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Akif is a city in the Conan stories by Robert E. Howard.

Akif did not change its name when the caliphate, also called Akif, fell to one of Aghra’s lieutenants during the initial conquest. That same lieutenant, after Aghra’s death, tried to recreate Akif as an independent state. Briefly, he succeeded, but time and new wars of unification made ruin of his plan. He was executed in the city square some four hundred years ago.

This spirit of independence still exists within the city, though not to the point of rebellion. Located on the Ilbars River, Akif enjoys bustling trade. Goods from Turan travel the river into Zamora, and illicit goods from Zamora find their way back down that same river to Akif.

Shah Amurath rules in Akif and does so without mercy. The city’s location leaves it vulnerable to kozaki raiders from the steppes, and he must keep a watchful eye on them. Further, the lotus trade from Khitai come across the Vilayet Sea and into Akif where it then follows the Ilbars River to Shadizar. While this trade is technically illegal, it is also a significant part of Turan’s economy. Profits from lotus help fund the ever growing Turanian army. Thus, Shah Amurath looks the other way and takes a cut for himself.

Gecekondu, the Slums of Akif[]

With the lotus trade comes unsavory characters and crime. Further, the outlying villages in the steppes, when raided by brigands, produce refugees. These varying factions all gather in the Gecekondu area of Akif. Here, thieves and murderers, addicts, and refugees live in squalor. The streets are often unpaved and waste, human and otherwise, gives rank odor to the neighborhood.

An unsafe place to travel for most, Gecekondu is welcoming to those with nowhere left to go. Throat-slitters abound, but a certain code runs through the area, keeping the residents from killing one another. A loose fraternity between the denizens here can almost override the stench of the streets. Almost. A branch of the thieves’ guild run out of Aghrapur is based here.

Stolen goods, often from brigands, are easily fenced in the Gecekondu, and the odd brigand group may go on debaucheries here. Such brigands are fools, for the Akif watch pays well for tips on such foes of Turan, and a drunk brigand is likely to wake in a cell with only a noose in his future. The town square, near the Ilbars docks, hangs such men routinely. Citizens jeer the fools then cheer their deaths.

The Docks[]

Akif owes its existence to the Ilbars River, which serves as a grand, expeditious road from the Vilayet Sea well into Zamora. It is only fitting, then, that its docks would be large and bustling. Any goods from the east destined for the Hyborian nations are likely to pass through Akif, as it is a far shorter route than moving said goods through Turan’s more southern cities.

The rough and ready sailors, porters, dockers, and others, who load and unload the ships, pilot them, and repair them, work hard for their coin. They also spend it freely in the raucous taverns and brothels along the docks and the immediately surrounding area. During the day, the docks are all work. At night, it is all debased fete and bawdy, painted boys and girls.

The Ilbars is wide enough to accommodate large ships, but some of the greater galleons must offload their goods at the mouth of the river onto smaller vessels to navigate the river. Fugitives seeking discreet passage find many captains willing to take on unlogged human “cargo” for a steep fee.

The Column of Subotai[]

Subotai was lieutenant to Aghra Khan. After the great khan’s death, he was one among many to rebel and break apart the fledgling empire. When the wars of succession settled, and a single khan, now called a sultan, emerged victorious, all rebels of rank were put to death. Subotai was beheaded in the town square.

Now, a column stands in the very spot where Subotai’s head departed his body. As a former enemy of the state, it is unusual that a marker of respect would be allowed. Yet Hyrkanians are an independent people, and even their defeats are lauded if the defeated died with fire in the heart and belly and Erlik’s name on their lips.

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