Among the races of Sorth, the Scolani carry a great deal of respect for their martial prowess and their vaunted healing abilities. The Scolani are a powerful, intimidating race that only a fool would take lightly.
If they have any peers, it would be the Jhakkar.
Long lived, longer lived than even the Scolani, with a mindset that is bent on domination and conquest, the Jhakkar are the main rivals for dominance of Sorth. Their long lives and control over their unique body chemistry making them formidable foes. But it is their single minded pursuit of absolute control that makes them truly dangerous.
The basic Jhakkar mindset revolves around control and dominance. This extends to all spheres of life, including how they treat themselves.
Power defines every Jhakkar relationship. Who has power, who can gain power, and how that power is used.
This begins with the way the Jhakkar treats themselves. They first seek to gain absolute control over their own beings. To this end, Jhakkar tend to choose a Focus – some art or endeavor that they will spend their long years perfecting.
The pursuit of their Focus begins by selecting a mentor, and then enduring decades of apprenticeship. The period of mentorship is intense and grueling, and is usually the only time a Jhakkar will willingly submit and surrender control and power. An apprentice Jhakkar is careful in selecting a mentor, and they go in to the apprenticeship with the understanding that it is the first step in the pursuit of their Focus.
When that apprenticeship is over, the Jhakkar makes his or her way out into the world, pursuing their Focus in whatever way they see fit.
One important thing to understand is that, unlike the Scolani or other races, the Jhakkar mindset is focused upon individual achievement, rather than collective success. Each Jhakkar wants control and conquest for themselves, rather than for their race as a whole. Their focus is much more singular, which is one of the reasons why, unlike the Scolani, the Jhakkar don’t have an expansive influence over Sorth. A Jhakkar finds satisfaction in their own power, rather than what their race achieves.
Power and dominance are counted by tokens and appearances. As such, Jhakkar tend to build large homes and everything they own is extravagant. This extends to their Focus. A Jhakkar forged weapon is not merely functional, it is a piece of art, as beautiful as it is deadly. Jhakkar dress well, eat well, own large numbers of slaves and preside over grandiose estates. All the better to show off their power.
The Jhakkar “kingdom,” such as it is, is a large swath of Sorth called the Jhakkar Confederation, or more generally, just “The Confederation.” As the name implies, Jhakkar government is less tightly structured than other similarly minded societies.
Jhakkar society is built around mostly autonomous Houses, each overseen by a Patriarch or (less commonly), a Matriarch. Whoever sits at the top of the House rules over the House with near total control. This control extends to all members of the House, including younger Jhakkar and especially, the slaves and servants of the House.
Relations between Houses are variable, depending upon the personalities and politics that exist between them. In general, Jhakkar dealings with other Jhakkar is less directly physical than their dealings with other races, so, while open warfare between Houses is not unheard of, though Jhakkar tend to deal with each other in more subtle and less overt ways, preferring to dominate through power plays and over a long period of time.
That isn’t to say that Jhakkar do not fight Jhakkar directly. It is just not their first course of action.
The ruling body above individual Houses is the Council of Ten, an oligarchy consisting of Patriarchs from each of the ten most prominent Houses, as elected through a general consensus of all Patriarchs and Matriarchs from all Houses.
The Council of Ten has little to no impact on the daily lives of the Jhakkar. Because Jhakkar tend to spend centuries pursuing their own single minded desires, there is not much cause for a unified government. The Council might set the overall direction for Jhakkar society, but it is important to remember that the Houses are aligned in a confederation, which means that power is decentralized, scattered throughout the Houses, rather than concentrated in a single body.
For the most part, being elected to the Council of Ten is a way for a Patriarch to claim a conquest, as they must win by influencing the votes of other Patriarchs. It is yet another way for a Jhakkar to count his victories, even if that translates to little in the way of actual power.
Jhakkar respect power and achievement, and a Jhakkar’s societal status is a reflection of what has been achieved. As such, society tends to hold older Jhakkar in higher esteem because a long life means that more power has been acquired. The young are often looked upon with disdain.
Unless, of course, a young Jhakkar has managed to amass a great deal of power.
Relations between Jhakkar:
The number of actual Jhakkar is shockingly low. In the whole of the Jhakkar Confederation, Jhakkar account for approximately twenty five percent of the entire population. What this means is that three fourths of the Confederation’s population is under the thumb of one quarter of its members.
The long lifespans of the Jhakkar means that there is little incentive to reproduce. When the average male can life for millennia, there is no impetus to constantly procreate. The need for succession and for keeping power in the family has no urgency when you know you have centuries to make such plans.
In addition to the exceptionally low birthrate, the ration of male to female Jhakkar is approximately 3:1, which means that there are precious few women to spare and that Jhakkar women can afford to be very choosy in selecting a mate.
By default, Jhakkar males are indifferent towards one another. Unless they are competing for something (usually, two Jhakkar males will be competing over a female), Jhakkar men treat each other with casual disregard. Because Jhakkar value independent achievement, they’re not inclined to form strong bonds among themselves. It is hard to be too close to someone who has the same mindset you do – when two people know they are using each other, it creates mutual distrust and ambivalence.
The exceptions to this would be in the mentoring relationships, which can be very close. A mentor and his apprentice can form a strong and lasting bond. Of course, even these relationships are colored by the power struggles that form the basis of a Jhakkar’s existence.
There are times when Jhakkar will find themselves in competition. Males are ruthless and aggressive with one another. Violence is rarely the first resort, but if it comes to violence, there’s no sense of racial unity or kinship that will stay a Jhakkar’s hand. War can and has erupted between Houses for many reasons. Often times just because the desire of two Jhakkar for the same token of power can only be solved through bloodshed.
Between men and women, male Jhakkar do compete with one another for one of the truly rare commodities within the Confederation – women. Women have their choice of suitors. And the Jhakkar mindset of control and dominance would make one expect that women would be another token of power.
However, female Jhakkar have racial abilities (see below), that affords them a degree of autonomy, which puts them on par with their male counterparts. Female Jhakkar are just as power obsessed as males, though they are less physically dominant, their displays tending towards more subtle expressions of what power they have hoarded. Female Jhakkar do not cower before males or offer up submission easily. Which is not to say a male Jhakkar simply accepts female aggression. As with everything Jhakkar, relations between men and women is a struggle for power that can only end with one having power over the other.
Relations with other races:
Jhakkar keep slaves, and in large quantities. A Jhakkar slave is completely under the power of their Master or Mistress. A Jhakkar slave has no rights, and no recourse to justice. They live under the yoke of their owner’s discipline, and die at the whims and desires of those who they’ve been forced to submit to.
However, if Jhakkar are to form friendships, it is typically, and perhaps surprisingly, with members of other races. Unlike the Scolani, the Jhakkar do not have an overly developed sense of racial superiority. A Jhakkar feels superior because of his or her own individual achievements, not because they are born to a certain race.
In addition, Jhakkar spend much more time with other races than they do with their own. This means that there is more of an opportunity to form bonds with other races. If the Jhakkar build friendships, or find themselves having favorites, it is more often than not with someone who is not themselves Jhakkar.
The exception to this is the Jhakkar’s main rival on Sorth – the Scolani. Relations between Scolani and Jhakkar are almost without exception hostile. The two races are too similar in outlook for friction to be anything but inevitable. Great wars have broken out between the two, which is one of the few instances when Jhakkar will band together along racial lines.
Jhakkar males tend to have an overwhelming physical presence. They are tall, muscular and have the general appearance and bearing of mobile mountains. Solidly built, their bodies are outward manifestations of their drive towards power and dominance.
Female Jhakkar are physically smaller and weaker than male Jhakkar. They tend to be shorter, thinner and lighter. Physically speaking, female Jhakkar would have a hard time dominating any but the weakest of other races.
Appearance wise, Jhakkar run the gamut of physical characteristics, displaying a wide variety of skin tones, eye color, hair shading and the like. There’s no real way to detect a Jhakkar just by sight, as they are mostly indistinguishable from humans.
The first and most prominent advantage of the Jhakkar is their exceptionally long lifespans. Male Jhakkar can live to ages of five thousand years, though most do not live that long, as, in the end, few Jhakkar die of natural causes, and most die in the pursuit of power.
Female Jhakkar have a relatively shorter lifespan, the most aged among the women living between fifteen hundred and two thousand years. Still, it is a very long time, when weighed against the lifespans of other races.
Jhakkar age at roughly the same rate as a human until the age of twenty or so. At that point, their aging slows considerably. A Jhakkar that is two thousand years old may physically resemble a forty five year old human, for example.
Male Jhakkar have the ability to secrete mood-affecting pheromones through their sweat glands, and through these pheromones, they can guide the actions of another. They can increase fear, or reduce pain. They can make themselves attractive, or repulsive. They do not control another’s emotions, but they can certainly, sway them. To reiterate, a Jhakkar’s pheromones are persuasive, rather than controlling, but they can be very persuasive.
Female Jhakkar have an even greater control over their body chemistry. Their pheromones are less potent than the male Jhakkar’s, less able to persuade a mood than to enhance a feeling. However, female Jhakkar can manipulate their body chemistry to such a degree that they can secrete a venom that is fatal to a male Jhakkar and is highly toxic to other races.
In addition, Jhakkar reproduction depends upon the release of a particular enzyme within the bloodstream. Only female Jhakkar can produce this enzyme, which means reproduction is completely determined by the females. Any male Jhakkar who tries to force the issue will be poisoned upon contact and then see his efforts wasted as the female does not release the necessary enzyme. These two facts allow female Jhakkar more autonomy than one might expect, given the domineering ways of male Jhakkar.
Interspecies breeding is not possible among the Jhakkar, because reproduction requires the release of an enzyme that only female Jhakkar can produce. Thus, there are no known half breed Jhakkar.
All Jhakkar are highly susceptible to poisons and toxins. Things that might make a human mildly ill will floor a Jhakkar. The venom of a spider that might cause pain or discomfort to a human will kill a Jhakkar in seconds. This extends to other things, like intoxicants. A male Jhakkar can become drunk from half a glass of wine. Half a bottle of whiskey can cause a fatal overdose. It should be noted that female Jhakkar are not poisoned by their own body chemistry, though one female Jhakkar could poison another.
Male Jhakkar, to avoid being influenced by their own pheromones, have no sense of smell. They will be unable to detect even the most pungent of odors. That often generates within them a blind spot that can be exploited.
Female Jhakkar are rarely physically strong, their natural physiology leaning towards the dainty and diminutive.
Female Jhakkar do possess a sense of smell, and thus can be influenced by a male’s pheromones, like others, they cannot be controlled by them, but they can be influenced.