Mikash, Strange Magic
The outpost of Mikash remained a stagnant backwater for most of the heyday of the Republic of Chara; people eked out a living, doing their best to grow enough food with the limited resources of the small flood-plains at the southern edge of the Kallai desert, and a handful of small mines generated just enough resources to pay the outpost’s taxes. When the Charan Republic came crashing down in the space of only a few decades, however, Mikash shot skyward with even greater speed.
Turning their eyes towards what areas remained to them, for the first time since settling the outpost Chara put forward money to fund expeditions into the lower Kallai, and these expeditions bore impressive fruit. After a year of searching, they found the half-ruined temples of the Strangers. The ruination began and ended abruptly throughout the temples; one room would be a sand-filled wreck with shattered columns, the next meticulously clean, the columns intact and painted, and alchemical equipment far too large for human hands showing signs of such recent use the searchers began to fear invisible giants lurked nearby, and fled the temples.
But the invisible giants did not appear, or take anyone in the night, and so exploration continued after a week or so of cautious observation. When the expeditions returned, they found a treasure trove: scrolls and tablets and even items of obvious magical power – all neatly stacked and even cataloged on spare tablets, right in the middle of rooms that the scouts swore had been completely empty when they arrived. While the scrolls and tablets were at first believed to be spells, but they were written in an unknown language. A call for scholars went out, but the closest anyone could guess was that it was a language with some sort of relation to dragon-writing. In the meantime, the scrolls and tablets continued to pile up in the ruin – even when scouts were set to watch the rooms, none of them ever reported anything. They all fell asleep, or looked away for only a moment and found piles of scrolls the moment they looked back. Magical attempts to observe the scouts suffered the same fate.
After months of fruitless study, the expedition began planning to pack up. However, the collapse of a section of the temple trapped a dozen of the expedition leaders, and battlemages assigned to protect the expedition had to dig them out. Later events would lead many to question whether the collapse might have been intentional; in addition to happening in a perfectly stable part of the temple, it brought the battlemages in contact with the scrolls and tablets for the first time, and those who had served on Chara’s western border immediately remarked upon its similarity to Kuvaldi writing.
It took months of negotiation to convince the Kuvaldi that a request for one of their demon-priests to visit Chara was not a trap, but it proved to be well worth the effort. The Kuvaldi effortlessly translated the scrolls and taught the Charan expedition as well as he could; the presence of Srissan in scholarship in the western bay can be traced to this expedition. And while what the scrolls actually contained has been a tightly-guarded secret, their effects were impossible to conceal.
The scrolls were not spell-scrolls; rather, they were scrolls on the theory of magic, at a level well ahead of human scholarship at the time. It was startlingly easy to follow; many of the scholars expressed the strange impression that the explanations had been tailored to their individual level of magical understanding. In a few short years, human understanding of and skill in magical arts exploded, reaching a level that allowed them to much more effectively handle the occasional elven challenge to their nations, even though they still could not muster the force necessary to handle the elves inhabiting the Veshadiin lands.
A flood of magically talented people poured into the relative emptiness of Mikash, and a once quiet land suddenly found itself filled to brimming with magic, wealth, and political intrigue; one of the first casualties of the influx was the outpost’s relationship to Chara, which was formally barred from entering the nation for a short time until it recognized Mikash as an independent Republic. Chara’s efforts to force a better bargaining position by raising food prices instead lead to an impressive variety of magically-altered food crops, which scholars believe to be at least partially responsible for the high rate of magical talent in the nation.
Mikash itself became an impressive port city, and the cities of Ayaldun and Herevos were founded; Ayaldun is a trade post in the middle of the lower Kallai where expeditions and scholars rest or make their homes between journeys, while Herevos is an over-grown mining town out near the mountains hundreds of miles west of the old Charan outpost borders, taking advantage of mineral wealth that Chara never committed the resources to find. All three are major centers of magical research and power.
The political landscape of Mikash was briefly a chaotic, explosive turmoil of open duels in the streets between magically powerful political candidates, but the survivors of those duels were quick to construct a government better-suited to the long-term survival of both the individual candidates and the Republic itself. While such duels still occur, they are rarer, better contained, and not allowed during elections.