Ayaunj is the nefortu goddess of prosperity, contracts, and merchants.
Fountain of Prosperity
|Portfolio||Trade, contracts, wealth, community, strategy, discretion|
|Home(s)||A Vast Hoard|
|Worshipers||Kohlis, merchants, negotiators, mercenaries, contractors|
In the first nefortean legends, their people were born in a land of plenty: a paradise of warm caves, shiny stones, and countless fish. Both of their gods lived among them, counting themselves no greater or lesser than any other. The pair reveled in games, and for generations, knew only delight and care-free existence. One of the two was called Ayaunj; She delighted in the glittering rocks whose veins ran through Her caverns and drifted through the rivers. While She could draw them forth with Her power, She coveted those held by others with equal, or greater, fervor. Clever and calculating, She concocted elaborate games and urged others to wager their treasures– and while Her rules were fair enough, they always skewed to Her favor. It was a badge of honor amongst the ancient nefortu to best Ayaunj at Her own games, in large part because it was so rare. However, She always held to Her agreements, and held no animosity toward those who defeated Her. Yet, She always had another bet for the winner… if they were bold enough to make it.
Ayaunj was as surprised as any when Bayyal burst from the heart of the earth, and She was no different in finding Herself helpless against His fury. Unlike the nefortu, however, She was a goddess, and therefore they assumed (and expected) that She would protect them. To Her, the best strategy was to flee, rather than fight an insurmountable foe. Her abdication of Her divine role mirrored that of Tzajai, and the pair’s separate followings dwindled greatly; long accustomed to seeing relationships as transactions, many nefortu aligned themselves with Bayyal, whom they regarded as the winner. The duo’s remaining loyalists beat a hasty retreat as their homeland burned around them, pursued by the gleeful acolytes of the Reaper. As Sythraki srryn ravaged the kingdom of Caal, the aelin strongholds of the Brintors, and the Earendam river valley, so too did Bayyal’s nefortu devastate the fertile civilization of Ashta Harrud. Ayaunj withdrew Herself at this time; some historians attribute this to Her cowardice, while others suggest it was in pursuit of a deal amongst the divine. The latter frame the close of the War of Fire as humanity seeking Jolinn, while Ayaunj negotiated a solution with Iandir.
With the War’s end, the nefortu as a whole were at a point of crisis. Their homeland was lost to Bayyalite cultists, and they were dispersed into the foreign world of the mainland. Most they encountered were suspicious, if not outright hostile; rumors of the role of the nefortu in the scarring of the south spread as quickly as any flame. Divided as they were in allegiance and proclivity, the nefortu separated themselves into roughly two schools of thought. One rejected the strangers who cast them as villains, and sought to carve for themselves and their progeny a new sanctuary, where their lives could resemble that which they had lost. Conversely, the other saw opportunity in the scores of new people they encountered; these foreigners were naive to their multitude of games, and had many new, shiny things. Who better than they to gain from such easy profit? While the former hid themselves in the cavernous enclosure of Rahh-Nefor, the latter began the slow process of integrating into mainland society, bringing with them their love of contracts, regulations, and negotiation.
Ultimately, the flight of an amber-gold dragon heralded the return of Ayaunj to the nefortean consciousness. When it made its lair in the caves beneath Mount Enrien, many were soon to follow. Here, they developed their own city-state, Kohlis, which was fashioned on Ayaunj’s principles. Their new home flourished as they established trade with nearby Var Bandor and a multitude of smaller settlements, both human and ethron. Now a regular sight in lands where they were once ostracized, the nefortu established themselves as some of the preeminent merchants and traders of the continent; their success even encouraged some of their brethren from the Sea Cave to journey out into Avendar at large. Ayaunj is, and remains, a beacon of golden prosperity for all nefortu, encouraging their strongest collective instincts toward general economic dominance.
Goals and Methods
Above all else, Ayaunj seeks the greatest personal advancement at the least personal risk. She attempts to avoid or end conflicts via careful negotiation and measured compromise; there’s little problem with conceding a little now if it leads to a larger advantage later. However, if cornered into a position with no potential reward, She will retaliate using any means at hand to secure a decisive (and personally favorable) outcome.
Ayaunj encourages Her followers to make as many allies as possible and manage those alliances with studious care. Their goal is to make their services indispensable, and consequently, make themselves unable to be easily betrayed. To this end, She nominally favors free-market competition; however, She and hers know well that at times, one must corner a market to preserve the business. Harm to others is an unfortunate side-effect rather than a goal unto itself. Generally, she encourages truthfulness, as a false bill of sale or deceptive advertising might ruin the trust they have so carefully wrought. Of course, She recognizes that in some lines of business, fooling all of the people some of the time, or some of the people all the time, is sufficient.
“This world runs on give-and-take!”
The Adventure Capitalists
Not every merchant chooses to settle within the confines of a shop. Some choose to source exotic goods through personal exploration, or simply cater to the adventuring classes, seeing a market largely untapped by more traditional forces. Others simply realize that fools and their money are soon parted, and what could be more foolish than choosing the rootless life of a wanderer? Ayaunj smiles on those who would profit by this unconventional method, offering a measure of Her protection against what is inevitably a dangerous lifestyle. Many Adventure Capitalists band together with the Merchant Federation, but are as likely to work with other groups– or even none at all, trusting that what they have to offer is enough to stand alone on.
“Surely we can come to an equitable arrangement.”
The Tzayol Kraltzayu
Most people in their lives will need some sort of agreement brokered. The Tzayol Kraltzayu offer to oversee these agreements, formalizing them via contract and Ayaunj’s divine eye. These can be written arrangements, or simple verbal affirmations, depending on needs and circumstances. This requires considerable social cachet on the part of the Kraltzayu; if they are not valued for their oversight then their services rendered become meaningless. Among adventurers, these individuals often must have great personal power, as they often must be the one to punish those parties who are in breach of contract. This can be simple violent enforcement, or the withholding of one’s services (such as healing), or through other party-to-party means. The Tzayol Kraltzayu typically charge for their involvement and are often partisan, though invariably hold themselves strictly impartial on contractual matters, lest they lose their divine charter.
“Most adventurers give it up within the year. You don’t want to be one of them, do you?”
The Djalmy Dji
A lifetime of following Ayaunj often leaves Her faithful with more money than they can easily spend personally. It is the ambition of most to transition over to investments. The Djalmy Dji in particular focus on more risky investments– anyone can buy into a stable, long-running concern. Those of the Djalmy Dji are more inclined to assist daring new businesses, or perhaps new adventurers, fresh out of the School of Heroes. A return is always expected; perhaps a young water scholar would be financed early on, with the expectation that they will heal the investor through a daring exploration. In a perfect world, everyone benefits. In an imperfect world, the Djian turns debt collector, and extracts what they are owed by any means necessary.
Followers of Ayaunj are generally congenial, pleasant folk, right up until the moment someone fails to meet expectations. They may genuinely care about others or not, but they thrive on community for protection and advancement. Solitude rarely sits well with the Ayaunji. They tend to be extremely focused on how they will benefit from their circumstances. This may be in the form of a need to win conversations, in the manner of Ayaunj herself– and only Her exemplars manage to succeed at this without destroying personal relationships in the process. The unskilled believer might be overanalytic, refusing to commit to situations and missing opportunities in the process. In general, before committing, Ayaunji must be convinced of the benefit of doing so. This need not be material gain– the trade of favours or goodwill are certainly of value, and for the right person even maintaining friendship might well be a solid reason. Without that benefit, that reason, Ayaunji can be slapdash or lazy if they offer their services at all. If they have better things to be doing with their time, they will do it.
Ayaunj is most popular amongst the nefortu, though aelin have a greater appreciation for Her than they do for most nefortean concepts, finding much to appreciate in orderly contracts. She is almost exclusively worshipped in large settlements; Var Bandor has a great many dedicants, and the city of the Kohlis was founded in Her name, under the sign of Her sacred amber dragon. She is little-liked in Rahh-Nefor, hearkening back to the centuries-old rift between She and Tzajai. The lawful scholars in general serve Her in significant numbers, offering services in vast demand by adventurers and the mainstream alike. Most merchants will offer up a prayer to Her in times of need whether they dedicate themselves or not. Her temples tend to be elaborate, gloriously-decorated affairs, showcasing the wealth of the faithful; those who prefer a quieter display tend to do so within their own homes.
Though She Herself is a sponsor of the Grand Federation of Merchants, civic-minded Ayaunji may find themselves at home in the Guardians and those whose avarice is more specifically intellectual could be lured to the Coven of the Shunned. Raider methodology is ill-compatible with Ayaunj, and the Champions find too many ethical questions surrounding the accumulation of wealth to accept Her faithful.
Those who find favor with Ayaunj are marked with the Sigil of Three Silver Coins.
They may genuinely care about others or not, but they thrive on community for protection and advancement.
Ayaunj maintains cordial relations with much of the pantheon, and the proportion of skill and indifference is open to interpretation. She does well with the gods of order, as they find much to appreciate in Her expression of contracts. Dolgrael, for instance, has been commissioned on several occasions, including the creation of Her amber dragon. Rveyelhi, in particular, is uncommonly pleased to work hand-in-glove with Her, as the societies He builds offer much to those who seek advancement at the expense of others. Similarly, the expansionist aspect of Lilune dovetails nicely with Ayaunj’s mercantile soft power, each fueling the other. However, some deities detest Her; Serachel considers Her too literal to be of particular interest, while Nariel finds Her contemptible on an ideological level. Others such as Rystaia and Jalassa find themselves in rare agreement on Her, in that Her methods can bring much harm, but are often resistant to compulsion by darker forces out of self-preservation.
Her most important relationship is with Tzajai, which has run hot and cold depending on their individual whims. While they are depicted in concert in ancient nefortean mythology, their longstanding conflicts and rivalries prevent them from ever being more than momentarily harmonious. Some nefortu believe that the long absence of Ayaunj is the result of a lost bet between the pair, which further divides them on which deity is superior overall.