The people of Kassau and the Guezhan Rainforest
DescriptionThe brutal and domineering people of the lands of Kassau and the Guezhan Rainforest, the Kassack people are an incredibly brutal and savage people that have only recently been tempered with the edge of civilization - they have adapted somewhat to civilized life in some ways, but in others still very much hold the barbaric spirit of the wild within them to this day. They are a people who have a very powerful and potent warrior-culture, training their children from an incredibly young age in the ways of not only battle, but also the knowledge of their ancestors to prepare them for life in a harsh and unforgiving world. They yet dress like savages, carry themselves like wild brutes, and have little regard for social decorum - yet despite that they are well-known for having an almost religious devotion to honoring their given word as well as debts they might incur, especially 'life-debts', which their society takes deadly seriously. They are notoriously and infamously matriarchal - males in Kassack society have little role outside of the home as providers and carers for children to their wife or wives, and are taught from a very young age the knowledge they need to prepare them for a life of obedience to their wives that focuses on stimulating them intellectually as little as possible, denying them opportunities at every level of society, and heavily restricting their chances in life outside of a simple life lived in the home in service to a spouse.
AppearanceThe Kassack people are well-known for their barbaric styles of dress - they are very much like Ssarin in this respect - and they tend to dress lightly and in furs and pelts, with skulls and other barbaric symbols being common among them. They often inscribe important life events and histories upon their skin as they achieve deeds worth recording, and often relish the notion of leaving parts of their body exposed both to heighten the thrill and danger of combat but to also show off their powerful and mighty bodies - as if to brag and boast about their continued survival. Kassack men tend to dress more conservatively than the women do as they are rarely allowed on the battlefield to become warriors, but both genders value jewelery and gems of all kinds as well as all things shiny and sparkly - often taken from slain foes or plundered settlements. They tend to braid their hair or let it grow long, often adorning it with clasps and bangles to accentuate their appearances. Moreso than any other people, they believe more in 'natural beauty' than anything else - the Kassack people see more beauty in a naturally impressive body(even if marred by scars, which they in fact see as desirable) than they otherwise do in a body dressed in rich silks, covered up in ink and oil, and otherwise obscured.
HistoryThe Kassack people have only came about recently into their own, after the brutal and barbaric tribes of the Guezhan Rainforest allied with the Baltairan people who dwelled there to resist the despotic cruelty of the Kingdom of Corudillo, who had a long and storied history with oppressing indiginous peoples to fund and further their incredibly wealthy kingdom. Rising up beneath the banner of the Barbarian Warrior-Queen Alba Zaragoza the First, the tribes and Baltairan peoples of the Guezhan rainforest rose up and went to war against the Kingdom of Corudillo, attacking village after village and eventually city after city until, after a long four years war that saw heavy losses on both sides, Alba Zaragoza led her united people to take the Corudillo capital of San Toma and took the entire royal family as prisoners, rapidly forcing them into slavery in the coming days as the population of San Toma was either beaten, brutalized, enslaved, or left to their own devices depending on how accepting they were of their new overlords. Establishing the Kassau Matriarchy at the behest of her tribes and allies to form a land of their own before the neighboring countries got wind of their victory and tried to take it for themselves, Alba led her people from barbaric tribalism into true civilization, forming a true and long-lasting alliances with the Baltairan people of the Guezhan Rainforest(Long called the Tuatha) and forming a united land beneath a singular banner, where barbarian and elf alike could come to live free of the oppression of Empires. And, despite many attempting to tear it down and despite all odds, the lands of Kassau have not only survived but thrived in the centuries since its founding, expanding at a slow but steady pace and proving themselves time and again...to the worry of their neighbors.
CultureKassack culture is unique in that, unlike most other societies which tend to be heavily Patriarchal(Favoring men over women), their culture tends to be the exact opposite and in fact heavily Matriarchal - Kassack women serve as the providers for their people, and are not only warriors but the leaders, politicians, chieftains, important job-holders, nobles, and the like while men are heavily barred from advancing most places and are instead expected to provide children for their spouses(and little else). In fact, so heavy is this bias against males that it is an equal to the similar level against females in other societies - men are almost forced into marriages at young ages to provide children for spouses, not allowed to be single, hold land, or a bevvy of other rights - they are often only allowed relatively basic rights(though they are not slaves by any means) and, while a uniquely headstrong man might be able to make his way in Kassack society, it is somewhat of a rarity that one can do such and overcome the biases against them - though many have done so throughout the country's lifespan. Aside from their heavy emphasis on a matriarchal society, the Kassack people are an incredible disciplined and surprisingly philosophical one - their women are trained from extremely young ages in the ways of their people and given not only martial training from their parents or guardians, but are taught in the ways of magic and educated by local shamans to best prepare them for every possible opportunity in the world - each child is treated like a holy item and raised with utmost care, no matter their gender. Men, inversely, are raised and trained from a very young age in more practical household skills from a very young age - raised to perform labor, house chores, cooking, cleaning, and all the simple tasks typically given to women in a Patriarchal, Feudal society while also learning of the female role as the "provider" and "protector". Men and women both are taught to respect their betters and the importance of strength tempered with understanding of laws and civilization, and raised wholeheartedly believing in their own superiority over not only other ethnicities and peoples, but of female superiority over men themselves - who are not believed by most Kassacki to be capable of level-headed decision making without a proper guiding hand. To add onto this upbringing, regardless of gender, children in Kassau are educated in the ways of the Kassacki people's unique philsophies of strength - taught that each sentient and free-thinking creature in this world has an obligation, both societal, moral, and even personal, to better themselves so long as they live within this world; everything else is meaningless if one does not possess the power and personal strength to back up one's skills and beliefs. To a Kassack, this is the most important and critical creed one can live by, and the truth by which the world operates - nothing comes to those who do not better themselves in both body and mind, making a unique cultural skillset such as painting, singing, or such utterly useless if one does not possess the strength to weather the trials of one's life(And similarly, making simple brute strength less desirable if you lack the mental ability to understand its best uses). If one wishes to become a better being, one must be able to weather life's trials and carve a path for themselves through life's eddies - to a Kassack, weakness and complacency is fine, so long as one accepts that by being weak and unable to resist the might of others you give up the right to complain when you are swept away by the currents of life, too weak to swim in a direction of your choosing. This deeper, more philosophical understanding of strength is what forms the basis for much of the Kassacki people's notorious "Might Makes Right" culture - though it is a gross oversimplification of the surprisingly deep and complex opinions many Kassacki have formed on the topic, and is what forms the basis of Kassau's laws - one ascribes to the laws set down by the strong as a natural matter of course; if one wishes to set their own laws, one need merely take their life into their own hands and carve a path for themselves - accepting the consquences that come from such a path as a matter of course. As a consquence of this, these opinions on strength also give the Kassacki people a strangely zen-like view of rebellions - rebellions are a matter of course in Kassau, and so long as the defeated do not dishonor those they fight or cross cultural stigmas, rebels are often simply re-integrated back into Kassacki society as those who failed to carve their own laws or make change. This, in some ways, makes them an extremely arrogant people, but one with an immense sense of nationalism and pride - they are incredibly unified as a people thanks to a cultural ritual each child(male or female) undergoes at around 10 or 11 years of age that sees them dropped into the wilderness with a group of five to eight other children and told to survive for a week before finding their own way home. This brutal ritual, while it sees many children killed, teaches the survivors the importance of unity and teamwork as well as strong personal power and might - while also fostering a strong unity that endures even into adulthood. Due to this ritual, many Kassack carry a respect for those capable of towing the line and keeping up with them - meaning that their respect is rarely given and hard to earn, but once it is recieved one is almost assured to be a friendship to last an eternity. Until one earns their respect however, a Kassack will rarely give them more respect than dirt - often only abiding such a creature as much as the local law requires until an opportunity presents itself to bring such a creature "into line" beneath the heel of the truly strong - oftentimes freely abusing, beating, or bullying those who have not earned their respect or simply viewing them with open hostility and contempt and/or disgust in something they see as an enjoyable, beloved pasttime. However, once a creature fights back and proves their worth, they are often quick to change and accept them. In this vein, they are also a people that places enormous emphasis on debts and their given word - they are raised from an extremely young age being taught of the importance of never reneging on their word once given, and of always repaying the debts they incur no matter who that debt might be incurred to, meaning that they will often set aside their biases against men and other cultures if a proper debt is incurred. Especially important and paramount above all other teachings is the notion of the "Life Debt" - a debt incurred by the saving of one's life by another party, which, to most Kassacks, means that one is honor-bound to serve that creature for the rest of the life they saved. These customs, while strange and barbaric, make the Kassacks excellent hired mercenaries and guards - and has given them an extremely powerful reputation as the be-all, end-all for mercenaries and warriors in the central lands of Zheng-Kitar.