|Creation to the Founding of Shalazar | The Golden Age and the Age of Wonders | Legends|
In the beginning the world was shapeless and without form. Shaliq, in her infinite wisdom and mercy, spoke the Words that created the Heavens from the Void. There are those who wonder why she did so, but their heresy is not our interest.
According to the Tomes, the world and all things in it were created in precisely one year, with first the heavens and the skies being formed, then the sun and the moon, and finally the Land. At the very centre, the Heart of All Creation, was set a garden.
On the final day of creation, after the spheres and their inhabitants; after the sky and the moon, the sun and the stars, the water and the land; after the Djinn, the Dragons, and the beasts that would talk and those that would not, Shaliq set upon the land the pinnacle of her creative powers: a man and a woman, Rasheeda and Omar. And they lived in the garden and tended to the Beasts therein.
If there was one dissatisfaction, it was this: that Shaliq had created time and the passage of time, and that while Mankind would never cease, each individual man or woman would be subject to Death. The reasons for this have been debated within Shalazar for centuries, but even the wisest of wise men oft fall upon the idea that Shaliq has her own ways, and cannot always be completely understood.
But Shaliq is a god kind, merciful, and full of contradiction: while Mankind had been made subject to death, some part of them was created wholly and permanently indestructible: and if was from this gift that the greatest of gifts would be given.
The First City
All of Creation rejoiced at the coming of Mankind, and to Rasheeda and Omar, and to their children, many gifts were given: the mastery of those Beasts that did not speak; the language and method to command the allegiance and servitude of the Djinn; mastery of the elements and those things green; and appreciation for art and song. These two, and their first children (whose numbers were beyond reckoning, and whose names are mostly lost in time) tended the Garden, in which the first city was founded.
The name of that city is lost in time beyond imagination.
One power, however, was reserved for Shaliq alone-the power to create true and everlasting life. All other creatures might create life from birth, or even through magics produce automata or golems, but those things that created life from birth must taste death, and those things produced from magic would be but the semblance of true life.
There was one in Heaven unhappy with Shaliq's creation. Her name has been lost to the memory of all save a very few (and they, knowing just the name, are cursed and unhappy, and struck from the sight of Shaliq), but she is known as the Adversary.
In the beginning, however, she was the greatest of the Djinn, and the most masterful servant of the Creator. But with the coming of man, and the subjugation of the Djinn, she became displeased and jealous. According to the Theopneustic Tomes, she held discussions with Shaliq regarding her creation-however whether this is true or merely a metaphor is still debated. What is known is that she vowed that she would create life more great and wonderful than the Creator herself.
At this time, in the First City, Rasheeda and Omar still held sway over their children, and their children's children, and the generations thereafter, for mankind was much longer lived back then. And the Adversary took a pleasing shape (for that was in her power) and went unto Omar, and seduced him. Some say he was seduced with dreams of power, or with jewels, or with an ambrosia now lost to man's remembrance-it is known that he never spoke about it thereafter, save perhaps to Rasheeda, who also did not speak.
The Adversary, who had lain with the first of man, from his seed bore children-many children. From her womb and that seduction came forth a thousand-thousand offspring, and with the blood of the first of men, some of them were powerful indeed. Shaliq congratulated the Adversary on her children, and reminded her that by having bourne life within herself, it was now necessary that she become subject to Death.
The Adversary revolted at this thought, and her children (and no few of the Djinn, seduced by her words or her power) warred with Shaliq. The war was quick and decisive, and the Adversary was cast into outer Shadow, never to return.
Her brood was cursed, and dwell even now in shadow and in darkness. The light plagues and pains them, although they may stand its sight for a short while. The more powerful of them have the forms and natures of the Djinn, but do not abide by the rules of the Tablets; the less powerful of them have the forms and natures of men, and their curse lays heavily upon them.
The Destruction of the First City and the Diaspora
Shaliq sees all and knows all: and yet she came to Omar, and asked of him from whence came these children of the Adversary, not created of Shaliq, and by necessity therefore borne of Her creations. Omar at first tried to deny his actions, but in the end confessed to his creator what he had done. It is said that Shaliq turned away from him, and never spoke to him again-but Shaliq alone knows all.
What is known is that while the Djinn-children of the Adversary hid in shadow, the men-children bred among each other, and after generations came finally to live among man again in the First City. And for three centuries, all the children of Omar, by Rasheeda and by the Adversary, lived together.
But Omar spoke not with Shaliq, and became old, lax, and infirm. He allowed his children by the Adversary free reign, and they worshipped not Shaliq, but the first of the Dwellers in Shadow, those old and spiteful Djinn who held hatred in their hearts for Shaliq and all the sons and daughters of Rasheeda, who they regarded as flawed creations. In time, they convinced some of the daughters of Rasheeda to join them, and they interbred. The First City became corrupt and abhorrent to the site of Shaliq.
Shaliq told Rasheeda that She was to destroy the First City, and the first of all created women pleaded with Her for forgiveness. But Shaliq's wrath was righteous, and only this promise was secured: that the City would be rebuilt greater than before, and that so long as a daughter of Rasheeda's line sat on the throne, it would be secure from the wrath of Shaliq forever.
Fire and storm then came upon the City, and its people were dispersed across the Desert and the World. The City itself was lost in the dusts and erased by time; and the great river running through it became poison to the touch. Many, many died in that time, but of those who are written, only two are known: Omar, it is said, was cursed to live until the last of both his lines should die, and wandered into the desert alone. Rasheeda, however, was pitied, and taken bodily into Heaven, then only one of Mankind ever to so ascend.
Shaliq had promised, and so it came to pass, that for every hundred years that the eyes of the First City had turned from Her, there would be a thousand years of trouble. And thus for three thousand years, the children of Omar scratched out their living in the deserts, and the time allotted to them between birth and death fell from hundreds of years to a mere handful.
These times were trying, riven with strife and warfare, and much was lost in the chaos of that time. But the women of the Tribes served always to keep the Faith of Shaliq; and the men of the Tribe served to keep the people safe. And for this time, it was the men who were supreme within the Tribes.
But Shaliq's promises are always kept: and three thousand years from the fall of the First City, one tribe of the wandering nomads came upon land at the Heart of the World, not knowing where they stood. And when a great storm had past, before their eyes an ornate golden throne bubbled up from a great rock sprawled on the desert floor.
As the men of the Tribe argued over what this signified, the first of the Great Calipha strode forth, and after kneeling before the throne, sat upon it. And from the sky the Great Tablets dropped to her hands, and around her glowed the light of Heaven. And then men saw that all the Djinn came to bow before her and do her bidding, and they too bowed before her, and proclaimed her the anointed one, and declared their allegiance.
The name of this first Calipha was Adara.
To those Djinn, her first commands were to build a temple, and around this great Temple to build a City. And in the centre of the City, worked first by the hands of Djinn, and in later centuries worked and reworked by the hands of men, was built a palace of magnificent proportions, with the palace walls set a mile each way from the Throne.
And within these lands, there were no men left to worship the Dwellers in Shadow, and the Fallen retreated from the world for an Age.
In the days after the first Calipha sat upon the Golden Throne, and held in her hands the Great Tablets, the city of Shalazar grew by leaps and bounds. The first structures of the Temple and the Palace appeared in mere days, though without the hands of Djinn, their construction would have taken lifetimes. The curse removed, the great river surrounding the city became salubrious once more, and gardens again sprang to life.
Then the first Calipha took the twenty-five great Generals of the twenty-five Tribes, and bade them to gather the finest of their fighters. To each of them she gave a pound of salt, and a gallon of water, and a dozen of the finest fruits of her garden. And unto them she spoke:
"By the mercy of Shaliq, it has been given to me to found our Kingdom; and so, each of you shall take the salt, and the fruits, and the water, and ride forth from here. When you meet a people in the desert, you shall tell them that the Calipha sits on the Throne, and that they are our subjects. And if they welcome you, and accept your salt and your water and your fruit, then you shall take from them their tribute and return to me. And if they shall not accept your gifts, you shall put to the sword all the men, and all the boy-children, and all the women that have known a man; and their land shall be your land, and the land of your daughters, and their women shall be your slaves; and that land shall give tribute to the Calipha."
And so the generals rode forth, their armies behind them, and for a year and a day no soldier was to be found within the boundaries of Shalazar; but the Calipha had no fear, as her Djinn were beside her, and no army of the Desert could bring her harm. All but one of the Generals returned, either bearing tribute or with tales of Conquest, and the Lands of Shalazar stretched one-hundred leagues into the Great Desert in every direction.