The Zafir Nez, or in Common Tongue, “Grinning Death” or “Reapers”
“Tifiga, Tifiga…Tifiga, Tifiga…Hisha, Hisha, Tifga…Shh-shh-shh…”—Unknown Language, Sung to a survivor of scalping by the Grinning Death, thought to mean ‘Hush, Go to Sleep, Death Arrives’
The Zafir Nez, or “Grinning Death”, are an ululating terror on the sands, given to surprise ambushes and attacks on lone travelers and caravans alike. Their spiritual beliefs revolve around death as a threshold to the Great Beyond, believing that the transition between life and death is paper-thin. Many consider the waking life to be a dream, and the dream to be the waking life.
Each composes a ‘death song’ during their childhood years that they will sing when they know death has arrived, and when the death of their enemies is at hand. The language they compose the Death Song in is unknown to any other tribe, and most in the tribe say (when pressed) that it comes to them in a dream.
The Grinning Death tattoo and paint their skin a stark contrast between black and white, often head to toe, and exaggerate a white smile over lips and cheeks against blackened skin. They believe that by making their enemies’ lives as painful as possible before transition, they will become their servants in the Great Beyond, and they are often gleefully given to tactics like scalping, torture, and mutilation, giving the Grinning Death their nickname in Common Tongue.
The Zafir Nez are capricious and hedonistic, often seen drunk when they are not raiding, attending gambling halls, or generally disturbing the peace. Other tribes typically sigh in relief when they range on their raiding missions and are gone from camp for many weeks.
How they view:
The World – A desolate place made more desolate by the Dragon Wars, the Zafir Nez have reveled in the end times that seem at hand. It is their belief that when life and death become one, and the cycle is complete, they will become the ruling masters of the next world. They view civilization as an illusion, a joke, and will only entreat with those from Keredet or Shetno when they must, and often with haughty derision.
The Nation – They view it as a necessary evil. Once threatened with being expelled from the Nation by the Chieftain, the Zafir Nez elders decided it was not worth the trouble of becoming the enemy of thousands. Their sworn enemies, the Carraka, are kept close where they can raid their camps, and this is permissible under the Nation’s laws. They do not welcome fledgling tribes easily, viewing them as weak, easy prey. Once the respect of the Zafir Nez is earned, however, it is often kept generationally.
Magick – The Zafir Nez do not tolerate magick users among their tribe, killing those that exhibit powers at birth or when they manifest. They view magickers as the ultimate servant in their conquest of death and will hunt a witch with glee, vim, and tenacity. This is the root of their hatred and qualms with the Carraka.