The Scales of Leviathan
All who know of Shovani know of Leviathan , the mountain-sized Hydra that rules the lizardfolk nation from its perch in the center of the Shovani capitol. Though Leviathan has explicitly denied being a god, a certain religious reverence is probably inevitable for a creature of its size and power at the center of a large government, and that reverence extends to any part of Leviathan that becomes detached from the creature. Leviathan's metabolism and means of sustenance are something of a mystery, so it's no surprise that the creature sheds at very irregular intervals. Covered in scales like any hydra, Leviathan's skin is unusual both in that the scales vary wildly in color and that they seem to have no consistent size. Scales as large as a wizard's tower are observable on some parts of Shovani's leader, while delicate patterns made up of scales as small as ordinary dinner plates have been observed on some parts of Leviathan's body, primarily in the upper neck areas near one of its heads. The scales are potent resources independent of any cultural significance, being very light-weight but incredibly resistant to impact. They tolerate a wide range of temperatures, seem impervious to most acids and even subtly warp inwards to reduce the force of incoming impact. Destroying them is difficult, but not impossible, as extreme cold can make them brittle and adamantine weapons are capable of slowly sawing through them. Leviathan shedding is a rare event, and every Shovani citizen knows that any piece of the creature that falls off is to be immediately turned into the government on pain of death. They are then distributed to high-ranking representatives of the six castes who have some discretion in how to employ them, but they must always do so in a fashion meant to convey a certain amount of dignity and gravitas befitting the living mountain that directs Shovani society. Most famously, the headquarters of the lawmasters has its four main walls and roof constructed of some of the larger Leviathan scales, an unsubtle symbol that the government and law speak with the voice of Leviathan's authority. The religious caste maintains some of them as religious relics and icons, and some scholars have spent their whole lives attempting to decode and understand what they believe are hidden messages on the surface of the scales that will reveal themselves to the faithful and dedicated. The military caste, unsurprisingly, uses them for armor and shields. Carrying such an artifact is a mark of very high honor for a soldier, and even most high-ranking generals don't possess such tools. This is because it's rare for a scale of exactly the right size and shape to detach, meaning there are only a few dozen such pieces of equipment in the nation. The nation's military would go to ridiculous lengths to recover one of these items, and there are entire teams dedicated to seeking out the three shields and two sets of armor that are the only known example of Leviathan's scales to be lost in a military engagement. The artisan caste typically use the scales as backdrops or components in public displays, though they must be careful as it's seen as disrespectful to cover or paint over one of the scales. Even the most radical and disruptive of Shovani artists usually stay away from doing any of their controversial work with Leviathan scale, as the material is considered deeply personal to the citizens of the nation. Accordingly, most displays or artistic pieces that incorporate one of the scales tend towards an almost bland patriotism meant to assuage potential critics, with only a few instances of truly great art incorporating the material. The Merchant caste are generally not afforded the scales, probably for fear they'd try to do something ridiculous like sell them, but they sometimes gain partial influence over how the scales are used when they can provide sufficient justification. The rules of the high market, the largest and most upscale bazaar in the capitol, are carved upon a scale that's hung prominently over the main market square after just such a request. How the Worker Caste use the scales is actually something of a mystery. Using them as mere tools might come off as disrespectful (though some would argue that's precisely what the military are doing) and using the scales in building construction doesn't entirely account for all of the Leviathan scales that are provided the caste. Presumably, the council knows what they're doing and approves, but how the worker caste employs these semi-sacred objects is not public knowledge.
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