The People of Fara
The inhabitants of Fara live in both North Fara and South Fara. They are grouped into more-or-less mutually peacable tribes that live in villages and clusters of villages. Most of the tribes live in Fara proper, and a few tribes live on the slopes of the dormant boundary volcanoes.
Because of the dynamic landscape and intense volcanic activity of Fara, rivers are not long-term geographical features, and the inhabitants of Fara have come not to rely on them. Earthquakes and avalanches frequently divert or block off rivers. Hence, very few tribes have established themselves near rivers. Instead, the people have developed ways of making use of the heat energy released by volcanic activities, and as a result, communities have grown around active volcanic sites.
Writing was a relatively recent invention of the people of Fara, hence recorded history only reaches to the recent past. Oral tradition, however, reaches back much further, up to the time of a legendary common ancestor, Tekekuhakirakisan, who is said to have come “from beyond the mountains”. Caution should be taken when interpreting this legend, however, as the people of Fara regard the mountains as the boundary of the universe, and hence may be using the phrase “from beyond the mountains” in the figurative sense of coming into existence, rather than an actual, physical crossing of the mountains.
Tekekuhakirakisan is said to have many sons, although different tribes disagree about exactly how many there were and who they were. Each of these sons eventually became a familial tribe. As these tribes grew, they spread out over Fara, and formed villages. Over time, these villages grew into clusters of villages.
Many legends and pedagogical stories date from this period.
North and South
According to oral tradition, around the time the familial tribes grew into clusters of villages, Fara entered a period of great tectonic instability. Many old volcanoes and volcanic vents became active, and many new volcanoes appeared. In particular, the central volcano of Fara became increasingly active, repeatedly spewing forth lava flows and mudflows that devastated many villages and prevented north-south communication.
Many natural resources were destroyed, and there was repeated famine, causing tension to rise between neighbouring tribes competing for farm land. This led to skirmishes and wars between the tribes.
Toward the end of this period, north-south communication became more feasible as the central volcano became less active. Some southern tribes decided that South Fara was too impoverished for them, and decided to move into North Fara and acquire new land, often by force. Some northern tribes also decided that North Fara was too crowded for their tastes, and decided to conquer a piece of southern land. As a result, Fara entered into a period of North-South wars.
These wars initially were between individual tribes, but soon, the perception developed that it was the collective North versus the collective South, and the tribes began to form alliances in their respective regions. Thus, the isolated North-South wars developed into the North-South war.
The North-South war increased in intensity, and the fateful day came when both sides got ready to completely annihilate each other. The armies clashed in central Fara, dangerously close to the central volcano. In the middle of the battle, there was a huge earthquake in the region, followed by an eruption of unprecedented violence from the central volcano. Pyroclastic flows flooded the battlefield, almost completely wiping out the armies, and effectively putting an end to the war. Massive lava flows followed this eruption, burying all remnants of the armies under sheets of rock and changing the entire landscape of central Fara. Tectonic activity in the region in modern times have since exposed some rocks with hollow impressions of vaporized bodies and chariots. These flows continued for many months, and the ash fall covered basically the entire floor of the Fara, destroying all farmland. The few surviving members of the warring tribes fled to the flanks of the boundary mountains for refuge.
According to some accounts, the entire floor of the Fara was re-shaped at this time. Other accounts limited the lava flood area to central Fara and its immediate vicinity. In any case, the North-South war was put to an end as the tribes struggled to survive the calamity.
Many regarded the eruption as punishment for their greediness that started the war, and felt that they should find more peaceful means to co-exist. So when the eruption finally cleared up and the tribes descended back to their original lands, inter-tribal relationships were a lot more amiable. The survivors gradually resettled the floor of the Fara, and formed villages and clusters of villages once more.
The Modern Period
The modern period began not long after this, with the invention of writing. With the advent of writing came a renaissance, with such innovations as the invention of metallurgy, the beginnings of mechanical engineering, and modern farming. This period also saw the rise of a new generation of artists and poets such as the san muras (lava artists).
This state of things brings us up to present day Fara.
There are three types of communities in Fara: the villages, which retain most of the traditional social structures; the cities, a relatively new phenomenon, which sport more diversity, and the Fort, an innovation of the tribe that claimed the tuff ring plateau in South Fara.
The villages are relatively small, closely-knit communities, each headed by a village chief who acts as the ultimate decider in disputes between villagers, and as the person in charge of dealing with any crises that may confront the village. Most villages also have a doctor, well-versed in herbal medicines. The rest of the villagers are farmers and hunters. Some larger villages may have armed guards under the direction of the village chief, sometimes with guard-posts such as watchtowers or guard shacks.
Apart from the dwellings of the villagers themselves, the san faran traditionally keep pens of guardian wolves (simani) which are used as guards. These guardian wolves are usually kept by a “wolf-tamer” (although the term is a bit of a misnomer, as the relationship between the wolves and the “tamer” borders on outright hostility, and can hardly be described as tame). There are also stables, where donkeys and horses are kept, and barns for keeping produce.
The cities, most of which exist in South Fara and are affiliated with the Fort, are larger communities with more diversity. Most cities have more-or-less clearly-defined boundaries, either via boundary markers or walls. A city council takes charge of resolving disputes between citizens, and running the city in general. The city council oversees the city guards, which keep watch over the city, often in watchtowers and other such facilities. The city hosts the facilities for metallurgy and engineering, and their associated trade schools. Many citizens are still involved with farming the lands in the immediate vicinity of the city, although increasing numbers are turning to the newer trades. A relatively recent phenomenon associated with the city is the travelling trader: a person who travels around the villages with goods made in the city, trading them with the villagers for food and other village items which are later resold in the city.
Most city-dwellers do not own any guardian wolves, unlike the traditional villager. Occasionally one may find a citizen or two who continues this practice, but it is generally frowned on, since the closer proximity of neighbours and the presence of children wandering in the streets in a less closely-knit community make it rather hazardous.
The Fort is built on the tuff ring plateau in South Fara, and belongs to the tribe that laid claim to that land. A circle of watchtowers are built along the ridges of the ring, joined to each other by high walls and manned by armed guards and archers. Several guard posts also surround the outer base of the ring. Three grand archways are built at three locations around the ring as entrances to the three roads that lead up to the plateau. At the top, another three gated archways act as the entrances into the Fort itself.
The Fort is ruled by the tribal king, who oversees the guards and a small military regiment. Several families occupy official positions in the kingdom, and the remainder of the Fort essentially has the structure of a mini-city, with some trade schools and industries, and some farmers who farm the land immediately surrounding the ring. Three of the neighbouring cities around the Fort are allied with the Fort. Some other cities in the region also maintain diplomatic ties with the Fort.