Ages past, three tribes of mortals held sway over the deserts and rocky climes on the Plain of Wind-Scattered Bones. They warred and raided in their endless journey seeking the horizon, water, sight, and the voices of their ancestors. Each of these tribes battled through the whip and lash of the elements wrath, of fierce blood, of ancient traditions. Cursed by decrees lost in verbal histories and eternal clashes, they were damned to run towards the sun and stars, warring against the world and each other, until one among them rose.
He walks upon the sand, unsinking
The gleam of the sun in his eyes, at night.
His voice calls down the stars, streaming
Elders bend forehead unto earth, at first light.
Bound in blood, in braid of leather, in purpose, we rise.
Apart no longer, in tale or song, in flame, give cry!
Tamas came to the sundered people, healing the way between to bring the three into one. They claimed the sands, from each horizon, and the great ruin of a city. By the Tri-Khan's decree, he set the life of all peoples between wild and walls. Despite the arrivals of exalts, treaties with the Guild, or demands of the Realm, nothing has threatened their omnicient power over the region.
Change and Divergence
Delzahn see themselves as riders of the wild plains, warriors without compare, fierce in the face of adversity. Despite their life, duties, and paths, most exemplify this lfiestyle of the horde. Those in the city at times have a harder time finding the warrior in their heart, seeking the adversity in their immediate homes and jobs that may cause the nomads of the desert to scoff or laugh. While the constant turmoil faced by the nomadic in the desert may seem ludicrous to the city dwellers. Somehow between the two sides of the coin, they find a common ground.
The Delzahn are a tribe of notorious horse-archers and raiders. They disdain their city-dwelling cousins as fat layabouts incapable of surviving in the wild; the city-dwelling Delzahn of Chiaroscuro consider the tribal folk to be the descendants of the cripples and cowards too afraid to answer the call of the Tri-Khan, and deserve the meager life they have, eking out a survival from the hot plains of the South while they live in luxury in the City of Glass.
On the plains, a young Delzahn learns to keep on the move. Children can easily handle a camel by their fifth birthday. Horsemanship comes next, though the young are rarely permitted to have mounts of their own. Horses are used for hunting and warfare; when a Delzahn is given his own steed, it signals the formal beginning of adulthood. After receiving a horse, the young nomad rides along for three days, contemplating the open savanna. Meanwhile, the tribe moves on, so the rider must track it down again.
Women and men have strictly divided roles. Women are expected to gather and tend to the tribe’s possessions and their family’s lineage, while men engage in hunting and war. At the same time, the Delzahn don’t assign gender according to biology. Any member of the tribe may select a different gender. Called dereth, people who choose a gender different from their sex must wear a gray sash or veil at all times. Many dereth are shamans, since they are used to living in two different worlds. They are not discriminated against outside of the customs surrounding their chosen gender. Most dereth choose their role after the rite of passage: men return to the tribe with fresh meat from the hunt, while women return with a poem or song.
A tribe’s wealth is measured by the number of animals it owns. Ultimately, the local orkhan (sept chieftain) owns all of the tribes’ possessions, but he usually allows each family to tend its own herd in peace. Families do require his permission to trade anything with an outsider. Likewise, any theft offends the orkhan (and by extension, the entire tribe); stealing can provoke an escalating spiral of violence.
Fortunately, Delzahn customs provide for a less extreme solution — one that actually promotes stealing in certain circumstances. The thief can escape retribution by offering the tribe an unmarried adult. These newcomers are married into the offended tribe, which then demands a modest dowry.
The cycle of theft, marriage and gift giving gives the horde a common identity and fuels economic exchange. Delzahn marriages are polygamous, with multiple wives and husbands sharing a complex of tens and their share of the tribe’s herd. Only one partner can be added to the marriage at a time; her status is delineated by the order in which she joined the family. Since the Delazhn have a taboo against killing or dishonoring any first-line relatives, this practice leads to a convoluted web of clan alliances and rivalries. A full sixth of Chiaroscuro’s Delzahn population claims descent from the orkhans and thus the right to own property.
Taboos against internecine warfare have led to an elaborate system of ritual duels. The dueling circle is the favored choice for settling personal disputes. Here, the winner forces the loser out of the perimeter. Horse archery duels are used to resolve inter-clan affairs. Death is an inauspicious way to win, so the Delzahn fighters cultivate surprising restraint and ingenuity in combat. For this reason, Dlzahn mercenaries are often hired to keep the peace throughout the civilized South.
Above the orkhans of each sept are the khans, each of whom claims dominion over a dozen or so septs through rights conferred by lineage and ritual combat. Nobles show their allegiance by granting all of their property to their liege, so each khan is fabulously wealthy. Nobles are expected to display their wealth as evidence of their following and tend toward irch, if garish, fashions. In fact, like the orkhans, the khans allow most of “their” property to reside with the people who care for it.
Hundreds of years ago, Immaculate monks travelled South to convert the Delzahn. Between native influences and the fact that the Immaculate Philosophy’s dogma was somewhat less developed than it is now, a weird heterodoxy took hold with the horde. The dominant branch of the faith is heretical by the orthodox view, promoting spirit of worship as a de facto veneration of the Immaculate Dragons. Later missionaries have elicited almost no interest from the population (though the Tri-Khan courts them to gin the Realm’s favor), leading to sporadic violence between Immaculate shamans and orthodox monks.
The nomadic Delzahn follow a shamanic faith. Their priests deal with whatever small gods the Delzahn encounter in their travels. Immaculate missionaries merely gave the shamans one more stratagem for dealing with spirits. When a spirit won’t cooperate, the shamans invoke the authority of the Immaculate Dragons, along with Luna, the Unconquered Sun and Tamas Khan, warning that greater powers in Heaven watch the Terrestrial spirits’ deeds. By the same token, the shaman suggests that Heaven may reward spirits who treat the Delzahn well. Trance plays an important part in Delzahn shamanic rites. The shamans enter a trance by chewing certain herbs and dancing a whirling, leaping dance to the music of flutes and drums. Such a trance is necessary for the shamans’ version of the Spirit Sight ritual and most other thaumaturgical rituals the shaman knows from the Arts of Elemental Summoning or Spirit Beckoning (see The Books of Sorcery, Vol. III—Oadenol’s Codex, pp. 136, 140-141). For shamans who do not know thaumaturgy, the ecstatic dance is simply their mode of exercising their priestly function in prayer (see Exalted, p. 132).
Moachei Rai Clan
Clan of the Dark Mount hold to the whispers of their ancestors, listening to the captured whispers of the tombs laid in the dark rock of the Moachei Na'Raish hills along the cliffs. The pounding waves of the relentless ocean battered against those rocks, wearing away but never breaking them. That strength they teach to their kin, marking their ashes with char and ash, handling their dead with care.
They hold the tribal lessons and lore, sending their youth to live and teach among the other tribes until a death comes. Then they collect the body, final tales and histories, and bring them to the elders in those rocks. Ghosts of their fallen move among those dark outcroppings, a sensation of being watched for those passing close enough to see the shadows thrown by the climes.
On special cases, they welcome members of the city Delzahn that wish to learn their stories and lessons, to take back to the city clans. Only those that have learned are allowed to inter upon death.
Bonesinger Khael'rai speaks for the dead, the crone weathered with clouded eyes and a dark furred saluki by her side.
High Standing | Seers | Blessed Line | Ancient Roots | Large Generations
Kainesh Vaen Clan
Clan of Split Skulls roam the deserts as warriors of old with wild cries, quick-hooved warhorses, curved swords, and long bows. None of the city are allowed within their numbers, only those born of their blood, enriched by the blood of other warriors from the clans. They sing the songs of war, battle drums with their hearts, pressing back infidels of stone seeking to claim the unclaimable. The sands are not meant for their hands and feet, the wind too strong to fill their thin bodies, the skies too wide for their eyes to see fully.
They watch the caravan routes, ending those that break treaties with the desert, or carry weapons or goods they feel a threat to their tribes or thieving from the wilds. All enemies of the desert must fall, bones cracked, skulls split, such as their namesake. None are as formidable among the tribes. While many caravans and city dwellers imagine the warriors to come raging on horseback, many of their tactics use hiding under sands, forming shelters to spring on their enemies.
Dorvai Kesh reigns over the clan with fierce eyes and terrifying blades.
Medium Standing | Warriors | Feared Line | Older Family | Strong Generations
Clan of the Open Sky welcome the elements, sing to the wind, dance with the flames. Leading the shamanic faith among the tribes, this clan holds the traditions of the Delzahn deeply to heart. They welcome members from all tribes, including the city born, to learn and dedicate themselves to the elemental voices of their hearts and souls.
At times, their views and goals clash with those of the Moachei Rai, seeing themselves as devoted to the living as the Rai cleave to the dead. In times of strife and war, they set aside differences to aid the tribes, as fierce as their warriors. In times of births, they take full stage to welcome new blood in rituals of water cleaning away a mark of ash laid by the Rai.
Olyvant an artist of sand and wind leads the shamans and clan, a wizened soul in a young man's body.
High Standing | Shamans | Blessed Line | Ancient Family | Strong Generations
Asang Maelv Clan
Born of the wind, the Clan of Thundering Paths raise and train horses for all the Delzahn. Their families hold to laughter, warmth, and the keen hospitality of their faith. Rise and spread across the world as sands windtossed across the dunes! Little holds back their jubliation in new children, new travels, endlessly seeking the horizon.
Steeds of the Path have wondrous bloodlines, bred over the centuries for swiftness, strength, and beauty. All steeds have an inate feel for the desert, sensing storms and finding lost paths amid the dunes. A few others are marked with a special touch from breeding with steeds of the El'deki, gifts for the truly gifted and faithful.
Twins Yuveri and Velyuri lead the clan with wild roars and grand journeys across the dunes.
Medium Standing | Horse Lords | Beloved Line | Ancient Roots | Strong Generations
A secret among the Delzahn is an alliance between a few of their elders and oldest families with the Raksha of the Lapis Court. A breeding of Delzhan stallions and Rakshan dune treaders have created an elite mount, the El’Dekai. Elemental touched, they move within sand, winds, storms, and light. Few outside of the Delzahn ever see these beasts.
Among the city dwelling Delzahn, the people are bound into houses by birth and marriage. These houses hold Orkhan positions in the city.
A force of power with a tumultuous past and uncertain future, Duat has hailed through greatness and disgrace in the ever shifting wheel of fortune. They once held a position as artificers and textiles, bringing beauty to the city and families through fixtures in homes and gorgeous garments. Parties lit with their beautiful lights, gleaming over the metal woven fabrics of dancers and politicos. They set the trends in many gatherings and parties, envious of any that sought to outshine them.
It was this envy that twisted their heart. The patriarch On’sul damned them all by seeking to trap some spirits of Grandmother Bright into his creations, earning imprisonment within gold and metal. His children and descendants have sought to pay for this crime, earning freedom in some generations, until the anger and need to rise again sends members spiraling to diabolical acts. They are known to wear golden masks, in homage to On’sul who still remains enslaved as a golden statue to Grandmother Bright.
A few through the years have sworn this could not be the true reason for their fall and curse! But seeking the truth could bring their attention, or that of the oldest spirit in the city.
Isoke leads as the matriarch for the house, an artist in craft and politics.
Low Standing | Artificers | Cursed Line | Older Family | Thinned Generations
Visionaries of the inward path and voice of the great ancestors, House Soratt has provided the royal court and Orkahns many seers and advisors. Through the centuries, they have ever guided the people of Chiaroscuro to a brighter purpose. They earned their place through careful planning and humble insights as the Tri-Khan face an uncertain time during the Age of Dreams. The Exalted of heaven fought terrors untold, leaving much of the city to take care against the turbulent seas and ever hungry sands.
Despite the dangers faced, Soratt held to listening to the past for a blessed future. It’s strange for a house to have such a long history devoid of crimes or shadows. What lies in their past and histories that may be an embarrassment has remained hidden, requiring serious research or infiltration to learn more.
Despite his eldering years, Vusimizi leads the house in visions and paths to take.
High Standing | Seers | Beloved Line | Ancient Family | Strong Generations
A caste hearkening to old Del’zahn heritage, house Il’Yeir retains a tight grasp on desert traditions and folk legends of the Shining Sands. They speak for the great tribes and families in the deep desert, once great supporters of the Tri-Khan. Now they hold him in contempt, bringing forth the demands of their breathren, working to keep the beating heart of the city in tune with the wild truths.
A few in their lines understand losing this knowledge and tradition of their roots is a danger, threatening them all to fall to the exalts as they awaken and return. Some fear they may rise up and allow the tribes into the city, burning all of civilization. Others hold concern they may destroy any that show a touch of exaltation. While many believe they are the last protection against the rising Realm.
Zukutai quietly manages the family, seeking alliances and expanding their influence into other Orkahn.
Medium Standing | Tribal Leaders | Feared Line | Older Family | Unknown Generations
Love, life, and a great love of the fantastic beasts has kept House Peur ever in the graces of the Tri-Khan. They hold a steadfast position of the Orkhans with great influence through their beautiful creatures. While a newer line to rise among the families, they have many who hold genuine adoration of their children and way of life. They began with a few of the families wise in the way of caring for beasts, aiding with medicines and welfare of beasts, delving into cross-breeding.
Members of their families have joined many other houses, especially the Orkahns, to care for the beasts so loved by the Southern gods and Tri-Khan. They have numerous children, a literal army of families and offspring that could lay waste to enemies if they wished. But living well is all they have want of this life.
Cogoano and Kimathi run the family as a loving husband and wife.
High Standing | Beast Keepers | Blessed Line | Younger Family | Large Generations