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Otherplaces – Herizazi, the Spectral Harem of (A to Z Challenge, H)

8 April, 2012

The Sultans of Herizazi were wealthy, powerful and arrogant, thinking that their control of the vital trade routes through the mountains would always let them play one enemy off against the other.  But one Sultan -may his name be forgotten and his soul cursed- became too greedy and too high handed.  All of the countries that bordered Herizazi invaded at once, destroying the small defending military in a matter of days and marching on the capital city, also called Herizazi, and put it to siege.  The sultan was not even loved by the people, he was betrayed and the citadel gates opened.  He fled into his harem where he, and his concubines, were slaughtered and his palace raised.  The victorious allies promptly turned on each other and Herizazi was reduced to a ruin from which it is still trying to rebuild.

the Spectral Harem of Herizazi

Ruins of Herazazi

The Ruins

The windswept ruins of the sultan’s palace have been looted, except for the harem which still remains a shadow of its former glory.  While rumors of ghosts roaming the palace and the citadel, which has been rebuilt by the new rulers, abound they are mostly harmless.  But the harem, that is seriously and obviously haunted, spectral images are seen even during the day.

Surprisingly, the buildings of the harem have survived remarkably well, the fountains still play with water and the distant strains of music echo through the empty walls.  Murals look freshly painted though the softer items, such as rugs and tapestries, have not fared so well, being only tattered remnants.  While anyone who knows the story of the slaughter knows that only the sultan’s body was dragged out, there are no signs of blood, bodies or bones anywhere.

At nights of the new moon, the night upon which they were slain, the harem comes to life.  Lights and music, dancing and laughter spill fourth into the night inviting.  Those that have ventured in to investigate the revels have never return, at best, a discard piece of clothing will be found but mostly they, like the harem, vanish with the first rays of the sun.

On other nights (and the rare days), individual rooms might appear occupied.  These apparitions can be approached and communicated with, the fine spirits of the harem will talk and tell stories, sing, play music and dance, and attempt to get their audience to join them in their rooms.  Those that take up the invitation rarely come back, one or two have over the years, their minds broken and their bodies nearly dessicated as though they had been wandering the desert for days.

Attempts to break the walls of the harem lead to shattered tools and injured me, magic fails or lashes back against those that try to use it against the harem’s stones.  Still, treasure seekers risk their lives and minds in the harem as the sultan’s richest treasures were never found and where could they be hidden but in the harem?

Notes: Photo by Nick Taylor  and used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

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