Jallr'hali, legendary Shantiahe emperor
The story of Jallr'hali is told through Shantiah oral tradition and the song of his legend. Over the centuries, his achievements may have been exaggerated and mystified. He may not even have existed. But if he was a real person that did only a tenth of what the song reports, that would make him on par with the greatest I.D.E.A. explorers.
The ketsh, I tell you, was not of great renown A sole leader at his head, barely holding on its own Twas where the dust offered yet another new life An only child, whose name was Jallr'hali
Jallr'hali was born in an anonymous ketsh on the decline. The only elder was withering, and the younger Shantiahe looked forward to his death so that they would disband and seek a better life. The first feat of Jallr'hali was at the very dawn of his life. When he was given his first seed, he did something no one before him or after him would do. He studied the seed, only seconds out of his life-giver's belly. He looked at it, felt it, and put it down without throwing the seed. From this point on, his parents knew he was one of a kind, fated with a grand destiny.
In the deleterious environment of his ketsh, the young Shantiah grew to love his people and yearn to give them a better life. By age twelve, he had mastered every weapon his family had to offer and chose his favourite. The dual daggers that one of his parents gave him when he was eight followed him to the end of his life and became as legendary as him. It came as no surprise that he was the best hunter before even getting out of childhood, besting adults with dozens of years of experience. But his revelation was still yet to come.
Blinded by their greed and carelessness The scum of the earth bared their fangs and knives Before he who had yet to thrive In battle as in the hunt. Though they were five Two fangs were enough to carve the path to his greatness
Jallr'hali was still a youngling when a bandit group attacked his ketsh. Depending on the song's versions there were five, twenty or even a hundred of them. In all of them, the young hero almost single-handedly fights them off, killing mercilessly over half of the outlaws. This is when he tasted blood for the first time and had his calling. He was not meant to hunt beasts, although he was excellent at it. He came to this world to face the dregs of its own kind and bring it under more favourable suns.
When the only elder of the ketsh died, it almost disbanded as it was tradition. It was only Jallr'hali who stirred it together and took the lead. He convinced the worn-out hunters to follow him to a place that was known at the time to be a lair of malice and corruption: the Starfall Oasis. The head of the town was a terrible warrior that slaughtered his way to his position and feared no one. The song describes him as the son of the Sandstorm, the leader of the robber bands or both. Mighty heroes died at his hands before, but none were as mighty as Jallr'hali, who entered the oasis with nothing else than his daggers.
So full of himself, the Pariah faced the little Shantiah with a polearm. The details of the showdown got lost in history, but in the end, it was Jallr'hali who emerged victorious. If the thugs were Shantiah in body but not in mind, it was the first time his daggers drank a real Shantiah's blood, yet far from the last. He assumed the role of the Pariah he felled and offered refuge to the members of his ketsh and others wronged by his predecessor.
Rise of the emperor
What many sought as their goal Was but a step to the great one The star that fell rose as he won In spirit Jallr'hali was already between the suns Shining with trophies forged from dust and sky
Before long, Starfall Oasis became the most important settlement. The beginnings were hesitant, but the peaceful haven that the might of the little boy guaranteed attracted many ketsh tired of life in the desert. Jallr'hali surrounded himself with talented warriors that made his personal guard. Each one of them was given a dagger forged from the heart of the fallen star. 23 blades were produced for the best of his fighters, and he replaced his old bone daggers with new ones, dual daggers of unique design that will be known as Star and Sun fangs, Jallr'hali's daggers.
But the quest of the young Pariah had not come to an end yet. Once his army reached a satisfying size, he took its head and went marching on the others. Before his 17th birthday, a never seen force crossed the desert behind Jallr'hali. The ketshe encountered on the way had no choice but to join the march or be crushed under the soldier's feet. Most were willing even without the threat, as the tale of Jallrh'ali's epic journey started to spread across the nomadic bands and many aspired to take part in what looked like the greatest adventure of their lives.
Some oases made the clever decision to submit to Jallr'hali, but the foolish ones tried to oppose his might. The unstoppable force took little notice of the fighters sent to stop them. The soon-to-be emperor took personally part in every battle, leading his kind to victory.
Ultimately, Jallr'hali attracted the attention of the Sandstorm. The dread entity gathered its followers, traitors to their Shantiah nature and monsters alike. An abominable army was on the march to stop the rise of the new emperor. They clashed multiple times until it was clear that they were of equivalent power. Good and evil, negating themselves out. Thus Jallr'hali ordered his empire and went on a new journey to harness a power that will be able to vanquish the Sandstorm for good. Only his 23 faithful companions were allowed to join him in his quest.
He slew countless monsters and crossed paths with death so many times it became an old friend. He climbed the legendary Sun-Splitter until the sky gathered in his palm at the top of the world. He stepped into the Esher to call for a truce and gained the secret of water from Veteriahe envoys. He tamed wild beasts and became the master of the Dune crawler, a mythical creature born from the Shan desert itself. Then he understood that he had no need to seek the strength of the dust. He was the dust. He was Shantiah.
Strengthened by his newfound powers, he faced the will of the wind, the Sandstorm. His final battle shook the Shan and the sky, as pure energies clashed in a hurricane of fury. Both armies destroyed each other and at the centre of the bloodshed were the two leaders at their apogee. The battle lasted for eight days, until the storm ceased and Jallr'hali came out of the dust, fatally wounded but once again victorious, keeping the flow of the wind in his clenched hand.
His victory was also his demise. The vicious Sandstorm had dragged him into the middle of the enemy forces. Cut off his own troops, surrounded by four armies led by the children of the Sandstorm, he raised his daggers in a last stand. At death's door, forced to keep one hand closed to prevent the wind from resurrecting the felled storm, Jallr'hali single-handedly ended a thousand lives including the enemy leaders. As his own end drew closer, exhausted on a pile of corpses, the Shan took pity on the emperor and its mouth opened below him, swallowing the battlefield. When his army cleaned the remaining forces of chaos, the only thing that remained of Jallr'hali was his two stellar daggers.
Return of the Emperor
Jallr'hali is not dead. He is merely resting in the Esher, the space between the worlds. Should the Sandstorm reappear and his people need him again he would awake from his eternal slumber and lead his former empire to glory once again. His friends sealed the Star and Sun daggers in the depth of Starfall Oasis, where lies his throne. Each of the star daggers they wielded is part of the key required to enter the stronghold so that only Jallr'hali could get his blades back, as only he would be able to recognize the descendants of his 23 closest followers.