Located between the River of
Sapphire Sparkles and the Deep Rock Hills, the tranquil Aesteran town Sáh is a
small yet dynamic trade center in northeastern Twin Kingdom. Even at the height
of Aesteran architecture, the city’s composition was an archetype for
innovative exploitation of glass and light hued marble in aesthetic
construction. A member of the Threefold Leaf, Sáh is illustrious in its glass
manufacturing and breathtaking sapphires. The graceful citizens of Sáh depend
entirely on imported shipments of food supplies as the soil surrounding the
town is too damp to support grains.
The legendary Aestara (Aesteran water priestess) Xályníá, notorious for the murder of the contemporaneous Emperor of the Earth League, is still celebrated as the official heroine of her hometown for ending the rotflesh threat (by devising a way to employ the natural paralyzing secretion of the Ráxén Butterfly in Aesteran runic laces).
Description. Of the three towns flanking the northernmost shores of the River of Sapphire Sparkles (known as "Sapphire Sparkle(s)" in short) and the cloud capped skirts of the Deep Rock Mountains, known jointly as the Threefold Leaf, Sáh is the first and perhaps the loveliest. Barely larger than two average Zhunite villages, this small town nevertheless incorporates a trade traffic more bustling than perhaps even the most illustrious Zhunite states. Even so, the commerce carried on in this busy town pales considerably against the hectic schedule of the bigger cities to downriver.
The insides of Sáh are a close resemblance to what the city’s name represents; spreading rings of water formed by a delicate piece of sapphire dropped into the river’s clear waters. It is almost impossible to tell where the town ends and the bordering Leaf starts, diffused as its outer circles might be.
An outsider may be surprised to see that the atmosphere of the city is a fairly serene one despite all the busy production and trade taking place. Any ship traveling upriver will make one of the Threefold Leaves a point to anchor by to replenish their supplies and – if the River Goddess is smiling on them that day – buy a small pouch of intricate sapphire jewelry, but Sáh is likely to be their preferred stop to enjoy the dreamlike creations of Aesteran architects.
The entire city is paved in blocks of white and various hues of light blue marble. The buildings appear to be shaped by the ceaseless flow of the Saphhire Sparkles rather than cut by human hand. Even back in the 4500s b.S. when the arcane arts of the Aestera were at their peak, the architect-mages regarded the gracefully curving avenues of Sáh as one of their finest works.
The Temple of the High Goddess Arléá forms the focal point of the patterns of interference. To the north and south of the Temple a semi-ring of storehouses and agoras unfolds, and after that, further half circles of residential blocks to the northwest and southeast.
Rows of masonry shops and their storehouses line one after the other where the western margins of the city peacefully blend with the quarries. South of these workshops, industrious timber mills huddle together around the rising slopes of the green hills. Behind the raw material extractions, chain after chain of storehouses and land trade posts are situated. A maze of rose gardens, an indisputable gift from the Lillivear city of Yaprat, separates the smells of the labourers’ day from the outermost rows of residence.
A large amphitheatre, appearing to be carved by the very stream rushing amidst it than built by mortal hands at first glance, emerges where the innermost ring of the residential blocks clash against the central Temple quarter like a white, foaming wave.
Unlike Lillivear tree-seats, Aesteran houses are not grown out of the earth but are artistically crafted from stone, marble and glass. Each ring towering upon the one it encircles, with no house blocking the view of another, the residential blocks themselves must remind one of breathtaking amphitheatres from a bird’s eye view. The genius of Aesteran architect-mages has allowed even the innermost houses to enjoy a reasonable river view through innovative city planning and utmost utilization of glass in construction.
Location. Sah is located on the minute patch of land packed in by the Sapphire Sparkle to the east and the Deep Rock Hills to the west. It is said that on a clear day, the High Towers of Kírkagac, a large Aesteran city lying on the opposite bank of the river, can be seen. Interestingly enough there are no borders separating Sáh from its southern neighbour, Nár, the second Aesteran member of the Threefold Leaves.
Cities were razed and re-erected; heroes were born and slain; kingdoms toppled to dust only to be rebuilt again centuries later around it, but for the last six thousand years Sáh has stood with the same pride and serenity on the banks of the Sapphire Sparkle, forever a steadfast subject of the Twin Kingdom.
People. The residents
of the city are uniformly Aesteran, though a family or two of Lillivears are to
be expected in every other generation. Thus, the populace has a fairly mild
complexion and dark hair, often dark brown, black or, at the lightest, grayish
Although rare among even the Aestera, the inhabitants of Sáh all have tranquil dark blue eyes that almost always seem to shimmer with an inner light of leniency and stillness. Occasionally one may feel the silver eyes of an Aestara (water priestess) whose silvery hair rides with the morning gust on himself striding along the river boulevard.
The residents of Sáh, like the rest of their tribe, dress themselves in elegant silk – and when possible – spilk clothing. Shades of blue, silver and white have always been popular colours. Black is never worn in Sáh because of all the negative connotations associated with it. Even in the funerals of their most beloved ones, the citizens of Sáh prefer light hues, choosing to remember the blissful moments shared rather than pointlessly mourn their companions' passing away. Purity, delight and peace are three values held in highest esteem in this dreamlike town.
Women adorn themselves with delicate glass jewelry inlaid with sapphires collected from the river’s depths and silver. Aesteran craftsmen manage to tint these intricately conceived glass pieces in heavenly hues despite the materials’ obvious fragility. That the Aestera, especially the water priestesses, never wear anything wrought from gold (supposedly because it blocks the free circulation of their life force) is something to keep in mind while buying a gift for a fair lady from this town.
Magnificent butterfly shaped hairpins and barrettes have become as prized as the more traditional water related counterparts (such as seashells). Men and women alike treat their silken hair with utmost care, oftentimes washing them with fantastically scented Lillivear rinses and oil solutions.
Glass manufacturing and trade are the main vocations of the town. Glass is fashioned from the exceedingly soft, white sand of the Sapphire Sparkle. River trade has never ceased blossoming since the day Sáh was built around 4500 b.S.
The Aestera of Sáh are known for their calmness and cordiality. They will always greet strangers with a peaceful smile and will be pleased to restore the lost harmony of any life. It is perhaps this attitude and unruffled mood that has allowed the Aestera to live in such tranquility for more than six millennia even when the world around them was lost in turmoil.
Coat of Arms/Sign. The coat of arms for the city is a gracefully curved six pointed glass star on a blue background harbouring harmonious shades of the colour blending together to form water rings. How the craftsmen produce the seeming transparency of water or the lifelike fragility of glass on media ranging from mithril chain mail to spilk banners is a secret they are not likely to reveal in the near future.
Climate. The weather in Sáh is as cool and serene as its inhabitants all year round. A gentle morning breeze stirs the Aestera from their beds slightly after dawn for work. The air warms up to pleasant temperatures towards midday, especially in the summer season, but is never hot to make the assiduous citizens sweat in their tasks. The region is too close to the southern tropical weather belt to yield heavy snowfall even in the coldest months of winter, although an occasional lace woven by the light fall of dainty snowflakes is to be expected higher in the hills. Nevertheless, not even in Sleeping Dreamress, does Sáh experience the sweltering heat of the southern jungles. The soft mountain zephyrs and the moisture raised by the giant river help regulate a very mild climate from Fallen Leaf to Singing Bird. What many Zhunites cherish as the blessing of their weather goddess during the few special days of spring when fluffy white clouds drift across a soft blue sky and the light breeze maintains the delicate balance between cool and warm is an everyday experience in Sáh.
Changing Winds in Sáh, when a gentle mist rising from the river clouds everything in the delightful obscurity of dream and the early-morning rain trills softly against the glass sculptures bathing in the light of dawn, is said to be an experience so enchanting that whoever witnesses it will breathe his last breath fantasizing a stride among this maze of flower gardens.
"I can still see the glowing blue-white concentric city... sense the cool
of the glassy gems lying against a slender neck...breathe in the
cinna-musk scent of a man's locks flicking in the breeze... feel the slide
of delicate spilk under my fingers..."
Flora. Sáh is edged on
the west by great deciduous forests – as well as a small ring of evergreen trees
growing in the higher slopes – of the Deep Stone Hills. It is also possible to
find a wide range of bushes and will flowers that do not thrive in the hotter
southern lands within these woods.
Although the Aestera are not half as interested as their distant cousins, the Lillivear, in herb lore, most of them do try to keep a fairly decent garden in the backyard – for the pleasant scene and scent.
All this is not to say, however, that Sáh has suffered less from the quirks of wild flora than any Lillivear city. The menflesh (a.k.a. “rotflesh” or “hellspit”), roughly about five thousand years before the Breaking (1649 b.S., a.k.a. “The Year of Darkness” in Sarvonia), had almost caused the newly-fledgling town to be abandoned. Lillivear scholars have not yet agreed on the proper description – least the classification – of menflesh but that the plant resembles an “orange-pink jellyfish” or a “rotting bulk of flesh and nerve” is a known fact. Unfortunately, the revolting appearance of the menflesh is far from its most dangerous property. When subject to heat, distortion or sharp probing the jelly-like plant will abruptly explode and in doing so spread its spores upon anything ill-fated to be within range. The seeds will than go under the creature’s skin and use the creature as a host until either (this being the more probably option) the person claws himself to death to end the “suffering beyond imagination” or is drained dry. Each spore will then grow into another menflesh plant on the spot it hits the grounds. In the case of a deficiency of hosts during the mother plant’s outburst, the spores will nonetheless mature into a hellspit, although the process will be considerably slowed.
Once the eruption process starts there is absolutely no way to bring it to a standstill – or so the Aestera believed until Priestess Xályníá discovered the runic lace to prevent and/or contain the blast around 4503 b.S.
Fauna. Although there is a richness of fauna in the forests surrounding the city, Sáh is perhaps best known for its ráxén, a unique butterfly species whose orange-red patterned black wings can reach up to one palmspan in length.
A certain fluid or fluids the ráxén butterfly releases is the only known natural secretion that can completely paralyze the menflesh plant and thus prevent its detonation. In fact, it was the very secretion of the ráxén butterfly on which Priestess Xályníá based her legendary spell. Instead of weaving the patterns with pure shafts of energy, she infused the threads with a certain degree of fluidity to enable a closer imitation of the mysterious properties contained in the butterflies’ saliva.
Resources, Trade and Production. Exports. The town’s foremost export is glass fashioned from Sapphire Sparkles’ white sand. Kirkagac reserves the entire production, twenty-four shipments per month, all by itself. During the second half of the 19th century before the Breaking (a.k.a The Year of Darkness in Sarvonia), the Lillivear city of Yáprát challenged Kirkagac for the supply of raw glass from the Threefold Leafs. However, after a humiliating defeat three years later the city was forced to abandon its plans for an up (north) river sculpture trade domination.
In the town’s marble market Kirkagac once again towers above its neighbors as a consumer of four river barges of refined marble per month. In contrast, Kirkagac has been neck and neck with the more militaristic town of Raht (with a monthly average of three caravans of import) ever since Sáh announced the instigation of its raw stone industry.
Quite the opposite of the raw material commerce, the competition for Sáh sapphires is fierce; the establishment of a monopoly over this traffic is highly improbably in the coming years. That the output of the town has been diminutive, (intermittently) one undersized river barge every other month or less, for the last two decades has only intensified the competition for places at Sapphire Sparkle harbors. Only Yaprat seems to be able to secure a regular shipment of 1 river barge per season from the Threefold Commission for Down-River Commerce.
Timber from the northern forests (as opposed to jungle wood) is another restricted export with a monthly total of four shipments shared between Kirkagac (2 shipments), Magan (1 shipment) and Raht (1 shipment).
Import. The lands surrounding the Threefold town are not suitable for agriculture, and hence, Sáh is forced to import at least six shipments of food every month (three of which comes from the convenient bread-trees of Yaprat). Up to three shipments of a gamut of herbs, spices and liquid poison (for weaponry) are also traded in annually.
Finished Goods. Sáh has an annual import of three shipments of weaponry & armour (one shipment of famed Rahian axes and two shipments of ornate Yaprat armour), two successions of tropical timber (from Yaprat) and two barges of glass sculpture from Kirkagac. Mayoress Kár fought the importation of the last product with great fervor (since Kirkagac manufactured the burning-priced sculptures from glass produced in Sáh) until her assassination seven months after her term in office began (1798 b.S.). Consequently, her plans to set up a glass sculpture industry rivaling that of Kirkagac, although fairly sensible taking the ready supply of raw materials into account, were never properly administered.
 The Library of New-Santhala based this section on the few surviving trade registers of the Grand Empire of Krath in the safekeeping of Anpagan Mages Guild. The Great Compendium publicizes the information through the curtsies of Anis-Anpagan's Ansaran Treasuries. Anpagan scholar also convey that the mentioned numbers are most likely to be irrelevant for post-Darkness western Nybelmar as the original record books date back to 1600s b.S. before the Krean severed all contact with Anis-Anpagan's in 1646 b.S. Hence, the term “coming years” probably refers to ca 1900-1700 b.S. [back]
Information provided by Coren FrozenZephyr