The city of Aktau was mostly isolated from the rest of the world. The people there did not associate themselves with other countries or empires and established their own rules to shape Aktau society as they deemed suitable. The town was ruled by the Nyridia Elmira. She governed the city along with a small group of Hycathae who acted as her Oculus, including Zoraida of Valencia, her second-in-command and another Nyridia.
Throughout history, the Hycath leaders of Aktau cared well for their citizens. In exchange for loyalty and respect, they provided a good quality of life that was equal for everyone. Although their greatness was short-lived, they remain one of few examples of a Hycath-led society in pre-Hycathic times and are recognised as pioneers in this regard.
Similarly, Aktau was known for its advanced science, informed by but not limited to Hycathic magic. Both were allowed to flourish away from political scrutiny and religious persecution, and both contributed to a high standard of education in the city. Nevertheless, this reputation has tended to precede it, with rumours of deep and searching experiments into Hycathic magic inspiring many investigations and discussions through the years and providing fertile subject matter for historians and creatives.
Visit from Roosmarijn Doolaard
In AD 1137, Empress Matilda sent one of her loyal acolytes, Roosmarijn Doolaard, on a mission to recruit Nyridiae from all over the world. Matilda felt that it was crucial to have a large portion of the Nyridiae on her side to help win the First Hycath War against her cousin, King Stephen of Blois.
One of the places where Roosmarijn stayed on her journey was a Hycathic refugee city outside of Constantinople. There, she met a young orphan named Nuray, who told her about the fully Hycath-led Aktau; the news intrigued her so much that she set out to see this place for herself. Upon arrival she was impressed by the fully functioning Hycathic society and advancements she found. Convinced that Empress Matilda would be able to make this system work in England too, she made detailed notes in her journals as she explored the city’s libraries and laboratories.
Roosmarijn and Elmira departed Aktau after this, leaving Zoraida in charge. Via Ouadane in West Africa, where they recruited Tanoute of Damanhur, they returned to England, where Elmira contributed her knowledge and experience as an instructor in Hycathic magic and led a flank of the Hycathic forces to victory at the Battle of Lincoln. Elmira would return to Aktau after this, declining an offer of an English Duchy and leaving what knowledge she had shared in Roosmarijn’s custody. This would be a prime point of reference in the formulation of England’s new structure, as it entered the First Age of Hycath.
Roosmarijn’s journals remained precious family heirlooms which were passed down the generations of the Doolaard family. In one of these journals, she made a brief and ambiguous reference to the advanced Hycathic magic she believed to be concealed in Aktau; this passage, in YE 393, would pique the curiosity of her distant descendant, Jacoba Doolaard, who recruited a band of acolytes and travelled to Aktau in search of their secrets.
The party’s collective impatience drove them to enter the city by force, in response to which the Hycathae used their fire powers to burn everything down, with no survivors. The then-Octal, Aizere, is known to have killed herself by fire in the city’s library, ending her Nyridia line; the rest of the Oculus are presumed by historians to have also committed suicide for fear of being tortured for information by the invaders. Any undocumented or science magic developed in Aktau has therefore been lost along with them; nonetheless, this has not stopped the trickle of rumours that some vestige of this magic survives somewhere and in some form.