The Zarathians are a human tribe who inhabit the second largest port city of Aeruillin, Shan’Zarathan. They have a reputation as hard but fair traders, who live for their work. The Zarathians have helped establish good trading relations with many of the other continents. They are ruled by a leader who possesses the title of Arkh, as all four trading ports are.
Picture description. A man of the second largest port city of Aeruillin, Shan'Zharatan. Image drawn by Seeker.
The Zarathians tend to possess a very aquiline appearance, which suits well
their hard-sell natures. Often they have long, oval faces, beset by thin,
shapely noses. Eyes are commonly hazel in colour, although it is not the only
shade found, simply the most prevalent. Hair is often straight and black,
although there are a fair few that possess flame red hair. Blondes and browns
are rarely seen. Another trait amongst this tribe are long, slim necks. Their
skin is a dusky brown in colour. Through these people you can see not only the
Hjoria, but also traits of the
Azhorhria, two tribes which have ultimately stemmed from these people.
Members of this tribe are rarely overweight. They do not allow themselves time to sit down and partake of gourmet meals, which would undoubtedly expand their waistline. They are more likely to eat the most basic of foods – often this is fish.
The Zarathians will stand for no nonsense, and are not impressed by those who waste their time. They tend to be quick witted and sharp thinkers. They are fair however, and know that a satisfied customer, who does not feel that they have been cheated, often returns. They are truly devoted to what they do. These behavioural traits have caused sayings such as -
Coat of Arms/Sign.
The coat of arms for this tribe of traders is circular in shape, this is
supposed to represent a coin. A little way in from the outer circle is another
that runs parallel to the original, creating a border. This is coloured yellow.
Centrally within is one of the famous Zarathian daggers, blade down, the hilt
at the top. It has intricate carvings within the blade, and whenever the coat
of arms is recreated these are never the same. It is left to the artist’s
personal impression. The background is light blue in colour. The Zarathian coat
of arms is stamped on all boxes leaving the city.
Territory. The Zarathians inhabit the second largest port city of Aeruillin, Shan’Zarathan. It is located on the far north-west of the desert continent.
People. Their Zarathians' devotion to trading means that they are admired and respected throughout Aeruillin which has earned them the reputation of being the fairest and safest port to trade in. This is because no Zarathian would deal with goods of a dubious nature, or attempt to sell at extortionate prices. The Zarathians are honest, and know that engaging in fair trades will leave the customer happy, and likely to return. Traders caught cheating customers will be indentured into slavery. Matters as such are dealt with very seriously.
Members of this tribe have an uncanny natural ability to almost “sense” whether goods they have been offered have come to them by illegal means, or if stock is bad. They have learned to trust this sense, meaning that it is almost impossible to cheat a Zarathian trader. Experts say it is some sort of sixth sense, almost bordering on mind reading. However, this finely tuned ability adds to the trust there is between customer and trader throughout Shan’Zarathan.
The Zarathians are of the Aeoliran religion, although they could almost be described as lazy in their practices. Being as devoted as they are to their occupations, this tribe has little or no time for worship. It is almost as if they follow their religion out of necessity and because they should be seen to do so, and not because they fervently believe in the principles of it. They seem to hold great repsect only for Léarin, who they see as Goddess of the Fair Trade.
Slavery is acceptable in Zarathian society, although only those who have committed the gravest of crimes (such as cheating a customer) will be indentured. There are no gladitorial arenas as in Shan'Thai and Shan'Chahalynth.
Housing. The Zarathians live in houses made from stone. The majority of people live in two storey buildings. The bottom of the house is used as a trading area. This is where most of a Zarathian's day is spent. Deals are confirmed, goods received, orders bartered and trades are undertaken within this area. The upper storey is the living area, it is fairly plain and sparse and it is also clean. The Zarathians see the need for this, and although little time is spent cleaning, they realise that a dirty and unkept area could result in illness, meaning that they would not be able to work.
Dotted around the city are large storage warehouses made from stone, where everyone is entitled safe space in which to store their goods. This idea was brought in by a great leader, whose title was Arkh (meaning "greatest") Parva. She was the very first to possess this position, following the progression of the original city of Zarathan to Shan'Zarathan, a trading port. The warehouses are constantly patrolled by members of the Arkh’s special guard, and to steal from them and be caught means indenture into slavery. However, this comes at a price. The storage tax is the most moaned about and protested within the city. The money goes straight to the Arkh, and in theory is used to upkeep the warehouses. However, many believe he simply uses the extortionate amount he charges to further his wealth.
Clothing. The Zarathians wear clothes that suit their busy and bustling lifestyle and also the hot climate in which they live. As with most tribes who live on the desert continent, a robe or tunic is worn, long and often in light colours. This protects them from the beating sun overhead, covering their skin to keep it from burning. A trait amongst this tribe is that there is little or no decoration upon their clothing – the Zarathians have no time to spend on elaborate embroidery. They are able to add and remove layers depending on the sun’s ferocity. In the summer months mud from the bottom of the sea is applied to the skin, and certain places upon the face, as this tribe has found that it helps cool the skin. Also, the mud has been found to have properties that keeps the skin smooth, healthy and younger looking. This has made it popular amongst women, especially those who are older, during all seasons of the year. It was this mud that allowed Shan'Zarathan to become a trading port in the first place.
There is little jewellery worn, except by the Arkh and those who serve him or her. Women do tend to pierce their ears. This means that during fiercely hot days, when clothing is worn that fully covers the person from the beating sun, the ears are left free so that easy distinction can be made between the sexes.
Zarathians will keep their clothing clean however – they recognise that dirty attire will often put the customer off, especially if food is being traded.
Diet. The staple diet, like all the port towns, is fish. Easy to obtain from the nearby ocean waters, Zarathians have found many ways to prepare and serve the meat. If a traveller ever stays in a Zarathian inn, he or she will be sure of a fine fish dish for their supper, and hot fishy soup for breakfast.
Also, a crop of polent, the special desert “rice” is grown by the waters, often the poorer people of the city live on the starchy grains that are eventually harvested. Inja goats are also kept, although only a few people have herds, as most Zarathians do not possess the patience to deal with goats.
The Zarathians drink little other than water. They purify the water from the sea by boiling it, everyone possesses the equipment needed to make the water drinkable. It is a skill that they are fiercely proud of – their ability to make the water clean from the murky depths of the ocean. Alcohol is rare, every Zarathian is aware that such a drink could cloud judgement and consequently they may make a bad trade.
Weapons. The Zarathians are all deadly with the dagger. Any other sort of weapon would simply get in the way in their society, so the small blade is perfect, not only in a practical sense, but also for self defence.
At the age of eight, a child’s first dagger is given, and training starts in its use. At the age of fourteen, which in Zarathian society is considered as the time of adulthood, a dagger is crafted specifically for the person, a process which can take up to two weeks to complete. Great care is taken over this process, and elaborate engravings are often carved onto the blade, to the wielder's whims. Such devotion to something other than trading is uncommon for Zarathians, however, daggers are essential for each and every person, and all realise that the producing of this exceptional weapon is something that cannot be rushed.
Each and every dagger is unique, and kept clean. It is used for many tasks – gutting fish, cutting bundles tied with twine and slicing portions of meat are but a few examples. This dedicated dagger often is a Zarathian's lifetime companion and you may get to hear many stories about it if you ask. A good insider tip if you have business with a Zarathian: Show honest appreciation for the weapon of your trading partner and he will treat you as a friend.
Occupations. As can be surmised, the majority of the Zarathians are traders and merchants or sorts. They live for their work, becoming so engrossed that sometimes sleep is forgotten. Their brains are sharp, and well suited for such a profession. It is this devotion that has made Shan’Zarathan the second largest trading port in Aeruillin – only Shan’Thai eclipses it in greatness and wealth, and this is only due to its age (Shan’Thai is the oldest established port, whilst Shan’Zarathan is the youngest) and actual location of the ports. However, it is likely that Shan’Zarathan will finally become the greatest as years pass by.
However, there is also need for many people to do other jobs, such as cleaning. Slaves often do this work, these people have been indentured due to crimes of a serious nature. However, there are Zarathians who do not feel the strong pull towards trading, and so consequently learn the vital trades that keep the city going, such as carpentry and bakery, some become teachers, innkeepers or priests.
There is a specialist trade in the port city however, of which it is an honour to be part of. To become a bladesmith is a hard and gruelling task, and only the very best will succeed. The patience and artistry needed to produce the knives and daggers are not found in everyone, very few make it to the top. Traditionally men have undertaken this profession. However, through many struggles and personal sacrifices, the blades of the female bladesmith Neia Chiél have become highly sought after as of late, and fetch high prices, her exquisite designs have given her status amongst this male-dominated area.
There are also the Windseers - people who are present in many tribes within Aeruillin, whether they are called Windseer or a different title, their job is the same. They have the ability to sense if destructive sandstorms, as can happen when living within a sand filled continent, are likely to come upon the tribe. They then warn the Zarathians of the impending disaster. Those who are also experienced enough often gain other abilities, such as power to divert sandstorms, or counteracting them somehow. One Windseer trains the next, picking an apprentice from any family - it could be the son of an Arkh, or the daughter of a beggar. In all there tend to be six to eight of these special people, they are trusted implicitly and above all bar the Arkh. Unfortunately this often means that the Windseers are arrogant and power hungry.
Government. Each of the port cities of Aeruillin are ruled by an Arkh. The title is the same for men and women, no distinction is made, as a recognition that females can be as ruthless in trade as members of the male sex. The position of Arkh is not hereditary, it is determined by a vote in which all traders may participate. No persons are specifically nominated, so the outcome cannot be predetermined by bribes and so forth. Traders are supposed to vote for the person they believe is the best at their job, so by becoming Arkh it shows that the person is valued highly by all, and is honoured and respected. It is a lifetime position, held until death. Absolute power is given to the person chosen, he or she answers to no-one. Wealth is passed on upon the passing of one Arkh to the newly elected ruler.
It is not often that these votes are rigged in favour of a particular person, as all traders know that whoever is elected will be giving orders for however many years they have left in them. The longest reigning Arkh was Arkh Shaéra, who was a prolific trader, and was elected when she was only five and twenty years old, and only passed on in her ninetieth year. It is written that she was a fair woman, and is credited by many for making Shan’Zarathan the place it is today. She was also the Arkh to have converted the people to the Aeoliran religion.
Of course, power can turn good and kind people to evil ways. Arkh Gláréd the Second was a loyal family man when he was elected. However, the wealth and status went to his head, and his extortionate taxes almost brought the city to its knees. He took women as he wished, and exiled a large group of people to the desert to die, who we now know survived, and became the Hjoria. He was eventually assassinated after twelve years of tyranny. His assassin was caught, and under the strict laws he should have been killed. However, he mysteriously vanished from his cell, and no attempt was made to catch him.
Production/Trade. Shan'Zarathan first started to trade following the discovery that mud from the bottom of the ocean had positive effects upon skin. It is still in great demand today, bringing in much revenue.
Shan’Zarathan is famous for its trade in the delicacy jakécha. This fish is well known throughout the continent, above all others that can be caught within the waters of Aeruillin. Jakécha is not only known for its divine taste, but it is also famous due to the fact that it hightens the senses for a short while. Not only that, but a small amount will fill the person as if they had eaten a whole meal. It is truly a remarkable and consequently expensive dish. The Cholians, who reside in Jhomcholas, actually catch the fish in the north-east area of the Bright Sea, the only place it is found, and transport stocks twice a year to the port. It often arrives in a salted “packet form”, this way it can last for even up to two years before finally deteriorating.
There is also a thriving trade in small weapons – the Zarathians excel in the forging of daggers and knives, their careful and exquisite designs are sought after by many. Often many somewhat dubious characters – thieves and assassins to name a few, purchase the blades for their work. Attracting this sort of crowd does not mean that crime is high in the city – the Zarathians are respected, and there is honour among the thieves – that is to say, the sinister characters go elsewhere to engage in their dirty work in general. It does not profit them to cheat the source of the weapons of their trade!
Also, there is an annual horsefair, where delegates of the Azhorhrian tribe bring ten of their steeds for trade. This attracts a lot of attention, as the horses of the tribe are legendary in their speed and resilience to extremes. They fetch high prices, and are the highlight of the fair. Often rich merchants from as far as Nybelmar will come to attempt to purchase one of these magnificent beasts, engaging in an intense bidding war with many others who wish to obtain one also.
Also, Shan'Zarathan trades with Strata and Thalambath for their burning stones. These magical rocks provide them with the fuel they need to make fire, the lack of wood upon Aeruillin has meant that this alternative is somewhat heavily relied upon. A special effort is made so relations between the Zarathians and these cities are kept good and stable.
Aside from these main items, there is of course general trading of everyday items – food, clothing (although Zarathian clothing is far from pretty – only attire from overseas is worth looking at and often such items will go to Shan’Furrionis or Shan’Chahalynth), livestock (again, little is traded here), building materials and so forth.
Natural Resources. There is little to find in Sha'Zarathan in the way of resources, save for what can be found in the sea. What is found however, is essential for living. Firstly, it provides the Zarathians with essential water, which they have learnt to purify so that it is safe to drink. Secondly, the large stones that line the ocean floor provide the materials for housing. There is little wood in western Aeruillin, most comes from overseas and generally goes to Shan’Thai, few shipments end up in Shan’Zarathan. Wood that is brought to the port is for essential items that cannot be made from other materials, and is far too valuable to be wasted on housing. Also stone houses tend to last far longer than their wooden counterparts.
There is, obviously, plenty of sand around, which does have its uses. Bags of sand are used as weights, and filled buckets are kept in order to put out fires.
Holidays, Festivals and Observances. The Zarathians observe the Festivals devoted to each God within the Aeoliran religion. However, they see them as a hindrance, and a good waste of time that could be used organising and overseeing trades. They are not particularly strict in their beliefs. They do however, revere Léarin, as the wisdom she grants is essential when undertaking trades. Her Festival of Reflection is special to the Zarathians, and definitely not considered a waste of time. She has an alternative title for the people of Shan'Zarathan, as Goddess of the Fair Trade.
The annual horsefair is a holiday for all, in a sense. It attracts many people from different cities and continents, due to the rare Azhorhrian horses on offer. It is a time where all congregate at the docks, and watch the sale. Much income is generated for the tribe during this time, mainly through the inns.
Important Achievements. The Zarathians invented the water purification system which is in place throughout all Aeruillin. Before this method was discovered, many people died each year from illnesses attributed from drinking unclean water.
The Zarathians have also helped improve the reputation of Aeruillin ports in general, and stabilised relations with their trading partners of other continents such as Sarvonia and Nybelmar.
Information provided by Artemis