The Theocracy of Chey Sart
Ruler: The Priestesses of Pen-Sri
Religion: Arin (Sanguine as the Goddess of the Blood Red Moon, Arion as the Ascended)
Chey Sart is a small region consisting of a single city and a half-dozen villages. The people here revere Pen-Sri, the Goddess of the Blood Red Moon. The priestesses of Pen-Sri watch over the people, calling down vicious and terrifying miracles upon the enemies of Chey Sart. The city holds a series of competitions, called the blood sports. These are martial art tournaments which can be extremely violent, allowing no weapons beyond hands and feet, and sometimes the eskrima sticks, twin batons used in tandem for attack and defence. Injury is expected in these competitions, the priestesses of Pen-Sri skilled in healing those who have battled well – win or lose.
All men are warriors, all boys learn to fight as soon as they can pick up a stone. At the age of twelve, their training becomes formal, and they join the warrior caste. When the young man has killed or has won his first competition in the blood sports, he is recognized as a true warrior. All women are priestesses. As soon as a girl can speak, she is taken to the temple and initiated. When the girl has her first period, she becomes a woman, and is indoctrinated into the priesthood, learning the sacred rights of Pen-Sri. This does not mean women know how to fight – they are in fact lethal warriors, using the kukri and the spear as their weapons of choice, and are trained to defend themselves against the demons and undead that invade the land from time to time. However, it is the men who are expected to lay down their lives. The men of Chey Sart revere and fear the priestesses of Pen-Sri, and obey almost by instinct.
The men are known for their thick hair, usually kept long in the centre, and short on the sides, hanging down along their backs and braided. Before any major battle, the warriors of Chey Sart go to the river and wash their hair carefully, a ritual that has caused most would-be invaders to run for the borders.
Those captured by the Chey Sart are given the choice to swear their loyalty to Pen-Sri. Failure to do so results in one of a number of fates – immediate execution, slow torture and eventual sacrifice to Pen-Sri in the temple, or sold into slavery or prostitution. Those willing to swear their loyalty are brought to the temple and given the sacred mark of the moon goddess. This mark, a crescent over the heart, is called ‘Pen-Sri’s Smile’, and allows the captive the rights of a citizen of Chey Sart. These citizens are less than the full warriors of the Chey Sart, but are allowed their freedom to farm, craft, and live in the city. Most of the ‘commoners’ of Chey Sart are the descendants of former captives.
Training in Chey Sart
“Go tell the Sartans, thou that passest by, that here, obedient to their laws, we lie.”
Training in Chey Sart The education for all children is based upon the arts. For boys, there is a secondary military education, which provides additional survivability for them in their role as citizen-warriors, while for girls there is training in religion and the worship of the goddess. The arts play a prominent role in Chey Sart due to the numerous religious festivals celebrated throughout the year.
All children are raised by the women of the city until the age of seven, after which the girls begin to be trained to oversee the young boys. Children are fit, trained in a variety of athletic pursuits, and are trained in ‘feminine virtues’. Both boys and girls are trained not to be ashamed of their bodies, and that physical excellence is superior to adorning oneself for ‘artificial beauty’. Children are often required to strip while playing sports, moving in procession, attending dances, or during temple services. The majority of childhood conditioning comes from the understanding that boys are to serve Chey Sart through military supremacy, while girls are prepared to serve Chey Sart as the unquestioned spiritual leaders.
Boys are organized into Camps by age, with the strongest and most capable boys chosen as leaders for each Camp. The men who run the Camps set the boys against one another to find out who is the best warrior. Physical prowess is important, but those who can win through force of leadership are also given consideration, as long as it is not at the expense of courage and capability. The boys are poorly fed, told to steal to supplement their daily rations, bedded on bare ground, and take only a few baths a year. They are trained in the spear and the shield, and are kept under the strictest discipline necessary, trained to fight as a unit, and to terrorize and kill the slave class. They are trained to reward talented slaves, slaughter dissenting slaves, and breed the perfect serf class. This process teaches the boys how to kill, as well as helping them build guile and ambush techniques.
Girls are brought into the temples, where they are separated into Classes. A girl’s place in a Class is determined by her appearance, her physical prowess, and her keen mind. Girls are fed well, ensuring their health while placed through gruelling tests of fighting technique, memorization, and indoctrination into the worship of Pen-Sri. These Classes are constantly sorted, with girls leaving one Class to join another as their capabilities are determined. Those who do well are sent to better Classes, while those who falter find themselves demoted to lower Classes. Girls are trained how to defend themselves, and how to wield the powers that Pen-Sri grant. They are given command of a section of the slave community, and a single Camp, and are responsible for the smooth operation of the slaves, using the Camp to keep discipline.
At the age of twelve, each Camp becomes a military unit, and their training becomes formal, under the watch of the woman who they will serve. Each month, the Camps are sent against one another in a series of blood sports, and where they fight one another for supremacy. Any Camp which is victorious graduates and joins the Sartan military, and the woman who commands them graduates and joins the priesthood proper.
Sanguine is revered here, as (Pen-Sri), the goddess of the Blood Red Moon. Pen-Sri is worshipped as the epitome of martial prowess and bloodshed, and it is in her name that the blood sports of the Chey Sart are conducted. The priesthood is revered and held in awe by the citizens of Chey Sart, their authority unquestioned. It is by the power of Pen-Sri that Chey Sart has existed as long as it has against the forces of the infernal and undead that exist beyond its borders. There is a smaller cult within Chey Sart, spread mostly among the ‘commoners’ and those who have not been able to become warriors or priestesses, those who have failed their training. The sphinxes of the north have whispered of a common man named A-Ran who attained personal enlightenment through many trials, shedding the illusions of the body and becoming divine. According to this philosophy, pain is an illusion, the world is an illusion, and all struggles are a struggle to transcend. The harshness of Chey Sart, and the belief that one can transcend beyond it, has endeared itself in a number of the commoners, and has slowly begun to spread.
To the people of Chey Sart, anyone who is not one of them is weak. The Chey Sart constantly hone their combat skills, and are some of the most physically fit and cunning people to be found. They are powerful warriors and control various qi arts, allowing them to perform impossible feats of martial prowess. Those who swear loyalty to their goddess are treated as ‘lesser brothers’, but are often viewed with pity, having been raised in the weak lands outside of Chey Sart.
A combination of Thailand and Sparta, Chey Sart is a land of brutal martial arts, strange qi powers (psionics), and a warrior caste that follows the women, who hold absolute control of the land. The people of Chey Sart are ferocious, brave, and terrifying to anyone who exists outside their culture.
In most cases, the individual is named by the parents at birth. As the person grows up, they choose a name appropriate for the deeds they have done, or is named by those around them. Each named granted is never lost, and becomes a ‘title’ for the person. An individual collects titles as they age. When a person is spoken to, they may introduce themselves by their name and one of their titles, indicating who they are. Someone else may use a different title however, indicating the reputation they have heard of the person they are speaking of. This may be used as a compliment, or an insult, depending on the title.
Male: A-Ran, A-Rich, Channa-Rong, Kiet, Kovit, Mong-Kut, Ni-Ran, Pha-Numas, Pravat, Som-Chair, Su-Nan, Thinna-Korn, Thuan-Thong, Veradis, Virote
Female: A-Gun, A-Rich, Bu-Pha, Bu-Saba, Chai-Lai, Chim-Lin, Dao, Daw, Hom, Kam-Lai, Ka-Nya, La-Mai, La-Wan, Ma-Lee, Ma-Li, Narissara, Ngam-Chit, Pen-Chan, Phai-Lin, Ra-Tana, So-Lada, Su-Nee, Taeng, Tasanee, Vanida, Wa-An, Wa-En
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