Atop the Shoulders of Giants
The Nada’Fan – literally meaning “home of Nada” – was the birth place of, and has long served as the central seat of power for, the Nada’Athi empire. The majority of the Nada’Fan is dominated by the Bali Desert in the east and central portions of the area, and the fertile Babudros Valley on the western side. The whole area is hemmed in by three mountain ranges. The Umpar Mountains in the east, Tiel’s Bite in the west – so called for its odd formation – and the Huulen mountains in the south.
Lalsim – The Nada’Fan is home to six major cities. The largest in both land mass and population is the north-eastern coastal city of Lalsim which also serves as the capital city of the empire and houses the imperial palace and many major imperial offices. Lalsim is a bustling port and a power-house of naval and military might for the empire. It is by far the most metropolitan and multi-cultural city in then entire empire, and though it has a significant population.
Lalsim is also known for the famous Sentinel Ship – a magically automated war galley which patrols the Bay of Halfarn through which ships must pass to dock in Lalsim. Every vessel bound for Lalsim must first gain approval to enter the bay by purchasing a Vessel Token in the small side-city of Jalven. The token is very expensive, but is considered a life-time pass for the vessel to come and go freely from Lalsim. And any vessel which attempts to enter or pass through the bay without a token is immediately assailed by the Sentinel Ship – no questions asked.
Secco – South east of Lalsim is the fairly small city of Secco where most of the Nada’Athi mining operations bring their goods to market.
Irmox – West of Secco, and somewhat further south nearly abutting the Huulen Mountains in the south is the city of Irmox, whose primary trade is in hunting and farming in the mountains as well as goods traffic to and from the nation of Kefran. Irmox is also the site of the largest southern garrison of Nada’Athi troops, who are so stationed to be ready to respond to an invasion from – or mount a sudden invasion into – the nation of Kefran.
Irmox is also the nearest city to the somewhat famous Qunam lake – also called “Deadman’s Lake” because its water is so salty that it can hardly support any notable population of local fauna. The lake is most famous, however, for not drying up. The annual rain fall of the area is very small, and the lake is not fed by any streams or rivers, yet its banks never seem to retreat. Some rumors hold that the lake is sacred, some rumors hold that it is cursed. Never-the-less the lake is often a place of interest for travelers hoping to take in all that the Nada’Fan has to offer.
Kulaoi – West and north of Irmox, in the fertile valley between the Haj and Fatos rivers, Kulaoi is the furthest western city in the Nada’Fan and has had the longest exposure to the Tsong Neyo culture and philosophy. However, due to its somewhat remote location Kulaoi has also been plagued by bandit activity off and on throughout its long history. Never-the-less, Kulaoi is the central gathering point for a great deal of fertile land, and a place of trade for a number of mining communities in Tiel’s Bite to the west.
Musai – North of Kulaoi, Musai lies on the western end of the Merchant Sea coast in the Nada’Fan, positioned between the mouths of the Haj and Fatos rivers. Musai is the second most populace and second wealthiest city in the Nada’Fan, and is famous for its relatively large population of Celestials and Celestial descendants (half-celestials and aasimar). Though this group makes up less than one quarter of one percent of the population of the city, sometimes pilgrims will come to Musai hoping to meet a celestial or one of their descendants.
Musai came to be this way due to its occupation by celestial forces during the Planar War. In fact, because the city was one of the sites of direct invasion into the Mortal Realm, an entire city forum is dedicated to an elaborate granite sculpture depicting several celestial figures along with a few of the famed Heroes of the Planar War slaying a number of twisted, demonic creatures.
In terms of commerce, Musai is a place of trade for a very large number of the most fertile communities in the Nada’Fan, and its position on the sea front gives it ample opportunity to benefit from trade with Sef, Brok’Tad, and the Xio-Shin monarchy, as well as a number of the smaller island cultures of the Merchant Sea.
Uwaik – Lying almost equidistant between Musai and Lalsim – the largest ports in the Nada’Fan, Uwaik is a much smaller coastal city supported mostly by fishing efforts and hunting rare game in the central Bali Desert such as the large scorpions and wasps that can sometimes be found nearly the size of a grown (human) man.
Politics – Each city in the Nada’Fan is ruled by its own governor, a tradition kept in the empire for over a thousand years as a tribute to the old tribal structure when the empire was first founded, and held over as a convenience by the Lu Paei family. Though whoever sits on the imperial throne has first right of governorship over Lalsim and its surrounding area, the matters of state take so much attention that it has been more than 600 years since an emporer neglected to appoint a governor of Lalsim and its surrounding lands.
Unlike other areas of the empire where native cultural leaders have become a more normal occurrence in political positions, in the Nada’Fan the racially Nada’Athi people have been slowly and systematically replaced by members of the Lu Paei family or faithful servants there of. Those native people who have remained in power in the Nada’Fan have usually done so by acclimating to the culture of the new rulers and assimilating themselves into the newly established political class.
Culture – Though the vast majority of the population of the Nada’Fan is still comprised of people of direct Nada’Athi heritage, certain customs were brought into practice by the Lu Paei which have resulted in a schism of sorts between those who acclimate to and accept the influence of the new cultural climate, and those who do not. Despite the passage of several generations since the Lu Paei took over, the influence has been slow, making the mid 1640’s into the point at which this cultural friction first began surfacing in earnest.
Religion – Most people in the Nada’Fan still adhere to the worship of the gods of the Morren. However those who take more to the influnce of the Lu Paei have a tendency to perform the rites of worship for the Morren infrequently – if at all, and many of these people have even begun adopting the Tsong Neyo religious philosophy. This is perhaps the second largest point of internal tension in the Nada’Fan behind the general cultural influences. The two aspects together, though, create a situation that in some communities is more volatile than others.
Tension – Since about the year 1644 the tension between the residents of the Nada’Fan of Nada’Athi heritage and the residents of Lu Paei and related heritage have beguns to very slowly but steadily rise. Though there has yet to be any notable acts of violence or major protest, in many of the major cities factions have begun to arise between those dedicated to the old ways, and those accepting of the new.