The Asharene are keepers of secrets, scholars in forgotten lore, and builders of incredible wonders that would shame the architects of the northern lands. Much of their wisdom they stole from the empty vaults of those who built Mazan-Ur before them, and it has enriched them greatly. In the years before the Apocalypse, Mazan-Ur rose to become one of the most beautiful cities on Caerus, with golden domes, soaring minarets and lush, hanging gardens. The devastation that broke the world laid waste to much of that, but the Asharene did not rise from their lowly origins to abandon all that they had won so easily. Even now, they rebuild Mazan-Ur, determined to see it outshine the glories of the past.
The Asharene are average of height and build. Their skin tones range from coppery to dusky, tan and light brown. Their eyes are brown, honey-gold, hazel and – rarely – striking blue. Their hair color is all shades of brown, black and flaming copper. The Asharene are a beautiful people, delightful to the eye and bewitching in appearance. The men keep their hair short, purely out of cultural tradition from their time as a wandering desert tribe. They are clean-shaven in youth, allowing short beards as they mature. Women let their hair grow long, curling it into ornate locks and decorating it with all manner of trinkets and head-dresses. Asharene clothing is luxurious and ornate, rich in color, low in functionality, and fabulous to the eye. The Asharene are particularly famous for their extravagant and outrageous hats.
Ask anyone to describe the Asharene in a single word, and most will say the same thing: proud. And they would be correct. That said, the Asharene have much to be proud of. Not only did they survive the perils of the deep desert, but they won a new home for themselves and rose to great heights. Only the Apocalypse (known throughout Qadaroth as The Great Dying) halted their rise. But with pride comes conviction, and the Asharene know that they will rise again – and woe betide any who seek to claim otherwise.
The core of Asharene life is the family. For the Asharene, the concept of family is an extended network of relatives, from the immediate to the distant, all joined by tenuous connections of blood and marriage. It was ties of blood that held the people together as Ashar led them out of the deserts. Those same ties now bind Asharene society together. Although inter-family rivalries do occur, as a whole the Asharene see their entire nation as one extended family. Are we all not merely sons and daughters of Ashar, they ask, and how better to honor our ancestor’s name than by standing together as one?
If family is the core of Asharene life, religion is its bulwark and foundation. From mighty ziggurat-temples, the high priests of Mazan-Ur preach the words of their dreaming deities. Asharene commoners willingly serve at the temples and the nation’s merchants know that the finest markets cluster about these ancient edifices. In the years before the Great Dying, it is whispered that blood sacrifices slicked the ziggurats crimson. Now, with the Asharene depleted in that cataclysm, such horrors are consigned to the past. Pay no heed to the rumors that claim dark cults lair in the catacombs beneath the ziggurats. They are just that – rumors – and only a fool pays them heed.
The gods of the Asharene are many. Some they brought with them from the deep desert, old friends who remain close to their hearts still. Others they found in Mazan-Ur, abandoned there when the people of the god-king vanished. Chief amongst these is Bael-Mazoth, the Bronze God. Some fear these strange, sleeping deities that whisper forgotten truths from their ziggurat-tombs. But others know that they are the true fathers of the Asharene people and, with their guidance, these former wanderers will one day rise to rule all of Qadaroth, succeeding where a god-king failed, and bringing all others beneath their bronzed heels.
Family and religion – the foundation and core of Asharene life – also sit at the heart of its government. The priests of Bael-Mazoth wield pervasive influence throughout Asharene society. Through their influence, they have courted the support of five of the city’s most powerful families. These Golden Kindred jockey and jostle with one another for power constantly, all pandering to the desires of the temple of Bael-Mazoth. Together, the temple and the Golden Kindred rule Mazan-Ur. All who would rise to greatness know they need to reckon with these forces. But through cunning, might, or simple coin, such paths to greatness can be forged.
Come, then, to Mazan-Ur if you would help forge a place for yourself in the future of Qadaroth. Around you are a people who have weathered the worst that the world can throw at them, from the perils of the deep desert, to the secrets of an abandoned city-state, to the very Apocalypse itself. And still they are unbowed. Raise your head and know that you stand on the shoulders of giants. From there, you might reach to the very heavens... if you dare.