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Akbitana is a city in the Conan universe.

Akbitana, also spelled Akbatana by those from Eastern Shem, represents the pinnacle of craftsmanship in all of Shem and beyond. Goods made in the city are prized from Aquilonia to Stygia, such is their quality and beauty. However, it is Akbitanan steel which men of the blade seek. There is no finer steel made in all the world.

The blacksmiths of Akbitana share a story passed down since the first Shemites broke away from Stygia. According to legend, Anu the Bull gave the secret of this steel to men. It allowed the Shemites to forge a kingdom. When they revolted against Stygia, the Shemites had steel blessed by Anu. The Stygians did not and their blades broke like pottery against hard stone. Such is the legend.

Today, every smithy and forge in the city has a shrine to Anu. Every blacksmith in Akbitana belongs to a secret order which swears fealty to Anu and likewise promises, upon painful death, to never reveal the secrets of their steel. Though kings and warlords have tortured Akbitanan smiths, the secrets have never been replicated outside the Order of Anu. Perhaps the god really must bless the steel for it to attain the hardness and sharpness all soldiers lust after.

As noted, all goods from Akbatana are highly prized. While its steel is the most famous, the pottery, leather, silks, and other textiles from the city are the finest in Shem — and that is saying something. The city depends, for its very existence, on the value of its craftsmen and skill of its workers. Situated along an ancient trading route, Akbatana sprung up around an oasis which still exists in the form of a public well in the Square of Ishtar.

While the burly smithies of Akbitana are storied throughout the land, it is Akbitana’s women who hold, perhaps, a greater reputation still. Quite simply, they are known for their beauty. Like the stories of steel, the women of Akbitana believe they are descended from, or directly blessed by, Ishtar. They wear veils so that men are not overcome by their full lips and high, curving cheekbones.

The most beautiful girls are inducted into Ishtar’s graces at a young age. Some become priestesses of the goddess, but many more become handmaidens of Ishtar, a role which is not well defined outside Akbitanan society. They are not chaste, these handmaidens, but they do not take husbands either. Their status in the city supersedes all others save the ruling elite. They live in three palaces near the city gates, and never walk in public without their veils. The veiled women of Akbitana are spoken of over the flickering tallow of many taverns, but no one outside of the city truly understands their role. They serve as mediators, judges, and symbols of the city. Men may lust after them, but none will ever have them. It is even said by some that they rule Akbitana, and that the royal family are puppets to their beauty and to Ishtar’s will.