"It is an offense to civilization to call
those wretches islands civilized."
- Innarus Poel, Chaddamarian Priestess
|Proper Name||The Fire Isles|
|Demographics||Human 97%, Other 3%|
|Languages||Temegaru 99% Other 1%|
|National Colors||No formal colors or standards|
|Year Founded||No formal founding.|
|Currency||Trade and barter|
|Natural Resources||Seafood, fish, sea shells, upine fruit, sandstone, quartz, pigs, bananas, pineapples, oranges, mangos, herbs, spices, kivodal, cork trees|
|Manufactured Goods and Major Exports||Foodstuffs, fruit, sandstone blocks, salted pork, herbs and spices, kivodal and cork.|
|Government Type||Provincial (Tribal)|
|Enemies||Aswanar Wildlands, Eshtari|
|Approximate Land Area||480,000 square kilometers|
|Terrain||Tropical Islands, Jungle|
The Fire Isles refer to a group of volcanic tropical islands that litter the sea between Aggradar and Qeshir. They are the home of thirteen primitive human tribes of hunter/gatherers. These tribes constantly war with each other. Collectively, the various peoples of the Fire Isles are known as the alakubu and this term is used by scholars who discuss the Fire Isles. The Fire Isles are the source of vague legends, stories of cannibals. Rare spices and exotic plants and animals are brought from the isles to far corners of the world.
The Fire Isles are a string of volcanic islands. There are at least three dozen volcanoes in this string of islands. Many of them are active. The largest island of Akaliwai has a volcano which is very active - a bubbling cauldron of lava which never quiets down. It erupts in spectacular pyrotechnic displays at least once a week. It's constantly glowing red top can be seen for over a hundred kilometers at night. It is used as a navigational beacon by most of the seafaring races in that region of the sea. This volcano, known as Mount Umbatwai (which means "devil home" in the Alakubu language) is considered holy ground by the tribes and it is taboo to go there. This region receives heavy rains and severe seasonal storms which beat the islands each spring and fall.
These shining emerald jewels are home to many tropical animals and plants found only here. No where else in all the wide is such a diverse spectrum of plant and animal life found in such a small area. Monkeys, wild boars, parrots, snakes, leopards, gorillas, komodo dragon lizards, wild dogs, scythe lizards, apes, tree slugs and much more are all found here. The local plant life includes oranges, mangos, bananas, pineapples, cloves, nuts, upine, figs and other citrus fruits. Both bamboo and upine tree grows in abundance on the eastern islands. A particularly hardy black berry grows in clusters in the rocky slopes of the mountains. A number of roots, tubers and herbs are found. Kivodal, pujaran, mallosh, tarska and other tropical herbs are all found here in abundance. Cork trees are common and is used by the natives and traded with other nations.
According to historical texts and maps, the Fire Isles did not exist prior to the Sundering or the cataclysmic World Storm the followed. In fact, the Fire Isles developed through violent volcanic activity beginning in the fourth century. They remained unknown to the world except to seafaring captains until the eleventh century. Begin around 1150 CY, contact with the local indigenous tribes was made. Seafaring captains began bringing back stories from the isles. Over the centuries, the legends and tales of the isles have become something of myth. Many people have heard tall tales of the islands, but few captains have sailed there.
The Fire Isles is not a formal nation and has no central government. The Fire Isles is home to at least thirty different primitive tribes. The exact number is not known and no one has done a thorough study of their culture or tribal interaction.
There is no national legal system. Within a single tribe, all laws are created and judged by the elders or chieftain. This varies from tribe to tribe somewhat.
As the Fire Isles is not a formal nation, there is no central government military force. However, each tribe can muster a force of fighting men equal to about 10% of the total size of the tribe.
Most tribes conduct basic trade and barter. This is true within a tribe and also between tribes. This system is supplemented by a primitive form of currency based on seashells. Different kinds of shells have different monetary values. Most tribes honor this currency.
There are a handful of ships that have regular runs between Aggradar and Qeshir and make frequent stops at the Fire Isles to trade with the natives. Of course, some tribes are more friendly than others.
The tribes of the Fire Isles share a common culture with some minor differences. The following is true of all tribes:
|Collectively, the various peoples of the Fire Isles are known as the Alakubu. An ancient term that can be applied to all tribes.|
|The natives of the Fire Isles typically wrap their food in pytul leaves. The leaves are edible and serve as convenient wrappers for food. Typical meal involves meat and rice mashed and wrapped in leaves. These meals are often flavored with fruit pulp.|
The Fire Isle natives swap wives regularly. It is a common practice between chieftains, warriors and others. Visitors to the islands are expected to hand over their women, etc.
The tribes use the byssus (black silky threads) of a variety of local giant oyster for all sewing needs. This black, glossy thread is very strong and is used in clothing, hammocks, tents, tools and fishing nets.
Warriors of most tribes chew tarska - a native root which enhances strength and causes a kind of fevered, incoherent battle lust. Extensive use of this root stains the teeth, lips and chin red, giving the user a fiercesome "bloody" look.
Every tribe has at least one shaman and the larger tribes may have a dozen or more. The shamans hold a position of great respect within alakubu culture. They are revered by warrior and chieftain alike.
The Fire Isles is home to thirteen major tribes and dozens of minor ones. The thirteen main tribes vary between 20,000 and 40,000 strong typically. The smaller tribes are usually splinter factions that split off from the tribe as part of a coup. Usually a charismatic warrior will lead his followers to form a new tribe. Although these new tribes are usually quite small, less than a thousand strong. Most tribes are ruled by a single powerful warrior chieftain or a council of tribal elders.
|Yamonari||Choelath||Akaliwai||The Yamonari are the largest and most powerful tribe at over 70,000 strong. The Yamonari are cannibalistic. They eat prisoners and foreigners. They also eat their own kind under certain circumstances (to pay off a debt, natural death, lose a duel). A common saying among these people is "Better to be in the warm belly of a friend than the cold, cold ground". The Yamonari are a deeply spiritual people with a complex religion tied to the worship of Kano-Tabai, an "elder demon". This tribe is led by a Choelath who is both chieftain and tribal shaman. Choelath leads them in the worship of Kano-tabai, a near mythical being which is said to live on the island, in the heart of a great volcano. It is said that their flesh eating practice is to honor their demon god and that they bring their dark master blood and flesh and live prisoners to feast upon. The Yamonari are frequent users of the tarska root and they are particularly frenzied in battle.|
|Yomash||Goamosh||Halakii||The largest tribe at almost 60,000 strong. Ruled by a council of 45 tribal elders which, in turn, serve the Grand Chieftain Goamosh.|
|Wira||Gilakoth||Tathai||The Wira are concerned with honor and ritualistic warfare. They will fight an enemy until "first blood" is drawn and then withdraw. To them, a battle is done when first blood is drawn. The enemy must retreat. Visitors to their island may find their approach to battle odd.|
|Naed||Jediba||Soqwai||The Naed worship animals and their warriors paint themselves in the likeness of apes or lions or boars. Each warrior adopts a spirit animal and wears his painted persona at all times.|
|Dirachi||Iebus||Waneki||Known for shaving their heads (men and women) and wearing elaborate head dresses made from natural materials - fur, twine, twigs, leaves and feathers. The dirachi women are known for crafting bone and wood carvings and weave baskets and bake pottery.|
|Kuloth||Kraiyor||Halakii||The Kuloth are a tribe of warriors and are considered the most warlike of all the tribes. The Kuloth practice cranial deformation on their children giving them high sloping foreheads by strapping and tightening boards to their heads. Warriors also will deform their face and body to give a frightening appearance. Many warriors chisel their teeth down to fine points. Some will surgically implants claws and horns carved from animal bone. Most will sharpen their finger nails. The fiercest warriors will drive bone carved horns and nails through their body and then let the wounds heal around the protruding spikes. This is done in combination with ritual scarring. They do this to intimidate their enemies and prove their bravery by ignoring pain. Also, infections due to these deformations help weed out the weak. It is easy to identify a kuloth warrior based on this "accessories". Kuloth warriors chew tarska and enter a frenzied state when going to battle. Some of the worst tarska addicts are absolutely insane in battle. Kuloth warriors, when they are berzerking, have been known to do shocking things in battle - a frenzied kuloth warrior will leap off a cliff or dive into a raging river to press the attack against his enemy. Kuloth warriors have been known to charge scythe lizards, impale themselves on enemy spears and generally leap into the fray against impossible odds. Warriors in such a state are beyond reason and mind affecting magic often fails against them.|
|Firatha||Chenjan||Soqwai||The firatha are notable in that each village is entirely housed within a single "tribal hall". This immense structure houses all of the sleeping quarters for the entire village, the chieftain, his warriors, his subchieftains, etc. Storage rooms, stables and pantries are all stored within this one great hall. The great hall is built by everyone in the village.|
|Eohwan||Oljhar||Soqwai||The most civilized. The only tribe to build semi-permanent buildings. This is the only tribe to have developed writing. The Eohwan do not use tarska and consider it taboo.|
|Edo||Laos||Akalwai||Ruled by a shaman/witch doctor with considerable power. Enemy of the Yamonari. These two great tribes live on either side of Akaliwai, the largest island, and the interior of the island is the site of many battles.|
|Umire||Chagon||Jaebus||The Umire inhabit the island of Jaebus which has a smoking volcano that often belches ash into the sky. The Umire cover their bodies in this volcanic ash. The volcano and is ash are holy to them. They believe the volcano is their god and that the ash protects them. Their shamans use it in protective spells. Whenever covered in the ash, their warriors will fight with fanatical bravery, believing themselves invincible. If, however, the ashis washed off, the warriors will flee.|
|Griatha||Laos||Imat||This tribe lives close to the southwest. They serve the mage lord of the ash sea. The Griatha are good sailors and travel between their island and the main land a great deal. Many groups of Griatha live permanently on the mainland on the edge closest to Imat.|
|Asilir||Relaus||Ith||Smallest tribe, lost a tribal war to the Umire and was almost wiped out. Fled to the isle of Ith, the small island that lies between Waneki and Halakii.|
The Fire Isles are home to the Alakubu tribes. The tribes have dozens of small fishing villages on the coasts of all the islands. It's difficult to map out specific distance and travel times because there are dozens of possible starting and ending points and hundreds of possible routes.
A journey from one island to a neighboring island can take as little as 8 hours or as much as 3 days, depending on the distance, assuming two islands adjacent to each other. Generally speaking, most islands in this chain are roughly 1 to 2 days sail time apart. However, travelling between distant islands takes much longer. Travelling from the weatern shore of the island of Soqwai to the eastern shore of the island of Jaebu takes a full two weeks in good weather and can be as much as four weeks if the winds are not favorable.
There are no roads on the islands, only narrow footpaths. The terrain is rugged and uneven and broken up by cliffs and ravines. The islands are also covered in dense jungle. All of these factors make travel through the interior of the islands surprisingly slow.
For more information, see the Travel and Distance page.
This website was last updated March 31, 2021. Copyright 1990-2021 David M. Roomes.