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.