The Dwahani, much like the Pharosi, are a displaced people. Forced out of their incredible homeland by an unstoppable plague and their population decimated, the Dwahani embarked on a long journey for rebirth. They have a rich history of highly civilized society that was at the forefront of knowledge in their lands far to the north, which has made their reconstruction a bittersweet endeavor as it has been generations since a Dwahani lived in Dwahan. Still, the crippling of their existence is still recent enough to continue to sting. Though they have built a new nation, they are constantly aware that it does not even compare to the shadow of old Dwahan, but the proud folk continuously strive to make their people great once more.
The Dwahani once held a proud and powerful mercantile nation far to the north of the floodplain of the Lifeblood. Dwahan was one of the most civilized and advanced countries the continent had ever seen; a center of knowledge, learning, technology, medicine, and social progress. Bordering the Catarean Sea, Dwahan commanded a wide and extensive network of trade routes with its neighbors by both land and water, establishing itself as the central hub of commerce in the north. Boasting a formidable navy and a great fleet of merchant vessels, none could contest the Dwahani trade supremacy, though the nation never truly had to defend itself from others. Dwahan had succeeded in making itself the region’s most valuable ally to any and all, and there would have been no benefit for any other kingdom to make an enemy of Dwahan.
Dwahan maintained a democracy for several hundred years, a system that evolved from the ruinous string of several failed monarchs. The nation’s democracy set itself apart from its neighbors, but also allowed for a great flourishing of technology and education. Academies, colleges, and universities could all be found within Dwahan, and many guilds also saw to the building of trade schools. The nation built hospitals and laboratories, implemented sewer systems and aqueducts, and made great strides in engineering and construction. Dwahan was in a perpetual golden age, and the only thing that could bring it to an end was the near-extinction of its people. 375 years ago, people on the northern outskirts of the nation fell ill. It began with itching that turned to angry purple splotches on the skin. The afflicted would soon cough up blood, or it would seep from eyes and nose. Finally, the victims would die, their internal organs corroding. The sickness become an all out plague over the next few years, and would rage through the entirety of Dwahan for the next 50, obliterating the great population of the country. Despite all of Dwahan’s advancements in medicine, and for all of their research facilities, magical laboratories, and hospitals, none could unearth the source of the disease, nor develop any cure. When the plague reached the densely populated cities, it wiped them out in weeks. The capital of Dwahan, Khayar, eventually quarantined itself, letting none in or out, as it was deemed the best option for the recuperation of its peoples. With walls, ports, and gates closed, those in the capital could only look on as their country died around them.
Time continued to vex the Dwahani. The capital was full of people, and even Khayar’s ample stores were dwindling. It had been 10 years since the quarantine, and food shortages were causing outrage. In a desperate and dangerous move, the ruling elected officials of Dwahan sent word across the sea to the former trade-ally and kingdom of Ghoderea with a request for grain. A few months later, a cargo vessel arrived, but its crew were all dead and covered in purple blotches. The Dwahani sank the ship to the bottom of the sea, but it was too late. The plague had arrived in Khayar. The ruling officials closed off the inner sectors of the city, staving off the spread once more. No more than 1,000 Dwahani remained, and they knew that they must flee Khayar or die with the rest. Over the next year. The remaining Dwahani began hacking down the inner sector of their marvelous capital, using all manner of wood that they could find to build fresh ships, for they could not trust those in the harbors. They built four serviceable vessels, and after their completion, they put the outer sector to the torch, hoping that time and fire would save them from the affliction beyond. Rolling their ships through streets of flame, they took to the sea and watched their entire world burn away behind them.
The voyage was not an easy one. In the decades of Dwahan’s decay, the Catarean Sea had changed. No longer were the Dwahani its unparalleled masters, nor did they have their navy. Pirates prowled the sea at every wave, and monsters and beasts roamed the waters. Sickness appeared as well, though none of it seemed to be the plague, but in these trying times the Dwahani’s numbers dwindled further. They finally did make it out of Catarean Sea, escaping it through the Ottorar Channel, and into the southern network of waterways. The first friendly coasts the Dwahani came across were those of the gnomish lands. They supplied and recuperated there, and inquired about the southern lands, and where they might make a new home The gnomes told them of a great and expansive land to the south, where a great river’s floodplain had been mastered by a distant people. The Dwahani set off again in search of this floodplain.
They finally found it, a few years later. They sailed through parched deserts and salty crags until finally the floodplain was there. And as soon as they sailed into its grip, they set sights on a battle happening a hundred yards from the river’s banks. An army of bronze-skinned warriors in white, copper, and gold were failing against a force of mounted warriors wielding humongous blades. The Dwahani could place the smaller foot soldiers as human, and in a quick decision, threw their lot in with them. The ran their four vessels aground and unleashed every able body, some five hundred, armed with weapons taken from Khayar or acquired on their travels. Their sudden appearance on the field of battle turned the tide, and the horsemen fled to the north.
The Pharosi that the Dwahani saved were immensely grateful, and took the leaders among them to meet with the local Pharaohs or other leaders of the time. Excited at the prospect of having new allies to help stave off the Azrak raiders, the Pharaohs of the much-embattled northern kingdoms came together in agreement and allotted the Dwahani people three areas in the north of the floodplain that had at one more or more times been Pharosi kingdoms. The Pharosi were honest about the area, for they did not want to mislead their new allies, and told them that these lands were in constant harassment from the Azrak “savages.” The lands would be difficult to maintain and rebuild, but the Pharaohs would offer support in these regards if it meant a consistent bulwark against intrusion. The Dwahani had little room to object, and agreed.
With the resources of the Pharaohs, the Dwahani set to building a new city that would serve as the capital of their new nation. They chose not to use any of the names from old Dwahan, feeling that nothing could possibly follow the greatness that was their country before, and chose Talarit as the name for the city, meaning “birth,” and named their nation Almessyr. The early years of construction were fraught with difficulties. The Azrak had scorn enough for the Pharosi, but now they also cursed the ebon-skinned foreigners who had helped their hated enemy. The Azrak launched countless raids on the settlement, but were surprised to find that the Dwahani would be not be so easily overcome. They had not forgotten all of the knowledge and innovations of Dwahan, and their defensive structures and alien strategies proved to thwart every Azrak attempt to raze Talarit. Within 3 years, Talarit was a self-sustaining town with an impressive wall. And from there, it only grew.
Over the next generations, the Dwahani expanded, building more cities and strongholds throughout Almessyr, encroaching outwards into the other lands granted to them by the Pharaohs. And while their borders expanded northward, their people diffused through the south. Innately mercantile, many Dwahani, their numbers ever-growing, settled into other kingdoms and cities, and it was not long before they were a common sight in the northern half of the floodplain.
As Almessyr grew larger, however, defenses and resources were spread thin. 50 years after Talarit’s construction, the people of Almessyr under their elected Caliph (for they had implanted their democracy within the floodplain) divided their nation into two, now Almessyr and Tartasif. Less than 50 years later. They created a third nation, Abul. By this time, the Azrak incursions had diminished greatly, and existed only as intermittent raids on farms and small villages. The north was finally seen as secure from the Azrak hordes.
After securing the north, the Dwahani continued to expand northward into unclaimed land, a bottleneck between the Lifeblood and the Sandwaste. They thought the area to be safe, as the Azrak had never before crossed the great river to the eastern half of the floodplain, so the new settlement projects were afforded minimal defense. 10 years ago, however, the Azrak did indeed cross the river, and came down on the Dwahani settlements with ruthless aggression, completely annihilating all expansion. They installed themselves as the masters of that land, and no new expeditions have been sent into what is now known as The Taken Land.
The three Dwahani nations operate as one, with each separate entity comprising a province. Though they know that their new home will never recapture the glory of Dwahan, they realize that they have come quite far in the 300 years since their arrival Rekkar-Sarrat. They have not lost their culture, and it stands strong in their provinces, both contrasting and complimenting the Pharosi kingdoms. Dwahani are now common throughout the floodplain, though they are scarcer the farther south one travels. Serving as shipwrights, merchants, soldiers, mercenaries, builders, scientists, and doctors, they have surely come far in reawakening their old advancements and have been a welcome addition to the population of the Lifeblood.
The Dwahani are a dark-skinned people whose coloration ranges through shades of ebon-black to dark brown, with even their lightest shades being darker than those of the Nomadi or the Pharosi. Their hair is often dark as well, being black or brown. Hair texture and length varies greatly, with some Dwahani having short, tightly coiled hair while others grow long, sweeping locks. Hair is often worn short by men, but rarely ever shaved. Women wear theirs both long and short, and both genders keep it well kept. It is very atypical for a Dwahani to suffer hair loss, even in old age. Facial hair is prevalent among men, and many sport beards, but keep them closely shorn to the face. Men and women are both tall, commonly exceeding heights of 6 feet, and a ubiquitously quick metabolism keeps them slender and well-toned. Most iconic of the Dwahani are their eyes, which are famous for their widely divergent and exotic colors. All Dwahani are born with grey eyes, but the pigment mutates upon the onset of puberty, and can change into virtually any color in any shade, and no single color is the most common, as this color change does not even follow genetic lines. Blue, purple, yellow, orange, green, brown, white, yellow, gold, red, and combinations and hues of each are all seen among them. Historically, Dwahani eye color held great importance in society, as the colors were thought to be a reflection of an individual’s potential.
Historically, clothing was not so uniform among the Dwahani. Dwahan was a large nation with different terrains and climates that dictated the dress and fashion of the people. Profession also held weight in choice of garments. Northern farmers would dress in warmer fabrics, whereas the southerners along the shore of the sea would wear thinner, lighter clothing. Now, having been relocated to the floodplain, they do dress more uniformly in loose, airy attire. Common to see on a Dwahani body is a pair of loose trousers, belted at the waist, with a lightly fitted long-sleeved garment that leaves the armpits and the sides of the torso exposed. Vests are also often worn . Overall, the Dwahani prefer function to form, but combine the two when they can. They are not a people to dress ostentatiously or bedizen themselves with ornamentation or decoration. Their clothing at any given time, if planned for, is fit for the task at hand, but that it not to stay that the Dwahani have no sense of individuality or fashion. Style for the Dwahani is represented in the functional parts of their garb. Buttons, clasps, laces, and buckles are where they show their fashion, or through threadwork in embroidery and stitching. Vests, capes, cowls, and mantles are common accessories for Dwahani of all types. Despite the climate, Dwahani are the most likely of the settled peoples to wear heavy armor or other protective garb.
The Dwahani are interesting in that they are both a backward-looking and forward-thinking people. They put high value both on their history and their future, knowing that only by using examples from the past can they build a worthwhile tomorrow. Having lost their marvelous empire and much of their culture, the Dwahani have a fixation with their cultural identity. They strive to remember a time and a place that even now is many generations passed, but vow to never forget it, nor who their people were and what they came from. Dwahani dress in their old styles despite their new environment, they prepare the same cuisine despite the difficulty in acquiring much of it, and they keep to the same customs and behaviors despite their new neighbors. Dwahani instill the values of their culture into their people at birth, and bring them up teaching them of what it is to be a Dwahani. Knowledge and learning is important to the Dwahani as well, and many of them actively seek out knowledge however they can, be it mastery of one subject or dabbling in many. Dwahani have formal education and go to schools, academies, and universities to actively pursue knowledge. They are a progressive people while still being extremely traditional, for the tradition of their people has always been progress. They are creative and inventive, always seeking out new ways to solve a problem or new methods for efficiency. Whether they are farmers, sailors, soldiers, priests, or politicians, Dwahani take pride in what they do and do it to the best of their ability. Sometimes, their pride and thirst for knowledge can lead to obsession, and some Dwahani can turn down unsavory paths because of this.
Dwahani have a great focus on family, and have a long streak of protectiveness. They defend their provinces from raiders as they preserve their culture. Though Dwahani are open-minded and accessible, they are quick to defend themselves if need be. They are generally a genial people, often friend before foe. While they are calm and level-headed, they are not pushovers, as their tenacity has shown. They also have a great sense of equality, believing that all voices should have equal say, and that cooperation will lead to resolution. Such philosophies have earned many Dwahani positions as arbiters, diplomats, and envoys throughout the region.
Dwahani religion revolves around Ta’aila, a goddess of both creation and destruction. It is taught that Ta’aila created the world and its inhabitants, but in the end will also destroy it if she desires. It is also preached that when Ta’aila created the world, the inverse of everything she had created, the negative force of each positive one, came together to form a being called Idhiri, whose sole purpose is to unmake everything that Ta’aila had made.
Religion was, in a time long ago, integral to the Dwahani. They basked in the light of day, believing the sun to be the grace of their goddess, and cowered by night, believing the darkness was either a glimpse of her wrath or her turning away from them, giving Idhiri time to encroach. If the Dwahani were faithful to her, then day would always return, but if they forsook her, then endless night would usurp the world. Bad things that happened – war, disease, famine, natural disasters – always left the Dwahani wondering if it was Idhiri’s menace or Ta’aila’s wrath that caused them. Generally, if an individual did something evil – committed a murder, for instance – they would be seen as influenced by Idhiri. In this time, Dwahani with lifelong grey eyes would also be stigmatized as potential agents for the dark force.
Not knowing what exactly would save the world from Ta’aila’s eventual destruction, the Dwahani simply focused on making the world better, making it worthy of her. This is how they began their long history of advancement in technology and knowledge. As time passed, religion held less and less sway over the Dwahani, as magic, science, and technology took the forefront.
Today, the Dwahani as a whole are not overly religious. They still have beliefs, but their faith is not a fervent or evangelical one, and is reserved mostly for the home. Ta’aila is still regarded as a mother-deity, a source of inspiration, and a protector, but her worshipers have long stopped fearing her wrath. Temples to Ta’aila serve as community meeting places and event grounds, and the clergy is very involved with scholars, researchers, mages, and doctors, all working together to maintain a stabilized livelihood for the Dwahani. Most temples are no longer true places of worship, but do hold small shrines for visitors or travelers. Small cabinet-shrines are commonplace in Dwahani households, and their worship is mostly a private or familial affair.
Society and Government
The Dwahani have a tightly knit society with a large focus on family and community. The emphasis on these bonds serves the goal of preserving Dwahani culture, which many Dwahani feared they would lose in their exodus. Forced to settle on foreign soil, surrounded by alien cultures, they logically clasped heartily to one another, and made sure to teach and instruct each new generation about their past. In this vein, education is important to Dwahani society as well. Even as Dwahani children are taught what all children are taught – how to speak, how to act, how to do – formal education also begins in the home. Along with Dwahani cultural norms, expectations, and identity, the family teaches history, literature, music, and languages. Such instruction is seen as the duty of all members of an individual’s family, not just his or her parents. Formal education outside of the family is also important to the Dwahani. They have public schools, academies, and universities throughout their provinces to serve its people. All young Dwahani attend primary schools from age five to thirteen where they are taught all of the basics for any general trade or occupation – arithmetic, reading and writing, philosophy, science, and so on. Cultural education also continues, but is more or less a supplement to the that which the children receive at home.
Upon finishing primary school, Dwahani are filtered off into their chosen path of continued advancement, whether they choose to become farmers, sailors, mages, soldiers, priests, politicians, merchants, or craftsmen. In the ancient days of Dwahan, a Dwahani’s eye color, manifested around age thirteen, would strongly influence their path, and the caste system as a whole. Children who developed a certain eye color were generally set on a path of learning that the Dwahani believed would be their true calling. Such followings were not technically enforced, but were certainly highly suggested. In rare cases, a Dwahani’s eye color does not mutate upon puberty and remain grey for life. In ancient Dwahan, such a thing resulted in the ostracizing or exiling of the individual. In the Golden Age of Dwahan, grey eyes were less severe, but individuals with them were still seen to be lacking potential. Such practices were considered outdated even when Dwahan fell, but some Dwahani, with cultural identity so strongly sowed within them, follow these old ways and commit themselves to their ’eye path,’ often to skill and success. Many Dwahani simply take whatever path interests them, or go into a family trade. Tradehalls and academies abound to accommodate most career paths within the Dwahani provinces.
The emphasis on population-wide education and learning is something that sets Dwahani culture apart from that of the Pharosi or Nomadi. The Pharosi have never employed a true form of formal education – in much of their history, peasants and commoners did not bother to learn to read or write, and little opportunity was available to do so if they wished. The clergy and aristocracy and army-commanders were the only ones given any true form of learning. Even now, apart from guildhalls teaching trades and crafts, Pharosi learning is left to the individual to obtain.
Dwahani society promotes equality and order without oppression. Personal freedoms are encouraged against a backdrop of governmental structure and form. Dwahani understand that stifling the creativity of anyone is a direct hindrance to national progress. A long string of failed emperors and monarchs in the olden days of Dwahan encouraged much of this thinking, and it reflects wholly in the government they employ today. Dwahan enjoyed a thriving democracy for centuries before it fell, and the refugees who came to Rekkar-Sarrat set it up once more. Town halls in smaller settlements resolve domestic disputes and maintain local legislative infrastructure. The overarching government of the Dwahani provinces is a tiered system, where a single figure, the Caliph, is elected by a group of 21 Emirs, 7 each from the three provinces, who are elected by the Sarrifs of each province. Sarrifs are governing officials of individual cities and towns, who are elected by the citizens themselves. The Caliph serves a single term of six years with no possible reelection. An Emir serves a term of five years, but can be elected twice, and Sarrifs have no limit on term, and can serve as long as they are reelected. The Caliph is advised by the 21 Emirs, who have the ears of their Sarrifs and ultimately the people. National issues that are brought to the central government are voted on by the Emirs and the Caliph has the power to deny what the Emirate passes.
The Dwahani provinces operate cohesively and maintain a strong and stable governing force with a surprisingly small amount of scandal or corruption. The influence of their progressive and proactive systems have begun to infiltrate the Pharosi kingdoms closest to them.
The current Caliph of the Dwahani Caliphate (the official collective name for Almessyr, Tartasif, and Abul) is Jhasseah Yataray, serving the fourth year of her term.
Dwahani (Bedal-Salid – “The Dance of Tongues,” “The Greeting”) – The Dwahani language is spoken by all Dwahani, though is often adopted by political and military personnel who deal with the Dwahani often. Even Dwahani who live outside of the Caliphate teach their children their native tongue first and foremost. The name of the language in an older form – Bedal-Salid – which in an archaic dialect meant “the dance of tongues” (in reference to the necessary verbal alacrity required to speak it) now simply means “the greeting” is used as just that – a hello. The language is fast and difficult to master.
Due to the Dwahani’s emphasis on collective progress, learning, and inspiration, members of any class can be seen among their population. Arcane magic is prevalent among their society, taught in colleges and heavily researched and experimented with, and thus their kind sees many magi arise, though wizards and especially arcanists are the most common. Due to their great study of magic, it is not uncommon for Sorcerers of the arcane bloodline to be born as well. Bards are seen as collectors, teachers, and advocates of the important Dwahani cultures, and also find homes in colleges or other training facilities, rendering Dwahani bards less vagrant than others. Though witchcraft is rare among the Dwahani, their interest in arcane magic in general leads to some amount of dabbling in it. The Dwahani are not particularly interested in divine magic, however, as their religious tendencies are often private and do not hold much way over society. Dwahani are learned warriors as well, especially now with their vigilance regarding the Azrak along with the danger that spill out of the Sandwaste. Fighters, cavaliers, and slayers are the most common martial classes among them, though rogues, skalds, and even brawlers can be seen. Dwahani lack the bond to the land that hunters and rangers require, and are generally a bit too disciplined and structured for the barbarian or bloodrager classes.