Friday, November 9, 2012

The Hunyadi

THE origins of mankind are hotly disputed and no scholar can claim a theory which explains them sufficiently. It is well known, for instance, that black men came up from the south where they once had homes in the lands of Zesh, fleeing the oppression of their God-king. But when they arrived races of men had already been living in Atva-Arunia for centuries and it was with the tall white fellows that they interbred. There were the Eyls and Thegnari, the Llyreans and Valelans, and in the south-east there were the Khewed, Ishtrians, and Hadashi folk all of whom were really many smaller tribes of men that had been knit together by politics. Southwards there were Mugharians and in the far far east the Zhongguans (also called Dhiaojiongese).

Thus, it baffled the scholars of mannish history when, two centuries ago, a new tribe of men appeared as though from nowhere. The lands that men call "the Moon Kingdoms" lie in the east, beyond the Straits of the Moon and are generally known to be inhabited by a race of monstrous goblins much taller, and wiser, and more shrewd than Atvian goblins. The same goes for many of the creatures that live there: history tells us that pure goblins and ogres and such were driven over the straits in ancient days by the trolls when they fled and that they have remained closer to their original forms while the Atvian creatures have decayed and grown small and mean.


However, the trolls kept fleeing into the far east as the last of their strongholds in the west was destroyed. Their goblin-slaves revolted against them and remained in the moon-lands while they crossed the deathly dangerous passes that buckle the Moon Kingdoms about and vanished from history.

The Hunyadi came out of those self-same passes some two hundred years ago and have been living along the fringes of the goblin lands ever since. They are a nomadic people, prone to wandering. They have been compared to the historical Thegnari, the Horse-folk, for they are fond of their animals. They live in yurts composed of straw, flexible wood, and hides which can easily be broken down or set up at a moment's notice. Strangely, they seem to have preserved the worship of some ancient gigantine gods and their priests are holy-men who often double as leaders of their tribes or as mystical advisors. They have no knowledge of magic and thus no magi.

Hunyadi are inveterate raiders and are excellent at fighting from horseback. They have plagued the northern rim of the Moon Kingdoms since their arrival. The goblins once made a great effort to destroy the Hunyadi tribes, but they were too mobile and too numerous to be wiped out by goblin armies. Now, in modern day, they are far too occupied by the forces of Vagrysj the Lion in the south of the Moon Kingdoms to care about the Hunyadi.

Many of the Hunyads have crossed the straits to live amongst the Free Cities of the East, though few have yet filtered farther into Arunia. They like their plains and northerly steppes amongst the moon kingdoms and can live fulfilled (if short) lives pillaging goblin villages and farms. They have more in common with Hadashi and Ishtrians than they do with Arunians of any stripe, and they have adopted a mode of dress quite similar to the goblins they live alongside: baggy pants, kaftans, and curly-toed riding boots are the norm.

The question remains: where did they come from? Some Hunyad ancestors will speak of black days beneath cruel masters, and most scholars have taken that to mean that they escaped slavery at the hands of the very last trollish kingdom, the hidden oasis of darkness that still sends prayers to Mother Night and beats as a black heart against the world beyond the mountains of the east, through its treacherous passes, and deep in the vales of shadow.

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