Sunday 14 May 2023

Hex Crawl 23 #134: Headwaters of the Arhappa

Eight hexes north, one northwest of Alakran.


Welcome to the land of Shasari! Once a sleepy agricultural province of the Kingdom of Dulsharna, Shasari is now a refuge for soldiers and civilians who have fled the destruction and desertification of the south and east of the land, or who refuse to bend the knee to the cult of Tiamat that now rules in the capital of Dulshamar.

This far corner of the province sees the source of the Arhappa in the foothills of the Scarp. The Arhappa is a natural river that over the centruies has been straightened and deepened into a canal when it reaches the flatlands. The farmlands around it are a frontier against the desert. To the south they are protected by a berm of sand and a short zone of natural bushes and grasses, which block and catch the drifting dust and sand from the great dry plain.

The folk around the Arhappa are pious and lean toward Mitra in their devotion. They are isolated even from central Shasari - a backwater of a backwater! We will learn more of the Shasari people in general later. As for these two villages:

Uduzza is the capital, of sorts, of the Arhappa district. It is where the canal-Arhappa begins.  It is a local center of threshing, baking, brewing, storage, and all manner of crafts, numbering close to 600 citizens -- impressive considering that farmers and herders are prohibited from the settlement except on the three market days out of the ten-day week, and festival days. 

The village mayor is also a hereditary religious figure, who has the duty to observe the deaths of as many citizens as possible. For this reasons sick and moribund people are brought to Uduzza -- the presence of the Mayor on one of his housecalls, and the ointment made from creosote bush leaves that he lays on the forehead of the dying, are said to be good luck in the afterlife journey to the halls of Mitra. "See Uduzza and die" is no mere saying around these parts!

Hursakka is an isolated village of about 200 souls in the hills, built between three quarries of exquisitely shaded sandstone, and cultivating close to their houses the large spiky-shelled fruit of the thorny nara bush. The nara and the stone are traded for grain using a few designated "outside speakers," cosmopolitan folks who know well the mean streets of Uduzza. 

The houses of Hursakka were built unwisely on the river plain and have subsided over the centuries up to five feet into the ground, which is seen as a mark of favor from Nature. Indeed, the most prestigious houses, claimed by the village headwoman and her advisers, are little more than a roof, seen from outside. 

As isolated as they are, the house foundations are not the only recessive thing about the citizens of Hursakka. Overbites, outsized ears, and knock knees are common traits among the Hursakkans. The place is a butt of jokes about inbreeding and idiocy throughout the rest of western Shasari.

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