Karayin is a city of medium size by Shariqyn standards; not as sprawling or ancient as great Siri herself, but near twenty thousand citizens. It rests near the foot of the Kimshir mountain chain, along the river Alhamd that descends from the mountains and into the wide, flat plains that dominate Sha’ra. Karayin is one of the hubs through which trade flows into the lands of the Evren, and the city has grown prosperous as a result.
Larger than the city proper is the circle of altariq encampments that surrounds it – one of the largest communities of altariq in the Evren lands. By tradition, these encampments move slowly through the land, along a pattern dictated by the magi. The pattern is centered on the river, the source of life.
The river itself is a precious resource. Karayin has grown to the carrying limit of the water supply; only careful management prevents the onset of thirst, famine and squalor. For this reason, laws and customs surrounding the river are very strict. Altariq seek to claim the best lands while obeying the migration patterns set by atma; near the city itself, saqim seek permits for irrigation. Harsh penalties are imposed on those who steal water from the river, or befoul it. Below the city, stone cisterns hold large supplies of water against the threat of drought or siege. These reserves are guarded as well as any vault of gold.
Besides its physical wealth, Karayin has grown to be a center of learning. According to legend, three Aa’boran magi of great wisdom passed through Karayin on their way into the mountain temples. They were seeking the origin of the river Alhamd as part of a spiritual quest. They went up the mountain paths with no supplies or guides; there they disappeared, only to return three years later. They did not say what they had found. However, all who beheld these magi agreed that their voices were different, and their eyes had a different look. The names of the magi are no longer known; they are now called Alimqat Alaynayn, “the ones of deep eyes”. They settled in the city and turned to spreading their wisdom, founding the first madrasa of Karayin. After centuries, the tradition of learning and institutional study has sunk into the bones of the city. Rich libraries and madrasas are located in the districts of highest prestige, and wealthy saqim boast of the size of their personal collections. Several temples devoted to Aa’boran study are located in the city proper, but the largest ones are built along the mountain paths; tradition states that each major monastery is built at a site where an Alimqat Alaynayn attained another step of enlightenment.
Local tradition holds that at least one of those three was magus’tariq, and at least one was magus’biraq. Any further details are subject to heavy, though usually polite, philosophical debate.
Karayin is far from any of Sha’ra’s external borders. Karayin’s defenses are therefore primarily oriented toward two main threats – the bandit raiders that plague any civilized nation, and the Night Malefic. One of the city’s plazas houses an obelisk in memorial to those who fell in battle against the forces of darkness; it is forbidden to speak in its presence, out of respect to the resting spirits. Water flows along an artificial channel – supposedly aided by an ancient minor enchantment – to a pool around the base of the obelisk, then back out to drain into the river.
Karayin’s history influences its warrior tradition. Warriors among the altariq are frequently versed in philosophy as well; they seek to excel in the virtues of their spirit, at the same time as they strengthen their body.