A significant body of folklore exists regarding the malari, arising as a result of stories being carried by travellers between tribes, primarily on the Majesa and Tescani continents, and revised and mixed with local folklore wherever they took hold. Many such tales contradict one another as a result, with "malari" coming to refer to disparate depictions of supernatural villains with wildly variable relations to the actual Ardat-Yakshi condition. The mythology commonly referred to by the term Malari, when capitalised, is a more cohesive outgrowth of these original tales, in which the Malari are a specific group of asari sharing a common origin and history.
The most prevalent depiction of these Malari arose during the pre-Myacolan age, although they are set in a somewhat nebulous earlier era. The Malari (sometimes referred to as "the Malari witches") were a group of asari who had forsaken the goddesses (most tales of this era anachronistically use the pre-Myacolan pantheon, despite being set before their first historical appearances), and sacrificed their spiritual connection to the universe to a malevolent entity or entities known as "the Never"; the motive for doing so is variously depicted as ambition, megalomania, or in some tragic tales being misled by the Never, but the result was to make the Malari wholly evil, and possessed of dark supernatural powers.
The Malari used these powers to create a vast empire, encompassing much of the continent of Majesa, subjecting any asari they captured to slavery, torture, and execution. Although many tales exist of individual asari heroes defying the Malari, and shepherding would-be victims to safety beyond their reach, the Malari's ultimate defeat came about at their own hands. As their powers grew, the infighting which had always characterised the Malari became increasingly violent and widespread, until their entire empire was consumed in a vicious multi-sided civil war. The Malari destroyed one another entirely, those not directly killed by their adversaries suffering mortal wounds as a result of the magic used against them, and the interior of Majesa, where their empire had its heart, was reduced to an inhospitable wasteland.
Later folklore often harks back to the tales of the Malari reign, with Ardat-Yakshi antagonists being depicted as unaccounted-for survivors of the empire, or newly-born witches seeking to recreate or emulate the empire.
The Malarial Queendom
During Thessia's first industrial age, before the advent of spaceflight, a group of fanatical asari established a fascist state in the Kendra Ocean region. Dubbing themselves the Malarial Queendom, the leaders of this state openly claimed to be Ardat-Yakshi, and adopted much of the imagery and iconographgy associated with the Malari. The Queendom's military forces were formidable for its size, and neighbouring city states were caught off-guard and suffered initial defeats, however the state was fractured by internal divisions, which quickly sapped its ability to sustain the campaigns it had begun, and a coalition of Kendran city states capitalised on this infighting to cut off supply lines, leading to the fall of the Queendom's capital and the quick routing of its remaining forces.
It is generally agreed by Thessian historians that the co-opting of the Malari canon was a consciously-chosen terror tactic, not an indication of genuine belief in the supernatural aspects of the legends. None of the Queendom's high leadership were captured alive, dying either in the fighting against their adversaries, or assassinated by one another; historians continue to debate whether some or all of these leaders were in fact Ardat-Yakshi sufferers, or whether that too was a fabrication for intimidation purposes.
Despite the revulsion felt by the general population at the sudden rise and bloody end of the Malarial Queendom, the effect on popular folklore was profound. The Malari canon rapidly supplanted other strands of Ardat-Yakshi mythology, a situation which remains true to the present, contributing to the stigmatisation of the condition. Many traits and associations formerly specific to the Malari canon are now employed as part of the general Ardat-Yakshi folklore, without reference to their origins.
The multiplayer role-playing game Galaxy of Fantasy, which contributed significantly to the spread of fictional portrayals of Ardat-Yakshi beyond asari cultures, bases the characterisations and supernatural abilities of its Ardat-Yakshi character classes on the Malari canon.
The term "Malarial Queendom" is a reference to China Miéville's fantasy novel The Scar (where the connection to malaria is intentional rather than coincidental).