The past of the Ankeerean people is shrouded in mystery. They have no poetry, no recorded history, no art, nothing. Not because it was lost to the ages, but because they never bothered to make any.
Ankeereans are the intelligent serpents known to inhabit the areas within and surrounding the jungles of Ankeerea, quite possibly the harshest place to live on Tygan. These jungles will eat an unwary traveler alive, literally, for the better half of the plants are carnivorous. Trees, vines, bushes and flowers all reach out and snare whatever fauna they can find and slowly devour their prey alive. Only more rocky areas provide safe passage through the jungle, but any slight missteps and the vines will pull a traveler off the path never to be heard from again. Ankeereans are normally found around these areas, basking in the warm sun to restore their strength.
Where exactly these snakes came from, no one is sure, but it is known that snakes dominated the jungles for some time, populating the hard to reach places where the deadly flora could not go. Their sudden appearance suggests an outside influence of some kind. Some believe their creation stemmed from an age old conflict between a Wizard and several liches some twenty thousand years ago, the magic exchanged between both parties influencing the local wildlife. Many remark that had evolution been left to its own devices, the serpents would never have come to be.
This is because Ankeereans are almost universally nihilistic in their attitudes; they see both life and death as equally meaningless. The refrain heard by any visitor to a typical Ankeerean ‘village’ is ‘It is all pointless.’ This hasn’t made them very popular with the other races of Tygan, who treat the Ankeerean’s attitudes with suspicion at best and more commonly with outright hatred. The Ankeereans do not help matters by intermittently eating travelers; the recovered journals of more than a few eager scholars and explorers end on a mention of the serpent people. When the Ankeereans are caught, they show neither remorse for their actions nor fear of being killed for them, though quite frankly whenever an Ankeerean commits a crime, even they don’t commit it to memory, rendering prosecution of them next to impossible.
Ankeereans have a reputation for being lazy and apathetic, which may be considered racism if it weren’t completely true. An Ankeerean ‘village’ consists of nothing more than a group of serpents who know each other basking in the sun and leaving occasionally to hunt for food. They all know each other by name, but their names are strictly made of single syllable sounds so they will take the least amount of effort to say. The only real reason that Ankeereans take names is it takes more effort to search for someone takes more effort than calling out a name.
Their voice is also the cause of much frustration amongst travelers. They seem to breath more than actually vocalize, and slightly elongate their ’s’ sounds, more out of habit than anything else. It is not known how they gained their power of speech, though legend has it that a great wizard grew curious as to what the serpents were thinking and granted them the ability to speak. Some say he tried to take the gift back, but was unable.
The bigotry against Ankeereans has been described as ‘inexcusably savage’ even by some of their most vocal detractors. The apathetic nature of the serpents makes them very vulnerable to often vicious crimes ranging from assault, to torture to murder. Even so, they still maintain their attitudes and make no efforts to see that those responsible are brought to justice. Predictably, there is a slur attributed towards them often uttered by their enemies. They are called ‘Sliths.’
Still, even among Ankeereans, there are some stories of heroism and ambition.
The one noteworthy tale of Ankeerenas began several decades ago when a supply caravan under the tow of griffins strayed too close to the treetops and was brought down by the vines. The griffins and their riders immediately devoured, all that remained were the supplies themselves, which were later found by an Ankeerean tribe. Most of the supplies were eaten by the serpents immediately, hams, steaks, beef and pork, all consumed in a single feast. But one item stood out, several large barrels of salt, which gave five of the serpents pause. After noticing that the plants avoided the salt, the five youths forwarded the idea that the strange new substance could be used to cut pathways through the jungle and drive the flesh eating plants away. The five youths rubbed their bodies in salt and used it to safely traverse the lethal flora, and then began to cut pathways through the jungle.
The exact timing of this event is known due to travelers accounts, many of whom began to use the pathways themselves on their journeys. Some even recall meeting one or more of these mysterious five young serpents, and they recall unusually friendly and curious attitudes by all. They are said to have asked many questions of the outside world, and seemed to have a desire to be more connected with society at large. A dwarven general recalls speaking with one such Ankeerean.
“He called out just to be sure we knew he was coming as to not startle us. We at first thought them another lost traveler, by the tone of their voice. Quite surprised were we to see the Ankeerean come out of the bush. His body was sprinkled with salt which drove the plants away, and almost immediately he offered some of the valuable powder to us. It was quite a shocking experience to be treated with such courtesy from one of these creatures. He was very polite and forthcoming, and asked many questions about where we came from, what it was like where we lived, and what types of things were going on in the outside world. He took an immediate interest in our books, and read of them with great speed as we were trying to get our bearings. Had I been blind, I would have thought this voice to be one of my students.”
A few asked to accompany these travelers on their journeys, but be it understandable suspicion or outright bigotry, all of the requests were declines.
After many travelers passed through the jungles, the curiosity of the five youths grew into ambition, and they wanted to see what was outside the flesh eating jungle. With the salt as their only real asset, the five took a chance and went into the jungle alone. What followed was a perilous journey that spanned several weeks, and eventually ended with only one of the serpents making it to the borders of the jungle, where he eventually made his way to a nearby farming community. After offering his help with general muscle work, eventually this serpent drew the attention of scholars. They came to the community to hear his story, and learn more about the Ankeerean people than ever before.
Of the information, the most crucial that he provided was that Ankeereans are extremely susceptible to bribery with large cuts of meat. Otherwise the serpents were best known for merely blinking slowly at whatever passerby came across them mid basking. This was used to further terraform the jungle, them cutting more salt paths through the bush in exchange for a free meal. Any amount of slithering through the jungle is tolerable to an Ankeerean if there’s a generous beef-haunch guaranteed at its end.
The serpent also allowed his body to be examined and studied for a time. This provided new insights into the mysterious reclusive race. Examining his living body, the magical origins of the serpents were confirmed, though the exact circumstances are still not entirely known. It is rumored that the serpent requested payment not in meat, but in books, specifically poetry and history. There are even some rumors circulating that he didn’t ask for payment at all. Most write these off as just that. Rumors.
Soon after, the mysterious one of a kind Ankeerean left the community to see the world. After this event, Ankeereans grew to be closely associated with the paladins for reasons most are still unaware. Some assume it is simply the paladins extending goodwill, while others have heard whispers of the serpents having some hidden potential. In spite of the popularity of the paladin class, most view this project of theirs to be a lost cause.
Celice of the Paladins’ Guard regularly communicates with the serpents in one particular tribe dubbed the Odyssey Tribe for their relation to the escaped Ankeerean, and refers to them all by name. She is also on a first name basis with many of the so called ‘leaders’ of each tribe. The Ankeereans at best simply refer to her as ‘Cel’, not taking the effort to say the second syllable in her name, though most simply refer to her as ‘the woman.’ Some have taken notice that saying ‘the woman’ requires more work than Celice’s actual name, hinting that the serpents feel some sort of animosity towards her. So perhaps, it is believed, they are more emotional than they seem.
They could return the courtesy of calling her by her name, but they consider the gesture to be pointless.