The Sholin are the people of the sea. They live along the equatorial regions of Gaeleth, along the coasts, and in the sea, and are divided into three distinct peoples – Coastal, Sea-Going, and Inland. All Sholin tend to have skin browned by a lifetime in the sun, dark hair, and dark eyes. Their hair tends to be thick and wavy, and of such a black color that it looks to have blue highlights in the sun.
The sea-going Sholin can live all their lives without ever seeing land. When two of their vessels meet, they will lash together and trade, until the time to move on. Once a year, at varying locations, regional gatherings of hundreds and even thousands of these vessels can lash together into temporary, sea-going cities. The sea-going Sholin rangers and druids have even been known to use 'zartans' – the giant, sea-going turtles whose shells can reach island-sizes. The sea-going Sholin tend to be of moderate size, with thick upper bodies and lean lower torsos.
Coastal Sholin make their living in the seas, through fishing, sailing, diving, and the like. Their communities tend to trade well with other nations, and many coastal Sholin are active peoples within nations. The coastal Sholin tend to have the same builds as the sea-going Sholin, though they tend more towards obesity, later in life.
The inland Sholin tend to live in jungles or along the coast. They are different from the classic 'coastal Sholin', in that they tend towards massive sizes. Males can sometimes reach nearly seven feet, and weigh in around three-hundred fifty pounds.
It is known throughout Gaeleth that the Sholin make the best sailors. Also, Sholin speak their own language, an ancient derivative of the Druidic tongue; Druids have a 15% chance to understand Sholin, provided the speaker enunciates each syllable.
A quick synopsis of the Sholin People
By Anani Firelight (inspired by Jared Ho)
The Sea-Going Sholin, who call themselves the Soha'in, have very different customs and identities from their coastal dwelling cousins. The Soha'in consider themselves the truer race, and the coastal Sholin are often raided for slaves or treated poorly in trading. Tales of the land are used to scare small children, and coastal Sholin are often portrayed as villains or dullards out of touch with the spirit of the sea and the sea-going Soha'in.
Scholars are still mixed on the exact origin of the Sholin people, but most agree that the various tribes probably descended from a common group originating in Chilleth. A newer theory states that the combined Sholin tribes originated in a continent that has since been destroyed or lost beneath the ocean, and such a thing would coincide with the Sholin’s Hina-mai and Moa fable.
The Sholin have a strong family-based caste system, with marriages taking place within the same caste level (mostly pre-arranged by the bride’s mother). Progression to another caste level is impossible except for Kohaka or Mahin, as described in their entry. Unlike many other races, the Sholin tend to listen to females more than males, and it is usually the chieftain’s wife that makes the decisions of the tribe.
Mahin: Literally “Nobodies”, this is not so much a caste as it is a lack of one. Mahin usually obtain this level by dishonoring their family or committing crimes. Mahin are usually marked or branded, and are treated as slaves. These outcasts are sometimes forced to take to the coasts, and become the most commonly encountered Sholin among land-based peoples.
Illin: The commoner class, which includes farmers and fishermen. They work tirelessly for their good and the good of their entire tribe. The backbone of a tribe is their Illin, and as such are considered as the most important resource. The Puaki and Kohaka make sure to keep the Illin happy, as they are also the most numerous and oftentimes physically superior of the castes. Professionals are also figured into this caste, although there is a large push for them to break off into their own caste, like the Poana did.
Poana: Though not originally a separate caste, the increased dealings with foreigners has created the need for specialized tribe members that can trade and communicate with them. Since most Sholin view outsiders with caution, and it is considered dishonorable to learn their tongues, the Poana have split from the Illin to take their own place. Most Poana are viewed with pity, as they suffer loss of honor to facilitate exchange of goods with outsiders. Since they are often directly dealing with outsiders, Poana are the most likely to have different views than most Sholin, and are also the most likely to set out into the world on their own, lured away by stories of what occurs on land.
Tahgo: The warrior caste, charged with the protection of the Sholin tribes and their holdings. Usually trained in aquatic and shipboard combat, these soldiers can quickly turn back a pirate raid or an attack by evil aquatic creatures. While the majority of melee troops are male, female Tahgo are just as ferocious, and have no problems fighting next to the men. Most Sholin are trained in the use of the harpoon, spear, whip, tonfa, bo staff, shortbow, or kinku gun
Kohaka: The priest caste, these shamans usually oversee all festivities and ceremonies, and also take on duties such as purifying consumables, blessing new ships and divining for the benefit of the Puaki. They are also required to be present on all seagoing vessels to make offerings to the sea spirits and to ward off bad luck. They are also the closest thing Sholin have to scientists, and are often found experimenting with alchemy and herbalism while not attending to more pressing spiritual matters.
Puaki: The nobility, this caste handles most of the administrative and governmental functions of the tribe.
Maku: A relatively new caste, Maku are Sholin that have begun studying the trade of the wizard, sorcerer or warlock. They often arise from the Poana class, since they are the only ones with knowledge of outsider writing. The Puaki and Kohaka are still unsure what threat they pose, if any, to the Sholin people’s way of life.
Though the Sholin acknowledge the existence of the Gaelethian Pantheon, most Sholin are actually animistic, believing that the Gods are part of a larger sphere that connects and binds the Lua, or anima, of all things. As such, Sholin tend to venerate all things, and have many superstitions regarding them. All seagoing Sholin cities must have a trained Kohaka onboard (though usually it is a younger priest or priestess in training). All animals caught are blessed by a Kohaka before butchering, and all parts of the kill are used. Plants are always harvested in a way that ensures its safety, and all plantings and harvests are overseen by a Kohaka. Burials are made at sea, giving bodies over to the Lua of all things to be recycled.
New Year: All Sholin are allowed into the Temple District to pray for the New Year. After that, they spend time going to greet all the friends and neighbors, and settle any quarrels they had from the previous year. Specialty stews, breads and cakes are cooked and eaten, and wishes and promises for the New Year are written on Toa leaves, rolled up and smoked in a special pot containing the seed for a Moon Orchid. The sea-going Soha'in celebrate the New Year on Cal the 1st, the first day of Autumn.
Boys Day: A day to celebrate manliness. Kites, wrestling and rowdy games in the street are trademarks of this day, followed by a night of binging on roasted Lampsquid and drinking fermented Toa juice. Boys Day is celebrated on Vor the 1st, the first day of Summer.
Girls Day: Celebrating the feminine, this day begins with a parade where the girls put on their finest clothes. Later, a special blessing is given by Kohaka priestesses for the girls’ future weddings. Then, a special meal is prepared, followed by sweet cakes. Girls Day is celebrated on Lan the 1st, the first day of Spring.
Dead Festival: A time to reconnect with the family members that have died. This celebration lasts a week, and starts with the launching of small paper balloons held aloft by candles as a guide to lead the dead to the city. Then, a non-stop party rages throughout the city, and all castes intermingle as they welcome back their ancestors. Feasts, parades, ceremonies and dances center around the ceremonial pyres built by the Kohaka. At the end of the week, small Toa leaf boats with candles are set adrift, to lead the souls back to the afterlife. The first day of the Dead Festival takes place on Sad the 4th, traditionally Olorin's Day for the coastal Sholin.
Being a water-based society, all Sholin dishes are based around the bounty of the sea. The following are a small sampling of some of the most famous of the Sholin dishes.
Funa-koa: Roasted Lampsquid with coconut sauce, this delectable sweet-savory dish is curious in that the squid still contains some luminescence after roasting, and has a habit of making ones teeth glow blue in the dark after eating. A hit with the kids!
Mahu-mahu: Sugarcane-skewered Dartfish rubbed with sea salt and charred makes a wonderful balance between the sweet flesh and salty skin. Serve with rice or mashed Taro root and a drink with a paper umbrella in it for a total island package!
Alala: This sweet pudding is made from Star Octopus and Toa berries, and is the perfect end to any meal!
Kinku-sho: A hearty stew of seaweed, Funnel Clam and Kinku snail, often seasoned according to the cook’s tastes (and as such, is never the same twice). Often the first meal a young Sholin girl learns how to cook.
Toa-kin: The fermented juice of Toa berries, it serves as the main intoxicant for the Sholin people. It is also one of the largest trade commodities for
Sholin shipbuilding and navigational technology is among the finest on all of Gaeleth. Ship technologies used by the Sholin include composite hulls, oceanic lateen (“crab claw”) sails and outriggers. They are also among the only people that have successfully built deep-water habitations. Interesting technological anomalies that the Sholin have developed are diving bells, water-resistance rain gear and kinku air-compression dart launchers.
The Soha'in floating cities are essentially floating kelp forests, the kelp variety having air bladders that make it very buoyant at the surface. The Sholin act as a force of nature, netting and spearing fish and animals of the sea in a wide area around their cities. The Sholin wastes, in turn, help to fertilize the floating kelp forest, which has its own ecology. The kelp forest, known as 'maolin', is itself edible, and supports a wide variety of other creatures the recycle nutrients and live off of the energy of the sun. The maolin kelp has unique species found nowhere else, such as the Illeniki fish that secrets a thick silk-rich mucus, and is used to seal everything from wounds to waterways throughout the floating cities. The Illeniki fish' mucus can even be used to craft semitransparent, underwater bubbles beneath most Soha'in homes.
Visitors to Malakani-Hoku will typically be directed (often by the irate shouting of Illin fishermen) to docks specifically made for outsiders. Moored outrigger rafts connected by netting is often the extent of the docks, which can span out for hundreds of meters and is adjustable to fit the different sizes of ships that usually dock. Following the docks in farther will lead one to the Outsiders District (or Hulu-ilaka). Here many Poana will be bartering with the crews of the moored vessels. The areas leading farther into the village will be roped off with red and white woven ropes, which are blessed to keep out the outsiders’ bad luck. Outsiders trying to cross these barriers will be politely kicked off the city, and most ships’ captains are wise enough to warn new crewmembers about trying such things.
Heading farther in, you would find the Illin houses, often with curious children on the roofs, trying to spy the Hulu they hear bad stories about. The entire Illin district is crisscrossed by canals, which are usually jammed with fishing boats and canoes. Small bamboo poles are used to flush waste water to the outskirts, where the botanical beds are moored. The waste water is used to fertilize the plants, with any remainder being heated until it dries and then used as fertilizer on seagoing vessels. Large water towers are kept above rooftop level, where they can be uncovered during rainstorms to collect water. Water runs to the houses by a system of bamboo tubes into a small basin that the family uses for all its water needs. Large windmills also dot this district, giving power to the workshops of the skilled professionals that make their homes here (millers and blacksmiths being the primary users). Most Illin houses are run-down and ram shackled shacks that are loosely attached to the rafts underneath. Many are overgrown with flowing vines, since the added tension helps hold the boards together.
After the Illin district, a large canal separates the Temple District. Often, this canal is seeded with Lampsquid or Glowfish larva to entice them to swarm here, giving the canal the moniker of “Kama-kuro-mana” or River of the Stars, as the luminescent creatures light the water like the stars light the night sky. Usually, only a few rope bridges span this canal, and the Illin are not allowed to cross without first being purified by a Kohaka. Even with permission, no one is allowed into the temple proper, which is multi-leveled and built to resemble a skeletal volcano, atop which the Kohaka keep a flame burning at all hours in remembrance of Mahul, the first born Kalala from the Ocean and the creator of all land (and all that were created from it). Sacrifices are often burned in the fire as well, and as such it is venerated as the most holy place on the city. The temple district also holds the houses of the Kohaka, which are by most standards similar if not worse than the Illin shacks. The temple district also houses most of the Sun Pools, which, while serving a religious purpose for the Kohaka as meditation spots, are also important as they are the principle desalination pools of the city, and are piped directly into the water system.
Beyond the temple lies the upscale houses of the nobility, as well as the assembly lodge where the decisions of the chieftains and nobles are discussed. It also serves as a meeting hall when tribal leaders from other Sholin tribes arrive. It can also be used to receive foreign dignitaries, although it has yet to be used in this capacity. It also contains the record vaults of the city, where clay jars hold bounds scrolls of Toa leaves containing the written record of all happenings.
Haka-hulu: Half-outsider (mixed offspring, usually pitied)
Maki: Aunt (Any older woman)
Neka-hulu: Outsider that has proven to be honorable by Sholin standards
Opa: Uncle (Any older man)