Sunday, 14 April 2019

Mirage - The Story of Jamuraa

While working on the Mirage timeline article (which I will publish directly after this post) I ran into the problem that certain older websites were not only down on their original location, but that the reposts I had been linking to in my older articles have also disappeared. So to prevent link rot in the future, I'm reposting those to my blog now, so I can always point to these entries if they come up in the future.

First up: Mirage - The Story of Jamuraa. The archive of the original page can be found here.

The Story of Jamuraa

Welcome to Jamuraa, a land steeped in magical traditions that have existed for millennia. The northwest of the huge continent of Jamuraa is occupied by three nations: the militaristic kingdom of the Zhalfirins, the religious state of Femeref, and the trading province of the Suq'Ata empire.

Ancient History
Centuries ago, when the land was ruled entirely by the kingdom of Zhalfir, an internal religious dispute led the church to secede. Though the incident was resolved peacefully, the church created its own province called Femeref--"Judgment," in their tongue. In time, Femeref grew apart from Zhalfir, aided by the discovery of rich gold deposits that helped establish it as an independent state.

Eventually, tales of mineral wealth within Femeref's deep mountains spread to the Suq'Ata empire. The empire annexed the lands bordering Zhalfir and began to mine the mountains, pushing the dwarven residents into Femeref. The leaders of Femeref happily accepted the new refugees, as their skills would increase Femeref's gold yield substantially. The Zhalfirin nobility were angered by the king's unwillingness to respond to the Suq'Ata invasion of the north reaches, and this bickering splintered Zhalfir into several independent states. Only the intervention of the returning planeswalker 
Teferi restored Zhalfir to a state of calm. Teferi was an ancient court mage of Zhalfir and his name still commanded respect centuries after his departure for other planes. Sadly, Teferi was no diplomat, and after a few decades he resolved to leave the kingdom to its machinations whilst he took up residence on a small secluded island to begin a series of magical experiments.
Teferi was attempting to manipulate time so that he might overcome the difficulties of magical summoning. He theorized that he could drop creatures in and out of the time stream, causing them to appear and disappear at will--"phasing," as he labeled it. But his experiments met with limited success: after years of trial and error, Teferi concluded the process was inherently unstable. Random effects constantly occurred; worse still, Teferi discovered that his early, clumsy experiments had damaged the time stream and threatened to unravel that stream across Dominaria if left unattended. Hardened by the knowledge of his culpability, Teferi prepared to fix the time stream with a colossal energy burst, a dangerous maneuver at best but his only real hope of repairing the damage.

What happened next was truly unexpected. The energy unleashed caused every plant, animal, and building on Teferi's isle to phase out of existence. All that remained was the barren rocky foundation of the isle.

The Coming of Harmony
The nations of Jamuraa knew nothing of this . . . but three mages powerful enough to perceive the subtle ripple in the time stream took notice. First was Mangara of Corondor, a mage versed in politics and a great ally of the Quirion elves of the White Woods. Second was Jolrael, who lived in a series of palaces erected in her name at the heart of the Mwonvuli Jungle's delta. Her influence spread through the animal kingdom and beyond to the sentient lizard people, the Viashino, and through them to the mighty dragons. It was rumored that Jolrael was once a great Zhalfirin mage who turned her back on that society to build her own empire of beasts. Third was Kaervek of the Burning Isles, a mage known for his allegiances with many malign spirits and their allies throughout Urborg and Bogardan, chiefly the Nightstalkers and the easily manipulated Panther Warriors.

The three mages met on the barren rock that had once been Teferi's Isle. No one could explain the mysterious residual temporal energy, but the three's curiosity was piqued and they agreed to settle in Jamuraa and keep a close eye on the isle.

Mangara immediately dealt with the rival nations: if he was to settle in this place for any length of time, he refused to have any wars disturbing his new home. Mangara's gifts for diplomacy and intimidation encouraged peace agreements within a few short years. When Femeref and Zhalfir could not agree on a border, Mangara created a buffer zone near the Unyaro jungle. To police this zone, he summoned a large contingent of Quirion elves. The elves had always had a good relationship with Mangara and happily populated this new land. The agreement with the Suq'Ata was trickier but eventually a trade agreement (the Suq'Ata's favorite kind) was created.

Within a century "Mangara's Harmony" created a new age of enlightenment as the nations began to trust one another. They exchanged ideas and shared their strengths-even the dwarves and elves were welcome within the cities.

The Serpent in Paradise
But Kaervek was horrified. Kaervek had always had dreams of ruling a nation, but the powerful entities of the Burning Isles had ensured that his dreams might never come to fruition. Frustrated by Mangara's success and incapable of believing that Mangara would control Zhalfir for any purpose rather than aggression, Kaervek began to work on Jolrael's fears and her inability to understand the ambitions of humans ( at this point, she had lived with animals for several hundred years). Slowly, as Mangara's rule took shape, Kaervek was able to draw the reclusive Jolrael into the politics of the region. In time, the two mages built covert armies of animals and spirits throughout Jamuraa.

Kaervek waited, occasionally instigating border disputes between Zhalfir and its neighbors and infighting among the Zhalfirin nobility. Eventually the disputes flared and blood accidentally spilled. Within days, civil war seemed imminent. This disruption was all that Kaervek needed--he sent dozens of evil spirits into the lands, fanning the flames of old hatred to spark across the borders. Mangara was at a loss, unable to control the steadily worsening situation. It was then than Kaervek sent a message to Mangara, an offer of "assistance" in dealing with the troubles. Mangara agreed to meet with Kaervek in the Mwonvuli Delta.

Mangara never returned from that encounter. Kaervek and Jolrael ambushed him, capturing him within an Amber Prison that now sits in the throne room of one of Jolrael's palaces. Many of the Zhalfirins believed that Mangara had fled the land, leaving it to civil war; others believed he died in the Mwonvuli.

So began the dark days for Jamuraa. Reports increased of people mauled by wild cats, of citizens dying in their sleep with expressions of horror the only clue to the cause of their demise. Farmers began to mysteriously vanish from their fields.

The three nations met at a great council. They shared their tales, and the greatest of the storytellers, Hakim Loreweaver, presented myriad reports from across Jamuraa. Indeed, something was afoot, and they would have to find a way to put aside their own territorial squabbles if they were to deal with these mysterious terrors. It was then that Kaervek chose to make his appearance, demanding the surrender of the three nations. Kaervek's love of making a grand appearance had blinded him to the fact that he had now given the nations a look at their enemy. United against a common foe, the nations of Jamuraa flatly defied Kaervek, stating they would pay him no fealty.

War in Jamuraa
Over the coming months, attacks were infrequent. The occasional Zhalfirin village was scorched from the map by dragonfire. The trail through the Uuserk marshes was closed after the deaths of a troupe of scouts. The entire Femeref grand assembly was slaughtered by a terrifying entity known as the Spirit of the Night. The attacks began to increase in intensity and reports reached Zhalfir of armies of the dead rising from the land. But among all of this activity one major event had been overlooked by everyone . . .

. . . Teferi's isle had returned. Almost two hundred years after its disappearance, the isle returned to its verdant origins. The people of the isle were unaware that any time had passed, and their first realization that something was wrong came when one of Jolrael's dragons, drawn by the scent of people, attacked the isle. Teferi slew the dragon and immediately set out to discover what was happening-- and when! He was horrified to discover foreign wizards warring within Jamuraa, and he began to consider how to remove these urchins without dragging anyone else into the war.

As we reach the present, the human nations are once again united by fragile agreements. Kaervek has taken command of most of Jolrael's forces, and the human nations find themselves under attack by spirits, animals, orcs, goblins, cat warriors, Viashino, and dragons! Teferi has refrained from entering the conflict, choosing to tend his experiments lest they run out of control. But be assured, he is watching.

This is a time of heroes: both royalty and commoner alike have risen to defend their home, throwing aside political boundaries to fight the forces of Kaervek. They are not only battling to survive, but to ensure the new Golden Age endures. If they can free Mangara, they have a fighting chance.

Character Profiles

[Hakim, Loreweaver]Hakim, Loreweaver Suq'Ata Male
Hakim is the primary storyteller of Mirage; he has a gift for finding stories, even mundane ones, and turning them into epics. Much of the rich mythos that underlies this society is seen through his grand eyes. Hakim is a bit of a braggart, but at heart he is a charming man whose visits are always welcomed events throughout Jamuraa. He has even, on occasion, told his tales to the nobility of the land. Hakim also has a huge collection of magical trinkets; he is never without some kind of magical enchantment placed upon himself. Finally, Hakim travels the land on the back of a tame blue drake, one he raised from a young age, or so he claims . . .

[Rashida Scalebane]Rashida Scalebane Zhalfirin Female
Rashida was born into a relatively wealthy family who were wardens of a Zhalfirin village. Rashida had a fairly comfortable childhood and grew to love a very simple, if not a little lazy, lifestyle in the beautiful Mtenda Wilds.

All that changed when the dragons arrived. Even as the first rumors of trouble at the capital of Kipamu reached the village (accompanied with even more fanciful tales of Mangara being captured by other wizards!), several dragons descended upon the village. The dragons were led by the crimson hellkite, and the entire village--including Rashida's family--was slain. Only Rashida survived--she was taking an afternoon doze on one of the distant hills. Awakened by the smell of smoke, she rode to the hilltop to witness the dragons taking flight from the smoldering ruins of her home. Rashida spent several days in the ruins, burying those dead who had not been reduced completely to ash. When she had completed this grim, task she was no longer the same woman . . .

Rashida vowed to wipe the dragons from the face of Jamuraa, and she discarded her family name as a tribute to the dead. To this end she managed to find her family heirloom, a Banesword, a weapon able to attune its enchantments to kill those that the wielder hates most. This sword became Scalebane.

In the opening year of the war, Rashida has become a hero to the Zhalfirins. People have mixed up her name and now commonly know her as Rashida Scalebane, a name she readily accepts. She is believed to have killed more than a dozen dragons, and those who have witnessed her conflicts say she is possessed of superhuman strength and speed and an amazing ability to strike a fatal blow to a wurm tens of times her size. The dragons that have fallen to her have been dissected, their scales providing incredible armor and their innards, all manner of peculiar medicines.

In a time when Zhalfir has few leaders due to the loss of Mangara and the decline of the royal house, Rashida is one of few people to draw together a powerful standing army, mostly of commoners. A few noble houses have joined her banner, aiding her army with training. Rashida's army is rough, but passionate and well equipped.

Rashida's tone is stern, clipped, and often threatening. Don't tangle with her!

[Sidar Jabari]Sidar Jabari Zhalfirin Male
Jabari is an uncommon soldier. If he had been a weak and sickly child rather than the strapping athlete he was, he might have become a philosopher--a highly prized position in Zhalfirin society. However, he followed his natural calling and became a soldier. With his wealthy family's backing and a keen intellect, his rise through the ranks was swift.

Today Jabari controls Zhalfir's largest standing army, which includes several elite orders of askari. His soldiers are almost entirely veterans, and he has routinely repelled far larger forces than his own.
A coalition between Jabari and Rashida would be incredibly beneficial, though unlikely due to their very different approaches to the art of war.

Jabari speaks with a philosophical tone, a measured speaker with a soothing demeanor. It is far more important, though, to listen to what he says, not how he says it. He is a firm believer in the right of Zhalfir to rule and will defend his country to the last soldier.

[Asmira, Holy Avenger]Asmira, Holy Avenger Femeref Female
Typical of the culture of Femeref, Asmira has equal love for nature as she does for the cities. Asmira was raised for entry into the priesthood. Throughout her training, her teachers recognized prophetic qualities in Asmira's speeches. One of her teachers avoided being killed by a runaway horse by choosing to step into a shop doorway to view a pendant that Asmira had said would bring the teacher great luck. Over time what was considered a novelty came to be treated as a considerable gift from the gods. Asmira's reputation grew and she became a welcomed visitor at Mangara's court. She encouraged the peace that Mangara had brought to Jamuraa, and as a symbol she chose to wear a combination of Zhalfirin and Femeref clothing styles--a simple act that distanced her from many Femeref hardliners.

Then came the prophecies of doom. An abundant early harvest throughout Femeref was seen as a warning by Asmira that the country should prepare for lean times before the summer was finished. Naturally, many eschewed these notions, the hardliners claiming that Asmira was a sensationalist attempting to expand her reputation. This led to some unpleasant debate between Femeref church and state. In the midst of arguments, no one heard the other warnings that Asmira had to share. Her voice was drowned by the howls of indignation . . .

And so it was that Femeref was completely unprepared as the wild animals turned against them and dragons swept into the lands. Femeref took many losses in those early days, the worst loss being the Femeref grand assembly--"The Council of Voices" was slaughtered by a mysterious creature called the Spirit of the Night. The only clue to this creature's existence came from a simple sewer urchin who had been spying on the house. He claimed a great shadow with sickly eyes had materialized in the room, and not a single soul escaped the carnage. Few give the urchin's story credence, but no other explanations have been forthcoming.

With its leadership gone, the people have turned to Asmira. She is currently the sidar of Femeref's armies and the spiritual leader of all the people. Such a lofty position has of course made her a prime target for assassination, but three attempts have thus far failed. Asmira is horrified by the very act of war, and her disgust at the killing seems to be forging her into a holy warrior of unparalleled proportions. She leads her armies by instinct, not experience, but her gift of foresight has allowed her to win some incredible victories.

[Telim'Tor]Telim'Tor Suq'Ata Male
Telim'Tor was born to a large Suq'Ata family of noble blood. The family had made its wealth through crusades and expeditions, and as such Telim and his three brothers were expected to join the army. Only Telim and Husam'Tor lived beyond their second year in the army. They were the youngest of the two and missed out on some of Suq'Ata's more hazardous campaigns. Husam was a great strategist while Telim was rather dull and unimaginative but had an ability to get good results through threats and brutality. Throughout their careers Telim worked under Husam--a position he deeply resented.

Then came the expedition to the deep Ekundu mountains. Husam led a large number of troops into the mountains to recover a horde of priceless maps lost in a goblin attack upon a royal caravan. Things did not go well for the expedition, and Husam was fatally injured. Telim eagerly took command and was able to save the maps but at the cost of 90 percent of the expedition. Upon returning to Amiqat, Telim told of how Husam had led them to near disaster and how Telim had saved the expedition and the few remaining troops. The survivors maintained their silence, expecting a big reward. This they received a few nights later when each one died a grizzly death. Telim, however, was promoted and given access to the army's personal artificiers.

Telim always had a love for toys; he instructed the artificiers to produce a small array of strange but devious weapons and trinkets, which became his trademark in the following years.

Telim'Tor is currently a respected and feared figure in Jamuraa. His armies are brutal and famed for taking no prisoners. The merest infraction of protocol in his legions results in death, and it is said that any abandoned campsite can be identified as Telim'Tor's if it has a headless corpse buried there. Telim's success is not associated with military genius but pure brutality. The current war has been a trying time for Telim'Tor, for he fights beasts and dragons who are not cowed by his reputation. Still he struggles on, and his brutality has lent him the element of surprise on many occasions.

Telim is certainly not the brightest of characters, and much of his flavor text reflects this. He is easily impressed by the smallest of artifacts but is difficult to impress with anything else.

[Teferi]Teferi Zhalfirin Male
Teferi is the only known planeswalker of Jamuraa. He was once the counsel to the ancient kings and queens of Zhalfir. His final act before his departure was the creation of the Guilds of Magic, which ultimately resulted in the secession of the Femeref some thirty years later. Teferi remained oblivious to this and continued his research until the day he and all the inhabitants of his island vanished from Dominaria. Returning many decades later to find his beloved land at war with two upstart wizards, he has chosen to refrain from confrontation until necessary. The indirect approach is one of Teferi's trademarks--he's not a coward but a diligent master of insidious tactics.

Teferi's tone is quite measured. He is an ancient being who has seen a great deal of things. He is a philosopher and scientist. He eschews violence and will attempt to deal with opposition via the control of its allies and the eventual removal of its powerbase.

[Mangara's Tome]Mangara Corondor Male
Mangara is a wizard who has spent many years living in Corondor, predominately in the Region of the White Woods. He has close allies with the Quirion elves, and it is rumored that he was a pupil of Eskil, a planeswalker resident in the woods.

Mangara left Corondor for Jamuraa some two hundred years ago (Mangara, Jolrael, and Kaervek are all sufficiently powerful that they have reduced their aging process to a crawl) where he quickly used his understanding of politics and his considerable ability to intimidate to return Zhalfir, Suq'Ata, and Femeref to a state of relatively peaceful co-existence.

Mangara is prone to brief but poignant statements. Many of his maxims are double edged; they have a second meaning that is related to his experiences in politics and nation building.

Jolrael Zhalfirin Female
Jolrael is probably the least understood of the mages caught up in the present war. She apprenticed as a mage within Zhalfir some hundred years after Teferi departed for other planes. But after attaining an unusual level of power and suffering the jealousies of other mages, she quit Zhalfir and hired an expedition to take her deep into the Mwonvuli Jungle. Eventually the expedition had to turn back due to the increasingly hazardous terrain, but Jolrael continued. For a time she lived rough and communed with the creatures of the forest, but used to the luxuries of Zhalfir, she soon became dissatisfied with the outdoor life.

And so it was that in the large delta set deep in the Mwonvuli, Jolrael built her first palace, where she resided for some years accompanied only by the creatures of the jungle that were allowed to freely roam through the palace. Being a fickle creature, Jolrael eventually tired of the palace and built a new one. Having continued this process for centuries, her home is now dotted with numerous overgrown palaces.

Her alliance with Kaervek is an unusual one. Having spent so much time in the company of animals, which are free of such human frailties as greed or ambition, she was poorly prepared for his machinations. It was Kaervek who persuaded Jolrael that Mangara's control of the human nations was the first step towards Mangara attempting to seize the mysterious isle (of Teferi) for himself. And it was Kaervek who pushed Jolrael to take arms against Mangara.

As the war proceeds, Jolrael has begun to question the wisdom of her alliance with Kaervek. Eventually, she may turn upon him, and the war will come to a brutal and sudden end.

Jolrael has an earthy wisdom regarding animals and nature, but her understanding of people and their machinations are limited, allowing Kaervek to railroad her so successfully.

Kaervek Burning Isles Male
Kaervek is evil . . . period. He grew up in the harsh Burning Isles, where all you need to survive is ruthlessness. Naturally blessed with arcane abilities, Kaervek was able to realize a great deal of ambitions early. If it were not for the fact that this region was filled with very powerful entities, Kaervek may have become its ruler instead of one heavy hitter among dozens.

Kaervek immediately recognized the danger that Mangara represented to his plans of domination within Jamuraa. He twisted Mangara's peace-making attempts into a sign of a general amassing his army.

Kaervek is a bully; his tone is generally threatening and often arrogant. He severely lacks a sense of humor, common among those with inflated egos.

Sisay of the Weatherlight Femeref Female
The pilot of a flying galleon, Sisay has traveled almost as much as Hakim and tells a great deal of stories and anecdotes. Although she lacks the grandeur and style of Hakim, she has a coarse honesty. To a few regular and trusted passenger, she imparts a small and unusual gold ring, a sign to her other regulars that this is a person trusted by Sisay.

Talibah, Embermage Suq'Ata Female
Wildfire is the realm of djinns and efreets, and Emberwilde is the name of the order of mages dedicated to the Wildfire realm--it is a commonly used compression of the Mages of the Emberwilde Order. Talibah is a thug with power. However, her tone becomes very enlightened and "less aggressive" when referring to Wildfire.

Scout Ekemet Femeref Female
Leader of a scout troupe, most of Ekemet's mentions refer to water. She and her troop are eventually killed in a swamp by an unknown entity.

Qhattib, Vizier of Amiqat Suq'Ata Male
Pashad Ibn Asim, Trader Suq'Ata Male
Qhattib is the cautionary voice of the leadership of Suq'Ata. He is offset by Pashad, who is a much more street-level character.

[Civic Guildmage]Mtai, Civic Guildmage Zhalfir Male
Kifimbo, Shadow Guildmage Zhalfir Female
Panya, Granger Guildmage Zhalfir Female
Tywanna, Shaper Guildmage Zhalfir Female
Each represent an aspect of what makes Zhalfir tick. Mtai is quite cold, Panya somewhat blunt and earthy, and Kifimbo very guarded.

[Shauku, Endbringer]Shauku, Endbringer Femeref Female Vampire
An isolationist whose tone is generally curt and threatening, even Shauku's wisdom is abrasive.

[Purraj of Urborg]Purraj of Urborg Cat Warrior Female
Purraj's tone is also clipped--not due to an isolationist attitude (since she sees herself as a leader of her kind), but because she dislikes extraneous babble. She is a killer, and a quiet one at that! 

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