Long ago, a race known as the Yako-Kai built an empire in the depths of the Southlands. Their arc of history was relatively short, as is often the case in the jungles, however their legacy remained for the ages, known as a tremendously blood-thirsty and cruel people. Their temples and cities still stood as ruins when Baelness and Xanaphia ventured south from Osil at rumors of undead armies.
While searching for the temples, they joined a centaur called Slepnir and a savage halfling barbarian known as Tagtren, struck by lightning years before which stole his identity and memories. A druid known as Mylandra also joined their mission against the undead. The group located one of the ancient Yako-kai ruined cities. There, they began to experience visions and hallucinations.
What they would uncover, guided by discoveries in the ruins and by strange dreams, was a quest by lich of that long-dead race named Kaiko-Maz. The Yako-kai worshiped their god and creator, the Mighty Maz, and this lich had, in life, believed himself descended from Maz himself and by default a god-king to his people. Living near the end of his empire’s rein, Kaiko-Maz lead a power-hungry coups that ended in the bloody destruction of their empire and the extinction of the Yako-Kai. Now, he had apparently come back to raise and rule his people in death in the image of Mighty Maz.
As the adventurers pursued the lich in his search for a tome of power hidden in the ancient cities, one that would grant him the power to reincarnate the Yako-Kai in his own twisted thrall, they were aided by the powerful spirits of the Exarchs, religious leaders of the Yako-kai who wished to see their people reborn in the true image of Maz, a free-willed people who would know peace.
The group fought Kaiko-Maz and his undead servants through five cities, exploring the ruined halls and sunken temples to locate the Book of Arna-Dima that would allow the reincarnation of the Yako-kai. They found it, and fought against Kaiko-Maz and his bloodthirsty, undead thralls at the Temple of Mighty Maz, the holiest site of the dead empire.
During the battle, they completed ritual inside the temple, and were faced with the choice to reincarnate the Yako-kai as a people enthralled to a pacifist and goodly life, or as a people of free-will that could choose their own path of morality (potentially returning to the blood-thirsty ways that lead to the rule of Kaiko-Maz in the first place). They choose, after careful decision, to return the Yako-kai as a free-willed race, hoping they would do as the Exarch’s promised and remember the lessons of their history. Kaik-Maz himself was forever destroyed in the battle and ensuing rituals to his creator, Maz.
During that quest, Tagtren learned of his own history, a paragon of his people who lived a charmed life in Osil. His legend among his own people was great, and they were stricken when he disappeared years ago and never returned. Tag was not that same halfling now, he was a brutal warrior, surviving through fearless violence and animal instinct. He chose not to return to his clan, knowing they would expect the hero they lost and not the warrior he was now. Instead, he would remain by his friend Slepnir’s side.
Slepnir herself had been exiled from her people after she stole the Hooves of the Zephyr from her clan chief. She would not be going back either, and the loyalty of the savage halfling was important to the centaur. The what the pair accomplished after the resurrection of the Yako-kai is unknown, as is both the origin and the history of the druid Mylandra.
The Yako-Kai are still rebuilding their society, deep in the southwest jungles near the borders of the elven forests. They remain largely isolated, not desiring conflict with the tribes north and east, content to heal the wounds on their souls by their dark past and try to live in the image of Maz.