On the northern edge of the great Ring of Mountains are a warm and friendly desert people, with brownish skin and hazel eyes. There are no major cities, but rather a few small towns nestled in the safe confines of the foot of the mountain, protected from the desert's raging sandstorms. The Sifa, as they call themselves, are a communal people with a great love for trade. ... Never before have i seen such a closely knit and economically burgeoning society. ... Still, despite their prosperity, it seems they are being rapidly absorbed into the "superior" Derish culture to the south. It will be a sad day when this final remnant of an unimaginably ancient culture is at last extinct...The Sifa are a desert-dwelling people who live on the northern foothills of the Ring Mountains, just outside the trajectory of the Qahn. Descended from the Walkers, and the Proto-Sifa before them, they are the last vestiges of an incredibly ancient culture. Their old Walker virtues are rapidly fading in the face of cultural diffusion, with Derish values instead taking root.
Major language groups and dialects
Modern Sifa is a smoother and more refined strain of Old Sifa, with some clear Derish influence. Some Old Sifa vocabulary is sometimes used, for emphasis. Many Sifa are fluent in Derish as well.
Culture and cultural heritage
To the great dismay and disgust of the Walkers, ancient Sifa culture is being gradually forgone. Modern Sifa culture is a bizarre and uneasy hybrid between the Old Sifa ways and the Derish ways. Servitude and social stratification, previously unknown to the Sifa, are gaining ground. Walkers are all but a systematically oppressed race, and household servants are more and more common among the landed elite. However, strong familial ties and communal society are still alive and well in Sifan society. The old Walker religion, however, has all but disappeared.
Shared customary codes and values
Most Sifa are fervent economists and skilled traders. They view the oligarchic society of Deren as strange and inferior, preferring instead the progression and competition spurred by the open market. Innovation and persuasion are the most respected Sifa arts, perhaps an extension of their crafty desert ancestors and their rich oral tradition. Sifa families are close and affectionate, unlike Derish ones. While individual progress and wealth is highly valued by the Sifa, their society is also fairly communal— the standard of living for the bottom echelons of Sifa society are fairly low. In recent times, the Sifa are increasingly prejudiced against the Walkers. The emerging belief that the Walkers are responsible for the perpetuation of the Qahn, and therefore the inability of Sifa civilisation to expand outward into the desert, has turned the Sifa against the remnants of their old culture. Sifa towns tend to be quite cold to Walker bystoppers, sometimes refusing to serve them entirely.
Average technological level
The Sifa are significantly more advanced than their Walker cousins, though they do not yet approach the level of the Derish. To begin with, they (like the Walkers) are sustained on a basic diet of grains, breads, and some meat. The meat intake of the sedentary Sifa is significantly higher than that of the Walkers due to their stable lifestyle supporting larger animal husbandry operations. There is not much in the way of metal to be found in the desert, so many Sifa tools and items are either made from metal imported from Deren, or from bone, which they have no shortage of. Sifa clothing is slightly more refined than Walker clothing due to the cultivation and development of better fibers.
Common Dress code
Modern Sifa fashion is similar to historical Sifa fashion— flowing and spacey clothes of basic fiber with passages for each limb to facilitate riding and walking without growing too hot in the desert weather. However, Sifa fashion is also increasingly experimental, and is influenced by interaction with the Derish. The sleeves and pant legs are more form-fitting than they were in the past, and the traditional intricate designs are slowly being replaced with simple geometric ones in classic Derish style. Shoes are optional, though a growing number of people opt in for sandals or even light moccasins.
Common Myths and Legends
The modern Sifas follow a strange crossbreed between Derish Wispicism and Walker Qahnism. Most aspects of Wispicism are followed fairly faithfully, and the Wispfather is praised as the aloof creator figure. The Unspoken Gods of the Qahn, however, are denounced as destructive demons.
Business is thought to be a masculine art, and women merchants are rare if present at all. The patriarchy of the desert-roaming Walkers has been preserved in modern Sifa society, with men serving as the breadwinners of a familial unit and the women keeping to the home. However, women exhibit far more autonomy than they do in either Derish or Walker society— single women of significant birth may own their own land, for example, and serve as the face and hands of the family name. Men, in summary, are expected to bring in money for the household, while women are charged with using that money to further the house.
In Sifa relationships, women are in full control. Because men are expected to win their own money through trade, fathers tend to leave their daughters large inheritances. Though this wealth gap is typically lessened in later life, young Sifa men are very anxious to get married so as to secure the woman's holdings. Sifa culture also places great emphasis on family cultivation from a young age. A boy does not become a man until he has fathered his first child, which typically occurs as soon as they are physically able, ditto for the women.
The Sifa live in a number of small villages that skirt the desert side of the northern Ring Mountains, though the largest of these is definitely Sallahm. There are no ruling or political factions, as the Sifa states are primarily unregulated economic ones, but an unofficial pseudo-police force does roam the cities to keep the peace. A number of guilds exist within the cities, serving numerous purposes. The Walkers are a subsect of the Sifa race that wander the desert, following an ancient religion.