It was a book called The Three Attitudes. In it, the woman, an educated traveller, fascinated by the differences among the three main divisions of ShiO — ZirCong, RoMayZine and SurGaKu – organised her observations of the people of the ShiO clans who, within fifty years, had started the war that would unify the whole world of O.


The three divisions of ShiO

The city of LuinShar, city of cities, the City of Towers, the Heart of Eternity, has long been riven by ancestral feud: far back into the Clouded Era, so far back that calendars have broken down and record of time been lost, the great families of Shar have clashed and plotted, treated and battled, seeking terrestrial power.

At some point, it is believed — although the history of O and of the whole world of O-yon is in itself a war, contested by the historians of different allegiances and views — that distinct clans gathered formally together, to seek advantage of security and mutual belief, and assembled under a certain common emblem, known as a Zor, or Mark.

Just as clans gathered under Marks, so, eventually, like-minded Marks gathered themselves into groups.

How is it possible to make sense of the arrangements of Marks? As those who study living things divide them into orders, then subdivide orders into families, then families into genera, and finally, genera into species, so it is possible to sort Marks into rank and state.

Looking now, in this modern day, at the situation in Shar, the most obvious division is between those Marks who follow TanZo [the Way], and those who do not.

Power is currently, very strongly, with those who follow TanZo. And there is a tremendous — and, some might say, frightening — concentration of power in the hands of a certain group of Marks, who call themselves “ShiO“, which means, roughly “those who pursue the heights of the world”, or “those at the summit of the world”. These ShiO Marks contain the purest, most austere, most formidable clans in Shar. They are devout, and despise those who do not follow TanZo. Marks which do not follow TanZo, ShiO know as ZonO, which means, roughly, “those whose place is on the ground”, or even, “those whose place is in the dirt”. Some of the wealthiest, oldest clans in Shar belong to ZonO: however, because of the weight and severity of power in the hands of ShiO, the ZonO clans must follow the rule of ShiO — they dare not show themselves as “deviant”, they must follow the Way.

Within ShiO, there are three main cultures, each one ancient. These are: ZirCong, RoMayZine and SurGaKu.