The Seven Cities of the Dune Sea

(Actually there are eight, more if you count ruins)
Bjornwen
City of the Norn.   Once little more than a collection of fishermen’s cottages it is now a bustling port and harbour.   More than half the population are Nornish.   Many of the human population have the high cheekbones and fair hair.   The cult of Mona is still strong among the fisher folk of all races and her Temple still stands by the harbour.   The cult of Silvia is also still fairly strong but now largely underground.


The Council of Bjorn are suspicious of the Bishop. They are old Norn and they know that Humans just don’t live that long and they don’t like it. The Council is too smart to say anything in public but the Skalds can read the signs in the sky and the signs are not good.


Major imports – flax for net making, rice, paper and wool
Major exports – fish and shellfish.

Marshfleet
City on the Marsh.   The populations are mostly Human and Norn with a significant minority of Dwerg.   The city is surrounded by marshland.   There is some agriculture but the soil is mostly too poor to grow rice.   Instead they grow flax which is used to make fishing nets and cloth and papyrus which they use to make paper.   They also hunt fish and wading birds.   Where the ground is dry enough they grow wheat for bread and Beer.   The Temple of Seth is huge and dominates the centre of town however the worship of Silvia and Maris is still common amongst the farmers in the surrounding area.

Marshfleet is not a good place to be poor. The tithe always seems to fall heaviest on those with least and the taxes means that the coin that’s left doesn’t go very far. The Upper classes mostly support the Bishop. To them he represents stability. There are many devout Sethites amongst the poor. The promise of a better life to come has always gone down well with those who have little in this life. However the Bishop has less support in Marshfleet than he thinks.


Principal imports – rice, vegetables
Principal exports – flax, cloth, paper

Scarcrag
City of Dwerg.   Home of the Underking and the only true city of the Dwergish people.   Dwerg mines and workshops are spread all over the Eastern mountains but they all owe allegiance to the Underking.   Most of the population are Dwerg but artisans and mages of all races are welcome.   Bez is worshiped, not just as a the misshapen smith God of the rest of the cities but as the Dwergish creator God.   In the Dwerg version of the myth the creation of Rune was the birth of a proto-Dwerg and Tekli was the personification of Chaos.   The Worship of Seth is growing in popularity particularly with the officials of the Underking’s court and among the merchants who trade with other cities.

Or that’s how it seems to the emissaries of the Bishop. Actually the Dwerg are angry. The sidelining of their God, the changes in the Cult of Seth, the new taxes and tithes – none of these things have gone unnoticed in the court of the Underking. But the Dwerg are the most patient of the peoples of the Dune Sea and so they do not show their feelings where the Bishop’s men might see. They seem as calm and quiet as always but underneath the surface the Dwerg are seething. The Underking is a devout Bezite, whatever he might say in the Temple of Seth. His bodyguard are handpicked because of their unwavering faith. Many of his court have achieved office because of connections to the Pirates of Sweetwater or to the Creeping City.

The Dwerg shipyards are busy. Everyone knows that war is looming. What only the Underking and his most trusted aids know is that the Dwerg are building ships for everyone and the ships built for the Cult of Seth are taking longer and costing more than they should. In fact the Cult of Seth is subsidising Dwerg and Norn and Pygmy navies it doesn’t know exist with the blessing of the Underking.


Principal imports – raw ore, coal and metal.
Principal exports – weapons, armour, devices jewellery and magic items.

Skyfell
The City in the clouds.   Skyfell is almost impossible to reach without a skyship.   High in the mountains the climate is wet enough to grow rice.   The terraced paddy fields are a sight to behold and spread out for miles around the city.   The population are mostly Dwerg and Gurpa with a few Pygmy families and some transplanted city folk.   The Dwarves build and maintain the paddy fields and the Gurpa farm them.   They also keep alpaca and llamas for meat and wool.

The Cult of Mara is strong in the mountains where nature can turn nasty at any time.   Mona is often appeased in winter and the farmers worship Silvia and Maris.   However this is all in secret.   The mountain folk keep themselves to themselves and are quite happy to file into the temple of Seth whenever there is a sacrifice but they wont give up their idols.

Principal imports – vegetables, fish, fowl, paper
Principal exports – rice, wool

Bysilva
The river city.   Built at the confluence of two rivers Bysilva is at the centre of much of the arable farming of the alliance.   The rivers boil out of the mountains and have cut deep gorges.   Much of the city is built into the sides of the gorges leaving the flat land to the farmers.   There is a system of magically powered water lifts to get the water up to the growing land.   Mostly human with large minorities of Pygmies and Dwerg.

Silvia is the patron Goddess of the city and is still worshiped fairly openly on her high days and feast days but most of the upper and middle classes have already migrated to the Temple of Seth.   The farmers on the plain worship Silvia and Maris in small shrines but they don’t talk about it and most of them make an effort to visit the temple of Seth at least once a month.

Principal imports – cloth, paper, artificers to fix the water lifts.
Principal exports – vegetables, wine, grapes

Hathorth
The Delta city.   The breadbasket of the Dune Sea.   The river floods once a year as the winter snows melt in the mountains and it washes fertile soil down to the slow moving water of the delta.   There are fields of wheat and watermelons and there is a port where the fishermen who live in the delta can offload their fish and seal meat.   The population is a mix of Humans, Norn and Pygmies.   There are a few Sarouin and Sand Walkers seeking respite from the incessant winds of the Dune Sea.

In some ways Hathorth is the most relaxed of the Dune Sea cities. Baking in the hot sun but with plenty of water and food the Order that the Bishop seeks to bring seems less important. The pace of life is slower here than in the other cities and it is easier to get by.


Principal imports – wool, flax, rice
Principal exports – wheat, beer, watermelons, dried fish.

The Creeping City.
Not so much a city as a collection of tents.   The city creeps around the heart of the Dune Sea at a snail’s pace always moving away from the prevailing winds.     The Creeping City is mostly inhabited by Sand Walkers and Sarouin.   It is a city of mystics, druids, sorcerers, outcasts and the finest weavers in the world.   The city creeps along as those whose tens are pitched on the windward side get tired of the incessant wind and move to the leeward side.   It is a surprisingly colourful city with every tent painted or woven with distinctive symbols to help the inhabitants find their friends.   The path of the city takes it close to several oases and the inhabitants gather figs and hunt the indigenous animals.

There are no permanent temples and each tent is its own shrine.   Most of the Sand Walkers worship Zane, most of the human Bedouin worship Zora but all the Gods are represented.

The weavers of the Creeping City are without compare and the export of their cloth is the City’s main source of income. What the Bishop doesn’t know is that they are also masters of cartography and cryptography. Every map of the secret route to Sweetwater, the Pirate City, is made in the Creeping city. The details are woven into the surface of the cloth in a fine relief that’s read with the fingertips and is all but invisible to the eye. The Creeping City is the city of secrets. Who knows what hidden knowledge my lurk there yet.


Principal imports – people, flax, silk, wool, cotton and paper
Principal exports – people, fine cloth, information and figs.

Sweetwater
The Hidden City.   The city of Pirates.   The city is built round a sunken lake.   The lake was once part of a system of water filled underground caves until part of the roof collapsed.   In the great days of the Sky Pirates Sweetwater was one place that Pirates could go to relax in safety. When the Pirates were suppressed it was their last redoubt.   Now the Pirates and the Smugglers are back and Sweetwater is bustling once more.


Principal imports – Pirates! Treasure and food
Principal exports – Pirates! And water. 

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