The Realm of Secrets and Shadows, ruled by the powerful Shaga, currently Sahara Shang (who got there through a calculated series of actions following a recent civil war) is always a fascinating and powerful reminder that Wyrlde is not always so easygoing, and that beneath a serene surface can lie a deadly trap. The Shaga insists that all who come are welcome in her peaceful land, and that pleasure will be yours.
To most, Qivira is a land of laughing people, who delight in wordplay and games of skill and chance. Like their neighbors, they seem to go about their daily lives with joy and contentment, often smiling and unfailingly polite, following what sometimes seems to be a very rigid and structured life.
The Shaganate of Qivira
The Greatest Gift is Competence
I see you.
A deep bow or curtsey while keeping eye contact.
Shoes are never worn indoors. They are stored in small cubies near the door on the broad porch of a Qiviran home.
Qiviran do not receive gifts, they give them. When leaving a gift one, set it aside near them without saying anything.
Overly loud, easily read, ungracious
Secretive, artsy, private, rigid, inflexible
The rigidity and structure of Qivira is perhaps its true strength and apparent weakness. These diversions are a necessity – as it is the duty of a noble to look after those in their care and be willing to sacrifice their own well-being to ensure they achieve it. Letting someone in your charge be hungry is a crime in Qivira.
The Civil War has been a quiet affair, but deeply disrupted trade and damaged the country. Sahara’ late husband was the prior Shaga, and on the first month anniversary of their wedding, he sought to kill her. It was a night without moonlight, and a storm raged outside, and the Shaga of the day feared his new wife had brought a curse with her. As they struggled, back and forth, in a quiet battle, she began to tell him tales that captured his curiosity and interest, and for a year and a day her death was held up, whereupon he died the following morning and his son from his former wife was set to became Sultan. Sahara was not pleased by that and ordered the death of all of the former Shaga’s wives and concubines and all issue from them. This sparked a rebellion among the nobles and court officers, and so there was a very bloody seven year long civil war – during which Sahara proved not only capable of leading the nation, but of out thinking her enemies. She is sometimes called the Tokugan, or Warlady.
That was five years ago, and the Shaga still rules. This gives much of the character of Qivira in one blow – they are a people of passion, of superstition, and of piety. The lands are high steppe, fertile but stony, and require much work to bring from them the fruits of one’s labor. This close tie to the elements has led the people to become more aware and more involved with the spirits of the world, and they are welcoming people who care not about what you did before coming here but care deeply about what you do while you are there.
Qivira is very different from the other realms, and few would say ill of them – lest they find themselves visited in the night.
Damashi: A famous mining Town and site of both a Station and a Gantry.
Valashi: A farming town that handles a great deal of agricultural trade and is the Shagan’s spring palace.
Tokoshi: A mining town that has at least one Syndicate who has wormed itself into the fabric of the town.
Emerging from a quiet civil war under the unifying leadership of the Tokugan, Sahara Shang, Qivira is a land that is loved deeply by spirits and by the Fae and is possibly the prettiest realm of all. Massive forests of bamboo and other strange trees, the mines and the way that everyone is driven to become the best at their art, craft, or duty, the unpredictable weather and the willingness to cut down for even minor infractions create a complicated picture of a land that many just say is secretive, though about the only secrets they have are from those who say that.
Qiviran are studious, stoic, observant people who are big on tradition, consistency, and who seek and strive for perfection.
The people of Qivira are interesting – much like the folks elsewhere, but with a devotion to mastery that is based in a love of the world itself, the beauty of it. Very pastoral, Qivira is a realm of safety, though it still has its walls. Wooden or clay, and not nearly as tall.
Qivira is gorgeous. It is green, with tall trees and immense forests of bamboo and more. Qiviran people do not like to disturb the natural world, seek to live in harmony with it, and it is a favorite place of respite for the Rangers of the world. The people know this, and they delight in the way that they can use the world around them to shape a space and a place for themselves that is in tune with not just the trees and soil, flora and fauna, but also the spirits of the world and even the denizens of the outer planes.
Sheltered by mountains, Qivira commands the region that is known for the most delicate and wonderful sculpture.
Qivira is tied to the world around it, and the people have a strong habit of surprising others with gifts of summoning. It is common to see a summoning circle used here, or to stumble across a summoned servant. The Qivira have even developed ways of summoning people, binding them the same way they bind being from the outer planes. This has, in turn, led to a great many Cambion, but also a great deal of stories and tales about deals and bindings going wrong.
It can be a bit much.
Qivira is a difficult place to survive at times. While there is rain, the soil is quickly dries, and this makes it difficult to rely on. The river systems are mostly small streams, easily forded, but prone to flooding in sudden waves that sweep through the narrow canyons.
Still, they have surprising ability to endure, and rather than work against nature, they work with it. Qivric crafts are prized by many for their attention to detail and their love of plant and animal inspired motifs, even though most have never seen the animals so depicted. There is a sense of obsession about attention to detail, about pursuit of perfection, about authenticity and exactness that makes the works and arts and crafts of Qivira unique and highly prized, though they can take much longer to craft and form. This obsession carries into every aspect of daily life, as they have rituals and patterns and ways to do everything, from pouring tea to how to comb one’s hair to even just the different degrees of what is acceptable kinds of kissing in public and where and how.
Despite a high level of poverty, most Qivira people are happy, healthy, and able to meet their needs among themselves – which seems to be all they want.
The social position of women is somewhat better than in other cultures, and women have a substantial influence in decisions about the domestic economy. In the past, some women participated in collective magical ceremonies and rituals, and rituals still seem to be thought of as women’s work. They are generally expected to be supportive, to be courted, and to be submissive, but the reality is that these are only about the appearance of such. Even the Shaga seems and strikes one as demure and courteous, but then she, you know, kills all her rivals. This is despite a series of rules and laws that require separation of genders in all activities.
There is a burgeoning trade between Lyonese and Qivira in the thick, bamboo framed flying tapestries that are produced by the House of Morlin and the House of Aladin.
It seems that Lyonese has found greater interest in them than the Skyships of the House of Skye.
Qiviran have a close attachment to their home, especially when this consists of the traditional self-sufficient, family-run farm, as Home in this context is synonymous with family roots. They call their houses a Lodge. They are a matrilineal people. Ancestral descent is traced through the mother, and children are considered born into the mother’s House and are part of her people. Traditionally, a young couple move into the bride’s parents’ lodge. People work together in collaborative ways, marked by both independence and cooperation, without coercion. Both women and men are active in political life, with independent decision-making responsibilities.
Within the lodge, each family divides activities by the three classes of women:
Mature women (usually married and mothers), who do most of the labor; young single women, just learning their responsibilities; and older women, who look after the young children. Women tended to be responsible for decisions about resource allocation, trade, and inter-lodge social negotiations as well as spiritual/health issues. Men were responsible for decisions which pertained to hunting, rafting, and business. Among the collection of lodges, the roles for men are essentially older men, who support and pass on the rituals; mature men, who are charged with care of the family as a whole; and younger, single men who are expected to rise to mastery quickly.
Both men and women may have up to three spouses and not more than two concubines (a term applied to all genders), but all must be provided for, and all must live in the same lodge.
Their inheritance patterns favor survival of the unity of inherited land holdings. In a kind of primogeniture, these usually are inherited by the eldest male or female child.
It is the father’s religious obligation to find a suitable husband for his daughter and it is recommended that the husband be intelligent, well-brought up, and have a productive land. Furthermore, it is the father or guardian’s duty to represent the bride and negotiate a marriage contract. The contract stipulates the money and property that belong to the bride, defines the clout of the husband, and characterizes what restrictions can be placed on the wife.
A woman could choose not to marry the man that her father picked out. If the woman’s father has not found a suitable husband for her by the time she reaches the age of 24, the woman can marry whom she wishes without the consent of her father. The father is not allowed to disinherit his daughter for doing this, but if the daughter still proceeds in marriage her inheritance can be reduced. The husband is required to give a marriage gift of the stipulated amount to his new bride. This gift is fully in her possession, including in the case of separation, and the husband could not decline to pay the bride-price.
A man is legally required to marry a woman if she is unmarried, and he has slept with her in the same room.
The five elements play a significant role in Qiviran society, and there are many small altars to elemental powers. This may be borne out by the high percentage of Semihuman people among the population – nowhere else are there so many Cambions and Seraph. Of note is that Therians are not allowed in Qivira settlements – there are many ancient stories about wicked spirits that they resemble, and the hostility towards them is palpable.
Qivira tend to be much freer about people than in many other realms, and as a result have a higher percentage of Halflings than anywhere else. Indeed, because Halflings tend to be better liked here, they outnumber their relatives, and intermarrying is quite common.
Qiviran Surnames only exist when one is married. Each spouse takes as their surname the given name of the other. Lineage is tracked through the mother, who has a House to which they belong. Houses have all founded villages, and it is said that Sheba was the first inland village, though Samarkand is the second.
Qivira is ruled by the House of Shang, one of the 27 founding Houses of the realm. The port city of Qivira is a bit calmer than the Interior, possibly due to the influence of the Shaga, one of the famous Song daughters from Qivira. The Shaga is a strong ruler, very much a part of her people. She maintains the custom of knowledge of the Dark Arts, as magery is called in Qivira. They call magic which focuses on healing and protecting to be White Arts.
Formally, the Shangs delegate oversight to families and in favor of aristocrats – but there is a price for that responsibility. All people are grouped by House, and the legally designated head of the household is personally liable for all the actions, and responsible for the well-being of, those in their charge – on pain of significant punishment.
Although the royal family controls the laws, they have created laws that defend the rights of all citizens, which govern much of the way that life in Qivira is lived. They have also instituted a set of laws that govern behavior and tradition, deeply detailed down to dress, terms, and sounds usable.
She sits at the head of the Shura, usually silent, but unafraid to speak up before her viziers – she appointed all of them, though, and has faith in each of them. The Shura makes no law that has already been made, but there are many arguments about should punishments change. Much of what they deal with are affairs of state, and interpretation.
The Viziers are a body composed of the assorted nobility of Qivira, leadership in settlements, with an appointed Chancellor acting the police and judge for most hamlets and villages.
Qiviran Law is fairly simple and very direct: Don’t steal, don’t dishonor the dead, don’t be disrespectful, and so forth. They use a prison system, with specific sentences for each crime, and they never run concurrently. They have more prisons than anyone else, mostly filled with those on short stays of a month or so. The worst cases are sent to the prison island of Blackden. Religious crimes are sentenced to Ararat, a mountain prison. Most are carved below ground and are guarded and noticed only by the small building that sits atop them.
Appeal can often take longer than the sentence.
There are two types of mounted military units – The Cavalry and the Charioteers. Both are noted for their heavily armored mounts and riders, and the Qivira military makes grand use of their many types of mounts and long spears or glaives as standard weapon, mixed with short swords. They do not commonly use shields.
The Mounts are how the units are divided – Elephants, Horses, and a strange, six-legged, deer like beast called a Skurah are the three main forms. The Skurah draw Chariots, the Elephants are akin to warcraft, and the Horse are used similarly to Infantry elsewhere.
Units are built in teams, including support and logistics, a variance from the norm that employs oxen and goats in teams so that each unit at the Cohort level or above is completely self-supportive. There is little that a unit cannot do on its own, including mobile forges. This does mean that a cohort is around 200 soldiers in size, each of them a fighter, but with specific additional skills. This is why there is no infantry.
The Qivira have faced the wrath of Lemuria in the past and developed wicked ballistae in response that have immense range and great accuracy, typically able to ignite fires even on Skyships.
Roughly half the world’s supply of salt comes from Qivira. They are also known for using a unique strong material in their weapons and armor – lighter than steel, not quite as strong unless adamant is added. Qivric weapons and armor are around two thirds the normal weight but provide slightly less defensive ability. They use little iron, as importation is expensive, but they also provide many of the alternative metals in the world.
Taxes in Qivira are used to provide income for the needy, including the poor, elderly, orphans, widows, and disabled people first. After that they go to funding military needs, and then other needs. There is a minimum tax paid by all who are of modest or higher means equal to 10%, in addition to the expectation of Tithing at the Temple (10%) and to a 10% tax on all exchanges. The last two are expected of even visitors.
Healing in Qivira is developed around the presence of something called a hospital, where healers work together and where the sick are brought. These are large buildings, and beautiful.
Copper, Gold, Silver, Electrum, Orikal, Skystone, Tealiron, Vitredur, Bamboo, Woven Fabrics, Lacquer, Dye, Pigments – Qivira is a central hub of trade, with immense wealth that emerges from their densely forested region. They import a great deal, but they export only a little, in terms of sheer volume – this is the value of Qiviran goods. As one of the Southern lands, they are seen as wealthy, and their secrecy makes people think that they are more wealthy, perhaps, than the truly are.
Education in Qivira is divided, and required of all, but there is very little mingling of the genders as it is seen as unseemly. Education at Tanjins is strange, in that they have separated them not just by gender but by age, with Tanjin for each of the stages of growth, and that as they leave to enter an apprenticeship, they cease their formal education. Reading and writing is expected of everyone, but in villages and hamlets, there is generally a lower degree of literacy due to the interruption of chores, and farms and such.
The Virtues of Qivira are: Quiet, Appealing, Composed, Graceful, Gracious, Skillful, and Disciplined.
The Vices of Qivira are: Selfishness, Wrathful, Dishonor, Rudeness, Envious, Disloyalty, Dishonesty
Weapons & Armor
They make a soft, supple yet strong fabric that rumor says is woven from metal, wool, and cotton spun into a single thread. Very expensive, it is prized by many noble families. They also have developed a way of strengthening it with bamboo and using lacquer on it, perhaps in a flexible weave of some sort, that is used in the fabrication of armor that is quite durable and also allows for intense creativity in design and sculpting. Qivric Lacquer armor is a bamboo plate type of armor, fashioned to be terrifying but also functional.
Qivira weapons are also unique looking, being light, flexible spears with tapered, flat heads that can be detached and left in a victim from the spear body. Most will carry a dozen spearheads, and the pole itself may be of any material, but is often a filled or laminated bamboo.
Some will use the Blood sword, so named for the deep channel that runs down the length of it. A blood sword is a single edged, somewhat curved blade with an angled to a point tip. This has given them a unique fighting style that is incredibly powerful and is outside the more rigid style of the rest of the empire.
Lastly, they also use fans, typically 12 to 18 inches long, fashioned of metal with bamboo between them, folding into a somewhat thick base. When extended with a flick, they are sharp edged and very sturdy, often used in pairs.
Qiviran wrap themselves. Nearly all their clothing is a variation on a kind of wrap with sleeves, and is always meant to be worn in layers, coming off only in private and among family or when enjoying one of the many hot springs and warm baths they indulge in.
Simple undergarments, often gray or white, are worn beneath wonderful embroidered and delicately colored robes with tight sashes. They wear shoes that keep their feet up out of the mud – often the platforms and heels are three inches thick – and they have the distinction of having invented both the umbrella and the parasol, and those are pretty much required of everyone.
Bukaru Bonzie: An absolute genius of a Runewright, famous for some incredible adventures. Among them was a time when he devised a carpet vehicle that allowed him to slide through the Veil and into the 8th Dimension. Unfortunately, he was killed in the last Skyfall.
Sahara Shang: The current Shagan, who orchestrated a coup while preserving her own life and used it to restore order and depose a widely hated ruler.
Himione Kriket: the stories of Himione vary but what we do know is that they were an orphan who washed up in a storm outside of Chenmar, starved, beaten, and barely alive. No one had ever seen anything like Himione before – a person with the ears and tail of a cat, that would hiss and spit like one? After escaping from a traveling Bard’s little wagon show, Himione began to have adventures that no child should ever have been able to have, and at one point grew a second tail! There are a hundred and more stories of Himione. Nearly all are true, though a full-grown Panther hadn’t been encountered this far south before, nor had anyone ever been known to escape a Thulian raiding ship.