The Ismae Index pt. 3

Castes of Chiva'vastezz

The Caste System in the Dominion of Chiva’vastezz
by Lady Orilausko

Having grown to adulthood in the Dominion of Chiva’vastezz, the organized caste system is familiar and comfortable to me. I have found, however, that to those who were raised in a society with no formal caste system, the practice seems almost barbaric. Ironic, because to my eye, they still live in a caste-based society—just one in which the rules can easily be changed by the ruling caste to the detriment of the sub-servient. But such are issues I leave to the bureaucrats and activists.

Chiva’vastezz’ society consists of five castes : the othu, the sourac, the holil, the rurabuthu, and the rou. Members of all but the last of these are exclusively chivori with most being born in the Dominion. Rare are the outsiders who have proved themselves Vazztain of spirit and are therefore conferred such a station.

The othu are the smallest caste, comprised of those directly descended from the first Emperor and his court. One may lose their place among the othu if ejected by the reigning monarch for “non-capital crimes or intolerable behavior,” which must be proven before full court. The othu almost exclusively call the Vinex arcology home, their apartments on upper levels of the capital city.

The sourac are the families and individuals bestowed nobility by the monarchs who followed Xuul Gal’ivinex. Their primary purpose—theoretically—is to serve their betters. Functionally, however, most sourac found in Vinex spend their days lolling, imbibing, copulating, and generally causing drama, while passing on their duties to their immediate lessers, the holil. (I can say this in complete honesty as a one-time member of the sourac caste.) Dukes, duchesses, lords, ladies, senior military leadership, Imperial consorts, and all manner of courtiers can be found in this caste. Those appointed to oversee duchies and their estates live primarily on the lands entrusted to them. Alongside unlanded nobility, they often maintain apartments in the twenty-odd levels of Vinex below the othu.

The largest caste—the holil—are truly the backbone of Vazztain culture. Made up of civil functionaries, tradespeople, merchants, military officers, ship’s captains, fleet administrators, scientists, doctors, and those with the skills and intelligence to keep Chiva’vastezz the heart of civilization it believes itself to be. Her Majesty’s subjects encountered outside the bounds of the realm are most often of this caste. Holil living in Vinex make their homes and businesses on the couple dozen levels below the sourac.

The final caste comprised solely of chivori are the rurabuthu, Vazztain citizens who take on tasks and jobs that are undesirable to the upper castes but still financially beneficial enough to be kept from the rou. The rurabuthu make their homes in the levels below those of the holil and the business district, allowing them easy access to their places of employment.

Lastly are the rou , known in other cultures as “indentured servants,” “slaves,” “captives,” or “spoils of war.” The Dominion’s many rou come from all manner of sentient species. They are often those whose islands (or whose family’s islands) were long ago conquered by the Dominion. In Vinex, many live with their assigned families in the upper levels of the city. Those who hold Imperial or public-service roles have no assigned upper-caste families and live in the tightly packed handful of levels above the industrial and administration levels, below which visitors will find the familiar first-floor Customs and Admissions Hub.

While the lowest classes in most cities are considered “free workers” (or “wage-slaves,” as I prefer), the rou in Chiva’vastezz are considered Imperial property. They still earn coin and are allowed to move freely through public areas of the city when not performing their assigned duties. They are not, however, able to leave the city or freely change their employment situations. In extremely rare cases, chivori rou have been able to buy an improvement to their caste status or marry into one. Non-chivori rou have also been able to purchase their freedom, though this is rare, and they often leave the Dominion entirely. Only the Crown may relieve a rou of their imposed servitude; their assigned families may not grant such a gift.