The Firesands are actually two distinct desert that merge into one.
To the south is the true Firesands, an wide expanse of scorching, rolling
dunes and to the north is the smaller, rockier desert known as Stonepile.
The Firesands stretch northwards for leagues. The surrounding mountains capture every drop of moisture leaving even the air devoid of water. Only along the western coast does life flourish in a narrow band before the deserts begin. These waterless wastes are almost totally devoid of life save for solitary scavenging firedrakes or sand manta. Dunedrakes and darters sometimes wander in from the north but soon perish beneath the blazing suns.
the steaming sands lie rivers of gold and silver, gems and precious stones
the size of a man's head. The Parthenians use the wealth of the desert
to run their entire economy and empire. Infamous mining platforms hover
across the sands, burrowing deep to collect the inexhaustible wealth and
slaves across the continent fear being sent onto one of these mighty mining
machines. The wealth is then shipped to Ovidian or Dawager Sivik where
it becomes the key to the Parthenians power and the Empire's driving force.
Long ago a small tribe and wandered north. They braved the Whitebone Silt and the Firesands, losing many on the journey but soon came to the Stonepile where they saw fit to settle down. They soon discovered the Endazi living in the earth below but the travellers where too exhausted to fight and the Endazi took pity on the ragged travellors. The two races came to a treaty where they would communicate for reasons only of trade and otherwise stay out of each others way.
The system worked for almost two centuries. Toiling under the desert suns, the Jinnan fought for every crop, battled for every sip of water, while below the surface the Endazi lived in their small but thriving kingdom. The Jinnan grew jealous and as their numbers grew it was not long before they mounted an attack on the kingdom below to began a war that lasted three years. At the end of that time the Endazi had wiped out most of the Jinnan. Those that remained suffered greatly and soon faced the decision of migration or elimination.
A few resourceful and clever Jinnan realized that they had been defeated in the war because the did not possess the secrets of magic. They devised a plan to send their greatest warrior, Kadar, into the tunnels to steal the secret of magic. There are many myths of how it did it, but Kadar returned to the camp bearing the secret. Historians have great arguments over how he accomplished this, some argue that he brought back a Sandglider cocoon, others think he captured a great wizard, and still others think he brought back only one small enchanted ring. Whatever the story, it is agreed that the Jinnan processed a natural affinity to magic and quickly learned the skills necessary to weld it effectively. They beat back the Endazi armies that had come to take back their secret and conquered the southern edge of the Stonepile. There they rested and began to study further the secrets of magic.
Soon they realised that the magic they had found was in some way linked to the desert. Droves of men began to wander alone or in small groups out into the deep Firesands where they believed they could study magic in its raw form. So the women and children where left to defend themselves against the armies of vengeful Endazi who began to invaded. Only a handful of women had been trained in warfare and even fewer still had been trained in magic. Quickly realizing they would not be able to rely on help from the men, they gathered the population together and as the Endazi forces laid seige, the women were taught the ways of sword and spell. Natural warriors, they found that they could defend their homes, and armed with their newfound freedom they began to fight back against the Endazi.
Out in the desert the men learned the secrets of the Firedans, using its raw power to forge strong magics. They honed and trained in its use, adapting it and turning it to suit their needs and desires. After five years they received a message from their wives and sisters to return. Puzzled they returned to find their homes deserted and broken. Fearing the worst they scoured the land looking for their families.
They found them in a hidden cavern that had once been an Endazi armoury. The women had captured the base and renamed it Dawager Sivik, the "City of Matrons'. There they trained in war craft and magic, forging themselves an army and a culture in those years that the men had gone. The men where lead to the great hall where the Great Matriarch told them of their history, struggles and battles against the Endazi.
The Matriarch also told them the of a new order. Because the
men had abandoned them, the women had grown stronger. They
refused to give up that power easily and to hold on to their position they
killed half the men in the great hall. The women then gave the survivors
the name Jinn and took the name Jinni for themselves to seal the divison
between the sexes. Ten men were then were forced to remain behind to further
instruct the women in the ways of magic, and the rest were cast back out
into the desert.
The Jinn and Jinni are a race with dark red skin the colour of dark blood,. They all have dark hair and eyes with have medium frames draped in lose silks and cloth. They all where turbans, thick sandals and carry a small sacred knife.
Their culture is greatly divided along the lines of gender. The women, the Jinni, have developed a militaristic culture where female children are taught to use a sword and cast spells as soon as they are able to stand. When the child reaches seventeen she is considered a woman and is required to enter the army for two years as a Swordmaiden. After the two years she may remain to rise in rank, from Dame to Damio to Lady to a Matrician. Or she may decide to leave and take up a trade becoming a Matron or enter politics and become a Sivikeeper
The city is run by a board known as the Sisterhood that is comprised of the Golden Matrician from the army, the head Matron known as the Grandame and a Sivikeeper known as the Dowik and the three are lead by the Great Matriarch. The three appoint the Matriarch from their number when the old one dies, and together control the entire city.
Men, the Jinn, wander alone across the Firesands, studying their magic and contemplating theorims and spells. Every few years they wander into Dawager Sivik to find a wife. These marriages usually last only until the woman becomes pregnant after which she can terminate the marriage at will. If the child is female the man can return to the desert, remain to try again or leave and marry someone else. If the child is male the man returns to the desert and must return in five years. After the five years, he returns and takes his son out into the desert with him to begin his training in magic.
When the boy reaches the age of seventeen they must return to Dawager Sivik and teach magic to the women. Some are put in the army teaching Dames, and others teach classes for the Matrons and Sivikeepers. After three years they are allowed to remain or to return to the desert.
Male children who are not claimed as apprentices by their sixth year are given to the city where they are put to use as janitors, scrubmen and cooks, performing the undesirable jobs and tasks, their status no better than slaves. This does not occur often as the birth of a son is rare and someting that the adult Jinn see as a good omen. A chance to pass the secrets of magic to a new generation. Only death or unavoidable events will keep a Jinn from returning to collect his son.
The Jinn are solitary and introverted, preferring the open spaces
and freedom of the desert to study their all encompassing passion of magic.
The Jinni are strong willed and community minded, seeing magic only as
a useful tool and strategic advantage.
Their Place in the Empire
The Parthenians cut off the city of Dawager Sivik and held it under seige for five years before the Jinni offered their unconditional surrender. The Parthenians where surprised to find that they had been battling women and promised them to spare their city. They did however not agree to spare its citizens and threatened to slaughter them all if the men did not surrender aswell. The men agreed and so the Jinnan became part of the Empire.
The Parthenians interfere little with the Jinnan. Dawager Sivik has been transformed into a supply station for mining platforms but most of trade is done by Jinni merchants. A Parthenian specially constructed to resemble a woman sits on the Sisterhood but her offical capacity is one of advisor. They supply legions and legions of troops for the army, and can be found as guards and soldiers all across the Empire. These armies are highly skilled and trained in magic making them more powerful than normal troops and more numerous than the Talwar. They are a key force in the Parthenian military machine.
The Parthenians do not understand the principles of magic, yet understand its strategic importance and potential for power. The are aware that the Jinn crave both knowledge and power equally and use this to their advantage by providing both but twisting it so that it serves the Empire. The Jinn do not care, for them power is magic not politics, and could care little about command. They serve the Empire to gain access to greater sums of knowledge and further their power. Consequently the Jinn sit in many advisory positions through out the Empire, the Parthenians more willing to trust the Jinn than their allies the Malthan.
The Stonepile, like the Firesands is a mineral treasure house. The Stonepile however lacks the gems and precious metals of the Firesands. Instead it is iron, tin, copper and other useful elements that run through the rocky soil.
The Stonepile gets it name from the curios towers of stacked stones
placed at irregular intervals across the desert. Who built them and why,
are unknown. Even to the Endazi.
History of the Endazi
The Endazi where once masters of a kingdom that spread out under the earth of Parthenthius. Ancient artifacts found as far south as southern Mil Tanor bear their distinctive marks. Even sections of the Underground Highway reaching into Alconia and Talislanta are thought to be their handiwork. Peaceful and unaggressive, the kingdom was slowly whittled away by warlords and savages and over the centuries shrunk in size.
The first recorded account of the Endazi in modern history (after the Great Disaster) was when the Endazi were encountered by the migrating band of travellors who would eventually be known as the Jinnan. By then the Endazi kingdom extended only as far as the Stonepile, south below the Firesands and north to the edge of the Gan Talc. The Kingdom had stagnated to the point of near collapse. At first, the arrival of the Jinnan brought a time of peace and trade for almost three centuries. Unfortunately the trade benefitted the Endazi more a great deal more than the struggling Jinn and they were soon at war.
The third Anasar invasion brough that war to a temporary halt. When they were finally pushed from the Continent, the Endazi numbers were decimated and the Jinnan quickly resumed the old war, pushing the weakened Endazi deeper into the Stonepile.
This situation lasted until the Parthenians invaded, crushing both
nations quickly and efficiently. They redistributed the land, giving most
of the Stonepile back to the Endazi so that their numbers could again grow.
The Endazi are a race who have gone from masters of the continent to the brink of extinction to slave labour. They strive to maintain their pride under the yoke of the other races in the empire who view the strong and stubborn race as an object of ridicule. They are notoriously short tempered and are even more infamous for their stubbornness not to display that anger. They bear the insults with faces flushed with anger yet do nothing.
The Parthenians saw the Endazi as a potential recourse. Their knowledge of the earth is unsurpassed making them expert miners, smiths and masons. However the Parthenians also saw them on the brink of extinction. To save the recourse the allowed them to expand back out into the Stonepile. The experiment seems to be a success, however, the constant extradition of Endazi to other locations makes it difficult to tell if there survival is assured.
Physically the Endazi are rarely taller than five and a half feet and their thick skin is a stony grey with a rough texture. Their skin is actually a heavy hide to protect them from the heat of the desert. Their backs especially, are heavily plated giving them a hunched appearance. Their faces are long and snouted with a solid plate of bone running across their forehead. Long thick claws continually grow from the back of their hands and the top of their feet, allowing them to burrow through the earth almost as fast as a man can walk. Yet, protected by the massive claw, their fingers are extremely dexterous and they can make the most beautiful stone and metal work.
Their culture revolves around a ladder of responsibility. Their loyalty is given to their family, their village, their people, the Empire, and themself, in that order. In any situation their loyalty must fall to that order. The addition of the Empire is a recent one, but one that allows the Empire to exploit the people when needed, so the Empire is surprisingly careful about violating the ladder.
They live in small villages above and below the surface, mining and
farming funguses. Family and work are the values they hold dearest, protecting
both with ferocity and ability.
There is a conservative segment of Endazi society known as the Overthrow, that calls for the return to days of the Endazi Kingdom. They are rather fanatic, believing in all the old tales. Consequently they have become extremist, calling for a world-wide Endazi Kingdom, and nothing more than the entire extermination of humanoid population on Altarus. These rebels engage in sabotage, murder and subversion to accomplish their immediate goal of the overthrow of Parthenians. Currently they are only a small segment of the society, but they are growing. A member has just recently been named to the Endazi Council, the small group that oversees domestic Endazi affairs. .
Their Place in the Empire
The Endazi are the workhorses of the empire. They are the crews of the mining platform, construction crews, bridge builders, road crews and perform most of the mining, smiting and mason work across the Empire. They enjoy work and seem happy as long as they are not mistreated. Mistreatment can result in consequences.
A Parthenian sits on the Council, the Endazi ruling body composed of elders based in Gravvekl, the Endazi capital city. Two other small cities line the borders. Recently a council vote has put a lot of money into enlarging and expanding the cities. Whether this is bravado or a genuine symbol of their renewed hope, only time will tell.
The Sanctum Alcedon
Shigata Ga Nai High