Gaciall of Many Things, White Lady of Polaris

Gaciall, sometimes referred to as “the White Lady of Polaris”, is the “queen” of the far northern city-state, though she is never called such.  It is unknown who or what she is to the people of Polaris, but as far as the Cirsovan empire is concerned, she is looked to as the ruler and head-of-state for all matters between the empire and the Polarans.

For all of the nearly 200 years that the Empire has been in contact with the city of Polaris, Gaciall of Many Things, or a woman bearing the name and title, has held court in Polaris.  All accounts describe her as a young woman, dressed all in white, though all who have met her claim to have forgotten most details beyond that shortly after leaving her presence.

It is customary that any personage of importance who have made the journey to Polaris (whether travelling with supplies and traders or not) are granted audience with Gaciall.  Oftentimes, these audiences are simple formalities, during which dancers are brought in, food and drink are offered to the visitors, and a songstress will sing a lay of the ancient Norther Peoples.  Sometimes, however, after the lays are sung, and the dancers sent away, Shuul will be brought forth, small azure vials resting upon ornamental red pillows with gold trim, and offered to the visitors.  Gaciall will bid them drink, for she will show them amazing visions of things both wonderful and terrible as they lie in the throws of the drug.

Gaciall is a seeress and a sorceress of unknown power.  She is quick-witted and highly intelligent, both qualities are essential in an experienced Shuul user.  It is not know whether the magic she wields in the Kingdom of Shuul can manifest itself in the physical realm (as was the case with the unnamed dreamer in the Legend of Jorgora), though it is possible that she may know how and simply chooses not to use her power in such a reckless way.

Those wishing to see the true power Shuul and be instructed in its safe use for purposes of scrying are advised to only do so by seeking out the tutelage of Gaciall.  Gaciall, however, does not grant this privilege except to a very select few who strike her fancy as those worthy of her knowledge and power.  Shuul is not a drug to be taken lightly, as its use may incapacitate an individual from anywhere from several hours to a number of days.

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Bartland Brothers and a Bottle in a Case

Being a major port city, goods from all over the empire may be sampled here.  Midtown Syflanis is one grand bazaar, where food, drink and drug of all variety can be found in the markets, stalls and taverns.  One of the taverns of some renown, Bartland Brothers, has in a wooden display case behind the bar what may be the only publicly available commercial bottle of Shuul.  Drafts from the bottle are expensive, infrequent and often disappointing (it has been said).  No one who has sampled it has ever reported anything beyond its strong and unpleasant taste.  Whether the bottle is real or not is subject of numerous urban legends throughout the city.

Jorgora, a Poem

As translated by Garick Hellos of Owen.
(presented without annotation)

Who was, indeed, the greatest sleeper?
And Who was a mason and a craftsman
And a scholar? That none went deeper
Than he who built Jorgora.

Such a grand and majestic undertaking,
That king or wizard could commission.
Between the bounds of dreams and waking
That he did build Jorgora.

Imbibing Shuul, and lain on straw,
Some northern elf or mighty dreamer
Closed his eyes, and there he saw
The grounds around Jorgora.

As the evening sunlight died,
He dreamed of a forbidden act
That no great dreamer yet had tried,
His thoughts upon Jorgora.

The somnambulistic artisan raised
His hands, issued forth command.
The workers’ dancing torch fires blazed
Round what would be Jorgora.

Trenches dug and trenches filled,
The stones in place, the towers high,
Thought he might a palace build,
The palace of Jorgora!

The sun rode burning in one world,
Though time stood still for fools,
The dreamer’s banners were unfurled
On the walls of grand Jorgora.

A hunger fell upon the men,
Who’d labored through the dream,
And then nightmare settled in,
A Barrow was Jorgora!

All there and, with a sick and dying sound,
The great halls and the courts did sink,
Consumed by the grassy fields around
The tomb that was Jorgora.

He could not awaken from his dream,
Nor those he’d found to help him.
From his bed there was no scream
From he who dreamed Jorgora.

Shuul

A strange and bitter drink, brewed by the alchemists of Polaris, Shuul is a potent drug used principally by the inhabitants of the DreamingCity for either recreational or religious purposes.

Both the ingredients and the manufacture process of Shuul are unknown to any outside the City, though its effects are known to most, via word of mouth, from travelers along the Long Road in Gatlia.  When imbibed, Shuul induces a comatose state in which the user is said to have fantastical, highly lucid experiences in a dream-state.  Surviving writings of the late Northern Civilization which remain in Polaris also refer to the dream-state itself as “Shuul”, the Land or Kingdom of Shuul.  It is not known whether the dream-state derives its name from the beverage, or if the beverage itself is named for the dreamland of Shuul to which it supposedly transports its users.

Shuul is thought to be fatal if consumed in sufficiently large doses.  The legend of Jorgora, which has been passed down to us through Polaran fragments, is more than likely a simple parable extolling the dangers of excessive use, conveniently utilizing an unusual geographical feature as a prop for the tale.

Of note, the efficacy of Shuul as a portent aid (or any of its psychotropic effects, for that matter) seems to correlate to the proximity of the user to Polaris.  There have been a number of theories on the reasons for this.  A popular belief is that the beverage is a key to the gateway (to the Land of Shuul), which itself is in proximity of the DreamingCity.  However, a more likely explanation is that the active psychotoxins in Shuul break down fairly rapidly after it is brewed.

For example: it has been said by merchants who have had the opportunity to consume Shuul within the dreaming city itself, that they would often sleep for the better part of a day, sometimes more, depending on the amount consumed, and experience every hour of sleep and dream as though they were waking.  However, reports of Shuul being consumed even only as far away as on the road south to Norigon have shown far less significant results; though a potent sleep aid, the dreams of the Shuul-user are said to be only somewhat more vivid than normal.  Usage further south along the Long Road than Syflanis proves to be no more potent than your typical tavern-swill lagers.  Hence, Shuul use is virtually unknown throughout much of the Empire, and this drink, while having both tremendous potential for use as a recreational drug and a reputation for its mystic connections to the lost Northern Civilization, is rarely traded for by merchants or even particularly sought after, except by the odd noble who swears by its acquired bitter taste.