The Cholians are a human tribe who inhabit the fishing city of Jhomcholas and the surrounding area. Their life is centred on the catching and understanding of the extraordinary jakécha fish. They are a people with improved and heightened senses, due to the constant consumption of the flesh. The Cholians are a happy people, and work hard. They have a friendly trading relationship with the Zarathians; both tribes have mutual appreciation for one another.
|Image description. A Cholian fishing woman proudly presenting a jakécha fish. Illustration by Faugar.|
The people of this tribe have an appearance unlike any other, mainly due to
their unique diet. All members, with few exceptions, save for those who are
very old, are slim and wiry. Some would even say that they are so thin, they
look constantly ill. This is due to the filling nature of their staple diet,
the jakécha – though it leaves the impression that a hearty meal has just been
eaten, it does not contain the sustenance that one would. The addictive nature
of the fish means little else is eaten, however, there is recognition that
other basic substances must be consumed. Often the Cholians will eat a dish of
polent which is mixed with vegetables, fruit and meat, once every few days.
This prevents them from effectively starving to death.
Most members have fair hair, commonly white blonde, a few possess a light brown colouration, but these are generally youngsters who have yet to show the full effects of the jakécha diet. Eye colours are also yellow of various shades, as well as the skin which takes on an almost golden glow, and seems to never tan in the overhead sun. The remarkable fish causes these changes – how, no-one knows. Most believe Nakashi herself has blessed the fish, and so these changes are due to their closeness to her light, through the jakécha. The lighter the hair, eyes and skin of a Cholian, the closer they are deemed to be to the Goddess of Light.
Coat of Arms/Sign. As could be expected, this tribe has a coat of arms in which a watery and fishy theme dominates. It is cut like a diamond, although the edges are not straight, but mimic waves in their shape. The background is grey, upon which is a simple eye. From this eye, fins sprout above, below and in a mimic of a tail to the right, representing a fish. This is all done using a thick, black line; there is no other colour upon the coat of arms, not even within the eye.
Territory. The Cholians inhabit the town of Jhomcholas and have many settlements within the surrounding area. They are located within the desert continent of Aeruillin, along the north-west section of the Bright Sea.
People. This tribe is truly unique. They originated from the Rhulrans, who in turn originated from the Ordions, in turn, the Thairans. However, all these people have Avennorian ancestry, as it was the tribe which colonized Shan’Thai, pushing out the natives, or taking them as partners, servants, or even slaves. The Cholians are more reminiscent of the Avennorians than the Thairans now are. They seemed to retain the urge to explore and wander, feeling that there was more to be had from the desert continent, looking to reveal the hidden treasure, which they obviously found. They also have some of the diving ability their ancestors had, although the interbreeding between Avennorians and natives have meant that this is lessened. The tribe possesses normal ears, not the slits of their forebears.
However, what truly sets the Cholians apart is their diet and how this has affected them. They eat only jakécha, and occasionally polent. This means that their senses are constantly improved and heightened, as described
Eyes perceive a wider range of colours, however this means that bright colours can become unbearable, meaning that Cholians are unable to enter large cities because of the abundance of shades and tones. To do so causes serious headaches and occasionally death. Older members of this tribe do manage to attain a degree of control over this though, meaning that the first time a Cholian enters a big city is often when he or she has lived for forty or fifty years.
Hearing extends over a greater distance and the range of sound improves. As with the improved eyesight though, this also comes with a disadvantage. Loud noises can bring excruciating pain. As with eyesight, a degree of control can be obtained with age.
The sense of taste is vastly improved. Strong foods can no longer be eaten, but food that seems bland to others are rich with aroma and flavour to the Cholians.
Smell is heightened. It is not uncommon for a Cholian to be able to identify a person simply through their odour. Also, this means that excrement must be dealt with swiftly, or the smell is unbearable for members of this tribe!
The improved sense of touch has little advantage, except when becoming intimate with a partner. This is often what those who buy the jakécha mainly use it for, often a newly wed couple will use some of their savings to purchase some of this remarkable fish for their wedding night.
However, it also means that the Cholians become dependent on it, and for up to the first twenty years of living, they may not leave Cholian territory. This is because during this time in their lives, to be caught without any jakécha can mean severe withdraw symptoms which include stomach cramps, blurred vision, losing taste and smell, convulsions, randomised hearing. Generally, by the time they are twenty, there is enough stability to go without jakécha for up to two or three months, and as the years pass by the time a Cholian can be without the fish is lengthened.
|Image description. A Cholian canoe, an essential tool used by the tribe day in day out. Illustration by Faugar.|
The Cholians tend to be very honest in their ways. They busy themselves with
their lives, happy and content. Rarely does a tribe member feel the need to
travel and explore, although this is permitted. Should it happen, the
individual nearly always returns before two years are over, needing jakécha. If
the person does not return, it is attributed to the fact that they either died,
or something stopped them from returning. They are often mourned if the person
has not been seen for three years.
Every Cholian is registered with the Tahara (see Occupations), to not do so is a great offence, and punishable by supplies being withdrawn. Each individual has their own file, in which are recorded personal details, along with tallies of how much fish they have caught recently.
Housing. The Cholians are not advanced in matters of architecture. Most citizens live in simple huts, made from stone and mud. They do appreciate decoration however, and whilst bright colours may not be used due to the effect they would have on the advanced eyesight of this tribe, patterns and engravings are carved into the walls for interest. These often tell you much about the person or family who lives in the house. Also, the phrase, “Would you like to come home and look at our carvings?” is often a line used by young men or women to their desired partner!
When relations with the Zarathians were established, members of the trading tribe sent stone masons to build great temples for them, as a way of showing gratitude to the tribe of fishers who made their city rich. These are maintained by Zarathians, who travel back with the delegation that visit every six months or so. The Zarathians also built the giant stone house in which the Maja, the ruler of the Cholians, lives.
Clothing. Clothing is simple and effective. The colours are dull to outsiders, but to them seem wondrous. When off the boats, a simple tunic is worn, often the skin is open to the elements, the sun seems not to harm this tribe adversely. They attribute this to the belief that the jakécha are from Nakashi, consequently meaning that the great light from her sun does not harm them. When upon the boats, close-fitting garments are worn, with the Sparth, their specially designed fish catching spear, fastened to their back. These allow a smooth action through the water when diving to retrieve a speared fish.
Diet. Cholian staple diet is the special fish jakécha. As already mentioned, this animal has the amazing ability to improve and heighten senses. The larger the fish from which the flesh was obtained, the greater the effect, although smaller fish have a more pleasing flavour, the flesh is tender and succulent. This tribe has countless ways of preparing the fish, often using various herbs and spices to flavour the meat.
Also, polent is grown, a simple and effective food which the Cholians have realised they need. As previously mentioned the jakécha makes the mind think they have eaten a whole meal, however, the body does not get the required sustenance. So, polent is used, and effectively keeps them alive.
Water is the common drink, although they are not averse to indulging in alcoholic substances.
Weapons. The Cholian tribe is fairly adept at the use of the krael, a small dagger customized for the gutting of fish. The blade curves into a short spike, meaning it is perfect for ripping open the underbelly of jakécha, when a larger is caught. However, they are more in tune with their sparth, a long, deadly spear that all Cholians carry strapped to their back, from the age of fourteen, which is adulthood for members of this tribe. It has been perfected through generations of fishing, and used to catch larger jakécha, which are not easily fooled by the nets that are cast for the smaller babies. These larger fish can grow up to a ped in length. Their silver scales reflecting the sunlight means that they can be seen fairly easily. Upon sighting, the spear is hurled towards it, and a twist is added into the throw. Should the aim be true, the jakécha is rendered dead or immobile. Now, the diving ability of this tribe comes into play, he or she dives into the water, and retrieves the catch. The Bright Sea is not dangerously deep in most parts, and the Cholians know which parts to hunt and which parts not to. The losing of one's Sparth is actually frowned upon, it shows a carelessness that is not allowed.
The point of the spear is made from metal and often sharpened by the owner every day. Due to its deadly nature, it is covered by a cap of some sort (possibly a suitable rock or tough cloth) when not in use. The shaft of the sparth will be engraved, either simply as decoration, sometimes showing scenes of the owner catching jakécha, or even prayers to a God, commonly Mermaria or Nakashi.
Occupations. Little distinction is made between the sexes by this tribe. Both males and females take on household chores such as cooking and cleaning. All may hunt jakécha. Age makes no difference either. The opportunity is open to all. The Cholians spent much time learning how to catch the fish, and have developed the special techniques and skills over time, keeping them a closely guarded secret, passing it down through the generations. The jakécha are found only in the north-west area of the Bright Sea, the territory of the Cholians. The majority of the tribe are fishers, although there are some special occupations within this society.
The most important occupations are the Tahara and the Mordis:
The Tahara (this title loosely means “Tally Master”) is a respected and important man or woman. He or she is responsible for all the Taharalla (loosely meaning “Tally Juniors”) and the Taharan (loosely meaning “Tally Seniors”) throughout Jhomcholas and the surrounding settlements. The job of the Taharalla and Taharan is to weigh the amount of fish that a person or group has caught during the day, and mark it down. If the fishing has been done with others, then the weight is split equally between them. They work in shifts all day and all night. Sealed documents are sent to the Tahara every week, bearing names and figures that are added to each person’s individual file. After six months, a total for each person is accumulated. The Cholian who has caught the greatest amount of fish is named Maja, the leader of all for the next six months (see Government).
The Tahara is chosen when the previous one has either died, or stepped down from the post. There are only few incidences of corrupt Tahara – this is because he or she is voted for by all Taharalla and Taharan, in a secret ballot, and so the wisest and most trustworthy person is chosen. To attempt to bribe a Tahara, Taharan or Taharalla and be discovered means that the individual will be sent with the next delegation to Shan’Zarathan and given into slavery. No excuse is tolerated.
The final tallies after six months also determine the amount of supplies each family will receive after the delegation returns. Those who have been lazy and contributed little to the amount sold will be rewarded with only just enough to survive. Those who have worked hard will reap the rewards and benefits. Taken into account also are alternative jobs a person has undertaken – it is not solely decided on the jakécha load.
The Mordis are the fighters for the Cholians. This special group was started following the Thairan invasion of Jhomcholas, when Arkh Barchaé wished to trade jakécha, snatching the rights from Shan’Zarathan. After this situation abated, the city of fishermen decided something must be done. So, a select group of young men and women were taken and trained in various weapons by Zarathians, who had no wish for the crisis to arise again. They became the Mordis, and are fearsome fighters. They rely on stealth, their eyesight and hearing. They are not so good at close combat however, their wiry stature does not allow them to have great skill in this area. Their eyes allow them to shoot arrows with deadly accuracy though, and fling their sparth to hit an exact point. A group of Mordis will accompany the delegation which travels to Shan’Zarathan, to protect any hopefuls who wish to steal the store of mahra on the way there, and the supplies on the way back. Their superior hearing negates any sort of surprise attack, so the presence of these fighters often deters any potential enemies.
The Cholians are ruled by a Maja. This is not hereditary in any way, and
changes every six months. The honour is given to the man or woman who has
caught the greatest weight of jakécha over the past half a year through sheer
toil and hard work. The Tahara announces whom it will be, in a gathering
attended by many.
The power of a Maja is great, although if used unwisely and for his or her own benefit far too much, then the Tahara may strip the person of the title. This has rarely happened, although it has been known for the power and status to go directly to their heads. The Maja lives in the largest house of all, built some time ago by the Zarathians. It is bigger than any temple, adorned with ornate carvings. He or she needs not fish or work, it is their right and privilege to do as they wish. They may make laws, as long as they are beneficial to the tribe. The Maja may not however, take another’s husband or wife, although they may take any unmarried person to their bed as they wish. They may also invite other family members to live with them, and enjoy the life of luxury.
The Maja is expected however, to regularly take walks to meet the tribe, to show interest in the daily proceedings, to be proof that hard work and toil does reap significant rewards.
Production/Trade. The Cholians are the sole fishers of the delicacy jakécha. They preserve it with salt, and form the flesh into a small square, this is called a "mahra". They can last for up to two years before finally beginning to deteriorate. There is an ascending cost – the bigger the fish from which the mahra was formed, the greater the price, but it also has a superior effect. However, the smaller fish have a better taste.
Twice a year a delegation of Cholians travel to Shan’Zarathan to sell their stocks of mahra, for which a fair and good price is received. Then, this money is used to buy basic supplies that are needed for the next six months, such as cloth, polent seed and other essential items. Generally, the Cholians pay for Zarathians to do the shopping for them, as the bright colours of the city can cause their enhanced eyesight to give them headaches. Sometimes they brave the city, this is not common though.
Natural Resources. Being near the Bright Sea means that there is plenty of water nearby. Cholians purchase the necessary equipment for water purification from Shan’Zarathan, and so have a constant supply of fresh, clean water. Also, during this purification process salt is formed, which is used to make the mahra.
There is obviously plenty of sand around, which has various uses, especially for putting out fires occasionally caused by the sweltering heat.
Important Achievements. Obviously the jakécha is the biggest and only achievement of the Cholians. It has bought pleasure to countless people, and made the tribe happy and content.
Holidays, Festivals and Observances. Having ultimately descended from the Thairans, the Cholians have retained the belief in the Aeoliran religion, although they are not as devout as their parent tribe. More focus is placed upon Mermaria, as is common with those tribes that make a living from her Water, and Nakashi, as most Cholians believe it was her who sent the jakécha. Accordingly, they celebrate each festival associated to the Gods. They also have a few of their own traditions.
It is custom on the first day of each month to stand facing Water, to remember Mermaria. On this day, each family also burns a jakécha caught that day, in dual honour of the Goddess of Light, to praise her for the jakécha she has provided, and for the Goddess of Life, in thankfulness for the past month of safe fishing. The older members of the group will inhale the smoke from the offering, this often gives them what they call “Mermaria’s Dreams”, which consist of flashing images which seemingly come from nowhere. Younger members are not allowed to participate, as it has been noted by the Cholians that it can cause the children to become scared and frightened. They believe that this is because their bodies are not totally in tune with the jakécha when they are so young.
Also, the ascension of a new Maja every six months is a day when no fishing is permitted or allowed. It is a celebration of the man or woman who has worked hardest over the past half a year, and so is being rewarded accordingly.
Information provided by Artemis