The red hills of Dustain rise on the horizon, above the Storm Bowls of Garel. Between them, great pieces of rock float in the sky, circling a valley in the hills. As you climb the next sand dune, you see the sprawling magical city that lies in the valley. Its ochre walls are covered in blue and purple banners. An endless stream of caravans, camels and travelers is moving towards the gate and the great Districts float around the city. Along the path, great statues stand guard over the magnificent city. Small, flying objects move around over the city. Before you lies the magical city of El’Daesh, the Ochre Bastion, the Floating City. El'Daesh is the westernmost city in Al'Qahir, found deep in the province of Garel, to the west of the military city Jel'Qadir. It is most famous for the University of El'Daesh and for being a center of magical knowledge and power. Many mages from all over the world have been to El'Daesh to study at this prestigious institution. It is widely seen as a center of lore, magic and great promise. The city districts of El'Daesh float around the city, on great heights. They have been suspended there to allow for more citizens in the city. The Trade District holds most of the city's retail businesses, while the University sits on an entire district of its own. The military has a separate district, as well as the Citadel, which holds the prisoners of El'Daesh. The Castle sits on a separate district, from where the Archmage rules. The Gnomes have a separate district, known as the Gnome Warrens, where they have their workshops and their laboratories. On the ground is the Old City, where some shops still stand, but the burghs have largely been repurposed for habitation.
Most of the people here live off the wealth that is brought in by the University. Many of the shops here professionalize in the merchandise needed by the University. Others supply the great need of the rest of the population. People of all races are found here, with even a few Elves from other kingdoms. No Elves from Quen’Thanadrian come here. There is a significant population of Gnomes living in the Gnome warrens, about 2,500 or so. There are Dwarves, Tieflings, Dragonborn and other arcanely interested races. Most of the population consists of humans. Most of the population are middle-class earners, with a 10% of the population being very wealthy. The remaining 30% are poor, low-income. Even those are relatively well-off. Poverty is not common. The lowest of the lowest earn very little, but due to the long history of the city with benevolent leaders and great social people, even the poorest have more than the poor in the other cities. Young children are given basic education by friendly wizards and scholars to provide them with knowledge of numbers and lettering. The clerics of the temple will accept any offering to help people who are sick or in need, and the Medical Wing will accept anyone with injury or sickness to provide practice for students. Due to the setup of education, most people are literate, save for lowest wretches or people who excluded themselves from the world. The people in the Underside are generally illiterate, but even those can partake in the free basic lessons provided by the University.
The city of El’Daesh has several important political figureheads. It is considered a magocracy, meaning that all the important political positions are given to mages of high renown. The city is run by the Council of Ten, a group of mages from different positions. The most important is the Archmage, the leader of the City. An Archmage is chosen shortly after the previous Archmage dies. He or she may have no ties to the political parties whatsoever and must be an established mage of sorts. Candidates can be put forward by anyone, and people elect their prime candidate. The current Archmage is Archmage Tuurem, an elderly human who specializes in Transmutation magic. The Archamge holds audiences to hear people’s problems. Secondly, there is the General of El’Daesh. This position entitles the bearer of the title to full command of the El’Daeshian forces, only to be overruled by the Archmage himself. The General is appointed by the Council of Ten when the old general dies or gives up the position. The current General is Lady Merilia Dareil, a Laureion woman of noble birth. Then there are the Eight Disciplinary Mages. For each school of magic, there is a faction in El’Daesh that represents them. Each Disciplinary Mage is the leader of that party, and a party gains power by the seat they take in the council. The seat closest to the Archmage is considered the seat of the highest power in the city. The division of seats is restructured through election every three years. A Disciplinary Mage can be replaced through means of a duel, and the winner takes the place of the Mage. Backstabbing and subtle working up have caused conflict in the past. The seat for Necromancy has been vacant for nearly five hundred years now. Law dictates that the seat be there, but the Necromancers have been nonexistent since the Rising Incident. The laws of El’Daesh are written in magic ledgers in the Halls of Law in the keep. This means that only the person who has written the law can change it, even after death. The justice system is tied to these laws, meaning that the judges in the city have to be extremely knowledgeable. The best judge in the city is an Elf, from Ingstrang, who is old enough to have spent years of study of El’Daeshian law.
The city is fairly secure. It has strong walls reinforced by magic, and the floating districts are near impossible to breach. The security consists mostly of the El’Daeshian Army, which is composed of two parts. The Drywind Mages and the Sandblades are the forces of the army. The Drywind Mages are mages that specialize in Fire, Sand, Wind and Illusion Magic. Sandblades are elite warriors. The mages of the University are also ready for battle if need be. The most secure area in the city is the Castle, which floats the highest and has only one teleportation gate. The gates can also be set in such a way that they are only functional to teleport to the outside or the Military District.
The city thrives on import. There are a few things that are created in the area and redistributed. They are divided as follows: Husbandry: There are sheepherders and camel drivers in the area. The hills are known for a breed of grey goat. This produces wool, leather, dairy and meat. Agriculture: In the hills there are some farmers which produce agave, peanuts and some berries and nuts. There are smaller trees in the area which are used for wood production. Some cactus farms are found in the desert itself. Some reeds and tall grasses are found in the hills and are used to make papyrus and paper. Spices are also found in the desert. Mining: Stone quarries in the hills provide the city with limestone, sandstone and granite. Valuable metals and gemstones are found in the hills, as well as iron and copper. The industry also provided sand and some spice to the market. Additionally, the city is a center for trade. Many valuable goods are brought in and redistributed amongst the visitors. Aside from this, some of the greatest exports are magical items and items made for magical purposes. The city exports spices and manufactured items to other cities.
The City of El'Daesh has several noteworhty infrastructural features. First and foremost are its floating city districts. These are connected to each other through teleportation sigils. These sigils are controlled by mages who can send people from one sigil to another. The floating districts all have different purposes, such as Trade, the University, or the housing of the Gnome population of the city. Additionally, El'Daesh has a complex sewer system. Underneath every district, one can find elaborate tunnels which remove waste, but also give a limitless supply of water to the El'Daeshian people. These sewers are called the Underside and are home to a group of people called the Water Mages. They supply the city with water through magic. The only section of the city without running water is the Citadel.
Guilds and Factions
There are several factions that hold some sway in El'Daesh. Firstly, there are two main military groups, the Sand Mages and the Sun Warriors. There are ten different magopolitical parties in the city, each named after their preferred school of magic. There is a single trade guild that operates on behalf of the merchants in El'Daesh and maintains contacts with other trade guilds, called the Mercantile. The temple clergy in the Hall of Faith is considered a faction, as are the Water Mages. Lastly, there are three somewhat serious street gangs in El'Daesh: the Water Thieves, the Black Mambas and the Grutniks. There is one other large crime organisation: the Syndicate of the Cabbalists , also known as the Cabal.
El'Daesh was founded just after the great Cataclysm by the First Archmage. He founded the place to ensure young mages could find the mentor they needed in the magical arts. Soon, a city grew around the place of learning. The city earned itself the name El'Daesh, which roughly translates to "Bright Star". It was around this time that the Caliph decided he wanted control over El'Daesh. So began the long strife between the Caliphate and the floating city. It is only recently that the city has joined the Caliphate.
The city collects its natural resources from the hills. Granite, sandstone, limestone and basalt are very common stones to mine, as well as more precious metals and stones that are found in the hills. These mined goods are often obtained in villages that are further into the hills. Shepherds in the hills bring leather, wool, meat and dairy from their camels, sheep and goats. Some of those also make a living as a hunter, hunting different sorts of game. Peanuts, cactuses, agave and wood are all harvested from the hills in farm villages. These are often very small hovels, as the countryside provides little sustenance for large groups of people.
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