The Sakhtï (or sometimes referred to as Sakhtï-Uaarï) are an (at least partially) Trusko-Uiren ethnic group of uncertain origin who are somewhat of a cultural isolate. They inhabit the various mountain ranges and valleys of the Tsuluak Minor Mountains on the border between Kraeth and Barnyl in a semi-autonomous region known as the Sakhtïmatea.
Most who bother to translate the name at all translate Sakhtï-Uaarï as "People of Uaarï", Uaarï being their chief god, and believe that the Sakhtï shorten it to simply "Sakhtï" or "People" out of indolence. This is untrue.
While sakhtï as a noun can refer to an entire people or populace, it typically, and in this case certainly does refer to the idea of a national personification, a unified singular identity and representation of a people, bordering even on the idea of a "mascot".
The true reason the Sakhtï almost always shorten it is that by their estimation no other people have such a strong union of identity as to have a sakhtï.
There is however some question as to whether or not Sakhtï-Uaarï refers to Uaarï as the "national mascot" of the Sakhtï, or the Sakhtï themselves as the "national mascot" of Uaarï themself.
The origins of the Sakhtï are unclear, even to them, and very little is known. They believe at least that their ancestors came to what is now the Sakhtïmatea to escape persecution for their beliefs and return to a more simple and traditional way of life some three thousand years ago probably during the Tumultuous Epoch of the First Age.
Archaeological findings of seemingly abandoned villages in both Kraeth and Barnyl at about that time seem to support this but no written evidence has come to light. Where their beliefs came from, is still unknown.
No sooner had the Sakhtï come to the Sakhtïmatea than they cut ties with the outside world. It is believed there was great upheaval and unrest within their community during this time, but little else is known.
Surprisingly it was the Sakhtï who chose to end their long standing period of relative isolation when, shortly after The Loss, they sent emissaries out to all the dirmas to see how the world had changed and extend invitations to all people to come join them in their "simpler" way of life. Strangely, they seemed especially keen on courting the Charg of Dharnush.
At first they were well received and the world was excited to reunite with its fellow Daeghra whom they did not even know were missing, but once more was learned of the Sakhtï, things quickly turned sour and then outright hostile.
Before the Final War, the Conclave was still the supreme acting power in Khaltotuin and they saw the totally different religion of the Sakhtï to be not just heresy, but a great afront to them given how close it was to The Loss, and thus declared war on the Sakhtï and formed a people's crusade of sorts to invade the Sakhtïmatea and cleanse it of all Sakhtï.
Fortunately for the Sakhtï, the Conclave had no experience in warfare and the entire crusade, though it greatly outnumbered the Sakhtï, was so poorly managed that it was easily repelled and fell into disarray and disolution after just a few years.
War of Reclamation
A while after the Treaty of Reunification was signed and the Armigers has gained control of Khaltotuin following the Final War, during the start of the Seventh Era of the Burnished Epoch, both Kraeth and Barnyl sought again to reclaim their "lost" territory.
Using not a rabble of zealots and clergy, but the Legion as their weapon, they began to lay siege to the Sakhtïmatea and still do to this day. They have made some progress, but not as much as expected.
The Sakhtï have in effect a semi-loose caste system, though there is, by necessity in some cases, a great amount of social mobility and few limitations placed on people because of caste. It is more there to dictate the way in which one contributes to society.
One's torg or caste is displayed via a colored stole known as a dhar.
The castes (and associated colors) are as follows:
- Broodbearers (Blyttmyhga) (White)
- Shamans (Erenkïa-Vakïa) (Black)
- Warriors (Kauora) (Blue)
- Artisans (Ilimarïa) (Gold)
- Laborers (Tirthda) (Red)
- Mourners/Outcasts/Criminals (Nedhïhta) (Green)
In fact, caste may be perhaps the wrong word, as one's torg is not determined by lineage, but is more or less chosen for you at the age of nine.
The only exception to this are the Nedhïhta who are assigned that caste as punishment and may only regain their former caste by acting as mourners for a certain amount of time.
Traditional Attire (Ykka)
Virtually all Sakhtï wear the ykka, the traditional clothes of the Sakhtï at all times. This outfit includes the following (in order of underclothes to outerwear):
- Linen Breeches (Dyrï)
- Linen Sleeveless Tunic (Sïr)
- Felt-Lined Leather Boots (Dotta)
- Heavily Embroidered Long Sleeved Wool Robe Without Right Sleeve Clasping Shut Under Right Arm (Kytah)
- Fur Cloak (Shtaal)
- Colored Silk Caste Stole (Dhar)
- Wide Conical Fur-Lined Woven Reed Hat (Syrtar)
The Sakhtï are a loose confederation of clans known as tyrva (singular: tyrvah) which can have anywhere between 50 and 1,000 members, but typically average about 450. There used to be many more tyrva than there are now, but with population decline, safety in numbers, and a growing wish to pool community resources, they have begun combining to form larger tyrva. Currently there are 21.
Each tyrva is named for some force of nature or strong primal entity, such as the Tyr-Vahaka (Uarsar Clan) or the Tyr-Uitarïa (Ice Clan). They are ruled by the council of that tyrva's broodbearers, who are also advised by the shamans and the best of the warriors.
Every tyrvah has its own sylah (pl. syla) or hillfort, a heavily fortified and well defended fortress located usually atop the summit of a particularly steep mountain. As many members of the tyrvah as practical live and work within its encircling wall, only leaving the protection of the sylah if they absolutely have to.
In addition, in the surrounding territory each sylah has a number of well hidden redoubts that act as both lookout positions and artillery positions.
Just as tyrvah is shortened to Tyr- as a prefix for clans, sylah is shortened to Syl- as a prefix for hillfort names, usually followed by the name of the mountain upon which they preside.
A key element of Sakhtï culture, society, and even psychology is the concept of khor. Direct translations would say that to possess khor is to be courageous or hale, but while those are aspects of it, such translations far from communicate the actual nature of it.
Khor is a wish and in some ways an oath to push your own personal limits in all ways at all times, to never stop pushing yourself. In some ways it is a yearning to do things better and to experiment freely with how things are done, to question everything and defy what is deemed possible and impossible.
It is also about not always doing the smart thing, but doing the brave thing, doing the thing no one else will do or has thought to do, to willingly put yourself at risk (but only for a good purpose).
Above all else, khor is about the intent to improve things and the willingness to put one's self at risk and challenge one's self constantly. However, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely irrelevant. All that matters is that one had good intentions and was willing to try. One who fails at the same thing another succeeds at is not viewed as any less of a person for they were both willing to attempt it and thus they are both equal when it comes to khor.
Tradition & Superstition
The Sakhtï are a highly traditional people, barely changing their ways at all in the last several thousand years. This is due to two core aspects of their culture.
First, they believe that their ancestors came to the Sakhtïmatea to live a more simple life free of many of the "modern burdens" and thus the Sakhtï believe such a life is better and so are reluctant to change certain things, as they feel that would be moving away from the goals of their ancestors.
Second of all, they are a highly superstitious and god fearing people who, at least when it comes to their ritual and ceremonial lives, fear to change anything lest it upset the gods. This fear of angering the gods has even spilled into every day life to some extent.
The general philosophy here is that if they've been doing something the same way for thousands of years and the gods have not destroyed them, it obviously has met with the gods' approval and therefore there is no need to risk changing it.
Left vs. Right
The Sakhtï place a huge amount of cultural significance and social symbolism on the left versus the right hand side. This dates back likely to their origins when they fought primarily with a large shield and one of their signature weapons, the raytan-singah, or sickle-sword (known by other cultures as a khopesh), albeit a shorter variant.
Thus the default fighting stance they were taught to assume involved standing with one's left side facing the enemy with the shield raised. In this stance, only the left hand side of the combatant was exposed or could be seen. Later on when rifles were introduced, they adopted a very similar firing stance where, again, only the left side of the body faced the enemy.
In this way a connotation was built up attached to the left hand side being the side of aggression, war, and combat. As a result, quite naturally, the right hand side took on the opposite meaning, one of peace and good will.
Centuries of cultural reinforcement of these ideas has resulted in a culture obsessed with body language. For instance one should never approach another starting with the left foot, nor should one gesture with the left hand unless at an enemy. Whenever possible even, one should avoid having their left side face anyone at all and stand at an angle with the right side forward.
This is now reflected in the attire of the Sakhtï, the ykka, specifically the kytah, the robe without a right sleeve, leaving the right arm bare and "vulnerable". Furthermore, combined with a little bit of the khor mindset, the Sakhtï warriors only wear armor on their left sides in such a way that when in a combat ready or firing stance they are completely protected, but only so long as they face the enemy.
Perhaps one of the most important parts of Sakhtï culture, at least to them, is the making and drinking of myhtï. Nectar-wine is first fermented from both wild and cultivated randenfruit trees, one of the only fruits that grows in the Sakhtïmatea. When it is done it is then mixed with fresh milk (usually that of a goat, but other varieties can be used), and served warm. The ratio of milk to wine varies depending upon taste but usually it is about 1/5-1/3 milk. Occasionally oil taken from ground dama nuts and/or springthorn berries are used to further flavor the drink.
Even mixed, the drink is fairly strong, about 12% alcohol by volume but is very sweet. The word myhtï means "cloudy", due to the clouded nature the milk creates when mixed with the usually transparent golden wine. Myhtï is typically drunk by everyone, every night, and to excess.
Myhtï is also an important ingredient in a ceremonial tonic known as sïn which is drunk by warriors before going into battle. Sïn is a mixture of myhtï, tolraatten (bluesmoke) blue mushrooms known for their analgesic effects, chïren, an herb that acts a mild stimulant, and turpentine.
This stains the proud mustaches of the warriors blue, the color of their caste, and of their blood.
Procreation & Family
Since at least the Inspired Epoch the Sakhtï have suffered from what they refer to as the "Great Burden". In short, while perfectly able to sire children amongst themselves, the ability to bear children among the Sakhtï has been growing increasingly rare to the point where, by some estimates, between 1 in 20 and up to 1 in 150 are able to bear children.
Any non-postulants found able to bear children are immediately promoted within the social heirarchy to broodbearer, the mothers of the tyrvah. The Sakhtï have no concept of the "family" as other cultures do, but more of the "lineage". Having a child is not something between two lovers, but an individual affair.
However, due to the nature of only having a few bearers for every tyrvah, who can and cannot sire children and by which broodbearer is a complicated matter and thus one must make an appeal to the council of broodbearers who will then consider it. Should they find a suitable bearer, one impregnates that bearer, but once the child is born, that bearer's role is done, it is up to the sire to raise and care for the child, something the Sakhtï take very seriously.
As a result the Sakhtï view things more in terms of "lineages" and thus use an ancient Trusken system of naming. Instead of the typical Khaltsh <Family Name> <Given Name>, the Sakhtï reverse it to <Given Name> <Lineage Name>-nen/-en, the suffix of -nen or -en marking it as the lineage.
Despite the typical public hatred of the Sakhtï, their invitations for outsiders to join them did not fall on deaf ears, and still the occasional lonesome soul comes seeking to join the Sakhtï as a postulant or saryth. Should they succeed in even finding the Sakhtï (more often than not, the Sakhtï find them first), they are put through a series of trials to ensure that they are not spies and can truly live as a Sakhtï.
If they pass, they are then tutored on the ways of the Sakhtï before being fully inducted as one and given a new Sakhtï name. In theory, they are then as much a Sakhtï as anyone else, but in practice that is not quite the case. They will live their lives on sort of a probationary period of sorts and will only be allowed to bear the children of "true native" Sakhtï, and sire none themselves.
These restrictions will then apply to their offspring as well. It is only by the third generation that they are considered "true native" Sakhtï.
Sakhtï music, for the most part, tends to follow a very rigid template. It is typically played at 108 quarter beats per minute in 5/4 timing and played in the key of F Major. It's typically known for its staccato nature, use of uncommon, often abrasive, vocal techniques, and call and repeat chanting.
The ryïsrokk is a very interesting instrument in a number of ways and much of popular (that is to say non-ceremonial, traditional, or ritual specific) music revolves around its use. It belongs to the same family as the shinue and the charad.
It has approximately an 87cm neck and usually 24 frets. It has eight metallic strings tuned to the Yrgaan-Tal scale (B1-D2-A2-C3-G3-A#3-F4-F5), making heavy use of major thirds and perfect fifths and a bowl backed hollow body with six soundholes placed all around it. The strings are fretted with the left hand and played using a plectrum with the right. Excessive palm-muting is very common.
However, what makes it truly interesting, is a feature not fitting with the typical view of the Sakhtï. Build into a metal bridge over the base of the strings and positioned over a soundhole are a set of piezoelectric pickups allow it to be plugged in to a rotary speaker with a built in vacuum tube modulator box.
This not only serves to amplify it, but creates its signature flanged, compressed, and distorted sound coupled with the doplar effect of the rotary speaker.
Unlike the rest of Sakhtï music, khoroïke (hale-song or intention-singing depending upon the interpretation) is rather subdued and typically a personal or very intimate affair. It is a style of semi-non-verbal singing or chanting using random phonemes that sound pleasing together to the singer rather than actual morphemes.
The idea behind it is that the singer's intent and meaning by their song will be communicated not through words but through the emotion expressed throughout the song and the overall tone of the song.
The Sakhtïmatea (Sakhtï Lands) is a relatively small region located in the various mountain ranges, valleys, and basins all referred to as the Tsuluak Minors, just north of the main Tsuluak Mountains, and crossing over the border of Kraeth and Barnyl.
It only measures approximately 124km north to south by 169km east to west making it just under 21,000 square kilometers in size.
The landscape of the Tsuluak Minors, and thus the Sakhtïmatea, is rugged at best. Due to continuous glacial activity, vulcanism, uplift, and tectonic faulting, as well as various forms of erosion, this area contains some of the roughest natural terrain on Khaltotuin.
On average, the altitude is around 3,500m. The vast majority of the land is nothing but exposed granite, though there are plenty of natural springs and runoff to keep the rivers and lakes full year round (that is, when they are not frozen over in the winter).
Most ridgelines are impassable and thus there are only a limited number of ways of getting anywhere, often following a rather circuitous route. Furthermore, the steepness of the area cannot be overstated as most valleys are walled in by natural granite escarpments.
A great deal of the Sakhtïmatea is what would be considered "alpine" and is above the tree line.
Not factoring in windchill, the temperature always stays between 15 degrees and -50 degrees, though it averages at just 2 degrees.
Year-round wind and shortlived afternoon thunderstorms are pretty much the rule. There is, however, surprisingly little rainfall in the spring, and the summers can be almost distressingly dry. Virtually all the water in the Tsuluak Minors comes from the autumn and winter snowpack.
The primary resources found in the Sakhtïmatea are mineral. There are fairly substantial deposits of tin, copper, gold, salt, saltpeter, quartz, and korbamate (a rare and highly volatile substance similar to saltpeter) which is used in creating the Sakhtï's infamous artillery and hand cannons or vymedym.
The Sakhtï cultivate many crops on mountain terraces they build up or cut into the mountains themselves or down in the valleys. Not all are for food, but most are. Which crops any specific tyrvah cultivates depends mostly on the land they have access to.
Food-wise the main crops are Tsuluak Rye, Randenfruit, Dama Nuts, Mountain Spinach, and Nabarïroot. Their other main crops are chïren and hemp.
Although the Sakhtï rely heavily on goats, sheep, and occasionally cows for dairy, wool, and meat (goats especially as they are most well adapted to the rocky terrain) there are two other animals worth making special mention of.
Bhrostigs or vrashtiga are large flightless birds native to the Tsuluak Minors. While they are occasionally used for meat, this is only on special occasions and are primarily kept for their enormous eggs and their shed downy feathers which are used for everything from insulation to bedding to attire.
Most importantly, however, are the aijtyo, the draft-hounds that the Sakhtï breed. These are massive dogs, typically weighing in at around 85kg and standing nearly 90cm at the shoulder. They possess fluffy mottled grey layered coats that allow them to blend in seamlessly with the native granite and are as intelligent as they are strong.
They are the primary draft animal of the Sakhtï and are capable of towing truly massive amounts of weight over uneven terrain. They are somehow able to pick out who is and who is not a member of their home tyrvah and are fiercely loyal to their people, but not to outsiders, though they are not hostile.
In fact, they are a very gentle and cautious breed of dog, and only really work as an early alert system, not as actual guard dogs as they would never hurt someone.
Perhaps their most important quality, however, is their howl. Not only can their howl be heard for six kilometers in all directions, but they can be trained to howl in a great number of different ways, allowing them to act as a long range method of communication for the Sakhtï who may even set up relays of dogs and their handlers.
No one knows where or when the Sakhtï religion known as Sakhtïmonï originated as it cannot even be remotely tied to Gathra, but still it persists.
The chief deity of the Sakhtï is Uaarï who the Sakhtï believe was encased in ice with their siblings Ynaerï and Tulervï until the sun was born and melted them out. Uaarï then impregnated themself and gave birth to six children.
The Old One of Gifts
The Old One of Mountains
The Old One of Storms
The God of Scorching Hate
The God of Corrupting Words
The God of Stolen Magics
The God of Sickness of the Mind
The God of Rock and Stone
The God of Strife and Kinslaying
The Sakhtï believe in a wide variety of spirits fitting into four broad categories.
A verko is what the rest of Khaltotuin refer to as a dïaemat, a malicious and powerful spirit that either followed the Daeghra through the Rift or originated within it. They are rarely blamed for unfortunate events, however, as that is mainly considered the work of the gods. Primarily, they are blamed when someone does something entirely out of character or is plagued by distressing dreams or other such things.
A hero-spirit or tortyah is the everlasting soul of a great hero who once lived as a mortal but so impressed the gods that upon their death they were given an important task in the cosmos. A good example of this is Vaenafrid who is believed to row their boat out into space and bring the sun and moons together every nine years.
Worship & Practices
The language of the Sakhtï, Sakhtïsana, seems to have originally been at first a pidgin and then a creole. The main sources were likely an already obscure and increasingly different dialect of Younger Trusken and some yet unknown Uiren tongue. There are, however, certain elements to suggest a small influence by an Ulthwan language, but it is impossible to tell which one.
In general the vocabulary seems to be derived from a Trusken tongue, but much of the grammar and syntax seems to be, at least partially, Uiren. It is theorized that for these reasons, at its start, Sakhtïsana was actually quite close to Stalark and even Khaltsh, but many believe this highly unlikely.
Whatever the truth may be, several thousand years of isolation has made Sakhtïsana's roots and origins almost entirely obscured by how much the language has changed and evolved in a vacuum. In fact, for a very long time, it was believed to be a total linguistic isolate, possibly even pre-dating Proto-Daeghral. While some still believe this, it has mostly been disproven.
Either way, Sakhtïsana is a very unique language and quite difficult for outsiders to learn. This is in part due to the seemingly archaic grammar and also in part due to the many foreign phonemes not found in any other living language on the face of Khaltotuin, making pronunciation quite difficult for some.
The Sakhtï actually have two standardized methods of writing their language. The first, Torqil (Curled/Wound), is a complex syllabary which is used primarily only in and around settlements. The second, Skaathar-Brae (Wild Scratch), a comparatively simple logographic system of crude marks that can easily be etched into trees, rocks, etc. and look natural to the untrained eye.