Encyclopedia of Cherani

Copyright © 2000,2003 Elyse M. Grasso

Pronunciation note

  • a father
  • ai aisle
  • au cow
  • e get
  • ei weight
  • eu
  • i pit
  • ï peat
  • o bought
  • oi boy
  • ou owe
  • u cut
  • ü coot


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Shayana is a deity in the Hasri's religion, manifest in the planet, roughly equivalent to Gaea. One of the 7 deities honored in the great temples. The term 'Shayanan' is used to translate any of three terms in the original language: 'acharya-Shayana, 'dlia-Shayana', and 'kellya-Shayana', which are derived from kinship terms. 'dlia-' denotes 'pouch-child of' where the pouch-parent is not also a direct seed-parent, and dlia-Shayana is used to refer to people born and raised on Shayana, but whose ancestors did not evolve there. 'acharya-' denotes 'both pouch- and seed-child of' (which has important implications in inheritance law) so acharya-Shayana means something like 'native-born'. 'kellya-' means approximately 'of the seed-line of': people whose ancestors evolved on Shayana but who were themselves born off-world are 'kellya-Shayana'. (Most dlia-Shayana are kellya-Ferevrakhi. Ferevrakhi has only a remote resemblance to the way Imperials pronounce their homeworld's name, but kellya-Shayana can't pronounce p or b sounds.)

The word for a person, as in sentient being is "rü". The term "rüratha" is used for a member of the main Shayanan sentient species, with "rürathtu" as the collective form.

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Numbers and Technology


Shayanans make wonderful clocks. Their electronic clocks are very fine and can tell you the time and date in any system you care to name, or even invent, with any degree of accuracy you care to ask for. But their gear-driven pendulum or spring clocks are truly spectacular: works of art as well as precision measuring instruments.

There are clocks with bells, and clocks with cuckoo noises, and clocks with whistles, and clock that blow horns and a few places on Shayana itself have clocks that run asominat, which are complicated wind instruments rather like pipe organs that have achieved apotheosis. There are clocks with puppets doing folk dances or performing allegorical skits.

There are also clocks that produce lights or scents at specific intervals. Or explosions, of course: since they had been using electronic digital timers for about 10,000 of their years, most Imperials didn't even recognize things with round faces and indicator hands as timers. The Authorities never quite figured out how the Counter-Occupation was setting off all those bombs without triggering any tech scanners or metal detectors. (Gears made of wood or bone are perfectly adequate if they only need to last until the boom... though some of the wood and bone available on Shayana can make gears that are likely to last until Armageddon.)

A fairly standard Shayanan clock from someplace inland will have a non-moving central dial marked with 8 or 16 major divisions and 64 minor ones. 16-hour clocks tend to have 3 hands, 8-hour clocks tend to have 4, so 8-hour clocks actually measure finer increments. Noon is noon and midnight is midnight, and the sets of words for the various divisions are different, so it's not particularly unusual for people to have both kinds of clocks in their home or business.

Surrounding the central dial will be 2 moving rings with a fixed indicator that show the day (or half-day) of the week, and the week of the month. (5 weeks of 8 days were slightly more common before the Empire came, but now a pattern of 8 weeks of five days is more popular: more weekends.) The whole rings-and-indicator mechanism may rotate to indicate the month of the year, or there may be a third moving ring for that purpose.

Sometimes a clock will have the central dial divided in half vertically or horizontally, with 8 or 16 major divisions in each half. In that case, the innermost moving ring will only indicate full days, not half days.

As clocks begin to get fancy, they may add local tide indicators, a ring to track the phases of the smaller moon, or indicators for any (or all) of the major systems of astrological correspondences.

Well-made Shayanan clocks have a clutch mechanism so that it is possible to set the hands and rings to any desired value without hurting the gears and without having to run the hands around and around through a year's worth of time just to set the clock back an hour. Shayanans don't have anything like daylight savings time, so setting a clock back is not a normal task: the clutch gadget was invented when clocks began to be traded across time and tide zones.

The Imperials use an official day matching that of their homeworld no matter where they are, completely ignoring local conditions. This can make things very confusing. Clocks in public places in Cherani often include indicators of Imperial time, usually as a separate clock face. When Shayanans who are speaking Imperial or who grew up in Occupied territory use Imperial time measurement terms, they always mean the actual Imperial values and units, not Shayanan measurements that are approximately equivalent.

Daffydd Rhys Owens has a chiming clock someone made for him that progresses through 12 divisions 6 times in 2 Shayanan days and plays traditional Earthan clock chimes at the correct (tweaked) intervals. Jeff has one that's like a cuckoo clock except that a genie (looking much like Jeff himself) comes out and rings a bell.

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From the time the Imperials announced their arrival by dropping a rock from orbit onto a Shayanan city to the time the Shayanans gained control of the orbiting platforms, and thus regained control of their own planet, exactly 256 Shayanan years passed. Give or take one day depending which side of the planet one was on, bearing in mind that Shayanans count 2 calendar days per diurnal rotation. It was the 14th day after the spring equinox for the northern hemisphere.

The Occupation lasted about 312 Imperial years, and about 287 Earthan years.

The year lasts just under 258 and 1/5 days, and the larger moon (which is big enough to show a globe and make tides, though not nearly as large as Earth's Moon) orbits in 39 and 3/4 days. The smaller moon, which is sort of potato shaped, like Phobos or Deimos, has a quicker orbit and tends to be a little erratic due to the influence of the larger moon. (The big moon rotates visibly and the smaller one sort of tumbles. People KNEW the Imperials weren't from either moon, but they weren't particularly shocked that there were inhabited places farther away.)

No one uses the joker moon in primary calendars, but it keeps the astrologers busy. They have 5 visible planets plus the sun and 2 moons.

'Lunar' calendars use a double solar year of 13 actual lunar months. (it correlates philosophically to the doubling of days). The religion called Seekers of the Light follows one of these.

There are lots of minor variations of solar calendars. The one in use by Cherani runs 258 rotational days starting and ending at noon on the spring equinox, with a leap day every 5th year at the equinox. It has names for 13 half-months of 39 or 40 half-days rather than full months. The Equinox days and leap days are special holidays, which leaves 256 regular numbered half-days between equinoxes.

Nitodthï was conceived on a leap day, which is generally avoided. Leap day gets inserted between noon on the spring equinox (it goes equinox am, leapday pm, leapday am, equinox pm, with the leap time happening 'between' the years) so his conception day is backwards as well as just generally strange. Spring is sometimes numbered Zero and autumn is numbered double 0 but leap day doesn't have even that much of a number. (Nitodthï says his conception date is the square root of -1.) It either gives him supernatural immunity or leaves him open to supernatural influences depending on which tradition and context you look at. The fact that he dreams true hasn't decreased people's nervousness.

The weeks and weekdays generally have labels referring to the 8 celestial objects (sun, moons, planets) and various 5-way systems including one which is basically 'elements': stone, water, wind, flame, life.

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Shayanans have 4 limbs, each with 4 opposable digits, so they count in base 16. (256 base 10 is 100 base 16. The anniversary made the final CounterOccupation uprising easier to coordinate)

They also have prehensile tails, which gives them 5 extremities for grabbing things with. In a set of 5 things where 4 are very similar and one is less similar, the different one is the 'tail': leap years are Tail years. (Human thumbs are 'tail-fingers').

Since the occupation, 6, 12 and 144 are not popular numbers: the Imperials have 6 fingers on each hand and count by dozens and grosses. Before the Occupation 6, 12 and 144 weren't considered particularly unlucky.

Thirteen has always been lucky because of the month/year relation. It means 'fulfillment' or a circle coming around again. Being 8 plus 5, which are both numinous values, adds to its importance.

Eight seen as seven plus one has different symbolic meanings than other organizations of 8.

Patterns and Random numbers

Imperials are creatures of habit. They habituate quickly to new patterns, provided the new patterns are different enough from previous patterns. Changes in Imperial society more often happen by punctuated equilibrium or quantum leaps, than by gradual change.

Nitodthï says that one difference between Imperials and Shayanans is that Imperials are hardwired to believe that if you go down the same path 3 times and nothing tries to eat you, it means the path is safe, while Shayanans are hardwired to believe that if you go down the same path 3 times, something is sure to try to eat you if you go that way again. The Counter-Occupation forces made a lot of use of "three feints and a crunch" tactics, taking advantage of the Imperial tendency to get careless after 3 uneventfull patrols or 3 false alarms. On the other hand, Shayanans are not happy with any kind of rote repetition or repetitive tasks, and find ways to do things differently just because it is more comfortable to do things differently.

One odd effect which may be related to their aversion to repetition: many Shayanans have the ability to generate strings of random digits, and can recognise randomness and the lack of it at quite subtle levels. Besides its usefulness in cryptography and in dealing with things like automated motion detectors that ignore random activity, this talent means that it is very risky to try to use loaded dice or other equipment that is less than truly random when gambling with Shayanans. Depending on their mood and the nature of the non-randomness, they may point out the problem, loudly, or simply place bets according to the pattern and clean you out.

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Weights and Measures

The standard for interchange of measurements is derived from the Rope-Miller's Tale, where sizes of some natural phenomena are mention in enough detail to allow calibration.

The basic unit is the 'rod' (about 42 inches).

There are 1024 'threads' in a rod.

A 'bolt' is 16 square rods (actually viewed as 1 rod by 16). Large areas are measured as circumferences around a center point.

One cord-length is 256 rods (896 feet), one cord-width is 16 threads or 1/64 rod. One cord-space is 1/64 bolt (or 1/16 square rod, though Shayanans don't think in those terms: a proper cord-space is 16 rods long). The term cord is often used without the modifiers, which can be ambiguous.

One loom-warp is 64 cord-lengths (16384 rods) long, about 10.86 miles.

Volume measures are based on cylinders and spheres, not cubes: one flat pipe is a cylinder 16 rods long and one rod in circumference -- basically a bolt sewn together along the long edges.

One pod is a sphere one rod in circumference. Or the weight of that much water.

One full pipe is a sausage made from a flat pipe with half-spheres on the ends.

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Imperial credits have been abstract for so long it doesn't matter what they were originally based on. Prices and exchange rates within the empire are fixed by law and even more imaginary than the currency (nominal prices vs what you really end up paying are totally different). There has been a lot of actual inflation since the great plague, so companies with a lot of government contracts are in serious financial trouble.

Shayana had a lot of currencies when the Imperials arrived. Some were based on durable animal parts, like shells and teeth and horns and claws, usually strung on cords. Most modern coinages have holes through their centers, like Chinese Cash. The Esheyev Hasri's coins don't have holes: they went through a phase of using gold or silver wire (rather than ingots) before they developed something resembling actual coinage, and their first coins had pictures of the wire on one side. Their money is called "twists", and went abstract fairly early: the idea that money is just a way of keeping score and doesn't need a value of its own per se worked well in their culture.

Cherani uses twists, but mints and prints them itself for internal use, as well as using electronic money. Conversion is currently straight across with Hasrian twists.

Planetary Environment

Geography: Land Masses

If you take away the top 50 meters of the ocean, Shayana looks like it currently has 5 continental masses, three of which are very close together. Put the water back and it looks more like 3 continents and lots of islands. Even measuring by the continental shelves, not at sealevel, the percentage of Shayana taken up by the continents is a bit less than on Earth.

The Narrow Seas are shaped like a Y on its side, with the bottom pointing almost straight west. The currents are ferocious, and so are the storms. There's a lot of ocean for things to build up speed in before they hit the funnel of the Narrows, and not a lot of space for them once they get there: the oceanic depths are even narrower than the seas.

One of the drowned-continent archipelagoes is way out in the ocean by itself. It's mostly inhabited by Sea People and Sun People. Jouevyaix speakers call the region Shefaiela. The people who live there have other names for it, but are likely to use Shefaiela when talking to outsiders.

The other continent/archipelago, Yeiseiowei, is just east of the cluster of continents. It is being run into by Reixad, the East Continent as the Narrows open up. Both continental masses are very mountainous as a result. The drowning effect doesn't help: you end up with fjords, not beaches.

The East and West Continents, Reixad and Lexore, just touch the Arctic Circle at the north and reach quite close to the South Continent, Thuvaishtu (Dreith).

Lexore mostly runs east to west and is relatively flat except at its southwest end: most of its other mountain ranges are old and lumpy like the Appalachians, not young and pointy. There is an old mostly equatorial mountain range that's left from two continental plates running into each other a long time ago. The continent is very large and has some new rift valleys forming.

East Continent mostly runs north and south, and has a "pouch", a relatively landlocked sea.

South Continent above sealevel is a mirrored C that hooks down and around to the pole, but the continental shelf is more diamond shaped. There are glaciers on some of the mountain ranges, but no icecap as such. The pole is more or less habitable (about like North Dakota or southern Canada, but dark).

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Dinosaurs and other critters

Shayana has about as much carbon as Earth, but it doesn't have much in the way of petroleum or coal reserves. Almost all of the carbon is right out in the open, photosynthesing or running around (occasionally both). Not only are there a lot of plants and animals, a lot of them are quite large: not quite brontosaur and T rex large, but much bigger than elephants. More hadrosaur (duckbill) size.

On Cherani they have installed a fairly complex ecosystem. There are lots of plants and critters, including what can loosely be classed as birds and bugs, but nothing really huge. They have their equivalent of dairy goats, which are about cow-size by Earthan standard, but not their equivalent of cows. Nitodthï leaned toward the decorative as much as possible when putting the ecosystem together: when there were two species that could fill a niche, he chose the more colorful.



A toothed, feathered, flying predator known for swift flight and keen vision. (Symbolic equivalent: "falcon")


A large predator found on the plains of Lexore (the West Continent). Tends to be a mottled gray, green and tan, which makes it hard to see against the bracken. Males tend to be solitary. Females may be accompanied by juveniles. (Symbolic equivalent: "bear") Possibly therapodish, more allosaur-size than T Rex.


Horned herbivores that live in large herds on the plains of Lexore. (Symbolic equivalent: "bison" or "mammoth"). Approximately ceratopsian. There are actually several varieties with different sizes, skin patterns, and horn patterns: African antelope variations may be a closer analogy ecologically than bison or elephants. Lougx can mean one particular very common species, or the general class (like the word antelope).


A relatively small, pack-hunting predator from Reixad (the East Continent). Adolescents go through a phase of wandering around alone, looking for a new pack to join. A solitary adolescent degev is called a degevlïn. Degevtu are not domesticated, but sometimes a degevlïn will hunt in cooperation with a Nedranetz or Rüratha hunter for a while. The relationships between degevtu packs and Nedranetztu settlements can be complicated. It may be that the Nedranetztu have at least partially domesticated some degevtu.


A domesticated animal originally from Thuvaishtu (the South Continent), raised for meat, eggs and leather. (Symbolic equivalent: pig, or chicken) Jeff makes jokes about getting ham and eggs from the same critter.


An domesticated animal from Lexore. Occasionally eaten, but usually used as a draft animal. (Symbolic equivalent: "camel"). Their wild relatives are solid colored, fading to a lighter tone on the belly, but the domesticated ones come in all sorts of colors and patterns. They are vaguely hadrosaurish, and have resonating tubes in their noses so they have sort of trombonish voices. Their cultural niche is closer to that of camels, and they are quite large, but they have nice personalities, more like llamas. Like llamas, külïstu in a corral will choose a latrine corner instead of making messes all over the place.

The wild relatives of külïstu tend to live in small herds. Thirtytwo animals is a very large herd. If sixtyfour wild ones are found in one place, it is probably a waterhole during a drought.

Yeu tadthtu -- "Record eels"

A large fish with a serpentlike body originally from the Narrow Ocean. They are farmed because they are good to eat and because their vertebra are a handy size and shape for tadthtu, the beads-and-string 'writing' system.


A large ocean predator. (Symbolic equivalent: "shark").



A carnivorous flower. The wild ones smell bad, but tame ones, kept as bug zappers, have been bred to smell nice to Shayanans. The flowers have an elegant line, and tend to remind humans of calla lilies. The roots of some varieties contain interesting alkaloids, so are used in brewing liqueurs.


A nightblooming flower shaped like a Tudor rose, but with 7 petals.It is the Hasri's symbol. (Symbolic equivalent: rose)

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Social environment

Organizations and politics

Shayanans don't have collective territories that they defend against each other (like a nation, or even a polis). They are pack nesters, not pack hunters (or gatherers... foragers?), unlike Earthans who tend more to be pack hunters and solitary nesters. (Think of something like seals or or penguins or seagulls: they live in crowded groups, but don't hunt in packs. )

Shayanan social relationships tend to form matrices rather than hierarchies. Which class of relationship between two individuals is important depends on the current context, though the existence of other relationships between them will color their attitudes and behavior toward each other.

The concept of the 'cheden' -- the people in the center -- is important in most Shayanan social structures. The cheden are the ones with the most property or authority in a social network, and the cheden females are the first ones in a community to be ready in breeding season.

Partners -- Heusatu

Shayanans don't pairbond for reproduction, but they do pairbond for hunting and for emotional support. The heusa is almost never a pouchsibling. It is usual for a heusa relationship to form between individuals who were children in the same or neighboring households, and heusa relationships between seedkin, including siblings with different pouchparents, are very common.

Sex is largely irrelevant to heusa relationships, but it is generally better to be paired than not when breeding season comes around. A pair of males in a heusa relationship are very likely to compete for the same female in breeding season, and help each other against the other competitors: in a competition involving a heusa pair and some unpartnered males, one of the partners will most commonly be the breeder. A pair of females in a heusa relationship will come into season simultaneously (if neither is lactating) and the double-strength pheromone signal may attract more (or better) males.

In a male/female heusa pair, the male may be one of his partner's suitors during breeding season, but not necessarily. If he competes for a cheden mating, exposure to his hormones may accelerate his partner's season, raising her status in the community, while exposure to her hormones will tend to accelerate ovulation and make him more likely to qualify and succeed in competing for a cheden, even if the pair are not usually counted among the cheden.

Household -- Teiv

A 'teiv' is a family or household, in the sense of people living in one establishment. It is very rare for a teiv to consist of as few as one or two people. The Hasri's teiv may have more than 512 members at any given time, but that is an extreme example: the palace is larger and more populous than some villages. The cheden of a large teiv are usually a female and her heusa partner of whatever sex, though the current Hasri does not have a heusa.

The members of a teiv may include seedkin of the cheden, pouchparents of the cheden or of their seedchildren, heusa partners of anyone in those groups, or unrelated individuals who are more or less employees. The upstairs/downstairs social split does not occur in a teiv: individuals in close contact will be necessarily exchanging pheromones and grooming oils, hence family. Unrelated members of the household may be pouchparents or seedparents of household children after the next breeding season, and female 'servants' will tend to breed soon after the cheden because of close exposure to her pheromones, so they may have higher status than the cheden of some more peripheral households in the community.

Settlement -- Vaiv and Neikhav

A 'vaiv' is the typical Shayanan settlement: a collection of dwellings and businesses in a particular location surrounded by a protective barrier. A neikhav is a networked collection of neighboring households, usually contained in a vaiv. A ghost-town -- buildings without inhabitants -- is still a vaiv, but not a neikhav. A tribe of nomadic Sunpeople who gather at breeding season and scatter across sea or plains for the rest of the year can still be a neikhav.

The defended residential complex of a vaiv tends to feel very crowded to an Earthan, but much of the residents' agricultural and economic activity take place outside the naith -- the defensive barrier.

A very large vaiv may contain several neikhav. The size of a neikhav is partly limited (at both ends) by breeding season pheromone propagation: a village population much smaller than 512 will not be very fertile unless average household sizes are also small, while a neikhav larger than about 4096 will tend to be infertile at the periphery unless the central households are quite large.

Large cities (by Shayanan standards) are usually made up of a number of separate vaiv residential areas, each containing one or more neikhav, with open non-residential spaces in between. Ofrilla Hasri, the Hasri's capital, has 22 vaiv spread over a fairly wide geographic area, and 73 neikhav. The neikhav that includes the palace maintains a population of about 6000 due to the Hasri's biochemical potency.

The decision-makers of a neikhav are generally the cheden of the various teiv that make it up along with the 'jisin', the elders of the community. How much influence they have over the actions of the individuals and households that make up the community varies.

Clan -- Ngaiv

Where a neikhav is the network formed by relationships with neighboring households, the ngaiv is the network of relationships formed by the households of your relatives, regardless of their geographic locations. The heads of the households in a clan are usually related by kinship relationships either through the seed or the milk, but sometimes the relationships are more historical or traditional than actual.

One can speak of the cheden and jisin of a ngaiv, just as with a neikhav.

Trade network -- Esheyev

An esheyev is a trading network. It's normal for individuals (or communities) to be members of more than one esheyev. The size of an esheyev is difficult define: it is not an organization with a membership list or a nation with a census, it is a network of interlocking explicit and implicit economic and contractual relationships.

Since the Occupation, the Esheyev Hasri is one of the wealthiest and most extensive esheyevtu on Shayana (a few Esheyev that were larger before the Occupation suffered serious disruption by Imperial activity). Esheyev Hasri suffered some disruption during the building of the Fevrana Lliasi, but largely rebuilt itself during the Slow Counter-Coup period. It had an advantage in that many of its members were from the hidden lliratha, the tree- and sea-dwellers that the Imperial authorities were convinced were mythical.

The South Polar Esheyev is another wealthy one. Like Hasri Esheyev, many of its members are from hidden lliratha or from areas never directly occupied by the Imperial forces.

Esheyev Shayana is a largely theoretical esheyev of esheyevs.

Cherani Station was originally a project of the Esheyev Hasri, but as it has come online it has drifted toward being a separate network. This is partly because of the communication delays caused by the lack of a twist-space communication technology (other than couriers), and partly because the station is to some extent a literal legacy from the late Hasri and there is friction between the current Hasri and Nitodthï and the clan members directly involved in the project.

Lineage -- Engzheit

An engzheit name is a family name, specifically recording kinship by the seed. People usually know what lineages they are derived from, and lineages are recorded on very formal documents in the order matrilineal, matro-paternal, patro-maternal, patrilineal. People tend not to use them in daily life unless their clan name is the same as one of their lineage names, which is not uncommon.

Chevet on Hasri

The Chevet Hasri is the formal rite in which people compete to be the Hasri's mate in a particular breeding season. The Chevet on Hasri was originally the official short list of people who had done things that were impressive enough that they could be included in a Chevet Hasri.

The Chevet on Hasri evolved into acknowledged advisors to the Hasri. After the losses during the building of the Fevrana Lliasi, the surviving Chevet members took over a lot of the anchor functions in the Esheyev that would have been performed by the Inner Clan if there had been any left. They have remained important as a group within the Esheyev even after the Slow Counter-Coup and the restoration of the Inner Clan.

The Chevet aren't as close to being a Parliament or Cabinet as Earthans tend to expect, but they can get things done, and within the complex interlinkages that make of an esheyev they can almost be described as a representative. The requirement that they have done something impressive at least guarantees that each of them is competent at something. Whether any of them has relevant expertise in any particular context is naturally less certain.

The Alliance

The official name of Shayana as an astropolitical entity is abbreviated as "the Shayanan Alliance". The long form is "The Allied Esheyev and Samdaqq of Shayana".

The Samdaqq is the political structure of the dlia Shayana and some other people of Imperial descent who are no longer integrated into the Imperial power structure. There are about a dozen former Imperial possessions in the Samdaqq besides Shayana. Some were small settlements that were more or less abandoned by the Imperial authorities during the Great Plagues. Three are the most recent creche-worlds of the Triad Legions.

The term Samdaqq means something like "Dominion" and is derived from an archaic term from before the Imperial homeworld was unified. Unlike the word for Empire, Samdaqq does not imply that there is only one such political entity. This particular word was chosen (from among several possibilities) partly because Shayanans don't massacre the pronunciation too badly.

Imperial Legions

About 2000 years ago, when reproductive technologies were beginning to be reliable in the Empire, the then Emperor established twelve military organizations that were to consist of soldiers fathered by artificial insemination using genetic material from carefully selected individuals. Those organizations still exist, possibly in name only in a couple of cases.

For a long time after they were created, it was usual for the Legions to interbreed with the civilian populations, even though their own members continued to be produced by the AI program. Nitodthi¨ suspects that part of the purpose of the legions was to preserve certain genetic traits and continuously reintroduce them into the general genepool.

The legions formed a comparatively small part of the Imperial military, but provided a disproportionately large part of its special services and expertise. They were originally all elite combat units in addition to their specialties.

The twelve legions are:

The modern civilian population in the Empire tends to have matte feathers. Most of the legions still show the older trait of iridescent display feathers. The lack of iridescense is one of the reasons it is suspected that the First and Second Legions no longer represent the original gene-lines, despite their claims to the contrary. Conspiracy-theorists in the Ninth Legion have suggested that the near-destruction of the Third and attacks on its training cadres were part of a deliberate attempt to break the continuity of the Third Legion so that it could be filled with impostors, like the First and Second.

The legions resembled the Gurkhas in not having their commisioned officers chosen from among them. Their highest internal rank is something like Senior Master Sergeant of the Legion. (Centurion might be as useful a translation as Sergeant).

Members of the First, Second, Fourth and Tenth legions historically kept Shayanan slaves. The other llegions did not, even when Shayanan slaves were available.

See also Religions and Temples

Cultural Environment

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The symbol of the Hasri is a seven-petaled "ruch" flower (rather like a Tudor rose except for the number of petals), with a starburst at its center, surrounded by a double stranded garland with 13 twists. Only the Hasri herself uses the starburst, but anyone acknowledged as Inner Clan uses the flower. The Chevet uses the garland. Individual members wrap it around their family or personal emblems.

As Keiliazh-on-Hasri, Nitodthi uses a garland with thorns around the Hasri's flower. The thorn garland looks like a crown of thorns to Earthans, but actually refers to the thorn barricades that are used to keep the dinosaurs out of Shayanan settlements. (As Viechai (Oracle) of Deviasi, he can add a squiggle that's traditional shorthand for a labyrinth in the center of the flower, but he usually doesn't bother unless he is explicitly acting as Viechai.)

Degaev uses the flower surrounded by the garland, but his garland has crossbars that make it a 13 twist Möbius strip of DNA.

The symbol of the Seekers of the Flame of Truth is two superimposed 8 pointed stars (like a compass rose) with a stylized flame in front. The focus of the sanctuary is a flame in front of a compass rose reflector.

Netannin's family uses the sun setting across ocean waves.

Elekath's ship, "Shovana" uses what is basically a stooping falcon, (except it has teeth instead of a beak), but her personal symbol is water flowing from a rock.

The symbol for Cherani is a cornucopia (helical rather than spiral twist, but the idea is very similar) surrounded by a two crescents forming a split ring with a starburst superimposed on the bottom half and a flower on the top half. The star is on the bottom because Cherani swings around the planet like a rock on a string: centrifugal force pulls things away from the planet, which is overhead for people in the station.

Daffydd uses Cherani's split ring around a Welsh wyvern.

Jeff uses the split ring around Aladdin's lamp.

Shayanans don't use standard colors in their heraldry. That would make things too boring and unsubtle.

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Music and the asominat

The Shayanan hearing range runs about an octave lower and higher than Earthan. They have wide singing ranges too, but don't have systematic voice variations (baritone vs soprano). Different cultures use different pentatonic and heptatonic scales, and there are also at least 2 different diatonic scales in use in various places.

Their orchestras tend to sound less 'bright' than Earthan ones because they don't use metal wind or percussion instruments. They've got some really interesting ones made of strange organic materials and ceramic composites, but the tones tend to be mellower than metal produces.

Shayanan instruments tend to evolve very complex control mechanisms: when musicians each have 4 hands and a prehensile tail, there are lots of possibilities. On the other hand (sorry) they don't tend to have orchestras that need lots of musicians.

Most Shayanan musical traditions consider that a competent performance requires a certain amount of improvization. Performing a piece twice in the same way is evidence of sloppiness or lack of real musical skill.

The ultimate musical 'instruments' are the talinnen and the asominat.

The talinnen is a large instrument (or a small orchestra, except that the separate pieces don't have names) played by several people at once. It is rather like a gamelan with a string section. There are no wind parts to a talinnen. The talinnen is the instrument used in the sanctuaries of the Flame (like Netannin's) because the musicians could join in the recitations while they played. (Technically that is also the case for the asominat, which is a keyboard wind instrument, but tradition is tradition.)

The asominat evolved from a device very similar to Ctesiphon's hydraulic organ (which according to Shayanan legend was in turn inspired by a really complicated bagpipe variant). It drives Earthan keyboardists crazy because the high notes are on the left. The default scale tends to sound like G Major to Earthans, instead of C Major, but with an Equal Tempered 12 tone scale it doesn't really matter. Like pipe organs, no two instruments are exactly alike, but a typical asominat has 4 top 'manual' keyboards and 3 lower 'pedal' keyboards, and lots and lots of controls corresponding to the stops and such on a pipe organ, which Shayanans operate with their tails.

The asominat pipes are made from wood or laminates or ceramics, not metal. Some of the really tiny pipes up in bat squeak territory are traditionally made from hollow bird bones. The largest pipes ever made would be considered nominal 128' pipes by Earthan organ makers. 64' (very rare on Earth) is fairly normal. (Of course, Earthans aren't used to listening to dinosaur noises.)

All of the pipes are very resonant and begin giving off very soft sounds when even small amounts of air are passing through them: a well-made asominat tends to 'murmur' softly when it is not being played and people are talking or moving around in the room it is in. There are separate sets of stops for fullness of sound versus volume of sound: 'lots of pipes playing softly' is more straightforward than it would be with a non-electronic Earthan organ. There are controls that 'smother' the murmur.

The inhabited areas of Cherani station tend to be made out of asominat pipe materials because they are very strong for their weight. The station's murmur is very carefully tuned so it won't get on people's nerves. If it suddenly gets louder, people start looking for the leak.

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Architecture: Building styles and materials


There are cultures on Shayana that traditionally display a Zen-like austerity in their designs (though it's safe to assume that any structure on Shayana that runs to straight lines and square corners was built or influenced by the Imperials). The Esheyev Hasri is not one of them, and the public areas of Cherani were largely designed to suit Esheyev Hasri sensibilities.

Quite a lot of the materials used are not just organic but alive, and the nonliving articles of furniture are designed with as much curviness and detail as the living ones, but with more gold leaf... One side effect of this is that, while the Cherani ecosystem isn't quite self-sustaining, it is fairly resilient and becoming more so with time.

Esheyev Hasri is an arboreal culture. They make no great distinction between openings that are doors and openings that are windows, though some will be arranged more for letting in light or air rather than people. Portals seldom point straight up (which would let in the rain) or straight down (which would let babies fall out), and the "strangers' gate" or formal entrance is usually on a horizontal axis. There will often be a small hatch will a grille over it at the lowest point in a room for draining dust and debris out of the room. The locations of other entrances depend on what nearby branches may be shaped like. Level changes within a connected structure are done using ladders or boarding nets. Lighting is bioluminescent and no open flames are ever visible in the public areas.

New rooms get attached at whatever position is convenient -- determined by the structure of the trees as much as by the needs of the inhabitants -- and a building can end up looking rather like a cluster of soap bubbles around an armature. The egg-shaped dharassa hall seems to be the descendent of the original one-room house (much like the great hall in European architecture), and a structure will usually have at least one dharassa, with other rooms sprouting off of it. Halls in the sense of corridors are rare in ordinary structures, so private spaces tend to be located at the ends of series of rooms.

Construction is like balsa wood model airplanes. To build a traditional dharassa: establish horizontal supports well above the ground, possibly branches on adjoining trees, or beams slung from them. Construct an ovoid framework of bent branches like an egg lying on its side, with the main floor defined by the horizontal beams about 1/3 of the way from the center line to the lowest point, and a complex branching system of rafters in the upper third of the wider end of the egg. Frame out any desired openings, including a main arched entrance where the main floor meets the wall at the big end of the egg. Wrap the outside of the egg with lengths of 'building felt': sheets of matted fibers with longer threads running through at various angles, soaked in plant sap and applied wet to the framework. Spray or brush with a catalyst and let harden to resin. Spread the outer surface thickly with a water-based fiber mush and let it dry. Add another layer of building felt, and this time mix decorative or camoflage colors into the catalyst used to cure it. Go inside the main framework for the floors: a main floor filling most of the large end of the egg and a smaller raised area in the small end (leave enough vertical gap at the join to provide access to the subfloor area after the floors are installed). Spread building felt across the ribs in the subfloor and cure it to hardness before installing the floors. Install the floors. Use a finer grade of building felt between the main ribs in the upper area where the rafters are, and apply the curing coat in decorative patterns. Between the rest of the main ribs, apply thin wallpaper as a base for resin frescoes, or very finegrained building felt cured in ornamental patterns. Coat the whole interior with clear lacquer to smooth everything out and seal all the nooks and crannies that might otherwise accumulate dirt or bugs. (This was done with brushes in ancient times, nowadays it involves what Nitodthï calls 'setting off the lacquer bomb'. Annual cleaning traditionally involves sluicing out any debris and adding a fresh layer of lacquer).

Resin frescoes are built up in layers of the two kinds of sap that are involved in curing building felt. They don't contain any fiber, so they are translucent and have optical depth. (They are basically instant amber.) Flat resin panels are also made, and either hung like paintings or used as screens or partitions.

The Round-Hall -- Ireig

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The primordial ancestor of the ireig was something like a yurt or hogan: a round, windowless building with a smokehole in the center of the roof. The ïg remained in common use at the time of the RopeMiller, but it had become usual for the central area of a settlement consisting mostly of ïgtu to include one or more ireig-style buildings.

The ireig has a huge central masonry chimney stack which also supports the inner end of large roofbeams that radiate outward. The outer ends of the beams rest on the masonry walls. The roof may be covered by tile, thatch, or living plants. The floor will be tiled, or paved with flagstones. There may be windows covered by louvers and/or transparent or translucent membranes at the top of the walls just below the roof. The main hearth turns its back on the main entrance to the ireig.

A tall ireig may have a gallery around the walls. If so, the area near the chimney stack will be open from ground to roof. In a dwelling, the gallery level will be used for sleeping. The floor of the gallery might be wood in areas where wood is plentiful, but they were more likely to be tile over wooden lath lattices, or even nets or carpets over lattices: Shayanan arboreal ancestry is recent enough that they are not bothered by the lack of a solid floor. Sometimes the galleries are hung from the roof beams, not supported by floor-anchored posts.

An ireig usually stands alone at the center of a walled yard, with lean-to style outbuildings against the outer wall of the yard. However, in harsh climates there was often an enclosed porch sheltering the ireig's entrance.

The ireig architectural style forms the basis of the Chanthalls of the Seekers of the Flame.

The Courtyard House -- Thït

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A thït is a multistory building built around three sides of courtyard which is closed by a low wall, with a gate, on the fourth side. The thït is usually oriented with the low side facing the wind in hot climates, or toward the sun in cooler ones.

The outer walls of a thït are usually masonry or something equally tough for at least the lower two stories. The outer corners are rounded so they will be less likely to crumble if something large rubs against them. Depending on the local climate, outer walls of the third or higher floors may be relatively open.

There may be colonades or arcades between the courtyard and the inner walls of the rooms. There may not be actual rooms on the ground level, just the arcades. The levels of a thït are numbered British style: ground floor, first floor, second floor, etc.

There are usually ladders or climbing nets in most places where humans would have staircases, but a very large thït may have one ornate staircase leading up from the courtyard to the first floor where the main reception rooms are usually located. The staircase is never directly opposite the gate.

Roofs may be flat in dry climates, but are more commonly peaked to shed precipitation and discourage winged predators. Roof coverings historically included tile, thatch, and living plants.