Monday, March 07, 2011


The exotic jann have a powerful island and coastal state in the caliphate of al-Qazmir, but it mostly exists outside of the Mezzovian Sea region. The Golden Peninsula is more and more becoming an important part of the caliphate, and it does have at least one major Mezzovian port city in the form of Qarizaq. The island town of al-Marraq is the westernmost seafaring settlement of al-Qazmir, but it still falls well beyond the sphere of inluence of any Terrasan city, even Sènt-Haspar. Nevertheless, that wasn't always true, and Terrasan influence used to stretch all along the coastline of the Mezzovian, reaching to the Shipwreck Strait and beyond to the northern shore. The farthest east major settlement of the Terrasans was Basarabeasca.

Basarabeasca was only reachable by ship, since the vampire nation of Tarush Noptii cut it off from the mainland on the north. Because of that, it was only ever at best a fairly wild frontier region, and not heavily settled. The natives of the area spoke a language that was obviously closely related to Terrasan, but difficult if not completely impossible to understand for the Terrasans. Under the influence of Terrasan traders, soldiers, and even settlers, many of these "East Terrasan" speakers found their language gradually migrating to something more similar to standard Terrasan, as it picked up loan words and even loan structure from its relative. But by and large Sarabascan exists as a separate language, still common in the far eastern region of the Mezzovian, especially on the north shoreline. On the south shoreline, it's being rapidly replaced by Qazmiri, as the jann's kingdom expands that direction.

As the Terrasan Empire's might faded, far-flung areas that were under its influence found themselves left to their own devices. Calça is the most notorious of these areas, earning the subtitle of the Forgotten Province, but the far eastern lands were abandoned even earlier. Technically, they were never incorporated into the Empire in the first place; they were merely areas that had some Terrasan influence, trade, settlers, or perhaps they gave a nod of recognition to the Empire in Terrasa without surrendering any actual local authority. Basarabeasca was the most important and largest of these north shore cities, but several neighbors sprang up over time as well.

As Terrasa retreated westward, many of the actual Terrasans (or their descendants) remained in the area of Basarabeasca, now shortened after decades of use to Sarabasca. Independent Sarabasca saw many of its trade relationships dry up, but to encourage the further influx of money, the ruler of the city repealed a number of anti-smuggling and piracy statutes and opened the city to trade that was perhaps gathered in more ilicit ways than before. While many Sarabascans naturally did not welcome this change, most were indifferent, and the wealthy were happy to see goods and gold flowing into the city again. Jobs were available, on the crews of ships, on the docks, or working in the growing security industry--making sure life and property weren't threatened by the rougher crews. For a time, Sarabasca enjoyed a sometimes friendly rivalry with its far western spiritual brother, Porto Liure, which was also a haven for pirates, privateers and other frequently less savory traffic on the Mezzovian Sea. Many captains who's activities ranged the entire inner sea were, of course, familiar faces in both ports. But at about the time Porto Liure was undergoing its gradual transition from lawless pirate haven to legitimate and independent city-state, Sarabasca was undergoing a completely different kind of transformation.

As al-Qazmir consolidated its position on the Golden Peninsula and founded (or conquered and renamed) the cities of Qarizaq, Tayyebat and the island port of al-Marraq, only naturally they greedily looked at the shores of the northern Mezzovian sea as well. Their armies and navies, heavily supplemented by mercenaries from amongst the eastern peoples who were similar in language and customs to the Terrasans (although never part of the Terrasan empire) thus founded the province of "North al-Qazmir." However, North al-Qazmir was never as thoroughly "Qazmirized" as the Golden Peninsula and some of the eastern islands were. A political crisis, partially brought on by the strained budget of paying this conquering army, seized the Qazmiri capital of Qattara. Finally, most of the troops were recalled, and the province largely left to its own devices. However, this compromise was orchestrated by a number of Qazmiri who remained in the area, including the sultan installed at Sarabasca (called just Sarab by the Qazmiri.) For the benefit of paying a "tribute"--not a tax, which would imply a more direct and centralized relationship than exists, al-Qazmir would leave Sarab alone.

Many Qazmiri, both jann and human, migrated into the area as all this happened, and in the years since. al-Qazmir has not made a concerted attempt to bring North al-Qazmir under direct control again, and as long as token tribute comes from Sarab and some of the rest of the major settlements in the area, that status quo has not been challenged. In fact, many of the locals do not use the name North al-Qazmir for the area at all, and many of the backcountry locals have never even heard of al-Qazmir or seen a jann in their life. The coastal regions have gradually become a hybrid of Qazmiri, Terrasan and local culture, however, and most Sarabascans speak all three languages fluently just to get through their day to day routine. The sultan of Sarab is the most important figure in the area, and he plays a sometimes dangerous political game, trying to ensure his independence and safety from reprisals of both al-Qazmir and Terrasa, and to keep the rivalry with Porto Liure from boiling over into hostilities, and ensure that Tarush Noptii keeps quiet as well.

The entire area has recently acquired the nickname of the Barbary Coast, and corsairs from Sarabasca and other cities in the region range all over the Mezzovian Sea and even beyond Shipwreck Strait on occasion. These barbary pirates are more likely to indulge in the slave trade, raiding ships and even coastal regions for captives to sell in the markets of Qarizaq or Qadat, while the pirates who operate near the Tolosas are more likely to steal ships or cargo and ransom the prisoners, or even simply leave them stranded on some lonely coast to make their way as best they can back to civilization. For this reason, they are more likely to be feared by the Terrasans who are their targets. However, the Barbary corsairs are also not as likely to be as dangerous to larger ships, as they have few square-masted vessels and much lighter armaments and smaller boarding crews.

Many pirates, of course, recognize no port as their home, and travel freely from Porto Liure to Sarab, and other ports besides. In fact, there is a growing number of expatriate Terrasans who are moving to Sarab, and occasionally even from there to other ports that are even more thoroughly entrenched in Qazmiri culture. As Terrasa's power and influence wanes, al-Qazmir's waxes, at least in the far eastern shores of the Mezzovian, in many respects there are more opportunities there than in remaining in the west.

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