A traveller trekking through the depths of the Sonsuz Desert would not be blamed for thinking that the great city of Vaháyer was a mirage brought on by relentless thirst and the blazing sun. Vaháyer is the centre of all the decisions, administration and cultural activities that goes on in the desert kingdom.
Not only is it the base for the Sultanate itself, run from the complex of the Sultan’s Palace which houses both the core of the civil service, but also the lavish living state rooms of the Sultan, but Vaháyer is an immensely respected seat of learning. One of Turoza’s only Universities is situated in Vaháyer, Royal College of Social, Scientific, Historical and Philosophical Studies, is based in the heart of Fashaddon’s capital, and has gathered a large community of scholars who wish to engross themselves in the study of non-magical subjects.
At the heart of Vaháyer is the Sultan’s Oasis, a huge garden complex adjacent to the Sultan’s palace that was once the original oasis that provided water to the city, now repurposed as a public park. The turning of a crucial and utilitarian feature of every Fashaddonite settlement into an area of beauty and leisure is the ultimate symbol of the power of the Sultanate, and a testament to the success of the Sultanate’s programme of public works, including the Tarcan Aqueduct that now provides the city with all of its water.
At first glance, the capital city of the Sultanate of Fashaddon looks like a huge pool of shining water suspended in the yellow-brown sand of the desert. This is because all of the buildings have roofs painted a light blue colour, to show the great respect that the people of the desert have for water, with whitewashed walls that reflect light away from the buildings in an attempt to keep them cool. This uniform blue colour of the rooftops, along with the huge preponderance of public fountains throughout the city, is reflected in the city’s nickname, the Desert Sapphire. It is not surprising, therefore, that travellers who have become lost in the desert mistake the entire city for a huge body of water as they make their approach from across the desert.
Despite the fact that Vaháyer is the capital of the Sultanate of Fashaddon, only a small percentage of the population is made up of the richest class of society. This is because the majority of the wealthiest merchants choose to reside in the southern coastal cities of Denizyer or Evlimani, where the homeports of their merchant fleets are located. Nevertheless, the wealth of this small percentage of Vaháyer’s citizenry is still very apparent, especially in and around the Old Town and court of the Sultan where the majority of them have chosen to reside.
There is a large corps of middle class citizens, the majority of whom are employed as part of the Sultanate’s civil and administrative service, but with a large proportion of them being based in the Academic Quarter where they are involved with the scholarly work that goes on in the Royal College
. In addition, there is the normal cadre of middle-class professionals that one would expect to see in any city in Ulskandar, smaller scale merchants, blacksmiths, higher end craftspeople and medical practitioners.
The majority of Vaháyer’s inhabitants are in the lower income bracket and either serve as soldiers in the Fashaddonite army, or are employed in the vast agricultural operation that surrounds the capital. As the city’s buildings are in constant need of maintenance, thanks to their foundation on the sands of the Sonsuz Desert, construction and building maintenance work is a large employer of Vaháyer’s lower classes.
In terms of the racial make-up of the city, Vaháyer is similar to that of the Sultanate as a whole. Half-Orcs are predominant amongst the local population, but there is equally a large percentage of Humans, Halflings and Gnomes. The Academic Quarter of Vaháyer is one of the few places that Elves can be found in permanent residence in Fashaddon, drawn there by the Royal College’s reputation for learning
Compared to other cities in Turoza, Vaháyer has very few defences to speak of. The only walled section of the city is around the central area of the capital, the Old Town, which is primarily taken up by the Sultan’s Palace complex, several monumental public buildings and the Sultan’s Oasis. The only other section of the city that is walled is the Academic Quarter in the south east, which is the home of The Royal College of Social, Scientific, Historical and Philosophical Studies
The rest of the city is defended by a series of small forts, which act as garrisons for the Fashaddonite Army, whose units take it in turns to act as the city guard for a number of years. There are only two permanent military bases in Vaháyer, the Headquarters and barracks of the Sultan’s Guard, which is housed in part of the Palace complex, and the Headquarters of the Exploration Corps, by far the largest military structure in the city, which is based in its northern periphery.
The lack of an all-encompassing fortification for the city is driven by the fact that the Sonsuz Desert is the perfect defence for Vaháyer anyway. Only the peoples of the wild desert tribes would have the survival skills to trek unsupported across the desert and strike at Vaháyer, and they certainly do not have the numbers to launch an open attack of the capital. As for the other nations of Turoza, the gruelling march across the desert would buy the Sultanate more than enough time to strike multiple times at any invading force, whilst the desert would eat away their numbers from within.
The main industry that takes place in Vaháyer and its surroundings is the production of crops, made possible thanks to the complex system of irrigated fields that surround the city. These fields are bordered by large plantations of date palms, which not only provide fruit, but also give shade to the fields, reducing the amount of water evaporation, and keeping the air temperature lower by several degrees. In addition, crops such as figs, grapes, melons, olives, pomegranates, cucumbers, beans wheat and barley. A variety of spices is also cultivated in special spice gardens that are part of the irrigation system.
These crops not only feed the population of Vaháyer, but are also exported to other parts of the Sultanate, and are even exported well beyond its borders to the other kingdoms and nations of Turoza. Crops produced in Vaháyer, particularly more exotic items such as spices, figs and dates are more regularly exported beyond Fashaddon’s borders, where they are exchanged for other staple food crops that are needed to feed the overwhelmingly agrarian poor Sultanate.
Vaháyer’s unorthodox growth outwards from the original oasis it was founded around means that the city is a network of winding streets and alleyways that can be hard to navigate for its inhabitants, and often seems impenetrable to a visitor. Thankfully there are three main roadways that converge on the city, all three of which cut through to the Old Town as large boulevards, one coming from the south, one the northwest and one the northeast. Not only do these boulevards act as navigational beacons in the capital’s confusing mishmash of streets, but they are also the main arteries for goods and people moving in and out of Vaháyer.
The most important part of Vaháyer’s infrastructure is undoubtedly the Tarcan Aqueduct
. As the capital of the Sultanate of Fashaddon, the main strand of the Tarcan Aqueduct terminates in Vaháyer with the waters it brings slaking the thirst of the huge and complex irrigation system that is the foundation of the city’s agriculture, and fuelling the countless number of fountains that provide water to Vaháyer’s population. Without the Tarcan Aqueduct, there is no way that Vaháyer would have been able to expand to the size it has done.
Vaháyer is located in a particularly flat part of the Sonsuz Desert, with few sand dunes or other natural breaks in the terrain. This has allowed the city to expand outwards very easily, as there are no geographical features in the surrounding desert to stop the outward spread in any direction. This does mean that some parts of the city are built on much softer sand than others, which occasionally leads to subsidence of structures, but the Fashaddonites have long perfected the art of laying deep, strong foundations on the desert sand, and have largely managed this problem. Because of the flat surrounding terrain, Vaháyer is visible from miles around, but equally, the tallest towers in the city command a great strategic view of the surrounding area.
The flatness of the surrounding terrain also make the land well suited to the irrigation system that has been put in place to enable the cultivation of crops in the desert immediately around the boundary of the city. As the desert sand is not naturally rich in water, a branch of the Tarcan Aqueduct feeds this agricultural system.