Kafkham Oasis

In the endless sands of the Safiyam Desert, one can easily travel for many days in any direction without coming across so much as a drop of water. For this reason the Safiya peoples live along narrow corridors aside the Twin Serpent Rivers. Oases are few, and often disappear in the shifting sands from year to the next.

The exception is the waters of the Kafkham Oasis. In the heart of the Safiyam Desert, the great sand dunes give way to a flat plain of sandstone, near almost perfectly flat by endless years of sandstorms scoring its surface. Within this plain, there is a series of cold-water springs rising up into fissures cut deep into the stone. Around these waters, the Safiya people has slowly sculpted the holy city that bears the same name.

Religious Significance: The Safiya have enough religions, sects, cults, and order that it requires a learned man simply to recite them all. The one thing all the Safiya beliefs hold in common is a reverence of the waters of the desert; The Twin Serpents and the holy waters of the Kafkham Oasis. Some hold that the oasis was the birth place of the gods, or of the human race. Some hold that the desert gods sculpted the pools with their own hands to escape the harsh desert sun. Some hold that the magical energies that arise from the deep with the waters of the oasis are what hold the very earth together. Although the specifics vary greatly, all hold the city and its waters sacred.

The Safiya hold that the city and its water belong to all the people’s of the desert and none. Moreover, folklore holds it that the desert will only allow those of pure intentions to find the city. Legend tells of three Shafram and two Ngozam sultan’s who, in their greed and ambition, sent armies to take the city for their realms. Each of these was caught in a massive sandstorm and scattered, greatly weakening the reign of each sultan who made the attempt.

Culture: Kafkham is first and foremost a holy city. Other than the waters of its springs, it offers few natural resources and raising crops is an exceedingly difficult and laborious task; keeping herd-animals is impossible, only camels can weather the harsh conditions. For these reasons, Kafkham is a city of ascetics, people primarily by the most devout monks and priests of various religious orders. Kafkham is largely a silent city, while there are no universal laws regarding noise and conversation, the vast majority of the city converses only in chambers carved into the sandstone of the plain, communicating only little while in the open. There are next to no children in the city and virtually no one is born in the city. The population consists primarily of a transitory flow of pilgrims and holy people, many of whom leave the city again after a few years. Kafkham’s nature as a city of introspection and peace makes it an attractive destination to pilgrims and ascetics from many corners of the world. Several scholars, famous artisans, poets and others have traveled to the city spend time in undisturbed contemplation or to complete a manuscript or great work.

Sustenance requires a great deal of hard work in the Kafkham Oasis, work done by a variety of religious orders dedicated to cleansing the spirit through labor. Meager crops are harvested from bed of poor soil mixed with water that lies in shallow basins cut into the sandstone. The city is constantly being expanded by stone cutters and carvers.

Architecture: The only building material available on the plain is sandstone cut from the plain itself, and a simple mud made from mixing sand, water, and clay carried into the city at great cost. For this reason, the city is cut into the sandstone plain as much as it is built onto it. Rectangular holes are cut into the plain and converted into simple apartments or shops, connected by a complex series of corridors and tunnels. The holes are then covered with simple roofs of wide palm leaves spread across a narrow wooden frame work and covered in mud, which hardens in the harsh sun. The blocks of stone cut from the plain are then used to erect the numerous temples and monuments founds in the city.

Governance: Kafham has no government, and the population is administered informally by the senior priests of the various religious order who make any convene occasionally to make any decisions needed for the city. But by and large Kafkham oasis is a self-sustaining system, sufficiently self-selecting to avoid any major conflict. And in the rare case that someone makes it to the city bent on causing trouble, several of the religious orders contain a number of fearsome warrior-priests.