The Sands of the Zyphyr
Zelcel conjures images of endless windswept dunes stretching from the Khaziram Mountains to the Atbuton River. A land of hot, dry days, and cool nights under the clearest skies. Hidden oases filled with palm trees, exotic fruits and even more exotic people, welcoming to strangers, but deadly to cross. Zelcel is a land of harsh differences, but that's what makes it so beautiful.
The Zultana of Zelcel rules over a collection of two dozen tribes that wander the Zayira Desert. Each of the tribal chiefs swears allegiance to the ruling Zultana, but expects to be treated as an equal, making the position of Zultana one of "first among equals". Blood lines and family ties are very important with the Zephyrs, so the ruling Zultana, or Zultan, often has many chiefs as family members or in-laws. While the Zultana issues orders, it is the chiefs who obey or ignore those orders, leading to disobedient chiefs often being challenged over their authority. Only the tribe can chose it's chief, and each tribe has various methods to do so, but once chosen the new chief is expected to pledge themselves to the Zultana before the next full moon, otherwise they would be considered in rebellion.
The Zephyrs wander the Zayira desert for most of the year, moving from one watering hole to another with their camels, tents and flocks of goats and sheep. Fights occur between the tribes over these oasis's that usually result in some amount of death. While the tribes are quick to fight amongst themselves, just as quickly they will band together when an outside threat emerges. They are also quick to offer hospitality and shelter to those who seek it, as they know the desert is a cruel place.
The Zephyrs do not seek anything from others states. They mostly wish to be left alone to live their lives as they have done for centuries.
Water is a tribes most important asset, and they defend their oasis strongly. They are willing to share to those in need, but will fight any who try to impose, or take what is not theirs. Each tribe has a varying amount of livestock, and that plus camels, and the size of their households, is how they measure wealth. A Zephyr who has a large household, consisting not only of family, but also servants and slaves is considered wealthy.
Zelcel has long held many tribes of nomads, that have moved from oasis to oasis, from the mountains to the Atbuton River herding their goats, sheep and camels as the seasons dictate. Several hundred years ago three tribes, that are represented by the three sphinxes on their crest, joined together and forced the other tribes to submit to their rule. At first the three chiefs co-ruled the lands, but over the years, as bad luck, or poor decisions whittled away two of the tribes, the Zayira tribe rose to dominate, and proclaimed themselves the Zultans. The Zayira family has ruled ever since. The current ruler, Zultana Zelradas of Záyírà has ruled for the last three years. Considered by many to be the most beautiful woman in the world, she is also one of the most ruthless, and after her father died, she quickly moved to eliminate all the threats to her being named Zultana, including, it is rumored, drowning her own mother in an oasis one night.
Demography and Population
Each tribe consists of between 500 and 5,000 members, including the servants and slaves of those tribes. There are no large population centers, but the tribes do congregate around various oasis during certain parts of the year. The oasis of Zayarin is the only one that is populated year round, as the water supply is close to endless.
Each tribal chief, as well as the Zultan / Zultana is responsible for providing and maintaining an adequate fighting force of men and women. It is expected that about fifty percent of all members of a tribe will be able to fight if called upon, this not only includes the free men and women, but also the servants and slaves, although they are not given armor, and generally only spears or javelins in time of need. each fighting force reports only to their chief, and the chiefs report only to the Zultan, making personal loyalty very important for an extended campaign. There are many instances of chiefs taking their men and leaving after disagreements arose with the Zultan. This usually resulted in that tribe being attacked after the Zultan was finished with the matter at hand, but sometimes it resulted in a new Zultan that was quick to forgive the act that allowed them to rise to power.
The Zephyrs worship all the Risen, but Skalla, god of Chaos has a large following. many Zephyr have a small shrine to Skalla in their tents, as they know that once they step outside the tent walls, they have little control over their lives, so they ask Skalla to let them walk through the day and return to their tents without any chaos blocking their way home.
Agriculture & Industry
There is almost no agriculture in Zecel. There are some semi-permanent villages along the Atbuton River that grow grains, mostly wheat, rice and barley, that is traded to the tribes as they pass through for sheep or goats, along with some of the products made from those grains such as flour and beer. And there are smaller farms around some of the oasis sites that grow mostly dates and figs. The capital, the Oasis of the Zayirin has access to lots of water in it's emerald lakes, and that water is the basis of an irrigation system, that allows for many other crops to be grown within it's walls.
Trade & Transport
The Atbuton River sees a lot of trade as small river vessels ply it most of the year. Some of the grains and livestock of Zelcel are sold to these river merchants and then taken up or down river. It is rumored that the Zephys have taken over some of the mining operations in the mountains to the south, that have been abandoned by the The Missing Dwarves of the Khaziram Mountians, but if that is so, there is no evidence of it at this point.
All for Zayira!
Geopolitical, County / March
Sheep, goats, grains
Zelcel does not import much, but they do import some iron and steel products, which are highly valued.
The laws are decided upon by the Zultan / Zultana, with the consent of the tribal chiefs. The chiefs are not asked to vote, but those that disapprove of any edict are given a chance to speak about it and try to convince the Zultana that it should not be so. This rarely happens, as the Zultana usually has the support of the majority of the chiefs before the edict is made.
Each chief is responsible for enforcing the laws of his tribe and the edicts of the Zultana within his/her tribe, while inter tribal matters are usually decided by conflict, or if conflict is not desired, by presenting the case to the Zultana for her to rule on.
Official State Religion