Interesting Places of Yathrib
The Shining Gulf
The County of Johburg
Situated on the coast of the County of Johburg, about 100 nautical miles south by southwest of Teldam, Strandhaus Shallows (sometimes called Strandhaus, or Strandhaus Station) has been a navigational nightmare since ships first put to the seas of Yathrib. An area covering an expanse of ocean roughly 30 miles circle, no one has a good idea how or why this upthrust of jagged rock came to be. What is known as that the area is riddled with jagged, sharp rock spires that jut up through the water like angry teeth, or worse yet, lie just below the surface. Compounding this is the near omni-present night fog that hangs over the sea and stars, preventing ships from seeing it until it's too late. Navigating this area is a laborious process and requires expert seamanship and intimate knowledge of the tide, wind and the topography of the area.
At the center of Strandhaus Shallows, is Strandhaus Station, a 200 foot tall maxicrete lighthouse constructed during the Second Republic. Fully automated and sealed from outside intrusion, this light house, a thousand years later, only functions intermittently. Some times, it functions for a week or a month at a time, before going dormant for several weeks or - from 4790 to 4801, a period of 11 years. More recently, its activity has been more dormant, with momentary bursts of power lasting seconds to minutes. The station is set up on a tall spire of rock, with carved steps leading up to it. A flitter pad is built into the station, half way up its height, but it is usually covered in rubble and landing there could be dangerous. The station's island has no natural landing, so long boats or swimming is the only way to approach by sea.
Despite the presence of the lighthouse, the Shallows are littered with the hulks of ships lost on the rocks. Some say the wrecks of other ships, lost elsewhere on Yathrib will find their way here as well, but that's just an old wives tail. The flitter pad is considered a daring place to duel by many, set in fashion by Sir Zakaria al-Malik during the rescue of Viscountess Nathalie din alt Van Gelder from the clutches of Khalid Ashram Khalid al-Gesar in 5001.
Due to their relative remoteness, the perpetual fog-cover and the obfuscation of the rock formations themselves, the Shallows are a favored meeting point of pirates, smugglers and other shady sorts. More than one 'pirate fortune' is rumored to be hidden on one of the small islands.
The Ubari Desert
The al-Za'abal Oasis
Situated in the desert about 200 miles outside of Iskandretta, al-Za'abal is an important if little-known stop over for the Jackal tribe of desert horse-traders. Every season, the five main families of the Jackals come together at al-Za'abal to trade news, supplies and to breed their horses. There is no true permanent settlement at al-Za'abal in truth, and several times over the course of the last century, the location has outright changed, and may change again.
The current al-Za'abal is in the ruins of an ancient water-reclamation plant that once served the outlying communities beyond the White Oasis of Iskandretta. Bombed early in the Kurgan wars however, the communities it served were reclaimed by the desert. It still produces water, but so little it cannot support much beyond drinking, and certainly not enough for irrigation.
When the Jackals come together, a town of 500 people springs up over night, with colorful tents, a bazaar for trading stories, goods and news... along with wives, horses and daughters. The atmosphere is festive and relaxed, if you are a Jackal, but can be VERY frustrating for those not of the five families. This is because if you are an outsider, you are a source of new stories and new wealth and everyone will try to take what they can from you.
A note on religion - mirrors are not allowed in al-Za'abal. Talk of mirrors is forbidden. Mirrors are 'Phrekazah', very bad luck. The Jackal are not followers of El-Dinn or of the Universal Church, but claim instead to follow an older creed supposedly handed down by the Prophet himself, though this claim has always been dismissed by the church. The Jackal are small and highly mobile, so efforts to forcibly convert them have always failed.
Relations with the Kurgans have always been strained and almost hostile, but relations with the known worlders are not much better.