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By Paul Stuempel & Cormac Lambe


Many leagues across the oceans of time, space and everything in between, there was a land known simply as Hohala. Since time immemorial, the country was an idyllic, bountiful place, populated by the Hohalians, a peaceful race of humans who lived in harmony with the natural world around them. The word “Hohala” itself meant “Essence of Heaven,” and its inhabitants were a faithful people whose lives were given over in devotion to the Nexus, a divine, unseen network of kindly gods and spirits who guided and provided for the Hohalians as their chosen people.

              From an early age, Hohalian children were taught to worship the Nexus with unwavering commitment, while adults were expected to live and work with a special love for the gods in their hearts always. In return for their piety and loyalty, the Nexus provided the Hohalians with crops and fruit and saw to it that their land was perpetually smiled upon by the warm light of the sun.

            The village in which the Hohalians resided was, by extension, also known as Hohala. It was an intricate, sprawling settlement of narrow streets, stone cottages, and ancient, grandiose temples. The village itself was largely constructed of sandstone, and when the morning sun cast its light across the rooftops, the very buildings appeared to glint like pale, yellow gold. But the jewel in the crown of the Hohalian homeland was its spectacular royal mansion. The culmination of many generations of artisan builders, the sprawling, oblong-shaped palace was the traditional home of the Hohalian royal family who governed the citizens according to tradition and theology. As if to personify the spirit of the much-blessed country, the royal line of Hohala had always been characterized by benevolence and a humility that endeared them to the people. It was said that Hohala’s regal lineage had originated at one time with the gods themselves, and so the people reserved a special fondness for their monarchy always.

            Beyond the Hohalian settlement, the natural world flourished as freely and profusely as any other place known to man. To the north and south, an expanse of untamed jungle that spread further than the naked eye could see provided a mysterious, natural boundary to the Hohalian village. So thick and inhospitable was the vegetation that parts of the jungle remained scarcely explored by the Hohalians. On its eastern side, Hohala was hemmed in by the coastline which stretched endlessly in either direction, trimmed by majestic, white sands that became increasingly rugged and precipitous as one moved further away from the village. Meanwhile, in the distant west, the snowcapped peaks of a dense, forbidding mountain range rose up against the horizon—a desolate, barely-charted outpost where only a handful of Hohalians were rumored to have ventured in the past. Inhospitable in both terrain and climate, the treacherous highlands marked the outermost limits of the country that the Hohalians lovingly and proudly claimed as their own.

            Generation after generation, the citizens lived and worked as a tightly-woven community in which each person shouldered his or her fair share of the common work effort, from the laborers and traders to the priests and teachers. They nurtured and cultivated the land and lived in harmony with all species of the earth, sea, and sky. They neither hunted, nor killed, or even fought among themselves, and it was a cornerstone belief of Hohalian society that no violence ever be committed against another living being.

For those who dwelled within Hohala, thanksgiving to the Nexus was a fundamental part of their lives, as was the emphasis placed on community. Daily, as they went about their routines, the Hohalians prayed and sang the songs of their faith together, and in the evenings, they gathered in the homes of friends and neighbors to share food and make merry. Indeed, life in Hohala was one of blessings and bounty, and as a society, every effort was made to ensure that all citizens felt they belonged. For as long as any living person could remember, Hohalian children had been brought up to appreciate and feel privileged to be part of their community, with each individual understanding his or her own small part in the commonwealth.

              And so it was for eons that the Hohalians lived in abundance and pleasure as the chosen people of the Nexus, fulfilled and provided for within the frontiers of their homeland. With little to want or yearn for—either spiritually or materially—the people of Hohala had few reasons to trouble their minds. Their small, blissful world, confined to the hinterland of the Great Bay of Hohala, was all that most men or women could ever desire, and it was a rarity for any Hohalian to cast their imagination beyond the outer limits of their motherland. However, as is often the folly of those who consider privilege to be a birthright, the Hohalians gave little thought to other places or races. Secure within their divinely-enchanted boundaries, the people of Hohala remained content and complacent for countless generations, their plentiful, happy existence untroubled by those who occupied the deprived shadows of creation. But, as is the story of humanity—told time and time again—prosperity and privilege are never eternal, and the frail hands of the broken and impoverished will always, eventually, rise in dissent.

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