Jan Ahava

Tell me of a broken world,
Tell me of a forgotten land,
Tell me of chaos desert deep,
Tell me the slow descent of man

– From the Epic Poem Tireqal

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Climate and Geography

Jan Ahava is a world of extremes. Its poles include subterranean volcanoes and frozen wastelands. These give way to vast, untracked deserts. When the world was first settled by humans, the central equatorial and near-equatorial regions of the world included large inland seas, rainforests, and swaths of grassland; however, the world was always arid, save for right along the equator, and was rich in precious metals and resources. Humans over-farmed and strip mined, building mighty civilizations at the cost of the ecological balance of their world. With the discovery of Splinters—bits of Starshard that could be fabricated into engines, weapons, and highly advanced tools—humanity’s technological development increased at rapid and alarming rates. This led to the further degradation of the environment and the increasing desertification of the arid and semi-arid regions. Eventually, the inlands seas largely dried up and the entire world became a landlocked desert with only oasis, groundwater tables, and very small inland seas to allow life to continue. This process was known as the Reclamation.

Flora and Fauna

Some familiar creatures exist on Jan Ahava, notably donkeys, horses, and goats, along with other mammal and bird species. Reptiles are common, including some varieties of snakes which reach massive sizes and can swallow humans whole. Arachnids are also plentiful in the desert regions, particularly spider and scorpion-like creatures. Legends speak of birds with wings of fire, flying serpents, and other oddities, though most of these creatures, if they ever existed, vanished from the world with the Reclamation.

Plant diversity dramatically declined throughout Jan Ahava’s history, with the disappearance of the forests and grasslands. A few notable species remained, however, including the dahlüt, a flowering vine with deep red petals and the notably strange purple leaves. Other species vary across the desert. Jan Ahava, however, is not known as a biodiverse world, and it becomes less so throughout its history.

People

In the earliest days, there were two people groups who came to Jan Ahava—the T’Vahn, tall people with dark brown skin, and the Gensho, generally shorter with near black skin. The T’Vahn came from the north and the Gensho from the south, both settling in the equatorial and near-equatorial regions and splitting into the six primary people groups of Jan Ahava. From the T’Vahn came the Këvar, the Thaviq, the Ahavans (for whom the world would be named), and the Seheniq. From the Gensho came the Ji and the Burdosi.

In later times, particularly during and after the Reclamation, ethnic and cultural identities would largely blend into what would collectively be known as “Ahavan culture,” though this culture was made up of an assortment of Ahavan, Burdosi, and Seheniq influences. The other three people groups largely died out, though remnants of their cultures did remain in some measure even to the very last days of Jan Ahava’s history.

Ahavans are, like their ancestors the T’Vahn, generally tall and dark-skinned. They have mostly brown eyes. Culturally, Ahavans are authoritarian, with strong groups holding power; however, they shy away from monarchies, preferring council-based governments. The Ahavans were the first to form Guilds, which would largely rule Jan Ahava for much of its history by controlling technology and trade. The Ahavans are industrious and inventive, preferring intrigue and negotiation to outright war. Thanks to the power and influence of the Guilds, large-scale warfare became far less common on Jan Ahava in the second half of its history, though many wars had been fought earlier.

Religion

The Ahavans are monotheistic, worshipping el’Ajyh, the Creator (called Alenda). They also believe in what is referred to as the Divine Triad, which includes el’Ajyh, along with two lesser divine beings (speculated to be éválnú from the First World)—the Beloved (Siavi) and the Enemy (Thaqar or Ahret Shah). The influence of these beings is seen through the Embodiment and the Cosmic Battle that would become an integral part of Jan Ahava’s history in later centuries.

The people of Jan Ahava managed to maintain an understanding of Alemitai as a whole, knowing of the existence of other worlds all throughout their history. As a result, many of their religious beliefs are tied to concepts larger than just their world.

The other peoples of Jan Ahava tend to practice the Ahavan religion in some measure, but there are other gods and divine beings incorporated into their worship as well. Certain desert peoples worship strange, dark creatures and beings that live in the deep wastelands, and others worship natural forces.

A group of people known as the Dhiv have a religion closely tied to the beliefs of the Wayfarers. Referred to as the “Cult of the Bleeding King,” the Dhiv believe that el’Ajyh and the Beloved are one and the same being. They tend to reject all forms of worldly life and set their hope and belief on the future, when all the worlds will be reunited on the reclaimed First World. Labeled heretics by many faithful Ahavans, the Dhiv are mostly desert nomads who only occasionally journey into civilized pockets of Jan Ahava.

Magic

There are three main forms of magic on Jan Ahava. The first is Starshard magic, manifested through Splinters and Thread light. Thread light from Splinters is imbued by a person and then manifests as what is referred to as a Trait. This is like an innate ability a person has that is often an enhanced version of a talent a person might normally possess. For example, a person may be given a Trait that allows them to see in the dark better than even a normal human with incredibly good eyesight. Occasionally, Traits are given which involve the direct manipulation of Thread light. These Traits are among the most powerful. Traits are accessed through the Othersoul, which is essentially a version of a person that is connected to the Starshards. The Othersoul can be thought of as a sort of second consciousness each human possesses which they can enter and gain abilities. Though all humans on Jan Ahava have an Othersoul and a Trait, not all understand how to access either. Prior to the advent of Splinter-based magic, earlier peoples of Jan Ahava discovered Metal Weaving, a similar form of magic that allowed them to manipulate metals, molding them into powerful forms and gaining abilities from the metals. This form of magic only lasted until Splinters were discovered then largely died out, as Splinter magic was more powerful and the metals with the properties necessary to Weave became more scarce.

The second predominant form of magic is Blood Binding. This was first discovered and practiced by Burdosi mages fairly early in Jan Ahava’s history. It is an incredibly dangerous form of magic that is closely associated with the occult and the worship of demonic creatures. It allows the user to manipulate the blood of themselves or another. Blood Binders are nearly immune to poison, as they can purify their own blood. They can also sap another person of strength or health by manipulating their blood. The most dangerous Blood Binding abilities involve the manipulation of another human’s consciousness via access to their blood. The greatest Blood Binders were able to control other humans from afar, wielding people like puppets. Blood Binding was considered heretical and a vile practice, and most Blood Binders were hunted down and eradicated.

The final form of magic is what the people of Jan Ahava collectively refer to as “Old Magic,” “Elder Magic,” or “Divine Magic.” It is a mysterious, nebulous magic that exists through sentient and semi-sentient beings whose habitation of Jan Ahava predates that of humanity. These creatures and beings live mostly in remote and inhospitable regions of the world and have obscure and unique powers. Since much of Jan Ahava is barely habitable by humans, there are vast, largely unexplored regions, and much of Jan Ahava lies shrouded in mystery. It is from this mystery that the concept of “Old Magic” arose.