Black Hearts Under Black Flags
Aventi legend holds that their ancestors, humans of the nation of Aventus, were a noble and proud shipfaring people who deeply respected the sea and its creatures, and relied on its bounty for their prosperity. Their kingdom was located on a large island in the modern day Bay of Besmara in Karaha. However, the sahuagin, then a race of intelligent, water-breathing humans born only with gills, prayed to their goddess Shargon to punish to proud aventi.
Shargon, goddess of nature’s destructive force, had long harbored bitterness at the beauty, creativity, and pride of the aventi, while her patrons were consigned to live at the ocean’s bottom in the literal shadows of Aventus. Shargon obliged her sahuagin worshipers and sank the entire island of Aventus in a massive hurricane. The aventi, praying for their very existence as a people, beseeched their patron, Besmara, goddess of the sea, to intervene. Unable to prevent the sinking of Aventus, Besmara instead answered their prayers by granting the aventi gills, allowing them to breathe both air and water.
Shargon, bitter over Besmara’s meddling, lashed out directly at her rival goddess in a murderous rage, and began a divine melee that played out on the very surface of the sea. The fight was evenly matched, and the two goddesses found themselves weakened and locked in a stalemate with literal knives at each other’s throats. Rather than kill each other, they reached an accord: as punishment for their pride, the aventi would be cast to depths, fated to rebuild their civilization below the waves for two thousand years. In turn, the sahuagin would be granted lungs, and permitted to settle on the shores of Karaha. Besmara, in turn, cursed the sahuagin as punishment for their malevolent envy: though they were now able to live on land, they mutated into their current hideous, fishy form.
Finally, Besmara cast the rocky remnants of Aventus out the sea, forming the Windjammer Isles, in order to protect the Bay and it’s people from the future fury of Shargon’s tempests.
The aventi mourned their downfall for a millenium before they resolved to rebuild their cities at the bottom of the Bay of Besmara. Over the course of the second millennium, they developed new traditions, advanced their art and architecture, and mastered martial and magical arts under the sea. In time, their sorrow turned to bitterness and eventually radiant hope as their exile under the sea neared its end. Finally, around 125 years ago, Shargon’s accord expired, and the aventi were allowed to return to land.
As the aventi arrived on Karaha’s surface, so did the Peisani merchants from the Western Continent. Immediately recognizing their kindred spirits and love of the sea, as well as the benefit of forming alliances above the waves, the aventi joined forces with the Peisani merchants in founding many of the settlements in Karaha, and protecting these new villages and cities from sahuagin raiders.
The side-effect of this integration of aventi into Western society was a splintering of the aventi culture. Many aventi have never seen the surface, choosing instead to live in their insulated communities on the sea floor. Other aventi have never seen the ocean’s depths, preferring to integrate into cities on the surface, or return to their ancient shipfaring roots. Once a proud and unified culture hailing from a single nation, the aventi are now as splintered in their loyalties as their human cousins.