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The other monarchy amongst the Free Cities, albeit some argue that Saqqara is not a monarchy, more of a democracy with a head of state, Saqqara lies in the cool desert valley of Nashret, between the Ajet Mountains to the northeast, and the Al Hajar Mountains to the southwest. Established and run for the last three thousand years, nearly, by the same person, Saqqara operates on a very different level than most other locales, more akin to a very large house than a city.

Climate

When one thinks of a desert, one thinks hot, and it is true that the Kharga desert can reach very high temperatures, it is in fact a cold desert, and its climate swings wildly between one extreme and another. The close proximity to not one but two high altitude mountain ranges translates to a natural air current barrier, blocking the humid, warm air currents from the Amharan Island and the cool currents from Galace. The Kharga lies in the valley of Nashret, which is naturally isolated, and encompasses a warm air pocket. Storm clouds break up once it reaches the mountain ranges, and very little rainfall is seen in the valley. Likewise, winter storms in the mountains can blow snow into the valley, and it is not rare for the Kharga, and Saqqara, to see snow.

Roughly six inches of rain falls every year in the Kharga, but the snow in winter from the mountains can push excess moisture down the mountainside, and floods have occurred on occasion due to winter snow melt run-off. Overall, though, the Kharga is extremely dry. The temperature range is extremely wide, and can change rapidly, the Kharga seeing as much of a change as 50° F, not only seasonally, but within only a day. In winter, the northern reaches of the Kharga can drop as low as -15° F; however, in the southern reaches, it can reach highs up to 113° F in summer. Sandstorms are common in summer, and in winter, icy sandstorms and snowstorms occur. Due to rivers that run from the mountains into the valley, some areas can support life where others cannot; Saqqarans have had to be discerning about where their farms and irrigation lines are placed.

The unpredictability of the temperature weather patterns is due to the Kharga lying between two different mountain ranges, each with their own climates, and the winds from the mountain ranges influence the Kharga. As winds from outside sources are mostly blocked off from the valley by the mountains, any variation in temperature range and similar comes from the mountains themselves.

Culture

Like all Free Cities, Saqqara does not have a specific gender lean to its society. All genders have a chance of making some sort of name for themselves, and there are legal protections in place to help law enforcement defend citizens against sexual discrimination. Some from other nations may have a slight bit of a patriarchal mindset, but they learn.

Art is free and unchained. There are many different kinds of artworks available in Saqqara, from paintings, to marble sculptures, obelisks, and, given they are the only locale to build anything like it, Saqqara is well-known for its architectural styles, as they haven't changed much, over the years. Saqqaran buildings and monuments feature pyramid shapes, bricks created of clay mud, intricate detailing designs and carvings, and domes, and the city likes to use red, black, and gold. Some call Saqqara the glittering city, or the golden/gilded city, as many of its roofs and rooftop decorations are golden. Many smaller buildings will feature small, pointed roofs, or flat ones, often with rooftop access. The city is surrounded in three layers of wall, as well, tall sentry towers dotted along their parameter, acting as shield from invaders, and sandstorms.

Music carries a slight hint of Dalmascan and Jihonese drone, but only slight. Saqqarans prefer stringed instruments, and smooth wind instruments, such as the flute and clarinet. String instruments are either played with the back laying down flat, between six and twelve strings attached to the front, or upright, somewhat like a lute. Drums are important, keeping the rhythm, and wind instruments define the melody. The Saqqarans also use small rattles, tiny cymbals, and bells, and have a unique instrument called the gara, which looks a bit like a xylophone, a soft felt mallet bangs on the metal pieces, which each make a different sound, but it retains its reverb and sings for a few moments after being hit. It sounds perhaps a bit like a chime, or a music box.

Saqqara is not rich, not in the traditional sense, but rather, manage their resources well. Stores of grain and non-perishable foods are kept beneath the Great Pyramid, within which is the Saqqaran Imperial Palace. In times of severe drought, or resource depletion, natural disaster, and similar, the royal line will distribute what's in these stores to help the city get back on her feet. Saqqara maintain good relations with other Free Cities, and will also help other Cities if they need it, and vice versa. The Saqqarans also manage their market well, and store sales and trade taxes in the imperial treasury, which turns around to fund educational institutes and student learning costs, research, medical and auratech advancement, magic research, and varying programmes that benefit Saqqara's poor.

Due to this, Saqqara has the richest and most varied educational opportunities available in all of Azaleon, as they do not shy away from any given subject. The royal family are known to even sponsor the relocation and education of non-Saqqarans that are interested in specific fields, or particular educational institutes located in the city. This assistance is paid back by donating to the resource stores. All Saqqarans are taught basic mathematical skills, literacy, standard astronomy information that can be used to assist path-finding, first aide and basic herbalism, rudimentary self-defence, and short introductions to more advanced fields, starting at a young age, free of charge.

Saqqara is also the only place in Azaleon to learn anything remotely akin to martial arts. Those of Saqqara's armies are trained in combat arts that operate a bit like a combination of Southern Shaolin and Piguaquan. The spiritualism typically prevalent in Chinese wushu, however, is notably lacking, as it really more focuses on mental discipline through physical mastery, rather than physical mastery through mental discipline. Jihon has attempted to copy this, multiple times, and eventually fails, time and time again.

Slavery is ill-tolerated, as always, in Saqqara, albeit they have not reached the point they've begun murdering known slavers, just throwing them out. As the Saqqarans all know one another, for the most part, someone tends to notice when a slaver walks into Saqqara, and there is never a time when there isn't a set of eyes on them. Since the two princes' disappearances several hundred years ago, slavers have not walked out with another Saqqaran, often being intercepted at one of the several gates. King Sahura is rather getting tired of them thinking they can walk in and abduct his people, and is considering deciding it is a declaration of war, if Dalmasca and Jihon do not learn to control their sadistic sharks.

All Free Cities have legalised homosexuality, and legally recognise same-sex marriage, and polyamoury. Similarly, they all have a concept of transgenderism. Saqqara has the technology to handle hormone replacement therapy, and perform top surgery, but they haven't quite advanced to bottom surgery, just yet.

Saqqaran names tend toward African and Arabic. Several older Saqqarans are named in ancient Egyptian.

Currency and Trade

Saqqara runs mostly on barter-trade, within its own borders, but with other cities and nations, as well as foreign merchants, they do have coin. All of Saqqara's minted coins are gold, but how much gold is in each coin determines its worth, and each has a different shape, weight, and size. This makes it easy for machines to tell the difference btween them. The differing mint designs, and the coloured bands around the rim, make them easy to tell apart for sentient creatures. The currency of Saqqara is called abazi.

Demographics

A vast number of Saqqara are were, and according to official censes, 42.6% of Saqqara's population are were, with another 30% potentially were (descended from weres, but not yet old enough to begin shifting). Annual birth and death rates are equally low, and emigration is rare; there are a small number of Saqqarans that leave, just as there are a small number of foreigners that come in, but with a large number of Saqqara being were, they neither die, nor are born, very quickly, leaving their population numbers fairly steady.

Most live within their means, but there is a small sliver of those in Saqqara that can't even make ends meet. There are assistance programmes, sponsored by the ruling family, to help these people, and most poor do not remain so for very long.

Government

Unlike the traditional, expected set up of a monarchy, Saqqara has a ruling line, presently House Lucain, but beneath the ruling line are the advisers, the military officials, the regional overseers, the educated specialists (those with medical, engineering, economical, etc, background and experience), and then a cluster of nobility, gentry, and commoners, each group with representatives in something of a parliamentary structure. Thus, Saqqara is perhaps more of a constitutional monarchy. The monarch has the final say, but he does often take into account what the representatives say, and does consider their concerns, and there's a list of founding rules and regulations that even Sahura cannot overturn.

In the thousands of years that Saqqara has stood, none have ever been afraid to speak in Sahura Lucain's presence. He has even been known to silence the nobility, even his own [i]sons[/i], that the commons may speak. Saqqara is a sprawling, large city, but they all look out for one another in ways that most never really thought probable until Saqqara.

Religion

As with all Free Cities, Saqqara has no single organised religion. There are as many atheists as there are spiritualists as there are those reverent of Kirinyaga. All major temples and religious orders have a presence in the Free Cities, but no single one is given overall, government-backed preference, so which one a citizen of a Free City backs is entirely personal and up to them.

Technology

Much like their closest ally, Haradi, Saqqara is very advanced. They collect rain and snow water that comes down from the mountains for drinking water, redirected rivers to go in certain directions for irrigation channels, and have created man-made areas of flourishing vegetation. Their buildings and walls are built strongly and solidly, in order to defend the city from sand and snowstorms that come through their valley, and climate controls are possible within Saqqara's borders. Sentry towers and defensive pyramids keep an eye on everything, the military have instant communication capabilities, and small, sleek airships zip around the streets, running on aura-powered energy cores.

There is, almost, an odd disconnect, between one aspect of Saqqara and another, as the buildings have a less modern, more timeless edge to them, and the streets are laid cobble or flagstone, where there are small, aerodynamic 1-2 person airships zipping around and the sentry towers fire aura cannons. The Great Pyramid, a large pyramid building in the centre of Saqqara, sits on a river, the waters from which pour through the city and feed the irrigation channels. As it passes through the Pyramid, the river water is filtered through sediment before it is released. Along the way, it turns generators and powers the city's electrical grid. The crystal at the top of the Great Pyramid attracts and stores aura, and dispenses this stored energy to the sentry towers and their aura cannons when they have need of them. Saqqara has had mild success defending from dust storms by generating aura barriers, to shield their city. Farmlands within the walls are protected from the winds, which harmlessly pass over the city.