better than others. Friendly tribesmen are always welcome in our tents. Bandits, thieves, and murderers deserve to bleed to death in the desert."

The Land: "Respect the desert, and the desert is your friend. The desert only kills fools, but it is easy to be a fool during the sand storms.

"Our familiar pasturage and traditional tent grounds are usually quite safe. We are not cowards, but there are places in the desert and the hills where only fools go, full of monsters, evil sorcerers, and powerful spirits.

"The villages are interesting places, especially during summer camp at market time, though the local people and merchants are sneaky and greedy."

Ylaruam: "They say it is beautiful. It's full of liars and merchants, but the Sultan's palace and university are hundreds of feet tall and decorated with gold and jewels. The Sultan's gaming fields are said to be carpets of living grass, and the tournaments of the Military Orders are said to be quite fine. I would love to ride with the Sultan's guard, and someday my chief will give me armor and weapons so l can go to Ylaruam and become a Knight of the Lance."

Other Towns: "Kirkuk is quite big with many stone buildings and several tall towers, and very busy, with a market day twice a week. Our tribe camps there during the summer with other friendly tribes and we have games and feasts and trade our spare horses and camels so we can buy the weapons and coffee we need for the winter.

"Abbashan is a city like Ylaruam, but Father says men are not soft and corrupt in Abbashan like they are in Ylaruam. In Abbashan they are quite strict with the heathens and greedy merchants."

How to Get Rich and Famous: "I want to ride with a raiding party so l can prove that I am a warrior. Then my chief will give me armor and weapons and I will go to Ylaruam and become a soldier.

"Or perhaps my chief might let me go with the Secretary on a ride into the Empty Places. That way I'll become famous for my deeds and the Secretary will introduce me to the Sultan, who'll make me a faris so I can ride around the land and punish the wicked and unfaithful."

Hot Tips: "They say one may be paid for riding with scholars and miners into the hills. Some men from my tribe went to cities and villages to find such work, and they returned with fine weapons and expensive horses and great tales to tell.

"There are stories of young boys who open trapdoors in the desert and who find beautiful princesses and magical rings and fierce demons. I'm not sure about these tales, but they must be true; else, how would men imagine them?

"Sometimes in difficult times men from our tribe ride into the desert to hunt fearsome beasts. Then those who live go to towns and sell the beasts to sorcerers and scholars."

As Told by the younger partner Of a Merchant Caravan Outfitter in Ylaruam

The People: "The people of the coastal plain live comfortable and peaceful lives, and fine cloths and spices sell well there, though the peasants and poor folk of Nithia suffer under their squabbling and cruel chiefs.

"The desert nomads are usually polite and formal, but you must take care not to offend them. They are good markets for coffee and weapons, but they only buy while encamped for the summer.

"The cities and towns of the Emirates are all good markets for fine crafts and imported luxuries (except Abbashan, where they frown on luxury and frivolity). The poor folk are devout and orderly, and the nobles and craftsmen are sturdy Defenders of the Faith and free with their purses.

"The pony-folk of the northwest may seem fierce and war-like, but they are really playful and light-hearted as children. Their needs are modest, and their lands plentiful. They are nowhere near as touchy as the desert people, but they are rather uncouth and uninterested in conversation and bargaining, though great fans of fantastic stories of wizards and heroes.

"It is fashionable to say that men of other lands are without honor or virtue, but I have seen for myself. The Unbeliever hardly values his word, and though I have seen the splendid temples of his numerous powerful and fearsome gods, I have seen few at worship therein. Nowhere have I seen the common piety and daily reverence of the least of the True Believers."

The Land: "It is dry, but the people live well. The coastal region grows fruit and vegetables in abundance, and the plains of the Ust-Urt Valley yield excellent crops of grain. The wadis and oases provide pasture for the nomad herds and vegetables to supplement the abundant meats and cheeses of the nomad herders.

"I've been north and south along the coast, and over the mountains to Darokin, Specularum, Thyatis, and Dengar, and nowhere have I seen a happier, better-fed nation."

Ylaruam: "Certainly smaller than Thyatis and Specularum, but not less grand, and more civilised in many ways. The markets of Ylaruam are twice the size of those of Specularum and Thyatis, and the skill of Ylaruam's craftsmen is second to none.

"There are poor folk in Ylaruam, but they are far less desperate than the wretched poor in the slums of the other cities of the world. The Eternal University is one of the finest in the world, and scholars may be seen lecturing or discoursing in plazas and gardens throughout the city. And the Sultan's palace and the Vouchery District is splendid with its colourful mosaics, fountains, gardens, and the magnificent Great Throne Room with the great arched ceiling."

Other Towns: "Parse is a comfortable caravan stop, but not a very profitable market; the Makistani prefer their ponies over our magnificent stallions, and their pony-hair blankets and tents over our fine silk and wool fabrics. Ctesiphon is a nasty spot, but has lots of money from the local mining projects. Cinsa-Men-Noo is the nicest town in Nithia, not that it is much of a distinction, and a good market in summer when the nomads are encamped. Surra-Man-Raa is a disgrace. The Sultan should take a couple of divisions and clear that place up once and for all. I certainly won't trade there. Tameronikas is a lovely climate, lots of quality imported goods, and keen traders to deal with. It is always a challenge, but always profitable. Abbashan is a clean enough town, but an unprofitable market for anything but coffee, weapons, and fine horses."

How to Get Rich and Famous: "Buy coffee, spices, textiles, and expensive household crafts in Darokin, Karameikos, or Thyatis. Sell high in Tameronikas, or better yet, ship across the caravan routes and sell at twice the price in Ylaruam, or three times the price in a rural market. Buy the best horses from the nomads, the best rugs and pottery from rural craftsmen and weapons, glass, and jewelry from urban craftsmen, and export them. Then invest your money in mining or an import/export firm.

"Get to know the right people, get a well permit, get a charter from an emir for a new dominion, and build yourself a comfortable country estate. Support wilderness expeditions because sooner or later one may uncover some treasure or ancient artifact, and your fortune is made.

Hot Tips: "To earn your stake, dig around at the Vouchery of the Provinces. Those fellows know all about the hidden treasures of the wilderness, and are eager to con you into chasing after them. Provinces will put you in touch with other rough-and-ready entrepreneurs, and may have suggestions for backers to touch for investment capital.

"Mining metals and precious stones is the wealth of the future. As the northern and southern highlands are cleared of savages and monsters, they will become among the richest mineral deposits in the world."


Al-Kalim's life

The Nahmeh (literally, "the word") is the book written by Al-Kalim after his journeys. It contains the essence of the Articles of Faith that all True Believers should follow, as well as an account of his life.

The early life of Al-Kalim is well known to all. He is known for his unerring water direction as an infant, his fierce and reckless ntaure as an adolescent, his lonely and mirculous solitary jounrneys through the desert as a young man, and his authority, wit and justice as a young chief.

As a youth he was the embodiment of the ideals of the dester nomad, and of all the Emirates. His early miliary successes were due to his great charisma, wielding a band of 10,000 warriors together to capture the village of Ylaruam, the largest band the desert had ever seen before. He made the village of Ylaruam the centre of his growing government.

He fought against the Alphatians and the Thytians, who had taken the land from it's rightful owners. The tactics that he developed in mobile warfare and magical skirmishers are still used in the modern Emirates, centuries later. He developed tatics which made full full of mounted archers, medium infanty, and mounted raiders.

As an adult, he becaome known for his honour and wisdom. In the year 826 he revealed his dream of Justice and Honour, by which he expressed his belief that all men could count on the gods and his fellow man for justice and honour, if he lived his life in accordance with the Articles of Faith. This forms the basis of life in the Emirates today.

Al-Kalim mounted campaigns against the occupying armies, driving them back to the coast. There he quickly shattered the Alphatians within a few short years, driving them back to their own land with heavy losses. The cities and towns that he liberated opened their gates to him in welcome, and the soldiers used by the Alphatians joined his army.

The Thytians proved more troublesome, retreating inside walled forts. These he dealt with by means of dwarven engineers hired for the purpose. Several major cities fell within six months of seige with their aid and his great cunning. Remnents of their fortresses can still be seen dotting the landscape today.

When Al-Kalim had defeated all of the oppressors, the great convocation of tribes came together. Al-Kalim now revealed his dream of the Desert Garden, to supplement the dream of Justice and Honour. This dream was to bring together all magical and scholarly aid be brought together in the aim of making the desert bloom. The assembled tribes elected him the first Sultan of the Confederated Tribes of Ylaruam.

After this, the preceptors, the advisors of Al-Kalim, ruled in his name. Meanwhile he quested after a patron to bring prosperity to the Emirates. He adventured on other planes of existance against the evil efreeti on behalf of the noble djinn, bringing their favour. He traveled many strange places, even underwater. Eventually he found the patronship of the Old Man in the Sea, who agreed to help him in the dream.

This quest had taken many years, so he retired to write the Nahmeh with his faithful companion Farid. His children carried on his dream, becoming Sultan in turn, which continues to this day.

Al-Kalim died at the ripe old age of 100 in the year 900 AC, surrounded by his friends and family.

Here are a selection of quotes from the Nahmeh (you are welcome to make up your own)

  • We must be the candles that burn so that others might have light (Al-Kalim on soldiers defending the faith)
  • If friendship is a diamond, then troubles are a diamond mine.
  • The enemies of our enemies are not necessarily our friends
  • Do not rail against the condition of man. Would you rather be a dog or a donkey? Accept what is given, and cease your gumbling
  • Al-Kalim has said, 'The stranger must be succored in time of need'


History Of the Emirates Of Ylaruam

As related by Yussef al Mussa, Scribe and Register to the Shellyh of Kuznetz, in recitation to the sons and daughters of the sheik, so they might be instructed as the Nahmeh directs.

"In the annals and legends, oh my children, there are many stories of bygone men and things, of antique races, departed rulers, vanished cities, and mysteries without end_ many stories indeed, but this is all that I might tell you, so that my wisdom does not show thin and so that your suppers do not grow cold.

"In the beginning there was the sand and the wind, and into that sand and wind came the nomad_the man of the swift steed, the white tent, and the restless herd. From whence he came, none might know but the Eternal. Some say he came from the north, from the grassland-without-end that stretches to the top of the world. Some say he came from across the sea, exiled from distant continents and unimagined empires. Some say he has always been here.

"But here the nomad came, and he found sand and wind, but he also found the winter grazing land, and the spring rains, and the summer grottos, the watering holes of the fall, and his herds thrived, and he was happy And many of the nomad settled in the grazing land, around the oases and spring rivers, and they became the hazer_the house dweller the cultivator, and the builder of cities.

"For many years the bold nomad and the diligent hazer viewed one another with scorn, for the hazer saw the nomad as cruel and crude, and the nomad saw the hazer as soft and cowardly And many chiefs and emirs ruled these nomad and hazer tribes, and they were each the enemy of the other_nomad against nomad, for they fought for the grazing land, hazer against hazer, for they fought for water, and nomad against hazer, for they fought for food and for the hate of one another. And this war lasted forever, or at least so long that only the Eternal might have witnessed it.

"Then into the south came the Thyatian. And into the east came the Alphatian. They built great cities, and they fought for the land, and pushed aside the nomad and the hazer whom they enslaved and stole the fruit of his labor.

"For bitter centuries the foreigner ruled our land, and though we were proud and mighty in arms, we were not united, and the foreigner crushed our rebellions and scattered us before them. Your forefathers sought sanctuary in the deep desert, where the foreigner may not go, and nursed for generations a hatred of these cruel foreign lords, and a yearning for revenge.

"And then came Al-Kalim, the Prophet, author of the Nahmeh, and bearer of the Word of the Eternal Truth. And he said, 'Put aside your hatred for one another, take up your love for justice and honor, and none shall stand before your swords.'

"And the chiefs and emirs of all the tribes stood before him, and were ashamed, and they put aside their hatreds for one another. Together they raised their voices in a single cry, and they brought our people together, tribe with tribe, nomad with hazer, brigand with merchant, farmer with warrior. They raised their swords as one, and as one they fell upon the foreigner, and where they came, none could stand before them. The land was ours once again, praise the Eternal, whose will is All-Powerful.

"But once the foreigner was vanquished, the chiefs and emirs would have had their tribes fall upon one another again, as it was before, but Al-Kalim spoke to them, saying, 'You have seen what you might do together for the Dream of Justice and Honor. Such dreams are still great, but I challenge you with a still greater dream_the Dream of the Desert Garden_where the sand shall bring forth ripe grain and lush grass for grazing, and where the rock shall spill water in plenty, and free as the air.'

"And Al-Kalim gave us the Nahmeh, which teaches us the Way and the Dream. And the chiefs and emirs shared the Nahmeh, and they revered it, seeing that it truly showed them good, and a dream to own together, tribe and tribe, nomad and hazer. And the chiefs and emirs beseeched Al-Kalim that he might set himself as a chief above them, to order their wisdom and direct them in their Dream.

"And he acceded, saying, "To hear is to obey," and they named him sultan, Chief among Chiefs. And he built a great capital, Mighty Ylaruam of the Glittering Spires, from which he might order the chiefs and emirs according to their request, and that they might visit him and his university, so they, too, might learn the great wisdom of the Eternal.

"And the prophets and sages of Al-Kalim searched the writings of philosophy, science, and magic for the means of making the desert bloom as a garden and the rock to flow with clear springs. What they learned they shared with the chiefs and emirs, and they with their tribes, and the people grew in wealth and comfort.

"And in Al-Kalim's time Ylaruam grew to be a mighty nation and confederacy of tribes. The people flourished, and the land put forth lush green growth, and the herds grew tall and sleek, and there was much wealth and happiness.

"And even as yet today our leaders are reckoned in the councils of the mighty, and our armies are the finest in the world. The roads and tracks of the Alasiyan desert are strung with caravans bearing goods from our renowned craftsmen and from distant lands, and many foreign ports swarm with our seaman merchanters, laden with exotic wares.

"And Al-Kalim's successors, the sultans of Ylaruam, have proved to be wise and generous princes, and their scholars and advisers as shrewd and cunning as Farid, Al-Kalim's clever companion. And even as your mother, the honored Shellyh, rules our tribe with wisdom and generosity, so do the other chiefs and emirs rule their tribes, guided by the Word of the Eternal and the counsellors of the sultan.

"So that, my children, is how it has been and how it is, and, by the will of the Eternal, so it shall be. And that ends your lesson for today

"Now, rise up and brush the dust from your skirts, and hurry in to your supper, or surely Jamila will snatch the beard from my chin for keeping you young whelps from your untidy feasting. Go! "


The Lands and Ecology Of the Emirates

A Nicostenian merchant briefs his recenty arrived Thyatian cousin on the eve of his first overland caravan.

" First, natives do not refer to this country as "Ylaruam." It is "the Emirates," when speaking specifically of the entire Confederation of Tribes. Ylaruam is simply the capital of a single province, albeit one of great symbolic importance. Natives are more likely to refer to themselves according to their emirate; these provinces are more closely related to the regions that various ethnic and social groups identify with...

"...Makistan, centered in the fertile UstUrt Valley and extending into the Alasiyan basin, peopled by tribesmen akin to the nomads of the Ethengar Khanate...

"...Nithia, a wasteland along the foothills of the northern mountains, and a short strip of fertile coastal plain populated by mixed desert tribes and descendants of Alphatian colonists. ..

"...Dythestenia, a highlands populated by tribal nomads, and in the fertile wadis, by civilised people of Thyatian descent...

"...Nicostenia, where we reside, a former Thyatian colony heavily influenced by contact with the Alasiyan nomad and farming cultures. . .

"...Abbashan, a growing province centered on an interior oasis, but recently expanded to the coast, dominated by Alasiyan nomads intensely hostile to foreigners, certainly no place for you, my sharp-tongued cousin...

" . . . and Alasiya, the largest province, encompassing the Alasiyan desert basin from south to north, east to west, a vast wasteland inhabited by primitive tribes, yet graced in its center by Ylaruam, a small but lovely city, cultured and elegant, and full of rich chiefs, merchants, and scholars eager for your wares, my shrewd cousin, and safe, even for an ignorant foreigner like you."

Geology and topography

The Emirates is like a great scoop open to the eastern sea. The northern highlands form one upper rim of the scoop; the southern Altan Tepe range forms the lower rim. The northern spur of the Altan Tepe rises in the west, forming the third rim of the scoop. The Alasiyan desert basin dips down sharply from this northern spur of mountains as it extends east, almost down to sea level in the salt flats west of Ylaruam, then sloping gently upwards again, becoming a high desert plain until it reaches the sea, where it drops several hundred feet in the last few miles before it reaches the coastline.

All precipitation and ground water flows downhill from the north, west, and south, draining into the vast subterranean reservoirs of the Alasiyan basin. Only in the Ust-Urt Valley is there any significant surface water, and all the rivers of that region drain into the basin at the southern end of the valley However, in the wet winter and spring, many seasonal rivers (wadis) run down from the mountains for several months, nourishing the fields and grazing lands; these wadis all dry up in the summer and early fall.

All the significant mountains lie outside the Emirates. The rugged highlands and foothills that slope into the desert basin are quite fertile, though often severely eroded or depleted by centuries of intensive agriculture. Both the northern and southern highlands contain valuable mineral deposits, particularly the high-carbon iron ores used in making the Emirates' famous steel weapons.

The Alasiyan Desert Basin itself is slowly subsiding, while the northern uplands are being uplifted. Scholars have observed that someday this basin may become an inland sea. The northern uplands are subject to periodic, violent earthquakes. Between these earthquakes and the constantly shifting dunes, much of the monumental architecture of the ancient Nithian culture has been reduced to rubble, then buried by hundreds of feet of sand. Small wonder so little is known of the Nithians.

Climate

The Desert: Most of the Emirates, the Alasiyan desert basin, receives 10 inches of rainfall yearly or less. Some sections of the desert may receive little or no rain in a year. Temperatures range from the low fifties in the winter to the hundreds in the summer during the day, falling sharply at night by as much as 20 degrees.

Half of this region supports hardy grasses and specially adapted vegetation, while spring and summer rainstorms provide enough moisture for seasonal pasturage the nomads require for their herds. These rainstorms are often quite awesome, with high winds, hail and sleet, violent lightning, and blinding ram.

Another fearsome meteorological phenomenon is the sandstorm. Normal sandstorms last for a few hours, and though eyes and mouth must be protected to avoid blindness or asphyxiation, the desert people cope with them by seeking shelter, even if it is no more than crouching behind a camel with a cloak as a shield from driving sand and dust particles and waiting out the storm.

More dangerous are the severe sandstorm of longer duration. Winds reach gale velocities, often accompanied by tornadoes, and may last for two or three days. Travel stranded in the desert in such circumstand are in desperate straits. The screaming winds and driving sand may drive a traveller insane and entire caravans are sometimes lost in the conditions.

Water holes and wells provide enough water for small settlements and limited agriculture The visions of Al-Kalim have encourage many technological and magical ventures producing water for new settlements, some which have been quite successful; the settle population of this region has tripled in the I century.

The other half of this region is a desert sand dunes, salt flats, and barren rock, aim' completely without any vegetation or group water. The large salt basin to the west of Ylaruam; and the deep deserts along the southern margin of the Nithian highlands are particularly forbidding. Even here, however, wet may be found 10 or 15 feet beneath the surface face; the desert people have of necessi become skilled at locating these water source

The Semi-Arid Highlands: The highland, that surround the Alasiyan basin receive more rainfall, a consistent 10 to 15 inches in to winter and spring, and they also benefit fro: seasonal runoff from the surrounding mountains ranges. These wadis are like part-time rivers ; in winter and spring there is enough wet' for some irrigation and in the summer and fall they are dry washes. This water is only bare adequate to support agriculture, but is quite enough to provide good pastures for the nomads. As in the desert, the rainfall often comes in the form of violent storms, and flash flooding is a risk for the unwary traveller. The temperatures here range from the thirties i the winter to the nineties in the summer during the day, falling 10 to 20 degrees in the evening

The Sub-Humid Coastal Plain: Along the eastern coast is a narrow strip of coastal plain varying from one to five miles wide. To the west it is bounded by an escarpment of 200 to 500 feet in elevation. This region receives up to 30 inches of rain yearly which is enough for prosperous agriculture, and the springs an<>

The Coastal Winds: The winds blow from the south along the coast in the winter and spring, and from the north in the summer and fall. This primarily affects the seagoing merchant traders, who must arrange their voyages to take advantage of favourable winds. It also means that land transportation of valuable or perishable goods can be competitive for caravanners who travel to northern lands in the winter and spring and return in the summer and fall.

Terrain and Climate

Desert (wilderness): Arid terrain. Receives less than 10 inches of rainfall yearly Exposed rock, sands dunes, and barren plains with sparse vegetation, clustered mostly around oases, water holes, and wadis. Populated by nomadic tribes which travel from pasture to pasture according to the seasons. Agricultural settlements near permanent and seasonal water sources. Population: one person or fewer per square mile. (All emirates around border of Alasiyan Basin, though Alasiyani and Abbashani emirates are predominantly of this terrain type.)

Desert (borderlands): Arid, with major permanent water sources (i.e., oases and water holes). Less than 10 inches of rainfall yearly. Substantial intensive agriculture with careful water management and irrigation supports modest urban settlements. Population density: 30 to 60 persons per square mile; higher in large towns and cities. (Parse in Makistan; Ylaruam in Alasiya; and the city of Abbashan in Abbashan Emirate; and other minor agricultural and urban settlements in these emirates. )

Coastal Plain (settled): Semi-arid, with substantial seasonal precipitation. About 20 to 30 inches of rain yearly. Hardy native grasses, shrubs, and trees, good pastures, and fertile intensive agriculture. Supports larger urban populations (10% to 20% of population in urban settlements). Population density: 40 to 70 per square mile; higher in large towns and cities. (Nithian, Abbashan, and Nicostenic coasts.)

Grassland (settled): Semi-arid, with year round surface water. About 10 to 20 inches of rainfall yearly. Excellent pasture and adequate agriculture to support nomadic tribes and modest urban settlements. Population density: 10 to 20 persons per square mile. (Ust-Urt Valley in Makistan.)

Upland Plateau (settled): Semi-arid, with seasonal surface water. About 10 to 20 inches of rainfall yearly Adequate pasturage, poor agriculture. Modest settlements only along trade routes and in mining regions. Population density: five to ten persons per square mile. (Dythestenian and Nithian emirates, primarily along caravan routes. )

Upland Plateau (borderlands): Semi-arid, with seasonal surface water. About 10 to 20 inches of rain fall yearly Adequate pasturage, poor agriculture. Nomadic tribes and sparse agricultural settlements along seasonal watercourses. Population density: five or fewer persons per square mile. (Nithian and Dythestenian highlands.)

Upland Plateau (wilderness): Arid. Ten or fewer inches of rainfall yearly. High deserts and badlands. Almost no vegetation. No permanent population. Population density: Fewer than one person per square mile. (Southwest highlands of Alasiya, central highlands of Nithia. )

Native Flona and Fauna

Plant Life: Except for the minor stands of conifers in the southern highlands of Nicostenia and the scrub junipers and wild olives of the Nicostenian and Dythestenian, there are no forests in the Emirates.

In the arid and semi-arid deserts and highlands, short drought-adapted shrubs and flowering plants, like the salt bush, the yellow-flowered acacia, the desert camomile, and the scarlet-fruited abal, dot the landscape. The ground between the shrubs is green for a few months of the year, or after a major rainfall. Even in the deep deserts, areas that are barren for years will flower and bloom after a rare rainfall. Only the salt flats and rock-floored deserts will not support any life.

The coastal plain, where it is not under cultivation, supports hardy scrub conifers and shrubs, and wild grasses suitable for pasturage grow in abundance. In the Ust-Urt Valley, the plains are covered with tall grasses similar to those of the American Midwest, with small shrubs growing along the water courses.

Mammals: Apart from the domestic herds of camel, horse, goat, sheep, and mule, there are few large mammals in the Emirates. Wild antelope and gazelles are common in the upland wilderness, but elsewhere they cannot compete with the nomads' herds for the scarce forage. In the upland wilderness the cheetah, lion, wolf, and jackal prey on the wild herds, and occasionally on nomad herds; hunting these creatures is a popular sport for chiefs and emirs. Baboons are common in the Nicostenian highlands and coastal plain, where they occasionally raid crop lands.

Birds: Varied species of water birds live along the coastal plain, and many colourful song birds migrate seasonally along the coast. The ostrich may be found in less populous southern coastal regions.

Birds are more restricted in number and species in the interior and highlands, including the sand grouse and the sweet- longed dunes whippoorwill. Quail and doves are popular game birds, and tribal nomads train eagles and hawks to catch hares and other game birds. The giant roc is rarely sighted in the highlands or desert; it makes its home in the high peaks of the Altan Tepe and fortunately seldom ventures into the lowlands.

Reptiles: Large lizards and several varieties of serpents are common in the highlands and considered delicacies by the nomads. The deadly dunes viper and black cobra are found in the highlands and deserts. Monstrous forms are reported in the southwestern upland wilderness; giant bones of these creatures may be viewed at the Eternal University Museum in Ylaruam. Blue dragons have been sighted throughout the Emirates, but seldom at close range; these creatures are solitary, they fly at great altitudes, and little is known of their lairs or habits.

Marine Life: Coastal inhabitants eat a variety of fish netted in local waters. Sharks, dolphins, and whales (called "dendan" by the Ylari) are common, and monstrous serpents and sea-going reptiles occasionally attack fishermen and trade vessels.

Insects: Stinging insects and locusts occasionally swarm in wet, warm weather. The scorpion and desert spider are found in the desert basin and highlands, and giant forms of these creatures are hunted in the southwestern deserts. Other giant insects are occasionally reported here, and the dreaded sand worm, a seldom-sighted terror of the western salt basin, is a popular feature of heroic legend.


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