The Apocalypse of Yesterday
Survivors of Desh
“We, the Proud, hide our faces only to let our actions determine our worth.”
Desh is the ancient home of the Sharakim – a highly civilized race of people who resemble orcs in their general appearance. Despite their appearances, the Sharakim were actually once humans but their features were warped into their present, crude form when these people were cursed by Atrope and Azael for their brutality. They had been blessed with great arcane insight by Azael, the White Goat, whom these people considered their patron, but eventually they were the first to kill using the sacred art of magic. Azael grew furious for the blasphemy of tarnishing his holy art with violence and demanded that Atrope judge the people of Desh for their sin. In the face of this crime, Atrope was obliged to punish these people according to Azael’s wishes, and because they had tarnished the art of magic by subduing it to violence, the people of Desh were cursed with the appearance of brutes although they retained their inner elegance, just as their crime had been to hide the beauty of the arcane under barbarism.
Having been abandoned by their patron and cursed with forms which wounded their vanity, the people of Desh withdrew from the judging eye of the public. Having been fated to be forever scorned by the civilized races, these people dedicated their culture to preserve their little remaining pride. While they remained surreptitious, the Sharakim as they now called themselves (the word means ‘the Tainted’ but also ‘the Proud’ in their ancient language) never completely withdrew from the world. Instead, they raised natural obstacles to block the path to Desh, and their isolated city became the stuff of legends when occasional visitors would claim to have found their lost city. (Desh lies among the mountains which stand between the deserts of Ahaba and the Sea of Haze.)
This isolation did not protect the Sharakim from Death when the First Horseman strode across the world. Many succumbed, and more importantly, some oral records which had been passed on since times of yore were lost alongside them. While the Sharakim were attempting to recuperate from this loss of their ancient identity, they were hit by the full force of the turbulence the end times had brought forward: epidemies, deprivation… and war. The ensuing chaos made the survivors of Desh incautious, and a great number of them was culled by the jaundiced survivors of other cultures who had wandered from their demolished lands in search of a new hope. Most of the belligerent races, including orcs, had joined forces with War or otherwise grew aggressive when they felt threatened due to their reduced numbers, and thus tensions ran high. The prejudice this fed ensured that whenever the migrants learned the true appearance of a Sharakim, either they would persecute and slaughter the orc-faced people or be silenced by the latter before the secret could spread.
Once the worst unrest had subsided – mostly because the Four Horsemen kept culling the remnants of the warring cultures – the Sharakim finally stabilized what little remained of their culture. They could no longer sustain themselves indefinitely because Desh was now in ruins, and as such, many scouts were sent to the world outside. The rest withdrew even deeper in the wreckage of their once proud city because they understood that further contact with outsiders on their own grounds could potentially snuff their whole race.
The Sharakim traditionally prefer concealing clothes which hide their features both from these proud people and from any outsiders. They still name their children using their ancient language in order to sustain the illusion of their lost grandeur.
While most of the Sharakim remain decidedly neutral in relation to good and evil, their structured and conservative culture ensures that most of the Proud become lawful. Likewise, they prefer letting actions speak for their nature, and many feel obliged to atone for the unforgivable sin of their ancestors. Some of these apologists become pacifist emissaries of peace while others harness the violence that condemned their kind to protect those in need.
While most survivors of Desh hide in the ruins of their forgotten capital and only crave to survive and pass on their cultural heritage, others have been obliged to wander to the outside world in search of necessary supplies. In particular, the loss of much of their arcane might forced the Sharakim to rely more on mundane resources, and their isolated and forlorn homeland is incapable of supporting even the few remaining survivors indefinitely. While this was mostly left inherent, if the Sharakim hope to ever rebuild Desh, they will also require bearers for the next generation (the curse of the Sharakim is passed on by the father when they mate with humans or other Sharakim; and while they are ashamed of their crude appearance, it has also become to symbolize being a true heir of Desh).