The native peoples called themselves the `Jhensari' and they lived in small bands of fifty to seventy, bound together by tribal blood ties. They lived in semi permenant settlements in huts made of wood, bark and hide, surrounded by protective barriers of densely planted thorn thickets, log pallisades and in some cases, moats. They did very little construction work from stone, confining what they did to temples and tombs. This stone work was of very high quality and employed massive stones carefully cut and fitted together. The tombs and temples formed the center of the Jhensari world and were carefully constructed and guarded with magic, traps, tricks and beasts. Even today the ruins of Jhensari tombs and temples are dangerous places to venture.
The Jhensari were but little advanced past the stoneage. They had only discovered the secret of making bronze about three generations before the Velitar arrived. Many of their tools and almost all of their arrows were made of stone. It was beautifully worked stone, but almost useless against steel breastplates and mail.
Physically the Jhensari were of average stature, with a swarthy complexion and black hair and dark slightly slanted eyes. Their culture was tribal in nature, their leaders were the eldest and most experienced of the tribe. Their religion was nature oriented, focusing mostly on the hunt, the spirits of their dead ancestors, the game they hunted and the forces of nature. It had parrallels to other Druidic faiths that the Velitar were familiar with, but there were differences. Amongst other things that the Jhensari practiced was head hunting, the trophies were marks of prestige and objects of power. The heads of a warriors enemies would be placed in his tomb to serve him in the after life. The Jhensari also drank the blood of their slain foe, so as to capture his strength. Though early Velitar scholars would accuse them of cannibalism, an accusation that is still widely believed, there is no evidence to support the claim.
For the Jhensari warfare and feuding were a way of life. But battle was a carefully conducted ritual. The opposing forces would line up facing each other and begin to sing the praises of their tribes. They would recount the names of heroes and sing of the battles won and the humiliations inflicted upon their foes. These songs would, when possible, be tailored so as to be deliberately insulting to the foe. After a time individual warriors would come forward and sing of their families deeds, then boast of their own deeds and invite enemy warriors to engage in single combat. All the while the tribes songs would become more and more insulting as they strove to goad the enemy into attacking first. To provoke an attack was a point of honor to the Jhensari, as well as providing a tactical advantage. Usually a battle would last until there had been two or three deaths on one of the sides, at which point the loosers would break off.
Hunter gatherer tribes cannot afford to loose a large percentage of their hunters in one battle. Such a loss means a loss of food and the threat of hunger for the entire band.
There were perhaps sixty to seventy thousand Jhensari living in the valley when the Velitar reached it. Within five years there were less than half that left. War and hunger had killed many and driven more out of the valley. The first battle with the Velitar had cost the Jhensari over a hundred warriors, that meant that ten to fifteen bands were virtually defenseless and without hunters to feed them. The attacks on the villages were even more damaging. These not only killed food producers, but also destroyed stores of food already gathered. The first winter alone over a thousand Jhensari died of starvation.
The war for the valley would last many many years. Generations of Velitar and Jhensari battled over the land. It took eighty years for the Velitar to push the Jhensari north of Lake Aldin, which the Jhensari call `Tehama Ducor' and another seventy years to push the Jhensari completely from their home.
... A Jhensari Trophy