“Sand worm eyes can see through the thickest of sand clouds.” explained a young Djulok to a small group of intrigued E’ni. He pointed to his goggles proudly and puffed up his chest. “That’s why we use their eyes to make our goggles.”
“You harvest them for their eyes?” asked a troubled E’ni.
“Oh, don’t worry. We eat them first.” the young Djulok reassured him.
“We also make clothes out of their underbellies!” filled in one of his fellows.
“So, what’s with the scarf?” asked a curious Djulok as he sniffed an E’ni’s E’ni.
“My E’ni? We wear them to remember E’ni, our saviour.”
“Are they all blue?” asked another Djulok who was zooming in and out on it with her goggles.
“No, they can be any colour.”
“What? But, don’t the colours match your caste or family?”
“We have patterns that mark our family crests but we can choose whatever colour we like.” explained the amused E’ni.
“Choose!?” gasped several Djuloks in astonishment.
These were but few of the many cross cultural interactions that occurred as the massive sand worm that carried our friends thundered toward Jul’Dor.
In the largest tent on the highest point of the worm’s body sat a council of Jul, E’ni and their +1s. There was no table so they simply sat in a circle and discussed their plans.
“First of all,” began Jean’s mother, “we must thank you for releasing us. You are forever welcome in our land.”
“I’ll take you up on that.” barked the Djulok commander, “Otherwise, I’m worm food.”
“This is the kind of treatment we must stop. To live in fear of your leaders, that is no society at all!” said an elderly E’ni.
“It seems so much clearer now, on this worm, away from it all. When you’re there and surrounded by all the others we tend to put our minds at ease and forget about everything that ails and stinks.”
“You stifle your own rebellion.” Zev said knowingly while sharpening one of her knives.
“Aye.” he grunted. “Brought up not to question. Brought up not to worry and just get on with it. Brought up to believe we’re too coarse for deep thoughts and feelings.”
Just then a Djulok from outside cried, “I found the sand worm’s butt!”
“No way!” the Djulok commander exclaimed and leapt out of the tent in a hurry.
“The King must fall.” said one of the E’ni.
“No.” said a Djulok lieutenant. “Jul’Dor must fall.” The elderly E’ni looked aggrieved.
“Don’t be so quick to turn bloodthirsty. At times like this it’s important to remember history.”
“History!” said several of the Djuloks in unison. They got up and sat in front of the elderly E’ni cross-legged like school children. The elderly E’ni got the prompt and cleared his throat.
“In an age still freshly lost there was no division between us. Back then we were all Jul, I suppose it would be ancient Jul. Djulok was the name given to the strongest of us: those that protected the others. Nedja, were the most patient that worked the fields and fished the seas to feed us all. The Fooj were the thinkers and planners who built out cities and homes. But, we were all Jul. None were better, all were required. Furthermore, duty was earned by action not birth. But, of course the system was not perfect. It imagined strength, intelligence and patience as separate things. If you were smart you couldn’t possibly be strong too, they thought. It had its flaws, but it was the way of our ancestors. We may have naturally progressed over time but some of us needed immediate change. A legend was born from out of obscurity and spread like wildfire. It stated: “The black eye will save us.” A particularly passionate group of the legend followers went from village to village, nomad to nomad, looking for the one with black eyes. And, they found him. It was only a child but these legend followers saw him as something greater. They had amassed considerable power and influence and ordered the Fooj to build a city in honour of the newly discovered saviour that would go on to become the capital: Jul’Dor. The legend followers, or Jul’Dori, raised the saviour in this castle and treated him like a god. And, why should the people not believe him to be so? In the years since he’d been discovered the barren soil had become vibrant and lush. It was as if life itself had taken root at the child’s feet. But, though the lands flourished a corruption was taking place in the child’s mind, his arrogance and narcissism grew with his worship. By the time he was an adult he commanded tremendous respect and power. He adored the Fooj most of all. Those that he associated best with and who had built his magnificent city. The Nedja adored him, his presence meant great tidings and yields. The Djuloks however, did not see it this way. They found him detestable, a fraud and a spoilt brat. The famous last words of a particular Djulok were: “If you ask me, he’s eyes aren’t even black. More a dark shade of sand worm droppings.” The saviour himself struck the woman down, but not before she inflicted a wound on his arm. That was what sparked the division. The saviour surrounded himself with the Fooj who he adored, then the Nedja who adored him and furthest from him were the detested Djuloks. Three walls not of stone, but of people. And, the black-eyed one was no longer the saviour, but the king.
The names Djulok, Nedja and Fooj lost all of their original meaning. The Djuloks, now perceived as traitors, were treated especially harshly, they were forced to do all forms of menial labour, even taking over some of the duties of the Nedja who became their overseers. The Djuloks would resist at first. But, they soon stopped. The king once said “When the Djuloks rebel the sand worms eat well.” They killed the parents. Leaving the Djulok children to fend for themselves. They had no role models. They were taught to feel stupid and filthy and meant for nothing better than hard labour, hardly any better than the sand worms and sand pigs: the sons and daughters of traitors and barbarians through and through the only purpose of which was to act as front line fodder should rival nations attack or free labour if and when required.
Fortunately, it would all change, and with the progeny of the king, no less. After suffering from the wound the king’s arm was wrapped in bandages. But, he would never take them off. He used it to serve as a reminder of the Djulok’s betrayal. The meaning would change over time but the practice remained. All of the king’s black-eyed offspring would have their left arms wrapped in bandages, as a symbol of their royalty. The ones without black eyes were adopted by the Fooj and were never told of their heritage. But, one child, a girl with black eyes, was cast out. She was born without a left arm and could not bear the wraps of royalty. Her parents looked on her as an abomination. She was sent away, not to the Fooj, but the rejected Djuloks. But, not before they cut out her eyes.
The Djulok children that discovered the wailing baby named her E’ni. She was raised by Djulok orphans and thrived among them. She was one that defied definition. She was strong as the Djuloks, patient as the Nedja and learned as fast as the Fooj. Her friends would jokingly ask her: “What are you anyway?”
She would reply: “I’m E’ni.”
One day while feeding the sand worms she found a small sickly flower growing in the barren soil. She doted on it and it grew tall and strong. Before long it no longer needed her help. The flower was taller than she and exuded a radiant glow. And, around the flower the barren soil became lush. The royals heard of this and dispatched assassins to kill the child, lest they should discover her origins. But, in coming in contact with the flower, the assassins broke down weeping at its beauty.
People from all over the Gnome Archipelago journeyed to the desert to see the Desert Flower, though they all called it something different. By this time it had grown to a massive height and had become legend. However, the royals feared the influences from the outside might turn their people against them. They tried to destroy the flower but instead discovered its destructive power. They used this power to separate the desert from the rest of Head Island. However, in the process of separation they destroyed Eye Mountain, the domain of the dragons. Breyten, one of the mightiest dragons of that age, flew to them and destroyed the Flower, but his rage would not be quelled. He destroyed Jul’Dor and burned the lush lands to ash. He would surely have killed all of the inhabitants of the desert had E’ni not pleaded for forgiveness. He heard her and left the survivors in peace, but warned his kind would return if provoked. Head Island and the desert remained attached at the western most point blocked off from the rest of the island by a mountain range.
The people of the desert were in disarray. E’ni, however, was not. She saw this as an opportunity to start life anew, a life without strict definition, the life of the E’ni. Some, however, liked the established order and went on to rebuild Jul’Dor elsewhere. It is said the Desert Flower left two seeds behind in the ashes and from the seeds grew the nations of E’ni and Jul.”
The elder smiled to indicate the end of his tale.
“Wow!” said a Djulok. “All they told us was that you were liberals.”