Ajani Plains

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The Lands of the Ajani Tribes is quiet. There are a few trading towns along the borders of the plains, the largest being the coastal city of Springdale, but the heart of the land is silent and mysterious. Under the gaze of Simba, the Immortal Lion, the Ajani lands knew peace and serenity. The nomadic tribes however have mostly vanished, whole communities disappeared over a span of weeks, until only a very few were left. Those who remain say that the tribes have joined their ancestors, stepping into the ghost world. From time to time, one may return, changed from the things they have witnessed, but they never remain long.

The Spire

The Spire is a pristine, white crystal monument which rises up from the heart of the plains. The lands of the Ajani are defined by any point where the Spire is visible. The Spire controls the weather, providing the region with a steady, subtropical domain, and also protects the region with the Spire's blessing -- harm can not come to those under the protection of the Spire. Within this domain, no person is capable of inflicting an injury upon another person, and murder has not occurred within the lands since the Spire first rose into the sky. Hunting animals is permitted however. The Spire is believed to be crafted by powerful Elemental forces, and is a powerful symbol and spiritual force within the region. After the Awakening of the spirit world, it has only grown in strength, making the barrier between the spirit world and the physical world thin.

Every attempt to claim the lands of the Ajani have met with failure and disaster. While the invaders could never be harmed, the land itself seemed to turn against those who did not belong. Blistering heat, locusts, sickness, hail, and torrential rain all brought suffering to the invading forces, and the shamans of the Ajani could call upon the spirits to plague their enemies even more.

Environment

The region is subtropical, with a wide savanna at the heart of the domain. The borders are rolling plains, which taper off into the grasslands of the neighbouring regions, and there is a thick wood which covers most of the north. There are only three seasons within the domain of the Ajani -- a dry season which is divided onto a cool season and a long, hot season; and a short, wet season. What most would consider winter is simply a cool, wet period with many rains. The cool season is dry and somewhat chilly, while the hot season is dry, baking the land, causing the plants of the savanna to become dry and brittle.

Those entering the region feel a lull fall upon them, bringing with it a sense of peace and harmony with the land itself. Those inclined to warfare often find this lull disquieting, whole those who live a more sedentary lifestyle often finds the relaxed atmosphere to their liking.

People

The Ajani are a proud people, revering the Immortal Lion, yet never remain in one place for very long. The tribes tolerate the trade towns which have grown along their borders, facilitating commerce with the other regions. They claim to be from the Southern Wilds, having fled the horrors there, and were welcomed into the region with open arms. This land is theirs, and while the tribes do not stand under one ruler, each pays respect to the Immortal Lion.

The majority of the Ajani are tauric. Among the savanna, the majority have the lower bodies of the great cats - lions and tigers being the dominant population, while zebra and gazelle are also visible. Rare, but respected, are the cobras, the serpent folk of the savannah are recognized as being potent sorcerers. In the north, the panthers and leopards tend to gather, though among the forest there are also bears, monkeys, and serpents, constrictors being the most obvious. In the grasslands, there are the normal centaurs more often than not sleek and lean, as well as the rare wolf and bear.

The Ajani have no armies, but each tribe boasts powerful warriors and proud shamans who can call upon the spirits of the land. The Spire may prevent warfare, but contests of strength, skill, and cunning prevail within the region. Competition and combat sports are more than welcome, as injury and death are unheard of, making skill and technique important, and the warriors are able to use their utmost ability against one another with no fear of harm. Challenges to a person’s honour are met with contests of skill, including sporting events, hunting competitions, or feats of strength and agility. Those who refuse such contests are considered cowards and shunned, or worse.

Politics

The tribes of the Ajani are nominally ruled by Simba, the Immortal Lion. The Lion is not part of any tribe however, and is worshipped as the ruler of the animals of the spirit world. The tribes each follow a chief, who is advised by a n'ganga, one of the tribal shamans. In recent years, spirit wardens have begun to make their place within the territory. Those who feel the call of the spirits depart from the tribe, testing themselves and fasting in the savannah. If they survive, they return with their spirit allies, acting as aids to the n'ganga.

Since bloodshed is forbidden, major conflicts between the tribes are settled with sports and competition. Crimes are punished with exile, and the spirits of the tribes and land are more than capable of punishing those who would disrupt the harmony of the tribe. Those who are exiled must work hard to survive, and the weak often do not last more than a few days.

The tribes are nomadic, moving from watering hole to watering hole, or from hub village to hub village. These villages are often crafted by merchant caravans coming into the region from other nations. Rather than chasing down any given tribe for trade and commerce, these hubs are constructed, allowing the tribes to come to the village for trade. Nearly every village has a totem animal, a greater spirit to help ensure the peace and security of the village. The largest trade hub is the city of Springdale, controlled by the lutrai, while the second largest is Doverhampton, where the majority of nations have built their embassies.

Religion

The Ajani worship Simba, the Immortal Lion, and consider the spirit world to be a sacred place. The Ajani follow a very animistic belief system, which meshes well with the Rymnian faith brought in by the lutrai who settled along the western coastline. Other religions have not been able to influence the Ajani, and while the Rymnian faith has not spread much into the tribes, it is respected.

Recently, ancestor worship has begun to spread through the tribes. The Onsigbare (the "unseen") are those who have been called into the spirit world. Most have not been seen again, though the spirit walkers and the n'ganga are capable of speaking to them. The shamans describe great hunts, the unseen walking the world of spirits, ensuring harmony and protecting the tribes from beyond the veil. These spirit warriors are revered and respected by the tribes of the Ajani, and some have begun to worship those ancestors who have stepped beyond.

Names

An Ajani is named upon birth, but can choose a new name once they come of age. A name is a mercurial thing, and can be changed by the tribe as a form of praise or mocking, or it can be changed by the individual, to highlight the person's aspirations and goals. In the end, the name accepted by the tribe becomes the person's name. Some tribes have begun to use the name of their tribe as a 'last name', to aid those who come from other nations, or when they visit trade hubs.

Tribal Names

  • Male: Ade, Ajani, Bahari, Braima, Chimelu, Chinua, Diallo, Duka, Essien, Fisseha, Gamada, Godana, Haben, Hanzila, Ige, Iniko, Jabilo, Jafaru, Kasim, Kitoko, Lerato, Luthando, Mandla, Mikaili, Natine, Nyack, Oringo, Oya, Phomello, Polo, Reth, Roho, Sadiki, Simba, Tadelesh, Tenen, Uba, Upendo, Wasaki, Xola, Yaro, Yerodin, Zaire, Zulu
  • Female: Abeni, Ayanna, Banji, Bem, Chinue, Cyrah, Deka, Dembe, Elon, Eshe, Fabunni, Fola, Genet, Gimbya, Hada, Hazina, Isoke, Izefia, Jahzara, Jira, Kainda, Keshia, Liseli, Lisimba, Malaika, Milandu, Nala, Nyeki, Orma, Oya, Paleso, Phenyo, Qwara, Rabia, Rafiki, Safara, Selam, Tanisha, Tendai, Ujana, Uzuri, Venda, Visola, Walta, Winta, Xhosa, Xolani, Yassah, Yihana, Zhenga, Zuna

The names used in trade hubs are usually the same as those found in Tarantis and the Shire, mirroring the culture and traditions of the two largest trading partners to the Ajani.