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Sekhavi

"He’d felt the thickness of Sekhavi cloaks and how they stitched furs together with more precision than the skilled workers in Althain’s port cities. He’d eaten rich stews that filled the stomach for an entire day. The chill of a mountain blizzard had bitten at his face and left it bloody with frost. Every village was led by several leaders, not just one, and he marveled at the cooperation."
-Damion Torag on Sekhavi life (Gravemaiden)
 

History

  The Sekhavi are, by many accounts, one of the first people groups on Aertha. Their name comes from the ancient word “sekhatvii” meaning “mountain-seer.” Scholars have debated for centuries about where the first Sekhavi came from, but the oldest settlements have been found in the far northern mountains where clans have lived in the same way for thousands of years, possibly as far back as 12,000 years ago. The Sekhavi lived in tightly-knit clans in the highest mountains until their numbers began to grow and food grew scarce. Several clans chose to travel to lower altitudes and clashed with the Vathne in the southern mountains, whose weaponry and physical stature proved to be a formidable match for the Sekhavi. It was only due to the expansion attempts of the Eleviraki that the Vathne retreated, allowing the Sekhavi to expand their territory.   The Vathne continued to push against the Sekhavi, but harsh winters and rugged terrain held back even the strongest warriors. The Sekhavi had adapted to the climate and were able to attack even in deep snow or frigid temperatures. Furthermore, nearly a hundred smaller Sekhavi clans had united, formally calling themselves Sekhavi for the first time, and fought to drive back the Vathne from their land. It would not be the final fight but it was enough to prove that the northern mountains were not for the taking. Border disputes are common to this day, and the clans have stationed a permanent force at the southern border.

Physical Appearance

  The Sekhavi have dark hair and lighter eyes, typically blue, violet, green, silver, or hazel. Their faces tend to be round with high cheekbones. Most of the Sekhavi are eerily pale in complexion due to a lack of sunlight in the mountains. The average male height is around 5'8", and the females are usually around 5'3", but can be seen in a wide range of heights. One thing Sekhavi of all heights have in common is their stocky body structure and immense physical strength, along with their excellent health. They have adapted remarkably well to their harsh climate and take pride in knowing that few others could live the way they do.   Long hair is common in Sekhav for both males and females, for both warmth and as a sign of status. For men, facial hair is only allowed to grow out after age 30 as a sign of respect and authority among the clan. Women usually wear their hair partially or fully braided to keep it out of the way.   The Sekhavi typically do not wear jewelry, seeing it to be unnecessary, aside from the pendant they are given at birth or a necklace made of claws, teeth, or jewels. They are minimal and strict, only permitting excess when it symbolizes something of significance, so all jewelry worn has a story behind it. This is a helpful conversation starter the reserved Sekhavi culture. Their pendants usually depict an animal and have the individual’s full name etched on the back, along with their residence. The backpiece of the pendant can be removed and replaced if a name change occurs. Its main purpose is debated, but is particularly useful in identifying dead bodies that may be found far from home thanks to the extreme elements.

Biology

  The Sekhavi have been gifted with physiology that seems to defy nature, or as they claim, that works alongside it. Their feet are nimble and their ankles are unusually flexible, to the point where a twisted or sprained ankle is nearly unheard of. Their blood carries a higher oxygen content and their lungs are larger, allowing them to live in higher areas of the mountains with ease. The Sekhavi live far above the so-called "Death Height" that would suffocate other races. The average adult male only needs to survive on about 1,500 calories each day, with women and children requiring even fewer. Due to this, the Sekhavi only eat two meals each day. This allows them to go for longer periods of time without food. Their bodies retain water easier as well, aiding in times when water sources are frozen for months at a time. Sekhavi gain weight easily and are stocky enough to survive through famines that would kill most other races. Even smaller features like their deep set eyes help prevent snow blindness, and their fair skin helps them absorb as much sunlight as possible. Their dark hair also absorbs sunlight and warms them.   These biological adaptations make life difficult for Sekhavi who travel into lowland areas. Those who leave the "Sky-Father's Cradle" tend to gain weight quickly, become bloated, experience agonizing pressure headaches and chest pain, and suffer from heatstroke even in spring months. If any Sekhavi move out of their territory, it is usually to the Ellekastri Mountains in Lieretsa, or far south to Kieruska. Those who wish to venture to the lowlands for extended periods of time must adapt slowly.

Psychology

 
“They’re going to kill him, aren’t they?” Kianakae asked, as if Ivadryn would know. “I know how this looks. He’s an outsider and he killed one of our people.”   “Exactly. He should die for it.” Ivadryn said.
  The Sekhavi are hardworking, serious, and deeply religious, but compassionate and incredibly cooperative. They speak little, believe that words are to be used solely when necessary, and are distrustful of strangers, however, the bond between each other is inseparable, and nearly every member would lay down their life without hesitation if it meant the clan would survive. They are prideful people who enjoy showing off to others, competing, and perfecting themselves in all that they do. While they make a formidable enemy, they are choosy when it comes to which battles they fight, and to the shock of others, they will only fight or kill when absolutely necessary. They are very respectful people, despite the inaccurate reputation they have sometimes as barbarians.   These people are extremely hostile towards foreigners at first, not harming them, but willing to do so if threatened. The Sekhavi are known for their skill in reading body language, so much so that it is rumored they are able to smell fear. Those who wish to enter a clan or village circle must prove themselves worthy of acceptance, but even then, it won't be years until the individual is integrated into the group. An outsider can never truly be part of the Sekhavi. The tightly-knit bond is essential to their survival as a people, and they have been wronged many times in the past, making them wise to be suspicious of outsiders.   Emotion is looked down upon, misconduct is punished harshly, and discipline is the crux of their lives, but despite all this, the Sekhavi still can enjoy themselves. Festivals are times of great celebration and nightly religious rituals are followed by lighthearted conversation. There is a balance between work and play that is valued deeply.   There is a constant thread that flows through all Sekhavi life: The remembrance of death. They believe that the natural state of man is as a corpse beneath the mountain, then he is raised to live a brief life in service to the gods, and then he returns to his natural state in the grave. Therefore, death is seen as a natural passing that is not feared. There is mourning because the loved one is missed, but there is also rejoicing that he or she is back home. It is a great dishonor to take the life of another, as it is seen as a lack of reverence for the natural order of death and usurping the role of the gods. Death is punished by execution. As it is said, a life for a life.  
Damion stepped inside and pulled off his scarf, tossing it over his shoulder. “I heard you Sekhavi are sticklers when it comes to manners, and I’d rather not make enemies on my first day here.” He brushed the bits of snow off his fur coat and stomped the ice off his boots.   Ivadryn raised an eyebrow. “We would usually do that outside.”   “Case in point.” Damion opened the door and shook out his scarf. “There, is that better?”   She rolled her eyes and led him to the stairs. “Could be worse.”
  Manners are highly valued, not in the way of courtly rituals, but rather in showing one’s intentions as clearly as possible or respecting one’s desire to withhold information. There is even a god, Korshak, dedicated to the art. Politeness is shown through dipping the head in greeting and farewell, typically while folding one’s hands to show that there is no weapon present. Dipping the head is a sign of trust, exposing the back of the neck and closing the eyes. Food is given first to the guest to show that their well-being is valued above that of the host. Excess food is always given away to the needy. Avoiding eye contact is a sign of respect for the other person’s emotional privacy.  

Culture

Clothing

  High in the frigid mountains, the Sekhavi wear fur, thick cloth, leather, or animal skins, usually in neutral colors. General footwear consists mainly of leather lace up boots, and going barefoot is seen as a sign of disrespect and immaturity.   A man would wear a thick shirt and pair of pants, which would be covered by leather or furs, from an animal he had caught himself if he was over the age of eight. Several layers are often used until comfort, until finally he would wear a hooded cloak (called a Traesak) of a neutral shade, depending on his clan, which is used as a form of identification, worn over all articles of clothing at all times unless indoors among trusted friends. It is considered disrespectful and cowardly to wear any clothing over the Traesak, as the action is perceived as trying to hide the clan which one is from, breeding feelings of distrust.   Women wear thick dresses made of animal skins or cloth. She would then wear layers of fur or leather and a scarf, until finally she would wear her Traesak.   The Traesak is the Sekhavi method of identification and display of status. Jewels, brooches, beads, animal teeth or claws, bones, or other ornaments are sewed on, each of which says a different thing about the wearer of the Traesak. For example, after his first hunt, a boy would stitch the tooth or claw of his prey onto his Traesak. After the birth of her first child, a woman would stitch a certain gemstone onto her Traesak. The hood of the Traesak also holds enormous significance: if someone removes their hood, it displays trust and an invitation of peace. If someone pulls their hood farther over their face, it displays suspicion.

Territory

  Sekhav occupies the land west of Lieretsa, north of Vathne, and northwest of Bolaan. They are bordered by the Tilhakasiil Sea to the west and the Shield, a vast ice sheet, to the north. It is dominated by the jagged, steep, and snow-covered Sekhavi Mountains. The northern region is colder and the mountains are taller, while the southeastern mountains gradually become the Sekhavi Foothills, in which more villages and towns can be found. Few towns can officially be considered “cities,” but all of these larger towns are in the Foothills or near the coast. At higher elevations, the Sekhavi live a more primitive life.   Many towns and villages are terraced or built on multiple levels. Some communities live in caves on the side of the mountains. Others take up residence in valleys where they are protected from the worst of the elements. Difficulties with the terrain worsen as winter approaches. Trade routes may be difficult to traverse or even completely blocked. Avalanches have been known to wipe out entire communities. The spring thaw can cause flooding and rivers can swell to the breaking point. Clan meetings and trade are halted from early Kelva to late Vala.  

Settlements

Tribes

It is estimated that 15% of the Sekhavi population lives in a tribe, typically living as isolated nomads. Some tribes are many thousands of years old and have a lengthy history. The tribes in the Sekhavi foothills wander to find food for their animals, and tribes in the mountains will live at a higher elevation during the warmer months and a lower elevation during the winter. Some tribes live in caves in the side of the mountains, especially at higher elevations. These caves may be man made or naturally-occuring. Life is primitive within a tribe, and consist of a handful of families up to a hundred people. Traditional Sekhavi is spoken in most of the tribes and thus, they are unable to commicate with outsiders. They typically are distrustful or even hostile towards the Sekhavi who have opted to remain in settlements, but they remain isolated, slowly being pushed back into the wilderness. They are proud of their old ways and simply wish to be left alone.   The tribal way of life has been quickly dying in the past two hundred years within Sekhav. Mining operations and trade deals between the clans and outsiders have threatened the landscape that these people rely on. Several hostile interactions between tribes and traders or miners have occured.  

Villages and Towns

Villages began to emerge within the past seven hundred years as a response to worsening conditions in the mountains and the influx of foreigners. It was thought that establishing villages would allow for greater trade opportunities that would help to bring some modernization to the Sekhavi clans. Some clans view villages as a boon, while others scorn or even attack villages, seeing them as a perversion of Sekhavi culture. Villages can be as small as twenty people, while towns can consist of thousands.  

Notable villages and towns

 

Cities

WIP

Leadership: The Kevsenae

  There is no centralized Sekhavi government, but each settlement is ruled by the Iraakae, Sakasviiae, and Siktaas, collectively known as the Kevsenae. The people are given immense power, and the Kevsenae are seen more as caretakers or public servants rather than rulers. Discussions are held by the entire clan or village, and the goal is cooperation rather than dictatorship. Survival is what binds the Sekhavi together.  

Iraakae

Translates to "father/mother of the people." Most settlements have a single Iraaka, but larger towns or cities have more. The Iraaka's job is to mediate between the mysterious Sakaviiae and the common people. He or she is permitted to enter the inner sanctum of the Sakasviiae at all times and is often the speaker at gatherings. The Iraaka represents the settlement at larger gatherings and brings forth concerns. Both men and women may hold this role, but it is more commonly held by a man. The Iraaka must have been born in the settlement, be over the age of 30, and be a well-known and upstanding member of society. They are referred to as "Iraaka [first name]" to promote a sense of familiarity. The position is typically held until age 60.   Many Iraakae will take on an apprentice once they begin to grow older. The apprentice is taught how to be compassionate to the people's needs and to speak in a way that the common people will understand.  

Sakasviiae

 
Their faceless shapes had always frightened her, and as a child, she would hide behind Father’s leg and cry when they approached. The Sakasviiae were separated from the rest of the Sekhavi by an ancient code and decades of experience guiding the village. Adding to their mysterious nature was the law forbidding them from fraternizing with any of the common people. Their faces must always remain hidden, and they wore black cloaks that trailed behind them as they walked. Even the bravest of the Sekhavi could feel the chill in the air of the Sakasviiae’s cavern overlooking Davatviia, and many debated if the Sakasviiae were still human, or if the goddess Vedrasva had transformed them into her mindless servants. Still, the Sakasviiae were never cruel, and they were the ones who had an uncanny sense of where to find food or supplies during the harshest winters. The goddess of wisdom spoke through them, and even the smallest child could approach them to have a question answered.
-Ivadryn Da'Krithera (Gravemaiden)
The Sakasviiae (singular: Sakasviia) are the spiritual leaders of the settlement and they wear black hooded robes that conceal their face. Their name means "servant of Sakasvan." Their purpose is to commune with the gods, particularly the clan's chief god or goddess, and to hear the people's concerns. There are usually about two Sakasviiae to every 100 people, though this varies. Both men and women may be Sakasviiae. The position is held for life unless a valid reason is presented. Some more progressive settlements have taken to a regular vote by the people. It is typical for the position to be taken up by one no younger than 20, but there have been exceptions.   The process for becoming a Sakasviia is rigorous and varies by clan, but most of the time it involves apprenticeship for at least three years, followed by a year-long silent vigil. It is a tremendous honor that is only bestowed upon those with the most life essence and spiritual attunement. A Sakasviia must know everything that there is to know about the gods, particularly the clan's chief god or goddess. It is a hard life that is lived in isolation and deep contemplation, but it is a rewarding one as well. A Sakasviia has no name, but is the First, Second, Third, and so on, denoting his or her rank. The First Sakasviia leads the others and is typically the one to speak in a gathering along with the Iraaka.   The Sakasviiae meet once a month with others in their clan and four times a year with all the Sakasviiae at Attea's Hearth. If a settlement needs a Sakasviia and there are none to fill the place, one may be sent from another clan. Unlike the Iraakae, the Sakasviiae are interchangeable across clans and have no loyalty.  

Siktaas

The Siktaas (singular: Siktaa) are the enforcers of peace. There is not a formal Sekhavi military or guard force, but the Siktaas are similar in nature. They are the strongest warriors and most skilled survivalists. They follow the orders of the Iraaka and Sakasviiae, enacting punishment when necessary. They guard the graves, fend off wild animals, and perform maintenance throughout the village. In short, the Siktaas are public servants who are given the highest honors and the most menial tasks. Anyone over 16 may become a Siktaas and can remain as long as they are physically able. The number of Siktaas varies based on the village, town, or city's needs.  

Clans

Sekhavi Clans
Organization | Jan 5, 2024

Eight clans, eight gods, eight graves

  Sekhav was once a hotbed of infighting. Tribes fought over land, food, shelter, natural resources, and many Sekhavi were needlessly slaughtered. In the year 11005, several of the Sakasviiae across tribes received a vision from Attea, the Ea-Mother, that urged them to travel to a valley at the foot of Mount Elatrasvae. They were unsure of why they all had arrived there, but it became clear that Attea had a message for them. She said that just as there are eight gods, eight months, and eight days of the week, there will be eight clans. The Sakasviiae returned to their tribes and passed along the message, thus starting the formation of the clans. Not all tribes wished to comply, or their Sakasviiae did not receive the vision. These tribes roam Sekhav to this day, isolated and self-sufficient.   The eight clans are divided into two categories: northern and southern. The northern clans live in the tallest mountains, have fewer people, and live a more primitive lifestyle. The southern clans live in the less steep mountains and foothills regions, as well as the fertile Elekastri Valley, and are less isolated and mode modernized as a result. The two regions have historically been at odds with each other in many decisions, but remain united nonetheless. 30% of Sekhavi associated with a clan live in the north, and 70% live in the south.   The clans represent themselves with a colored flag that is displayed during gatherings and in their towns and cities. Some settlements have begun to mimic the lowlander kingdoms by establishing a sigil to put on their flag, but this is more common in larger settlements that are more influential.  

Foreign Relations

Lieretsa

The two nations have agreed to a truce years ago, dividing their territory at the wide Pallid Valley in the north of the continent. Both are isolated nations.  

Bolaan

The Sekhavi and Bolaan have historically always had an alliance of sorts.  

Rhyldraleth

The Sekhavi and Rhyldralethans have no strong ties, but they tolerate each other and keep their distance. Their connection to nature, desire for isolation, and deeply religious societies mirror each other despite the vastly different climates they live in.  

Althain

The Sekhavi have started trading with Althain in the past few decades, leading to a boost in both of their economies. As they live in vastly different climates, trading is beneficial to both. Althainian merchant caravans travel north to Sekhav every few weeks. Mining operations have been taking place in the past two hundred years but recently have begun to expand, causing the Sekhavi to worry about the consequences.  

Vathne

A tense relationship exists, fueled by thousands of years of strife over land disputes. The Silver Pact was signed in 11046, putting an end to the bloodiest of the fighting. The Pact established a permanent northern border of Vathne’s territory at the Ishannatil Pass.  

Religion

Sakasteni
Organization | Jan 17, 2024

The religion of the Sekhavi people with eight gods

  The Sekhavi are a deeply religious society. They primarily worship the eight primary gods, who include Sakasvan, his wife Attaea, their three daughters, and their daughters' husbands. In exchange for their prayers and devotion, they believe Sakasvan sends spirits to watch over them, and if he is displeased, the gods will wreak havoc on the people. Every clan has a chief god or goddess whose grave they guard and who they pray to the most. Once a year, at the festival of midwinter, every clan, village, or city brings the remains of any of their dead along with a hearty kill made by the hunters for the great sacrifice to Sakasvan, who in turn blesses each group based on the size of their combined offerings. This is where the rumor arose that the Sekhavi sacrifice humans. Many other festivals occur throughout the year, along with regular duels in which the winners are deemed blessed by the gods.   The gods are held in the highest respect, and it is a crime to take their names in vain. They are held at a distance and the only way to please them is through obedience and surrender. A common prayer states that the individual is a “humble servant” who will carry out the will of the gods.  

The Sekhavi Pantheon

 
  • Sakasvan: Sky-father. All creation, the sky, the celestial bodies. (Vala)
  • Attea: Aertha-mother. The planet Aertha, fertility, and motherhood. (Prythen)
  • Fanskae: Youngest daughter. All plants, animals, and livestock. (Anthol)
  • Korshak: Fanskae's husband. War, defense, honor, manners, discipline. (Tauva)
  • Desvyna: Middle daughter. Music, poetry, song, creativity. (Masi)
  • Baasvi: Desvyna's husband. Work, commerce, trade, stone, and silver. (Obann)
  • Vedrasva: Eldest daughter. Order, justice, wisdom, mercy. (Kelva)
  • Harthas: Vedrasva's husband. Slumber, dreams, prophecy, death. (Soloi)
 

Rituals and Festivals

 
Attea's Hearth

Sakattea:

Middle week of Prythen that signals the end of winter and the start of the traveling season. It is the wedding feast of Sakasvan and Attaea, and all the clans assemble at Attea's Hearth to celebrate. Many weddings occur this week, and there is feasting and celebration. The Krithaskae and Sakasviiae travel to the top of Mount Elatrasvae to receive blessings and prophecies from the gods.  

Midyear Mourning:

Occurs on the 26th of Masi, at midyear. Despite the name, this is not a sorrowful occasion. The dead are remembered, the gods' graves are tended to and decorated, people dress up as their deceased loved ones, and candles are lit to guide the spirits to the celebration. Spiritual activity is high. Takes place when Auros and Syl are both at its fullest.  

Kelva's Eve:

Occurs on the eve of the first day of Kelva and lasts for several days at Attea's Hearth. The Sakaskiiae report the spiritual activity of the year, the Krithaskae declare their plans for the clan or village, and news is shared. Signals the end of travel between clans for the common people until the new year.  

Vala's Eve:

The dead are cremated, livestock are sacrificed, and the new year begins. Houses are cleaned to immaculate perfection, and prayers are offered up to the gods for many hours. Lasts a full week. Travel to Attea's Hearth is made impossible by the winter weather.

Names

Family Names

Prefaced with Dor' for males and Da' for females. Names do not change upon marriage, but the father's name is given to the children.
  • Krithera
  • Yashkii
  • Vaaskae
  • Dryssanyk
  • Evak
  • Baskira
  • Reniveth
  • Tiivan
  • Linnikka
  • Eskell
  • Thaedrys

Masculine Names

  • Taaviakke
  • Esvin
  • Tevki
  • Krithak
  • Stenivhak

Feminine Names

  • Ivadryn
  • Kianakae
  • Aviisera
  • Helvestra
  • Nesrae
  • Revnakae

Notable Sekhavi

 
  • Ivadryn Da'Krithera
  • Kianakae Da'Krithera
  • Aviisera Da'Yashkii
  • Krithak Dor'Krithera
  • Sekhavi couple
    A Sekhavi couple (Midjourney)
    Related Organizations
    Languages spoken
    Height: 5'0"-5'10"   Weight: 120-250 lbs   Lifespan: 50-70 years   General features: Very pale skin and dark hair, light eyes, round faces, very tough, large round or almond shaped eyes, high cheekbones. Stocky build with a tendency to gain weight.   Reputation: Hardy, suspicious, superstitious, and formidable, yet secluded, miners, owners of vast varieties of weapons, protectors of precious gemstones, excellent hunters, nomads. Few go to the effort of associating with them, due to their isolation and unfriendliness towards outsiders, but those that do often seek the vast mineral deposits in the mountains.   Exports: stone, iron, gold, silver, lead, steel, minerals, fur, gemstones, herbs, livestock   Location: Sekhav, in the Sekhavi Mountains and surrounding foothills

    Comments

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    Dec 15, 2023 14:10 by Marc Zipper

    One of the impressive and detailed article I love how you explain their physicality and social society because they lived on the tallest mountains

    Let's have fun creating the impossible, building new worlds, and all types of possibilities. Valcin
    Jan 4, 2024 17:02 by Lady Arsenik

    Thank you! I think I want to split it up because it got really long, but I'm glad you liked it.