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Spirits, Souls, and Nexuses

There are many spirits wandering the world of GURPS Requiem. Most of them are contained within bodies, such as the Majestati. These men and women contain the souls of individuals of their race who lived in the past when magic was real. These souls are inherently magical, and can slowly transform the human body of the Majestati into their true race. These types of souls are called Nexuses.

A few humans have Nexuses which do not belong to nonhumans. These souls are those of legendary heroes. A man could be born with the soul of the Greek king Agamemnon, or the Roman hero Aeneus. These men and women are not Majestati, even though they too have a Nexus, which eventually changes their own body and mind, though not nearly as much as a Majestati's.

Magical spirits wander the world freely. These are created through spells and magic, sometimes by the Incubans, sometimes by their disciples the Adepts. These spirits are mostly invisible and only interact with each other. Some minor spirits can communicate to the outside world, either by appearing as a ghost-like image or by mentally imparting knowledge.

More powerful spirits can interact with the real world through magic. These spirits are deadly, as they can rarely be harmed except through powerful magic spells, or by magical weapons. Jotuns are examples of these spirits.

Some spirits, such as Guardian Spirits and valkyrja warrior-spirits, can physically attack people in the real world. These spirits can be damaged by magical weapons or by a normal weapon wielded by a magical creature, such as a Majestati or an Adept.

Spirits are not common in Requiem, though particular races or Adepts, such as the valkyrja and the Cult of Whio, deal with them more frequently.

The Origins of the Incubans

No one is sure where the Incubans came from, or who they were before they become immortals with the power to steal magic from an entire planet. The Majestati and the Adepts have gathered some information on these individuals:

Thalcos
Thalcos was once a Roman senator who was banished from Rome because he fell in disfavor with the more powerful senators. He went North into the Germanic barbarian lands where he learned magic and alchemy from some tribal shamans. Eventually, he became a respected member of the German tribe where he continued to work on his magic. When a strange disease struck the other shamans, Thalcos was made leader of the tribe. He taught the tribe how to farm and build stronger houses. He practiced his magic on the growing tribe, magically helping them build buildings and chop down trees. By the time he discovered the secret to immortality, he was very old. After becoming immortal, he traveled throughout the barbarian lands, continuing to learn magic and help other tribes. He was the last mage to join the Incubans.
Merlyn
Merlyn came from Britannia, and was a contemporary of Thalcos'. Introduced to the magical arts early in his life, Merlyn became a tutor and an advisor for many Britannian leaders, including Roman Governors, and after he became an immortal magician, British kings. He crafted hundreds of magical items for the people of Britannia, and rewarded those he thought brought order and law to the land with these items. He, Prospero, and Medea were the original Incubans. Merlyn awoke from his long sleep after the Debacle quite often, where he continually ventured out into the world to continue his work. His Adepts maintain that he was indeed the Merlyn from Arthurian tales, and he awoke from his sleep to teach and advise the young Arthur. Shortly after Arthur became king, however, Merlyn drifted back to sleep with the other Incubans.
Whio
No one, including his own Adepts, know who Whio really is. Some say that he is an African shaman, other say that he was a powerful medicine man from North America, while still others say that he was once the god of the Aztecs. According to rumor, Whio was never invited to be a member of the Incubans. Rather, he simply appeared in front of them and asked (his Adepts say he demanded) to join.
Medea
Medea is undoubtedly the Medea from Greek legend and drama; her tale can be read in any mythology book. Medea was born on the island of Colchis, located in the Aegean sea, where she still resides today. Married to the legendary Jason, she was eventually spited by her husband though she continually saved him and his companions with her magic. In a rage, she killed her children and fled in a flaming chariot. She sought refuge at her aunt Circe's island, but the two got into a hot argument. Medea killed Circe in a fit of anger, stole her magic, and then fled. She continued to study magic, supposedly on the top of Mount Olympus itself, wanting to destroy everything she knew and loved. By the time her research was complete, centuries had passed and everyone she wanted to wreak her revenge on was dead. She wandered across the land, amazed that Greece had been conquered by the Romans. In her long wanderings, she found and befriended Merlyn and Prospero, and the three of them founded the Incubans. Medea was the Incuban who actually came up with the idea of the Debacle.
Imhotep
The second oldest of the Incubans, Imhotep was a priest of Ra in the days of ancient Egypt, where Pharaohs ruled unquestioned and Hebrew slaves built great monuments. Imhotep was one of many high priests who knew the secret of immortality, which lay in the rituals the priests did on the dead kings of Egypt. Imhotep was the only one who dared to perform these rituals on himself while he was still alive. Though the rites worked and Imhotep became immortal, he had earned himself several enemies, the other high priests and the pharaoh himself! A spectacular chase ensued, with Imhotep fleeing from the Pharaoh's army across the hot sands of Egypt. Imhotep arrived in Babylon, where he befriended the immortal mage Nebuchenezzer. Nebuchenezzer sought to hide Imhotep with his magic, but the spell failed and Imhotep was captured. Imhotep was tortured for an entire year, his body unable to die. Horribly disfigured and in agonizing pain, Imhotep was sealed in a tomb and buried alive. Hundreds of years later, Nebuchenezzer unearthed to tomb and released Imhotep. The two studied magic together for quite some time before joining the Incubans.
Nebuchenezzer
The oldest of the Incubans, it is said that Nebuchenezzer was Hammurabi's advisor in ancient times. Little is known about his early life, or how he acquired his powerful magic. After being the advisor to several Babylonian kings, Nebuchenezzer built himself a tower on the outskirts of Babylon where he studied magic for almost a thousand years. The tower was discovered by Imhotep while he was fleeing Egypt. The two became good friends, and Nebuchenezzer eventually released Imhotep from his tomb. The two continued to study magic, until they finally joined the Incubans.
Prospero
The tale of Prospero is well-told by William Shakespeare's The Tempest. How, exactly, the Bard knew this tale is unknown. Some say that Prospero awoke from his long sleep in the and relayed the story to Shakespeare directly. Prospero was the rightful duke of Milan, a small province in Italy. Usurped by his brother Ferdinand, Prospero was banished with his daughter to a small island. On this island lived Sycorax, a powerful witch. Prospero and Sycorax battled for many days, and eventually Prospero cast Sycorax into the sea. Prospero studied Sycorax' magic for many years on the island, eventually becoming a powerful mage. Some time later, Prospero cast a huge storm - the Tempest - that washed his brother ashore on the island. Prospero terrorized his brother and his companions for many days, until finally forgiving him and taking back his kingdom, but only after giving up his magic. Some years later, he was approached by Merlyn and Medea and asked to join the Incubans. At first he refused, but knowing that he was growing old, and longing for immortal power once again, he accepted. It is important to note that Prospero always enjoyed the company of the nonhumans. On the island he was friends to a faerie and another, unknown being (some say that it was a mawari, a wild elf). Since then, Prospero has become the champion of the Majestati and both he and his Adepts help them adapt to the modern world.

The Second Debacle

As much ingrained in the Majestati as the Second Coming is ingrained in humans, the Second Debacle is a myth that haunts the minds of all nonhumans. Virtually all Majestati believe that a time will come when magic is released from the Incubans and once again occupies the world. Nonhumans will again be able to compete with humanity, and magic will be alive once more.

How, exactly, the Second Debacle happens is not known. There are several theories, prophesies, and conjectures:

The Lion Prophecy
According to an elven prophecy, an elf known as "the Lion" will bring into the world a child who will bring magic back. Some elves believe that this child will be the slayer of the Incubans, while others believe that the child will be a great mage able to counter the Incubans' original Debacle. The "Lion" spoken of in the prophecy is believed to be Kaelan Durhann, a young dark elf.
The Rings of Andvaranaut
The Gudruns, a group of dwarves, believe that the Debacle was only able to happen when King Andvaranaut crafted his rings and distributed them to the dwarves. Because these magical rings were not held by one person of power, the Debacle was able to be cast. The Gudruns now seek to reclaim all of the King's rings, melt them down into a single crown, which will then be magical enough to imbue the wearer with immortality and might. The new dwarf king will then be able to take on the Incubans and bring magic back to the world. This theory is not bought by most dwarves, so the Gudruns must resort to theft and violence to retrieve the rings. Several dwarves have lost their lives -- or their fingers -- because of the Gudruns.
The Seven Aesir
The valkyrja have a slightly different view of history. They believe that it was actually Ragnarok and the death of the Norse gods that weakened magic enough that mere mortals could take it. With no gods left in the world to protect it, the Debacle was merely another catastrophe included within Ragnarok, which still continues today. However, according to legend, seven Norse gods survived Ragnarok. Where these gods are today is not known, but the valkyrja more than believe that if the seven Aesir are found, they will wage war on the Incubans. The valkyrja know the result of this war -- the Aesir and the Incubans will virtually annihilate each other, but this will be the end of Ragnarok, and a new world, with magic, will dawn.
The Rebirth
Many Majestati do not think that by destroying the Incubans will magic return. Indeed, many of them think that if the Incubans are destroyed, magic will disappear once and for all. Instead, the only way to help magic to return is to rebuild it. The creation of the Majestati and the mages has surely put a spark of magic back into the world. If this spark is cared for, and humans are made to believe in magic once again, magic will return, regardless of the Incubans. These Majestati basically want humanity to once again believe in magic, and have set out to do it, slowly.
Kill the Incubans
On the other hand, some Majestati care little about prophesies. They simply believe that by killing the Incubans, magic will return. Or, even by capturing one or two Incubans, they can force them to release the magic they received during the Debacle. There is only a single problem that remains -- how to kill ancient, omnipotent, immortals.
Negotiation
It's obvious that the Incubans don't exactly like the modern world, so perhaps they can be convinced to release magic back into it, which will undoubtedly transform it. And even once they do that, the Incubans will still be extremely powerful, losing nothing in the bargain. Several Majestati have sought out the Incubans to present this idea to them, but they have only gotten the ears of Thalcos and Prospero, who have viewed this idea with curiosity.
Natural Generation
There is a small bit of mana left in a few places in world, and observant Adepts and Majestati have discovered that these places are slowly growing. Every year, on Samhain, the earth itself releases a tiny "pulse" of mana that enlarges these few low-mana areas by a few inches. In several hundred years, the world will once again be covered in magic. The only question is whether or not the Incubans will steal it back.

Numbers of the Requiem

The Majestati try to keep track of their numbers, and have come up with figures that estimate the number of Majestati births since the casting of the Requiem.

YearTotal Single Race YearTotal Single Race
19644 1 1975800 200
196510 3 1976700 180
196625 6 1977600 150
196750 12 1978500 125
1968100 25 1979400 100
1969200 50 1980300 75
1970300 75 1981200 50
1971400 100 1982100 25
1972600 150 198350 12
1973800 200 198425 6
19741,000 250 198515 4

1974 seems to be the peak year for Majestati births (since the Second Requiem happened shortly after the first, the djinn tend to peak around 1975). Every since then, the births have been sharply declining. Apparently, however, the spell still hasn't finished, as there was a single volsunga birth in 1995. Surely by the year 2000, no Majestati will be born through the Requiem.

Mei-Jin the Ogre

Most Majestati that have been around for a while have heard the tale of Mei-Jin the ogre. Several dwarves of Clan Chando, a small British clan, stumbled across an extremely large, loud brute in a local pub. Amazed by this man's size, one of the dwarves picked a fight with the man to see if he could beat him. The dwarf was thrown through several doors in the course of the next few minutes.

Impressed by the man's strength, the dwarves got him drunk, and the man started talking about his mountain home in the East, and how when he was little he'd see the world around him differently than the other boys in his town. The dwarves, not exactly sober at this point either, decided that Mei-Jin was irrefutably an ogre, and they told him.

Mei-Jin had no problem believing the dwarves. It made a lot of sense to him, and he quite matter-of-factly accepted the theory behind the Majestati. Over the next few months, Mei-Jin did considerable research on his family history, trying to find if there were any others that may share his magical blood. Unfortunately, he found nothing. He did, however, continue training with his dwarven friends. The Chando dwarves report that he developed great, inhuman strength, and when in his true form, he could chew rocks that they gave him, much to their amusement.

The Chando dwarves were very secretive of their new friend. For whatever reasons, they chose to keep him a secret from the other Majestati. After one year of being with the Chando dwarves, Mei-Jin decided that he would go east and look for more of his kind. He bid farewell to the dwarves and left, which would be the last time the dwarves saw him.

Mei-Jin kept in contact with the dwarves as he traveled throughout Europe and Asia. At first, he was undaunted by his lack of success in finding other ogres, but his mood steadily got worse, and many of his later letters were short and depressing. Mei-Jin wrote that he had discovered three ogres in a small village in China, and that he was preparing to tell them of their magical heritage. His letters show that he was very excited by his new discovery, and that he had fallen in love with one of them.

The Chando dwarves only got one letter after Mei-Jin's discovery. It was extremely abrupt, and read, "I have failed. I am empty."

Shocked by this letter, the Chando clan immediately contacted the Elven Council in Ponthieu and Clan Andwari. Several Chando dwarves went east to find their friend, but they had no luck. Mei-Jin has not been heard from in several years; most of the dwarves that knew him believe that he grew so depressed that he either committed suicide, or lost all of his magic and is still wandering around Asia.

Elfhame

Elfhame is the legendary city of the elves, located in what is now known as Ponthieu, France. In the days before the Debacle, it was populated by over a thousand elves, who worked in its halls and danced in the large forest surrounding it. The entire city was created using the strongest of magic, so when the Debacle swept the land, the place collapsed.

After the Requiem, the Incuban Prospero felt that he owed the elves something. To help them gather and relearn their magic, he traveled to Ponthieu and used his magic to rebuild the crumbled remains of Elfhame. Within hours, the city was practically brand new, except for the fact that it was unpopulated. Prospero's spell also brought back many of the items that were kept in Elfhame -- magical items, scrolls, books, and weapons. It is from the few books found here that the ylphi learned so much about their history.

Eventually, Prospero guided elves to their magnificent city. Today, it is the home to barely a hundred elves, who live there, study the place, and communicate to the other Majestati. The Elven High Council resides here, along with the Sylphi Council. Many elves travel to Elfhame each year, stay awhile to learn about themselves and the others, and then return to their homes.

Elfhame, still located in a fairly deep forest, is extremely well-hidden, as most of it is built beneath the ground and under a large lake. There is a single main entrance to the complex, which is hidden in the trunk of a great oak tree. An elf always stands guard behind the door. All elves who approach Elfhame have to state their name and their status -- "Michelle Ranis, Fourth Cryari" -- before they are admitted.

The central level of Elfhame is where the great Council Hall is located, along with several rooms where the resident elves live. A large feast hall is also on the central level, where once a year, the elves celebrate and invite any ylphi willing to make the trip and come.

There are almost fifty bottom levels located deeper in the complex. Only a few of these levels have actually been re-explored by the elves, as they usually have better things to do than to sort through these areas. Besides, most of these bottom levels are more, empty, quarters. The elves have located a library on the third level, and an armory on the ninth level. Visiting dark elves like to stay on the bottom-most level, which contains a passage that leads to the second section of Elfhame located below the lake, which is where Telemachus' alchemy lab was discovered (see sidebar on p. 00).

The location of Elfhame is only told to trusted, and experienced elves. A few valkyries and dwarves know the location of the elven home, but few have ever bothered to visit.

Elfhame is a normal mana area, which means that any Majestati in the complex will be in their true, Nexus form.

Low-mana Hotspots

Even though the Incubans stole magic from the world -- making all the world a no mana area -- there were a few locales that had so much mana, that even after the Debacle a little bit of it remained. These locations are called a variety of things -- sanctuaries, tempests, and mana hotspots being the most common ones. There are basically three types of hotspots:

Magical places -- These places had very high mana from the start, and were once great enchantment centers, homes to magical people, mystic shrines, and alchemy laboratories. Today, they survive as small, low-mana areas. The most famous ones are Stonehenge, the Mayan city of Chichen Itza, the sunken island of Thera, and Victoria Falls in Africa. The Valley of Kings in Egypt is the largest area, totalling a few miles, while the rest are less than one square mile. Recently, new spots have popped up, usually placed by the Incubans -- Elfhame and al-Azrad.

Places of Faith -- The Majestati also discovered that in areas where humans had great faith -- temples, churches, and "miracle-areas" -- mana had returned slightly. It is because of these places of faith that some Majestati believe that if humanity once again believes in magic, then magic will return. Examples of this type of hotspot include Mecca, parts of the Vatican, and sections of Jerusalem (notably the Wailing Wall).

Incuban homes -- The mana level also temporarily raises in the presence of any of the Incubans. The mana radiates about a mile from the Incuban, and follows them continuously.

Whenever a Majestati enters a low-mana area, he will immediately connect to his Nexus form and become his magical true self. While this has its advantages for Majestati who wish to use their magical abilities and Talents, the Majestati become identifiable as nonhumans, and are easy (though powerful) targets for those wishing to destroy them.

The Bacchi

The hills and plains of Greece, once rife with magic and myth, are now empty and devoid of any magic. The cryari -- the ice elves -- have a small council in Northern Greece. A year ago, the cryari reported seeing a very strange event in one of the Greek fields near their council.

Apparently, a group of women dressed in goat skins and carrying large phalluses -- thyrsi -- came dancing from the nearby woods, singing a chant to Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and theatre. Two cryari looked at these women with fascination, as they women were definitely magical. They performed incredible, inhuman acts. The cryari report that they could jump several yards into the air, dig into the earth incredibly fast, and move at superhuman speed. In a continual orgiastic dance, the women found a goat and tore it to pieces with their band hands. Singing their praises even louder, the women danced back into the forest.

These women were obviously the bacchi, or the maenads, from Greek myth. How they appeared in modern Greece is not known, and they have not been seen since in over a year now. Some Majestati suggest that these women were not the bacchi, but in fact vampires. This does not seem to be a likely explanation, as the cryari witnesses emphasize that the women appeared during the day. Still, it makes all Majestati wonder what else the Incubans have brought to life in the modern world.

The Sirens

According to her Adepts, the Incuban Medea is using her own version of the Requiem to bring Sirens back to the world. Born beautiful, young women, the Siren's voices are magical, and can charm anybody who listens to them to have an uncontrollable desire to come to them. An incredible tool for flirting, most of the sirens have nasty psychological problems, and use their abilities to kill. While a few of these maidens have taken to sea to use their powers like the sirens of old, most are definite products of the modern world. They tempt people to climb up buildings to reach them, only to throw them off once they reach the top; they stand off busy highways and sing, causing deadly accidents; and they have also been known to sing during winter storms and Noreasters, tempting people to come outside and freeze to death while listening to the siren's song.

At most, there are only a few dozen sirens in the world, but many Majestati wonder if Medea is attempting to bring back a whole race. Adepts point out that the Requiem can only bring back the spirits of those who existed in the past, so there is no way to create more sirens than there were in ancient times. The same Adepts, however, do not know exactly how many there were.

Innamorati

The Innamorati were originally young, unmasked, lover characters from the Commedia dell'arte, an improvised Italian comedy. Almost every plot involved an Innamorato struggling to escape from the "master" characters to be with another Innamorato. The Majestati have adopted this name for their own young.

Innamorati are the Majestati who do not realize that their spirits are that of ancient nonhumans. They believe that they are ordinary humans in an ordinary world. Many of them realize that there's something different about them, especially since even Innamorati can inadvertently transform into their Nexus form.

These changes tend to happen under stressful, emotional, or dangerous circumstances. Innamorati that are suddenly attacked, or even in the heat of passion, can suddenly turn into their true selves.

Many Innamorati never realize that they have suddenly changed into something entirely different. The Innamorato rarely feels the change, and the only sign that they are different might be the way people look at them.

Another odd ability that some Innamorati possess is the ability to speak in the ancient tongue of their nonhuman heritage. Occasionally, when dreaming, anInnamorato will cry out or mumble in another language. When Innamorati are angered, they also tend to lash out with words from these dead languages. Other Majestati use this to identify Innamorati. If they hear a man speak in another language, they know that he's Majestati.

Rumors of an Underworld

While chasing a fenrir wolf through the mountain crags of Greece, two cryari, a valkyrja, and a volsunga stumbled across a dark cavern. Believing that the wolf had fled into the cave, the Majestati followed it in. In a few hours, the companions found themselves very lost in the labyrinthine tunnels.

After a day of trying to escape the cavern, the Majestati discovered a large underground river, whose waters were inky black. Even more disturbing was a rickety old boat made out of petrified wood that sat on the bank of the river, a heap of humanoid bones inside. Figuring they had nothing to lose, the Majestati boarded the boat and crossed the river.

What happened next is not certain; the Majestati swear that they were assaulted by spirit-wraiths and demons once they crossed the other side. The other side of the river, apparently, was normal mana as all four companions reverted into their true forms. Fortunately, the natural combat skills of the volsunga and the valkyrja protected the group from harm, though one cryari was dragged into the abyss by several spirits.

The companions found themselves in a huge underworld kingdom, with trapped spirits screaming and wailing while being flayed by powerful demon-spirits. Believing that they had found Hades itself, the Majestati fled, re-crossed the river, and eventually found their way back to the surface.

It's not sure that these four Majestati truly found the underworld itself, or if they were attacked by a single, powerful spirit who deluded them into thinking they had found Hades. They could have also stumbled into the resting place of Medea, or another Incuban, and the magical power of the place drove them temporarily mad. A few Adepts believe that this underworld is where all the spirits of the nonhumans went after the Debacle; others believe that it is perhaps the true underworld that is a horrific kingdom of cursed souls.

Still, the Majestati who know about this trip into the earth are fascinated. If an underworld exists below the surface of the world, and has magic inside it, then there's a good chance the magic could be released to the surface. Several Majestati have gone back to the cave in Greece where the entrance to Hades supposedly lies, but no other group has been able to find their way to this black river and the mysterious kingdom that lies beyond it.

Majestati Fashion

Like all cultural groups that enjoy their individualism, the Majestati have adopted their very own fashions. Unlike modern ethnic groups, however, the Majestati have no need, nor wish, to flaunt their individualism and broadcast it to the world. Instead, they prefer subtler methods of communicating their racial ethnicity to the world of humans, and their own people. Most Majestati fashion blends easily with human fashion, though it remains distinct enough to look "unique" or "different."

The Majestati take their fashion trends from the few illustrations they have found of their people in ancient times. Like the historical clothing from the age, garments were made out of natural fibers (cotton, wool, silk) and draped over the body, though shortly before the Debacle, semi-fitted, sewn garments had come into fashion. This fashion trend continues in the modern world, where Majestati prefer the excess of fabric, grand flowing lines, and a natural silhouette in their clothing. Majestati usually wear a small symbol of their heritage. Elves and dwarves bear necklaces with sigils or runes on them, marking themselves to other Majestati. Additionally, the dwarves have their rings which also shows their heritage. The valkyrja and the djinni, however, have no "standard" jewelry pieces, though the valkyrja occasionally wear necklaces with Futhark runes on them.

All races still prefer natural fibers, though recently they have been wearing more exotic fabrics. Bombazine, challis, gabardine, moqueshel, sateen, and shantung are used most often. Though many Majestati wear ordinary jeans and t-shirts, most have a "special outfit" to catch people's attention, or just for special occasions. Majestati make modifications to ordinary clothing, or go out of their way to find extraordinary clothing, just to make it look slightly different.

The Majestati that live away from human society, such as in Elfhame or al-Azrael, wear exotic clothing very similar to ancient garments. Elves wear cloaks, dwarves and valkyrja don ceremonial armor, and the djinni wear loose, Middle-Eastern clothing from before the Crusades.

Modern elves prefer long, flowing, natural hair, mimicking the style of their ancient ancestors. Some elves wear their hair in unusual ways -- perhaps wrapped around their head and left to dangle on their shoulders -- but their hair is purposely kept as natural as possible. Dwarves prefer short-trimmed hair, though a good portion of dwarven Majestati shave their head. They always keep their beards neat, though they vary in length. The djinni have no one hair style, though it has become increasingly popular to shave their heads except for a single lock or ponytail. Volsunga prefer long hair, as do valkyries; both keep it neat.

The Zanni

Though the world as a whole does not know about the Incubans, the Majestati or the Adepts, there are a few humans that do understand the changes the world is undergoing. Most humans who encounter real magic ignore it to save their own sanity. It's not that they don't believe, they would just rather not think about it. Others are scared and horrified and put their energies into fighting the Majestati. The Zanni are those that choose to serve the Majestati, helping them find their own kind and deal with the modern world.

The Zanni are not an organized group at all; the term applies to any human who knows about the Requiem and goes out of their way to help the Majestati. The elves and valkyrja keep lists of Zanni in any given area, and will not hesitate to contact them in times of trouble. Sometimes, when there are no Majestati in a trouble spot, the Majestati rely solely on the Zanni.

The Zanni do not go unthanked. In exchange for their help, the Majestati give them small gifts and tokens of their appreciation. And the Majestati do not hesitate to help the Zanni if they are in trouble, giving them shelter and protection when they need it.