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Stormcrowe--Arena 45

The lands just north and west of Aljafir, and the lands which rim Aljafir Bay to the east, north, and west are all extensive marshlands. A sluggish river runs from west to east, out of Aljafir Bay and into the Trier Sea. All of this marshland, including much of what is today under the waters of the Aljafir Bay, was not long ago (about four hundred years in the past) dry land. After the last Chaos Wars, the island upon which Stormcrowe lies retained one of the few surviving populations the ancient kingdom of Van, which ruled northern Alastari before the Wars. These people lived on the shore of the (then) shallow inlet which ran into the Wright's Depression. As the tidewaters rose more with each passing year, this remaining handful of Van moved their homes to higher and higher ground, to the hill which in time would become the Island upon which Stormcrowe would be built. On this hill was a ruined palace, and within the tumbled walls the villagers set up their new home.

In 207 the Serva pirates, who had been the allies of the Frafrejan Empire in their war with the Shews, were granted the old Shewish city of Willaf in payment for their services. The Serva sailed into the Wright's Depression, and enslaved the Van. Some of the Van were sold in the slave markets of Zukal to the south, and some were sold as far away as the Rirorni Empire. Many of the Van were kept as slaves and servants on the island. The old palaces were brought back into some sort of shape, and many of the Serva pirate lords made little "hideaway" retreats on the island. In time, the original Vantian population was intermingled with the Serva.

Not long after the Serva conquest, a Karragit "trading/diplomatic/ surveying" party asked to establish a trading post and supply station on the Island. Seeing profit in the arrangement, the Serva Lords agreed. The Karragit brought strange herbs from the far west in their many low slung reed "trading vessel/birthing structure/pond leaf" boats. The trade became very profitable, and the two population sites expanded toward each other, and in time met, to form one small but wealthy town. Given the Serva tastes for the odd and unusual, it was only a matter of time before the Serva began to desire Karragit wenches in their harems. Vant Island was a place where the Serva nobles relaxed in their increasingly plush and fantastic palaces. A surprising number of "trades" were made, Karragit women for human men or women. Why the Karragit agreed to these trades (or desired them) has never been clearly understood.

Children born to the Serva Lords of their Karragit wives were highly treasured as seamen, if not always as sons or daughters. Their ability to swim underwater often exceeded even that of their mothers. (Karragit cannot breathe underwater, but can hold their breath far longer than the common human. In a like fashion, these Karragit/human children could hold their breath for an extended period of time--in excess, it seems, of even normal Karragit.)

When the Karnhorn Priests arrived in the Serva Empire in 265, a great pogrom took place that is only glancingly alluded to in the official Karnhorn histories. The priests of the god Kjarran quickly gained a following among the poorer folk of the Empire and many of the old royal family and their followers were assassinated or made sacrifices in the bloody purge that followed their ascension to power. The priests named the unborn son of the previous Satrap's First Wife the heir to the throne, and raised the child in the belief that he was in truth the son of Kjarran himself. In the wake of the great Karnhorn takeover, Vant Island came to be the home in exile of many Serva Nobles. A great Karnhorn war fleet sailed into the Wright's Depression and laid waste to the remaining strongholds of the old Serva Lords. The Serva palaces were sacked, most of the buildings destroyed, and much of the population (Vantian, Serva and Karragit alike) carried away into slavery.

The Karnhorn fleet also laid siege to Glacks Island for a period of some years, but in time, they were satisfied to simply station a few ships around Glacks Island and call it a victory. A Karnhorn naval base was set up on Vant Island. Those few who survived the Karnhorn invasion fled into the nearby swamps. During the next few months, all of the survivors of the Karnhorn invasion slowly gathered. These renegades survived and in time even became so dangerous that the Karnhorn came to entirely avoid the swamplands (which in that land is a difficult thing to do).

A few of the Karragit built a reed boat and sailed to the west. The Karragit were very much in disagreement about this course of action (the humans in their midst wondering what the argument was about). In the end, these few dissenters sailed back to the Karragit lands far to the west. There they told the Families/Nations/Old Ones what had happened to their tribe.

Soon after the departure of these few Karragit there began a dissension between the human and Karragit members of the people. Many more karragit women survived than had human women. The humans wanted more women. Understandably most Karragit women did not want to be "owned" by human men (Serva culture in regards to the rights and protections of women left much to be desired). When it became clear that the matter could not be settled peacefully, the humans slew nearly all of the male Karragit. Much to their surprise, the humans found that they had to slay many of the women as well, because the enraged women had armed themselves during the ambush and then counterattacked. But the battle was fought on dry ground, and the former Serva pirates were certainly as skilled in battle as they were in treachery. In the end, the humans prevailed. Interbreeding continued to occur, but the population of the mixed-blood tribe, which came to be known as the Swavanti, continued to decline steadily.

About fifty years ago, a great Karragit migration swept into the Aljafir Bay. No one knows how they arrived. All that is known is that one day the swamplands were barren of life, and on the next the Ansark ("Tribe/Birth name/Purpose") Karragit were assaulting the Karnhorn keep on Vant Island. In the decades since its establishment, the power and strength of the Karnhorns had waned, and the outpost was undermanned, ill-equipped, and poorly trained. The naval station was overrun in hours. On the very next day, the Ansark erected their great clay-walled cities. How the Karragit can construct such massive city structures in hours is only one of the many Karragit mysteries. Within a week, the Ansark Karragit launched an attack on the High Orcs on Glacks Island. Only with Sheila's intervention was a long and certainly terrible war ended, and a peace treaty negotiated.

During this time, the humans were ignored. On occasion, one or more of the Karragit would noiselessly show up outside, and on occasion even inside, one of the Swavanti pseudo-Karragit shelters. He or she would point at the shelters and the Swavanti present, then make the belching sound which is the Karragit form of laughter, and leave. However, the Swavanti were descended of Karragit mothers, and they well understood that in time they would come into conflict with this "rival" tribe. Thus they gathered and debated and at last they sent a delegation to the Ansark and asked that they might be granted Vant Island. In exchange, the Swavanti promised to act as agents for the Ansark in all trade arrangements which the Ansark might desire. This arrangement seemed acceptable to the Ansark and the deal was made.

By the time of the Ansark invasion, the Karnhorn naval station on Vant Island had become a common port of call during the stormy winter months. After the Swavanti resettled the island, this practice of slipping into Aljafir Bay during storm season became all the more common. Soon the city on Vant Island was a mixture of Swavanti natives and the wives and children of hundreds of sailing ships. The sailors came to call the port city Stormcrowe (as in the "crows nest" platform atop the sailing ships). The trading compact with the Karragit has proved a profitable venture, and recently the city has made plans to enlarge the "river" leading from the bay to the Trier Sea into a canal large enough to accommodate ships.

Although independent, Stormcrowe has strong cultural ties with the Karnhorn Empire, as most of its human population is descended of Serva or Karnhorn ancestry. It still serves as a sort of escape valve for malcontents within the Karnhorn Empire.

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Published on: 2002-07-15 (1385 reads)

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