Cho-ja are sentient creatures of Kelewan.

Anatomy[edit | edit source]

They are shiny black, with six jointed limbs and bodies segmented like those of insects. A larger rear thorax has four three-jointed legs and then a smaller upper thorax, with two almost human arms that can handle tools and weapons. Each forearm possesses a natural sharp ridge.

Their faces are oval, with large multifaceted jelly-like sensitive eyes above two slits. Their jaws and mouths are human in appearance.

They have chitin exoskeletons. Also, cho-ja can't see the color red.

Cho-ja are basically black but with a large variation in color and patterns. Inside the Tsurannuani Empire, color is more uniform, except young queens who display a dark red shade.

Culture[edit | edit source]

Cho-ja live in hives built in meadows or valleys. A hive is ruled by a cho-ja queen. One is born less than once during a human lifetime. A hive has around 20,000 members. Occasionally because of population pressure, a hive could be split.

They are brave warriors and miners, able to find precious metals and gems buried deep within the earth. Their artisans work jewelry of surpassing delicacy. The insectoid aliens also held the secret of making their famous and priced silk.

A cho-ja is taught their language already in the egg sac and they are hatched in creches.

Structure[edit | edit source]

Cho-ja have male and female members. The females are winged.

The Rirari are females who put infertile eggs in the Cho-ja queen. Another unnamed caste are infertile and mindless and use their wings to vent air through the tunnels to the hive.

Male cho-ja play when immature, but one day mature suddenly and take up their roles. They become breeders who fertilize the queen, workers who feed the queen and take several roles according to the hive's need, and soldiers who protect the hive and the queen, and occasionally ally with the Tsurani.

When a new queen is born, soldier cho-ja are hatched and hastened to maturity; because of these circumstances they are more aggressive and unpredictable than the seasoned warriors, for her protection.

Relationship with Tsurani[edit | edit source]

Cho-ja build their hives in safe places and hard to reach places, not used by the Tsurani, resulting in scarce contact. Eventually their hives are found surrounded by Tsurani estates, and forced to coexist, isolated from the other hives. The Tsurani consider cho-ja as aliens and can't understand fully their civilization; however the Empire and the Assembly of Magicians contacted the Cho-ja Queens. Eventually they decided that the Cho-ja were to be subjects of the Empire. The Great Ones feared the Cho-ja magic, and part of their truce includes a prohibition against using magic (resulting in the Tsurannuani Cho-ja being less colorful than their cousins in the rest of Kelewan).

To have a hive upon one's estate was an honour, a source of military power and an economic asset. In exchange for grain and items fashioned from hide (things the Cho-ja can't produce themselves), they supply their Tsurani Lords with superior warriors, jewels, glowing orbs, silk and other products.

Wars had been fought to control the silk trade, until imperial edict allowed for neither guild nor noble to monopolize it.

A Cho-ja soldier is as strong and able as two Tsurani soldiers, while a cho-ja worker can hold a burden five men could carry. Cho-ja are also extraordinarily agile and even at furious speed they can suddenly stop perfectly still. They are also terrified of losing their footing and are vulnerable when fallen on the ground, like during a struggle, when it is considered defeat.

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