The majority of the Nur Dal is covered by steppes, upon which gazelle, bulls, goats and sheep are grazed by its predominantly bedouin natives. Towards the north of the province, things get even more austere, the foothills of the Torvorog mountains growing nothing but short grass and the hardiest heathers. This is scrubland in the truest sense, and until the time of the Blood Unity, it belonged to the Tengi clans, hardened, wizened warriors who preferred steel to spells. But the sight is incredible, for beyond the Torvorog, the great mountains of the Zapovedni loom, so tall that the Torvorog seem hills in comparison. Slightly to the south, where the Daishi clans are now buried, are the great lakes of the Nur Dal, and many small villages have called this home for thousands of years, blessed with an infinite supply of fish, and great hunting in its forests. Even to this day folk live here whose genealogy stretches back to the time of Daishi, but the grazing, nomadic culture of the Nur Dal meant that all clans could use the lands. These days the land belongs toBlood Rurik.
There is a huge difference in temperature between the north and the south of the Nur Dal, and so it is more correct to say that the province enjoys not one or two but multiple ecosystems and climates, and the variety of wildlife found here testifies to it. Tropical plants and lizards on the border with the Sakr, wolves and pine foxes in its north. As such, the people of the Nur-Dal look like a combination of all three other peoples of Bratsk – the white skinned northerners of Volchok and Tal’dor, and the dark skinned southerners of the Sakr, and all shades in between.
In a region as relatively undeveloped as the Nur Dal, it is fair to say it is an untouched paradise, with many zones protected areas of conservation, identified with special magical or supernatural spirits and powers which the people of this land believe in. The forests remain unsullied, despite the fact that wood is the Nur Dal’s biggest export to the rest of the empire, and it is the only material by which its villages and boats are constructed. The mountains of the Nur Dal have offered slates and rocks from which to build sturdier structures, but there are no bridges or feats of engineering for the most part here. It is like stepping back in time, before the Bloods, the khans and any other human set foot on this land. This is why the Nur-Dal is called as such – it means ‘The Untouched’ in the local Nur Dal language, and to a great extent, it is.
Unlike Volchok, which rose to great power through its invention of whale fat powered electricity, or Tal’dor, with its super advanced knowledge of engineering, the Nur Dal is a reminder of where the people of Bratsk came from. To some, the degree of simplicity here is a sign of the natives’ barbarism, but in truth, it is a sign that they know something the other provinces don’t. That life lived simply is the best life of all.
The one exception to this is, of course, Ulaam, a giant-sized palace built as big as a city. But in this, the Nur Dal had help, from Tal’dor, who at around 100 BU sent their finest architects and mathematicians to design this miracle of a city, carved from the Nur Dal dust. It was a project initiated by the current Blood’s ancestors, and for many in the Nur-Dal a betrayal of everything the simple, nomadic existence of its people represent.
Many folk from across Bratsk come to the Nur Dal to disappear. The bedouin culture that still exists across great swathes of the interior are an excellent way to erase one’s identity.
With no formal address or residence, criminals, victims and those looking to simply escape the tyranny of their families pay to travel with these clans and live with them. Some end up staying for good, falling in love with the landscape and the rhythms of life that is the nomadic existence, whilst others leave after a year or two, and look to start over somewhere else, when they can be sure those who are looking for them have given up hope of finding them. Others come to the Nur Dal to discover the secrets of the necromancers, but are always disappointed to find out that either there are no secrets to learn, or the necromancers are unwilling to share them. Still others travel to locate the original setting of the Nekromika, the fabled necromancers that served first the khans and then Blood Rurik itself. It is said that the site of the Nekromika is to be found somewhere in Ulaam, since it was Blood Rurik that created the Order which was later extended to the empire itself. In general, it is frowned upon to openly declare an interest in necromancy, even if it is for purely historical research, and asking around in Ulaam will get you nowhere. Although Blood Rurik is known to have historical ties to and sympathies for necromancers, it is far from being government policy. In fact, any casual observer will see that necromancers are held in little regard by the local city populations, often performing the most menial of jobs, and accommodated in the poorest sectors of the city.