The desert province of Niralis first appeared in my short story ‘Ieskr and The Orealisi Oasis’ which tells the myth of the Orealisi Oasis and Oreli the water Enai, without whom the land would have been uninhabitable for humans. It’s the setting of one scene in my fantasy romance novella ‘Tiriyanin’s Riddles’ and features prominently in the prequel novel ‘A War of Blood, Mountains and Sand’. It’s also the setting of my new short story ‘Fereidun and the Pit of Snakes’. So I figured now would be a good time to share some more information about the region and my inspirations for it.
Niralis takes it’s name from the sun god Lord Nir who is the province’s patron deity. The province has a sparse population most of whom live in Maeronium, the only city in the area and the Orealisi Oasis spa resort, the only source of fresh water in the region. Their culture is inspired by that of ancient Egypt along with several African and Arabic countries. Due to the harsh climate, the locals cover their faces with a headscarf and wear long cloaks to protect themselves from the heat. They also ride camels.
Unlike most of the citizens of the Gragiyan Empire who are white, native Niralisians are predominately dark skinned. Thirty percent of the population are descendants of the black Moora, a clan of warriors who make up the region’s elite. Though of warrior descent, the Moora have long abandoned their warmongering ways and acquired vast wealth through centuries of trade with other regions. The largest group are tanned Mahate, a clan of farmers, fishermen and craftsmen. Then there are the Mezo (mixed race) and the Bials (white immigrants from other parts of the empire).
The region has no official army, instead it’s the Saikuda knights are in charge of the law enforcement. The Saikuda are an ancient order of knights, of both Moora and Mahate origin, specially trained and selected to serve the region’s noble families. These knights are inspired by the Japanese Samurai and follow a strict moral code. They are a extremely loyal to their masters and can be used as soldiers, militia, guards, spies, torturers, bounty hunters and even executioners. One of the knights is Harus who will appear in ‘Fereidun and the Pit of Snakes’ as well as my novel ‘A War of Blood, Mountains and Sand’.