|Ruler||Sultan Basbas Mustaqqi|
|Exports||Pearls, aromatic gums, frankincense, myrrh, sea crafts (shells, buried treasure, and the like)|
Inhabitants of Almoq
This page is about the city of Almoq. For the Sultanate of the same name, please see Almoq (Sultanate).
Almoq is the capital city of the Sultanate of Almoq in the southwestern Kaspari Empire. The city devotes five months each year to the pearl-fishing industry. Because of well-tended shrublands along the peninsula the city lies on, its inhabitants can turn to the frankincense harvest when the pearling season has passed. Its people are generally wealthier than those living in the Sultanate of il-Rahm to the south, and so travellers entering the Kaspari Empire from Dalkhrova and points beyond refer to Almoq as the City of Riches.
In addition to its successful pearl business, Almoq is the Kaspari Empire's trade center for frankincense and other aromatic gums that are harvested from the peninsula and the wastelands to its east. This wasteland, in which the shrublike trees grow, is good for little else. It is inhabited by herdsmen who bring the gum into Almoq for trade.
Almoq has a looser control over its pearl trade than Fariniah, which is the Kaspari Empire's other source of pearls; its captains are more independent and its merchant class is larger. The quality of captains ranges from fair to average (instead of harsh to horrid, as in Fariniah). Most of Almoq's captains practice the type of economic slavery that is common in Fariniah, but Almoq also has a few progressive captains who practice more humane methods of pearl diving. There are even several cases in which Almoq's captains have purchased and utilized submersible vessels for the divers, allowing them to remain beneath the surface for prolonged periods without ill effect. Such technology is not cheap. As a result, the independent captains often break (or at least severely bend) the vow that keeps them out of the pearl beds seven months a year.
The Festival of the PearlEdit
At the close of the pearl season, Almoq holds a three day celebration known as the Festival of the Pearl. This is the time when accounts are settled between the pearl divers and captains, and a great feast is distributed among the people by the Sultan and the mosque officials. The celebration is marked by dancing in the street, fireworks, and the occasional breaking of the law (such as public insobriety or lewdness), giving Almoq a reputation as a wild city. Once the pearl season is officially over, a number of ships and their crews become available for hire to adventurers and merchants. Still poor, most divers join such crews or migrate inland to harvest frankincense. A handful will have saved enough money to support themselves until the next pearl season. Very few will have saved enough to afford a small boat and become a captain themselves.
The Great Task of the PearlEdit
The end of the Festival of the Pearl marks the official beginning of an annual challenge or contest conducted by the Sultan: the Great Task of the Pearl. The "task" is to bring some wonder or marvel from abroad to the city and present it to the Sultan. Those interested have seven months to complete the task before the inauguration of the new pearl season. During this period, a number of adventurers, inventors, and treasure hunters pass through the court, bringing all manner of strange beasts, fantastic treasures, inventions, and lost artifacts. The chief judge verifies that the items are safe and secured before presentation. Whoever produces the most wonderful item is awarded with great treasures, positions in courts, or favors from the Sultan. All other items become the property of the Sultan, regardless of their value. (That's the price one pays for participating in the Great Task of the Pearl.)