Shouxian society is governed by two women who are commonly referred to as "The Elders" by their people.


The Elders are two elderly women, presumed sisters (on account of similar age and near-identical appearances), whose bodies are covered with tattoos. These tattoos are an ancient dialect of modern Herubese (as both languages use the same characters, though the pronounciation is markedly different), many using characters that have long faded out of the common vernacular. When read, they are said to tell the history of the Shouxian culture, from their earliest cultural memories to the present day. As very few Shouxian are granted audiences with the Elders (and even fewer outsiders), it is difficult to get an exact transcription of the tattoos. The Fifth House reportedly has incomplete copies, but beyond that the knowledge of the writing does not extend outside of the Elders' junk ships.

Oddly, every single depiction of the Elders shows them as two old women. Theories state that this is how they are percieved by the Shouxian, who rarely see their leaders, or that the long lifespan of the Shouxian means that by the time they are replaced, their followers are also old women. Folklore heresay says that the Elders have never been replaced, and that the original women who led the Shouxian when they first became nomads are the same women who lead them to the present day. This rumor is laughed at by scholars and anthropologists, but given the Shouxian's abnormal lifespan and their reclusive natures, it is never entirely discounted.


Though they are the highest authority among the Shouxian, the Elders do not typically take part in many political matters. Most matters are kept among junk collectives, and the authority of a clan leader is respected. The Elders are more known for guiding the overall destiny of their people, through prophecy and historical interpretation.

Prophecies are the only written piece of Shouxian culture, though this means that every prophecy is written down, no matter how obtuse or incorrect it becomes with the passing of time. The Elders are the ones who read every prophecy committed to writing and interpret the signs and phrasings in order to put it in the proper context. Because of their focus on historical preservation, the Elders are generally the only ones with enough cultural memory to properly translate the events of older prophecies in order to make newer ones make sense (prophecies tend to make reference to older, outdated ones, especially if they are foretold by the same people). Most prophecies are never distributed at large to the Shouxian people. Instead, they are discarded by the Elders.

It is interesting to note that this political structure of two women, ostensibly siblings, dictating the future of their people stands in direct opposition of the Heruban political structure of the two brother Emperors who sit on the throne in the capitol.