Zhisbon is a land shrouded in mystery that few people from Turoza know much about, and that even fewer have ever visited. This is because Zhisbon is home to the Ancient Brass Dragon, Ajrihaan who made the area her home over two hundred years before the beginning of the Settlement Era. Ajrihaan brought with her a group of her Dragonborn children, who now form the core of a much larger Dragonborn population that live and work for their matriarch in Zhisbon. As Dragonborns can live as long, if not longer than Elves, there are a handful of these original Dragonborn who arrived in Zhisbon with Ajrihaan that are still alive. These nine individuals, who are all well over 800 years old are known as the Elders, and are the heart of the Zhis government, running the country whilst their matriarch slumbers.
The heartland of Zhisbon, the Zhis Badlands is the central focus of life in the Matriarchy. Here can be found the capital, Laszan built around the foot of Mount Krak. The Mountain which stands alone amidst the desolate expanse of the Badlands is now more temple than mountain, and it is here that the Matriarch, Ajrihaan resides, and rests during her long periods of slumber. Laszan is incredibly heavily defended, and the number of foreign visitors that have actually set eyes on the city can be counted on a single hand. Beyond Laszan, the Zhis Badlands are quite scarcely inhabited, with most of the population centres being based around academies or military outposts scattered across the area. The isolated academies of Zhisbon are the heart of an incredibly lucrative industry that the Zhis are masters of, the production of magical items and consumables. The natural magical sensitivity that all Dragonborn are imbued with, thanks to their draconic heritage, means that there is a far greater proportion of magic sensitive residents in Zhisbon than anywhere else in Turoza. Beyond the Zhis Badlands mountainous northern border, the rest of Zhisbon is a stark contrast, with the lush, dense jungle of Cape Verdant covering the entire north of the country, and dotted here and there by plantations of spices and other luxury agricultural produce that the Dragonborn of Zhisbon cultivate for export.
Few outsiders are granted access into the country, and Zhisbon’s only hub of contact with the outside world is the city of Harbotha, built into a valley passing through the Astrak Mountains, overlooking the expanse of the Sonsuz Desert beyond. Even in Harbotha, foreign visitors, traders and ambassadorial delegations are only allowed to remain in the city for a month at a time, with an incredibly complex and arduous legal process in place to extend to gain a more permanent residency beyond the initial month. The majority of those whose residence is temporarily extended are foreign students; who come to study at the Academy of Arcanology in Harbotha, the only one of Turoza’s permanent Academies of Magic that is open to non-Dragonborns, diplomatic delegations from other nations, or merchants who can prove that their business interests bring great benefit Zhisbon. It is not really known to the rest of Turoza, why Zhisbon is so secretive, but there are many rumours that circulate around the other nations. Some claim that Zhisbon want to restrict access to some powerful source of magic from which the Dragonborn source their power, some that they are guarding an immense hoard of treasure that the Matriarch Ajrihaan broods upon…. Whatever the answer, it is shrouded in mystery. Still many merchants, traders and academy hopefuls from all over Turoza are drawn to Zhisbon.
Zhisbon is a Matriarchy headed by the Ancient Brass Dragon Ajrihaan. Her huge base of knowledge, accumulated over millennia means that her Dragonborn subjects are more than happy to defer to her decision on all matters to do with the running of the state, and all Dragonborn citizens of Zhisbon are ingrained with a deep respect for the ‘Mother of the Nation’ as she is known.
However, Ajrihaan often falls into deep slumbers, as Ancient Dragons of every type are wont to do, which can often last for centuries. Indeed, in Zhisbon, the calendar that is used corresponds to the periods of slumber and wakefulness that Ajrihaan undertakes. When Ajrihaan retires to the inner temple complex of Mount Krak to sleep, running of the country falls to the nine Elders, all of which arrived with Ajrihaan in Zhisbon in 246N.E. The members of the Elder’s Council are given nearly as much respect as Ajrihaan herself, and when one of them passes, there is a period of national mourning in Zhisbon.
For the most part, the Zhis Badlands are, barren of all but the toughest of life. With the majority of the vegetation being various forms of cactus, the area is not good for the production of crops, nor the herding of animals in large quantities. However, the Badlands are a rich source of raw materials such as sulphur, phosphorus and various heavy metals that are key base ingredients for the production of magic items and consumables, that Zhisbon is renowned for. Although the volume of magical resources that is produced is relatively low, the items themselves are incredibly finely crafted, often over many years, and fetch an incredibly high price across Turoza. As a result they are in high demand all over the continent.
In the north and the area of Cape Verdant, the lush jungle environment is perfect for the cultivation of exotic spices, which make up the majority of Zhisbon’s exports. Vanilla, cocoa, coffee, cinnamon, chilli, turmeric, ginger and saffron are the staple crops grown in the plantations of Zhisbon, and they are all in high demand in the other Kingdoms. The gateway city of Harbotha sees trading caravans from nations across Turoza gather to exchange goods for the spice crops and magic items, allowing Zhisbon to import all the other goods it needs to thrive.
Demography and Population
Almost the entire population of Zhisbon is made up of Dragonborns, and there are very few members of the other sapient species resident within the country. Those that are reside exclusively in the gateway city of Harbotha, and are allowed no further into the interior of the country without express permission. Because of the majority Dragonborn population, other reptilian species have been drawn to Zhisbon, Lizardmen, Firenewts and Kobolds who are mostly welcomed by their draconic cousins. In Cape Verdant there is a significant population of Lizardmen, who are native to the area, but accepted the rule of Ajrihaan and her Dragonborn when they arrived. Kobolds, because of their small size and propensity to burrow are welcomed into Zhisbon as they can be put to work mining minerals and metals, as well as maintaining water networks and the like.
Zhis society is highly stratified into different occupational groups. Following the initial education that is given to all Dragonborns they are sorted into a occupation group based on their intelligence, constitution and family history and then begin specialised training to teach them all they need to know about their elected occupation. These occupations can range from working in the spice plantations of the north, serving in the military, or beginning their formation at one of the country’s Academies of Magic. It is this rigid assignment of roles, and the duties associated with them that most often causes Dragonborn to leave Zhisbon and travel the wider world. Though few in number, these exiles crave more adventure than they feel the often claustrophobic Zhis society can offer them. Dragonborn who leave Zhisbon leave with the knowledge that they will most likely never be allowed to return to their homeland. Exile is also the most severe form of punishment in the country for the Dragonborn residents, more so than death. Some of the Dragonborn who can be found wandering Turoza have been exiled in this way, never to return.
Zhisbon maintains a large standing army to protect its borders, and keep at bay the numerous wild beasts that stalk the jungles of Cape Verdant, and the Zhis Badlands. These troops, though relatively few in number compared to the martial forces of other nations, are incredibly well trained and disciplined, making them formidable foes. In addition, Zhisbon is more than capable of calling up reinforcements from its resident population, and their ability to supplement any military force they field with numerous spell casters would put Zhisbon at a distinct advantage in any conflict.