It is known that once we were human. It is said we are cousins still, but my cousin does not welcome me in his house I have wandered in fear and exile…
Tortured by the forces of Demon-kind, the Djinn are the remnants of an ancient human empire. Forced to evolve or perish, these humans emerged from slavery as a new, distinct race. Djinn look very much like their human ancestors, save the horns that grow on their brows and the enigmatic ritual tattoos that they carve on their faces. Djinn skin coloring is as varied as any humans, though crimson hues are also common.
Like their human ancestors, Djinn live to an average of 80 years with the rare individual reaching the great age of 100 years. The Djinn are a vibrant, emotional people with a culture that is as rich as it is enigmatic.
The history of the race known as the Djinn is a murky tale, full of intrigue and deceit, pageantry and splendor. A people of vivid contrasts, the Djinn are at once capable of extreme ruthlessness and sincere tenderness. They are a race that is literally alive with passion – and seem to be capable of experiencing their emotions to a degree unknown in their human ancestry.
Once the Djinn were human, and everyone was descended from a line of conquerors that lived long ago in the Age of Might. It was during this time that they forged the great Empire of Virilys, which at its height occupied the entire eastern continent and had interests in every corner of the world.
Known for its great power and wealth, the Virilian Empire was also well sung for its propensity for cruelty and decadence. Even in places far from the capital, the Empire exerted its influence – influencing native kingdoms both great and petty. Biased to its own greatness, Virilys cultivated an ethos of self-importance, treating all others as inferior savages that could only be saved through the promise of Virilian Law. Over the course of many hundred years, the Empire ostracized and marginalized nearly every other culture on Aeryn.
But resentment was checked. Uprisings were quickly staunched. Virilys was a titan of civilization. Her armies were the grandest the world had ever known. Her military might was without peer, and her awesome wealth drove the economy of the known world. There were none who could oppose her.
Or so it was believed…
For at the end of the Age of Mortals, the Demon Lord Ixiel opened a thousand doors into Aeryn. 999 led directly into the capital – the beating heart – of Virilys herself.
Against the Scourge there could be no victory, and Virilys fell to horrors unimagined and unseen in all the long history of the world. All who dwelt therein were cast into the Abyss – the first and last prisoners the Demon would ever take. For one hundred years, the Virilian humans were forced to work in the bowels of the writhing Abyss. For one hundred years they were ruined and tortured. Some few were fortunate enough to die – many and more became maddened shadows bound to the Abyss to this day.
But a handful endured. Slowly, something unexpected in the nine worlds began to take shape. The humans began to change. Amid the hiss and boil of Erebus, their blood began to sing with a new life. Horns grew from their brows and fire passed over their skin as easily as water. The humans had adapted – and had become something other.
No one knows exactly how it was done, but it came to pass that Tethys – a crowned prince of Old Virilys – discovered a power in the bowels of the Abyss. Wielding a sword of “might and chaos,” Tethys was able to hold back the demonic host – leading his people inch by brutal inch steadily out of Erebus and back into the light that was Aeryn.
The Burning Blood
Though free from Erebus, the Djinn bear many scars from their time in the Abyss. They continually experience a state of pain which they call the Vak’tra or “burning blood.” Over their long history, they have learned to draw strength from this pain and have developed an almost religious attachment to it. This perpetual state is only relieved through a ritual known as the “La Vorra” or “Purge.” During the Purge, Djinn are able to achieve an almost communion like state with others of their own kind during which the pain of theirVak’tra melts away.
When Djinn are born, they are unblemished and their blood is cool. However, the Vak’tra will begin once the child enters puberty. To help them endure the intense pain of this initial burning, adolescent children must undergo the La Vorra Ritual. It is during this Rite that the Djinn receives the tattooing that will mark him for the rest of his life. It is the creation of these tattoos that helps draw the pain out of the blood. Without them, the young Djinn would perish from agony. Unfortunately the La Vorra is an excruciating process. The blood of the young Djinn boils to the surface of the skin, forming patterns that she must carve in her own flesh. The resulting tattoos are unique and often personal to each Djinn, though familial patterns sometimes repeat themselves. Because of the Vak’tra, the Djinn regard the ability to tolerate pain as one of their highest ideals. For did not Tethys himself endure great agony in the Pit? Did not the forebears of the Djinn suffer unimagined pain and yet still survive?
The Four Colonies
It is said that when the Djinn returned from Erebus, they broke up into four distinct colonies. Each spread out into the changed world seeking refuge. When found, the colonies would reunite and create a new homeland for their ravaged people. The saga of the four colonies has been told and retold countless times in Djinn history. The saga is outlined in the verse:
One to fall and never rise
One to call the banners home
One to fall in bleak demise
And One to aid the Foe
The First Colony
One to Fall and never Rise – Not officially a colony, all Djinn strive to preserve the memory of the First. This honorary colony includes all the humans who perished in the Pit. Without their sacrifice the other Djinn might never have been born.
The Second Colony
The Second colony wandered for many years before finally settling in Artanna near the deserts of the Maj. Originally considered minor players in the area, the Djinn of the Second Colony have since thrived after their discovery of the Font. They have returned to their conquering ways and today they rule the kingdom of Ashendar. They are the only colony to officially declare themselves “founded” and have sent out the call to the other colonies to re-assimilate with them. It is their belief that they embody the second line in the foretelling verse “One to call the Banners Home.” Judging by the condition of the other colonies, this might well be true…
The Third Colony
The third colony settled in Artanna immediately after their escape from Erebus. They view their home, a province of Valan-Tir, as a temporary one and are aware that they may need to move again sometime soon. Their new home is the most autonomous province of Valan-Tir, allied with the Kingdom of Light, but strongly adherent to its own principles. The Djinn of the Third Colony share strained relations with those of the Second, as they have not answered the call for re-assimilation.
The Fourth Colony
And one to Aid the Foe – The Fourth Colony – is believed to have based itself somewhere in the hinterlands. Recently re-discovered, these Djinn have all fallen back into the enslavement of the demon. To them, immersion in the demons power represents a grim kind of security where they are free from the constant pain endured by their brethren. More and more of these Djinn are found fighting with the demon hoard.
One Thought Lost, Returned – The Fifth Colony
The saga of the four colonies is well known. But in recent years a legend has begun to take hold amongst the Djinn that an as of yet unknown fifth colony may yet exist somewhere out in the world. The Fifth Colony is the Lost Colony. There has been no contact with them since the emergence from Erebus. Some believe that they are extinct. Others say that they must surely have suffered a fate similar to the Fourth Colony and serve the Demon hoarde. Some few, however, hold that the Fifth Colony will one day emerge from the hinterlands to lead the Djinn to true independence – a rumor that the Second Colony is quick to quell.
Note: Player characters may only choose to come from the Second and Third Colonies