Al-Murooj (“The Promised Land”)
Al-Murooj, popularly known as The Promised Land, is a city and holy site located on an oasis in the Adrar Plateau in Northern Africa. It has served as the spiritual centre of Hycathism since its creation at the end of the Second Hycath War. Consequently, it has become a location of pilgrimage for Hycathae and Hycathi. It has also seen conflict in its time, as recently as the mid-870s YE.
Al-Murooj is protected by the Phoenix Stones – Reckoning Holds of the infamous Blomgren sisters – which were integral to its creation and continue to make it a notable adversary.
In its original desert form, the land was home to the settlement of Ouadane (Arabic: Wādān), a trading post on gold and salt trading routes, as described by Arabic geographer Abu Abdullah al-Bakri in his mid-11th Century Book of Roads and Kingdoms.
Sometime before the 1130s, a Temple of Hycath was established in Ouadane by Tanoute of Damanhur, a Nyridia originally from Egypt who had travelled west in search of a new place of worship. In 1139, Tanoute would be visited by Roosmarijn Doolaard and recruited to serve in the army of Matilda Beauclerc, later Empress Matilda of England. Having declined to become a Duchess under the victorious Empress Matilda, Tanoute returned to Ouadane and its Temple.
Creation of the Promised Land
The Promised Land as we know it today was founded as a refuge at the end of the 8th Century YE. The Blomgren sisters, powerful Hycathae with their own empire, had led a great many other Hycathae into a Second Hycath War against humankind. Upon losing this war in YE 755, the three most prominent sisters – two Nyridiae, Ragna and Ylva, and one Cyntha, Ingeborg – were reckoned, and their holds became known as the Phoenix Stones. A number of Hycathae fled Europe with the Stones, eventually arriving in the Adrar Plateau.
A stretch of desert land near Ouadane was rendered fertile using the magic of the Green Phoenix Stone, the hold of Ylva Blomgren. The resulting oasis grew into a new city, Al-Murooj, ruled and defended by the exiled Hycathae. Despite the transformation of the land, the hot climate persisted, and fresh water was in limited supply. So, Hycathic science began work on adapting to these new surroundings. After many decades, they perfected a new type of seed that could be cultivated in this harsh climate and which fed on saltwater.
Al-Murooj was relatively unaffected by the Change in the early 9th Century YE. It was a rare example of a thriving land in those times of struggle and famine.
Conflict with East Mercia
See also: Promised Land Campaign
The Change was much harder on the Anglia Isle, severely depleting its landmass and leaving many now-coastal countries with large parts of the land infested with salt or covered with seawater. This led to crop shortages. The Queendom of East Mercia was one significantly affected, and it sought to mediate with Al-Murooj in the hope of reaching a trade deal for the saltwater-tolerant seeds. In YE 876, after the breakdown of talks, King Richard IV led the East Mercian Army to Al-Murooj, initially attempting further diplomatic pressure without reward. This descended into threats, attempted siege and, finally, all-out warfare.
The magic of the Phoenix Stones – particularly that of the Red Phoenix – was an invaluable asset to the Hycathae and, after eighteen months of conflict and great losses on both sides, Al-Murooj won what has become known as the Promised Land Campaign, taking several East Mercian hostages. King Richard himself was unaccounted for in the heat of battle, together with his much-feted soldier Robyn Loxley, both of whom are presumed to have died in action.
Al-Murooj today is a prosperous and entirely self-sufficient city-state, with a population of just over 80,000. It is known to be a place of peace, with a high standard of life owing to the plentiful supply of food guaranteed by Hycathic agricultural science. As a Hycathic city, it is governed by the Oculus, and led by the Octal.