Thralls In Society

In order to understand the place of thralls within Xianese society, it's important to remember the constant tint of fear that informs the entire institution. Even with human thralls, there's a perpetual and unspoken dread of rebellion that's made all the sharper by the easy access and intimacy of many slaves. Xianese do not like to talk about this, but in the back of every thrall-owner's mind is the constant awareness of just how dangerous his or her 'property' can be.

For non-goblinoid thralls, the attitudes tend to be fairly relaxed. Most thralls of any kind are agricultural workers, and while the rice plantations and farmlands of Xian are not gentle places, most thralls can expect better food than many city laborers. Owners tend to be distinctly paternalistic towards 'their folk', and being known for exceptional cruelty or harshness towards human thralls is considered a mark of bad breeding and crudity. Those thralls who are not agricultural workers are usually specialists of some kind, particularly gifted in some profession, craft, or personal beauty. These house thralls tend to live lives distinctly more comfortable than any ordinary commoner, and can expect the same- or more- courtesy that most commoners would receive. Few wish to insult a wealthy scholar's old tutor or the favored concubine of a capricious junzi. More than a few commoners would be glad of such positions if they could be sure of having them and not being shuffled off to some grubby rice plantation in the west.

For goblinoid and half-goblinoid thralls, distinctions are even more sharply drawn. Unlike human farm-slaves, goblinoid thralls who end up on a rice plantation can expect nothing more than a lingering death. Kept apart from the humans, worked brutally on starvation rations, most owners of goblinoid thralls consider them no more than expendable resources. There's a constant flow of new bodies from the unending border wars with the goblinoid tribes, and an orcish fieldhand can be bought for a fifth of the price of a human one. Some of this saving is lost in the extra guards necessary to keep them in hand, but a combination of hatred and ruthlessness ensures that goblinoid and half-goblinoid fieldhands rarely last more than a few years.

Trusted house slaves of goblinoid and half-goblinoid extraction, however, are treated in a drastically different fashion. These "tame" or "broken" thralls tend to be ostentatiously flaunted as an example of their owner's wealth and power. Most other humans are more comfortable around them as well, trusting in the obvious control of their owner and their implicit faith in the mastery they have over their thralls. An orc thrall in Xian has at least one human who quite clearly trusts him with his or her life, and so other humans will deal with such sorts on a relatively calm basis. They can expect no great social warmth, but the commoners do not insult them or give them undue harassment. Goblinoid and half-goblinoid house thralls are overwhelmingly of two main types- guards and concubines. In both cases they can expect much better living conditions than any commoner would have.

The fact that such goblinoids have an owner greatly calms the general fear and mistrust that surrounds the species. Unowned goblinoids simply cannot live in Xian. The fear and hate of them is just too great, and without an owner willing to stake their good fortunes on the goblinoid's good behavior, people have no faith in the goblin's harmlessness. Therefore, any goblinoid in Xianese land had best have a very visible owner nearby or risk being murdered by the first mob of terrified peasants they come across.

One notable exception to the above is in the case of goblinoid spellcasters, particularly female ones. Common folk inevitably label them "goblin witches", and have a venerable and deep-seated terror of such things. Everyone assumes that any goblin witch can bespell them into a drooling slave, assuming she doesn't care to blast them to flinders with lightning. Throughout Xianese history, it has been the dreadful goblin priestesses that have caused the worst damage to Xian, beyond even the violence of the tribal warlords. Any goblin spellcaster needs keep her talents very well hidden if she means to survive public panic- that, or else have an owner so powerful that no one could imagine him or her enspelled.

Free half-goblinoids have it only marginally better than slaves. Mistrusted by almost everyone they meet, they tend to be selfish, cynical, untrusting creatures who have never known anything but varying shades of rejection and betrayal. While most Xianese will deal with them, if grudgingly, they can occasionally find themselves in danger in isolated hamlets and villages, where any trace of goblinoid blood is a sign of a dangerous outsider. A thrall halfblood at least has one 'decent' person to vouch for them, but a free halfblood could be anyone's pawn. While peasants are still exceptionally uncomfortable with half-goblinoid spellcasters, they do not inspire the kind of automatic terror that fullbloods do.

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