Encyclopaedia of Aquila
Volume VII: The Sultanate of Dashari and Northern Ybrameas/Aphelion
For scholarly purposes, Tyheas Zelian
Dashari, Ancient Athenaeum of the Earth Goddess
Thermidore, 12th dawn, 4852
The Sultanate of Dashari is one of Aquila's most unique and legendary societies. Exercising complete control over much of the northern Aphelian deserts and savannahs while being intensely warlike and defensive, the burning jewel of the Lost Continent is veiled by myths as much as it is by sandstorms. On and between the steep sand dunes and boiling valleys of the desert live a mystifying people that humbly worship and reap the land and protect it with their lives. Below the earth, in the deep chasms, exist an impressive system of diamond and obsidian mines, as well as a one-of-a-kind underground army dedicated to protecting the wealth of the Iron Sultana.
The roots of Dashari people and their culture go back in time to the supercontinent of Vulturia, within which they were known as the Alzharq and participated as rebellious and uncontrollable subjects of various empires. Although the culture was politically indomitable, they were eager to trade with the rest of the empire and not to interfere in its structure, which granted them protection from vicious crackdowns. When it did not, their rebellions were nearly impossible to extinguish due to the labyrinthian and netherish composition of their home terrain.
The crashing of the mythical dragon Diocretius just south of the homeland began the Great Desynchronization, by which the supercontinent was shattered. A massive mountain range sprung from beneath the earth and split the new continent, which they named Ybrameas, in half itself. Ybremeas is a Zetashari word that translates roughly to "that farthest from the light-giver." It is widely accepted as the origin for the High Kilranian name "Aphelion," and is the primary name used in Dashari today.
This event led to a profound reevaluation of Alzharq values. The dragon and cataclysm, they thought, had been brought down on Aquila by the Earth Goddess Ayndr as punishment for the excessive greed of the Vulturian dynasties. The path forward was allegiance to the Goddess and self-sacrifice in Her name. The religion of Ayndrism became a cornerstone of the reborn culture, as did its doctrine of no materialism and a fervent devotion to family and sisterhood.
The hardy denizens of the sands, once dependent on continental trade with the prosperous city-states of Vulturia, were cleft from the world at large and forced into self-sufficiency. The Alzharq evolved over the next millennia into a loose and militaristic alliance of tribes spanning the entirety of the northeastern continental expanse. Complex communal agricultural areas, undisturbed isolationism, and a worship of the land became some of the defining traits of the culture. All tribes conscripted women once they came of age, deploying them to the arid surroundings to cleanse their native land of undesirable creatures and protect their husbands and children at home. This practice has continued to today.
Within the tribal alliance, two tribes known as the Dazhi and Zystra became the leading powers.
Alongside their human development came many technological breakthroughs focused on mathematics and the sciences, albeit most were intended to bolster the Alzharq as a military power. These included redstone weaponry and mining equipment as well as the usage of obsidian tools, usable only by Alzharq women as a result of their incredible weight. The seemingly endless obsidian reserves deep in the desert bowels became an attractive prospect to a few foolhardy adventurers of the Alzharq Invincible Age.
At the start of the 5th millennia, the culture had reached a critical point. Having extended their reign over most of the massive deserts and savannahs of the north over centuries, a great minority within the alliance's ranks, concentrated in the Zystra house, sought to expand and conquer the continent at large. The slight majority in the adamantly opposed Dazhi house sought to instead unite the tribes under one flag and concentrate their power in the northern sands rather than run themselves thin over Aphelion. Lengthy debate in the Knyht Luihlem, their grand council, proved itself fruitless. After a year of tension, the Glorious War, known in modern culture as Dra Lejem Fyn, burst into being.
The nearly year-long war would veritably raze the desert. Cold in some periods but blazing in most, the conflict would see the death of countless young women and some unfortunate civilians as the tribes vengefully tore one another to shreds. As 4,000 AD drew to a close, the Dazhi had pierced to the heart of the Zystral sands, and the tribe's great matriarch Lymmuic the Ruthless died a martyr's death in her own palace.
As the smoke cleared and the survivors grieved, Zicelda the Brave, leader of the Dazhi house, enacted the greatest changes in the people's history. The power of royalty was severely curtailed, and a series of trials were instituted as the means of ascension to the Obsidian Throne, effective immediately. These trials would happen yearly around the middle of Brightstar, and would see a maximum of twenty two Dashari women compete against the reigning Sultana in a series of ordeals that test intelligence, cleverness, military aptitude and finally brute strength in a trial to the death in the Lumuas, the capital's Colosseum. The final stage would almost never come to pass, as successive Sultanas were the wisest and strongest of the people.
The change was intended to keep rulers shackled to the will of the populace under threat of death. With mass support from the bereft populace, the tribes were unified under the name of Dashari, a portmanteau of Dazhi and Alzharq. Although the new nation would call itself a sultanate, this was more so out of religious belief than respect for monarchy.
The people returned to ruling the sands, but now lived under the creed of internal improvement rather than hostile expansion. Even so, Dashari proved itself the continent's only superpower for centuries to come. Zicelda, known now as the Golden Sultana, died of old age around 4040, and elected to be buried next to Lymmuic to symbolize the fledgling city-state's unconditional union.
Over the next few centuries, Dashari would grow exponentially in wealth and power, and symbols of power such as its colosseum and grand palace would come into being. The arid sands became a hidden oasis of peace and prosperity, guarded heavily by the Sultanate's invincible and mystifying warriors. On a fateful day c. 4250 AD, a ship of rebellious skilled oceanic slaves ran aground in the shores east of Dashari with no casualties besides their would-be masters. Immediately alarmed yet curious to see many humans of a similar shade, the warrior regiment in the area bloodlessly quarantined the shores and protected the visitors while offering the most educated of them an opportunity to represent them at the grand palace.
Immediately moved by the oceanics' story, the Sultana and her advisors offered the group a stay on the Aphelian shore with some materials to begin construction of a port. In what was a legendary and unpredictable move on the Dashari side, the Sultana also promised the new Aphelians permanent protection under the Obsidian Throne with the sole condition of being their eyes, ears, and profit seekers at sea. The oceanic representative, known humorously yet respectfully in Dashari history as Ryhtcusa, agreed. The Protectorate of Alcyon was born, and with the Sultanate's cannons on its decks, the mythical Free Oceanic Fleet came to dominate the Western Avunian Ocean in the following decades, in the process providing a glimpse of the outside world to the reclusive tribe.
It is speculation that the Dashari also came to use Moiros, then sparsely populated, as a trading outpost and pseudo-colony. Alcyon itself became an eternal ally and popular tourist destination for the once-isolated people. The peculiar Dashari also became a subject of oceanic mythology as Alcyon sailors returned to Voshe and spread their tale.
Their newfound prosperity would once more be put to the test, however, beginning that same century. During the Hundred Year Darkness draped over Aquila by the tyrannical and genocidal Makrozoia, the citystate became a target of the Nightmare Legion, which planned to drain it of its wealth and life and corrupt its towering warriors into loyal servants. Makrozoia dispatched a hardened Legion general, Zorro, with a large regiment to conquer Aphelion from the north down.
As Zorro was en route, a mysterious alchemist calling himself Reidon appeared mysteriously in Dashari, and requested an audience with its Sultana, Jymeyhd. He attempted to warn the council of the imminent existential threat to the Sultanate, but its leaders, placing little weight on military advice from a man, cast him out from the sands. Mere hours later, eldritch abominations began rising from the ground all throughout the desert, summoned by the black-leather-clad Zorro, marking the beginning of the Dune War. The general began a scorched earth campaign throughout Aphelion, salting the earth and razing all settlements. Initially, the powerful Dashari military was more than enough to hinder the dispersed forces, but as the fight concentrated more and more on Dashari, morale began to plummet.
Reidon, who had quickly become a beloved chief advisor to the Sultana herself, taught the army and townspeople the nature of the demons as well as anti-magic measures and wartime chemistry. With the help of the Ancient Science, the Sultanate began to turn the tides of war until it took an especially cruel and insulting turn. Zorro, not one to lose in the face of Makrozoia, used black magicks to tap into the anger of the earth and call on the power of the warriors of antiquity lost in the Glorious War. Now facing an undead army equal in strength to their own as well as mounting casualties, it became apparent to Reidon and Jymeyhd that the opposition would have to be slain at the head.
Zorro had, until that point, been practically invisible to the denizens of the desert. As he operated from the dark bowels of the Zystral sands, a large-scale encroachment at the time was deemed out of the question. Reidon made the Sultana a bold proposal; to disguise themselves with alchemy to assassinate Zorro at the source of his power, Lymmuic's Tomb. The hardened warrior accepted, and the two set out under the ominous cover of night to a site in the far southern sands thoroughly tainted with evil. Slipping into the old tomb under the cover of invisibility, the two made their way into the otherworldly and frightening sarcophagus, where they found a waiting Zorro flanked by two towering undead guards.
Dashari legend says that Reidon bravely dueled the agile and taunting Zorro while Jymeyhd attempted to dispatch the two ghastly warriors. The Sultana eventually defeated the two warriors of antiquity with great effort, but Reidon was no match for the superior fighter Zorro, and was bought to his knees. The Legion general, hateful as he was mischievous, prepared to behead the alchemist, but was brutally impaled from behind by Jymeyhd's obsidian greatsword as he was oblivious. The general's eyes went white, and as copious amounts of dark energy left his body, the Sultana managed quickly to shield them both from the ensuing dark explosion. The tomb's inner sanctum began to cave in, and the alchemist picked up the only remain of Zorro, a black half-mask, before being carried to safety by the matriarch.
Zorro was spitefully named "Sutekh" by the Dashari; a word roughly translating to "bastard".
Upon exiting the tomb, the duo noticed that the eternal night placed on Aphelion had given way to a bright sun, and returned to the grand palace with mixed anxiety and optimism. As they walked down the great road, Jymeyhd was welcomed by heartfelt cheers while the alchemist was greeted by the warriors' lecherous squeals and gazes. As the desert became quiet once more, the mysterious man bade farewell to the Sultana while promising to repay her for saving his life.
A few days later, an ender chest filled with exotic and seemingly magical bright saplings appeared in the palace treasury, with a note:
"Vun cyjehk so meva." - E.D
As the sands settled and the Hundred Year Darkness came to an end worldwide, Dashari continued its expansionary trend, continuing to dominate northern Aphelion and the western Avunian ocean through its loyal protectorate, albeit not without continuing to attract the attention of ambitious and mostly single mythchasers. The people continue to protect their beloved land with their lives, now with an intense hatred of black magic.
The city-state continued to develop technologically and culturally throughout the following centuries, and contributed covertly to the Aphelian Theater of the Aether War almost 500 years later. In modern times, with the rise of its historic nemesis Dreiton in the south, it continues to practice its semi-rigid isolationism and deep suspicion of foreigners while simultaneously being deeply curious about the outside world and longing for deeper connections with it. As a result, it has begun trade and limited border demilitarization with its age-old enemy, and begun intermingling freely with its closest ally, the Oceanic Republic of Voshe.
It remains to be determined whether the hardened and stunning desert matriarchy can coexist in a world increasingly characterized by power struggles between hungry empires.
People and Society
The Sultanate of Dashari houses a large population of 4.1 million, spanning from the outskirts of Alcyon to the Sehanym Pyo waters near their protectorate of Corona. The population density is low throughout, but enormous in the metropolis of Dashari, which is the sultanate's eponymous hearth and capital and houses around half of its population. Other population centers include the industrial powerhouse of Dufanas near its western borders and the agricultural center of Canjydas to Dashari's southwest. Being the continent's oldest nation and state, they have had millennia to advance their medicine, food, and transportation systems, and their resounding success is evident in their population size.
The primary language is Zetashari, a language isolate with no discernible similarity to any others, largely due to their millennia-long isolation from the rest of the world.
The matriarchal structure of the Alzharq has existed since Legendary Aquila, despite conspiracy theories that its women became biologically amplified by feasting on the remains of Diocretius. Due to an odd and not entirely understood biological pheonomenon, the phenotype of northern Aphelian women boasts extreme height and ease of gaining muscle mass. Culturally, this has led to them becoming more socially dominant, physically and emotionally aggressive, and protective of the other sex. All northern Aphelians are adapted to life in the sun, and are more resistant to disease.
As any scholar may expected from a society with intrinsic differences between the sexes at this scale, there is profound inequality, particularly in the legal sector. Men are barred from being political leaders, and until recent decades, it was also frowned upon for them to be leaders in the economy. While the political barriers have not diminished, the growing demand for intelligent labor has led to a rediscovery of men's culture in the Sultanate and they have become leaders in marketing the country to the outside world. Men are also currently barred from the land army and do not serve the conscription time upon reaching adulthood. Even so, new advancements in aerial warfare have caught the interest of many military leaders who think it might be their area of specialty.
Enjoying a tremendous baby boom as a result of new economic inflow from Voshe and Dreiton as well as an end to the War of the Sunflower, the population of the Dashari capital has capped and begun to diffuse into surrounding small towns, with projects underway to begin new cities entirely. Simultaneously, the ambitious and aggressive sitting Iron Sultana expands the borders and transportation westward to the doorstep of Windforth, reaping all the land in between as living space for eager Dashari.
Religion and its tenets remain dominant in Dashari society, and Ayndrist churches exist far and wide. Worship is held bi-weekly, and economic activities slow down on those days. Regardless, science and technological advancement have become a bigger societal focus; for many, it is their newfound way of serving the Earth Goddess.