Government Style: Kinship
Population: 900,000 (estimated)
Forge Magic: Common
National Symbol: None, various clan symbols.
The Tharici are scattered, and even they cannot accurately or consistently recount the history of all of their people. Sifting the truth from the legends, rumors, and outright lies is another major challenge. The greatest event of their history they called the Trajection, while the Tarsikkans call it the Great Deceit. In the distant, mythic past, a terrible evil made war against Tarsikka, laying waste to all before it. Its name was too terrible to utter, so they called it the Tendril of Ruination. The earth would boil up and spew forth serpents made of superheated stone; even worse, the hearts of the people became foul and poisonous. Murder was a frequent occurrence, as jealousy and greed ran rampant. The wasting sickness spread through the land, and those killed by the sickness did not lay down, but became twisted, leathery husks serving as unliving vehicles for beetles, snakes, and rodents that exploded upon those unlucky enough to stand against them in battle.
The Tharici stepped in where the most powerful Tarsikkan wizards could do nothing. Through arduous and dangerous effort, they gathered up the necessary components for a series of rituals. A cabal of five took the brunt of this effort upon themselves, and upon the completion of the final ritual, they and the Tendril of Ruination vanished from the world. The blight magnified tenfold. Beyond this point, historical accounts differ. Tarsikkans accuse the Tharici wizards of learning the Tendril’s secrets and delivering Tarsikka into its grasp. The Tharici counter with the claim that their wizards were forced to draw on the living earth of Tarsikka to bind the evil one outside of the world. This much is certain: the Tendril of Ruination was not seen again, and neither were the five wizards. Tarsikka is still a land under a fearsome doom, if not as dreadful as the blight described in the legends. Finally, this breach between the lords of Tarsikka and the Tharici has never healed.
Two recent incidents show the shape of the future for the Tharici. A Tarsikkan nobleman named Harkany Demso had sheltered a large family of Tharici on his lands for over twenty years, in payment for a service they once rendered him. Having an estate full of Tharici cost him dearly in polite society, but he bore this cost with a smile, even as he refused to speak of the good they had done him. One day in 1204, all of that changed. Lord Demso had a seventeen year old son, Martinus, and more than anything in the world, Martinus wanted to learn alchemy. Harkany forbade it, claiming that it would cost the family the last shreds of their dignity, and he made his wishes widely known.
Martinus went to the Tharici that lived on his father’s land, knowing that they could teach him. Though they initially refused, Martinus eventually won this knowledge for a remarkably high price: reportedly-- three measures of his own blood, a lock of his dead mother’s hair, and ten strands of the rare and precious nightskein, the last stolen from his father, and alone worth a knight’s ransom. What the Tharici did with these things remains secret, but the rest of the outcome is famous. Harkany noticed that the nightskein was missing, demanded it back from his son, and accused Martinus of studying alchemy. Martinus confessed, and Harkany drove out both his son and the entire family of the Tharici. Within six months, Harkany was dead of a strange illness, and that family of Tharici had to leave the country entirely, even as they protested their innocence.
The other incident takes place outside of Tarsikka. For the last eighteen years, from Gaunt all the way down to Akathia, people have encountered a caravan of particularly strange Tharici, calling themselves the Red Candle Caravan. They travel on from one town to the next even before they have worn out their welcome, and ask more questions than are asked of them – neither of which are normal for the Tharici. They ask about ruins in the wilderness, roads that lead to nowhere, and dreams of broken bridges. When asked what they are seeking, they invariably respond in riddles like the following,
Five are my gates,
Five my broad paths,
Five my tall towers;
To seek is to suffer,
To suffer is human,
To be human is to die.
The Tharici are many things to the people they come across: wise ones, thieves, mages, guides, traders, or keepers of secret lore. As their clan leaders guide their travels, the Apa – elders – guard and guide their esoteric practices, and possibly hold the real power. Those who know just a little about the Tharici suppose that their travels take them wherever the elders hope to find things of power.
Though every caravan and family has its pride, a few caravans are particularly storied among the Tharici. The Iron Moon Company, which mostly travels on Athral Isle, is famed for its knife-throwing and archery demonstrations. The Brass Wheel Company travels frequently between Tarsikka and the Caliphate. The Tari’s Brothers Company is four separate and closely allied caravans, spread throughout the Principalities. The Glass River Company travels the cold northern lands of Gaunt and Oresund. The Red Candle Company is perhaps the most wide-ranging, and also the most enigmatic. The Mother’s Mercy Company traveled throughout the Sultanate of Khodar-i-Gesh, and was said to even travel the wasteland to the east, but there has been no sign of this caravan since the Sultanate’s fall to ghuls in 1182. The Tin Swan Caravan travelled back and forth between the Caliphate and Oresund for years, until it's destruction in 1207 RE.
The Tharici are versed in every kind of magic, and this reason above all others is why people come to them – that, and their discretion in making such deals. The Tharici can also act as guides in wild and dangerous places. They make useful connections to the darker side of society, from which they chiefly gain information and the right of safe passage.
The truth is that after all is said and done, the Tharici want to save the world as much if not more than anyone else, and they just might know how to do it. If they should change their minds about that, so much the worse for the world.
Some Tharici struggle to change things socially for their people, to cut through the centuries of distrust. Others have been cursed so often, so long branded as villains, that they embrace that role, and plan for revenge. For the claims are true enough-- Tarsikka is theirs by right, and they of all people should not be driven from its borders, or forced to live in fear of a noble’s wrath or a mob of angry peasants.
Faith and Religion
The Tharici follow a dizzying array of traditions, including almost every known mystery cult. Those who keep to Akathia might even utter invocations to the Molten Sheik; Oresund-wandering Tharici are likely to reverence the Pentaverate, or older gods, as long lost as the land of Druma. In the Principalities, however, they worry more about avoiding the attention of the Redwood Throne than adhering to its tenets.
In addition to being well-versed in alchemy, ritualism, inscription, and Forge Magic, the Tharici have rites and practices that are all their own. Non-Tharici trade wild rumors of what the Tharici do when among their own kind, and the Tharici do nothing to dispel them. The most reliable accounts speak of mystical manipulation of flesh, blood, and breath, to gruesome ends.
Theme & Costuming
The Tharici draw on legends of the Romani and others who have been called “gypsies.” They face the fear, awe, and resentment of the rest of the world. That is the price they pay for learning what others are too fearful to learn.
While “anything goes” for color in Tharici style, all shades of purple do tend to show up a lot. Although purple in general is a difficult dye to get, it seems to always end up in Tharici hands. Tharici style is all travel-ready, and usually multi-functional (my Chameleons are a great example here; one garment can be a shirt, skirt, pants, shorts, dress, pillow, bag, or even kite if you add some sticks). Layering is very common. Brightly colored in a hodge-podge of tints and hues, Tharici clothing is hardly ever dull. Jewelry is a common way for Tharici to keep their wealth, so many metals and gems tend to adorn all Tharici as anklets, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, rings, head-pieces, and belts. The spoked wheel is an important symbol, often worn as jewelry, or kept somewhere in a Tharici’s home. The wheel symbolizes the circularity of time, the change of seasons, and the roads Tharici travel. The rooster is also an important symbol which shows up frequently in jewelry and embroidery.
Tharici pay two fewer points for any one of the following: Medium, Magic Sense, or Animal Empathy. Even if they possess several of these Advantages, they only enjoy the cost break once. They may buy any one of these Advantages after creation without Plot intervention.