IV. Societal Structures
A single tribe typically consists of one extended noble family, and a host of smaller servant families. The reliance on the servile classes is greater in the south, where the semi-nomadic Tehir pause in the warm months to sow the land with minor grain, which is later traded with tribes to the north. The noble family is composed of a single male leader, his wife, and the families of his daughters. Due to matters of marriage, sons typically go to the family of a woman to whom he marries. The servile family is nuclear in nature and is also designated on the matrilineal line.
New tribe formation typically does not occur at the moment of marriage; rather, the newlyweds will stay with the wife's family for up to ten years before leaving to form their own, though in the interim they will amass significant wealth, land, and/or livestock. A new tribe will pay tribute to the mother of the head woman until they deliver a grandchild for the head woman. As a result, her father receives significant bounty. New tribes formed from political or familial conflict may find themselves targeted by raids and squabbles over oases rights by their former kin. This can be costly and deadly for both parties. Conflict resolution is highly sought-after and favored -- for everyone involved.
Classes and Professions
Above all, the nobleman is a merchant. He tends to matters of money and trade and takes a secondary profession, such as warrior or scourge, to ensure he is savvy in the ways of the raid. The noblewoman commands a bevy of household servant women and is known to have a diplomatic hand in prearranged marriages between tribes. Common nobleman titles include Murkilom, Zhifiier, and Lovib. The noblewoman’s titles include Zdurtzi, Livebiz, and Tzimurqi. In company, a noblewoman refers to her husband as Lafiier, or “My Veil,” while he would refer to her as Layafi.
Raiders and Warfare
Warfare brings with it death. The Tehir know that beyond it there is nothing; death equalizes all. In no other facet of life is the Tehir birth status ultimately irrelevant. Tehir combat is composed primarily of small bands of raiders who see warfare as a matter of economic prosperity. On occasion they may war between the tribes, though this practice has diminished somewhat with the influx of the Turamzzyrian Empire into the Sea of Fire, and the imperial drive for copper. Presently the Tehir do not defend the copper mines, but rather, their local oases and wells. When successful, the hits upon the Imperial forces typically yield decent stores of grain, livestock, beasts of burden, swords, and metal. The leader, often a tactician of noble class (the noble will bow to another if his skills are insufficient), will lead a group of ten to fifteen men to scout a passage considered lucrative. If necessary, they will follow a caravan for up to eight days, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. The desert holds room for a variety of other types of Tehir warriors, and the reasons for aggression are commonly born out of a need for resources or revenge for past raiding. Those who do not trade with the Empire are often resigned to raiding the tribes of their neighbors, which in turn sparks ongoing conflict.
Spanning all classes, fighters employ a variety of weaponry. No fighter would go out without a takouba by his side and a small dagger strapped to his wrist. His weapons were once exclusively iron, though this has changed in more recent times. The pommel of his takouba is often made of wood and carved quite intricately, just like its long and slender blade. His dagger may be ivory, bone, or mineral and is often scribed with verse and script. The Tehir can be quite fine lancers, sporting a slender pole barbed quiet fearsomely on its last foot.
Ranged and thrown weaponry are usually employed by the servile classes. The dagger that may be used by takouba-bearing fighters is rarely employed by these people. They prefer the yierka-spur, the origins of which stem from a servile revolt against their upper-class, yierka-riding masters. The saddle and tack craftsmen who concocted this close-contact brawling weapon are said to have made quite a literal impact upon their masters, following the hybridization of said spur.
A female may become a soldier, raider, or mercenary if her mother, daughters, or sisters died in an egregious manner to one of another tribe or culture. Her mission would be to avenge those deaths and bring blood money in for the family. A woman in war is given allowances due to the factor of vengeance and thus, receives the best weaponry and rations. She is often sent in as a spy during initial scouting missions and dressed richly. Her status is elevated, and while she is at war, she will wear only the finest silver accoutrements about her neck and forearms.
Shamans and Healers
Performing rites for all, these holy men oversee matters of everyday life. They are called upon to settle minor squabbles, dictate ownership of goods, bless the ways of the warriors, and cleanse the flesh of the Tehir. The male shaman is often forced to marry at or down from their own status, as a noble woman would not want to marry one who tends to a lower class. A female healer or priest is particularly special, for she can choose her mate from any class and thus, elevate his status.
An armed priest is best utilized during times of heightened spiritual energy. He is a master of harnessing these spiritual powers in his favor, allowing his kilij or takouba and those of his companions to strike without fear of the forces of evil. Found almost exclusively among tribes near the ancient site of Bir Mahallah, a martial cleric may be brought on the raid to ensure success. He is typically called to duty during the rite of adulthood, and rarely marries, for an early death is imminent. His sign is a pair of crossed takouba beneath an inverted crescent moon.
Gold carries a striking taboo for many of the spiritual realm. Believed to be the most impure mineral found in the Sea of Fire, it is said a shaman can lose his essence merely by gazing upon a gold nugget.
Unique among the Tehir is a hot-cold method of internal injury diagnosis. The healer will ask the injured man where he feels most hot or cold. If the patient is unable to respond, a conduit will be used to "sense the heat" of the injury. If a human conduit is not available, a copper disk may be cupped in the palm of the healer's hand as she touches the patient.
Tehir craftsmen are masters of working with their slender fingers, thus an entire class is devoted to them. They are, in essence, servants to the noble class and create at the whims of their masters. The craftsmen are however, held to a completely different set of rules: A craftsman may only marry within his tribe of birth; if he is sold to another tribe during the dowry process of a noble, he is then absolved of that responsibility. He is open to marry a noble or servile spouse, and his mate receives his status. It is most common for a craftsman to marry within his own class, as he will wish to ensure his spouse can rival the expectation of the master.
Known as the singers, bards and other performing artists are held in particular esteem. A singer eats with the leader and acts as a diplomat by proxy when necessary. She may have once been a female warrior, now completed in her trial for vengeance and filled with wisdom. The singer passes on the tradition of the oratory, the poem, and the drum, but does so with more gusto and precision than your typical matron. A bard of the masculine persuasion may well find similar benefits and results. He is often quite wealthy, given his vast collections of songs and dances, which can be sold and traded.
Herdsmen and Farmers
Herdsmen make up the largest population of the Tehir servile classes. The herdsmen control the path of the tribe through their constant milling and shuffling of animals across the desert. In sedentary tribes, there are herdsmen and farmers, and their duty is to produce food for the tribe's leader. During times of war, the herdsmen or farmers may take up arms to assist in the defense of goats, land, or oases. Special reverence is paid by the upper classes when water is needed: a noblewoman may offer the herdsman of another tribe a dinner with her son or daughter in exchange for the discovery of a water source during dire times. Additionally, it would be an astute business decision for a herdsman to shower the craftsmen class with gifts of grain and meat, in the hopes his children will marry up and out of this lowly class.
Those of elemental strength hold a curious position among Tehir society. Harnessing the elements is a highly revered craft, typically reserved for nobility. Yet the opportunity for wizardry spans all classes, and a wizard may have the opportunity to amass great power and wealth. Additionally, there have been instances where the wizard has fallen to the seduction of dark magic.
Among the servile classes, if a young girl appears to be quite adept at the ways of the elements, she may be purchased or adopted by a noble family. A young male wizard of the noble class may be taught to harness wind, and with that skill, provide safe passage for his people during what would otherwise be inhospitable times of day and season. The mage adept in parting and manipulating the earth may be may be sought to clear the overrun oasis abode of sand.
Fire has little function in the most extreme regions of the Sea of Fire, yet the mage of such power may be kept to ensure the evening dinners may be made. Among these nomads, fire-alignment is most typically found among women. Should a semi-sedent farmer's family be graced with a fire mage, the babe will undoubtedly be a boy, and he will be kept from normal duties to ensure the fields are not accidentally set aflame.
Among the craftsmen, a mage practicing fire is quite beneficial. With the ability to meld heat and flame, the craftsman fire mage may create a fine assortment of small glassware, including beads, jewelry, and inlays for weaponry and utilitarian trinkets.
A Tehir of the water alignment is almost unheard of, but should he manage such pure and awesome power, it is quite likely he can break class and rank completely. For him, it creates almost total independence from what may have been his noble owners or masters. With this power, he can feed livestock and field with surety; many will follow him.
Sorcerers are uncommon among the Tehir, given their superstition regarding the powers of darkness. The plaguebringer is seen as a bane, a scourge, and a bad omen for nearly all. When a sorcerer does arise, he is typically married off to a shaman -- the only one who may be able to keep him in check. A healer and a sorcerous mate also make a particularly strong couple, and they may be called upon to deal with signs of plague or recurring infection. Tehir aren’t known to deal in poisons or curses, but should such suspicions break out in a tribe, the local sorcerer is the first accused. He is killed swiftly and his parts flung to the wind without significant deliberation. No goats would be sacrificed after such a burial.