Tashari Empire

          The lush jungles of the Tashar were nourished by the Great River, pouring into the southlands from a waterfall in the Valley of the Whispering Winds. When Siyanna arrived there, the people were living in darkness under the tropical canopy alongside the cat-like Annukai. She let the sunís rays penetrate the thick overgrowth of branches. Seeing the sky for the very first time, the humans praised the goddess and called her the Shining One.

Siyanna called her new followers the Tashari, and told them to clear the trees and build homes for themselves. They did just that, and before long, organized villages were thriving on the forest floor, farming and irrigating the land. Soon population grew, and more of the woods needed to be cleared to make room for it. As the Tashari expanded outward and thinned the forest, they pushed their former neighbors, the Annukai, off their land and farther into the wilds.

Eventually villages became impractical and the necessity to build cities arose. Dozens of villages came together to build the new capital city called Aladoon on the shores of the Great River. Its buildings were made from clay and mud, and painted with bright dyes of jungle flowers. With so many people living in one place, formal government and laws needed to be established. For this purpose Siyanna came down to choose an Aratsu, the Living Sun, a High Priestess to serve as her avatar among mortals and rule by divine right. The first such Aratsu was Anahita, and she hand-picked from among the women twelve lesser Priestesses to be her governing council.

Time passed, and more and more cities dotted the land, all connected by aquatic routes along the Great River. The countryside had become a level plain from horizon to horizon, and it was hard to believe it was once riddled with jungles. Each day more trees fell, and each day the cities grew in splendor. Yet none could rival the magnificence of Aladoon, the shining jewel of the steppes.

Siyanna was worshipped as the Shining One, the great goddess of love and war, civilization and agriculture. She was honored in her aspect of the Creative Sun, giver of abundance, blessings, and plenty. Aratsu Anahita had a vision of growth and expansion, and future Aratsus followed in her footsteps. She knew it would require the full utilization of the landís resources, so she sent the men out to harvest them. But the hunger for resources was insatiable, for the more they brought back, the more extravagant the vision became. Many Aratsus have come and gone, leaving a legacy of art, philosophy, and monuments in their wake.

No longer were they simply the Tashari, they were now the glorious Tashari Empire, and people came from far and wide to see their culture and to trade. The Tashari were the only humans on Lossi with black hair, and when they saw to what extent their achievements outshined that of the lighter-haired Northlanders, they deemed themselves superior. The busy marketplace was packed with exotic goods from all corners of the world. Lofty towers loomed overhead, topped with gold and diamonds that flashed like a flame in the sun. The pungent scent of spices drifted through the air and translucent curtains wafted in the wind. Marvelous temples brimming with lavish offerings were a common sight.

Most spectacular of all was the Palace of the Sun, fit for Siyanna herself. The menagerie was stocked with colorful birds and the gardens planted with tropical trees and flowers. The spacious halls were encrusted with gems, the Priestesses laid back on smooth silks, and were fanned with peacock feathers. They wore veils when they went outside the palace, for it was believed they were so radiant with the sunís power that any male that looked upon their bare face would be stricken blind. Women were seen as the bearers and sustainers of life, the embodiment of divine love and compassion, the myriad rays of the great sun goddess herself.

         In truth, men were second-class citizens in the Tashari Empire. They were seen as crude, clumsy, and irrational creatures that killed each other without rhyme nor reason before women had extended to them the saving grace of civilization. The matriarchy felt it was best to channel menís natural destructive urges into the military and manual labor, while the women concerned themselves with more esoteric duties as befits sacred servants of the matron goddess. It was believed that a male presence in the temple would offend Siyanna, so though the men built them, they were not allowed to enter a temple after it has been consecrated. Though the Palace of the Sun had a male harem, only one man had ever managed to manipulate the Priestesses with sexual favors. His name was Neijar, a leader of the Tashari armies whose legendary skill with dual swords was only surpassed by his dazzling beauty.

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Revised: 12 May 2010 07:47:48 -0400 .