Cuch-Cokvaim-Skak:Dii - Your Guide to the Beast-Men-Gods of Zakaz
Table of Contents:
II. Traditions and Culture
VI. Language Guide
Lamo-Lyco-Zakaz: The Once-Silver Zakaz, Now Meaning - End of All Worlds
In the Time BEFORE Time -------------
All was Many, which All was its own Paradise.
GREAT SPIRIT Mata Nui forged His world in His image, forging many Paradise, each in His Image, which each bore his Perfect Face.
Which each bore his LOVE.
LOVE was what GREAT SPIRIT Mata Nui gave the LESTERIN, chief among GIFTS.
To his children, he gave GIFTS to CHANGE THE WORLD
(darkness of kuta)
GREAT SPIRIT Mata Nui held back (darkness of kuta) from his children.
But they sought it anyway? Why?
The Lesterin were good CHILDREN, and did not seek the (darkness of kuta) but abused their GIFTS.
LESTERI|NII, FAN LESTERI:NII
We abused our GREAT SPIRIT Mata Nui’s gifts. We were so so so, so wrong. So sorry we were wrong. We abused our GIFTS, chief among them the gift of SKATHI our Servants, and in return they brought THEIR GIFT THE SWORD to us.
IN THE TIME BEFORE TIME----------
The Skakdi were lifted up from dirt.
But not by GREAT SPIRIT.
Not by Mata Nui.
(Who gave Skakdi GIFTS?)
They molded dirt as they were molded, seized (darkness of kuta) for themselves, and from Mata Nui’s face they built ZAKAZ. Then they ate Mata Nui’s face from ZAKAZ, leaving just ZAKAZ behind.
Once paradise, no more; once Image, no more; once peaceful, nevermore. ZAKAZ IS ZAKAZ.
ZAKAZ MEANS ZAKAZ - THE END OF ALL WORLDS.
FAN|SKATHI. SKATHI LORLI SKAK:DII.
And they will be(,) forever. As we learned.
As will you.
To know Zakaz, you must know the Skakdi. They created each other.
In the Time Before Time, there was no Zakaz; instead there lay an archipelago of near-a-dozen islands, populated by the Toa-cousins known as Lesterin. The Lesterin were a nimble and clever people, skilled merchants and crafters, but not physically strong enough to build glorious Zakaz with the strength of their own backs. Their naval prowess was unmatched, and their travels had brought them into contact with new species on wild new lands, but they had no heart and will, and would drag no treasures, gods or glory back to the grand ziggurats of Zakaz. For thousands of years, the civilization they had raised was the centerpiece of a great mercantile power, capitalists, or here meaning, those who connived against others for the benefit of their handful little islands. From their chief little island, Lamo-Lyco-Oshan, Silver-Jewel-on-Ocean, further horizons dazzled their eyes, ever-seeking competition with the cunning Vortixx Mata Nui had birthed to the North.
As their ambitions grow
Their clan-weaknesses become apparent
Both built atop
the backs of Skathi.
They came from an island to the southwest of Lamo-Lyco-Oshan, denizens of a nameless port which Great Spirit Mata Nui paid no particular attention. The Skathi were strong, but they were foundations themselves, and were not thought of as beings with particular aspirations or capabilities. A weak race, merely strong; powerless and easily vassalized, underneath Lesterin they labor; Silver-Jewel-on-Ocean blossoms under Mata Nui’s watchful eye. Lesterin and Vortixx alike hold Skathi in contempt.
They were bred like beasts, treated as little more
Of course, the Lesterin would not view themselves
They were but children.
Mata Nui’s children.
The Skathi, fury-fueled, cried
“We are not ones
To be dominated by Children.”
Mata Nui’s children did not enslave, though the truth writ on
souls underneath their skins wrote different stories.
The Skathi shed their skins forever to become the Skakdi, Beast-Men-Gods, and shed the Lesterin’s skins forever to show the slaves
The Skakdi conquest of their former rulers was their first, and like many first times, it was quick and brutal. With their newfound power they stole island by island, sacked city by city, leaving charred ruin and smoke and salt in their wake. Within a year had Silver-Jewel fallen to golden nightmare, when Great Irnakk:Dii seized the shores of Lamo-Lyco-Oshan and, bellowing, dragged the shores in his wake, drowning the great capital
The Skakdi lacked the fleetness of Lesterin upon endless ocean, and improvised; for the first time in their history, they were allowed to build for themselves, dragging all the Lesterin Isles together into jagged-jigsaw Zakaz. The last piece was Great Lamo-Lyco-Oshan, Silver-Jewel-on-Ocean and apple of Great Spirit’s eye.
When all the pieces were together, Great Irnakk:Dii stood at the precipice of old and grand Kvere and bellowed thus:
“VELON RAL IRNAKK”
I am Irnakk.
“FAN:DII BALOM SKAK:DII”
No Gods, but for the Skakdi.
And golden-nightmare bent low to devour silver-jewel whole, swallowing city and town and merchant alike. The cities, he drank like wine. The towns soaked the wine like bread and kept his mind sharp.
The merchants did not go to waste either.
Their flesh soothed his stomach.
Their blood slaked his thirst.
And their bones he spat into the ocean, for the Skakdi had begun life as builders, and knew that every great work needed a foundation.
They named their home with the broad brush of irony - Lamo-Lyco-Zakaz, or, Silver-Jewel-at-End-of-All-Worlds, for it was the end of their lives as Skathi, and a silent promise to all the people of the world.
Nothing would ever be built on Skakdi land again - and all the land the Skakdi saw would be theirs by right.
Section I: History
Once a submissive, near-slave race of the dominant Lesterin culture, the Skathi people rose up in the Time Before Time to seize the lands of the merchant-princes and build a homeland of their own. Though the cause of their ancient uprising is probably as simple as a matter of the fierce pride endemic to their species, the actual methods of the Skakdi’s sudden rise to power are shrouded in mystery - and perhaps even more sinister than their later actions, for it is well agreed upon by scholars of other races that the Skathi were a powerless race under the Lesterin, without elemental capability or the vision powers that they later became known for. Some theorize that Seprilli perhaps had free-flowing Antidermis similar to that of the Rift, though such deposits have never been found and the theory is disregarded by most who point out that according to the Skakdi creation myths, the Antidermis within the Rift was not discovered until long after the Skakdi’s rise to dominance. Another implausible, and even darker, tale comes courtesy of the blood-mystics of Zakaz, who teach their neonate occultists that the great Warlord Irnakk:Dii, first of the Ancestors and boldest of his eon, put six, then three, then two, then three of his one-hundred-and-eight wives to the sword, and from their blood and bone powder he drew a demon’s face and formed a compact with it for the Skakdi’s powers.
Whatever the case may be, the Skakdi enjoyed centuries of uninterrupted prosperity after the fall of the Lesterin merchants. In time, Warlord Irnakk:Dii died and was consumed in memory of his greatest triumph, the ravenous sack of Lamo-Lyco-Oshan; his blood and bone powder fueled his line, and from the sixty-six young wives the old Golden Nightmare kept at the end of his life, forty of them gave him sons in the nine months after his death, and of those forty, thirteen became Ancestors in their own right after their deaths. The Lesterin had been put in their place, but not extinguished, and provided valuable trade goods to the Skakdi for the sole purpose of surviving as second class citizens. Even the Vortixx to the north were being handled with a surprisingly deft hand. It was a golden age.
But betrayal is in the hearts of men and women of all races, and nowhere is betrayal found in more abundance than Zakaz.
It began centuries ago, with a Vortixx delegation into Irnakk’s Tooth during a weapons deal with a local warlord. Under the cover of the starless, moonless Zakaz night, seven mercenaries stole away from their barracks and crept down the mountain. Seven ebon shadows dipped into the holy, vital waters of Kvere;Ivi, hoping to discover the great treasure zealously guarded by the Lesterin and Skakdi of old.
None of the seven returned, but clearly they had tampered with something - for the next morning, all known Vortixx had become one with the higher mysteries, and the Skakdi as a race had been effectively hamstrung. One of their two vision powers had been taken away from them completely, leaving many warriors feeling as good as blind without their full arsenal. In addition, the full force of the elements they once wielded had been dampened and restricted, leaving the emasculated Skakdi to team up and display what once would have been magnificent elemental displays they were capable of on their own.
No Skakdi had dared venture into the water, knowing well the traditions and fearing retribution from the disturbing force named Geym-Kino-Kir-Laru (or, “Our-Unknown-Abyss-Beneath-the-Waves”) so no one knew quite what the Vortixx had found or what had been done when they reached it - save all but the oldest mystics, whose knowing glances and colorless pallors in the weeks after the failed Vortixx expedition did all of their speaking for them. As news spread that the once-unstoppable berserkers of the Skakdi culture had been unmanned, any hopes of territorial expansion beyond Zakaz in the birth of a grand Skakdi confederacy quickly crumbled, in lieu of finding a way to return their powers to them and grant their species the full broth of power their Ancestors had been offered and had gladly supped from.
For centuries, all attempts at restoring the Skakdi to their former glory failed...until six cast-offs, pestilence in all its living forms, from all corners of the island, none of whom contained any particular merit to their society, managed to restore their powers.
Section II: Traditions and Culture
Those who have encountered Skakdi from other lands have a skewed perception of what it is to be Skakdi, seeing them as chaotic beings with no guiding principles or moral compass. In reality, the species is bound by a certain alien sense of honor, at least insofar as respecting themselves and other Skakdi as gods awaiting ascension. Indeed, all beings are allowed under the Skakdi umbrella, so long as respect is paid to the Ancestors and the Skakdi species, which is recognized as the apex species under the Skakdi’s brutal philosophy.
The Ancestors are a vital part of Skakdi culture, and serve as the closest thing the famously agnostic race has to a pantheon. Though there are close to two dozen Skakdi who function as universal Ancestors, many bloodlines on Zakaz boast multiple Ancestors of their own further along their family lines, who they worship less fervently but more frequently than the race’s major ancestors like Irnakk:Dii and Nektann:Dii. The suffix :Dii is the highest honorific in the Skakdi race, and is not meted out without great societal consensus when it comes to that Skakdi’s achievements. More often the honorific ;Dii, meaning “king of all on world” as opposed to the “king of glorious legend” of :Dii, will be awarded to an Ancestor worshipped by one family tree. The difference in punctuation is small, but Skakdi have been known to kill when their Ancestors are somehow demeaned, or mantled above the accomplishments of other Ancestors; worse still are those outlanders who confuse :Dii and :Nii, meaning “mongrel.” The worst insults in all the Skakdi tongue are “Heu:Nii,” meaning “a mongrel without his own fate,” eclipsed only by “Mata:Nii,” meaning “a mongrel who kneels for another.”
When a great Skakdi dies and is being considered for Ancestral worship, there is a ceremony known as the Valin;Xalt, where his blood and bone is mixed up into a paste which the deceased warrior’s wives must imbibe in and use as a soap. After cleansing themselves with the paste for thirty days, at least six wives should be proven to be with child, or each wife must have killed five Skakdi apiece and returned their skulls to the shrine where the initial Valin;Xalt took place. This proves that the Ancestor lives on in Kino-Ur, the great featureless abyss that the Skakdi believe all beings return to after they die.
It is the Skakdi’s belief that a true Ancestor retains his identity in Kino-Ur, and that one day the Ancestors will help marshal the shades of all Skakdi and ride out from Kino-Ur back into the world, where the armies of the dead will seize the mantle of the living, and all the world will be theirs.
There is no strict governmental structure on Zakaz. The entire island’s population is mostly rabble, conscripted into the army of any one of the island’s various self-proclaimed warlords. The title of warlord has somewhat lost its meaning in recent centuries. In the days of old, warlords were few but powerful, raised up by deed and ritual. Any formal warlord was forced by the mystic men of Zakaz to undergo the ritual of Silva;ria;Dii, or the Grand Performance for the Gods. This ritual is two-sided; first, beneath the watchful eye of all his people, the Skakdi must spend ten minutes underneath the waters of Kvere;Ivi with only a single Air Bladder to pop in times of panic. Though use of the Air Bladder is allowed, tradition states that since great Nektann:Dii submerged himself for the full ten minutes while breathing in the waters of the dead, a warlord made of true steel will tough it out without requiring the air. Then the Skakdi must venture to the southeast of Zakaz, to the Rift, before the eyes of six of his most devout followers. There he will be fed an overdose of a miraculous cactus that grows in the Spineless Bay, which offers wondrous healing powers in small doses but overwhelms the senses and induces sheer panic if too much is consumed. The exact dosage varies, but generally it will be enough to leave the Skakdi blinded and unable to use his powers. He will then be led to the edge of the Rift and jump down with all his strength. The test is simple - hit the ground without being impaled or dissolved in Antidermis, and if you are impaled or dissolved in Antidermis, just will yourself to survive.
The ceremony of Silva;ria;Dii is intended to prove that there is no foe in our reality or any other that cannot be faced down by a Skakdi without fear in his heart. Unfortunately, as several cunning Skakdi have picked up on over the centuries, the ritual is very prone to sabotage; more than one prospective warlord has been pushed into the Rift while still struggling to retain his senses of sight and sound, and met a gruesome death on the end of a stalagmite. In addition, the rite of Silva;ria;Dii has been invoked less than a dozen times since the Vortixx’s invasion of Kvere;Ivi, usually by traditionalist warlords looking to gain favor with the older generations. These days, any Skakdi with even a small mercenary company who occupies one of the many ruined forts that litter Zakaz’s landscape can call himself a warlord, and such demesnes rise and fall without fanfare every year.
The only real organized sport on Zakaz is Sarke, taken from an archaic Skakdi verb for “to make a fool of oneself.” It is, simply put, combat sports. Fight clubs are a mainstay in almost every building on Zakaz that has four walls and a roof, and sometimes even those are optional if a large circle can be drawn in the dirt and a crowd is there. There are only two rules in Sarke: never cry, and keep your opponent alive. This way, one’s honor and the camaraderie between Skakdi are safely preserved, and the disorganized, no-holds-barred structure has taught many a Skakdi inventive new techniques during Sarke that have kept them alive on the field of battle - sometimes even against another Skakdi they know from the ring. To interrupt a duel in Sarke for any reason is rightly considered a slight by both combatants; the tale of Herbak, the bumbling referee who stopped a Sarke championship before a Skakdi was ready to submit, is well-known among the "athletic" circles of the island. One of the slighted combatants, future Ancestor and "the Lion of Sarke" Crokk, decided to exercise his prodigious talent for violence on each of Herbak's limbs before he was floated out to sea, still breathing and protesting. Some say he managed to float all the way to safety at Seprilli. Some joke that he stopped early.
Finally, no discussion of Skakdi culture would be complete without discussion of the occultists.
There have always been those on Zakaz with sharper minds than reflexes, and in a society where the clever and intellectually capable are mocked and belittled, alternative methods of proving one’s worth to the Skak:Dii ideal are required just to stay alive. For such men and women, the past provides more answers than the barbarous present, and many have gone to great lengths to comb through old Skakdi legends for knowledge or locate the teachings of long-dead Lesterin mystics. The Nakihl (Nahk-eel), or “hated dead-men” in Skakdi, are the only long-standing organization on the island, a loose amalgamation of philosophers, mystics, and demon worshippers who attempt congress with what they believe to be two other worlds, layered above and below our own, that house all spirits both altruistic and sinister. It is the prevailing belief of the Nakihl that their power was forged in a compact between the old Skathi generals, led by Irnakk:Dii, and one of these unknowable forces, and that somehow the concordat was broken by whatever the scheming Vortixx did beneath the crystalline surface of Kvere;Ivi centuries ago. While the mainstream Skakdi belief is that their original powers will return after they have conquered enough land for the Ancestors to marshal their hosts, the Nakihl tend to believe that only by returning the balance to whatever bargain was struck by the Skathi of old can the full might of the Skakdi be returned.
This approach to Skakdi might has not won them many fans among the people of Zakaz. In fact, the Nakihl fortress to the north of Spineless Bay has been sacked five times by angry warlords seeking to purge the taint of the Nakihl’s bloody magic from Zakaz; but after every purge, survivors crawled out from the woodwork like rats, and in no time the Nakihl have been restored to the same state they were in before the raids. The last assault on the Nakihl was over four centuries ago, when the band of mystic men were led by a Lesterin, of all things: a Lesterin named Ahk’rei:Nii, who played with corpses of the dead like puppets and led many of his followers willingly into Kino-Ur. An army united under four separate warlords, led by Warlord Ga’Rokk:Dii the Gunslinger, marched through the Burning Steppes and battled hungry Tahtorak in order to reach the Nakihl conclave and slay Ahk’rei:Nii.
It is said that the four warlords who stormed the conclave found the Lesterin in his ceremonial chambers, practicing a ritual to kill half the Skakdi where they stood and reanimate them to fight the other half; it is also said that when Ga’Rokk:Dii drew his famous silver Launcher and removed Ahk’rei:Nii’s head from his shoulders, the occultist actually continued with his ritual as though he had been stung by an insect, head futilely trying to reform itself from the slush that the Skakdi warlord had made of it. Ahk’rei:Nii’s body was taken and burnt once, outside the fortress, before the ashes were scattered into the Burning Steppes to be immolated again, just to be sure. Nonetheless, rumors of Ahk’rei:Nii’s survival still haunt children’s nightmares to this day, leading them to wonder if the evil Lesterin will appear in their dreams and try to lure them to Kino-Ur with promises of great adventure.
Section III: Locations
Irnakk’s Tooth - Though no larger than a Koro, Irnakk’s Tooth is probably the closest thing to a true city and capital the Skakdi possess on the Zakaz mainland. The settlement of Irnakk’s Tooth is built into the side of a mountain of the same name, that the sages claim to be one of the great Ancestor Irnakk:Dii’s teeth left behind after the Skakdi people feasted upon Lamo-Lyco-Oshan. The current village upon the Tooth is said to be erected from the gnawed-upon, discarded bones of the former Lesterin trade capital Kvere (Queh-reh) - and while no doubt meant as a grandiose boast, it appears that here, at least, Skakdi mythology has a hint of practical truth hidden beneath the bombast, as there are certain buildings spread throughout the settlement that display Lesterin or even Vortixx architectural philosophy.
Though no warlords occupy Irnakk’s Tooth full-time as ruler, and none have been brave enough to try for over two centuries, several of the island’s most dangerous and prestigious warlords do have manses that are occupied during parts of the year. Similarly, although outlanders are not as common a sight here as on Seprilli, it’s not unheard of to find mercenaries on the Tooth seeking employment with a mercenary company or warlord.
Kvere;Ivi (Queh-reh-vee) - Fittingly, even the most beneficial landmark on Zakaz doubles as a scar on the landscape. The lake that keeps most of the inhabitants of Zakaz alive, if perhaps not always well-hydrated, was originally situated underneath the capital city of Kvere, used as an underground retreat and natural hot spring that would keep the city warm for the Lesterin merchant-princes during winter months. Now the lake is known only as Kvere;Ivi, or Kvere Grave in Skakdi tongue, for the city that sunk beneath its depths when the Skakdi rose up in the time before time. Caverns which once rested underground are now blown open and ripped asunder from the lakebed, buried within diving distance of the surface of the lake and jutting above its crystalline surface in some places.
Though the penalty for outlanders defiling the lake is technically death, this law is not strictly upheld - mostly because few who are foolish enough to plumb the depths of Kvere;Ivi searching for treasures ever return, and even fewer surface again intact. Notably, those foolhardy explorers or treasure hunters who try to mount expeditions are never able to recruit locals.
The Skakdi fear going into the water.
The Spineless Bay - The Spineless Bay was named by Warlord Nektann:Dii nine hundred years ago, during his short-lived conquest of all lands north of Irnakk’s Tooth. Before Nektann’s arrival, the unnamed river delta that comprised western Zakaz was for the most part a rare oasis on the island, occupied by Lesterin traders and a few Skakdi who had found themselves incapable of fighting battles through infirmity, lameness or meek hearts. Nektann, contemptuously referring to the inhabitants of the western brook as Criebe:Dii, or ‘Gods-Of-the-Weak-Seeded,” had the valley razed as he swept across it, famously declaring that there would never be a place on Zakaz for living Skakdi to sit on their hands and contemplate the flora. Nektann was killed before he could realize his full ambitions, but before he died he had turned the northern half of the delta to cinders and his army had permanently christened it the ‘Spineless Bay.’
Within a couple decades, the still-flaming carcass of the northern Bay had found itself occupied by new warlords - a gigantic species of Rahi known as the Tahtorak, which took comfort in its new environment and sought to migrate south. Only the gigantic flames that still burn on the steppes in the northern valley have halted the Tahtoraks’ advances over the century, leading to two differing legends - the prevailing fable being that the Tahtorak grew from the shed blood of Nektann’s men in the conquest of the bay, and the spirits of the Criebe:Dii kept the fires alight to prevent the rest of their weakling’s paradise from falling to the reborn army. The prevailing theory among the mystics of Zakaz is that the Tahtorak are children of a darker, unknown emissary, and that Warlord Nektann:Dii himself was reborn as the flames, keeping the Tahtorak contained before they run amok on his homeland.
In the south of the valley, the lands Nektann never burnt, the name ‘Spineless Bay’ takes on an ironic second edge, for it is here that Zakaz’s largest collection of Spine Slugs lives among the wild. These parasites, which Skakdi use to try and replace a fragment of the rage that was lost to them in days long past, have always found the climate of the river delta palatable, and can be found in plenty the closer the delta gets to Kvere;Ivi.
Lesteri;Dak (Less-teh-ree-dah-k) Roughly translating to the mocking nickname ‘Lesterin’s Crown,’ or often just colloquially referred to as ‘the Crown,’ Lesteri;Dak is the ring of mountains, cliffs, and other jagged surfaces that encircle the island of Zakaz. Ranging from coastal cliffs and mild crags to the west and south to the seldom-scaled, mysterious mountains of the east, the Crown is said to be where the bits and ends of old Lesterin islands, fraying and torn from where they were torn apart by the Skakdi and stuffed back into the shape of Zakaz. Though inhospitable and bleak, the Crown does make for a good defensive position during a siege, leading some particularly daring warlords to erect fortresses there. Indeed, even some stray pockets of Lesterin settlement can be found towards the east, where old goat paths and mountain trails will be used by risky caravans and fugitives as a quick path to the sea.
The Rift - On the southeast of Zakaz lies a deep gash that cuts through all of reality.
In the Time Before Time, a mysterious Lesterin city named Lamo-Lyco-Cosa, the “Silver-Jewel-from-Stars,” was built on the patch of land that the Rift now lacerates. Lamo-Lyco-Cosa was an arcane, avoided city, populated by sages, occultists, and priests, dedicated to the mysteries of the Great Spirit Mata Nui and his mystics, and great care was taken in ensuring that no weapon forged within reality was allowed underneath its gates. Thus it was ensured that even despite the disagreements that often consume scholars, there were protections in place to keep violence from ever breaking out in the sacred city. So it was that the mysteries of Lamo-Lyco-Cosa remained a peaceful, if uncomfortable, fact of life for the surrounding Lesterin settlements.
When the Skathi rose up in revolt over Lesterin rule of the islands, Lamo-Lyco-Cosa ignored all pleas for aid and fielded no defense of its own. Their mystics assured each other that the Skathi, as beings of this reality, were unable to break the physical or arcane barriers that protected the city, and that they could continue their work unimpeded. The Skakdi conquest lasted under a year, but the army underneath the walls of Silver-Jewel-from-Stars held out through the whole duration of the war, as the wise men within seemed uncowed by hunger, bombardment, or news of the fall of merchant prince after merchant prince.
Until one day, the city did fall.
Of course, whether or not Lamo-Lyco-Cosa ever existed is a matter of debate. The small handful of scholars remaining on Zakaz, as well as leaders of the Lesterin conclaves on Seprilli, are quick to point out that there has never been a conclusive shred of evidence that any city ever stood on the area where the Rift now lies, and indeed the wily, pragmatic Lesterin people seem very quick to deny that their culture ever dabbled in such dangerous fare as the higher mysteries. But the stories of the city’s fall are as important as the tales of Ancestors, parents frighten children with the thought of the evil Man-Shades of the Magic City who possess their Spine Slugs and suck the living matter from inside their skulls, and there is a merchant on every corner of Irnakk’s Tooth claiming to sell lost talismans from the Silver-Jewel-from-Stars. The story’s detractors also seem incapable of offering a suggestion of what may have been built over the Rift if not a city.
Certainly, it has not always been there.
The Rift itself appears to be nothing but a large, particularly narrow canyon through southeastern Zakaz, with stalagmites and crags dotting the ashen ground. Here and there one may find the ruins of old fortresses or ziggurats buried underneath the sands of time, or with new rock outcroppings sticking through ramparts or portculli, as if the Rift is slowly assimilating the structures into its mass. These are not, as many a zealous tour guide would insist, remnants of Lamo-Lyco-Cosa, for the truth would scare any who were mad enough to tour the Rift right from the canyon.
Truthfully, much in the way much of the rabble flocks to Lesteri;Dak, many Skakdi have seen the Rift as a potential trap for an opposing army or as a good start to fashion themselves as a warlord to be feared. Such Skakdi are fools; without exception, every attempt to occupy or settle the Rift has ended in calamity, and the most recent settlement there ended four centuries ago with the death of Warlord Nuxukann the Grinner and his chiefs within his own fortress. Those who arrived to sack the fort found the chiefs dead with their eyes gouged out, vision powers having run amok to the point where blindness was preferable to more torment. The Grinner himself was still clinging to life, though his mind had been addled and his element of Ice had been used against him and trapped him in an oubliette of his own making. The warlord died babbling, but whatever pleas or warnings he may have been trying to get out were incomprehensible - all of his famous teeth had fallen out from their roots, thick black blood and ash clotting the gums.
There is no vegetation as far as the eye can see in any direction, even by Zakaz standards. Animals flee it or die, having gone rabid and been put down at the hands of their masters.
And there is Antidermis everywhere in the Rift.
It seems to bubble up everywhere, from natural springs in the ground that seem to spout like blackish-green mockeries of geysers to within the very rocks. More than one Skakdi has angrily broken off a chunk of rock the size of a spear to use on a rival, only to shriek in horror as viscous Antidermis runs down from the inside of a hidden geode and ravages them like gangrene. Executions for the most heinous of crimes are committed here, as only prisoners who commit crimes which mock both Skakdi both living and Ancestral are taken to the Rift and dropped into Antidermis to slowly dissolve, torn apart body and soul by corruption over several agonizing minutes.
Seprilli (Seh-pree-lee) - Seprilli is a curious little island to the southwest of Zakaz, left separate during Irnakk’s fabled haphazard construction of Zakaz in order to symbolically leave behind his race’s past as the Skathi. Instead, Seprilli found a second life as a port city and makeshift home for the Lesterin, who found themselves in the unenviable position of having swapped homelands with the race they once utilized as submissive bruisers. It is an irony many Lesterin have rubbed in their faces by the Skakdi.
Irony exists everywhere on Zakaz.
As a booming port in its own right, Seprilli is technically under the rule of the Skakdi, though they prefer to leave it alone out of a sense of haughty and ancestral pride. The Lesterin have de facto dominion of the island to themselves, along with a race of powerless bruisers known as the Kaiakans who will often be hired as mercenary help for jobs the Lesterin are not physically capable of. While there is a Skakdi population on Seprilli, they are shunned for their birthplace, looked at almost as a subspecies of the mainland Skakdi. Such Skakdi are forced to take the surname Seprillian, to mark them for who they are, and have historically been regarded as misfits who are better suited to lives on the seas and rubbing shoulders with the Lesterin. This outlook has changed somewhat in the last century, thanks to the meteoric rise of Warlord Malnak Seprillian, who seized a large chunk of territory on the mainland by utilizing the nautical knowledge he gained growing up on Seprilli and using the river delta as a launching point for his conquest. Many veteran warriors, however, still view the Seprillian Skakdi as lesser, and it will likely take many more conquests like those of Malnak in order to bring the minority the recognition they crave.
Section IV: Technology
The technology of Zakaz will be familiar to anyone who has seen a Skakdi on Mata Nui. Rudimentary firearms abound, mostly powered off by a substance that the Skakdi refer to as Najin (or “deathly light” in their tongue) dust - which any citizen of Mata Nui would recognize as Stralix Powder. There are no Madu fruit on Zakaz, depriving Mata Nuians of their favorite homegrown explosive, but there is oil aplenty to be mined in the south of Zakaz and from Seprilli, which helps give the Lesterin a degree of importance in trading affairs.
Thanks to the machinations of a particularly fidgety inventor named Avak, a sonic-powered motorbike has started to pick up traction (no pun intended) on Zakaz over the past century and a half as a mode of transportation over the living mounts of centuries past. Though outlandishly expensive and mostly a prized possession for status-obsessed warlords, enough time has passed that inventors without Avak’s avant-garde flair have started to reverse-engineer the machines, and several prototypes of dubious functionality can be easily acquired on the Zakaz black market - for anyone willing to shell out.
Skakdi on Zakaz may have two pieces of Foreign Technology, see Character Creation.
Section V: Forts
Small, defensible fortifications dot Zakaz’s landscape relics from mercenary bands past and present. Though not pretty or even always structurally sound, such a fortified camp is one of the first steps on an aspiring warlord’s path to real power. Some of these are old structures moved into after their previous tenants were evicted by violence or otherwise vacated, while others are recent construction purpose-built by the groups holding them. Often they’re built around a particularly lucrative cache of gear…
For one week after the beginning of the arc applications will be open for such a fort. Design it, including its owner, location on the map, what it looks like, what it contains, and how many brave mercenaries call it ‘home’. The staff will compile a randomly generated list of loot placed at each one specifically to encourage other players to wrest control from its original owner and take their prize. This is Zakaz, things happen. Similarly these forts are not protected by the usual guidelines regarding player-established locations. If someone decides the best way to get in is to reduce the place to rubble, they can. Nor are its NPCs safe from attacking PCs.
That said, the same rules that apply to any fight apply here. You are not infinitely superior to NPCs, and they are under the owner of the fort’s control as much (and with the same privileges) as Guard NPCs are under their Akiri.
Any forts created after this application deadline will have to be created IC and over time, while these approved forts will exist at the start of the game.
Section VI: Skakdi Language Glossary
Criebe:Dii: “gods of the weak-seeded” - historic name for the inhabitants of the Spineless Bay.
:Dii (ah-dee): “king of glorious legend” or “god” - most important honorific in the Skakdi language, used for revered Ancestors of the species such as Irnakk:Dii.
;Dii (dee): “king of all on world” - second most important honorific in the Skakdi language; used for revered Ancestors of a single family line, but can also be used to denote warlords or warriors of high honor without fear of dismemberment
Geym-Kino-Kir-Laru: “Our-Unknown-Abyss-Beneath-the-Waves” - entity of Skakdi superstition thought to exist in the depths of Kvere;Ivi.
Heu:Nii: “mongrel without his own fate” - a Skakdi insult.
Lesteri;Dak (Less-teh-ree-dah-k): “Lesterin’s Crown” (roughly) - the ring of mountains, cliffs, etc that encircle Zakaz.
Kino-Ur: the great featureless abyss that the Skakdi believe all beings return to after they die.
Kvere;Ivi (Queh-reh-vee): “Kvere grave” - Zakaz’s central lake.
Lesteri:Nii: "mongrel who once wore the skins of Lesterin" - the derogatory insult for most Lesterin in contemporary Skakdi culture; also doubles as a backhanded compliment towards the Lesterin ancestors they sacked, though doubtless the Skakdi miss the irony
Mata:Nii: “mongrel who kneels for another” - a favorite Skakdi insult, derived from a demon god and blood magician worshipped by the Lesterin
:Nii (ah-nee): “mongrel” - a derogatory suffix.
Nakihl (nah-keel): “hated dead-men” - native mystics.
Najin (nah-jeen): “deathly light” - explosive powder, known to Mata-Nuians as Stralix Powder.
Sarke: “to make a fool of oneself” - Zakaz’s combat sport.
Silva;ria;Dii: “Grand Performance for the Gods” - the ritual through which a Skakdi may be recognised formally as a warlord.
Valin;Xalt: ceremony to recognise a dead Skakdi for Ancestral worship.
Zakaz: “the end of all worlds” - island home of the Skakdi.