Chlotoun

Content warning!
This article contains brief graphic violence.

We bleed so that the earth may be saturated with the waters of our flesh, so that our crops may grow, our flowers may bloom, and the gods above, alongside us, remain alive.
— Common Kouxat saying
  Chlotoun is a tributary state of Rektouzk that lies directly south of the affluent nation. It is a country whose history is seeped in blood, which continues to spill on a constant basis.  

A Bloodied History

The precise origins of Chlotoun, and its people— the Kouxat— have been lost to time, after a particularly bloody conflict between two large city-states within the region. The winners, those of Choutl, razed the other, and effaced their history entirely. At this time a handful of other city-states had already been conquered under Choutl, their records having been similarly erased. Slaves from among the populace were periodically given as tribute— or otherwise forcibly taken. Those who tried only to turn over unsavory and unwanted members of society as their tribute were punished by their strongest being taken instead. Tribute was given not only in the form of slaves, but in crops, and crafted goods such as clothing and furniture as well.   Their religion was forcibly replaced with that of Choutl. Monuments to other gods were destroyed, and temples were razed or converted— often by the hands of slaves who had once worshiped them. Those found praying or practicing unsanctioned rituals had their faces, ears, and scalps burned with hot coals, as those from Choutl believed heat to draw out falsities from the mind. Those subjugated by Choutl detested their rule, and attempted to revolt numerous times to no avail. Until she arrived.  
  Depending on the account, she was a either a native-born Kouxat, a child born from a tree in place of fruit, or descended from the stars— all refer to the same person, however— Yilchet Tiqon, commonly referred to as the Tichepluezet— or Blood Sovereign.   She was a slave, taken at a young age by Choutl, but one that insisted on retaining her faith. Every moment she could steal away she would dedicate to praying, calling upon her gods for aid— to release her and her people from their bondage. Over the years she suffered many punishments for this, to the point where her head and face became covered with scar tissue. Yet she remained steadfast in her faith.   One day her pleas were finally answered. A voice called out to her, one of the gods she had asked most for aid— Tuizotetikli, who told her that they would grant her the power needed to free her people. She had to only do one thing— eat the hearts of her fellow slaves. Their souls could live on through her, they said, their sacrifice would free their families, and make their ancestors proud. Unwavering in her faith, Yilchet waited for her opportunity— and pushed ten of her comrades off a temple wall they were tasked with constructing while their masters were away.   She gave a quick prayer for them, so that their souls may not feel angered at her actions, and approached the bodies. Not possessing a proper weapon, Yilchet used a hammer and chisel to break through their ribs, and pulled out their hearts by hand— using her teeth when needed to cut through tough tissue. She devoured their hearts as quickly as she could, and washed her face clean in a nearby well— before running to her masters and reporting that a monster had attacked her comrades.   Over the next year she continued to sacrifice others, as Tuizotetikli guided her and taught her how to utilize her growing power. After the fiftieth sacrifice, Tuizotetikli told Yilchet that it was finally time. In a tremendous display of power, she tore down her cage, and walked to the palace. Each guard that stood in her way found themselves impaled by their own weapons— as if the objects acted of their own will. Upon reaching the palace, Yilchet yelled out.  
We are free! We are free! The gods you removed sweat with anger, and I am their feet, come to stamp your power from this land.
— Yilchet Tiqon
  The palace walls began to crack and crumble, and its pillars fell, and finally— before the tichan could escape— the entire structure collapsed, killing all inside. Choutl was thrown into disarray without their ruler, and with Yilchet ravaging the city, freeing slaves, its fortifications were further weakened. Within the following months, the subjugated city-states were finally able to overthrow their rulers.   She was soon after crowned as their new ruler, Tichepluezet. She was told that the other gods had died from the long lack of worship, and for Tuizotetikli to maintain enough power to fulfill their roles, continuous sacrifices would be necessary. Even after Tichepluezet's death, traditions of sacrifice and bloodletting would continue, as priests and rulers alike believed it to maintain the very world around them. Tichepluezet was believed to join Tuizotekikli in godhood, watching and guiding her people still alongside the first god, through a sacred pool of blood known as the Tnoutzet with which the nation's rulers commune to this day.  

Governing Structure

Chlotoun is ruled by an absolute monarch, the Tichan. It is believed that the Tichan of Chlotoun is chosen directly by the two gods, who will call out their name through the Tnoutzet after the last Tichan has passed.   A simple court system, whose judges are appointed by the Tichan themselves, hear the majority of cases from commoners while the Tichan will personally act as judge for nobles, priests, and artisans. The Tichan also acts as high priest, and must be present for important ceremonies and rituals, often holding a central role in each.  

Architecture

Chlotoun architecture is nearly identical to that of Rektouzk— save for the use of wooden structures interspersed among the stone, and a larger emphasis on water-like forms within facades, pillars, and other ornamental work. Temples and religious monuments are among these structures, as the lacipex wood used is believed to be a gift from Tuizotekikli themselves. Rather than emphasizing those who rule their settlements, the tiered structure represents something different in Chlotoun than in Rektouzk— the blood of all pouring into the center, where sacrifices are most often held.  

Assets, Industry, & Trade

Chlotoun occupies the entirety of the Atlaqik Peninsula at the southern end of Rqet, bordering Rektouzk to the north along the Chluetzek River.  

Wood and stone

The two primary exports of Chlotoun are limestone and the prized blood-red wood of the lacipex tree. The latter is often sent to Romtol and worked by their artisans into awe-inspiring jewelry, furniture, and weaponry. In their own borders, lacipex is used to construct buildings that beautifully contrast the grey stone around them.

Blood rain

Crops within Chlotoun grow with reddish tints and vein-like protrusions along their surfaces, all carrying a slight taste of iron. These crops with and die upon exiting Chlotoun's borders, so they cannot be traded with the rest of the world— not that there are many who would wish for them to begin with.
 

A Disbanded force

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Chlotoun has not maintained a military force since overthrowing their previous rulers, new tenets in their faith promoting values of peace instead. Oddly enough— rather than completely subjugate their weakened neighbors, Rektouzk pays in full to maintain a small military force on their behalf.   Many of the foreigners believe the land itself to be cursed, and fear that their own blessings would dissipate should they conquer the small nation. Instead, Chlotoun willingly offers tribute to reciprocate Rektouzk's deeds, to maintain access to their trade network— and in order to avoid the wrath of the unseen force behind the mercantile empire. All this without their leaders having met, threats, or lengthy negotiations. It seems as if an agreement was reached not by the leaders of the two nations, but instead by the great and powerful beings watching over them.  
We do not ask why it is, we already understand.
— A Chlotoun commoner

Qepluezet noulikix
(Made by blood)

Kloh-toon
Type
Geopolitical, Country
Government System
Monarchy, Absolute
Major Exports
Limestone, lacipex wood, obsidian, fish.
Major Imports
Gold, iron, yntxol, corn.
Official State Religion
Official Languages
Neighboring Nations
Related Ethnicities

Red-stained

Much of the land of Chlotoun is tinted red, as if the blood of its people has literally saturated the soil.   Yet this is not the case. The faithful believe this to be the doing of their gods, as a show of their blessings.   Rain, even, is almost blood-red, though still very much water— containing more iron than normal.  
 
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Heart of the land

A holy site, near the center of the nation lies a peculiarly shaped chunk of obsidian.   This grand stone, towering over any man, lies in the shape of a human heart.   This is not a natural formation— instead, it was a great sculpture built on the orders of Tichepluezet herself.   Some believe it to be more than a symbol, and instead see it as the literal heart of their land, claiming that they can hear it beat and see it move ever so slowly.   It does, in fact, move— beating as a heart would, though it does so at an extraordinarily slow pace.  
We listen to the heart of the land so that it stays in good health.   Should danger come, its beat quickens.   If it sickens, the beat slows down— and we must act.
— A priest
  It is believed to have foretold numerous disasters throughout Chlotoun's history.   Everything from plagues and hurricanes to war.   Despite this, it is not officially recognized as more than a holy statue— though it is still closely guarded.   Should all believe the tales, and pilgrims flock to the site— then those in power may not be able to listen to the heart's warning.

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Religon

Tuepluezet is the officially recognized faith of Chlotoun, with the grand majority of its people following it. A grand temple lies at the heart of every settlement, and sacrifices are state-endorsed. Tuepluezet focuses on the belief that the majority of the Kouxat's former gods are now dead, and that they must perform human sacrifices on a constant basis to maintain the remaining gods' power— and thus their very existence. Those selected for sacrifice see it as an honor— and are often among the more respected caste, such as skillful artisans, priests, and those involved in governance.  
Weep not for me, for the water of my flesh shall be drunk by the earth— and you will live another day.
— A sacrifice
  Priests partake in cannibalism, devouring the hearts of those sacrificed in correspondence with the tale of Tichepluezet As a result, they often possess manipulative magic— though they believe it to come from their gods. It is also seen as a sacred power— one not meant to be misused or for one's own gain. Most adhere to this, but there are a few rare cases of rogue priests gone mad with power.  

Education

From a young age, children go to their nearest temple in order to receive the teachings of priests, who tell them of their faith, their history, and their understanding of the world around them. This education only lasts about eight years, after which point the child will join the workforce.

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