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Zhai

Zhai is a subcontinental island, artifically connected to the Northern Arm via the Broadest Bridge. It emerged from the sea during The Shimmering and was initially the site of fierce competition between prospectors from across the world. These days, Zhai is known as the home of powerful wizards and magical creatures. The politics of Zhai are dominated by powerful interest groups that constitute a complex tapestry of rivalling and allied city states.

Geography

The subcontinent of Zhai is widely considered to be a country, and to be the most magical place of Laeryll. At all but its southern point, Zhai's coastline is made of cliffs towering high above the sea and its landmass is mostly covered in dense jungle, interspersed by gigantic cities. The sea east of Zhai is known as the Green Sea, while the waters south and west of the subcontinent are known as the Great Sea.   Famous places in Zhai include Jepri, Lloridan, Peshgulu and the port of Kikokomary. Zhai has historically attracted wizards, sorcerors and other practitioners of magic, as well as merchants connecting the Northern Arm to The Porcupine or the South.   Jepri is the most powerful city state of Zhai and is home to many famous wizards and sages. It is therefore often considerd to be the capital, but within Zhai it is not officially recognized as such. Peshgulu is a large city that is famous for its magical bazaar, while Kikokomary is the most important trading port of Zhai, connecting trade from the Southern Arm and The Porcupine with other lands on the Northern Arm. Lloridan is a smaller (but still very large) city in the north of Zhai, with close ties to the Kingdom of Laeryll.

Ecosystem

The Zhai subcontinent is covered with dense jungle, and its climate is tropical. Zhai has two seasons: the short dry season (Ghyllekethed and the long wet season (Ghyllaakun). Part of the heat of Zhai is emanating from its ground, which greatly affect the flora and fauna on the island.

Fauna & Flora

Zhai is the most biodiverse location of the Northern Arm, and new creatures are still being discovered by scholars venturing into its depths. Even for sentient creatures, it is not always clear where their origin lies, as the cities of Zhai are known to have been receiving extradimensional visitors for millennia. Rumors say that even some natural resources on the island are gateways to other planes of existence.

Natural Resources

The rocks beneath the jungles of Zhai contain rich deposits of zholtan and other precious resources. Thousands of years ago, The Porcupine operated industries to extract these resources, but the power and influence of the growing Zhai city states drove them away, although dwarven communities remain in Kikokomary.   The animals of Zhai are also widely traded resources, and there is a sizable medicine industry located near Peshgulu.

History

Zhai rose from the waters during The Shimmering and it quickly became clear to prospectors that magic permeates the landmass. It was this magic that attracted the rich and powerful from across the world and beyond, and which led to the foundation of ever-growing cities.   In 903 LC, the Labarean Empire invaded Zhai, as part of a campaign to halt magic trade. In 904 LC, the Empire occupied Lloridan after a long siege, attracting the ire of the Kingdom of Laeryll and the mobilization of the other cities in Zhai.  

Political structure

Also see: Cities of Zhai   The political structure of Zhai is wholly intransparent: each city is run by councils called pakshilar, in which merchants, magicians and sages sit. However, it is possible to have a seat in multiple pakshilar at the same time, and all cities are connected through labyrinthine systems of magical portals, allowing single individuals to be actively involved in councils in multiple cities. Add to this that almost everyone who has a seat in a pakshilar has at some point been rumored to be a magical illusion, mind-controlled by an outside power or bought by outside interests, and it becomes clear that nobody really knows who rules who in Zhai. In fact, the main key to political influence in Zhai is knowing who has political influence to begin with.   At the same time, the authority of the pakshilar is virtually limitless - they tax, they give permits and they appoint judges to court cases if they wish to do so. In theory, the only balancing power is that of the shibalar, the armed militias.  

Culture

Zhai culture is permeated by magic and some claim that it is the birthplace of the arcane art. Whether through magical practice or items, almost everyone uses magic in day-to-day affairs. Regardless of this power, slavery is common, although most imported slaves from the Southern Arm are sold to the Labarean Empire for a steep price. The construction of the cities themselves have been wildly dependent on magic, and visitors to Zhai are often overwhelmed by the architectural impossibilities they witness. In some cases, these magical constructions confer whole new ways of living, such as in the continously shuffling stacked buildings in the Lloridan Trading District.   Racially, Zhai is a mixed bag: visit Jepri for the first time and you are bound to meet creatures you never even heard of. Since money and power are all that counts in Zhai, it is one of the few places in which hybrids and persecuted races can enter respectable positions. Peshgulu, for example, has the powerful half-orc shaman Drak seated in its pakshilar, something unimaginable elsewhere.
Type
Sub-continent
Location under
Included Locations
Inhabiting Species

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