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Robert M. Wright; Author, Freelance Writer, Realtor

Creator of the Aesr Universe

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A Brief History of the Talisan Trader: The Kittari

     The Talisan word for trader is Kittari, it originally meant “one who mediates,” and referred to men of noble birth assigned to negotiate disputes on behalf of the Talisan Court. This ethic spawned the roots of Kittaradi, both social and spiritual. Over time, the Talisan nobility had trouble maintaining centralized control of their lands, and began “outsourcing” military, administrative, and tax collecting duties to their Kittari who acted like regional governors.As the Talisan Court grew weaker, local governors grew more powerful.Eventually some evolved into Mudi, or feudal lords who ruled specific territories independently of the central government. Tazik Abu, a Kiattari of the eastern marches who traced his lineage back to the royal family, established the nation’s first Kittari Mudi government and the Talisan empire slowly shifted from a traditional empire to one ruled by the Kittari Mudi.The empire was essentially under trader rule for nearly 700 years. 

     Nevertheless, the initial stability Tazik Abu achieved failed to bring lasting peace. Other Emperors came and went during this time often at the point of spear and threat of flame and after a Skyfall the Empire collapsed, plunging the Talisan people into turmoil. Thus began the infamous Age of Wars, a bloody century of strife when local nobility desperately fought the Kittari Mudi to protect their domains and schemed to conquer rivals. By the time the Empire plunged into the turbulent Age of Wars, the term Kittari had come to signify armed government officials, peacekeeping officers, and professional mediators/traders: in short, almost anyone who carried a sword and was ready and able to exercise deadly force. The worst of these Kittari were little better than street thugs; the best were fiercely loyal to their charges and true to the unwritten code of Trade known today as Kittaradi (usually translated as “Precepts of Trade” or “Way of the Trader”). Virtuous or villainous, the Kittari emerged as the colorful central figures of Talisan history.After the Age of Wars, the Kittaradi is codified and everyone who wished to become Kittari or a trader had to learn and live his or her lives by this code. All apprentice Kittari serve a Mudi in a city or caravansary that they practice and ply their trade.Learning the Kittaradi.

     The Kittari Mudi now having further developed their beliefs after the brutal Age of Wars has come together to form a confederation of city-states and their networks of caravansaries spread throughout the world to further trade. The Talisan language and alphabet have spread as the common language uniting vastly different people in trade. Many cities and kingdoms hire Kittari as their Emissaries to represent them in large trade as well teach their own merchants the precepts of trade. Only Talisan can be Kittari, although many other races have traders who practice these beliefs and are often dealt with as equals in this capacity by Kittari. The worst thing that a Kittari can be called or become is Gypsy. Gypsies are considered thieves and liars who use their trading skills to swindle, rob and cheat those whom entrust them.

The Way of Kittaradi-

I. Rectitude or Justice: Kittaradi refers not only to professional rectitude, but also to personal rectitude: Rectitude or Justice is the strongest virtue of Kittaradi. A famous Kittari Mudi defines it this way: ‘Rectitude is one’s power to decide upon a course of conduct in accordance with reason, without wavering; to negotiate when to negotiate is right, to walk away when to walk away is right.’ Another speaks of it in the following terms: ‘Rectitude is the bone that gives firmness and stature. Without bones, the head cannot rest on top of the spine, nor hands move nor do feet stand. So without Rectitude neither talent nor learning can make the Talisan novice into a Kittari.’

II. Courage: Kittaradi distinguishes between bravery and courage: Courage is worthy of being counted among virtues only if it is exercised in the cause of Righteousness and Rectitude.  ‘Perceiving what is right and not doing it reveals a lack of Courage.’ In short, ‘Courage is doing what is right.’In any deal, the Kittari must always do what is right for the benefit of their charges.As Kittari the art of trade is one of honor as well as profit, to make the best deal possible requires courage, to fail to do so means a lack of courage.

III. Benevolence or Mercy: A Kittari invested with the power to negotiate and the power to trade is expected to demonstrate equally extraordinary powers of benevolence and mercy.  In any trade the Kittari must wisely use restraint, to not be benevolent when dealing with a trading partner could mean loss of profit in future endeavors as those wronged will remember and refuse to bargain again with such an individual.

IV. Politeness: Discerning the difference between obsequiousness and politeness can be difficult for casual visitors to the Talisan lands, but for a true Kittari, courtesy is rooted in benevolence.Every foreign trader has noticed courtesy and good manners as distinctive Kittari traits. During the Ritual of Trade, every Kittari Emissary understands the need for politeness, as usually the first to make a mistake in custom and courtesy is the one who loses the edge in negotiations, and thus loses profit for their client or themselves. 

V. Honesty and Sincerity. True Kittari, disdain greed, and believe that “Kittari must grudge greed, for greed hinders trade.”  Thus, children of high-ranking Kittarii are raised believing that talking about money shows poor taste, and that feigning ignorance of the value of different coins shows good breeding: Kittaradi encourages thrift, because to express wealth in vulgar ways invites a down turn in the favor of the Fates. Luxury should be subtle and tasteful, overt and gaudy displays of wealth is considered the greatest menace to a Kittari, thus subtle displays of grandeur is required of the followers of Kittaradi. When meeting a Kittari one notes the wealth of the Kittari by the bangles on their wrists, many thin bangles of fine metal imply great wealth, wide bands of fine metals shows a gaudy trader and one not to be trusted.

VI. Honor: Though Kittaradi deals with the profession of trading, it is equally concerned with non-trade behavior: The sense of Honor, a vivid consciousness of personal dignity and worth, characterized the Kittari. They are born and bred to value the duties and privileges of their profession. Fear of disgrace hangs like a sword over the head of every Kittari … To take offense at slight provocation is ridiculed as ‘short-tempered.’  As a popular Kittari adage puts it: ‘Being a true trader means always dealing with the ignorant.’

VII. Loyalty. Economic reality has dealt a blow to organizational loyalty around the world. Nonetheless, true Kittari or traders remain loyal to those to whom they are entrusted: Loyalty to those they represent, be it their own caravan or someone who hires them, is the most distinctive virtue of the Kittari. Personal fidelity exists among all sorts of men: a gang of pickpockets swears allegiance to its leader.  Only in the code of Kittaradi does Loyalty assume paramount importance. When negotiating a trade or treaty loyalty for those who entrust the Kittari with this task, must always be kept in the forefront of the Kittair’s mind, “What is in the best interest of my charge or followers.”

VIII. Character and Self-Control. Kittaradi teaches that traders should behave according to an absolute moral standard, one that transcends logic.  What is right is right, and what is wrong is wrong. The difference between good and bad and between right and wrong are givens, not arguments subject to discussion or justification, and a trader should know the difference.  Finally, it is a trader’s obligation to exhibit this moral standard through the model of his own behavior: The first objective of Kittari education is to build up Character. If one is of questionable character then their dealings will be as well.  When dealing with others, especially those ignorant of Kittaradi by exhibiting self-control with these people the Kittari displays the ageless qualities of honest trade.

Rituals of Trade:

     Not all trade is formalized and many merchants establish trade and the selling of their goods in cities and caravansaries of the Talisan after having negotiated a fair tax to be paid to the Mudi who controls the city or caravansary. Usually taxes or service fees never exceed 20% of the total value of the trade. When trade takes place without proper negotiation a Kittari who is aware of the trade and fails to intervene to ensure proper compensation will suffer a marque.

     Marques are records that pass through caravans and given to Kittari Mudi’s to post with in their cities and caravansaries. Those marqued are subjected to heavy fines and can even be refused the right to trade, as they have been proven dishonest in their dealings. Two marques severely restrict any trade possibility as the trader is shunned and no honest merchant will deal with such a person.  If a Kittari reaches this point, they are refused entry into a Talisan city or caravansary and if they try to trade within such a place death is the only answer.

    Formalized trade is done between Emissaries who represents cities or large caravans that meet and occasionally between individuals who want to ensure they are dealt with fairly. This ritual is known as the Ritual of Trade and is a very involved process and these emissaries are considered master traders and command a great deal of respect and power.

Formal Rituals of Trade:

     Both Emissaries must wear all white; carry the ritual sword of trade, a double edged, thin sword called the Taq that hangs on their hip. The host must provide a table and soft cushions for both emissaries; the negotiator must carry a gaggle of doves in a cage. These doves are released when trade has been achieved successfully.

      If trade breaks down but both parties do their best both walk away with no shame.  If trade breaks down but one party is obstinate and fails to work in the best interest of their charges, they must commit suicide as they have failed in their most basic duty, to negotiate a deal that is both fair and in the best interest of their charge. 

     Since Emissaries are master traders suicides are rare, but they do occur.If an Emissary fails to end their life, that responsibility falls to the honorable one. The other Emissary is required slay the one who fails to end their life due to their obstinacy, and their name is forever be tainted as both a dishonorable and a coward.This will be recorded and posted in every city and caravansary that the Talisan visit, so all may see the name of the coward. This is done to ensure that all deals are fair and all profit.

The highest honor any Kittari can have, even beyond Mudi is to be called Emissary.

**The Kittari so far have not played an important part in my stories, but they came to mind one night while I was outlining the Talisan social structure as I have always said the Talisans are the foremost traders in Agaya.