Shayara is a walled city on the coast. The walls are grey stone, very high, and wide enough for people to walk comfortably on top. Y'know, if they don't fear heights. The gates are likewise enormous, wrought iron with all manner of curlicues, long since rusted open. So for the walls and gates, think grey, think circles, think knotwork or spirals.
Most of the city correlates to the Houses, which will be described individually. But the Carnival District takes up much of the back end of the city, and is fairly ungoverned.
“I don’t think you’ve said – what’s the deal with the Carnival District? I mean, the city is all divided into territories, but here in the back, just this ungoverned space…?”
“House Tamra takes charge of it. When we have leadership for House Tamra, that is. It started, way back in the beginning, as a plot of land no one would build on. I don’t know why. But when the city was divided up, no one took this area. Over time it became a bit of a red light district.”
Katrina peered down an alley. “So this is where the head shops are.”
“Among other things, yes.”
“…specialty leather goods.”
"Later for that. But all the festivals are held here or in the park, because it’s neutral ground.”
Anything circus-oriented would work for the Carnival District. Or, um, specialty leather goods. Which we had some of in last year's auction! (Bonus: If you make kinky things for me to auction, I have to write about kinky things. Is that a briar patch I see before me?)
The city predates humans, so anything from any era can be spun in somehow!
There are 21 houses in total - seven Great Houses, and fourteen other houses. The first, second, and third circle. Each House has charge of a house in the second and third circle - three groups of seven. Threes and sevens are big numbers in Shayara, if that helps, dearest makers of things. Many of the second- and third-circle houses have colors that echo the primary House colors; these always go darkest to lightest in order of circle.
Kithraya: At the beginning of the story, Alanna; later, Julia. The previous acting Kithraya was Jessa.
Traditional gifts: Healing & empathy; the healing gift was more heavily impacted by the Fall.
Legend has it that Tiala na'Roth was the firstborn of the Firstborn; literally, the first Dasaroi ever created. What is certain is that she was the first Kithraya of House Tamra, and therefore the first Lishaya. (The Lishaya is always the Kithraya of House Tamra.)
Other notable Tamrani: Katrianna and Tess.
What it means to be Tamrani.
Character snapshot of Alanna.
Character snapshot of Julia.
Invariable physical characteristic: Grey eyes with a border of dark green.
Kithrayn: Jeramie. (1 & 2.
Traditional gift: Telepathy.
It's been said that House L'Arath is the sword of the Talthar Kithrayna, and House Bartomn its shield. The Kithrayn of House L'Arath has traditionally sat at the right hand of the Lishaya; the L'Arathi are warriors in times of strife and guardians in times of peace. (Just, y'know. Not currently, which is its own problem.)
Other notable L'Arathi: Brendan, Jeramie's second.
What it means to be L'Arathi.
Traditional gift: The old traditional Gift of House Ziroth is telekinesis... for the most part, however, they've thrown over traditional Dasaroi Gifts in favor of ritual magic. As House Tarak keeps the history of the Dasaroi, House Ziroth keeps the magical lore. Zirothi tend to be proud, haughty, and very structured and formal in their mannerisms and the use of their Gifts. They don't play well with many of other Houses, particularly Tamrani empaths and hotheaded L'Arathi, who they tend to regard as childish and undisciplined. (Oh hai technomages.)
Other notable Zirothi: Melina
What it means to be Zirothi.
Character snapshot of Kristian.
Color: Deep blue
Not-invariable but frequent characteristics: Red hair; a more solid build.
Kithrayn: Daniel Halloran. (1, 2, 3).
Traditional gift: Shielding.
As above: It's been said that House L'Arath is the sword of the Talthar Kithrayna, and House Bartomn its shield; indeed, their traditional gift is shielding. Members of House Bartomn tend to be guardians, protectors, warriors.
Worthy of note: House Bartomn is currently a displaced House. The Council took over their territory in the wake of the Purges. Halloran currently likes in the Tower with the Kirayth, and the rest of the Bartomni are scattered throughout the city; many have stayed in the outer regions of Bartomn's territory, but the interior belongs to the Council.
Other notable Bartomni: Fenris, Capri (half-Tamrani, but identifies as Bartomni to start with)
What it means to be Bartomni.
Character snapshot of Halloran.
Character snapshot of Fenris.
Color: Charcoal grey
Kithrayn: Ryan. (1 & 2)
Traditional gift: House Lhri'nahr's gifts are closely tied to elemental magic, particularly earth and air; they use elemental energies and ley lines far more than the other Houses do. Of all the Houses, the Lhri'nahri have seen the least change in their power and how they use it over the centuries. Lhri'nahri can appear whimsical, but are deadly serious when they occasion requires it. They have always allied themselves strongly with House Tamra.
Other notable Lhri'nahri: Lyric.
What it means to be Lhri'nahri.
Character snapshot of Ryan.
Kithrayn: Kieran. (1 & 2.)
Traditional gift: House Narsan isn't one of the showiest Houses, but it's always been one of the steadiest and most loyal. The most traditional of their Gifts is communion with the spirit world - not all Dasaroi are reborn, particularly those whose Dasaroi blood has diluted over the centuries. The Narsani are the guardians and guides of these spirits and others.
Other notable Narsani: Alyssa (Kieran's assistant), Victor (of the Kirayth).
What it means to be Narsani.
Character snapshot of Kieran.
Traditional gift: The Taraki have an unusual sort of telepathy. They're able to tell not what you're thinking, but who you've been. They can trace your incarnations back to the very beginning, before the existence of Shayara. This makes them the most dangerous House to the current regime (after, of course, House Tamra... which, since the Purges, is no longer a concern). The stronger Taraki, particularly Donna, would be able to tell for certain whether Alanna is, in fact, the true Lishaya reborn. Donna has been known to wonder aloud, pointedly, what they're so worried about. The nature of their gift has made the Taraki the traditional lorekeepers of Dasaroi society; indeed, the stronghold of House Tarak is in the city's library.
Other notable Taraki: Jared (Donna's second); Marina (a medic in training)
What it means to be Taraki.
That's the seven Greats, but there are more houses of note...
Kithara/Kitharn: Formerly Janet; this house is currently under the dubious protection of the Council.
History/gifts: House Telenias (now Tallart) is not a House of the Talthar Kithrayna, the First Circle; it is one of the primary houses of the Second Circle, however (which is where House Tarak started out). They have a small compound within the City, but they're not as closely-knit a House as most, and many of the high-ranking members live outside the City (Martin lives in Las Vegas, Chanda travels year-round). In every generation of House Tallart, there are two who take on the ancient House name of Telenias. The Telenias has a responsibility that is not spoken of outside the House - to bear the memory of what truly happened during the Fall. House Telenias/Tallart does not consistently produce Dasaroi of any known power - they're wild cards, every one different. Tallart is a protectorate of House Tamra.
Other notable Tallarts: Alexander Telenias, musicians Sara and Shawn.
Character snapshot of the Telenias.
Keleyn is a protectorate of House Lhri'nahr.
Other notable Keleyn: Joseph, of the Kirayth.
Color: Pale blue
House Aleyr has been subsumed into the Council; they were formerly a protectorate of House Bartomn.
Do you guys really need like all the houses? Because I am tired. Please tell me what other info would be helpful, and I shall continue! But not tonight.