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Near Harad, known to its inhabitants as Ahâr-Zâin, is the greatest and most ancient of nations on the Haradric subcontinent. In its long and glorious history, the people of Ahâr-Zâin have witnessed the rise and fall of various empires, dynasties, and cults. With vast territories expanding throughout the northern regions of Harad, its people have enjoyed years of prosperity, earning reputations as great warriors and architects. Today, Ahâr-Zâin stands as the capital region of the Astrasi Empire.

History

Near Harad was founded by the server admin Karseius on September 22nd 2014, the day the server opened. He immediately began construction of the city of Ain-al-harad, while his friend RookieNinjas began construction of Poros. After b_boymasterman offered to recognize Harad’s claim over Harondor and give them a port in Southern Gondor, Karsius backed his claim to the throne of Gondor, which was successful. On December 5th 2014, Karsius left the server, causing RookieNinjas to ascend to the throne of Serpeantlord.

After ascending to the position of Serpentlord, Rookie immediately began assaulting Gondor. Although he won several victories against the Gondorians, he would disappear, and wipeout2099 took over the role of Steward until the return of Karsius on February 15th 2015. In Karsius’s brief return to power, shamiir rose to prominence and began building the city of Ajitiaz-al-harad, Skiliar began the construction of the Gulf of Harad, and RookieNinjas returned and took back control of Poros. 

Karsius once again disappeared in late March and placed shamiir in command of Harad. Mere days afterwards, Gondor declared war against Harad, and through sheer numbers took Poros. This loss forced shamiir to sign a treaty with the Gondorians and give away their Gondorian colony as well as agree not to attack Gondor for the next month despite the objections of RookieNinjas. Karsius would once again return shortly afterwards.

Shortly after the second return of Karsius, tensions arose between him and the warlike RookieNinjas. Angry over Karsius’s refusal to engage Gondor, Rookie declared civil war. Rookie immediately received support from ImFuze_ and wipeout2099, while Karsius was supported by shamiir, GetWrekt_, deniskolin, ajacomba, and eventually Skilliar. After almost the entire server lent support to Karsius, RookieNinjas surrendered and fled south.

Fearful over another disastrous civil war, Karsius declared an end to the monarchy on April 20th 2015, and had Harad split into five principalities. He himself held the principality of Ain-al-Harad, shamiir ruled Ajitiaz-al-Harad, GetWrekt_ ruled Haradwaith-al-Harad, deniskolin ruled Poros, and Skillar ruled the Gulf of Harad. This system ended suddenly when Ain-al-Harad was destroyed and Karsius fled, causing Skilliar with the support of deniskolin to proclaim himself Serpeantlord of the New Empire. His claim would soon be backed by Demon_26 of the Half-Trolls and Razum_Dar (RookieNinas) of the Moredain, while Ajitiaz-al-Harad was allowed to remain independent.

Following the demise of Skilliar, Karsham (RookieNinjas) took control of the New Empire, which he ruled from his city of Mu’Taz. However, he was banned shortly afterwards in June 2015. Demon_26 attempted to take rulership of Near Harad, but his reign was heavily contested and he quickly withdrew to Pertiogwaith, leaving Near Harad in a state of chaos. 

With the fall of the New Empire, Poros was conquered by Gondor, and the majority of Haradrim left the server, leaving Ajitiaz-al-harad as the last Haradrim city. In this time period ekans12 founded the Freehold of the Fertile Valley, while Karsius returned and founded Astras-al-harad. Following the completion of Astras, Karsius was named Emperor of the Astrasi Empire on July 31st 2015, carrying the support of the Freehold of the Fertile Valley, the city of Ajitiaz-al-Harad, Mordor, the Moredain, and Umbar. The Half-Trolls would join this union soon afterwards. Like all reigns before, however, Karsius would eventually leave the server once again, and shamiir was crowned Empress.

Months after the coronation of shamiir as Empress, stevethebuffalo of Harnen was named Serpeantlord of Harad, under the direct supervision of the Empress. 

On October 4th 2017, the Dwarves led by SquatchThunder declared war on Harad due to the assasination of Squatch by MandatoryPeanut. Although the Dwarves took the city of Harnen, they were defeated at the imperial capital of Ajitiaz and routed. A treaty with the Dwarves was subsequently signed. Shortly afterwards, on January 25th 2018, stevethebuffalo agreed to share the position of Serpeantlord with Herodain of the Gulf of Harad. 

On September 3rd 2018, the long awaited Harad update was released, splitting Harad into many subfactions. Shamiir became the ruler of the Coast Southrons, Herodain began ruling the Gulfings, woow262 the Nomads, and stevethebuffalo the Harnedhrim. Shortly afterwards, on October 12th 2018, shamiir resigned as Empress, and steve became the Emperor of the many Astrasi factions, while Hero became the sole Serpentlord of Harad. 

Steve left the server and resigned as Emperor on March 20th 2019, and Herodain became the new Emperor, while MandatoryPeanut, the Lord of the Nomads became the Serpeantlord. Several months later on June 30th 2019, Herodain resigned as Emperor in favour of MandatoryPeanut, who is currently both the Emperor and the Serpentlord.

Ranks of Ahâr-Zâin

The ranks of Near Harad are as follows:

  1. Astrasi Emperor/Empress and their Warlord
  2. Serpentlord of Near Harad, the leader of the faction
  3. Consul, leader of a sub-faction and advisor to the Serpentlord
  4. Proconsul, second-in-command of a sub-faction
  5. Minor Lord, owners of cities deemed important by a Consul

Southrons of Ahâr-Zâin

Near Harad is made up of four peoples: the warriors of Harnedor, architects and traders of the Southron Coasts, travelling Nomads of the Great Deserts and the famed tribes of Khopazul (Gulf of Harad). Each of these peoples are led by a Consul.

Harnedor

The fearsome warrors of Harnedor are led by AlwaysDrinkTea. For generations they have fended off continuous Gondorian conquests of the rivers Poros and Harnen. Hardened by the constant threat to the north, they are some of the finest warriors in all of Harad. Notable builds include the fortress-city of Poros and their capital in An-Batîna.

Southron Coasts

Famed for their glorious cities, the Southron Coastlings inhabit the fertile lands between the Great Deserts and the coast. Their leader is AristotleProPvp who reigns from Ajtiaz an-Ahâr. Ajtiaz an-Ahâr is famed for its palace, one of the most magnificent buildings in all of Harad. Ain an-Ahâr is another notable city in the Coasts, built nearby the ruins of Old Ain, the founding city of Ahâr-Zâin.

Desert Nomads

Led by Sultan MandatoryPeanut, the desert Nomads are fierce travelling traders of the Great Deserts. Their trade routes extend from the dangerous lands of Harnedor, the flourishing valleys of the Coast and the shores of the Gulf. With them flow stories and songs of the north and the south.

Khopazul

Khopazul, or the Gulf of Harad, are the fertile lands surrounding the great Gulf in the eastern Deserts. Led by RHVT, they are best known as merchants trading exotic goods of the mysterious lands of Rhûn and Far Harad. Rich with the spoils of exotic trade, most regions of the Gulf have departed tribal life for glamorous cities. Their capital is the city of Khôpakadar, famed for connecting the east, south and west through the diverse range of traders who conduct business.

Builds

NOTE TO CITY OWNERS: Feel free to add your city to the list here.

Ruins of Ain al-Ahâr, once the oldest and biggest city on the subcontinent of Harad, was founded on the first day the server. Its was the imperial seat of the old Near Haradrim Empire and most of its Serpent-lords until it was ended by Karseius II.. The Ruins of Ain an-Ahâr are located on the Isle south of the Ain an-Ahâr waypoint in the west of Near Harad Fertile. The city was completely fortified and connected to the main fertile river with a canal. Notable buildings in the city included the imperial palace, the great Southron temple, the academy of Near Harad, the mausoleum of Karseius I., the roofed bazaar and the central imperial tower. After the mysterious Doom of Ain an-Ahâr it was ruined and is said to be cursed. Only a fraction of the once-great city has survived this event.
Oldain ruins

The ruins of old Ain al-Harad

Ain al-Harad

Ajtiaz an-Ahâr is the second-oldest city in Near Harad and the trading center of the region. It is home to the current Astrasi Empress shamiir. Ajtiaz an-Ahâr was the capital of the Near Haradrim Empire for a short period of time while shamiir was Serpent-lord of the Old Empire after the disappearance of the previous Serpent-lord RookieNinjas I. After the end of the Principalities of Near Harad and the seizure of power by Skilliar, the city stayed the center of an independent Near Haradrim city state. Later in history, after the demise of first Astrasi Emperor Karseius II., Ajtiaz an-Ahâr became the capital of the empire again. The great palace of Ajtiaz an-Ahâr is considered to be one of the most beautiful builds in Near Harad.
Ajtiaz

The palace of Ajtiaz al-Harad, home to the Astrasi Empress

Poros is the northern most city of Near Harad and has long since stood watching over the southern regions of Ithilien. Many great battles have been fought at this fortified city due to its location.

Khôpakadar [WIP] is the capital of the Khopazul sub-faction of Near Harad. Famed for its fusion of western and eastern Southron architecture, it is for many the gateway to the north. Its ports see goods and stories flow in from the mysterious lands of Rhûn and Far Harad.

Astras al-Harad is a Southron city located north of the Mt. Astras. This fomer mining outpost became the new capital of the Astrasi Empire under Serpent-lord Karseius III and existed as the center of the Harpy Cult. Under the reign of Astrasi Emperor Karseius III, the city prospered and developed into the only known mountain-city of the Near Haradrim. After the demise of Karseius III the city was ruled by his heir, Shamiir. Notable builds include the Astrasi Imperial Palace, the Imperial Light-tower, the Temple of the Harpy and the tomb of Karseius III built in a mountain outside the city.

Religions of Near Harad

The Southron Mythology is the oldest and most common religion in Near Harad. Its a polytheistic religion centered around a great sun god and various other gods. The Serpent-lords of the Old Empire were also High Priests of the mythology at the same time. After the decline of the Old Empire the status of High Priest was lost. Southron temples can be found all across Near Harad though the central temple build was located in Ain an-Ahâr. The religion is very diverse and differs from region to region. While the Sun is the center of worship in the Fertile valley up to Haradwaith, in Harondor, a Shadow goddess is more prevalent. The main symbol of the religion is a carved red falcon with spread wings although other symbols can be found on temples too. The religion has been under heavy influence of other religions and cults over the centuries. Early Númenorean worship of Eru Ilúvatar has led to a centralized role of the sun in the mythology and merge between the god of the sun and Eru Ilúvatar in some regards. Another recent influence on the Southron Mythology is the Sauron Cult which came into existence after the rise of Sauron in Mordor. While older temple builds of the Southron Mythology don't feature any references to the Sauron cult whatsoever, younger builds like the great central temple in Ain an-Ahâr feature the Eye of Sauron in combination with the red falcon.

The Harpy Cult is a form of Southron Mythology that developed in the south-western part of Near Harad. Before the Astrasi Empire the Harpy Cult was only a local phenomenon. Worshipers of the Harpy put the Harpy goddess before the Sun God. With the rise of Astras al-Harad the cult quickly spread throughout Near Harad and is currently the dominant form of the Southron Mythology in western Near Harad as well as Harondor. To be better able to consolidate power over the region Serpent-lord Karseius III. intended to equate all forms of Southron Mythology. Although the Astrasi Empire lost its political importance after the Numenorean Conquest, the Harpy Cult is still alive in Near Harad as well as in some Parts of Umbar and the Savannah.

The Cult of Kaeyaal is considered to be part of the Southron Mythology but developed into its own religion in the golden age of Near Harad. Kaeyaal was the shadow god of Harad, god of death. Kaeyaal appeared as a big black snake mostly. At its height the Shadow goddess, who is said to be the goddess of death and stealth, was worshiped predominantly in Harandor and the gulf regions. The main Shadow temple was located in Poros. The rapid rise in popularity was linked to the rise of the Serpent Venom guild who took the shadow goddess as their main deity. After the first civil war in Near Harad and the destruction of the Serpent Venom guild, the Shadow cult was deemed blasphemy. Its practice was forbidden in the Old Empire and followers of the religion were persecuted and forced to either flee to Mordor or Far Harad. Today there are no temples dedicated to the shadow goddess in Near Harad but there were rumors that the New Empire worked to revive the religion and even establish it as state religion.

The Sauron Cult is a relatively new cult in Near Harad and is mostly found in a combination with the Southron Mythology. Pure Sauron cultists in Near Harad are rare and can mostly be found at the borders with Mordor or Harandor. It is centered around the worship of Sauron and its symbol is the Great Eye. Although not very common in Near Harad it has a big influence in Near Harad due to close relations between Near Harad and Mordor. Evidence for this influence are the various carvings of the Great Eye in Near Harad, even in the imperial palace of Ain an-Ahâr.

The Morgoth Cult has been brought by Black Númenorean traders to Near Harad but had no great role in the history of Near Harad. Most worshipers of Morgoth are either Black Númenoreans, Corsairs of Umbar or Orcs and Half-Trolls that reside in Near Harad. The only temple dedicated to Morgoth was located in Ain an-Ahâr.

Dunlandism is the most recent religion to reach Near Harad. A great temple was built for the small Dunlending population living in Ain an-Ahâr by King Evil_Mogwai of Dunland. Since the Doom of Ain an-Ahâr and the demise of its Dunlending minority there are no followers of Dunlandism left in Near Harad.

Factions
Dwarves:

Durin's FolkKingdom of Khazad-dûmDwarves of EreborDwarves of the Iron HillsThe Dwarves of the Mountains of the WindDwarves of the Red MountainsBlue DwarvesDwarves of the Grey MountainsNorthern Longbeard Dwarves

Elves and Ents:

High-ElvesGaladhrimThe Avari ElvesWood-ElvesDorwinionFangorn

Orcs and Uruks:

AngmarDol GuldurGundabadMordorIsengard

Northmen and Dúnedain

GondorKingdom of DaleRangers of the NorthThe Riders of RohanThe Republic of LebenninDol AmrothDunlandHobbitsWood-Men of Mirkwood

Peoples of Harad and Rhûn:

Half-TrollsMoredainNear HaradNorthern TauredainSouthern TauredainThe Golden Easterlings of RhúdelEastern Tribes (Far Rhun Easterlings)Umbar

Disbanded factions:

Kingdom Of AnduinGaldhrimFire elvesKingdom of the Golden WashKingdom of the IslesRúnandorSmaland
The Northshire RepublicClans of the NorthmenLossedhilThe BrotherhoodThe Gladden Fields
VanwarThartorogrimThe Scourge

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