Of all the lands in the world, Zhurasca’s are the most harsh – both in geography and law. Ruled for ages by the Khajas (or Kings), Zhurasca’s deserts and jungles make it a place of mysterious danger – but even in the peerless cities of the Khaja, the rule of the strong is imposed. A fearsome warrior culture based in honor and glory has evolved and been refined over the eons to the current situation: a complex political system of gentry and warrior vying for favors from the Khaja (or his very throne). Famed for its horses, the lancers of the Khaja’s army are second to none. More feared than these are the rare Moq’tajd (Mawkwa-TODGE-duh) – firearms (literally: “firebreathers”). Jhuska Toor Moq’tajd are infamous.
From his palace in Bagalon, the Khaja rule is absolute. Although his main palaces are in Bagalon, he is often traveling the country in a huge caravan, overseeing matters here or there. His retinue is enormous: slaves, paramours, dancers, astrologers, scientist and advisors of all sorts. His personal guard, the Shasisi, are 1000 strong and completely loyal. Each wears an steel masked helm, made in the shape of a man’s face, usually depicted in torment.
The Khajas court has always been a place of literature and philosophy. Zhûrascans from across the land travel the globe to bring back books, scrolls and maps to the Archive of Brae Halak ( Farzeen Furdowis al Brae Halak ). A towering building in the cityscape, the Great Library hosts millions of texts, many not yet translated or properly filed. Scribes are paid handsomely to copy and transcribe books in the local tongue. Access to the Archive is limited to learned men who have been appointed Archivists ( Farzeen’aref ). Appointment is made by any Archivist, but there are typically strict guidelines regarding who exactly can be let in. Texts can be borrowed from and leant by Archivists. This process is much more informal.
Topographically, Zhûrasca can be thought of as temperate in the West, the land steadily rising as one travels east and becoming a kind-of high chaparral land. This brushland peters off and becomes a vast desert dry land in the middle of the country, cut through with rocky outcroppings and low valleys with trickling creeks. A wide series of mountains arc south from Umasta to Korsinth and encircle this desert. Taken as a group, this different mountain ranges are called the Crescent. To the north of the desert, the land falls slightly, remaining dry, but gaining the coolness of the sea. Trade winds blow ships along this northern coast all year around, while the weather remains calm and mild throughout the year. Below the Crescent, near Bagalon, rolling hills and tall cypress and olive trees dominate the land scape. This is hearty pastoral land which is hot in the summer and moderately cold in the winter. South of this, the land becomes cold and dry, eventually rising to dramatic cliffs in the far south, which freeze over in the winter.