Champions of the Sun
The Tya Women in the West have another option to the patriarchy under which most of them live—a society called the Tya. The Tya choose to live as men. They forgo the protection of their families, give up their dowries and their right to support by male relatives and must never ask a man to ﬁght their battles. In addition, the Tya are expected to take an extract made from certain shellﬁsh that renders them temporarily or sometimes permanently sterile. Members of the Tya are marked by male attire and by the complex swirling tattoos on their cheeks and foreheads. Wild tales of the Tya abound throughout the West; they are said to indulge in perverse and secret rites, to have close ties with the Lintha Family and to assault and mutilate any men who offend the Tya. The Tya are quite willing to accept recruits from among women who come from other parts of Creation, not just women of the West. Most Tya become sailors on the ﬂeet of ships that the group maintains, while others settle on those islands that deal cordially with the Tya. Some live in Tya guildhouses and hire out as guards, mercenaries or similar martial professions. Others become merchants and traders, living above their shops and only visiting the Tya houses for special seasonal ceremonies.
Any woman wanting to become a Tya will be assessed carefully by the Tya themselves. Women who actually want to be Tya are expected to understand what is involved (loss of all female rights and protections, loss of fertility and permanent tattooing) and to be able to explain precisely why they want to take this option. Noble or wealthy families are generally reluctant to allow their daughters to become Tya, and some women must escape vigilant guards to join. Many poor families, by contrast, care little if their female children join up, and some even encourage them. It is also considered an eccentric but permissible option for widows who will otherwise be thrown on their male relatives’ resources; such widows often pursue land-bound trades rather than sea-based ones. A woman who wishes to become a Tya must take a formal oath before ﬁve other Tya, preferably including a Tya elder, renouncing all local protections and rights as a woman, and must drink the traditional sterility-inducing shellﬁsh extract. She then receives the tattoos that mark her as a Tya. In emergencies, she may delay tattooing and sterilization. The polite way to address a Tya is as “Tya [full name]”; a Tya elder is “Elder Tya [full name].” Tya simply call each other by their personal names.
The tattoos worn by all Tya are a diluted version of the scars Tya Edralneth inﬂicted upon herself. Their purpose is to mark the wearer, not to decorate her. However, as time went by, the tattoos have become more personalized and more stylized. Tya tattoos typically run across the forehead and cheeks and down the neck, shoulders and arms, and can extend over the chest and back. All Tya have basic jagged-line tattoos on their cheeks and forehead, in imitation of scars; as Tya get older, many add to these tattoos and modify them to soften their impact, or to make them more personal. Common themes include seaweed, stormclouds, lightning and woven patterns. The tattoos are never pictorial. Some Tya become specialized tattoo artists, and have even provided designs for iconic Dragon-Blooded imagery that has gone all the way to the Blessed Isle.