Vitakara: Races


"Non-violence does not equal weakness."

- Bladedancer Dath'fihallan'harasota

The Dath'Haram are a race that is greatly respected and appreciated by all civilized races of the Vitakara. They are known for their advances in science, medicine, and of course, their infinite patience and talent for mediation. While they remain among the least numerous of the Vitakara, there is much which can be learned from their past and their story to reach this point.

Early History:

The Dath'Haram, much like the Oyariah and Sar'Manda, were a small group of proto-Vitakara who never split or divided into smaller tribes. These Vitakara migrated to Haramoalian, the great rainforests and wooded areas of Vitakar, and have inhabited the area ever since. There are no records which explain why the Dath'Haram initially chose this area to live, but they soon adapted to the forests over many decades.

As there was only one large tribe, it was not hard for them to begin forming hunting parties for the wildlife which inhabits Haramoalian still today, and while they initially struggled to capture the various animals and insects, they adapted to match their speed and agility as our species does. Over generations they built up their famous toxin resistance due to the low level of toxicity which permeates the forests.

During this time the Dath'Haram began expanding to their first interconnected settlements, which were extremely close together by modern standards. But as the Dath'Haram despise isolation, the close proximity each settlement had was comforting, and led to the creation of the now-famous tree-bridges which connect all Dath'Haram cities together to this day.

Later History:

In what is estimated to be nearly four millennia ago, the Council of Dath'Haram was established as the first modern government of the Dath'Haram, and retains much of the same structure as today – with each settlement electing a representative and residing in the capital of Harasota to enact laws and pass judgements.

Curiously, there are no records of any Dath'Haram ever fighting amongst themselves. It is generally accepted that this heavily shaped their pacifistic attitudes, and drove them to solve problems with words instead of violence. As one of the first to contact the Vitakarian Republic, this proved beneficial and the two races formed an alliance which remains firm even today.

During this period the Dath'Haram continued to expand, and though their controlled territory is small compared to other races, they have mapped out the entirety of the region, and the conditions themselves are not pleasant for any Vitakara who is not Dath'Haram. Due to this, the Lurainian and Zararch use the forests for training, at the approval of the Council.

As the Dath'Haram advanced and the Aui'Vitakar was formed, the Dath'Haram were the first to experiment with genetic modification and eagerly shared all they could with the fledgling species government. They were the ones who drove the Vitakara forward in this field, and to this day there have been no finer masters of genetic manipulation than the Dath'Haram.

The Plague and Aftermath:

It was this affinity and interest in genetic modification that led to the Dath'Haram being the first to succumb to the Plague, and it ravaged their entire race without warning. Their greatest geneshapers and modification specialists perished within days of each other, immediately destroying the best chance our species had to fix this ailment.

The Council did everything it could to try and assist the Vitakara, though with their brightest dead, there was only so much they could do as the species died around them, as well as their own. It is estimated that nearly ninety percent of the Dath'Haram were killed before the Elders arrived and saved us, something the Dath'Haram are eternally grateful for, as even a few weeks longer and there may not have been any left.

However, the Dath'Haram endured and were saved. To this day many believe that the plague was brought about by their eagerness to push the boundaries of science, even if the true cause can never really be determined. They were the first to outlaw any kind of genetic modification in Council territory, and pushed for it hard until similar measures were officially declared by the Aui'Vitakar.

Modern Day:

The Dath'Haram have made progress in rebuilding their species. The lower birth rates have proven to be a hindrance, but their only roadblock is time. The population is roughly a third of what it was pre-Plague, and within the next century it is expected to be at, or close to, the original numbers. The Council is a proponent of improving the lives of all Vitakara, and are pioneers in medicine and the general sciences.

While the Council itself has sworn off violence of any kind, there are many proud Dath'Haram in the Runianarch and Zararch who work to protect our species at the behest of the Elders, and their skills in medicine and science have doubtless proven to be of significant benefit to our species and the Collective as a whole.

- Brief Overview of the Dath'Haram, by Sci'yasilla'vitiary

Operation: Jungle Leadership

Division: Dath'Haram Intelligence

Report Author: Zar'kiakar'haravalla

Authorization: Zar'Chon


Given the recent inquiries of the Council of Dath'Haram, and the growing troublesomeness of the species in general, I felt it a good idea to begin gathering more updated information on the species since we have, for a long while, not given them much attention. The Dath'Haram have a tendency to fit the stereotype of the helpful and friendly pacifists, but everyone seems to forget that this does not translate to cowards.

The Dath'Haram have shown that they will definitely stand up for what they value, even if it's detrimental to their current situation. They have the clearest morale code of any race, and even the ones who come in second are more concerned with law and order than what is decided arbitrarily as "Right and Wrong".

But instead of going over the intricacies of their government, which hasn't changed, I will instead focus on the figures within it which are the ones dictating the direction of the race, and therefore, the ones who are problems.

Dath'balliath'harasota, Speaker of the Council: The one that every single Dath'Haram knows, the one that handles all public relations and information dissemination to the various cities. She has two means of accomplishing this. The first is through the ways you would expect, namely through electronic and digital means on their controlled network. All important law changes, announcements, and decrees are done through these means, so all cities are aware of what the Council has done.

The other way, and one of the reasons I decided to include her at all is because she also does it the 'traditional' way, which equates to standing in the middle of Harasota and publicly announcing whatever has taken place. It's extremely time-consuming, attendance is usually limited, and everyone involved is treating it as some kind of chore. Except for Balliath herself.

If you think she's some great respecter of the old ways, then you don't really know her well. She has privately advocated for the Dath'Haram to reexamine their bans on genetic engineering, and has close ties with not just every Councilor, but also the Cobrarian Hierarchy, Authoritative Council, and many in the Republic. She apparently even attempted to reach out to the Empire who politely, but firmly, turned her away.

Interestingly she also does not support the Runianarch, or any aspect of the Vitakara military, but not because she doesn't think it's necessary, but because she quite clearly doesn't trust the Ethereals. However, despite knowing so many people, her own influence is somewhat limited due to the fact that the Speaker of the Council must officially remain apolitical, even if this hasn't stopped her speaking her mind privately.

Returning to the topic, you would expect a verbal and primitive tradition to read verbatim from the messages sent out electronically. This is not the case. The end message is always the same, but the actual wording is different in very subtle ways. A changed word here or there, or a sentence added or removed, but little more than that.

Balliath also has an odd tendency to emphasize certain words which really shouldn't be. After listening to her, I tried to determine if she was speaking in some kind of code, but even Zararch Linguistics can't make the possibilities mean anything other than gibberish. It would help if we knew if these meant something to begin with.

She isn't really a troublemaker in the same way as some others here, but all the same I would recommend you send an agent to speak with her to clear this up. Character quirks are fine; mysteries are not.

Dath'amilian'harasota, Councilor of the City of Harasota: Amilian is not under suspicion, far from it. She's one of the strongest and most supportive Dath'Haram in regards to the Elders and Ethereal Collective. Which means she is facing increasing pressure from a growing bloc of Dath'Haram who want to press for changes. As the Councilor of Harasota, she has a lot of political power, and enjoys immense popularity from the citizens, but that isn't quite as ringing an endorsement since literally every Councilor enjoys extensive popularity.

She is slowly being edged out and out-debated by the bloc led by Gabrian, and this is largely due to a lack of answers and the Dath'Haram morality. She wants to keep the focus on the Dath'Haram, and Vitakara as a whole, and leave the wider galaxy for the Collective. I include this here because we should try and ensure she retain her place and political power.

Dath'gabrian'dathista, Councilor of the City of Dathista: This Councilor is a time bomb waiting to go off.

Gabrian is the Councilor of Dathista, which is the fifth-largest city controlled by the Council. Known, but not one of the ones you generally think of when visiting. However, it is also where the largest volume of Dath'Haram soldiers comes from. So while it makes sense that Gabrian is interested in the wider dealings of the Collective, it is still a problem.

He has only started really pushing in recent months. The first was relatively benign additions, such as holding a moment of silence for the soldiers in the Runianarch before beginning their sessions, recognizing families whose daughters, sons, and mates were serving, and monthly vigils for the departed. Very innocent, until you realize that he's making the population become more invested in getting answers about the war itself.

Privately, Gabrian began communicating more directly with the Authoritative Council, and various groups within the Republic. Initially this seemed to start out as a genuinely innocent gesture, but since information was…limited, he began growing more concerned and finally began pushing the Council to start requesting "Fair and clear answers."

He is an excellent and dangerous speaker. Within a few weeks he had convinced nearly a quarter of the Council to begin considering a formal inquiry into the war with the Humans. Since Dath'Haram debates never really end until a resolution has passed, this number kept growing, and culminated in what we saw at the gathering.

As an aside, almost all of the Aui'Vitakar representatives support him in this, as they are much less sheltered than the ones in the cities. So even though Gabrian doesn't really have a true majority back in the Council, that was how he was able to put those questions towards us at the hearing. The issue is that I don't necessarily think he's a threat, just a concerned leader.

Either way, the questions still do him little favors.

Aui'trudian'dathaira, Representative of the Council of Dath'Haram: There are few Dath'Haram who hold themselves to a stricter moral code than Trudian. He has been a thorn in the side of the Collective for some time, since he is an actual and open critic of the Zararch and has repeatedly demanded explanations for the Mutons, as well as requests for inquires into the unknown relationship between the Oyariah and Elders.

More recently he has tried getting more answers on Humans, and Earth in general. Normally he is a minority, and one we let loose to show that the Zararch doesn't kill anyone who criticizes us. I am beginning to wonder if that was a mistake. While Trudian has no chance to accomplish anything, he's smart, diplomatic, polite, and has all the typical attitudes of a Dath'Haram which makes people like him.

Not a surprise he's friends with Gabrian.

He needs to be detained immediately to determine how, or if, he has what he claimed. But right now he's in the protection of four Bladedancers, including Filhallan. We will need to do this the diplomatic way if we want to avoid attention.

Dath'cynthian'haraolia, Hunt Supplier of the Parties: This is perhaps the most misleading title that could be ascribed to her, as Cynthian is perhaps the smartest chemist who is alive today, and while she is technically the one who supplies the Hunting Parties with their tools and various poisons they coat their weapons with, that is what she considers her 'hobby'.

Cynthian, if you are not aware, is who the Zararch gets our own poisons from, in the rare cases we need them. She also provides the Bladedancers with oils for their weapons, and is the primary consultant for every single race's medicinal and science departments. She's made her living becoming the most elite of toxicologists, even among Dath'Haram.

She is the reason that going into the jungle is no longer instant death if you happen to touch the wrong plant, or get stung by an insect the size of a berry.

She is the reason every single species goes out of their way to treat the Council well, since she has publically released studies on nearly every race in regards to toxic resistance and what might, or might not affect them. She's never participated in unethical experiments, but in her own life she's seen members of all races die from the forests, and the ability to run simulations trivializes this even more.

She is the reason just getting scratched by the Bladedancers will lead to near-instant death.

I didn't include her here because she's necessarily a danger. She is apolitical for the most part, and rarely cares about anything other than her research. However, she has no problem dealing with other races, or even aliens, and it is only a matter of time until the Nulorian try and buy something from her, if they haven't already.

Knowing her, she'll give it to them without thinking. We need to be watching her.

Dath'yiantish'harasota, Keeper of the Crypt: Mostly including him because the Crypt of Haramoalian is their equivalent of the Black Library. While I personally doubt that there is anything other than what they say (Graves of the important Dath'Haram throughout history), the sheer level of secrecy and security around it makes me suspicious.

Yiantish spends almost every minute of his time inside the Crypt. He has only emerged five times since taking the position (200 years ago – he is extremely old for a Dath'Haram), and each time he has not spoken to any on the Council, but Filhallan of all people. What he speaks to the Bladedancer about is unknown, but perhaps it isn't too sinister since the Bladedancers guard the Crypt vigilantly, and are some of the few to have a willingness to kill other aliens.

As for the Keeper himself, he was not especially remarkable before taking the position. He was a fairly accomplished physicist, and amused himself with Bladedancer rituals, but he was not exceptional, and fairly isolated for a Dath'Haram. I do not know what to really make of this figure, but it is one of the rare secrets the Dath'Haram have, and it only makes me all the more curious as to what they would think is worth preserving.

Some old bones? Unlikely.

Something dangerous? Also unlikely.

Something we should know about? Definitely.

Dath'impara'dathyasith, Chief Hunter of the Parties: The Dath'Haram are often lightly mocked for their primitive method of hunting all their meat physically as opposed to the more accepted and easy domestication of animals or industrial meat distribution. The truth is that the Dath'Haram really don't need to do such, but they maintain the hunting parties for two reasons.

The first is out of a kind of respect. Raising animals for the sole purpose of killing them sickens Dath'Haram, but hunting them on equal ground in the wild is perfectly acceptable, and there are plenty of cases where Hunters can and do fail to catch prey, and of course there is always the risk of injury. It is seen as more 'fair', even though there isn't really a restriction on modern gear for the parties. This is ultimately to get food, after all.

The second is more practical. It ensures that every Dath'Haram has some level of athleticism and agility. It continually forces them to move, shoot, jump, and dodge in the span of a very short time. It's a rite of passage, and while many do not stay in the parties, the ones that do are, ironically, some of the most dangerous aliens in the Collective.

Impara is the pinnacle of this kind of athleticism. She has been Chief Hunter for nearly two decades, and has personally walked and hunted in every region of Vitakar, minus the oceans of the Sar'Manda. She once decided to run one of the Zararch qualification tests, and her results were six standard deviations above the average. Dath'Haram are natural snipers, and with a primitive bow and arrow (Which she typically uses, as she finds modern equipment too easy) she also beat three Zararch snipers in a similar contest.

With that said, she's apolitical and really only seems to care about her job. Why include her on this list? Two reasons.

The first is because she recently received word of her brother dying on Earth. It has not been taken especially well, and Gabrian has wasted no time making himself an ally to get 'answers'. Witnesses have said that recently she has seemed distracted, even though it hasn't affected her own abilities or tasks.

The second is because she is the sister of Sorras. Read further to know why this is a bad sign.

Dath'fihallan'harasota, Bladedancer: Ah yes, the 'simple' Bladedancer who spends his time guarding an old crypt and mating with a Borelian of all things. What an odd fellow, certainly one who doesn't really belong on this list to the casual observer.

I will dispense with the sarcasm (my observations of Humans have unfortunately rubbed off onto me).

Saying that Filhallan is a Bladedancer is like saying that the Zar'Chon is a Vitakarian. Both are technically true, but don't exactly tell even part of the story.

Filhallan isn't just a Bladedancer, he is the Bladedancer, as in he was the one who created the entire tradition. Most people forget this, but Bladedancing is only a recent development in the grand scheme of things. While there have been Dath'Haram using swords for hundreds of thousands of years, Filhallan was the first to really incorporate it into their culture.

Over five hundred years ago.

The amount this Dath'Haram has lived through is staggering, and raises many questions. If the records are to be believed, Filhallan is one hundred years over the age of the average Vitakara, and no one is really interested in figuring out how. He looks his age, and would in all appearances appear to be ready to die at any point.

That is unless you decide to fight him. Filhallan was once attacked by a small pack of Nulorian who made the ill-advised attempt to breach the Crypt. There is some debate on if the footage was altered, because once the Nulorian started firing at him, he moved faster than the cameras could pick up and killed all six attackers within ten seconds.

That is not normal.

He doesn't make his strength known, of course. He is the primary trainer of Bladedancing, and while most use it for the courtship rituals, some decide to become true Bladedancers. For the record, there are no true Bladedancers in the Runianarch or Collective Military as a whole. Those are Dath'Haram who found the courtship stuff easy, and decided to claim the title because outside of the Oyariah, who was going to challenge them?

Actual Bladedancers can beat Oyariah Titans. One decided to go to the infamous training arenas, and ended up accidentally killing the Oyariah in question rather easily. To say the Hegemony was stunned would be an understatement, and the respective Bladedancer quickly left. If the rumors are to be believed, Filhallan can do the same thing just as easily to a standard Bladedancer.

I suppose it is fortunate that he only believes in defense. He will never attack unless someone else strikes the first blow. The same goes for all Bladedancers. He also lives in that Crypt, as does his mate, which is exceptionally strange since even the average Dath'Haram isn't allowed to go into it. Why the Keeper made an exception for her is questionable, although perhaps for a Borelian, there isn't a better place.

The point is that Filhallan is exceptionally dangerous and someone to keep an eye on. He shouldn't be alive, and I doubt he's just going to give up answers easily. The average Dath'Haram generally aren't interested in him, but at the same time, he's important enough that anything we do is likely going to be noticed.

Nul'sorras'haramoalian, Nulorian Terrorist: This is, somehow, one of the few Nulorian we have been able to identify. Everyone he is related to has disavowed him, but no one is really intent on bringing him to justice. No one really knows why this is, especially considering his actions. Since the Council doesn't have a standing military, perhaps there is nothing they feel they can do.

Nonetheless, he is the foremost Nulorian terrorist in the entire region.

Sorras does not fit the standard psychological template for the Dath'Haram at all. Unlike nearly every Dath'Haram, he has no issue with the wide and liberal application of violence. He rarely operates with a group, preferring to terrorize his own kind alone, as if trying to get them to do something about it.

He has targeted schools, children, Councilors, citizens; nearly every aspect of Dath'Haram cities he has attempted to destroy at some point or another. The attacks are rare, only happening every four or five years, and difficult to predict because they are usually only done by him. They can be attacks which are years in the making, or he'll go with seemingly little prior information on a killing spree within two days and kill every child whose name starts with 'I'.

The Dath'Haram themselves are horrified, but they ultimately do very little. They report the incident, they clean up, they bury, and they mourn. But if Sorras wanted this to turn them violent, it hasn't worked. They seem to be steadfastly avoiding that just to prove him wrong. I cannot help but wonder if this is intentional, because it is documented that too much psychological trauma in a short amount of time will almost certainly break their psyche.

Maybe the delays in attacks are intentional, as is the randomness of them. Sorras is certainly clever, we know that much, and regardless, it has only caused the terrorist to start getting more brazen. Until recently there were a few targets even he considered off-limits: The Crypt, the Bladedancers, and the Hunting Parties.

Recently he assassinated a Bladedancer and displayed the corpse in the city square, stabbed with his own blade and broken for good measure. Filhallan later made a rare statement that the next one to kill a Bladedancer would die.

There have since been two more deaths…which are supposedly unconnected to Sorras. Filhallan took both into the Crypt for unknown reasons, even before forensics teams could take the bodies. He did not release the bodies when asked, and refused to provide a reason to why.

It does seem that Sorras has made an enemy of Filhallan, and were it anyone else, I'd almost feel sorry for him.

But this animal deserves to be put down in the most violent and painful way possible. If the Dath'Haram don't care about vengeance, then we can take it for them.

REPORT: 001111010000














ADDITIONAL MANUAL COMMENT: The Dath'Haram are seen as the one race which has nothing to hide. They are friendly, open, kind, generous, and diplomatic. They abhor violence and are often seen (and used) as mediators for nearly any kind of dispute, with all parties coming out satisfied. They lack any sort of standing army (technically) and their cities are open to all.

To the outside observer they appear to be living in a utopia, and this is not entirely incorrect. All Dath'Haram live in what they consider to be luxury, but to suggest that the Dath'Haram don't have their secrets, or are not dangerous is falling for the illusion the Council wants so badly to present to the world. I do not think the majority are aware of this, but there are enough clues to show that the Dath'Haram are not the harmless aliens many think they are.

The report will be compiled by sections:

BIOLOGICAL OVERVIEW: Before moving too deeply into this document, there are a few aspects of the Dath'Haram which are relevant in a biological sense. While they are the second-least numerous race, they are one of the most biologically evolved, and are especially suited to the region they inhabit. Here are some notes to keep in mind.

- Dath'Haram are tall, with their average higher than every race except the Borelians and Oyariah. While Vitakarians can be substantially taller, it is not on average.

- All Dath'Haram are double-jointed, or hypermobile, which allows them a far greater range of flexibility than most races.

- Dath'Haram eyes are similar to Vitakarians in that they are a solid orb, with the colors including brown, black, and in rare cases, white. These do not glow like Vitakarians, but their eyesight in the dark is only surpassed by the Oyariah and their average eyesight is far above the standard for Vitakara as a whole. They are natural snipers and hunters.

- Their skin colors are usually shades of green, but in rare cases have been brown. It is a genetic abnormality, but not one which is a disability.

- There are differences between the genders. Males are stockier and slightly more flexible than their female counterparts. Interestingly they have been noted to have brown as their only eye color. There has not been one exception to this. Females on average are taller than the males, and have normally better reaction times.

- There are noted psychological differences between the genders as well. Males are usually more straightforward and aggressive if provoked, while it is extremely difficult to elicit similar reactions from females who tend to be more reserved. Both genders display similar levels of empathy, which is unsurprising for the Dath'Haram.

- There are no social customs, stigmas, or rules related to gender. Every position has at one point held both males and females.

THE COUNCIL OF DATH'HARAM: The closest comparison to this would be the United Vitakarian Republic, as the Council operates in much the same way. The Council itself is composed of Councilors which are democratically selected from every city within their territory. There are approximately fifty-seven cities controlled by the Dath'Haram, and they are managed by a Speaker of the Council, who is selected from within the Council itself.

This Council manages essentially every aspect of Dath'Haram society. This is something that they do very responsibly as well, and as a result the Council is trusted more than any other local government on Vitakar. They ensure that every Dath'Haram citizen receives top of the line medical care, housing, and schooling. They are exceptionally careful to make sure that cities don't grow too large, and given the extreme amount of space they have within the jungles and forests, they never really have to worry about overpopulated cities.

Dath'Haram politics are very limited, and there is very rarely any kind of serious disagreement. It was more a question over 'what should be done first' instead of 'if' it should be done at all. It's about managing resources, not about material gain. Dath'Haram are extremely altruistic, and the Council is no exception.

However, recently there has been a noticeable schism in the Council, namely having to do with Earth and Humanity. A section of Councilors have begun raising the possibility of demanding answers from the Collective regarding the situation, while the others simply want to keep the focus on their people and not concern themselves with off-world matters.

It remains to be seen how this will turn out, but the growing number of Dath'Haram dead is only helping those who wish answers. This should be watched carefully.

DATH'HARAM CITIES: Dath'Haram cities are unlike anything else on Vitakar. They are specifically built into the vegetation around them, and the city layout is designed with the environment in mind. Very little of it is industrialized, and since the Dath'Haram build their houses, buildings, and labs into the massive trees of Haramoalian, they take up less space than traditional cities.

It should also be noted that cities only expand up or down, not outward. If the Council decides that there isn't enough space, they will commission the development of a new city and immediately work to accomplish that. This isn't an issue since Dath'Haram cities are absurdly close to each other, often times able to be viewed from the edge of an occupied city.

It should also be noted that the only way these cities are connected are through the jungle and tree bridges the Dath'Haram use to quickly move throughout their territory. These can also be retracted or disassembled, and they will still be able to get across by swinging or climbing over the specifically shaped branches above. The only way to cut off the cities from each other is to burn the forest down, which is an exercise in futility.

There are no paved roads between the cities, or another method of travel which is usable for other races. It is an interesting defensive measure that I doubt was unintentional, especially when observation around the cities themselves reveals an abnormally high amount of poisonous vegetation and insect life in comparison to the wider region.

However, these never actually infest the cities themselves as the Dath'Haram now have repellents for insects and wildlife, and children are taught to identify vegetation that can kill them by age four. Another defensive measure no one has really noticed, nor has it been explained.

In addition to this, an observation of the cities reveals that all environmental aspects of their cities have been chemically treated to resist disease, fire, and decay. Starting a fire is almost impossible, and the Dath'Haram keep all of their plants healthy and well-maintained. This is one which might be a simple safety precaution, but if nothing else it means the Dath'Haram aren't ignorant as to the potential weaknesses of their homes.

What is suspicious is that if they were ever to come under attack…their cities would not fall easily. That doesn't happen by accident.

THE HUNTING PARTIES: Officially this is the group which is responsible for hunting the various wildlife of the region and returning it to be distributed to the people. While a primitive method of gathering food, it is one they have perfected over the years and now they are equivalent to an elite military unit in terms of training, coordination, and danger.

Hunting teams use modern weaponry, enhanced with various poisons designed by the Dath'Haram themselves, have strategy teams which plot out hunting operations, and if you didn't know better, none of this would be out of place in an actual military unit. But they use it to hunt food.

Training is similarly strict and coordinated. Every Dath'Haram child goes through this and the completion is a rite of passage for them. By the end they are able to swiftly navigate the jungles and forests better than a non-Dath'Haram Zararch agent, are better snipers than anyone in the Runianarch, and athletic enough to outrun a Borelian.

The Dath'Haram have a military. They just don't call it one.

Whoever initially formed this group certainly intended for the Dath'Haram to have some way of defending themselves. It would be extremely easy to convert the Hunting Parties to a highly lethal guerilla group that uses the region against any adversaries. Their hunters are accurate enough to rival anything from the Zararch, and none can navigate the region like they can.

It would be equivalent to trying to invade Borelia. But somehow worse.

Dath'Haram say they are pacifists, but they will likely drop this if they need to defend their home. And they have the perfect tools to do it.

BLADEDANCING AND THE BLADEDANCERS: These are not the same thing. I will clarify.

Bladedancing is highly tied to Dath'Haram courtship and mating. It was originally started by Bladedancer Filhallan who was supposedly attempting to impress a Borelian woman, and the Dath'Haram found it so romantic that everyone started doing it. Initially it was very crude, but well-meaning, and the centuries have refined and popularized it to becoming expected.

Bladedancing is a series of fluid movements, dodges, and flourishes with a ritual blade, and by chaining all of these together in a single motion while adapting to the moves of your opponent is the ultimate goal. It is supposed to be a visual spectacle, not a duel in the traditional sense. Both Dath'Haram are supposed to be able to react to each other's movements so well that it seems natural, and thus means they are meant to be together. That is the official reasoning.

In practice most Dath'Haram have to try and fail if they wish to fail the ritual. This is judged by two professional Bladedancers who score each party based on reflexes, fluidity, bodily control, and lethality. The higher the score, the more likely they are to pass. All that is required is for one Dath'Haram to formally challenge the one he wishes to mate, and they will either accept or reject.

This is never a surprise. Males and females who wish to be mated can and do practice well before the official ceremony, and treat it more as a performance. To date none have died from this, although there have been several close calls. The lethality scoring index indicates how close the blade reaches the skin, the closer, the better. Your goal is not to hurt your opponent, but just miss by a sliver. There have been some exceptional routines created where it appears to be close to a miracle that both survived.

In the end, the two judges will call an end at some point, and will either say that the male and female can mate, or they will refuse. If they refuse, they can try again after one week, so there isn't much of a punishment for failure. If they pass, they are usually mated soon after.

When people think of the Bladedancers themselves, they usually imagine something similar.

This is very incorrect.

There are Bladedancers, and then there are Dath'Haram who think they can handle a blade well enough to call themselves one. The latter is exclusively tied to the Collective Military. I cannot stress this enough that these are not actual Bladedancers, just Dath'Haram who call themselves that.

The actual Bladedancers are lethal duelists, fighters, and assassins. They don't use anything of the mating ritual forms, but their own. Even seeing them practice, you be able to easily tell that one Bladedancer could take any number of pretenders in the Collective and easily kill each one. They don't train to perform, they train to kill.

Most dismiss them because using melee weapons in this era is looked upon as archaic. But the Bladedancers don't use their weapons to kill, they use them to wound. All they need is a single scratch; a single chink in the armor, and the poison they coat their blades with will do the work for them. One drop of the poison used to coat their weapons will kill a Berserker in ten minutes.

It is not painful, so it is claimed, but it works exceptionally fast. The Bladedancers don't need to waste time on stabs and suicidal charges when all they need is a light scratch to do the same job. This is incidentally why the Oyariah are extremely wary of them and have forbidden any Bladedancers from entering their city after one of the Titans accidentally died dueling one.

However, the Bladedancers adhere to an internal code, which essentially is that they will never participate in any conflict, and only serve to protect the Dath'Haram and the Crypt. So they will fight if necessary, but only if there is a direct threat to their race. We should treat them as potential threats, Filhallan in particular. That is an entirely separate file on its own, as is the following.

THE CRYPT OF HARAMOALIAN: This is the one impenetrable sanctum of the Dath'Haram. It is officially where the graves of prominent Dath'Haram were buried, as is every Councilor of the Council. However, for a resting place for the dead, they do not let anyone inside it. Most believe that the Council has access, but this appears to be only on a case-by-case basis.

The Crypt is controlled by the Bladedancers and a figure we have identified as the Keeper of the Crypt. The Bladedancers guard, live, train, and likely plan there. It does not seem entirely reverent for a crypt, but that is assuming anyone believes the official reason. There may very well be graves down in the Crypt, but it is very clearly not the only thing.

There have been several attempts to breach the Crypt, and every single one has failed. We know the Zararch attempted to breach it once, and never returned. A group of Nulorian attempted to attack Filhallan to get inside and were slaughtered with ease, and we lost at least one Special Operator in our own investigation. The Bladedancers have never addressed the parties involved and appear to not care about the ones behind these attempts, only that they don't repeat them.

The question is what could be down there which is worth such heavy protection?

The most common theory is that there is an artifact of some kind down there, which the Dath'Haram stumbled across and the Bladedancers want to keep out of the hands of anyone else. It could also be alien technology of some kind which could have been discovered similarly. The more mundane theories believe it is just a secret Dath'Haram lab where they conduct dangerous research.

The chemist Cynthian has been observed entering the Crypt before. There is credence to this theory, but nothing concrete and Cynthian is heavily involved in most aspects of the Dath'Haram. Another strike against it is that the only one to emerge from the Crypt itself is the Keeper, and then intermittently, and of course there are the various Councilors the Bladedancers let in. There are no other Dath'Haram aside from the Bladedancers who enter and leave on a regular basis.

Without delving into the conspiracy theories that permeate the citizens, I do want to note that it was not long after Councilor Gabrian went into the Crypt that he began his push for answers. Representative Trudian is another who followed. I do not want to draw immediate conclusions, but the timing is extremely suspect.

Whatever is down there, it is not just graves.