The Vijadesans reckon their history from the date of the Ten Datus’ landing in the Jangalans, some 900 years ago.*
The Hari Ragat Stone
The sagas of the Vijadesans revolve constantly around the Hari Ragat Stone, a magical gem given to the first Vijadesan king by Apu Laut, god of the sea.
Long ago, it is said, when the first Vijadesan king was but a fisherman on the island-continent of Arundwipaya, he encountered a gigantic sea turtle. “You are destined for greatness,” the turtle told him, “so I wish to give you a gift. Choose one of the three gems on my head and take it.
“The sapphire, if you take it, will make your people great in wisdom; they shall build everlasting temples of stone and learn all the lore of the stars, but after a thousand years they will be conquered and ruled by another race.
“The emerald, if you take it, will make your people wealthy beyond their dreams; their harvests will always be abundant, and they will never know hunger or pestilence. But after a thousand years, they shall be conquered by another race.
“The ruby, if you take it, will grant your people great hearts, making them valorous, diligent and ingenious, so they will be inconquerable; but it will lead them to such strife that in time you and your line will be forgotten.”
“Then I choose the red stone,” said the future king. “For as long as my people have the traits you promise, they will have freedom, and that is all they need; everything else they can make or take with their hands as they wish.”
“So be it,” said Apu Laut, and the king-to-be took the red stone. The stone was named the Hari Ragat, the Ocean King, and with its powers the fisherman founded the Amaron Kingdom.
When long afterward Rajah Samil went mad and oppressed his people into despair, the gem was stolen by Datu Bangsil who then led nine other datus and all their followings on a voyage to find a new homeland.
Fleeing the tyranny of a mad king, ten Vijadesan datus take sail from Arundwipaya and are led by a giant sea turtle (the god Apu Laut) to the Jangalan Isles.
The islands are divided into ten realms, each of the datus proclaiming himself a Rajah. All the Rajahs however recognize the supremacy of Rajah Matanda of Bambaran**, as he possesses the Hari Ragat Stone.
The first hostile encounters with the raksasas, the shapeshifting giants, occur. Many other ancient monsters must be slain so the Vijadesans can settle the new lands in peace. A pact is concluded with the raksasa king, Rajah Sanna, recognizing certain mountains and islands as sacred to the raksasas and forbidden to man; in return the raksasas would cease molesting the Vijadesans.
A few years after the landfall, Lakan Ibar, son of Rajah Matanda, steals the youngest wife of Rajah Baginda. This sparks the first war between the Ten Kingdoms.
The War of Fire
There are now two branches of the Vijadesan people; the Vijadesans of the Amaron Kingdom on Arundwipaya, ruled by Rajah Palyava the grand-nephew of mad Rajah Samil, and the Vijadesans of the Jangalan Isles, divided into ten feuding kingdoms. Rajah Palyava gets the location of the ‘renegade’ Vijadesans from traders, and puts together an expedition to bring them under his sway.
Thus begins the War of Fire, so named for the great burnings and sackings that ensued. Rajah Palyava made seven great raids on the Vijadesans of the isles, and after his death his son Rajah Pandara made another three. On his last raid, Pandara burned Bambaran and captured the Hari Ragat Stone.
The island Vijadesans retaliated with raids of their own, however, but on a smaller scale. When Pandara captured the Hari Ragat Stone, Rajah Matanglawin of Bambaran pursued with forty ships, caught Pandara at sea, and slew him in a desperate battle within sight of Arundwipaya’s shores.
The following year Matanglawin led a retaliatory raid against the Amaron Kingdom, allying with the kings of Dharupala, Uparaya and Mahambara on Arundwipaya. Rajah Salukya, son of Pandara, submitted to Matanglawin, giving him his sister in marriage and making Matanglawin his heir.
When a few years later Salukya died fighting the Dharupalans, and Matanglawin became, briefly, king of both Amaron and Bambaran. But another Dharupalan invasion struck before Matanglawin could set sail for Arundwipaya again, and before the expedition could embark news reached Bambaran that the Amaron Kingom was no more.
Many Vijadesan refugees made their way to the Jangalans and were absorbed by the Vijadesans there; those who remained were absorbed into the Dharupalan nation, thus making the island Vijadesans the sole representatives of their race.
The end of the Wars of Fire sees a great increase in Vijadesan numbers. This is partly from an influx of Vijadesan refugees from Arundwipaya, and partly because of the victorious island warriors gaining more wives and slaves.
Then a volcanic eruption destroys the kingdom of Irayon. Said to have been brought about by Rajah Bagwisan’s spurning of a maiden who was the volcano goddess Lalahon in disguise, the eruption scatters the Irayonese and devastates so great an area that many go to seek new homes elsewhere.
The Vijadesans now continue spreading across the Jangalan Isles at an increased rate, straining the ability of the Rajahs to exercise their sovereignty over them. Soon there are 12 Rajahs, then 20, then a hundred. The Hari Ragat Stone passes through the hands of several different families, as it is inherited by the Rajah of Sambail, then the Rajah of Tambarang, before it is successfully reclaimed by the Rajahs of Bambaran.
Wars erupt, causing the Vijadesans to disperse even further. By the end of this age, only one of the ten original kingdoms, Bambaran, remains. The other nine original kingdoms have fallen, replaced by other dynasties.
In the meantime, the raksasas are growing increasingly hostile as the Vijadesan colonists encroach on their territories. The details of the ancient pact have been largely forgotten by the Vijadesans, so violations of raksasa turf grow ever more frequent.
The raksasa prince Lawana steals Isyana, the wife of Rajah Indarapatra of Bambaran, and demands the Hari Ragat Stone as ransom.
Indarapatra meets Lawana carrying the stone, but both parties plan to trick the other to keep both princess and stone. With his magical powers Lawana is able to get away with both, so Indarapatra calls on all the Vijadesan rajahs and datus to join him in war against the raksasas.
An epic conflict ensues, with the powerful raksasas having a great advantage against the Vijadesans. So many kings and heroes fall that the time is known as the Age of Tears. Even Bambaran falls, destroyed by Lawana’s magic arts.
But Indarapatra survives, and with a small company of heroes (and some timely aid from the gods and diwatas) he confronts Lawana in battle and kills him.
The princess is recovered, but to his dismay Indarapatra fails to find the Hari Ragat Stone. He sails away with his wife on a quest to find the stone, and is never seen again.
Indarapatra’s son Rajah Bima takes his place, but without the Hari Ragat Stone he is unable to enforce his sovereignty beyond Bambaran. Eventually Bambaran is abandoned as indefensible and the descendants of Raja Bima establish new kingdoms of their own.
War of the Red Sails
Yamatora, lord of the Red Sail Pirates from Rushun, invades the Jangalans with the aim of founding a kingdom there. With the Vijadesans disunited, he quickly subverts many chieftains to fight with him; those who resist are relentlessly attacked.
A long and bitter war follows. Eventually Yamatora is slain, and the Red Sail Pirates are forced to flee. Many of their number however are inadvertently left behind, and these disappear into the jungle. Years afterward, villagers quake in fear of ‘sword-wielding demons’ terrorizing the countryside, cutting down innocents, raping maidens, stealing and burning crops, even devouring captives.
After the War of the Red Sails, however, there is a long period of peace and rebuilding.
The Thousand Kingdoms
A pearl diver finds a shipwreck while exploring a new pearl bed, and finds within it nine shards of what had once been a fist-sized red gem. It is the Hari Ragat Stone, now broken into pieces.
Through a series of misfortunes the shards are scattered and fall into the possession of various rival princes. It is prophesied that the Rajah who can get all of the pieces will be able to reassemble the Stone, and thereby claim once again the title of Hari Ragat.
Even worse, the shards of the Hari Ragat Stone are multiplying, splintering into even more shards. Why, nobody knows. But with more shards, each in different hands, chaos is assured. Thus the name of the current era: the Age of the Thousand Kingdoms.
*I’m pushing back history a bit to have a larger timespan to play with.
**Some names may still be changed before I go to the final draft.