Inhabitants of Jeyahan
Jeyahan is the only sizeable settlement in the Sultanate of Basradi, a chain of islands of the coast of the Kaspari Empire. Seamen who have never seen Jeyahan know its reputation for chaos, given the pirating bent of its inhabitants. The people of Jeyahan have also dubbed it the City of Stilts, for nearly half its buildings are built directly over the water.
Features of the CityEdit
Jeyahan is a sprawling city built out over small islets on the south coast of Basradi. Half the city is on stilts. The bay is littered with coral reefs, making navigation for outsiders nearly impossible. Even seasoned sailors have difficulty, for the reefs have been supplanted by a system of chains and other obstructions that can be moved around the bay by a steam-powered crank system. The city proper is a hodgepodge of different buildings. Often one structure is built upon the rubble of the previous one, so rumors of sunken and flooded treasure chambers abound. Beyond the city walls are the retreats of many retired corsair captains, each controlling a small, well-fortified (and often well-concealed) refuge.
The people of Jeyahan are independent, self-reliant, and dangerous, much like those of the city of Beyhan, with whom they have good relations. In fact, many residents of Jeyahan have blood relatives in Beyhan, and vice versa. The people of Jeyahan welcome newcomers, but they are not so foolish as to trust them: Strangers who cross a man or woman of Jeyahan have a price to pay, for once betrayed, Jeyahan's citizens are as savage as any native of the Kaspari Empire's coast, doggedly seeking revenge.
No central plan was used to regulate the growth of the city, and consequently the stilt houses and docks sometimes stand alone and sometimes meet together to form long boardwalks. These, in turn, may veer off sideways to link with another dwelling or end suddenly several yards from shore. Those unfamiliar with this warren of piers, stilt houses, floating docks, and tiny gardens may become hopelessly lost within minutes of setting foot on the first dock. Even within clear sight of the shore, charting a direct course is impossible. Ships larger than a small rowboat have no prayer of making way through this cluttered region, making any assault on Jeyahan a difficult proposition at best.
Even ashore, the city is no less confusing. Buildings near the lagoon continue to be built on stilts so the changes in the sea level due to tides won't cause problems, while those set further back or elevated a bit more are usually built directly on the ground. Whether on stilts or solid ground, most of the houses are built of either clay bricks or stone. Though some are painted or washed with color, the sun and salt air quickly leech all colors away, leaving most of the city a yellowish-white. Several buildings are built upon the ruins of earlier structures, and in places houses rise on stilts above old foundations which may hold old flooded basements. One of the most prevalent rumors in Jeyahan is that of ancient treasures to be found in some of these submerged ruins.
Throughout the city, houses sit at odd angles to one another, patches of gardens are interrupted and divided by small paths and roads which run through them, and tumbledown hovels stand next to sturdy inns or finely built mansions. Artisans and craftsmen do not group together in orderly rows by profession. Streets are short, narrow, and often unnamed. The real trouble for visitors arises, however, when they first discover that the streets can have more than one name depending upon whom you ask. It is usually best to hire a local as a guide when visiting the city for the first time.
The Pool is Jeyahan's main trade dock, and the only part of the city that can be reached by larger ocean vessels. Ships are towed into docking spaces in the lagoon. Each ship is given a berth for a small fee, and its contents are assessed a tax by an agent of the Jeyahan Council. This money is shared by the council members and is payment for the right to dock in Jeyahan and to sell whatever goods one has aboard with no questions asked. Since the assessor has the final say on the worth of the cargo (and therefore the amount of tax owed), it is sometimes cheaper to simply bribe the assessor to devalue the cargo in his or her report. No one on the council ever bothers to read them anyway unless too little money comes in over too long a period of time.
Alongside the docking area is the shipyard where craft are built and repaired. Some of the best ships in the empire are built in the shipyards of Jeyahan, which specialize in light, sturdy ships capable of quick maneuvers and speedy retreats. Most have significant cargo space to accommodate the booty the corsairs take and enough room to carry the large crew needed to overbear a merchant vessels defenders in boarding actions. Recently, mamluks have become more tiresome in their insistence on protecting merchant ventures in the Alwabi Sea, the corsairs have begun fitting their vessels with devices to hurl flaming oil at non-merchant ships. The shipyards are partially enclosed by an old, half-built sea wall that was never finished. Reports vary as to whether the council ran out of money to complete the wall or simply lost interest in it.
Currently, no single man or woman rules Jeyahan. Occasionally, a self-proclaimed "pirate king" has achieved power, ruling for a handful of years - which is as long as he can bully or bribe the city's council, the city's only stable governing body. Years ago, Jeyahan was ruled by Wan Sufani, a pirate queen, whose reign outlasted that of those who have succeeded her. According to rumor, the council arranged her unlikely death: she drowned in the year 1502.
Jeyahan is ruled by a council of the most powerful citizens, some of whom are former corsairs who have retired from life at sea. Active corsairs with a seat on the council aid in policy decisions only when they are in port, and their concerns are primarily along the lines of protection rackets and treasure splits. Retired corsairs (who have sprouted land legs) run bars and inns in Jeyahan, or own ship-building and repair facilities. Some also manage protection rackets. The concern of these "retirees" is keeping Jeyahan afloat both financially and militarily. Important members of the council include Akbar in-Salaan, Sufah Garrial, and Uhsim Bhatt.