Sahelahaia is the major center in the Helsian Uplands and the capital of Faerouhaiaou. The city is a major center of culture and learning, and has a long tradition as both a center of syncretism between northern and southern influences in Helsia, and as a reliquary of traditional Farouese culture. Sahelahaia is one of the oldest cities in the Helsian Uplands, and Faerouhaiaouan mythology places the date of its founding during the early Had Exodus, around -1500 SR. Today, the city is host to a wide array of schools, shrines, and eclectic scientific and religious movements.
The early history of Sahelahaia, then known as Salei, is unclear due to the absence of written records from this period. One record states that Salei was the capital of a slave-owning state, though whether or not its population was Faerouese is unclear. Popular mythology places Sahelahaia as one of the first cities settled during the Had Exodus, which saw numerous escaped slaves from Hu'ut trek overland to the sparsely-settled peninsula of Helsia.
The first reliable reference to Salei is found in the poem Aous Endelei Salei o Faeiao (Regarding the Fall of Faeiao of Salei), written early in the Farouese Period between -1000 and -800 SR. The battle recounted in this early literary work refers either to the war against the pre-Farouese state in Salei, or to one of the wars preceding the unification of the Helsian Faeoria under the rule of Farou.
Salei would go on to be a major city Old Farou for the better part of a millennium. Over this period, it would develop an increasingly distinctive culture. Following the Burning of Seis in 148 SR, the Last Scion of Aya'se would come to settle in this city, bringing the first significant Aitahist presence in Helsia. The subsequent years of the early Satar saw the city's ancient fortifications restored, as part of a larger trend of fortification that took place across Helsia, and in the uplands in particular.
The Treda of the early 230s SR saw Salei briefly become the most populous city in Helsia, although the subsequent years of strife would see its population decline significantly. It was during this period of internal conflict that Faerouhaiaou first came to become a significant political entity, and Salei (Sahelaheia in Faerouhaiaouan) became the capital of this nascent state, largely by default. A new Faeoria Council was established in 245 SR, and Salei remained aloof from much of the conflict of the subsequent two centuries.
It was during this period that Aitahism began to replace the Cult of Haiao as the dominant religion in Sahelahaia, and this period saw the construction of many temples to the Lady Goddess. The city also saw a burst of intellectual activity, bolstered by educated refugees from the rest of Helsia. Raedae Surahaila wrote his magnum opus, Holaia Haiaoua (The Beautiful Turns), in this city, spawning an extraordinarily rich school of philosophy and geometry that would flourish for centuries to come.
Sahelahaia's status as the capital of an independent nation would come to an end in 516 SR, as Faerouhaiaou willingly subsumed itself into the nascent Farubaida o Caroha. In the years that followed, the city of Caroha would come to eclipse Sahelahaia somewhat as a center of arts and culture, but the Faerouhaiaouan capital continued to maintain great significance throughout the Farubaidan period. Laia, the systematic, methodological and rationalistic investigation of the world, emerged from this city, and it also came to play host to many syncretic religious movements, most significantly Doru o Ierai, a practice influenced by the concept of the Good God of Iralliam and the various forms of Laia that had recently come into vogue amongst the Sahelahaian literati.
Sahelahaia is located in a saddle valley in the central eastern Helsian Uplands. Two peaks, Coamahia (White Cap) and Thaerocaen (Boomer) border the city to the west and east respectively, while large earthen berms topped with stone walls border the city to the north and south. These walls have been outgrown and rebuilt several times. At the present, the city and some farmland is contained entirely within the outer walls. Terraced farmland borders the city to both the north and south, although the renewed availability of cheaper grain from outside the city has led to the abandonment of many farms, and the return of forests to the mountain slopes.
Sahelahaia, known colloquially by its residents as 'Sahei', is a vibrant and colourful city. The blocky stone edifice that is the Hall of the Faeorial Council of Faerouhaiaou occupies a prominent position near the city's center, where affairs of import to the upland nation are discussed at length. The Temple of Our Lady Preserver is a large rectangle of marble and local stone, and stands as the largest religious building in the city, although the newer Temple of the Lady Protector is largely considered to be a more beautiful building, possessing a hexagonal structure and a domed ceiling. As is typical of Aitahist buildings in Faerouhaiaou, both are decorated with sheets of red fabric, which blow freely in the wind.
The city also possesses several schools teaching several practices, including Laia (Physics), Mathematics (Curulaia), Astronomy (Haialaia) and Geometry (Holaia Haiaoua). Associate to several of these schools are several eclectic temples that have arisen seeking to acquire divine knowledge through rational investigation. Followers of these movements frequently make 'pilgrimages' of a sort to Sahelahaia to enrich their knowledge of the physical world.
Of course, the majority of the populace is content without investigating the world down to the finest level of granularity. Most of the city will celebrate traditional Faerouhaiaouan seasonal and solar festivals, with the major events being Huraemia (Harvest), Rocadara (Winter Solstice), Haiaoudurae (Spring Equinox) and Oacahia (Summer Solstice). The festivals are typically celebrated through public theatre, the wearing of celebratory masks and clothing, and social feasting.