The Sakazi Islands used to be a relative paradise to live, despite being highly populated. Of course, like any place to live it had its problems, but the tribal families on each island generally pulled together to help each other. They were masters of their area, fishing, growing crops, catching birds and harvesting coconuts and other native plants. They neither took too much, so that they used everything up at once, nor too little so that they went hungry. But their happy lives came to an end when the great galleons came from the East…
With their further expansion to the East at least temporarily blocked by the Pan-Kor Empire and the loose alliance of the Kraken States, the Shogun, backed by the Admiralty Council, sent a whole fleet of ships West under Rear-Admiral Brande to search for new lands and of course the vital amethyst. They were ready to fight of course, with cannons, regiments of marines and plenty of ammunition.
But they also took with them plenty of trade goods, for their orders were not to fight if there was another way of getting what they wanted.
When they met the islanders they had skilled wizards who had spells capable of translating what they spoke so that both sides could understand what was said. Brande warned his men neither to cause trouble nor to underestimate those who they faced as he was convinced that he could avoid war at least for now. He soon discovered that the islanders had never encountered alcohol, and not only did they greatly like it, it was addictive to them.
And so it was that without directly needing to use force, he got many of the islanders to be prepared to do the Company’s bidding, willingly allowing their trees to be cut down for wood for shipping, even toiling in the earth to mine amethyst for the Company without the need for chains, whips or guards, willing slaves to the Company’s alcohol.
Of course, there were those who refused to fall victim, and they first protested verbally and when ignored, tried to attack those who had spoiled everything for them. But they were fighting with spears and obsidian clubs against muskets, crossbows, steel cutlasses and potent magic. So they fell back into the jungle interior, convinced that though they were a minority, they could still hurt the Company enough for it to give up and go away. They also made plans to get fire to the great galleons. With their ships destroyed, the Company’s ammunition would soon run out and then they could overwhelm their oppressors by sheer weight of numbers.
But they never got the chance. A couple of lone marines came into their territory carrying large numbers of goods and were slaughtered. They didn’t put up much of a fight. A few days later, it was discovered why. They were dying of a disease that had never reached this part of Acqua before.
Persuaded to sacrifice themselves because first, they had not long to live anyway and second, money would be paid to their families, their deaths started a pandemic that raged unchecked. Whilst it was nasty within Banhoesea, the islanders had no trace of antibodies and no defence against it. Nine out of ten perished within days, choking out their lungs as they lay there and ripped great gashes in their rash-covered bodies to try and end the itching.
The survivors either surrendered, convinced that their gods and goddesses had abandoned them, or were easily winkled out of their hiding places and put to the sword.
Meanwhile, the Company had hunted the birds and fish almost to extinction and many of the other food sources were much reduced. It got to the point where the islanders were now dependent on the Company not just for alcohol but also for food. Even if they somehow broke their dependency and forced the Company to retreat, they would, at least in the short term, face starvation.
Now they are a shadow of their previous selves, and most no longer have the will within themselves for any sort of resistance. If they flee inland, they risking catching what they call the Jovian Plague, after Jove, the main God of the Company, whilst on the coasts they know they cannot counter the massed musketry and crossbows of the Company marines. Many have been baptised in the faith of Jove or Ulmania and their own temples have been reconsecrated to serve these new alien faiths.
Brandes renamed the islands after himself and returned to Banhoesea, much praise and a promotion to Vice Admiral. Unknown to him a cult has formed in the islands that worship him as a God of Death because of all the death that his visit brought them. They hope that if they carry out the right ceremonies he will return but this time on their side, to wipe out their oppressors.