Geography EditWhen it comes to the geographical features of the vast territory that the Ayuub Yokedaship consists of, the dominant element is all too easy to make out. The sands of the harsh and unforgiving dune-sea of the Alik'r cover the bulk of the region, and the desert's proximity can be readily felt wherever they do not. In the west of Hammerfell, there is no real escaping its oppressive heat until one crosses to the eastern side of the Dragontail Mountains that snake down from the eastern-most reaches of the country to form a cordon of sorts between the desert and the larger, more temperate part of the province.
It is these same Dragontail Mountains that separate the Barca and Ayuub Yokedaships, used as a convenient border by the new administration. Their peaks run the length of the Alik'r in the east, though they are lower here than further north-east and there are no traces of snow even in their highest reaches. Though not feared like the cultural taboo of the Vulnim Gate further to the north, they are nevertheless desolate places to the extreme; even dunedwellers, who live where most would dread visiting even for a short while, rarely tread here. Something that the settled Raga living east of the mountains can be thankful for - they thus have little reason to fear nomadic raids upon their homes, unlike their compatriots from the fringes of the desert.There is perhaps no other place in Tamriel that tests the old adage 'life always finds a way' as thoroughly as the Alik'r. In the very heart of the desert, it is said nothing at all exists save the sands and the vengeful shades of the dead that roam them, and that even the rocks have cracked and given way in the heat; whatever the truth, it is indeed the case that one finds more life the closer to the edge of the desert one looks, as might be expected. Fauna is somewhat more common than flora, and both adapt as best they can to survive in the excruciating conditions; certain plants have even devised ways to grow directly on the backs of Kagwola, giant roaming beasts whose shells are similar to rock - but one example of the bizarre wildlife of the desert.
It is a common misconception, however, that the Alik'r is nothing but smooth sand. It is, in fact, extremely gravelly in places, while rocks often jut out from beneath the sand. In the south-west, these rocks claw their way up and out of the dunes, forming a wall of craggy mountains behind which Dragongrove and Hegathe hide from the desert. Further north the peaks are rather less dramatic, but the land is nevertheless far from level and the Imperial highway of Via Camelia (literally, the Way of Camels; it is a common anecdote among travelers that the camel caravans for which it was named actually usually travel through the desert rather than over the road itself) snakes through the irregular landscape with considerable difficulty, testament to the skill and particularly the determination of its builders.
Beginning in Sentinel, it is this road that forms the vital artery of the Ayuub Yokedaship, remaining in generally good condition as it does, even if one northern stretch that runs uncomfortably close to the desert and emerges from the cover of the rocky hills is highly prone to being covered at least partially in sand. The highway connects Chasetown, Sunkeep and Dragongrove with Hegathe, before twisting to the east and hugging the coast as it attempts to reach distant Gilane. Here, however, it is extremely exposed to the elements, particularly as it makes the bend towards Hnes Rax near the Pass of Two Brothers, so local guides are often employed by those making the trip between those two cities, since it becomes impossible to follow the highway in places.The coastal regions that the Via Camelia snakes through are generally considerably more bearable than the land's interior. Though the stretch between Chasetown and Sunkeep is still arid, plant-life nevertheless begins to emerge in greater density and in less hardy forms than in the desert, with tufts of grass changing up the usual monotony of sand and rock and even the occasional bunch of palm-trees in the small and narrow valleys between the rocky hills. As soon as the mountains block off the Alik'r, however, this explodes into a lushness that seems perhaps all the greater due to its sharp contrast with the rest of the region. Bamboo forests and palm-trees are broken up by farms of the local Raga, squeezing as much as possible from every inch of fertile land with the mastery for such agricultural matters common among the locals. Beginning some ways north of Dragongrove, this green strip continues along the coast all the way to Hegathe, where it is again abruptly snuffed out by the desert.
Though it stretches from the Dragontail Mountains in the east to the sea in the west and from Sentinel in the north to the rocky coasts of the south, the inhabitants of the vast territory known now as the Ayuub Yokedaship are not at leisure to live wherever in these lands that they will. The Alik'r desert stifles all and any life and prevents it from striving; if not by its heat and the impossibility of sustenance off its unwelcoming soil, then through the other dangers that lurk in the desert. For centuries, the Dunedwellers have threatened any village unlucky enough to present an appealing target for a raid. Just as often, the deadly flora and fauna of the desert proves as much of a threat, poisonous plants, devouring sand and all manner of beasts taking their toll on the populace.At present, according to latest census data collected by the Yokudan bureaucracy, around 1.35 million souls are said to call the lands falling under the administrative label of 'the Ayuub Yokedaship' home. Of those, 73000 are citizens of Hegathe; 20000 - citizens of Dragongrove; 7000 inhabit Chasetown; finally, Sunkeep is home to 1700. The rest inhabit the villages and lesser townships of the countryside. Of them all, the overwhelming majority consider themselves Forebear; while there is no real means to ascertain the exact populace who may be dubbed 'Crown' or 'Forebear', the nobility of the city-states of this region have always been vocal in sympathizing with the Forebear cause.
It is important to note that the population estimates do not include the various Dunedweller tribes, since it is impossible to account for their numbers. Educated guesses estimate them to number well over 50000, but likely under or just over 100000, with the relocation of a not inconsiderable part of the northern-more tribes into the Barca Yokedaship. Should these calculations be true - which seems likely - that would place the entire population of the Yokedaship upwards of 1.4 million.
The vast majority of these people can be found concentrated in a dense cluster along the western shore, more precisely between Dragongrove (as well as slightly north of it) and Hegathe. This can be said to be the breadbasket of the region - solely by virtue of being the only stretch of land which most people from other parts of Tamriel would recognize as habitable. Life tends to be quite tightly packed here, sometimes giving a traveler the impression that there exist in these lands many more people than actually do.
It might be worth noting that a significant portion of this green strip's population is made up of slaves, driven into poverty by a lack of land and debt to the greater landowners. Around 120000 of those hapless 'speaking tools' work the plantations that provide much of the local city-states' wealth, of those 15000 government slaves, while hundreds more are domestic slaves or work smaller farms.One need only turn west for the picture to change dramatically, and for the population to thin out considerably. In the vast stretches of the Alik'r, civilization does not last past the doorstep and one can go for days or even weeks without seeing a single living soul (an important distinction, since restless undead shades are said to prowl the desert relentlessly for their own purposes, usually preying on unsuspecting mortals - guiding them astray with trickery or outright killing them). Almost every oasis on the fringes of the desert - no matter how tiny or pitiful it might seem - is hugged by a cluster of hovels, which seem bastions of civilization against the backdrop of the untamed desert. Deeper into the desert, oases are notably void of life - except for whatever Dunedweller tribe might be camping nearby at the time, them being the reason for this lack of settled life.
On the whole, the Alik'r is a ruthless frontier that breeds people who are likewise tough and ruthless. Compared to the near-total emptiness of its southern reaches, even the relatively sparsely inhabited rocky hills between Chasetown and Sunkeep seem full of towns, villages and people. But life always finds a way, and even in the most desolate fringes of the great desert, a dingy little village may be found struggling through life, and where even these outposts of settled life fail, the Dunedwellers still survive, roaming the dunes and occasionally camping nearer the western reaches of the desert to trade with the coastal city-dwellers.
Regency-Governorship of Hegathe Edit
"The city of HEGATHE, ruled by will of Baibars Ayuub YOKEDA OF THE WEST, held by REGENT-GOVERNOR Hanem of the House Kyel, by will of Ruptga home to:
Souls SEVENTY AND THREE THOUSAND (73000), of those
Souls ONE THOUSAND, descendants of noblest of Forebear houses of the realm, men of stature and valour;
Souls SIX HUNDRED, priests and priestesses, those who commune with the Gods and the Spirits and tend to their earthly abodes;
Souls ONE THOUSAND AND ONE HUNDRED, servants of the YOKEDA OF THE WEST and the ELDEN YOKEDA, agents of Our Blessed Government and the Ministries;
Souls ONE THOUSAND AND SIX HUNDRED, merchants, of untarnished reputation and ill repute, pillars of wealth and peddlers of wares alike;
Souls TEN AND SIX THOUSAND AND ONE HUNDRED, men and women of crafts, artisans both master and apprentice;
Souls TWENTY AND TWO THOUSAND THREE HUNDRED, farmers, workers of the fields and growers of the food that sustains all;
Souls EIGHT THOUSAND AND THREE HUNDRED, servants, aides of nobles and lesser persons alike, those who do the work of others;
Souls SEVEN THOUSAND AND TWO HUNDRED, slaves, the tools that talk, worthless of freedom and existence;
Souls FOURTEEN THOUSAND AND EIGHT HUNDRED, those without stable or honourable profession, prostitutes, beggars, brigands, swindlers and renegades."Though the numbers supplied by the Yokudan Imperial census cannot entirely be trusted, particularly when it comes to the lower social strata of the city's society where a wish to embellish or just lack of information comes into play, it paints a clear enough picture nonetheless. A city of over seventy thousand, Hegathe is the largest of all the urban centres of the Ayuub Yokedaship; by virtue of this, it acts as its unofficial capital and the centre of Yokudan administration, in addition to remaining at the centre of the territory that is now known as the Regency-Governorship of Hegathe.
The origin of such an unusual title for that which is undoubtedly the central of those realms that make up the Ayuub Yokedaship lies in the War of the Wolves and its aftermath. Although Hegathe cut its ties to the Third Empire in a violent rebellion against the Imperial Legion, this was a conflict not related to the war raging further north, instead fueled largely by the personal ambitions of one man - Kewan, self-proclaimed Prince of Hegathe. Unsatisfied with the position of a mere governor, the likely result if his new principality were to join the fledgling Yokudan Empire, he elected instead to attempt to forge his own, independent realm.
In doing so, however, Prince Kewan grossly miscalculated if he expected little reaction from Sentinel. As it were, when High King Haroun do Ashir marched upon the city-state, it was entirely unprepared to defend itself and folded immediately. The overambitious prince's fate was to be an example to all of Hammerfell of what happens when greed oversteps common sense - in a grisly display of irony, Kewan was executed by having molten gold poured down his throat. Thoroughly seized and pacified, the city of Hegathe found itself adjacent to the Ayuub Yokedaship, with the Yokeda Baibars Ayuub its new prince; however, the desert khan has never once sat on its throne so far, technically meaning that no new prince has succeeded so far and leaving the city-state in the hands of the regent-governor.Currently, Hegathe has been entrusted to Regent-Governor Hanem Kyel, drawn from the ranks of the city's native Forebear nobility. With the past of a competent, if unimaginative court functionary, Hanem is more a bureaucrat than a ruler - however, his true advantage comes in the family from which he hails, as House Kyel has valuable connections among many of the other Forebear houses of Hegathe. It could be said that these two things combined in the current regent-governor - an administrator and a man with relatives and friends in high places - are precisely what the ruling Yokeda lacks, and thus precisely what he requires. In this, the Imperial administration that is largely behind the appointment can be said to have been most thoughtful and, combined with Baibars' refusal to take the role of prince, has gone a long way to defuse a potentially dangerous situation as may have formed with the Forebear nobility if they were to be put under the direct rule of a Dunedweller immediately after being strong-armed into the Yokudan Empire.
This same Imperial administration is behind more than just the placement of a suitable candidate into the shoes of regent-governor. Ever since the city-state's inclusion into the Yokudan Empire, Hegathe has been at the forefront of accommodating almost every new initiative started in Sentinel - most of which struggle to take root as easily elsewhere. Bureaucrats serving the new empire, both arrivals from Sentinel and locals looking to benefit from such lucrative service, grow steadily in number; the various new ministries likewise find themselves well-represented. The rise of this new 'administrative aristocracy' has been swift enough to put them in a position to compete with the traditional nobility of the city - although the Forebear noble houses are just as likely to resist the advances of this all-encompassing bureaucracy as join its ranks or ally themselves with it.
Outside of the walls of the city, the picture becomes rather different, however. Here, the webs weaved by the new empire's functionaries have to compete with the plantation owners; seeing as Hegathe owes much of its wealth to its slave plantations, they are more than capable of resisting initiatives that must be bowed before inside the city itself. And though the state is not without plantations of its own (with the majority of the Imperial-owned enterprises centred in the city-state's territory), and most of its advances are viewed favourably by the smallholders who have been for centuries forced to struggle to compete on uneven terms with the colossal productive power of the nobility, these conservative Forebear landowners still do much to protect their well-entrenched positions in the countryside and check the Imperial administration's advances whenever they do not suit them.
Principality of Dragongrove EditHome to twenty thousand inhabitants according to the data provided by the last census to be carried out in the Ayuub Yokedaship, Dragongrove is the second largest urban centre along the western coast. Though more than three times smaller than the city of Hegathe where the size of its populace is concerned, this is nevertheless a prosperous and well-fortified town - powerful enough to have been an independent and influential city-state in its own right before the ascendance of the Yokudan Empire, and retaining its status and former territories as a principality to this day. Currently ruled by Prince Adonibal Barca - cousin of Yokeda Bomilkar Barca - it has been under his charge since before the War of the Wolves.
If the data of the latest census of the town's populace is to be believed, the combined populace of Forebear nobles and Imperial bureaucrats numbers around six hundred, the bulk of those being local nobility rather than Yokudan functionaries. There are roughly two hundred priests and priestesses tending the local temples, and around seven hundred merchants of various sorts - including owners of inns and taverns. The bulk of the populace, six thousand and five hundred souls, are farmers that tend the land outside the town's walls, either their own or that loaned out to them by the major landowners, while another significant chunk, four thousand, are artisans of various sorts - blacksmiths, potters and the rest. The remainder of Dragongrove's people are said to be a motley mixture of slaves, servants and lowlifes to whom the bureaucrats conducting the census were unable to ascribe a permanent profession - and whose numbers, as a result, are certainly inaccurate.
Rather far removed from Sentinel, the principality did not see heavy fighting for the greater part of the War of the Wolves. It was only when the Imperial Legion garrison in Hegathe was overthrown that Prince Adonibal saw a chance for freedom - and took it, likewise eliminating the Legion presence in his capital. Rather than attempting to remain independent or allying with its southern neighbour to improve both their chances of remaining free of outside influences, however, the newly liberated city-state aligned itself instead with the warriors of Sentinel - largely due to the ruling prince's blood ties to Khan Bomilkar Barca.Thanks to this decision, Prince Adonibal has weathered the remainder of the War of the Wolves and the tumultuous annexation of Hegathe without having to surrender power, and remains the ruler of his realm after its inclusion in the newly-formed Ayuub Yokedaship. A man infamous for his strictness almost as much as his widely feared cousin, under his rule thieves of any kind are officially punished by the removal of their hands, while death sentences for various crimes are hardly uncommon. Were this cruelty not tempered by an even hand, the resentment that some of the lower classes foster for their prince might be far more widespread and troubling.
As it is, the Prince of Dragongrove, while not a beloved ruler per say, is at the least acceptable to most of his subjects. Particularly, he has won the support of a large portion of the Forebear nobility of the western coast for his public reservations over the perceived Crown dominance in the Yokudan Empire, going as far as disapproving of the marriage between High King Haroun and Roxanna Barca. Even with the current political climate of the Empire, no withdrawals of his views have been forthcoming; though Adonibal does not hide his belief that he would certainly not survive much longer should the High King turn his attention to Dragongrove at last, that statement itself is issued as a challenge for the so-called Crown oppressors to show their true colours.
For all its leader's disapproval, however, the principality itself has found its time in the Yokudan Empire to be one of relative prosperity. Deriving a fair portion of its wealth from the nobility's plantations, just as Hegathe, the past months have seen a heightened flow of trade north over the Via Camelia - most of the caravans' final destination being Sentinel. Prince Adonibal's disapproval of the Imperial administration have so far prevented these economical ties from translating into political cooperation as extensive as that found in his southern neighbour - the Yokudan bureaucracy's attempts to expand into Dragongrove have been met with disfavour, and its initiatives fail to resonate with the local populace most of the time. As a result, while the city-state is part of the patchwork structure of the Ayuub Yokedaship, it has not become as well-integrated on the Imperial level as Hegathe or even Chasetown.
Ra'Gada of Sunkeep Edit
Not all were spared the ravages of the War of the Wolves; when two sides clash as fiercely as they did in this conflict, victims are seldom few - and it is the bystanders that suffer most. The most poignant reminder of this in the entire Ayuub Yokedaship is the town of Sunkeep. Sitting on the Via Camelia between Chasetown in the north and Dragongrove in the south, it, just as its neighbours, used to be an independent city-state - not particularly powerful or influential, perhaps, but far enough removed from the greater powers in the region to maintain its freedom from external influences.
To be more specific, Hammerfellian external influences. Unlike the encroachments of any of the local petty realms or the desert tribes, the Septim Empire was always welcome among the Forebears here. Thus it was only logical that when the time came to choose where its loyalties lay in the War of the Wolves, the Legion was freely welcomed and allowed to pass through without being harassed - instead, the Legionnaires were welcomed as allies and protectors, and the unspoken implication was that the locals wished them only the best of fortunes in what then seemed to be the final stage of the rebellion in Hammerfell at the Roaring Walls of Sentinel.
In an unfortunate and completely unexpected turn of events, however, the city-state was repaid with a brutal raid carried out by the marines of the Third Empire's navy when the Legions' siege was broken at Sentinel. The hilltop keep and the caves and tunnels beneath it both turned out to be the end of those few who had time to seek refuge in either. It was little consolation that the destruction was less thorough than further north in Chasetown - in the end, what had been done was still enough to force most of the surviving townspeople to abandon their homes and seek better fortunes behind the security of the walls of Sentinel, precisely the effect hoped for by the raiders themselves.Though the end of the war should theoretically be enough to enable the town's inhabitants to return and for the populace to be bolstered by new immigrants, Sunkeep remains a sad reminder of what has passed - a true scar upon the western coast. According to the census carried out recently to assess the resources of the newly formed Ayuub Yokedaship, one thousand seven hundred people now call this place home; the bulk of them farmers and craftsmen, with only a small handful of petty Forebear nobles, a miniscule priesthood and a single person charged with representing the Yokudan Empire and the authority of the Yokeda as its servant. The post has no official title attached to it; where the Empire is concerned, though, this may as well be the governor of the town.
Located too far north to fall into the green strip whose benefits Hegathe and Dragongrove reap, the territory falling under the authority of the Forebear Ra'Gada assembly of Sunkeep is void of the slave plantations so prevalent in the south. Instead, the land is split up between smallholder farmers who often owe their loyalties to one or other petty noble house; nearly as often, however, they are their own masters, forsaking the political representation afforded by noble patrons for the Forebear dream - a warrior's freedom, the capacity and indeed duty to defend your own household and make your own destiny. This is a difficult existence the realities of which are far less romantic than they may sound, particularly further east on the fringes of the Alik'r where the settled Raga are forced to fight not only the land itself, but also hostile Dunedwellers.
At present, Sunkeep is governed by the elected Ra'Gada assembly that represents the Forebears of the realm - mostly monopolized by the nobility, who are constantly elected and re-elected by their clients; however, commoners holding place in the Ra'Gada are not unheard of, and any free man or woman of Sunkeep can petition to come before the assembly with their grievances; whether they are allowed to do so or not is another question entirely, but the right itself remains, seen traditionally as a pillar of Forebear freedoms. Currently, the Ra'Gada of Sunkeep has named Baibars Ayuub as their protector, swearing loyalty to him, though in practice their dealings with the Yokudan Empire are handled by the Imperial official residing in Sunkeep.
Khanate of Chasetown Edit
With a long Forebear tradition, Chasetown had been a supporter of the Third Empire since long before the War of the Wolves. That the city-state chose to support it when a large portion of Hammerfell was engulfed by the rebellion pushing for independence was thus no great surprise. However, the town would become no ordinary ally - instead, when the tide of war took the combatants to the protracted siege of Sentinel, Chasetown would become the Imperial Legion's base of operations. It was from here that the Ruby Ranks would plot their cracking of the Roaring Walls.Likewise, it would be here that would suffer most when the Cyrodiilic soldiers withdrew - but not, as one might presume, at the hands of the sallying forces of Sentinel. Instead, it would be the Legionnaires themselves who would put their former allies to the sword. In a stunningly brutal display, whole families were slaughter, wells were poisoned, livestock killed and crops requisitioned or destroyed, achieving much the same result as further south during the similar depredations in Sunkeep - forcing the survivors to seek refuge behind the walls of Sentinel.
While the aforementioned Sunkeep is struggling to recover, however, fate has been remarkably more favourable towards Chasetown. Though the scars left by the War of the Wolves are by no means easy to heal, the town is slowly beginning to forget the ravages suffered, with the influx of new settlers coming down from Sentinel - to settle alongside the unlikeliest of neighbours. Deciding that the 'blank slate' offered by its rebuilding is the best possible solution for the issue of settling those Dunedwellers who are looking to forgo their traditional lifestyle, Yokeda Baibars Ayuub has directed most of his tribesmen looking to exchange a nomadic existence for an easier, sedentary life to Chasetown.
The result of this exodus of Alik'r Dunedwellers into the township is a social experiment with hardly any precedent. Of the seven thousand inhabitants residing here, three thousand two hundred are settled nomads from various tribes. Though around five hundred of these settled nomads make a living as artisans, and just over a hundred try their hand at trade, the remainder - and thus, the bulk - remain close to their roots and survive off their animal herds or by the less familiar means of farming. They are joined by six hundred farmers hailing from long-settled families, just as their kin surviving off various crafts exist alongside seven hundred of their long-settled equivalents and the traders have to compete with around three hundred 'city-dweller' merchants. The remainder of the populace is split up between a small priesthood, the ranks of the local Forebear petty nobility, a Yokudan Imperial administration of several dozen, and the lowest of the low classes - slaves and those 'without a permanent occupation', meaning beggars and criminals of various strands.
With a significant portion of the populace being made up of recently settled nomads (who, as the more sedentary locals sometimes say, haven't even had time to brush the sand off their robes yet), it should come as no surprise that they play an important part in the governance of Chasetown - to the point where it is named a khanate and the highest local authority lies with Khan Razahal Ayuub, of Yokeda Baibars' own tribe. Though there is occasional friction between the settled Dunedwellers due to the fact many of them come from different tribes - not all of which recognize Baibars Ayuub as Khan of Khans - for the most part the authority of their khan goes unquestioned by his tribe-within-town.
However, there are different challenges Khan Razahal has to face - namely, the elected Ra'Gada of Chasetown, representing its free Forebear populace and, much like in Sunkeep and most other examples of such an assembly, consisting chiefly of the local nobility. For the majority of the long-settled populace of the khanate, they are the true rulers by virtue of being far more acceptable than a Dunedweller fresh out of the desert; however, the khan's closer ties with the Yokeda mean he cannot safely be ignored. The governance of Chasetown is thus a complex series of negotiations and powerplays, made all the more complicated by the presence of a third element in the budding Yokudan Imperial bureaucracy that must likewise be reckoned with due to its own distinct advantage of being the closest to the Imperial government residing in Sentinel and all its considerable resources.