Far to the East their lies a chain of islands, known to the inhabitants as Naztinca, Kwexilon, and the Cuatti chain, surrounded by the great curtain reef. The inhabitants of these islands, called the "people of dust" in the few places where they are remembered, call themselves the Azumi.
The Azumi are the remnants of an ancient empire(called the Azumalakozzi A-zuma-la-kozi) which was destroyed by their own magic eons ago. Magic which produced a mighty storm that was even felt on the mainland. As the last of their worshippers forgot their prayers, the celestial palaces of the ancient gods burned out and fell from their place in the heavens.
The Azumi are now reduced to a late stone-age/early bronze-age existance of hunting and gathering. They have lost the knowledge of metalurgy and the written word, and so have learned to progress in other ways. The ancient histories passed on orally from generation to generation have mutated over the years into their own type of ancestor worship, along with the worship of the elements. These histories teach each generation of Azumi to fear and loath the arcane magic which destroyed the ancients.
The Azumi exist in small tribes or extended family groups, usually named for the place they live or some deed of past family members(such as the "River Folk" or "Clam Harvesters"). Each clan is lead by a Headman who is advised by "venerated elders" who have accomplished something noteworthy in their life. The Azumi are hunter-gatherers who subside on fruit and nuts harvested from the forest as well as net fishing. Most Azumi principly hunt and eat animals called Enox, which appear to be a cross between a small pony and a goat. They hunt the Enox with large work dogs, like mastiffs.
The Azumis lodge is typically wicker panels rolled onto a pole frame then cover with hides. One of these lodges usually houses several related Azumi families.
Azumi travel either by canoe or by foot and generally can move 20 to 30 miles a day with their entire clan.
Most Azumi are small of stature, averaging around 5'4, with dark olive skin and black hair, and almond shaped eyes. The most noticable feature is their extensive tattooing. All Azumi, at an early age, recieve their clans symbol on their shoulders. Married women are tattooed on the ears and feet, and the deeds of a warrior are tattooed upon his hands and fingers. Holymen have horizontal bands tattooed around their head and face. A persons station can usually be judged by the amount of tattooing on the face and neck. Most of the Azumi's clothing consists of a simple leather loin cloth, augmented by either a feather or woven grass cloak, Enox hair vest and fur leggings depending upon the time of year and the weather.
Two groups are considered holy men among the Azumi, they are the Asai(a-si) and the Umai(oo-may). The Asai are the most respected, and are given the reverance of priests. They are the keepers of the long oral traditions of the clan and can recite thousands of lines of history from memory, and are the keepers of all the knowledge of the Azumi. No Azumi will willingly attack an Asai, as the knowledge they possess is feared as the magic of the ancients. The Umai are elemental clerics of the Azumi, and unlike the Asai actually channel the power of the elemental gods the Azumi now worship, though they are thought only to be a vector for the gods gifts and therefor are not revered as holymen but simply as the tool of the gods. The Umai are treated as any other member of an Azumi clan and are usually indistinguishable. The names given to the four elemental poers are;
Wishna- the incarnation of air, mother of the sky whos tears wash the heavens.
Urru- the incarnation of fire, husband of the sky whos touch gives fire, and who leads warriors to victory.
Cua'at- incarnation of water, daughter of the sky who holds up the world in her watery palms, and whos hair is the pure rivers.
Banutu-incarnation of earth, who lives in the hollows of the earth and who is headman over the bone-clans.
The Azumi also believe the soul of a human resides in the heart, so when an Azumi dies, his heart is removed and the rest of his body cast away. The heart is quartered and given to the gods.
War and Conflict
The Azumi fight for the same things any other people fight for, resources, border disputes, real or percieved insults, etc. Some clans being more warlike than others. They also wage war with the other beings who walk the islands. The "Banished" are a race of creatures similiar to a cross between orc, goblins, and lizardmen. They are a constant threat as they are headhunters and not only eat humans but are also cannibals. The Azumi kill they on sight. Even some Azumi clans have been known to take up the heathen ways of the Banished, and these fallen tribes can sometimes become powerful enemies. Warriors of the azumi wage war with several common weapons.
Weapons are commonly made from the Limis tree. The tree grows in the abundant deposits of cobalt on the islands, and pulls the ore into its veins. They are burned and shaved into poles for spears, or a polished piece of basalt is added to a short handle to create warmaces. The bark of the Limis tree is woven into tough wicker shields, sometimes covered in Enox hide. Other materials are bone,obsidian, stone, jade , and the sap of the Limis tree which hardens into a dense amber. The only ranged weapons known to the Azumi is the atl-atl, or spear thrower. A type of Mulisk shell called a "stone slip" is often laced together in rows to form armor for the more affluent members of the clan.
Other antagonists of the Azumi include the Enox Lord, a large humanoid with the head of a horse, though standing upright and fighting with a club. They are malicious creatures who prefer to attacks in small bands and vanish into the forest with their kills.
The Ashen are the people of the bone tribes, who dwell in the caves and passages under the islands. Their skin is a pale white from the centuries in darkness, and though they are a technically advanced as the Azumi their food chain is based entirely on meat and they regularly practice cannibalism.
The Boragi are a race descended from the spidermonkeys who were awakened by the wild magic storm. They live their entire lives in the trees. They use simple tools made from bone and stoneand eat fruit and insects. They speak a type of click language but some have learned and can speak a gutteral azumi tongue. They are generally peaceful and live in troops of 10-40, though they sometimes make war with other troops or races and are known as pests and thieves, hording all manner or trinkets and shiney baubles.
Otlnon are a type of great cat which was mutated by the storm. They now have chameleon powers and hunt at night. Otlnon are said to sneak into a lodge and steal young children from their beds.
The ancient magics of the Azumalakozzi are all but lost, though a few still hold the few secrets that remain. The Reeshu, are witchdoctors, who live in the deep forests. They are feared and shunned but respected, and often consulted by the headmen of a clan. Reeshu guard the secrets of the tattoo magic, and the power of the charm. The Tattoo magic is a closly guarded secret, passed onto only to the reeshu's apprentice. These intricate patterns and symbols can act as a magic item, activated once and then fading.
Reeshu also make protective charms from special items such as feathers, perfect pearls, lightning struck wood, etc. Reeshu are the only practicioners of arcane magic in the Azumi lands, though they may not cast any spell involving the written word.
Some men chose, instead of marrying, to become a "Bleet". These men are a type of free agent mercenary, who wanders the island. His contract can be bought by a village, to which he becomes an indentured servent for a predetermined number of seasons. While under contract he is used as an extra warrior or hunter. While serving a contract Bleets are expected to do no work beyond fighting and hunting, though they have absolutely no association with anyone but the headman or the Asai. Everyone in the village treats them as if they were ghosts. All the villages Bleets(usually 3 or 4 in a village of 50) are housed in the same communial lodge. Upon completion of their contract the Bleet is free to settle in the village he served and take a wife or move on. Bleets contracts are sometimes traded like currency.
Another profession of the Azumi is the "Tootsu" or nightman. He is part fighter, part ranger, and part scout. He prowls the night to kill the several variety of nocturnal predators which reside on the islands. From an early age the Tootsu are blindfolded, learning to sense their way through the world, never again seeing the light of day. Over the years the tootsu develope an accute nightvision and sense of hearing and touch, though they are suffer greatly in light brighter than a campfire.
The City of Bones
On the large island of Naztinca is the ancient city of Zot, once the capitol of the Azumalakozzi Empire. Most Azumi refuse to enter the city, calling it "Banutu's village, though usually once every 8 seasons the Azumi make a pilgrimage to the city to leave an offerings to keep the bone tribes from spilling forth. Inside the cities walls are the remnants of the ancient civilization. Large libraries of clay cinuform tablets make up the remains of the lost knowledge. Tapestries in depict the ancients taming powerful magics and armies of archers riding in baskets tied to the waists of enslaved giants. The center of the city holds a huge blasted zigguraut where the magic storm was unleashed.
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