Culture and Government
The Azebs are one of the many nations inhabiting the sun-scorched South. The people born among the unwelcoming sands are of slight stature but great agility and hardiness.
Azebian culture is deeply rooted in the tradition of the Scrolls of Vali, which helped the nation cast off the yoke of Sangmar and guided them through a series of unparalleled conquests. This is how the Zenith Empire came to be, a magnificent realm on which the sun never sets. It is ruled by a khagan who commands god-like reverence from his subjects. Currently the Empire continues its expansion in the North, with Khagan Temmur waging the first Holy War against infidels.
While not tall like Midlanders or brawny like the warriors of Nordheim, the Azebs are extremely agile. With their dusky complexion, dark hair, black or brown eyes and ample facial hair, they almost resemble the scant fruits of the desert. And like the local vegetation, they're characterized by an unquenchable will to survive.
The Azebs pride themselves on being great hunters and scouts as well as fearless warriors. Their most honorable mission is to fight the infidels who dared to trouble the Empire in the past. The Azebs are a proud, temperamental and harsh nation. The harshness is especially evident in the inhabitants of the Empire's southernmost parts - their nature seems to mirror the inhospitable conditions of their life.
In the desert provinces of the Empire most people choose to wear light, bright-coloured robes. In the other regions the tailors compete in creating fancy patterns and rich ornamentation. The Azebs often cover their faces with ritualistic tattoos.
The Azebs worship the Greatfather - the Maker of Men, synonymous in essence with the Midlandic Forefather. However, they denounce the sanctity of Geliand, ascribing greater significance to the Scrolls of Vali, composed by an ancient sage known also as Al-Walik.
Protective armor used by the Azebs tends to be light and practical. They mostly wear lamellar armor, chainmail and lamellar mail, and they often protect their heads with plumed capelines. Their basic melee weapons are light-weight swords and sabers, but spears are also a common choice.
Many warriors drape themselves in animal pelts, wearing them either over the armor or in its place. Horses often get decorated with bunchuks and wings of birds of prey.
An especially dangerous force in the Azebian army are riders mounted on small, fast horses. Horse archers can quickly approach Midlandic knights, deliver armor-piercing shots and retreat. Heavy cavalry employs mounts armored as soundly as their riders.
Azebian battle tactics rely on the mobility of the cavalry - the riders perform multiple flanking manoeuvres and feigned attacks in order to weaken the enemy before the approach of the Imperial army's main force. Another popular tactic involves raining arrows on the enemy - even if the knights don't get harmed, their horses are likely to take some damage.
Most of the Imperial land are barren wastes, nearly impossible to cultivate. The air tends to get extremely hot by day and grows chilly during the night. Another problem is the shortage of water. Understandably, the most beautiful towns with gilded palaces are only built around oases.
Against all odds, the Azebs eke out an existence by raising resilient animals such as goats and sheep. In the regions blessed with richer soil, they cultivate grains and fruits which are then transported throughout the Empire by caravans.