The iss'avali are a sea-going offshoot of the avali that command as much of the high seas as the araye'avali command of the land. They are traders, merchants, messengers, lawyers, and diplomats-for-hire, but above all, they are sailors. They spend their lives as crew of a trade vessel of their clan, and seldom set foot on land.
Iss'avali are the means by which the disparate regions of the world have become inter-dependent on each other through commerce. There is not a single large-scale business venture in the world an iss'avali clan isn't involved in in some fashion. This is in good part because virtually all long-range trade routes are operated by iss'avali-owned vessels. As both messengers and cargo haulers the loose network of iss'avali clans simply has no rivals. Many a human captain has endeavored to establish themselves as a player in long-distance trade but none have been able to match the speed and reliability of an iss'avali trading ship, and inevitably all have either dropped out of business or joined forces with an iss'avali clan for local trade.
Fortunately for everyone the iss'avali are uninterested in the political affairs of the ports they service. No matter what regime is in charge at the time the iss'avali will blithely do business with them as long as the terms of trade are favorable. And since iss'avali have a natural monopoly on long-range trade, most regimes tend to be at least tolerant of the iss'avali. No-one wants to anger the clans, because effects of iss'avali trade sanctions can be devastating to a region.
The iss'avali also have a reputation as uncanny lawyers. Their neutrality and skill as negotiators (plus reasonable fees) have placed them in high demand for drafting agreements, interpretating the law, and mediating disputes. It is not uncommon for a visiting iss'aval captain to be called upon to draft a water-tight contract between two local merchants — or two neighboring city-states.
Iss'avali ships are advanced, efficient, and well-maintained. Pirates seldom bother them. The majority are crewed by iss'avali under an iss'aval captain, but some are captained and/or crewed by humans — albeit there is usually an iss'avali agent on board to look after the interests of the owning iss'avali trading clan.
Local human or araye'avali operations frequently work in conjunction with iss'avali clans for the short-range trade routes.
Each iss'avali vessel operates under the auspices of their clan but the captain has a generous amount of autonomy to do as they please, regardless of whether they are iss'aval or an entrusted human. The iss'avali are expert traders with a long legacy of experience, and recognize that long-term profit comes from cultivating a benevolent environment: sometimes it's best to forego short-term profit if it creates a thriving economy that can power a region as a whole.
All major ports, and many of the smaller ones, have an iss'avali trading outpost at the docks. The outpost is usually headed by an iss'aval dignitary for a few years after which they return to sea never to be seen again, and a new dignitary will fill the position. All commerce with the iss'avali, as well as long-distance message delivery service, is conducted from these outposts. These outposts are also your one-stop shop for services of attorneys-at-law.
Physically the iss'avali are similar to the araye'avali, but with few notable exceptions:
There are no iss'avali with magical abilities.