The desert city of Bergama is the second largest settlement in all the Alik’r. Founded deep in the barren wastes some two thousand years ago, it stands as an island in the midst of an arid ocean. Parched yellow waves wear and gnaw at her once proud, ornate walls that were built high to repel tusked natives. Now however, the city’s residents complain they are no longer big enough to keep out the encroaching sands; nor the ever encroaching influence of the outside world.
For hundreds of years the Crown traditionalists of the Hollow Wastes have held hard to their Yokudan heritage and religion, whilst the more liberal-minded Forebears of the coastal cities long ago began to abandon worship of the old gods in favour of the more cosmopolitan pantheons. Their city laws are now set by a Forebear Magistrate, and they can do little but stand by and watch as the Forebear King takes their youth away from them to fight for foreign soil under the blue banners of a Breton.
It is little wonder then that the Crowns of Bergama mistrust the shadow of every stranger that enters her arched gateways; and yet there’s the rub, for Bergama is a city built upon trade and barter. Its stalls offer ware and goods from across Hammerfell and beyond. The famed Bergama Bazaar spans almost the entire city, gate to gate, selling everything from colourful textiles to dull-plated armour, scavenged relics to fresh painted canvas, bland flavoured dried meats to spice, incense and balm. Indeed, it is said that even amidst the fiercest Alik’r sandstorm, a man of Bergama can always find his way home by the smell of the spice market.
The city itself, once grand and ornate, retains a grim beauty; It is not just in the people of Bergama that the heritage of the Yokuda lives on. The Stone Oasis Inn is perhaps the largest building in the city, offering much needed shelter and refreshment to the many travellers that consider her a valuable desert harbour. The august golden-domed Hall of Judgement holds the most prominent location, and the Fighters Guildhall can be found at the very heart of the city. The Mages Guild Tower however stands apart, perhaps reflecting the opinion still shared by many Crown and Forebear alike, that the practice of magic is as unnatural as it is untrustworthy.
But Bergama is not be just the sum of its buildings, it is the history and legacy of a long lost land; but also it is an hourglass running out of sand, its future as fickle and uncertain as its people. For just as a life lived in the desert colours a man’s cheeks, stiffens his jawline, and sets lines in his face with every laugh and frown; so the sands of time have taken their toil upon Bergama; its once colourful canopys fade in the desert sun, its wooden structures dry and grow brittle, and its stone walls crack and crumble.
There is always hope however, for whilst the people of Bergama live in fear of words and ideas carried in to their homes upon the relentless desert winds, it is only ever in the songs of mediocre bards that people are wholly divided, having nothing in common and nothing to share with one another. Once a year the people of Bergama, both Crown and Forebear, welcomes all of Tamriel though her gates to celebrate with them the New Life Festival, and take part in the challenge of the signal fire sprint in honour of the Bergama heroine, Zoreh the Tenacious.