Population: 1,042,470 (68% human, 15% halfling, 10% gnome, 6% dwarf)
Government: Mercantile Oligarchy
Religions: The Lords of the Grail
HarAkir! Land of adventure, excitement, and addiction. The present blurs into the past as ancient ruins and weathered monoliths, once hidden, come to light. Scouring sandstorms whip away the dunes to reveal the planed sides of pyramids. Caravans gone astray on the savannah find the bones of old settlements, their inhabitants gone but their relics left behind. The tokens and trinkets of bygone HarAkir all make their way to the great city of Agazier, to find a place among the stalls and shops of the city of trade. There, the battered gold necklace that once hung around the neck of a Luxurite pharaoh sits in a tangle next to smooth blocks of pesh, while one of the enigmatic Red Emirs glides by, his madness-inducing visage concealed behind a bizarre mask.
Situated on the southeastern shore of the Valesian Sea, Harakir has traditionally been isolated by geography and culture. The Adramagdus mountains form the border with Luxur. The interior of Harakir is a network of small fertile valleys and wooded hills.
The people of Haakir, known as the Akir, are tall, with mahogany skin and dark hair. They have a reputation for honest but vigorous negotiation and for the meticulous detail of their crafts, particularly their pottery and glassworks, but also in the quality of the sleek, small ships and their superior weaponry.
Honor is the chief virtue for the Akir. All actions contain either honor or dishonor, and must be judged accordingly. Wisdom and strength are considered to be nothing without honor. Akir tales tell of warriors who brave death rather than break their word, or of maidens who seek the advice of dragons on a particularly difficult point of honor. Most Akir will go to great lengths to avoid the stain of dishonor.
The Alwari Brotherhoods
Among the most mysterious aspects of Harakir are its martial orders, known as the Alwari Brotherhoods. These holy men dedicate themselves to years of arduous instruction, ritual and meditation to develop strange abilities and superb control of their bodies. Alwari masters are able to break stone with their bare hands or run up walls as if they were level ground. There are many Alwari Brotherhoods, each school a rival to all the others.
Honor and dedication are taken extremely seriously by the members of the Alwari Brotherhoods. The Alwari (there are both male and female Alwari of all races) live highly structured lives for the first five to fifteen years of their training, traveling abroad only after they have proven themselves worthy of representing their Brotherhood.
Developing the amazing abilities shown by the best of the Alwari masters takes a lifetime of dedication and focus. As a result, the Brotherhoods only rarely become involved in the politics of Harakir or the outside world. However, every five years, they do meet, always at a different location. These gatherings are a chance for each Brotherhood to display its prowess in competitions, and for old scores to be settled in an organized manner.
Legends say that long ago in Harakir there lived the daughter of a god. The tales differ on which god it was, but the daughters name was Maaliya, and she was the wisest of all mortals. Kings and emperors consulted with Maaliya on difficult questions and her fame spread until it reached even the sultan of all the genies. The tale of her labors on behalf of the sultan are told in The Thousand and One Faces of Truth.
As a result of Maaliyas advice, the kingdom of the genies was saved from ruin, and the sultan swore eternal friendship between realms. So it has been ever since. Genies are rarely seen, even in Harakir, but their presence is felt everywhere. Wizards keep minor genies as familiars. The powers of genies are harnessed in magic items, and in the fertility of the very soil. The sails of the Red Emirs’ flagship are always filled with a genies wind. And of course, not a few genies travel the world as mortals and live amongst the akir.
The history of Harakir extends back to the Great Cataclym that destroyed Iridian and Numanthaur. The tribes of the Sheltered Land lived in peaceful isolation until the coming of the Luxurites some three thousand years ago. The Luxurites quickly came to dominate the natives through warfare, trade and religion. By the rise of Conorria, the natives and conquerors had blended into one people, the Akir, who paid tribute to the god-king in Luxur.
The first written accounts are found in the White Scrolls of Forlingon, the elven sage who wrote in the second century B.C.. He wrote of "a high hidden realm of man on the farthest shore of the sea, guarded by high mountains and fierce sorcery." The line of the sultans was already well-established at this time, and claimed descent from the legendary seeress Maaliya. The Akir first contacted the Conorrians in the third century A.C., through trade and piracy. The Akir pirates would remain some of the most successful on the Valesian sea for more than millennium.
Sometime in the third century, the first of the Alwari brotherhoods was founded. Known as the Mahaali Ruwat, or the Scarlet Dragon, this secretive society was at first hounded by the sultans, who feared its power. But soon, masters of the Scarlet Dragon were founding their own schools or wandering academies, and the Alwari brotherhoods had become a permanent fixture of Akir society by the following century.
The Beltene Empire invaded Luxur in the first century, putting its cities to the torch and killing the immortal god-king. Although these mysterious conquerors waged raids upon Harakir for slaves and tribute, it would be many centuries more before they invaded. Cut off from their gods and their god-king, the Akir turned inward, naming the lord of Agazier to be their sultan. It was at this time that the wise Maaliya created the pact between the sultan of the genies and the sultan of Harakir.
Of all the lands that would eventually comprise the Conorrian Empire, perhaps none were as difficult to conquer as Harakir. The luxurite priesthoods urged the Akir to resist the alien Conorrians with all their might, as did the Alwari brotherhoods. The first attempt to conquer Harakir was in CY 419, when a navy under the consul Procalimax defeated the Akir fleet at Orod. Procalimax legions landed and established a camp at what is now Muzir.
The bitter fighting between genie and war wizard had just begun. In 428, Procalimax and the IX legion were captured and slain at Gamela. Sixteen years later, Agazier was put to the torch by the Emperor Leander. But by the year 501, the Conorrians had conquered Harakir. Although resistance would continue among the mountain tribes for more than two centuries, the Sheltered Land had become one of the most cultured and wealthy provinces of the Empire.
This strength of this relationship was proven in the wake of the Beltene Wars. The powerful Beltene conquered HarAkir in 820 and went on to invade and nearly conquer the Connorians, waging war for the next half-century. But when, in 872, the entire Beltene Empire disappeared overnight, the Akir were quick to declare their allegiance to the weakened Conorrian Empire. A millennium of peace and prosperity followed for the Akir.
In 1791, the Emperor Hadrasius XXI was assassinated while on a tour of Luxur. Although his infant son, Valerius, was acclaimed emperor by the Senate within weeks, there were many pretenders to the throne. Before the year was out, no less than thirteen claimants had been recognized by one legion or another. Many were murdered within months, but six, all of them wizards or sorcerers, named themselves emperor and made war upon the others. So began the Conorrian Civil War, known as the Mage Wars. These vast and bloody wars lasted for twenty-six years, and left the empire forever changed.
Harakir and Luxur were the seat of the mage Nazeer the Emerald Mage, who vied strongly for the throne. His genie allies and the backing of the blue dragon Sargonnaedh made Nazeer a serious contender, and many believed that he was involved with the actual assassination of the emperor. It is undisputed that several of Nazeers enemies died of assassination before the war was over. Markimillien himself defeated Nazeer, capturing the Akir mage in a magical crystal which he later kept on a chain around his neck. He also banished the genies from Vatheria for 501 years, which is longer than his empire would last.
In the East, Valerius retained his throne and was recognized as the legitimate holder of the Phoenix Throne. But west of the Conorr peninsula, the empire was under the thumb of the Mage-Emperor Markimillien I, who founded the Miletian Empire. Harakir was part of the Miletian Empire. The surviving mages of Harakir were loyal to the Miletian Empire and were instrumental in developing its famous Blood Magic. The Alwari Brotherhoods were suppressed during this period, and were believed to have been destroyed.
The Miletian Empire crumbled under the weight of the Darothic hordes in 2282-90. When it fell, Harakir was on its own for the first time in nearly two thousand years. The Imperial structure remained active in the Sheltered Land for only a further generation, until the coming of the Red Emirs in 2313.
Mysterious and otherworldly, the Red Emirs swiftly came to dominate all of Har’Akir through a combination of powerful sorcery and generous aid to their followers. Though they control the cities with an iron fist, they pay little attention to what happens throughout the rest of the country, so long as trade flows unimpeded.
In 2587-91 Harakir fought an inconclusive naval war with the Valesian City-States which broke the power of the Valesian navy but resulted in the loss of the Akir port at Tangor. This left Harakir with only one major port, Agazier. As a result, the sultan established new ports, one in the Ahuran strait at Galim and one at the ancient city of Muzir, in the north. Over the ensuing century, the naval and merchant power of Harakir has grown to dominate the western Valesian Sea.
HarAkir encompasses many different land types and climates, almost as varied as the goods in its marketplaces. To the south, looming mountains slope like spearheads, blocking the way to Luxur. Flatter foothills and mountain passes offer passage to the southern country, but most travelers prefer to reach Luxur by ship. Gnolls live in those mountains, and they know the passes and easy crossings as well as anyone. Unprepared souls who attempt to traverse the mountains generally wind up on a ship anyway: in the belly of a slave galley on its way to the Fleshfairs.
In the north, warm green savannahs stretch for miles. Clusters of tall trees, with long branches that extend only from the very tops of the trunks, stand like open umbrellas to offer moderate shade. Thin rivers and still pools provide water for the many animals that roam the fertile plains, such as camelopards, HarAkiri lions, gazelles, and more. At times, the savannah gives way to lush jungles that develop around hot spots: underground heat vents that warm the area, turning fresh water murky and sulfurous and fostering the growth of plant life. Farther south still, the plains dry up into arid stretches of desert. The dangers of desert lifescorpions, jackal rats, sand eels, and ancient cursesare many.
Religion in HarAkir
The predominant religion in HarAkir is Eristemuss faith, as the god of mercantilism, money, and travel finds much support among the buyers and sellers of the nations famous markets. Even followers of other deities often murmur a prayer to Eristemus before engaging in a business deal, or drop a few coins in one of Eristemuss tithe-boxes after a successful sale.
Erdhon enjoys the largest following after Eristemus. In a country with so much sun, and where the heat can grow intense enough to cause damage or death, it seems only natural that many would revere the god of the sun. Erdhons clerics play a major role in defending Agazier, and HarAkir in general, and most citizens see them as benevolent and admirable crusaders. Unfortunately, Erdhons strong presence here also draws cultists of Drauluin seeking to destroy the Dawnflowers followers. Agaleus, Daria and Valkrys also enjoy moderate followings in HarAkir. Gnolls revere Evaless, and many shrines in the mountains pay homage to the Mother of Monsters.
Creatures of HarAkir
Many animals on the plains and in the desert are native to HarAkir, known in other lands only because of the luxurious pelts traded in the marketplace. On the plains, the most common creatures are HarAkiri lions (great golden beasts with white manes), gazelles, zebras, blink dogs and camelopards. Jungle areas include such wildlife as alligators, giant snakes, lizards, stirges, and tribes of lizardfolk. In the desert, one finds camels, sand eels, basilisks, behirs, wild horses, scorpions, and buzzards. In the mountains, there are mountain lions, wild goats, dragonnes, and gnolls.
Gnolls are the most common monster in HarAkir and arguably the most dangerous. Gnolls consider HarAkir their homeland, and seem intent on killing or enslaving all interlopers who dare make their homes there. Gnolls are feared and reviled throughout the land, but the Red Emirs open trade policy means that gnolls may freely enter the city of Agazier, so long as they come to barter and behave themselves.
The Red Emirs
The mysterious rulers of HarAkir are not native to the areaperhaps not even to Theeurth. They arrived almost seven hundred years ago, during a time when anarchy and lawlessness ruled the city. With quiet, direct ruthlessness, the Red Emirs took the city in hand and drove the unstable elements out. Within a hundred years, Agazier stood as a shining model of free trade, and within 500 it had established itself as a leading economic power in the Valesian Sea region.
Red Emirs stand 7 feet tall and seem unnaturally thin. They wear layers of robes to hide their spindly bodies and ornate masks of gold, silver, and other precious metals often studded with gemsto cover their faces and muffle their voices. Though many stories circulate as to whom the Red Emirs are and what they truly look like, no one can say for certain what lies under those placid masks.
MAJOR POPULATION CENTERS
Agazier – (Metropolis; population 101,840) The ancient capital is one of the oldest cities on the Valesian Sea. Seated as it is at the northern end of the Larimean Bay, it is sheltered from storms, but also vulnerable to naval blockade. Agazier has four harbors, each sheltered by small outlying islands where much of the shipbuilding is performed.
This city is all that most foreigners ever see of Harakir, for only here are they viewed with anything but suspicion. Agazier is divided by a steep hill. The poorer classes and merchants congregate on the crowded shore or on the barrier islands, while the wealthy live in splendor amidst the wooded slopes of the upper city. Most of the whitewashed, blue-tiled buildings in the lower city are crowded, multistory affairs with bridges and buttresses seeming to connect each one to another. The buildings of the upper city are stately mansions with enclosed gardens or courtyards and high walls.
Muzir – (Small City; population 42,220) Founded by Procalimax in the year 419, Muzir has maintained the orderly streets and wide, straight avenues so beloved of the Conorrians. But in most other ways, it is purely a city of the Akir. Large, colorful markets fill the wide forums, and intricate mosaics adorn nearly every building, while the competing calls of the clerics call the faithful to worship. Situated below a gap in the northeastern Adramagdus mountains, Muzir is most notable for its new port and its large military barracks. The aggressive building program of the Red Emirs has built a powerful naval force with the intention of protecting Akir shipping from rivals.
Galim- (Town; population 26,430) Located at the western end of the Marrakhan hills on the Ahuran straits, Galim is less than thirty years old. Founded in order to give Harakir a naval base outside the Valesian sea, the town is dedicated almost entirely to shipping and trade. Although the town has a sizeable fishing fleet, food must still be brought by caravan from the more fertile interior.
IMPORTANT LOCAL SITES
The Valley of the Kings – In the central Adramagdus mountains lies a valley dominated by two immense statues, each more than five hundred feet tall and carved into the side of mountains that face each other across the valley. The figures are of two men, seated. One wears an intricate suit of armor and bears a scepter and a sword, while the other wears only a toga and bears an orb and a rod. Both bear stern faces and crowns. Within the mountain behind the armored figure is a warren of rooms smoothly cut into the rock as if by magic. The ancient doors to this place stand open between his feet. A similar set of doors between the feet of the unarmored figure have never been breached.
The Eleven Veils of Alzar – In valley in the far southwest there are eleven streams that plunge out of the mountain walls and form silvery waterfall ribbons known as the Veils of Alzar. The mist-shrouded valley is considered sacred and is the home of a sect of religious warders. It is left alone by all but a few wanderers and priests. Legend has it that those who spend a night in the valley of Alzar are sometimes visited by the lords of the spirit world, who travel through one of the eleven veils.
The Adramagdus Mountains – The border between Harakir and Luxur is a region of rugged desert mountains, precipitous narrow valleys and small, swift-running streams. These lands are the haunts of beasts, both natural and magical. There are also several clans of gnolls who make the hills their home. The lone road running through the mountains is often the target of bandits or the more clever and aggressive of beasts. Caravans wending their way through the hills are always well-guarded.