Races of Avendar, Chapter IX: The Chaja
An excerpt from the Races of Avendar, an in-game text found in the school of heroes, this chapter covers the chaja.
Chaja: Section 1 The chaja are a largely subterranean race, known throughout Avendar for their systematic enslavement by the shuddeni. A significant portion of the chaja population remain in bondage, toiling as laborers, bodyguards, servants, and gladiators throughout underground shuddeni cities. They are renowned for their will to survive, enduring the harshest cruelties with a stoicism unmatched by any save the alatharya. The history of the chaja is shrouded in mystery, as the shuddeni have thoroughly erased records, stories, and cultural norms about or amongst their slaves. This has made their origin, and the specific process of their enslavement, the realm of speculation and outright fabrication. A popular human myth casts them as gentle giants, seduced into servitude by shuddeni cleverness and punished into obedience; meanwhile, the aelin version suggests that the shuddeni discovery of magic made them natural superiors, and the plight of the chaja was the inevitable conclusion. Chaja: Section 2 However, their existence within shuddeni society was copiously recorded. Some of the most ancient shuddeni tomes describe the construction of their great temples and the excavation of their massive caverns. While these documents relish the numbers of chaja deaths and memorialize their shuddeni architects and taskmasters, few, if any, chaja are given so much as a name. Instead, chaja were an omnipresent but enigmatic force in the background of shuddeni affairs. Once human and aelin records begin to document the chaja, their existence became far more widely known. Both races came to understand them as plodding beasts of burden or vicious combatants, creating an enduring image in the consciousness of the Republic. Chaja became feared as mindless extensions of their shuddeni oppressors, and many popular tales, including those of Marlax, cemented these fears into stereotypes and literary tropes. Chaja: Section 3 Chaja deaths throughout the many battles of the War of Night are likely staggering. Most, if not all, of the heroes of that conflict are credited with scores of chaja dead, not counting more common skirmishes or sieges. As well, shuddeni murder of chaja soldiers or servants was well documented, often describing horrific rituals in which as many as a hundred chaja would be sacrificed at a time. Their ferocious tenacity was their most common attribution, if they received one at all. However, the crushing defeat of the shuddeni offered the chaja an unusual opportunity. Scattered throughout the Brintor Mountains, the chaja diaspora found its feet in the earliest of escaped slaves. Unable to join surface society because of mistrust or outright hatred, they banded together to form the earliest chaja communities, free of the yoke of shuddeni oppression. These communities became the seeds from which a free chaja society could sprout. Chaja: Section 4 In the modern era, slavery is illegal throughout much of the known world. As a result, chaja brought to the surface by shuddeni are often able to escape into the wilderness unnoticed. Sometimes, scouts from chaja settlements lead them to hidden mountain enclaves where chaja direct their own destinies. Other times, they are brought to larger, more cosmopolitan cities where they join small communities of their kind, living and working together. Outside of their racial havens, chaja face substantial prejudice even amongst Avendar's most permissive societies. They are often cast similarly to the alatharya, and treated as dullards, day laborers, or mercenaries. Frustration and resentment are common across such communities. However, the most upstanding chaja find unusual acceptance within the mountain keep of Kor Thrandir, as few other foreign settlements understand the perversity and horror that the shuddeni represent. chaja: Section 5 chaja average between six and eight feet in height, with pale grey or tan skin. Most have milk-white eyes, while those who have grown up on the surface may have muted iris color. Their hair is slick and oily, ranging commonly from white to black; however, those born above ground may choose to dye their hair vivid colors as a sign of defiance. Their bodies are muscular and quick, and are able to wield many two-handed weapons in a single hand. Their strong constitution and the ability to see in darkness make them adept at wilderness survival, but they remain unable to use magic in any capacity.