Azhorhrian men are a tribe of people living in the Ysthalinth Desert, located on
the continent of Aeruillin. Little is known of their habits and beliefs but what
is known is their unparalleled skills in fighting, desert warfare and their
affinity to the horses they rear.
The Azhorhria are warriors by nature, inclination and heritage though they do not begin meaningless battles unless there is provocation by external enemies. The Azhorhria rarely venture away from their territories, seldom interacting with the desert towns and cities surrounding the Ysthalinth except for trading purposes. They are fiercely jealous of their independence from outside rulers and kings who would seek to subjugate these people for their fighting abilities.
Although living in constant close proximity to the Ethereal Void has fuelled much speculations that the Azhorhria cannot help but to be affected by the nearness, endowed with some mysterious abilities or powers perhaps, there is no basis for such rumors. In truth, the Azhorhria pay the Void no mind after the Sundering, as the descendents of Neehra and those who followed her now call the separation from the Hjoria, never feeling the need to explore within its enigmatic boundaries. They are a pragmatic people as befits those living in one of the hottest continents of Caelereth, they prefer the known and explicable and are more concerned with the problems of daily survival than anything else.
Most Azhorhrians have skin colour of a dusky brown, from long exposure to living
under a desert sun. They also share
some similar physical traits of black hair and build with the Hjorians since
they were originally of one people but the Azhorhrians have one common feature
that separates them from the other Ysthalinth desert tribes - many Azhorhrian
have eyes of deep, wonderous copper although no one knows how this abberation came
about and when, many also have deep blue eyes. Though some have attributed this to be that the tribe is truly
Goddess-touched and blessed.
However, a more prosaic explanation could be that the blue or copper eyes originate from
something in the water of the wells that the tribe drinks from since the time of
Azhorhrian men and women are usually fully garbed in plain shirts and trousers, over which is layered with robes of black or white. Their faces are also hidden by veils and only their eyes can be seen, much like their Hjorian counterparts who also take great care to hide their bodies and faces from the sight of outsiders. Read more details at the Clothing section.
Coat of Arms/Sign. None. The Azhorhrian religion strictly refuses to acknowledge idolatry worship and painted signs like symbols. This includes having a coat of arms as well. To distinguish between the different sub-tribes of the Azhorhria, they have devised hand signals instead. A particular and unique hand-signal had been created for each of the five tribes and when two Azhorhrians meet, they would perform this subtle and quick gesturing of fingers to identify their own tribes.
Territory. The Azhorhria make their homes deep in the middle and thus the hottest part of the Ysthalinth Desert. They pride themselves on the fact they alone can survive out in that eternal hellishly burning-hot region. The five sub-tribes settle themselves from each other within two hours' ride on the swiftest horse, judging that by this way, they are far enough not to bother the other tribes unnecessarily but will still be within reach if help should be required.
People. The Azhorhria believe devoutly in the one True Goddess or Allahra, She who is Nameless, and that Neehra is Her only prophetess. All other races are considered as infidels and of the false faith though they tolerate the Aeoliran faith in remembrance that once they were of an infidel tribe as well before being shown the true way.
The men will get up before dawn for their morning prayers and then later when the burning sun sets, evening prayers are observed before the taking of meals. The women are exempted from the prayers but will fast during the second day of their moonblood each month. The one-day fast is a homage to the Istiwa Neehra who, it is said, when her loved ones and those who followed her were cast out by the Hjoria and dying, went deep into the Plain of the Forsaken, the most inhospitable part of the Ysthalinth to pray for deliverance. For 30 days and nights, she ate and drank nothing but turned her eyes towards the sun until she became blind. Upon the last day, the Allahra, moved by Neehra's devotion to her people, granted the knowledge of the true faith to the desert woman. And from that moment forth, the hidden wells were shown to the Azhorhrian tribe.
Azhorhrians cover themselves so as to keep their bodies and faces hidden from the eyes of the infidels. If any outsiders sees them without their coverings, the Azhorhria believes that it will produce a state of Najatis, uncleanliness of the spirit. Only Azhorhria can look upon Azhorhria unveiled.
The Azhorhria are stern teachers but loving parents. From young, the children are taught to put foward their horses' needs and comforts before their own. As soon as a child can hold a weapon, he or she is put under the intensive training and tutelage of the tribe's Sha Ha'laiz, the Sword-Master. Each tribe will also have a teacher that is in charge of the children's education and to teach them the will of the Goddess. The teacher, the Sha Dar'mar, serves as a religious adviser to each of his or her own tribe.
The tribe has a strong sense of communal ties and internal fighting within the sub-tribes is almost unheard of after Maimon, the first Rhahadah, united them after some years' of civil war.
Though Azhorhrians have been known to marry outside of their faith, these marriages are very few and very rare for the price of such unions is exile from the tribe. The most famous of these marriages was Zhajile of the Ash-hadu who married into the Erpheronian tribe of Sarvonia and who eventually became the great-grandmother of Queen Jenefra. Another was Maidra of the Ash-ilaaha.
The Azhorhrian people are split into several sub-tribes:
The Azhorhrians prefer to live in tents stitched from the skins of their
horses who have become too old or died
from various causes. They do this as they consider their
horses to be their lifeblood and to
honor those swift beasts who serve them so well.
The hide of the horses also serves as a very good shield against the noonday heat when it is at its hottest and most unbearable.
Clothing. Azhorhrian men and women are usually fully garbed in plain shirts and trousers, over which is layered with robes of black or white. Their faces are also hidden by veils and only their eyes can be seen, much like their Hjorian counterparts who also take great care to hide their bodies and faces from the sight of outsiders. On their heads, they wear turbans to protect themselves from the heat of the desert sun although for the women, the turbans are decorated with sashes of colours to denote that they are female. For young girls, not yet of age to have a steed of their own, the sashes are a plain blue while adult women will interweave ribbons of pale violet and silver jewellery.
Diet. As it is near impossible to grow and cultivate anything in the barren sands of the desert, the Azhorhrians depend on the profits they get from the sales of their horses during the annual horse fair at Shan'Zarathan to purchase foodstuff like flour for bread, potatoes and sundry fruits.
They do not lack for meat because as the Hjorians, they too keep the special breed of goat, the inja, seen only on the Aeruillin continent as livestock. The occasional hunting for various small desert animals for meat is also common.
Weapons. Most Azhorhrians prefer a curved scimitar with an elegantly carved hilt, usually made of ivory, as their weapon of choice although a few do use a design similiar to the straight blades used by the Sarvonian people. One such sword had been carried by Zhajile. The sword was believed to have passed on to the next Erpheronian Sovereign, Katya Ileri, after Jenefra and when Katya's reign came to an end, the sword that had been carried by Queens was lost and its whereabouts are presently unknown.
Occupations. First and foremost, in terms of occupations, horse breeding is the main concern of the people of the five tribes as they sell their least fastest horses for the money which allows them to purchase their necessities such as food not found in the desert like potatoes and vegetables. However, not all Azhorhrians are born with the talent to breed and rear their famous stallions and mares and so several have turned to the more common occupations of smithing for there is no lack of horses that need shoeing, and sword-making. Though women are allowed to train in the art of sword-fighting and horse-riding, occupations like weaving and sewing are deem womanly so these occupations are mostly done by the females.
Government. The Azhorhria have no kings or rulers, the nearest thing they have to one is the Rhahadah who presides over all tribal matters and disputes. The Rhahadah is a hereditary position, and the first Rhahadah was chosen from the direct lineage of the Istiwa Neehra. The first born son or daughter of each Rhahadah will be the next in succession and are always addressed as Muda for the son and Dara for the daughter as a term of respect. To give respect to the Ash-hadu, believed to be the first founded by Neehra after the Sundering, the Rhahadah will stay for most part with that particular tribe. However, the Rhahadah will spend one month each with the other four tribes in one year to avoid any undue sense of malcontent or superiority.
The most famous Rhahadah was also their first, Maimon, who united the five Azhorhria tribes during a time of internal conflict where brothers fought brothers and much Azhorhrian blood was spilled onto the sands by other Azhorhrians. Originally of the Ash-hadu, he finally subjugated the warring tribes with his intelligence, strength and later, made peace through his compassion when he became the first Rhahadah.
Production/Trade. The Azhorhria breeds the famous Aeruillin pureblooded horses which are well-known for their speed and intelligence, another factor for outside forces seeking to conquer them. An Azhorhrian's status in the tribe is determined by the quality of the horses he breeds. To them, a horse is the lifeline in which they are able to survive and thrive in the Ysthalinth. Each tribe will set aside ten of its least fastest horses each year and bring them to the city of Shan'Zarathan for an annual horse fair. Hundreds of people from the northern and southern continents will travel the far distance just to bid on one of these animals for even the slowest Azhorhrian horse is still worth ten of an ordinary breed.
But greedy merchants and traders, blinded by the fact that a single Azhorhrian horse could fetch at least ten bags of gold on the black market, would hire mercenaries to track down the elusive breeding camps and conduct intermittent raids to steal the animals. The Azhorhrians would rather fight to the death than let their horses be captured.
Natural Resources. The Azhorhria do keep inja for meat besides hunting for various small desert animals. However, their most precious natural resource is their wells, imperative for continued survival in a harsh desert environment where rainfall is practically nil and they will keep the secret of such wells to their deaths if necessary when captured. A long time ago, slavers found out the location of one such well and poisoned it, hoping to decimate the Azhorhria before moving in for a crippling raid. That one well soon poisoned the others as they share a common underground source and it was through the sacrifice of one of them before She who is Nameless cleansed the wells of the poison and saved the Azhorhria from dying out. Seniah was the girl who gave up her own life so her people could live (read the legend in detail here), and her name had been entered into the sacred book, Qua'rah, so that all who come after will remember that they live because of her.
Whatever else they need, they will trade or buy using the money they receive from selling their horses.
Holidays, Festivals and Observances. Once every three years, all the tribes will gather together for a 5 day long feast where transactions in terms of horse breeding and barter between different tribes will be carried out. Marriage arrangements between familes of the different tribes are arranged as well during this period. However the culmination of the gathering will be on the last day where each tribe sends a representative to participate in a horse race across the same length of the desert where Neehra went into her self-imposed fast to pray for deliverance after her family and followers were made pariahs by the Hjoria and cast out to their deaths. The tribe of the winner will then host the next gathering, considered a great honour. For personal honour, the winner's name will be entered into the sacred book, the Qua'rah, for everlasting memory.
History. The Azhorhrians' fierce need for independence also springs from the fact that they were actually once part of the Hjoria tribe. However, the rift between the two tribes occured many ages ago when a woman of the Hjoria was converted to a new religion. The Hjoria worship their Void Gods with a blinding and unquestioning devotion. The one who first turned away from the Aeoliran faith was named Neehra and it was said that she was touched and converted to a new faith by a mysterious deity not of the Void.
Neehra then preached the new religion back within the Hjoria. However, hers was a secret and clandestine preaching for the Hjoria did not and still do not tolerate another religion beyond worship of the Fae Gods, let alone conversion. So Neehra spoke of her enlightenment in the desert to her closest and dearest first, those she was certain who would not betray her, and soon, more and more listened to her although the danger did not lessen and some of Neehra's listeners were put to death by Hjorians who found out about this new religion. Those who listened to her words and teachings braved death and gradually distanced themselves from the original tribe, refusing to take part in any worshipping of the Void Gods and festivals.
Eventually, the rift grew too wide and deep and the Hjorians could not condone the new religion and they decided to exile the new believers instead as Neehra's followers had become too many and fervent. And as some of the Hjorians argued - if you put to death one of this follower of the new religion, he or she will merely become a martyr to the cause and serve to fuel the flames of religious sendition all the more brighter. Therefore, better to exile the infidels instead and let them face the consequences of their actions and perhaps, even death, at the hands of the unforgiving desert.
Thus, Neehra led these new converts to a different part of the Ysthalinth to start a new tribe which was henceforth known as the Azhorhria. Contrary to what the Hjorians thought, the new tribe survived due to the discovery of a deep, underground spring that become the all-important secret wells of the Azhorhrians. Legend has it that it was the Goddess who showed Neehra this underground source of water as the outcasts suffered from ravaging thirst and hunger. However, the price of this was that Neehra became blinded and was to remain so for the rest of her life.
The split from the Hjoria also became known as the Sundering to the descendents of those who were cast into exile. In time, the tribe grew in numbers and even broke into five sub-tribes and flourished.
Information provided by Dalá'Valannía