There are no swifter ships in the realm than the sleek, low-slung cutters of the Kasirutan islands, flying fast with their painted sails filled with the southern winds. Their crews are all sons and daughters of the salt water, and there is hardly a port in all the world that has not seen a Kasirutan merchant pull in with a hold full of treasures from far-flung lands. Yet old sailors are never easy when they see a bright sail on the horizon, for the Kasirutans have a second reputation as shamelessly enthusiastic pirates and mercenary privateers. By the time a ship is close enough to tell the difference between a sparse-handed merchant and a pirate ship swarming with reavers, it’s too late for ordinary prey to get away.
The sea is the inheritance of the Kasirutans. In the distant past their ancestors were the naval transport forces that brought the Dulimbaian invasion to the southern shores of the continent. Unwilling to bow to the Regent after the chaos of the Shattering, these naval officers retreated to the Kasirutan archipelago, where there was good ship-timber, hemp for ropes, and fish to feed their crews. In time they attracted a host of other traders, ne’er-do-wells, pirates, and exiles, eventually coalescing into the modern-day society of the archipelago.
Every Kasirutan town is nominally independent and under the rule of its own datuk. Some of these rulers are elected while others inherit the post, but none keep it for long without placating the rich traders and ruthless pirate captains of the town. Every generation or two, a captain or merchant rises to such a peak of fame and success that they are recognized as the raja of all the isles. The raja’s word is an unalterable law as long as they can keep the allegiance of the great captains and merchant-princes of the islands.
Kasirutan society is less rigid than its military heritage might imply. Aboard a Kasirutan ship, discipline is harsh enough to satisfy a Patrian centurion, but on the shore a man or woman may do as they please so long as they have the gold or the steel to carry it through. As befits a nation of traders, Kasirutan law is harsh toward cheats and contract- breakers, but rough-and-tumble pastimes are often overlooked. Women have the same opportunities as men in the isles, though weak or foolish women get no more charity than their dullard brothers. Unlike most other nations, women are even allowed to work as sailors, though Kasirutan ships only ever have strictly male or female crews to prevent discipline problems.
The archipelago itself is thickly covered with jungles and steep volcanic peaks. The isles offer few goods beyond ship-stuff and fish, so trade is crucial to the survival of the towns. Still, ancient ruins are found high on the mountain peaks and deep within the jungles, and brave youths sometimes seek the strange relics of the first inhabitants of the islands. Their ways, or even if they were strictly human at all, remain a mystery. There are lingering, uneasy legends that these original inhabitants were shapeshifters, and that their heirs dwell secretly among the Kasirutans.
Kasirutans are largely ancestor-worshipers, but the priests of the Great Sea exert significant influence from their salt-lapped island monasteries and well-attended village shrines.