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The Province of Tessere
Allegiance Sirdabi Caliphate
Capital al-Sabiyyah
Demonym Tessere
Official Language Sirdabi
Official Religion Azadi
Currency fals/dirham/nour
Native Heritages Tessouare, Sirdabi, Yehani, Bissenke, Razmani

The province of Tessere lies at the far western end of the Sirdabi Caliphate, the furthest of its north Idiri lands save for the neighboring Emirate of Koumbasi. To the north lies the Adelantean Sea, and to the south the equally vast expanse of the Great Hazari Desert, while its eastern border touches upoin rustic Ifru. Although remote from the Sirdabi capital, Tessere is a thriving land whose cultural and economic prosperity owe much to the Koumbasi gold trade and the province's key position as a middleman on the trans-Hazari and Adelantean trade routes.

Geography & Climate

Tessere Province, Sirdabi Caliphate

Like all those lands whose territory spans the Hazari Desert, Tessere can be a harsh place of extreme temperatures and hostile terrain. Great sand basins such as the Whirling and Sunset Sands hold great beauty but equal peril, while the barren expanses of the Windswept Reach have been known to instill despair into the heart of even seasoned desert travelers. Such lands are only thinly populated, and then only by the hardiest of nomads whose survival skills are second to none. Caravans navigate the challenging weather and terrain, carrying shipments of gold and other precious goods from Koumbasi and the Idiri interior to the coast, but thirst, hunger, and disorientation in the strange landscape are not uncommon and sometimes lead to disaster.

Not all parts of Tessere are as harsh as the open desert, however. The broken peaks of the Sentinel Range rise up starkly from the arid flatlands, creating refuges of scrubland and sentinel pine forest high above the desert floor. Two more isolated plateaus, the Riij and Dirj Massifs offer their own unique environments, where sprawling grassland and stunted groves of oak and cedar are watered by scattered springs. In between these mountain lands lies Cradle Basin, once a series of marshy lakes in ancient days, now a landscape of fine-grained black sand that glides in wind-borne ripples across the gravel. But the Tessouare town of Redbird Wells offers clean and plentiful water as well as a rare abundance of shade that is deeply welcome to all those crossing the desert.

The Tajeddi River in the south of the province provides another unique environment, where small fishing and farming communities as well as the dynamic trade entrepot of Murzuq lie spread out along the banks. Although the strip of vegetation along the river is narrow, quickly petering out into desert sands to both north and south, it is nevertheless a highly productive environment in which fish, waterfowl, and wild game are plentiful, and the waters provide a ready source of irrigation for primarily subsistence crops. The Tajeddi itself, however, also fades out as it flows east past Murzuq, eventually vanishing into nothing more than mud pots and damp patches in the sand. Here the Bitterwater Sink begins, where the only water left to be found is intensely alkaline and scarcely fit for drinking. Still further east lies the saline Lake Alewa, which supports little but red brine shrimp but draws travelers in all seasons to its famed medicinal waters.

Throughout most of the province, rain comes only in short violent bursts and swiftly evaporates, but the Plain of Plenty receives ample winter and early spring rains that come over several months and support a flourishing agricultural zone. This strip of land between the coast and the Cherchem Mountains is temperate and fertile enough even to grow wheat, and hardier grains like barley and shafoureh sweet millet thrive. The Naghrimat, a range of isolated hills near Sidi Naghrim, is also watered by an unusual summer mist called al-neriyyeh, and is known for its unique vegetation which includes succulents, herbs, and trees found nowhere else.


Like neighboring Ifru, Tessere is part of the historic heartland of Tessouare territory and culture, and it is these people who still predominate in the region today. They exhibit a wide diversity of lifestyles, ranging from nomadic pastoralism in the desert interior, to settled farmers and small-town tradesfolk, to sophisticated urbanites in the bustling capital. The Tessouare here are particularly proud of their heritage, as they continue to cherish stories of the great kingdoms of ancient days and their heroic resistance against the Ruvans, which led to centuries of independence in the face of the ever-present threat from both the Ruveran and Kalentoi Empires.

Despite the dominance of the Tessouare, Tessere has a high population of Sirdabi relative to most other provinces in the western caliphate. The Sirdabi have had a strong presence here ever since the early days of Seeking, having arrived in the area not long after the beginning of the New Dawn. The great majority dwell in al-Sabiyyah and Ridmah, where they are involved in various trading and shipping ventures and in local craft industries. But they are widespread in smaller numbers throughout the province, where most have melded almost seamlessly into the local populace over many generations.

Also concentrated most heavily in the coastal cities are the Yehani, who have made their homes along the Adelantean shore for countless generations. Having lost their great city-state of Druth to the tidal waves of the Great Dark, the Yehani resettled among their Tessouare neighbors and are still a strong and influential presence in the capital. Most unusually, al-Sabiyyah is home to those Yehani who are technically Yemelites, worshipers of numerous of the old gods rather than solely of Elu Hani (known to most Avarians as the One True God). But typical Yehani are common in Tessere as well, where their ancient ties with the Tessouare make them largely welcome despite occasional cultural and religious frictions.

Many Bissenke also make their home in Tessere, particularly in the southern portions of the province along the Tajeddi River. The city of Mirzuq in particularly represents a rich blend of Bissenke and Tessouare culture, and despite earlier clashes with Koumbasi in antiquity, the relationship between the two peoples has more often been founded on friendship. Although not as widespread here as in the eastern regions of the Hazari, several Razmani communities reside in their typical cliffside enclaves within the mountains and canyons of the desert.


Tessere is best known for its role in the trans-Hazari gold trade, in which gold from the mines of west Idiri is carried through Koumbasi and across the desert, eventually arriving in al-Sabiyyah. Some part of the gold remains in the capital, used to fashion the high-end jewelry and luxury items for which the city is rightly famed. The rest makes its way across the Adelantean and the other cities of the caliphate, particularly places like Omrazir, Sirdab, and Fazhali, where the chief mints of the caliphate are located -- al-Sabiyyah's own mint having been shut down by order of the caliph following the al-Sabiyyan Conspiracy of 780-782.

Although the gold trade is the most exalted part of Tessere's economy, agriculture is of huge importance not just to Tessere itself but to the surrounding lands, many of which produce only a moderate portion of their own food. Wheat, barley, millet, and other grains from the Plain of Plenty supply cities all across the Adelantean coast and along the Tajeddi River, while olive oil, dates, and a variety of nuts and fruits are also grown in abundance. Ridmah is the agricultural center of the province, occupying a vital place in the economy even as it is overshadowed -- and not infrequently ridiculed -- by al-Sabiyyah and its sophisticates.

The mountains produce their own set of resources, including precious and semiprecious stones from the Cherchem range, and lead and agonel from the Sentinels. The Sentinel Mountains also feature extensive forests of sentinel pine from which pine nuts are harvested, while the hills around Sidi Naghrim supply a number of rare plants known for their medicinal properties or used for incense and perfumes.

Although al-Sabiyyah is the chief coastal port of the province, the river town of Murzuq is important for its role in sub-Hazari commerce of all kinds, and consequently sees a huge variety of goods and travelers pass across its famous bridges in all seasons.


Tessere is home to an abundance of different faiths, though like all provinces of the Sirdabi Caliphate its official and dominant religion is Azadi. Despite its reputation for corruption and greed, al-Sabiyyah is in fact a generous supporter of numerous Azadi charitable institutions, including primary schools for the city's children, a large madrasa and mosque complex, and an equally sizeable hospital which serves those from all walks of life. The city has also produced a number of famed holy men who apparently were driven to turn their backs upon the capital's avaricious striving and retreated to the desert, in order to found religious communities whose members endeavored to return to a purer and simpler version of the faith. The area around remote Lake Alewa is best known for such communities, and has attracted followers of other religions as well. This is in fact the heartland of a schismatic branch of the Kalentoi Church which takes its named from the lake, the Alewwites, whose founding dates back to the earliest days of Kalentism.

The Yehani religion is widespread across the Adelantean coast, particularly in the urban areas favored by the Yehani people. Al-Sabiyyah is also home to one of the last substantial communities of Yemelites, the progenitors of the Yehani who still worship the old gods. Although generally the Yehani and the Yemelites view each other with distrust and dislike, in the capital itself the two kindred peoples manage to coexist as al-Sabiyyans first and foremost, studiously ignoring most of their religious differences in the pursuit of more secular aims.

Besides the stubborn paganism of the Yemelites, many Bissenke and tribal Tessouare also adhere to pagan ways, or follow a brand of Azadi touched by lingering shamanic practices and beliefs.

Cities & Towns

  • al-Sabiyyah, the proud capital by the sea, known for its wealth and the devious complexity of its local politics.
  • Illizem, a remote desert retreat, favored by monastic communities desirous of solitude and travelers seeking a cure from Lake Alewa's healing waters.
  • Murzuq, a vibrant multicultural trading town sprawled out upon both sides of the Tajeddi River.
  • Oued Jebed, a rough-and-ready village in the Cherchem Mountains whose mines supply a generous bounty of agate, amethyst, and other precious stones.
  • Redbird Wells, a shady Tessouare oasis town nestled in the shadow of the Dirj.
  • Ridmah, a peaceful and pragmatic town in the Plain of Plenty, whose surrounding farmland feeds much of Tessere and neighboring lands.
  • Sidi Naghrim, hometown of one of the great religious scholars and physicians of the early caliphate, and also a source of numerous rare herbs.

Points of Interest