The World Of Khoras - The Cultured Races

The Jarkune

The History of the Jarkune

Deep in the northern Rahjan Mountains dwells a race of mountain giants. These are the descendants of  Secambru refugee giants of long ago. When the other secambru giants chose to reject the crafts and lore of their slavery, several dozen chose to venture out on their own. They wished to use their skills to make a better life. This group of forty eight giants migrated north into the mountains. They called themselves the “Jarkune”, an ancient Kytai word which translates as “the free people”.

In the beginning, these Jarkune were mostly second and third generation secambru. The first winter was harsh, but they banded together for mutual survival. The following spring, during their travels, they made camp upon the shore of a small mountain lake. Beside the lake was the ruins of a tower, ancient and crumbling. Within they discovered a skeleton. It became clear that this sole occupant had been dead a long time and the tower untouched for centuries. Among gold and jewels and other treasures were many books and scrolls, all written in Kytai.

The Jarkune giants quickly discovered that the lake was ensorcelled in some manner and had wonderous healing properties. The fruit of the trees around the lake also had curative powers. Seeing this as a sign from the gods, they settled there and began to build a new life. The lake was given the name Lake Nazari (a Kytai word which roughly translates as "mending of the spirit").

Within a few decades, they had built a town on the shore and erected a high curtain wall around the small lake. This town is called Chelruudan ("new life" in Kytai). To call it a "town" is perhaps misleading. It was not only built for giants, but was built to house dozens of them. Each building is as large as a castle. As the Jarkune population grows, Chelruudan grows. This architectural wonder dwarfs the castles and towns of other races, but it is almost unknown to the world due to its remote location.

Their shaman, a giant named Hramule, knew the Kytai language and studied the books and scrolls found within the ancient tower. These books and scrolls spoke of magic spells, ritual magic, herbalism and astrology. From them, Hramule learned a great deal. He would eventually go on to teach this magic to his apprentice who would one day be the clan's shaman. In this way, the magical knowledge would be passed down.

Over the centuries, the waters of the lake have had a profound effect upon the Jarkune. The decay and devolution that afflicted their kind began to wane with each passing generation. By the seventh generation, the affliction of their race had completely halted. The children and grand children of the Jarkune are as large and strong as their fathers and grandfathers. However, the life spans of the giants have diminished. Jarkune giants of today typically live about two to three centuries. Jarkune giants stand about 8 meters tall and weigh several tons. They are immensely strong and incredibly tough, but they are slow moving.

 

The Crystal

A little more than three centuries ago, during an abnormally dry year, the lake level dropped considerably. A young giant diving in the lake was able to almost reach the bottom and noticed a strange glow coming from below. Being fearful of the glow, he returned and reported his discovery to the chieftain. The shaman at the time, a giant named Nahjdar, rigged a crude bladder of air and dove down into the lake to the bottom. There, he discovered a crystalline shard half embedded in the sediment and muck at the bottom. He retrieved it and brought it to the surface. The strange crystal was green and glowed brightly. He suspected that this strange crystal may be the source of the lake's healing properties. The crystal was a sunder shard, although the Jarkune are unaware of it, having no knowledge of the Alliance or their magical work centuries ago. In any case, Nahjdar declared that this was the reason their ancestors' spirits had guided them to the lake and this was the reason for the great healing of the waters. His supposition was correct. The sunder shard had lain buried in the lake and, over centuries, had enchanted it. This crystal was a source of healing and magic for them. Over time, the Jarkune giants began to see it as a holy object... a source of power to which they had been guided.

As time passed, Nahjdar's spell ability began to grow... in part, from his studies of the books in the tower. But there can be little doubt that it was also the result of his close and constant interactions with the strange crystal. He had begun to exhibit unusually powerful spell ability. Nahjdar obsessed over the crystal, never parting from it. He fed of its power.

There were some among the Jarkune who believe that Nahjdar was, in some way, meant for a great destiny. There were even those who whispered behind closed doors that he should rule. Trouble began to brew among the Jarkune. The chieftain at the time, a giant named Yafi, was uneasy about Nahjdar's growing abilities and his obsession with the crystal. It was not long before this tension exploded into a bloody conflict pitting giant against giant.

In the end, Nahjdar and his supporters were beaten. Most had been killed. Gravely wounded, Nahjdar managed to escape. Thanks to his spell abilities, he even managed to take the crystal and all of the magical lore with him. Bitter and angry, he fled far to the south into self-imposed exile. He had meager equipment and supplies, but that mattered not. He had his magic and his most prized possession... the crystal. After months of wandering, he eventually settled and made a home in the Darijun Jungle.

Yafi declared that there would be no more shamans among the Jarkune. He forbade magic of any kind in their realm.

 

Jarkune Culture Today

Because the Jarkune no longer suffer the degenerative affliction, one's generation holds less importance for them. All Jarkune giants, regardless of their age, are physically the equivalent of a seventh generation secambru. This fact makes them significantly larger than the common secambru to the south.

The current population of Jarkune consist of several extended family clans, totaling one hundred and ninety four giants. All of the Jarkune dwell within the town of Chelruudan. Unlike their secambru brethren to the south, the Jarkune have retained their crafts and knowledge. Stone shaping, the forging of metals, woodworking, agriculture, pottery, tanning leather, milling grain and animal husbandry are all practiced by the Jarkune. Compared to the secambru, the Jarkune are highly intelligent and civilized. They wield weapons of forged steel and wear a variety of armors, including studded leather, fur cloaks and steel shod boots. The Jarkune enjoy hunting and competitions of strength and skill.

The Jarkune share a common history and heritage that binds them closely. They still tell stories of the early generations and their flight from tyranny and slavery. Freedom and brotherhood are now important parts of their culture. Hence, their name "Jarkune" meaning "the free people" has special significance for them. They would rather die than wear chains again.

The Jarkune and their town are at a fairly high altitude in the northern Rahjan mountains. Although they hunt and fish all over the mountains, this is a somewhat remote corner of the world and they only rarely encounter other cultures. For most of the world, the "mountain giants" are little more than myth. On occassion the Jarkune have encountered the guldra of the desert and the aswani of the wildlands. Such encounters have sometimes resulted in battle and bloodshed.They were once bred as warriors, but have found peace in mining, farming, hunting and simple living. They do not wish to make war upon anyone and will usually only fight when they have to. Because of their history, they will be wary and distrustful of outsiders. In particular, they despise slavers and slavery.

Because of the troubles with Nahjdar so many years ago, the Jarkune shun magic in all forms. There are no shamans among them now and they have no interest in magic spells or ensorcelled items. The waters of the lake still heal and the giants still use its blessings. But in their everyday lives, they prefer tangible things... rock, wood, iron and fur. It should be noted that the water of the lake is gradually losing its healing power.

There is a dragon living in the southern part of the Rahjan mountains. Her name is Tarhauxibane. The Jarkune have had encounters and battles with her before. They tend to avoid the area around her lair as she has made a meal of more than one Jarkune giant.

The current chieftain of the Jarkune is a giant named Tor. He has proven himself on the battle field, on the hunting trail and in the council room. It is Jarkune custom that the chieftain have several councillors and bodyguards and that he pick his successor. Tor has ruled for the last seventy years. He is well liked and trusted by almost all the Jarkune.

There are rumors that, even today, there lives a giant hermit sorcerer deep in the jungles to the south. The Jarkune have heard these tales, but dismiss them. Nahjdar likely died from his wounds, they will say. Besides, he fled into exile three centuries ago. If the wounds did not kill him, old age has claimed him by now. Unknown to the Jarkune, Nahjdar lives on to this day...

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