“To follow Her is to sail with the winds of Fate. United, we are a mighty river, rushing forever onward, carrying the spirit of the world along with us. To betray Her is to betray your own heart. Alone, we are but droplets of dew, soon to vanish as mist under the heat of the sun.” - Lessons of Xar 5:13
Off the northwestern corner of the Gulf of Xireen, exists the island nation of Xar. The two large islands are home to a strange race of men, men who worship the insect goddess Xar with neigh-fanatical devotion.
The most peculiar, and possibly central, aspect of Xaran culture lies in breeding. Fertility among females is a rare trait, with only a small fraction of the women able to bear children. As a result, fertile females are treated as both pampered aristocracy and slave. A female capable of bearing offspring is allowed little other function in life, and can only be paired with the most worthy male. She has little to no control over her own destiny.
Likewise, particularly eligible men, be they successful warriors or merely excellent specimens, are paired with fertile women to produce the next generation. Pairings are made with an eye towards particular qualities, such as strength or intelligence. After generations of breeding like this, most Xarans are of a specialized stock.
Competitions for the right to mate with a female are difficult and often brutal. First, a male must declare his accomplishments before a council, who then rules whether the male has earned the right. Then, those who have passed this examination compete in challenges specific to the breed of offspring desired. The final challenge among those who pass far enough is always combat to the death.
Mated Xarans, those who can breed and are paired with a mate, are considered nobles in the society. They given every luxury, and are treated with respect and honor. They have many expectations to live up to. If a female is disgraced, she is stripped of privileges, but is forced to continue to breed. If a male is disgraced, they are considered a blight on society, and are exiled from Xar, if not killed outright. They are then replaced by a new mate for the female, who takes over all aspects of the disgraced one's former life. They become a father to the children, a husband to the wife, and inherit all of his estate.
The highest honor in all of Xar is to mate with the queen, or to be mother to a mate of the queen. There are seven Drone Princes at any time.
Due to the fact that not all individuals in Xar are able or allowed to breed, Xaran "families" are large social structures, with one breeding pair often having 25 or more offspring over their breeding careers. As breeding pairs are usually seen as akin to nobility, such status is not hereditary; almost every Xaran has parents of high status, so this does not confer any specialness to the children. Familial bonds between siblings are often strong but often focus more on honorable interaction than on close emotional ties. Relationships between parents and children are often more distant; usually a non-breeder is given the role of raising the children until they are self-sufficient. This caretaker is often another sibling of the same family.
Succession of the Queen
The Queen Xar lives forever, however her body still ages. When she is old, a group of the most prestigious females in her hive gathers for the rites of succession. These females fight amongst each other over the last months of the Queen's life, until there is only one left. This female inherits the mantle of Queen Xar when the Queen Xar passes.
Thelarion scholars classify Queen Xar as an ascendant magician, surmising the collective belief of her subjects giving her the potency necessary to ascend. As the mantle passes, so does the belief and thus the power.