Zaratusa is a war-world in the Thermopylae sub-Sector of Occident Prime retaken from Chaos half a century ago by the Knights of the Anvil and their Achaemenian regiments. Though now firmly under Imperial control the Chaos taint has not been entirely purged and military action continues under the Prince-Governor Shaahab ad-Azaad.
The origins of Zaratusa's human occupation is lost in the darkness of the Age of Technology. The planet was rediscovered by the Vth Fleet and incorporated into the Imperium in the 9th c. M30. Dispite its trying climate the planet achieved Gamma status and an impressive aestimare rating as an abundant source of spices, pharmaceuticals, minerals and rare earths. All this ended abruptly in the 2nd c. M39 when the Second Hell Crusade swept over the planet. Fortunate for itself Zaratus system was on the edge of Xeraz' spere of influence and so was merely tainted not drawn fully into the warp.
The Human denizens were cowed and controlled by chaos cults worshipping at the daemonic shrines of four warp-tainted cities; Oonai, city of debauchery, dedicated to Xeraz the Exquisite; Irem where adepts studied the mysteries of Kyrkee; Unclean Ib center of the cult of the Grossmutter; and finally towering Kharn, fortress city of Lakkesh. Those who remained loyal to the Emperor were murdered by cultists and devoured by hideous warp mutated beasts infesting jungle and desert alike. After over two thousand years of this the untainted population was reduced to a few millions living a primitive life in jungle and desert and paying fearful tributes to their warp-crafty masters.
The planet was reconquered for the Emperor by the Anvilars and associated Achaemenian forces during the Mithradas Crusade, named for and led by the new Vicar General of the Anvilars, in 929.M41. The Daemon cities were inferno bombed to smoking ruins, the chaos cults massacred and the fell beasts slaughtered but neither bomb nor bolter could mend the weakened fabric of the Materium and warp intrusions remain a threat as do heresy and witchcraft.
The resurgent native population newly released from Chaos' yoke often seems to resent the Imperial government just as much nor do they welcome the Achaemenid and Sayamese settled among them.
GeographyZaratusa has a single massive continent occupying most of the western hemisphere. The terrain rises from a low lying costal zone of tropical jungles to high desert plateaus and rugged, arid mountains cradling oases deep inland.
Important geographical features include the Vende basin with its three freshwater seas; the tainted swamps of the Leng penisula; Mount Parha the highest point on the planet; The Sea of Cydath; the Chalcedon peninsula and the Isle of Zaratusa.
People and PoliticsZaratusa's native population is divided into two very distinct Human phenotypes, each occupying its own climatic zone and regarding the other with hearty hostility. The dense, dripping lowland jungles where Zaratusa's powerful sun rarely penetrates are inhabited by a race of almost albino fairness with blue veins showing through their transparent skins, blond hair and light eyes. The high, scorching desert oases are home to people as dark as the Jungle race is fair with mahogany skins, densely curly black hair and black or brown eyes. The potential for ethnic conflict is increased by the militarized Achaemenid presence.
The White Zaratusans are urban dwellers busily repairing and restoring their ancient jungle cities. A few city-states have formed economic and political unions, chiefly the cities of the Vendis basin and those of the Cydathyrian Seas. Their economics are based on a unique form of arboreal agriculture in the heavy jungle canopy producing the raw materials for both luxury condiments and valuable pharmacueuticals as well as their basic food crop; yellow and white manna.
The Black Zaratusans have adopted a pastoral economy herding the four toed native ungulates, called Glamas, for meat and wool mounted on the backs of leggy three toed Tercedons with their prehensile snouts. The clan groups spend the long dry season foraging the tribal lands for sufficient grazing to keep their herds alive but they gather to spend the short, wet winter in the shelter of their ancient, semi-ruinous cities which, unlike the White Zaratusans, they seem to have no interest in repairing.
Though reduced to ruins the four Daemon cities of Zaratusa remain potents threats to the Emperor's subjects haunted by mutants and witches and worse, centers of infection that can flare up at any time.