Grand Saramanda is perhaps the most splendid of cities. It sits like a crown jewel upon the fertile delta of the Tayasti River, master of the Bay of Emeralds. If Hamaji and Adwa are the gateways to the northern continent, Saramanda is the center of trade with the south. It is ancient and beautiful, home to many mosques, and governed by the Enlightened Caliph himself. The city is adorned in a multitude of colors, but the guards and officials in government employ wear sashes of a rich deep green. Saramandans usually favor a pale blue, offset with a less intense green.
In every district of Saramanda save one, people sing. Merchants chant out their finest bargains in the bazaars; priests praise the gods from high turrets and stout forges; minstrels and poets serenade the wealthy when the moon is high. Not everyone sings at once, for that would be cacophonous and troublesome. But even in the dead of night, the visitor has only to wait and listen, and the strains of a voice lifted in song somewhere in the district will reach her ears.
Silence can be found in Saramanda, but locals consider it the sound of dishonesty. The Quiet Ward is a portion of the city where criminals gather, a mazy haven for thieves and rascals. By order of the Caliph, the Quiet Ward is left to its own devices, to honor those gods of silence and deception. But criminals still face punishment once caught. The typical punishment for thievery is having a bell of a particular pitch clapped around one’s wrist or ankle, to be removed after a period of years of good behavior. Locals know a man or woman wearing this bell has gone wrong, but they are encouraged to extend trust and help the unfortunate soul make amends. Those who tamper with the bell face more severe punishments, as do more brutal criminals.
Saramanda is a city where anything can happen. The Caliph might disguise himself as a beggar. Priests may walk in discussion with divine beings alighted for a time on earthly soil. Magicians conjure up grand entertainments. Kheran beast-folk, Northern swashbucklers, islander drakha and desert gnolls stride the markets. Artificers sell clockwork wonders to those with the deep enough purses. It is truly blessed with prosperity, and its darker secrets are well-kept indeed.
The Enlightened Caliph’s Court
Caliph Runan al-Masaadi al-Saramanda, Wisdom of the Throne, First Captain of the Faith, Guardian of the Nine and Nine and Nine Again, is both ruler of Saramanda and a ranking champion of the Faith of the Seven-and-Twenty. He is more paladin than priest, his position the foremost protector of the altars. The Enlightened Caliph is wise and merciful, the most beloved ruler of any city-state in the land. He is popularly known to travel the city in disguise, the better to search for the injustices his courtiers prefer not to mention.
The emissaries of other city-states, other countries and even other icons populate the court. The Caliph is a wise man, and so keeps wise counselors as well. The Grand Vizier Farisa jin Taman is a clever woman with many long years of experience, and an enchanter as well who disguises the Caliph for his incognito adventures. The hardened Kuzash, lieutenant-commander of the Caliph’s mamluk legion, is a well-traveled orcish scout who knows the wiles and battle tactics of a thousand enemies. The palace’s logistics are effortlessly overseen by Ten Thousand Poems, a remarkable clockwork of jinn construction that keeps the court running during the Caliph’s occasional absence.