Cadentia is an outpost at the edge of the desert, a relatively short trip with a shuttle from the Anchor — longer by horse, car, or camel. It is a settlement ringed by a patchwork mosaic of crumbling walls that bear testimony to the civilizations that built it. There is a main gate, but the caravanserai take a different route, passing through a humble limestone arch to the two-mile lane they call the Cadentia Bazaar.
The bazaar is flanked by stalls and storefronts, tents and mats where they sell goods from far across the desert and all across the Multiverse. There are valuable parts and repaired appliances scavenged from the desert, bustling livestock auctions, and rare spices from far-flung realms among the market’s many offerings. New visitors and old residents alike gather in two favourite establishments: Azif’s Tea Garden and Cadentia’s Cultural Centre.
Azif’s Tea Garden
The çay bahçesi or tea garden is an integral part of Cadentia social life. Resting on the peak of a large hill overlooking the bazaar, this sprawling garden offers the best views and even better blends. It is open from the moment the sun peaks over the horizon until it dips down the other side casting red, orange and purple hues over the guests. Two büyükanne, Elif and Azra, welcome you with sun-browned wrinkled faces. They escort you to an old wooden table that holds memories like an ancient dragon. A soft wind eases hot temperatures and bitter grudges. You are served a simple breakfast, a filling brunch or handcrafted lokum flavoured with pistachios, bergamot orange, rosewater or a dozen other varieties. The poorest carver can dine with the most esteemed merchant and both would find an ease of company. This garden is a sacred space, where culturally diverse citizens come to share both brew and leaf.
Cadentia’s Cultural Centre
At the one-mile marker, the bazaar is enclosed by two limestone archways, with a vaulted ceiling over a wider space with ancient columns and colourful banners that dangle all the way to the floor. It is filled with the promising smell of wine, water, and grilled skewers that give the space a smoky haze, emanating from the vendor stalls that line the far walls. The mosaic tile floor spirals into colourful patterns, forming four distinct circles around the center. Entertainment is provided here every night, from throngs of dancers to sweaty duelists. Spectators throng the edge for the best view or perch on the wide base of the columns and heavy limestone blocks placed throughout for a vantage point above the crowd. Bookies call out bets while opportunistic merchants sell wicked blades, flowing dresses, enchanted trinkets and potent draughts. In the center of it all is a statue of a headless king with velvet cushions piled into his lap, a grim perch for an honoured guest to watch the festivities.