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“The lines drawn on maps in the salons of Qhul Rahav cannot be found on the surface of the Ar-Selukk Desert. They carve themselves not into the sands, nor into the minds of the people upon them. Ask among the a’Ravhar, the Gala, the Sal-Ba’ari; they would as soon submit to the cartographer’s conceit as they would ride him across the sea.”
- Symahl rav-Sanne’eim
The deserts of Ar-Selukk are a violent place, often ravaged by civil war among the tribes that control it. Outside the capital city-state of Qhul Rahav, there is no steady hand of justice, and many individuals have found profit in the troubled desert. One such man, Symahl rav-Sane'eim, operates his empire from the northernmost city-state of Gala. Though he fashions himself a respectable leader of society, most see him for what he truly is: a malicious slaver and dealer of death.
Symahl was born in 7C-231 to a ruthless merchant family in the state of Gala, north of Qhul Rahav. The city of Gala itself was on excellent terms with the Regent of Ar-Selukk, and was quite prosperous because of this. The main road between the two cities was constantly packed with trade caravans during those days, as Gala was the largest seaport in the northern half of the country. Symahl was expected to join the business as soon as he came of age, and the pressure was intense - his elder brother was ill-suited to the occupation, proving more skilled with a blade than his mind. As the only suitable successor in the family, Symahl's parents were quite hard on him, often meting out physical punishment when he failed in his lessons. Symahl found solace in the streets, among the homeless children that lived there. He often wished for their carefree lives, accountable to none and able to act as they wished. He often considered stowing away on one of the many ships that came into port, bound for Calastore or Methes Avonthes; anywhere but home.
The boy found his freedom much sooner than he had hoped, though it came not on the seas. On a routine trade mission from Qhul Rahav, Symahl's family caravan was raided by one of the tribes from the mesaland to the west. Tribal raids were as common then as they are now, but the raiding parties were usually small enough to be fought back or at least bargained with. But the Regent had become especially vindictive of late, and some of the smaller nomadic groups were having trouble sustaining even their thinned ranks - reasoning accomplished nothing. Symahl's parents were cut down attempting to guard their valuable cargo, his brother torn apart by the raid leader's mount. In the chaos, none saw the young boy race into the desert, his grisly opportunity for freedom seized.
After that fateful day, little mention could be found of the youngest rav-Sane'eim for years. The few survivors of the attack assumed he had perished along with his immediate family, or else been lost to the desert. That is, however, until he resurfaced in 7C-264 far to the south of his childhood home in a'Ravhar. He seems to have somehow become the leader of one of the largest non-ruling tribes in the region, the Rahavine, and began using them to build up a mercenary and mercantile empire. Most of his 'wares' are slaves captured in wars between his tribe and the others in the southern regions, though there are some outsiders who follow him willingly. Remembering his younger days, he gives refuge to those with nowhere to go, primarily street urchins and outcasts. Symahl contracts them out as mercenaries, and takes some of what they make - his wards return out of loyalty, the slaves out of fear. For though Symahl is a small man, weak in appearance and in voice, he seems to have a great many powerful friends across A'therys ready to act at his word. Some say that during his lost years he found passage to Aloreh and served on their side during the war, using his wiles to make contacts there and elsewhere. Still others say he was taken in by the Cult of Astor, or made a pact with Jovnhast for power and recognition. There are even those who think that it all began much earlier still, and that the young Symahl was somehow the hand that set the nomads upon his family's caravan. But none know for sure; Symahl is happy to tell his life's tales at the lavish parties he throws for the social elite of Qhul Rahav, but each time the story is changed. After the parties end, however, there are few who will socialize with him. Though he projects a calm and classy demeanor, ever the humble and respectable host, all know not to cross him when there is business at hand.