Name: Afra Kartumal
Location: City of Ada Ruwak, Northern Calishem
When the sun escapes behind the ever-shifting shapes of sand dunes, the desert city of Ada Ruwak located in one of the hottest desert zones in Calishem , springs to life. Life in the city is based of an oasis around which the city spans in concentric circles of mostly clay buildings of simple and rugged design. The daytime in this area is simply too exhausting and because of that the city is mostly still from early noon until the sun sets down being more active at night time when the air cools down a bit and fresh winds sweep away the staying heat of the daylight hours.
One of the city’s luminary figures is the city’s long-time sulinar (which translates roughly as “mayor”) Afra Kartumal whose great-great-grandfather founded the city a long time ago. Afra is a famed mystic in whole of Calishem although he rarely leaves Ada Ruwak. His main abilities are foretelling the future and explaining the events of the past. Some of his divinations have been accurate enough to have affected the lives of thousands of people. Some have been able to avoid disastrous and potentially deadly calamities (such as fatal sand storms or rampant monsters on the desert) and some have been able to stay clear from rogue bandit groups while yet others have added extra provisions of water while journeying the desert because Afra had warned them about dried up oases. The stories of survival are thousand-fold and the common denominator is both getting an appointment with Afra and then taking seriously what he has had to say.
Afra is a truly benevolent ruler of Ada Ruwak and has virtually no opposition in the city. He listens carefully to what the citizens have to say and allows public opinion to greatly affect his decision making process. The city is not without it’s fair share of problems, though. One of the biggest issues is the volatile nature of the region which leads to surges of mystical (and often times violent and erratic) creatures raiding the region. It’s not clear where they come from, where they disappear or why they plague the region around this specific oasis. Whatever the case, abnormally cool or warm weather and waiting stillness of air are signs that alert the people of the city to close their doors and shut their windows and sleep warily because odds are great that something peculiar might happen.
Afra can be spotted pretty much anywhere in the city: he might spent his day trying to cure a dying child, help the citizens to repair damaged buildings, assist in removing excess sand from the main roads after a storm or even take part in the miracle of life as an assisting midwife! He doesn’t have a palace or mansion or anything grandiose like that although his family’s set of well-made stone buildings located right at the shore of the oasis itself is finely crafted and the only buildings of the city reaching three floors from the ground with a few simple spires housing lookout points and defensive positions for archers. A visitor can not make a mistake as to where the sulinar lives.
An illustration to show a typical shield of Aldamar for my Cresia fantasy gaming setting.
Aldamar is the god of Justice and Redemption and his followers (called clerics, healers or arbitrators depending on where in Cresia you happen to be) are usually devoted to either helping people out in general or specifically on matters of justice. The sphere of influence of the god is limited to to kingdoms of Akron, Groam and Calishem with pockets of influence in Caheb and a few travelling healers in southern Gruenroth. The clerics of Aldamar are in grave danger in countries such as Horna (where matters are resolved solely via physical strength) and Zarovna (where justice is merely a distant joke).
Origins of Aldamar are not known but the deity has been known to exist before year 0 and his mission then was to spread the wisdom of rule of law to all people. While the details of his story are vague at best, he still gathered a stout following and attained the status of a demi-god around year 0. His followers today have access to some special magical abilities only available to them and granted only to devout followers. Aldamar has a following of around 300 priests, healers and arbitrators around Cresia and a base of believers in the region of over 80 thousand people (most of which subscribe to many other deities as well).
Followers of Aldamar have no special places of worship and they do not follow any strict doctrines or rituals in their daily life although most have abandoned the pursue of riches and creature comforts. Many of the priests are not at all liked in upper crusts of society since Aldamar does not rank people based on their merits, wealth or bloodline – the lowliest servants are as important as the mightiest of kings even if the powerful people try to pass on laws to secure differential treatment to them. But some benevolent rulers appreciate the followers of Aldamar and treat them in respect because they can provide valuable insight into the mindset of the common folk.
Name: Telos Malkumar
Location: Callistra, Calishem
Leader of caravan guards for one of the most important trade princes in Calishem: Hal B’gohd. It is Telos’ duty to keep trade caravans out of robbers’ hands. He regularly accompanies the most dangerous desert routes (or the caravans with highly valuable cargo). A trusted man of the trade prince, Telos defines the word “loyal” and does not give in to ultimatums, bribery or blackmail. He also expects the same from those under his command and ruthlessly executes any and all who violate their loyalty to the caravan owner – no matter if the target is a child, woman or elderly. He reckons that this is vital to staying alive during dangerous journeys across the desert.
Malkumar was born in the city of Callistra and holds that city in a position of reverence. He clearly despises living in anywhere else and often wonders aloud why anyone chooses to not live in Callistra. He entered the trade prince’s duty on his 14th birthday and has remained there for 20 years climbing slowly to his current position – which is indeed one of the most important positions in the entire operation. He has also invested in the operation setting aside hefty sums and letting Hal do his magic trading and thus increasing his wealth on the side. Although this practice has given him sizable monetary assets, he keeps continuing his work out of sheer love for what he’s doing.
He is a man who takes any and all duties to heart although he does know how to relax and goof around provided all the work has been done. A talented singer, Telos has also memorized a number of old legends that used to be sung in the olden days but more commonly recited as poems nowadays. It’s not uncommon for Telos to charm his fellow travelers with his singing on cold desert nights just prior to when it would be time to retire after a hard day’s work.
Telos is strategically quite competent and has a cunning mind when it comes to carrying out his duties as the chief of guards. He thinks ahead and is usually prepared to even unexpected events in the desert. A quiet and stealthy combatant he has a special ability to join the sands like a scorpion waiting for prey.
Name: Hal B’gohd Race: human Location: Callistra, Calishem
Calishem is THE most important trade nation in Cresia. Trade routes – both land and sea routes – go from Calishem to all over the continent and booming trade during a time of peace has brought wealth and culture to Calishem beyond anything seen in the history of the continent. Hal B’gohd is one of dozens of the so called “Merchant Princes” – practically mercantile companies which are run by administrative personnel, controlled by boards of directors and day-to-day -operations carried out by employees. B’Gohd leads his own trade house which he has founded, grown and nurtured from scratch and which currently owns six merchant ships and two dozen caravan convoys and employing nearly 200 people.
Hal has left administrative duties to a few loyal and trusted directors and rather spends his time on the field doing what he is best at: organizing, trading and dealing. He has an uncanny ability to turn even seemingly unprofitable scenarios to profitable ones and he also has the sense to turn down bad deals which would eventually turn sour. His profession has taken him to all edges of the continent and he speaks all the major trade dialects used anywhere. Deals are just so much easier to make when a common language is found.
One of Hal’s principles is that he never cheats. Plenty of opportunities to make quick fortunes has certainly been opened up to him, but his long-term business plan is to never cheat anyone because they may have dealings again in the future. It doesn’t mean he can’t drive a hard bargain – because he can and frequently does so. But his business partners are never forced or arm-twisted to deals which could potentially lead to vengeful enemies.
Hal is a person full of positive attitude and sometimes even unwarranted optimism, he never falls victim to wallowing in self-pity or gloomy mood swings. Usually with a smile on his face he is an outgoing and easily approachable person whose ability in storytelling is seconded only by his capabilities as a merchant.
Name: Benjamin (of Jodhe) Race: human Location: Southern Akron, Northern Calishem, Ferria
As a traveling cleric of Aldamar (the wise and benevolent deity of righteousness, common sense and justice), Benjamin is always on the move; rarely staying more than a week in one spot unless particularly needed. He owns nothing but the items he can carry and he eats and drinks what people of kind hearts offer him. A true believer in the ways of the Aldamar, Benjamin has devoted his entire life to offer help on any issues in which anyone is perceived to be wronged. Most clerics of Aldamar don’t have any real authority, but their opinions and help is often obeyed by the commoners and sometimes even the nobility of the land. He follows no plan to his travels, but doesn’t venture outside the comfort zone of where Aldamar is most respected and revered as a deity.
Benjamin is a thoughtful man, careful in the use of his voice and humble in his demeanor. He has literally hundreds of men, women and children owing him their gratitude and thus he has gathered a solid reputation as a man of honor and dignity. His wisdom is a combination of experience, emotionally detached logic and applied common sense that are all based on the knowledge of the law of the lands and their lords. A common conflict too frequently on his hands, is when the land lords do act in ways that the common folk don’t feel is right or fair. Usually the cleric can only relay the message of the disgruntled commoners to whomever it is who is doing the wronging, but other times he himself explains the commoners the wisdom behind the decisions of their superiors since the common man rarely is able to see the big picture beyond his own homestead. Violence is not a tool commonly employed by Aldamar’s clerics, but not at all forbidden or frowned upon by the deity himself if nothing else would bring justice.
Name: Harun Q’Han Race: human Location: Callistra, Calishem
While the streets of Calishemian cities are generally safer than cities of say – Caheb and Ferria – at night things change radically. In Calishem it is generally accepted that once the sun no longer lightens the streets, the darker side of the nature needs it’s outlet. A balance of night and day, a balance of brighter things and darker things. That’s why visitors in Calishem are advised to stay within their place of residence during the night and avoid any unnecessary movement. The city of Callistra – while being a bustling port of trade – makes no exception and once the darkness sets in, you’re on your own. A person getting in trouble in the streets at night are more often than not thought as if they were actively seeking trouble and got what they deserved.
Of course the nights are far from pure chaos. City guards usher people indoors and generally look out for the safety of the city. Arsonists, thieves, murderers and madmen need as much attention at night as they do at daylight. Harun Q’Han is one of the thieves.
Harun is a founding member of Tima – a covert and secret thieves’ guild located in Callistra. The guild has members from all walks of life, but a common trait to them is their acceptance of their darker side – something most Calishemians try to keep suppressed as suppression of the spirit’s dark tendencies is the only barrier between a peaceful working hierarchical society and anarchic destruction. Harun is by far the best of his clan. His nocturnal activities include stealing from the rich, assassinations by contracts, wanton acts of destruction and sometimes even indulging into sexual depravities. But he is not all about being bad – true to his own teachings, he also embraces his lighter side and is generally a very polite, socially active and a kind man engaging in communal activities, popular past-times and games and even helps out at a local orphanage. Of course he doesn’t need a day job due to his lucrative nocturnal activities and it is more than feasible to think that he is actually scouting for new members and apprentices at the orphanage.
Thus far his clan of bad boys has been covert enough that it’s existence is not registering to the powers in charge of things. The clan members hold bi-weekly meetings in which they co-ordinate their efforts and share their experiences over dinners and drinks. This way Harun can also control his group by suggesting periods of inactivity in order not to attract too much attention. A successful strategy indeed since after every major heist, Harun’s group maintain a low profile at least until the previous investigations have been stopped and deemed ineffective.
Map of the Kingdom of Akron details the roadways, general terrain features as well as the location of major population centers. The map is provided by Calishmen Guild of Cartographers. That fact is readily apparent by the scorpion emblem of Calishem. The map itself is however inaccurate as it does not show two counties at all. Those are the counties of Veyron and Inhal Corg that are the two southernmost counties bordering Calishem. Calishem and Akron have fought over those areas for centuries and while a long lasting peace is at the moment enduring and the areas are officially attached to Akron, it is not a guaranteed state.
Also the northernmost counties are not depicted in this map.
Name: Khalida Calishem
Khalida is one of three princesses (called mirhamesy; daughter of the mirhames) of Calishem. There are three princes (called mirhamo; son of the mirham) as well so the Calishem family is strong. Khalida is the third child of the current ruler of Calishem, Mirham Waru Calishem. She was raised in a free and rich atmosphere as were all the children in the family. Khalida has always had the option to pursue what she wants in her life and her family is always backing up her decisions – even if they break the convention of “regular” behavioural codes.
So she became a warrior princess. She trains swordsmanship, exotic poisons-use and herbal lore. Khalida is a common sight in leading expeditions of men to investigate disturbances reported throughout the country. She is fierce, temperamental and spicy, but she is well respected and honored among the Calishmen common people as well as the nobility of the country. Her heart is in the right place and she is generally thought as a very just and empathetic albeit a bit reckless and filled with youthful enthusiasm about the world in general. The regular citizens allow her some leeway and are mostly thinking that once she matures, she will settle down, find herself a husband and start expanding the might of the Calishems. As of yet she has shown no interest to such mundane and boring life. Instead she gallops around the country resolving small matters of injustice and learning the inner workings of the her ancestral country.
Ashim is a devout follower of Barrakis, the deity of assassinations and murders. His origins are shrouded in mystery, but he himself insists he is from Calishem. He offers his specialties for hire and is especially proficient in using his poisoned serpent-ornamented dagger. Ashim creates his own poisons and does not rely on the concoctions of witches, shamans, heyabs or shady clerics. He masters several extremely rare recipes for extraordinary poisons ranging from poisons that cause slow and bloody death all the way into poisons that cause delayed mental instability. His skills in herbal lore allow him to create healing salves and potions as well, but as a follower of Barrakis he uses such non-destructive ailments onto himself only – even if good money would fall his way by selling healing herbs.
Ashim has found Calishem to be perfect as his base of operations many years ago and nowadays his reputation is such that he can actually pick lucrative marks that don’t require him to spend days or weeks travelling around the world. Ashim is a man of high intellect, but also he suffers from an addiction to herbs that make him fearless and more focused in his work. The herbs in question he can’t cultivate on his own, but instead need to get them from his underworld contacts as many such herbs are hard to get. He frequently buys these herbs from heyabs or dervishes. Ashim moves like a silent breeze and his remarkable reflexes are the result of years of training. As a follower of Barrakis Ashim knows most of his “competition” in Calishem as well as in Caheb. Should he encounter a job he can’t take, he most certainly can point the inquiries towards one of his fellow Barrakis followers. They’d do the same.
Name: Malik Al’Wathar
Once a simple guardsman for the City of Callistra, Malik has quickly risen through the rank and file to first an honorary guard for the Calishem family and recently to a special unit called The Desert Shadows. The unit comprises of 30 distinguished warriors of proven Calishem descendance and they can only be commanded by members of the royal Calishem family. The Desert Shadows are a sort of honorary guard unit but their fields of responsibilities entail much more than simple guard duty. Most Desert Shadows are permanently attached to provide security to certain members of the Calishem family – with or without their knowledge. Malik has not been associated with any particular family member yet. Instead his main responsibility for now is organising protection and safety for the Calishem treasures around the country. He has free access to most treasure chambers all over the land and he has the authority to order and command local captains to give warriors for any tasks he dare ask.
Malik is a person of thoughful calmness. He never loses his marbles and has the patience of a lion. These attributes were the ones that awarded him the attention he has gotten from the royal family. He is in good terms with pretty much everyone he has ever known and apparently has no enemies at all – living enemies, that is. Malik has become friends with a few of the members of the Calishem family including one of the princesses, Khalida Calishem, with whom he has been on many missions under her command. Malik has great respect for Khalida and most obviously is also quite fond of her. It’s uncertain whether Khalida has noticed this affection or whether she has similar feelings. In Calishem, there are no strict codes of behavior to follow regarding socialising between members of different social backgrounds.