The South Cities
The term South Cities was used loosely by the Mearcians to refer to any of the city-states south or southwest of Adalmearc; obviously, the cities did not refer to themselves in this manner. Only in one respect did Mearcians use the name South Cities with a very specific meaning, in connection with the War of the South Cities that took place towards the end of the 2nd century. A coalition of the city-states launched an assault on Thusund, eventually invading Ealond on the mainland. The events of this war are described in more detail on the entry concerning the early history of Saelnar.
There were several city-states along the coast of the Mydlonde Sea, which itself lay far south of Adalmearc; between Adalmearc and the Mydlonde Sea lay the vast wastelands only populated by scattered Bedouin tribes. There were also cities far to the west. These were barely if at all known in Adalmearc; even the most learned or well-travelled Mearcians would usually only have knowledge of the city-states around the Mydlonde Sea, such as Sayda, Gadir, Surru, and Labdah. All contact between these cities and Adalmearc went through Alcázar, however. It controlled the narrow strait that connected the open sea with the Mydlonde Sea, and it was a great and rich city, comparable in size and activity to Fontaine. Often when Mearcians spoke of the South Cities, they primarily meant Alcázar.
Its ships ploughed the Mydlonde Sea as well as the far west and brought a large variety of goods to Alcázar. None of its own ships travelled to Adalmearc due to the treacherousness of the Teeth and the Eylonde Sea, as described in the entry for Thusund. The merchants of Alcázar were thus forced to use the ships of Thusund to transport their wares, which did cause tension. It was believed that the desire to break this monopoly initiated the aforementioned War of the South Cities, where one of the primary objectives for the city-states was the capture of Herbergja. The insignia of Alcázar, found both on its coins as well as its flags, was a great sail ship, though the personal emblem of the ruling house of Alcázar was a falcon in flight.
The tongue spoken in Alcázar was vastly different from Mearcspeech. With travellers from so many different places, however, many languages were spoken in the city, and its peddlers and traders were quite adept at making themselves known. Due to how many ships travel between Alcázar and Herbergja, Mearcspeech was also usually understood to some extent by many natives of Alcázar; a few words from either language found its way into the other.
Little is known about the beliefs of Alcázar; they worshipped a god unknown to the Mearcians, and the sovereign of the city-state also acted as its religious head. He was called the Kabir; his position was inherited, typically from father to oldest son though not necessarily. A Kabir with several eligible sons might promote rivalry between them in order to pick the most worthy successor. At his court was usually stationed a knight from the Order of Adal, acting as the high king’s envoy. This was little more than a ceremonial position; diplomacy between the high king and the Kabir was rare. Alcázar was tolerated as a necessity for trade, but otherwise the city-state was usually viewed with indifference in Middanhal; in reverse, Alcázar depended on the vast markets of Adalmearc for its merchants, but the city-state remained unsatisfied with the limitations dictated upon its activities in the Seven Realms.
With the Mearcians' generel disinterest in what lies beyond their own lands, little more than the names of other cities dotted around the coast of the Mydlonde Sea is known. These names are Sayda, Gadir, Surru, and Labdah, and must be part of the great trade network that had Alcázar and Herbergja as its centres. Their society, history, and other such facts are unknown at present, however.
Concerning the Map
The map below was found stuffed into a tome titled "The Many Travels of Jorund Seaborn". It seems to have been a companion to the book, accounting for its shape as a portrait rather than landscape. It seems more an illustration than a functional map. It does show with accuracy the two harbours of Alcázar, the Tower of Justice in the middle, and the royal palace to the north-west. It is assumed that the colourful areas denote the Great and Small Market, respectively.