Esshai: Capital K Known People. Esshai means “Those who desire to be Known” and it is the Esshai’s word for their People. Is speaks to a purpose, the Esshai seek to create close, personal, bonds with themselves and others and to share of themselves so that they may be Known. This hunger to be Known is deeply rooted in Esshai culture.
Paor: Is complicated. It’s essentially the word for both virtue and sin except not exactly. See, the Esshai understand what non-Esshai mean when they speak of virtues or sins but they rankle at how absolutist non-Esshai tend to be about such things. They understand that sin exists and virtue exists but that it’s never as cut and dry as that. The right/wrong combination of enough virtuous/sinful things can make something approximating pure bad or pure good (the Esshai do not believe anything is absolute) but one thing in isolation is rarely that certain. The way the Esshai see it it’s excess of sin(s)/virtue(s) that lead to near absolutes not just the nature of the sin(s)/virtue(s). Basically anything a non-Esshai may see as a virtue becomes effectively a sin in excess. Too much love and you are overbearing, too much patience and you are ignored, too much honesty and you are taken advantage of, etc. The Esshai do not like to condemn so they once viewed sin the same way, believing that to some extent some sinning was permissible but excess sin was inexcusable and had to be answered for. Unfortunately, they have a much more difficult time weathering any presumed sins, mistakes, or failings they have made since their near genocide and they are much less forgiving of themselves. They take their sins, mistakes, and failings deeply personally now.
An Esshai person will allow people not themself many chances to dial back their excesses but they do have limits. The Esshai’s nature of giving people chances was exploited and used against them to nearly wipe them out so now they approach even giving people chances as something that should not be done in excess. If an Esshai person has made a judgment of someone they really stepped out of line.
Lost and Lost Way/Lost Waying : Being Lost is having breached or violated customs in some excessive way. Esshai respect individuals as individuals but they desire peace, kindness, and tenderness. They pursue Paas. Esshai people are allowed to be violent, unkind, and cruel (for sometimes such things are necessary) but they are encouraged to not go too far with it. To be too volatile or abusive is to become Lost and Lost Waying is a warning/call out that one is heading towards becoming Lost.
Guide, Guided, Guided Way : The opposite of being Lost is being Guided. Guiding is mutual and harmonious. The desire is for all, to the best of their ability, to be both guided and guiding. Pursuing Paor, being peaceful, kind, and tender, is both guiding and being guided. To permit oneself to accept Paas is to be Guided. To express Paas is to Guide.
Kiih : Acknowledgement that nothing is absolute and that some indulgence is fine that is understood by the People as a Truth of Paor (and of life in general.) Kiih is an appeal to indulge and a call out that one is becoming too Edged. Kiih is an explicit expression of Paas. To invoke Kiih is to Guide.
Paas : To display caring. To care for and nurture (often regardless of returned treatment.) Paas is an expression via action and/or words of fondness and caring and of a desire to care more and grow the feelings of fondness. It carries an explicit appeal for that fondness and caring to be chosen to be returned in kind. The People showed the Edged Lands Paas and the Edged Lands learned to care and trust from the People’s commitment to Paas and became the Gentle Lands. Refusing to entertain Paas is a Lost Way. Paas is kindness and caring and as such is a Paor.
Edge, Edged : To have allowed oneself to become too hard. To have denied oneself too much too often. Edged is being guarded, it is having caution and restraint, it is delaying or denying oneself gratification and it is a Paor. To become too Edged is a Lost Way.
Gentle Lands : The Esshai’s word for their land. The land wasn’t always gentle but the People nurtured and cared for the land despite its hostility. It was convinced to be kind by them, to be kind with them, through Paas the Edged Lands became Gentle Lands. The Esshai love their land and believe the land loves them back.
Alya : Fellowship. Alya is a foundational principle of the Esshai. To sit with each other and tell one another of oneself. To regale each other with tales of themselves or of others. To become acquainted, to learn more of each other and grow to know one another. To forge bonds and grow and develop those bonds into deeper and closer bonds is an expression of Paas and a Guided Way. Alya is an invitation extended any time someone shares of themselves and you accept the invitation by listening to what they share and allowing it to reach you. You may then participate in Alya yourself by sharing of yourself to them and this is encouraged. Alya is an explicit expression of Paas. Alya is ritually ended through mutual accord and breaking Alya without mutual accord is a Lost Way. A person is not obliged to entertain Alya at all times because, again, nothing is absolute. But when one can make time for Alya it is encouraged to invite others to join you in Alya and it is rude and indicative of Lost Waying to insist too much on continuing Alya when others desire to stop Alya for now. Individuals may be given consent to stop Alya while others who wish to continue continue and this signaled by expressing Jera. Alya is a Paor.
Jera : “Go your own way.” or “Go on your way” or “Continue your way.” It’s a simple acknowledgment that a person desires to go and that they may go. It carries with it the message that the person is leaving to heal and recover. A person invokes Jera by stating Jera and others repeat Jera to permit them leave. To refuse or deny someone Jera is a Lost Way.
Seva : “I’m leaving”. A more urgent Jera. When you need to leave or need the discussion to stop or change you declare Seva. Seva does not require mutual accord for you to leave. You can just declare Seva and leave (or change the subject.) Doing so is not a Lost Way. Seva can be used as a call out to declare you are being refused or denied Jera. Seva is the name of the Fourth Matriarch, she left the People abruptly because they became too reliant on her leadership.
Fray, Fraying : To transition from Edged to Gentle. To be swayed by oneself or others (or external forces) to care and trust. Fraying is a PROCESS that can take a very long time but it is an admission of inevitable change that is explicitly change for the better and as such is a Paor.
Hyuta : Means “nothing people”. People who offer nothing. They speak without sentiment and waste your time. They don’t bother to listen and don’t bother to understand. They have no interest in you or yours. They’re performative fuckers who the Esshai don’t have time for. Hyuta was the name of a woman who is Known as the First Traitor for she was only out for herself and never bothered to be mindful of others. Hyutas are committed to being abusive and as such they are Lost. Being deemed a Hyuta by an Esshai is really bad. You are on their shitlist. They don’t trust you.
Kela : Someone who is committed to being a bad faither. Those obnoxious devil’s advocate, just asking questions, fuckers who aren’t actually here to have a productive discussion but stir shit, sow disharmony, do harm, and be a fucking wrecker. Esse summarizes the story of Kela, who stole fire from the people for she desired it only for herself, to the Hex Girls on Mission 14 Part 1.
Esse : Someone who is committed to good faith. People who are Esse are genuinely trying to understand, listen, and be reasonable. They’re not here to exhaust away anyone’s concerns. They want solutions to problems and they want to make the most people they can happy. Esse is the woman who went to reclaim fire from Kela. She used good faith and Kela exhausted herself in her nastiness. Esse still did not take fire back for the People but tended to Kela and left her. Which led to Kela relinquishing fire back to the People in shame. Esse is a Paor.
Kovannin : You must learn this term alongside the woman herself, kovannins.
Aras : Aras is a mesa on Dynhark in the Gentle Lands (the Esshai’s territory). It’s located at this point on the planet where it, and the surrounding area, experiences longer days than elsewhere on the planet (areas that don’t align along the strip of what is effectively Dynhark’s equator where all the days are longer have “normal” length days.) Because Aras is within the Gentle Lands and because it is a raised area of land that receives longer exposure to sunlight it is seen as a sacred place to the Esshai. Through cultural enforcement and superstition a person is forbidden from/incapable of speaking lies when on Aras. If you are found to have lied while on Aras your name is devoured and you become known as Hyuta. (You are stripped of your surname as well. See my explanation on surnames below.) Locations can be declared by Esshai to be Aras, places they’ll behave in good faith in.
Agen : Literally “Lost People”. Not all Esshai people are of one mind on things. Some Esshai people (more than half of the ones left, actually. About 52% of the 74 left) are so fucking pissed they are done being Wero. They’ve become Agen, “Lost People”, who are consumed with rage and revenge and just violently trying to throw their lives away for their own heart wrenching reasons. People who are Agen believe the Esshai are already dead and the remaining Esshai people are just their swan song. For Agens, the Esshai’s extinction is inevitable. It’s a foregone conclusion. A judgment they have made. That it is over and there’s no point even trying to rebuild when they’ve Lost so much. Agens just want to go down fighting, to land as many parting shots on non-Esshai people as they can before their inevitable extinction. Pre-genocide the Esshai saw sins as Paor too, that it was an excess of sin that made a sin truly a sin. That one was allowed a little sin now and then as a treat. As such, pre-genocide Agen, outrage, bloodlust, and thirst for revenge, was a Paor. But Esshai terms can become redefined by their use and the People who declare their names to be Agen have, at least as far as the people who do not proclaim to be Agen are concerned, gone too far. They understand the Agens rage but they do not want to give up on a future like they see Agens as having done. As such Agen is now a judgment. An Esshai can proclaim themselves Agen and/or be deigned Agen by the People. The new definition of Agen is that it is both a term for being this way, (excessively enraged, blood thirsty, and out for revenge–so consumed by that bloodlust that it is sin because now they are throwing their precious lives away) and a term for being outside the acceptable ranges of Paor. Agens have abandoned Paor and are being excessive. Because they are Lost, Agens reject jaas, Paas, Alya, etc. If/When an Agen begins to accept Jaas, Paas, and other Paors, if they allow themselves to be guided and guide once more then they are no longer Lost but become Reclaimed or Found. They cease being Agen and become Aum or Edged (or better if their change is significant. Example: Rasha went from Agen to Arath to Kovannin.)
Arath : Non-Esshai would think this word means monster/monstrous but to refer to Arath as a monster is insulting to Arath. Arath is obscenity beyond monster, a viciousness and cruelty that is uniquely and exclusively human. It is that human capacity for cruelty that we can mete out on a scale no other entity can even dream of approximating. All Araths are Agen and all Araths are Gone --Not Lost, Gone . This means it is believed they cannot be Found. Arath is as close to absolute hate as one can get. Arath are believed to be immune to Paas, compared to just resisting it. (But this not true. It’s just the only person who can get through to you when you’re Arath is yourself. Other people can help you get through to you but you’re the one who has to make the choice to abandon Arath.)
Krith : Krith is an Assumed Name claimed by someone who is present to be contrary. Who has identified themselves as essentially a shitposter. Real fucking Diogenes-style philosphers, Kriths. They exist to troll but they keep it friendly and good natured. Kriths act as people who test the good faith of others but if they cross the line into too nasty they become Kela.
Wero : Wero = Best Friend Forever. Wero is that ride-or-die friend who will help you dispose of a body and stay up until 6am rubbing your back as you agonize over your latest break up. Wero was a non-binary/genderfluid person (yeah they exist among the Esshai) who selflessly threw themselves into the service of others. Wero is a sentiment for an ideal all Esshai people pursue. Wero is essentially Devotion/Loyalty and it is a Paor.
Jaas : Jaas communicates a belief that the potential for good to happen exists in a person/situation/etc. It’s an admission of the probability that a good/desirable result could occur. Jaas is essentially Hope and it is a Paor.
Dasan : Dasan is complicated. It’s a sentiment expressing, “I’ll take a chance.” Dasan is usually coupled with jaas as dasan communicates a willingness to take a chance at getting the desired result. Dasan is something deeply encouraged by the Esshai. Dasan is essentially Trust and it is a Paor.
Hyral : “To resemble that which you desire”. Everyone is looking for the right person but nobody is trying to be the right person. Hyral is nobody. Hyral commits to becoming the right person not only for others, but for themselves. Hyral cannot become Lost and as such one loses the name Hyral if they become Lost. Hyral pursues their desires passionately and cannot reject jaas. Hyral is obliged to guide and be guided.
Orth : Orth is understanding of your abilities. The knowledge of what you are capable of and your confidence in acting on those abilities. Orth is a blend of pride and self-understanding. It’s a Paor.
Rua : Rua is understanding of your limitations. Knowledge of what you’re capable of and knowing when you are out of your wheelhouse. It’s a blend of doubt and humility and it’s a Paor.
Yorn : Will in all its forms and intensely so. Yorn is decisive, certain, unfaltering will. It is more than just saying you will it is Knowing you will. Yorn is determination and it’s a Paor.
Brau : “This is mine, I am attached to it.” Relegated mostly to objects and territory the Esshai’s concept of ownership and possession is very flexible. You don’t really own things so much as you belong to each other. The Esshai do not own the Gentle Lands the Gentle Lands and the Esshai own each other. You can own a spear or a herd of cattle but it’s not 100% yours as little if anything among the Esshai is absolute. If you are selfish and will not share the things you have you are Lost Waying. Additionally, if you want too much you are Lost Waying though too much is subjective. Like all Paors, as brau is a Paor, it’s all about excessiveness. Owning People is a horrific concept to the Esshai. You do not own people you share yourself with them on mutual terms. You make yourself Known to them. To just take someone and treat them as property is an Arath thing. Lost people do that. You always own yourself–You belong to yourself and are your property. But sharing yourself with others is encouraged. The Esshai have better words for doing that then brau though depending on if the connection is romantic (velt or erigan) or platonic (wero.)
Velt : Esshai people aren’t all serious and Velt is an example of that! Velt is a casual romantic relationship. A proclamation that this is just a friends with benefits kinda thing. Declarations of Velt can be rejected and established Velt relationships can always be abandoned. People who proclaim to be in Velt are just enjoying themselves and that’s supported. You’re allowed to not take things seriously and just fool around though you are encouraged to deepen and grow the connection.
Bonded or Fond : An expression of having feelings for someone. Bonded is commonly, but not always, more for platonic feelings whereas Fond is usually for romantic feelings. Declaring you’re fond of someone or bonded with someone expresses this. Like most things such declarations must be mutually shared to count. People who are Bonded or Fond are encouraged to develop and grow that connection
Erigan : “Chosen beloved, to you I commit myself.” Erigan is a term reserved for romantic relationships. If you’re erigan you’re seriously capital I Involved. To declare erigan is to state that you are explicitly romantically in love and wish to be more serious with your partner(s). Erigan can be rejected (and established erigan relationships can always be abandoned.) But if you’re erigan with someone you have explicitly sworn yourself to them. Erigan carries an implicit oath that you will do all you can to always return to your beloved and you’re encouraged to make it work and develop and grow the fondness. Erigan is essentially a romantic form of Wero.
The Term Quin Expresses : This term she expresses with such ease… it reminds me of Before. We have forgotten it. And the woman she is the term with struggles so with It. Quin can only learn It from her. Please guide us and help us recall Everything .
Wike : Wike is judgement. It’s a shiny slab of stone in the Gentle Lands. To refer to Wike is to refer to making a judgment or being judged. It is at Wike that justice was administered whenever justice was necessary. People would be judged and then guided through rehabilitation and/or forgiven. (If they were innocent they would simply be released and their accusers investigated.)
Euyr : (Pronounced Euwer) “I understand, you don’t”. A sentiment of exasperation. Euyr sought to understand and did well in such pursuits. But in spreading what they learned they failed to convey their wisdom. It’s not a failure on Euyr’s end but on the listener’s.
Yyry : (Pronounced ya rie) "I understand, you won’t ". A sentiment of frustration. Euyr changed their chosen name to Yyry as the misunderstandings continued. The constant miscommunications revealed themselves to be not an issue of not understanding but an issue of not wanting to understand when Yyry encountered Hyuta.
Aum : “It’s my fault.” Accepting responsibility, taking blame. The original Hyuta never learned her lesson but a Hyuta who was name devoured had an epiphany at Aras and apologized to the People. He was given the name Aum. Aum’s are People who have abandoned Hyuta and as such Aum is followed by declarations of jaas and dasan. The person promises to begin changing from this. Aums are allowed to reclaim their old names or acquire/declare a new name once they’ve established they’re really trying to quit being Hyutas. Most Aums won’t take a different name until they’re absolutely certain they’re as through with being Hyuta as imperfect People can be because this stuff is taken really seriously.
The Esshai are essentially matriarchal. Most of their prominent lore figures are women.
On Names :
All Esshai names mean something even if it’s just to the individual. If I were to list every Esshai name this document would be way too long. Just understand that words and names have meanings. The Esshai people have five kinds of names:
Assumed Names which are temporary names People declare in moments to make Known whatever their intentions and ends are.
Common Names which are the names that People are comfortable with everyone knowing as knowing someone’s Common Name doesn’t imply or convey anything deeper or more significant than just lower case K knowing them and being familiar with them.
Pet Names/Close Names: Usually shortened versions of someone’s Common Name but also terms of endearment like “hon” or “dear”. Close Names explicitly declare a deep closeness and familiarity with the person you are calling the name. It conveys undeniable fondness and attachment. And if the Close Name is accepted then the context of the name explicitly and undeniably conveys and establishes either a deep friendship or a deep romantic attachment. Individuals who have established Close Name familiarity are encouraged to develop and grow the relationship.
Honorific Names which are names that People earn or that are awarded to them because they’ve been exemplary in some way.
Chosen Names which are SERIOUS BUSINESS. Chosen Names are a person’s personal name. A name known only to them and the people closest to them. To tell someone your Chosen Name is to Reveal yourself to them. It is a declaration of an explicitly and undeniably deeply close and intimate relationship with them. Perhaps not romantic but always serious . Knowing someone’s Chosen Name means they’ve determined you capital K Know them. If you Know someone’s Chosen Name you are precious to them. You cannot be The Term Quin Expresses with someone unless you know their Chosen Name, so revealing your Chosen Name is allowing someone a path to The Term Quin Expresses with you. Revealing your Chosen Name is more serious than serious. It’s one of the most serious things you can do because you can literally be married and not know your spouses’ Chosen Name. Sharing someone’s Chosen Name with others without their consent IMMEDIATELY makes you Lost and you are IMMEDIATELY name devoured and deigned Hyuta. The Exposed person then either changes or reclaims their Chosen Name. People who heard the Exposed’s Chosen Name are required to forget it whether the Exposed person changes the name or not.
The Esshai are people of sentiment and messaging as such names are declarations of identity and/or agenda. The Esshai enforce and honor names they are assigned (though prioritize names People claim/decide for themselves with some exceptions.) So if someone claims to be Agen or is called Agen that’s a pretty severe message. Another example: The Kovannin we’re familiar with accepts being called Kovannin because she doesn’t want to disrespect the People who declared her Kovannin. And she has mixed feelings about it but it has grown on her. Offering/giving someone a name is quite intimate as it implies a close association and expresses a familiarity with and knowledge of the person named. So Esshai people will police their names and reject or abandon offered/given/assigned names. Continuing to insist on a name when your offer of a name was rejected is Lost Waying. If an Esshai person gives you a name it either means they are fond of you or they really don’t like you depending on the name. (Being called Hyuta, for example, would mean they really don’t like you and are done with you but being called Wero would mean they’re very fond of you.) And it works in the reverse too so if you give an Esshai person a name you’re declaring you’re fond of them or don’t really like them depending on the name.
On Words, Sentiment, and Messaging :
Esshai understand sentiment and messaging and while knowing the terms are important to the Esshai (as it facilitates communication, confirms common context, safeguards the conversers from eavesdroppers, and establishes those conversing as an ingroup) being able to convey sentiments and messages alone is usually enough for an Esshai and they’ll at least attempt to understand (perhaps not accept but at least understand) any given expressed sentiment or message. The terms help but non-Esshai don’t need the terms if they can clearly express and convey sentiments and messages. The Esshai implicitly understand and accept that non-Esshai can speak, express, display or otherwise convey a term without actually speaking it and that expression effectively counts as actually speaking the term. Using a word expressly (even if it’s on accident) is more meaningful and impactful for many reasons but the sentiment or message being conveyed clearly is usually enough (The Term Quin Expresses is an individual exception for some People need it to be explicitly spoken and exchanged for it to count.) Employing sentiment and messaging is the best way to communicate with an Esshai person.
Esshai people who really set themselves apart from their kin are often awarded honorific names by the People. Usually these honorifics reflect their deeds though sometimes they are just fond endearments. Honorifics are always unique Esshai internal references. “Larkspur”, for example, does not refer to the bird but to one of the major rivers in the Gentle Lands which has, in living memory, never dried up completely. “Kovannin” refers to both the woman Kovannin and the sentiment of kovannin. People who set themselves apart in some way often have their chosen names made into honorifics, much like the original Kovannin did. The Esshai aren’t especially hierarchical and as such honorifics are essentially terms of endearment that don’t really leverage any additional clout or impact amongst the Esshai. They are a great honor though. The Kovannin we know and love is a humble sort and is both honored and embarrassed to have been awarded such an honorific. (Note I say awarded–she doesn’t see it as something she earned.)
The Six Families :
Genetically speaking the Esshai people were once quite diverse. Now with less than 100 of them left in the galaxy that’s a lot more complicated. But even before the massive loss of life the Esshai viewed themselves as one big family. They proclaim that there are six families branching off of one family tree and that is MENTALLY true. That is how they treat it. (Genetically not so much though.) There’s not much rivalry or distinctions between the six families. It’s not like all Jytans are fuckers or anything like that. Family is a factor in ones identity, yes, but all people are still individuals and the Esshai know this.
Below is a list of the six surnames that exist amongst the Esshai. These are the only surnames that exist among the Esshai so unless an Esshai person has married a non-Esshai and taken their spouses’ surname, or if they had their name devoured, these are the only surnames an Esshai person can/will have. The Esshai keep track of the population of each family and in a marriage the surname of the family with the lesser number is the one taken by the couple. In the instance of a tie the woman’s surname is taken. In the instance of two women or two men (or no women or men) marrying and there being a tie (a rare occurrence) the couple chooses. If the couple cannot choose the People choose and if the People cannot come to a choice the Matriarch chooses. Esshai people don’t reveal their surnames often. Usually they do so to proclaim familiarity and establish kinship. The Esshai all fondly refer to each other as “cousin” “auntie” etc because of their mental kinship with each other.
The six surnames are: Jytan, Sayr, Keruas, Frolias, Neshai, and Juror
There are 74 Esshai people left in the galaxy and 52% of them are Arath or Agening towards Arath. The population as it remains by “bloodline” ordered largest to smallest is thus:
Jurors: 8 (Svava was adopted into the Juror family and bears their surname which would make this number 9)
To be Known is to give someone the power to Control and/or Destroy you.
But also to Help you.
To Grow and Develop with you and alongside you.