the centuries that the Tashari Empire prospered, men had accepted
this oppressive regime as divine right. But the Aratsus had taken
their success for granted. They had drilled too far, mined too
deep, bled their plentiful resources dry until their jungles gave
way to a parched desert. They tried turning to their trade allies
from the other kingdoms for help, but there was no way all the
other kingdoms combined could provide for their sheer numbers of
worse, their wasteful ambitions had disrupted their kingdom’s
part in the cycle of birth, growth, death, and rebirth as ordained
by the gods at the beginning of time. Few crops flourished in
their depleted soil, which meant diminishing harvests for the
was in this state that the Aratsu Streibshnihvari inherited the
Tashari Empire. Knowing how upset and disheartened her subjects
were, she proposed a radical new plan to bring the hope back into
their hearts. They would build a massive fleet of ships and set
out to sea in search of new lands to sustain them. This did indeed
brighten the spirits of many, and the men were sent out to
construct the ships.
everybody was pleased with this plan. A man by the name of Jerumei
was fed up with the status quo. He was convinced that the
matriarchy had fallen out of Siyanna’s favor and did not
understand why the males had to pay for the females’ mistakes.
Instead of working on the ships, he went off alone into the desert
to seek a vision from the goddess. There he sat, meditating on the
injustices he had endured and consumed by a belligerent rage. He
did attract the attention of a deity, but it was not Siyanna.
Jerumei couldn’t tell the difference, however, and his mind
filled in the gaps of that which he did not understand.
the ships were finally completed, many flocked to the seashore to
be the first to relocate to the promised lands. Sail they did,
singing joyful songs of how they had conquered the land and would
now conquer the oceans. But Clabdisnutsu was not pleased with such
songs, and even less pleased that her waters were becoming
polluted from the trash that the ships threw overboard. Her anger
boiled over when she learned that the Tashari were killing sea
animals without her permission, and she sent out merpeople to brew
up storms, capsize the ships, and drown all therein.
that day forward, Clabdisnutsu did not allow any outsiders to
travel the seas, and the remaining Tashari were landlocked. Any
hope the Tashari had was now dashed to pieces. Leftover resources
were waning thin. The people grew paranoid and turned on each
other, they panicked and riots broke out in the streets.
Jerumei returned from his vision quest with his distorted message
from the divine. He gathered together the men and told them they
had been lied to for centuries: the deity their civilization
worshipped was not female but male, and they were kept out of
temples to hide that fact. But the women had taken his blessings
for granted and squandered them way, so the god chose Jerumei as
his new prophet. This god was a god of war, and he was now calling
on his true children to rise up against oppression and create an
Empire worthy of his name.
prove that he was telling the truth, Jerumei vowed to look
straight into the eyes of Aratsu Streibshnihvari the next time she
walks in the street, and not be stricken blind. And to the shock
of all, he did just as he said, and the men’s morale soared. The
Aratsu would not stand for it and expelled him from Aladoon.
did not deter Jerumei. He took his band of followers and rode to
the nearest city, attacking its citizens and raiding its
storehouses. When the men of the city saw others like themselves
taking action against the Empire, they joined his cause. And so
Jerumei rode from town to town, pillaging their resources and
accumulating an exponential stream of followers. Soon he had
amassed a mighty army, enough to trample the capital city itself,
and he wasted no time in heading for it.
Streibshnihvari knew that he was coming. She knew he had left the
other cities pillaged and burning behind him. The Tashari Empire
had crumbled and all hope was lost. When she saw the dust cloud of
his army approaching, she called her twelve Priestesses to her
side and they locked themselves in the highest tower.
Streibshnihvari wept for her fallen Empire, for the suffering of
her people, for the shattering of a beautiful dream, and as her
tears fell, she and the Priestesses pooled the last remnants of
their powers to cast a mystical barrier around Aladoon. She
intended to seal the city in a singular point in time, forever
existing in the moment before it was overrun by the enemy.
Jerumei saw their magic light up the horizon, he told his army to
ride faster, but it was of no use. Just as they were within sight
of the city gates, the entire metropolis disappeared from view. He
unhorsed and ran his hand through the bare sand. It was as if the
city had never existed. There was nothing more they could do, so
he ordered his army to turn around and ride away.
once-mighty Tashari’s numbers had been cut down drastically in
these chaotic times. In order to survive, they were forced to live
as scattered bands of nomads in a barren wasteland, raiding
bordering settlements, trader caravans, and each other for food
and supplies. Northlanders viewed them as a scourge upon the land,
and called them Marauders. The
continent was now in the full grip of famine and they never forgot
who was to blame. Ever since, any human with black hair
was suspected to be of Maraudean ancestry and shunned by civilized
Tashari men worshipped the god of war as prescribed to them by
their prophet Jerumei. Jerumei never did lose his grudge against
the Empire’s females, and proclaimed that it was the god’s
will that women be subjugated. And so the tables have turned, but
nobody was any better off from it. The Marauders eventually lost
all memory of their matriarchal past. Though their glamorous
heritage had been blown away by the desert wind, they were still
Copyright © 2003 by Yumeni