The Zinyini are nomadic herders of the Vale, driving their animals from one oasis to another and trading meat and milk for other goods from the People of the Vale. The city-dwellers have blocked the Zinyini from trading directly with the Azer, so those goods can only be obtained by trading with the Vale. Less honorable Zinyini will raid other Zinyini who have recently traded for those goods.
The Zinyini are divided into hundreds of small clans or “families”. Members of one clan may or may not get along with another clan, but nearly all clans will trade amongst themselves. It is taboo for Zinyini to marry within their own clan even if there is no possibility of a blood connection, but this also means that inter-clan marriage does not suffice to signal any sort of alliance between the two clans.
The Zinyini still worship the old gods, and occasionally employ temple whores in addition to more conventional clergy. Temple whores are priestesses (and, rarely, priests) who use sacred union to teach the divine mysteries, and to generically serve as a human connection to deity – the faithful cultivate their love for the gods through their lovemaking to the priestesses. Children born to temple whores are considered blessed, but they are given to other families so that motherhood does not interfere with the priestess’s devotion.
The Zinyini’s faith also has strong ancestral themes, in large part due to the existence of Spirit Warriors – souls of the faithful who return to do the gods’ work and/or protect their clans after death. Since the War of Heaven and Hell, Empress Carawynne has forced the gods to promise only to send Spirit Warriors to aid those who are allied with (or have promised not to harm) the people of the Vale. This has brought great sadness to death among the Zinyini, as it is no longer certain that the clan will ever see their beloved dead again.