Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Companions of the Rose, Pt. I

Centuries before the common era, a community of djinn lived in the Great Caldera’s southeast. A handful had come from the outer planes, attracted by the magic of Calidar’s world soul. Though their elders left or died out, their progeny remained, as they were creatures of this world. They dwelled there peacefully, honored by the fellfolk as spirits of nature whom they called the “hidden ones.” From them, native tribes learned their language, one as harsh as sand-laden winds grinding against the desert’s naked rocks. During the next centuries, fire-loving efreet became the most prevalent of the djinn while the jann scattered with the winds, the marid took to the sea, and the arad wandered into faraway mountains. Slowly, lands that were already warm and dry became even more so under the influence of the efreet, and a desert grew at its heart.

All was fine until Munaani settlers made landfall on the coasts in 796 CE. It is said that divine inspiration led followers of Teos to choose these unkind, sun-drenched parts as their hallowed land. They established Eastern Ellyrion, the oriental half of Munaan’s early colony on Calidar. Resenting the empire’s heavy-handed laws, Tanethian followers of Arun-Te came along and, over time, outnumbered ethnic Nicareans in this region. Meanwhile, the native fellfolk suffered from the massive influx of off-world migrants—something the djinn resented increasingly. Swept aside or facing forced labor, the tribes’ exodus began in 848 CE, leaving behind the djinn and those who could no longer flee. As Munaani settlers pushed inland, they ran afoul of the efreet, and a long struggle began.

Colonists seemed puny at first, but they proved far more resilient than the djinn thought, Nicarean veteran troops helping. With migration waves feeding their ranks, devout newcomers could replace their losses more quickly than the hidden ones. A stalemate was reached when Calderan djinn resorted to living among the settlers, concealing their true nature with their innate magical abilities. Meanwhile, it became fashionable for Calderan-born colonists to speak the language of the desert and adopt local ways, which could be learned from fellfolk servants. Quietly, skillfully, the hidden ones also introduced their script as an alternative to the Nicarean alphabet. Soon, people unwittingly referred to the arid hinterland by its efreeti name: Narwan.

To be continued...