Kingdom of Tides

There is a river in the far western parts of Alhambra, a thin green band of gardens and farms following it through the vast desert. In the cities the streets are lined with statues of griffons and jackal-headed demigods, and the rulers sleep in mud-brick palaces while the dead rest in marble tombs. This is the home of the Thalocians, though they don't rule: their influence is far more than that of the dynasty of sultanas in the palace. It is known as the Kingdom of Tides, because of the yearly flooding of the river across its banks that keeps the fields fertile.

The people here are preoccupied with two things: an orderly life, and the reward in the afterlife gained thereby. They worship an array of demigods, most represented as local animals or animal-headed humans, and all subservient to Ab and Umm. There are gods of chaos and death, law and harvests, the river and the crocodiles within. Ifrit cultists are no more welcome here than anywhere else, but the local populace is more inclined to politely ignore any evidence of them for the sake of commerce and a peaceful life.

Agriculture keeps most of the kingdom's inhabitants busy; they export grain and river fish across Alhambra, and import most of their
manufactured goods. The second largest export of the nation is guardians of the dead: morticians, tomb-builders, and teachers of the spells needed for navigating the afterlife.

In the Afterlife

Local teachings hold that after death, the soul splits into pieces, the most important of which journeys into the underworld to be judged for all its virtues and sins of life. The journey is perilous, full of hazards both prosaic (flooded rivers, crocodiles) and bizarre (twin singing serpents, deceptive demons in the shapes of mules). The more virtuous one's life, the less power any of these obstacles have in preventing the soul from reaching the room of judgment. The less virtuous… Well, there are many priestly lineages reaching back dozens of generations whose descendants will teach people spells of warding to safeguard their journey, at modest prices. Inscriptions in one's tomb, a property embalmed body, and a grand mausoleum are all more ways to help the soul reach its destination safely.

For a very high price, a wealthy woman might even be able to arrange for a guardian of her soul, who will personally escort her from death to judgment. But even among the Thalocians only a few claim the ability to provide that escort, and so traditionally only the sultanas and their most beloved consorts are so blessed.

When a soul reaches the room of judgment (if it hasn't been devoured, drowned, or stolen by demons along the way), a tribunal of demigods weigh the virtues and sins of the soul's life against each other. Two thrones in the tribunal sit higher than the rest, where a word from Umm may outweigh the judgment of the others present if she so desires. The throne beside her has been empty for as long as recorded history, but not longer than legend.


The Thalocians are a clan, or a family, or a guild: the distinction is unclear, for they both pass on their name to their children and adopt in outsiders who show skill in the arts of preserving the dead. Their name comes from their attention to the prophecies of the thaloc, a beast said to take many forms and pass its wisdom on only to those who recognize it for what it is while it appears to be a crocodile, a jackal, a heron, a serpent.

Every member of the Thalocians is expected to master at least two of the arts of death, and only masters of three will ever advance in their inner hierarchy. These are: learning the spells of the afterlife; embalming and preparation of corpses; building tombs
suitable for any type of dead; guarding the dead against tomb robbers; travel to the lands of the dead while living. Those who cannot master so many as two are removed from the clan, through marriage or apprenticeships to other professions.

The Thalocians are at their friendliest condescending towards those who don't understand the importance of what they do, and at their worst secretive to the point of allowing others to suffer rather than reveal family secrets. This has led to any number of rumors: that they worship the thaloc as a god, rob tombs themselves and keep the grandest treasures as family property, consort with Ifrit cultists, kidnap children who can see ghosts to raise them as Thalocians, transform into crocodiles and eat their enemies, raise corpses of thedead for more than guardians of tombs.

Most of these rumors are not entirely true. What is undeniably true is that the Thalocians serve their own purposes foremost, and Alhambra only as their nation's purposes overlap with those.

Recent History

Shortly after the current Noor had set aside her first consort, a problem arose in the Kingdom of Tides. It wouldn't do to call this a rebellion, as very few of the people living in that kingdom were among the armies. "Living" was the key point there: the leader of the
Thalocians, Hadil bint Gulzar Thaloc, Reciter of the Final Mystery of Death, raised up armies of the undead to attack a city in a bordering kingdom that had given her offense.

While guards who choose to continue guarding their masters in the afterlife as blessed mummies are traditional and proper, armies of
corpses led by skeletal warriors are considered a faux pas even within Alhambra. The Noor sent armies of the living out against the undead, and when those proved insufficient, brought the wrath of djinn down on Hadil's forces. Sand swallowed corpses, winds battered skeletons to pieces, and fires burnt dead bodies to ash that the most powerful necromancer could never raise.

The rest of the Thalocians claimed, afterward, that they had never agreed to their leader's plans. That they only took down Hadil
themselves after the small war had turned against her lent very little credence to their claims. With their most powerful member dead, the clan decided it was an excellent time to express their continuing support of the Noor's rule, and offered Hadil's youngest son as a peace offering to the royal family. The Noor accepted, and the Thalocians have shown no visible signs of trouble since.

Whatever the sultana of the Kingdom of Tides had to say about her subjects raising armies and negotiating peace treaties with her Queen was not recorded, as it seemed of little relevance to the keepers of records in her kingdom.

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