Ghadab
“…And now, weak fools, you will see what true power and glory brings: Immortality in the annals of history!” – The Ghadabi Empress, true name unknown

Capital: Ahahbi
Settlements: Ahahbi (4,000), Dhuhi Oasis (500+), Kamhamal (unknown), Shankhil’s Pleasure (2,000)
Ruler: None
Government: None
Races: Dwarf, Enigmon, Human, Zendiqi
Faiths: Djinnlord Qarryn, Fenris Kul, Ferrakus, Firelord Mal’eket, Mâl, S’sluun, Veiloaria, Wind of Jewels
Resources: Antiques, porphyrite, relics (elemental)
Languages: Common, Dwarven, Giant, Old Porphyran, Sphinx
Border Conditions: Limited (porphyrite border with the Middle Kingdoms)

History
The great sand-sea that is the Ghadab was once the lushest part of a fertile crescent that ran between the Ghadab Plateau and the desert nation of Siwath. Ghadab held most of the arable farmland, while the Ashalu, cousins to the desert-dwelling Siwathu, only had the long stretch of oases, and rich but dangerous banks along the Ashaal River. As the saying lands went; “The Four hold the Ghadab in their favor like a bejeweled dagger. The Ashaal is merely its scabbard.”

This phrase neatly held the sentiments of the countries’ respective attitudes towards each other. When tensions finally boiled over and the and the tribes of the Ashalu rose up to raid the prosperous villages in Ghadab, the result was a war that saw bloodshed, atrocities on both sides and the eventual defeat and enslavement of the Ashalu. The new nation had little time to prosper before the arrival of the New Gods. Porphyrite rained down and erupted from the earth, severing the flow of the Ashaal River and separating the Ghadabi Empire from the Simoon and Siwath deserts. The Ashalu, held in bondage through the threat of invasion of the Siwathu homeland, immediately rebelled against their masters.

Some died in rebellion, but most vanished into the crescent, looting garrisons and disappearing into the green. The Ghadabi Empress resolved to hunt down every last Siwath-Ashalu and feed their blood to the sands. Her oath became a holy war, a private side to the NewGods War, and the Ghadabi were infected with national rage, murdering every traveler they came across, assuming that anyone not like them was either an Ashalu or a Siwathu sympathizer.

The massive powers released by the NewGods War brought the end of the Ghadabi Empire as well. The Empress, drunk on power and bloodlust, gathered as many Ashalu as her forces could capture into her great city’s main square and held a mass execution called the Red Night. This blasphemy, fueled by the pain and blood of the Empress’ victims, drew the direct attention of Mâl, the End of All Things, in the form of a black skull-cyclone. The death storm tore the city apart and cast blazing skulls out into every part of the Ghadab.

Where they landed, the fertile land died and the sands beneath became ashen. In their wake, ancient horrors rose up—long dead savage beasts given new, terrible life. When the storm subsided, the ruins of Hamun’kana exploded like a volcano, spraying fire and ash. Where once thousands of people lived in a rich, verdant land, only nomads, scattered tribes and newly dedicated zendiqi remained. The Ghadab Plateau became a barren waste of sand and fire, populated by ghosts and monsters.

Current Events
Nations near the Ghadab have begun sending expeditions, some private and others open for volunteers, into the lost nation looking for relics from its time of empire. There are many stories of the magical might of the Ghadabi, and the weapon making skills of their Ashalu slaves. These expeditions have had to contend with the great beasts of the land, namely minotaurs, manticores, behirs and others. While the chimera dens are deadly, the roaming packs of cyclopes and ettin are worse. The most dangerous hazard on the plateau is the current war being waged between hydras, lairing in packs and fiercely intelligent, and the many forms of sphinx living in the fallen empire’s old ruins. While there are rumors that some of the sphinxes might be intelligent, no one has been reported returning from parley with them. This may be due to the flights of harpies that lurk around the edges of said ruins, always glad for meals of man-flesh that deliver themselves.

The region of Ashaal is west of the Mountains of Wrath, and not part of the Plateau proper, enjoying the geographic independence its location offers. Swampy and infested with pestilential insects, no other nation has sought to conquer it, either. The power in this area is nominally the minotaur clans, who squabble over the hoodoo-labyrinths in the badlands, but they are frustrated by the upstart dwarves who are attracted to the old, unfinished mines of the previous era.

These dwarves are achieving the only success exploring and rebuilding the wonders of old Ghadab, and they attribute their success to their loyalty to Ferrakus. Using clerical magic to ensure safe passage though the many caves and lava pathways under the Ghadab, they have been able to locate several sunken cities and being the long task of restoring them. Though the dwarves are not anti-social, they are fiercely protective of the new ‘cities’ for their people.

Settlements
The major settlements of the Ghadab are:

  • Ahahbi is a mobile settlement comprised mostly of wagons, and homes built upon massive beasts of burden. Ahahbi follows a set but winding path through the plateau, stopping at oases, but moving on before overtaxing them, allowing them to recover. It is as much a capital as the Ghadab has, housing most of the important Ashal’zendiqi tribal leaders.
  • The Dhuhi Oasis is notable because of its size, being the largest in the Ghadab plateau. It only shelters around 500 at any given time, but they do not fear raiders because of their ‘Great Protector’, the Colossus of Dhu. This immense, lion-headed statue is capable of identifying any threats, keeping the people of the Dhuhi Oasis safe through both magical and physical means.
  • Kamhamal, also called the Eye of the Storm, is a legendary city among the scattered people of the Ghadab. Most consider it a legend, but it does exist. When Mâl’s wrath fell upon the peninsula, the zendiqi had just enough warning to pool their elemental magic for protection. They formed a crystal and sandstorm barrier that held back the devastation. After the god’s fury passed, they found Mâl’s power made their barrier storm permanent, and built a protected city nurtured by the elements, where it remains today.
  • Shankhil’s Pleasure is noted as the largest ‘settlement’ in the Ashaal region, west of the Ghadab Plateau, separated by the porphyrite-ridden Mountains of Wrath. It is a large dwarven colony, and the base by which the intrepid folk delve into the mysteries of the Plateau.

Intrigues

  • The Wrathmountain dwarves have finally discovered the ruins they have been searching for since Ferrakus drew them here- the lost city of Hamun’kana. Unfortunately, they have been unable to enter because many of its own wards are still intact and the whole chain of ruins is still full of undead.
  • The Ghadab Plateau has no real seasons, but there are still expected periods of rain- until lately. With water getting scarce and smaller oases drying up, the tribes of the Ghadab are sending out search parties to find new sources of water. Outlanders might also be pulled into this hunt, with tempting offers.
  • Some of the New Gods, especially Aleria, Toma Thule, and Saren, feel a sense of guilty responsibility for the fate of the Ghadab, There were those in the Empire that called out for aid, but in their divine disgust the gods turned their backs on the nation. Now some of them would like to make amends if they can. Priests of the New Gods are being ‘called’ to venture into the Doomed Plateau and aid its people; put down monsters that plague the land, and do what they can to restore what has been lost.

See Also