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 50 years, had started the war that would unify the whole world of O.


The RoMayZine | After ZirCong, the RoMayZine Marks are considered the oldest of the three divisions of ShiO. Famous RoMayZine clans include the Three Swans, the Falling Snow, the Firetree and the Blue Gate. The RoMayZine take their name from the RoMayZuthZine, which is known in the common Imperial tongue as The Metal Book of the Sutras of War. Two great Ancient texts shape the history of Shar, and of the Land of O: the AmorZine (The Book of the Way) and the RoMayZuthZine. It may be said, very generally, that the ZirCong follow both of these books equally, while the RoMayZine favour The Metal Book, and the SurGaKu favour the AmorZine.

The RoMayZine, concerning themselves | The clans of the RoMayZine Marks have been tempered by generation after generation of battle and war. They consider themselves as unique, and their interpretation and practice of the Way to be proven and undeniable. Although they revere their ZirCong cousins, and admire the purity of the ZirCong Way, they have no intention of becoming ZirCong. RoMayZine are confident, powerful, intensely proud of their culture. They live their entire lives in a state of spiritual war, testing themselves through training the mind and body in a relentless fashion. Men and women, both compete and train, revelling in their physiques, valuing contest. Duelling, wrestling, racing on horseback, swimming against each other, boxing, performing vigorous, hypnotic dances, the RoMayZine fashion themselves so that they are ready to fight at a moment’s notice: they value the speed of their reactions, their lightness of foot. They can endure pain, they act quickly, instinctively. They think of themselves as rough and ready, simple, direct, not weighed down by complex thoughts, by useless subtleties. They think of their ShiO cousins as lacking in humour, inhibited, insufficiently connected to the world around them, too prone to reverie and trivialities. A RoMayZine sage once wrote: “Our RoMayZine spirit means just this: to live ferociously, according to the Way”.

The ZirCong, concerning the RoMayZine | Although the ZirCong are forever elusive in their writings and utterances, yet it is thought, even among the clans of ShiO themselves, that the ZirCong have a quite fraternal view of their RoMayZine comrades. However, it is very much the view of an older and wiser brother for a younger, more reckless one. A famous ZirCong sage from the Era of Four Decays has said, of the RoMayZine: “A small, strong lens, focusing the rays of the sun, can kindle a fire that may burn a whole forest”. Some RoMayZine have responded to this saying in a prickly fashion, interpreting the phrase “A small, strong lens” as a deliberate method of patronising and diminishing their Way. Others, though, revering the ZirCong, prefer to take it as a form of praise, and to be grateful — “for the ZirZong rarely praise, even when they praise” as a RoMayZine philosopher drily noted. The ZirCong admire the courage and the discipline of the RoMayZine, but it is thought they view the RoMayZine stress on the physical world and the worship of the human body as a limitation to true illumination. They find it difficult to believe that one may grow perfectly Dustless if the body is made such an object of attention, for the body is only dust in various forms. Despite these differences, ZirCong and RoMayZine clans and Marks have more and more tended to fight together for the good of the Way. The “two brothers” recognise they are from the same family.

The SurGaKu, concerning the RoMayZine | The SurGaKu follow a Way that is more to do with the arts of peace than of war. There is no major rift between any of the three main divisions of ShiO, for all revere TanZo and the purity and greatness of the Way: however, it is no secret that SurGaKu and RoMayZine are furthest apart in terms of their vision and temperament. SurGaKu view the martial prowess of the RoMayZine with a mixture of admiration and disdain. When distilled to extremes, SurGaKu find dealing with the RoMayZine as a somewhat frustrating experience. SurGaKu dislike the RoMayZine emphasis on physical power and instinct, and the RoMayZine, aware of the dislike, tend to exaggerate this very trait in their make-up when responding to the SurGaKu. The RoMayZine are perfectly capable of refinement, and can create exquisite works of art, but this is hardly their main desire in life — indeed, they might be accused of a certain affectation regarding art, suggesting that their own creations are half-thought, throwaway things, of no importance on a battlefield, and of little importance anywhere else. The SurGaKu, who see the Way as a matter of creating and exhibiting beauty, sometimes appear to feel themselves treated disrespectfully by the RoMayZine. As in the saying of the common people, these two divisions of ShiO can, on occasion, “bring out the worst in each other”. What to a RoMayZine is a forthright, direct simplicity can seem to a SurGaKu rude, thoughtless or even brutal behaviour, a crudeness, lacking in good manners. For all of this, is there a covert respect between the two divisions? An admiration each keeps from the other, and perhaps even half from themselves?