Kassa'Melkuul (Also known as Kassa)
Table of Contents
- Overview and History
- Physical Characteristics
- Society and Community
- The Split
- The Cities
Overview and History
The Kassa'melkuul are a fierce, proud race of humanoids that reside in the forests of Forntol. They were ironically born of the best of intentions using some of the worst stock. When the Teregnaven came to the world of Forntol, they found, among other races, orcs. The violent, unruly and chaotic spirit of these creatures were well known, as their Farlandic brethren were part of the reason the saved trolls fled the west and its growing shadow of evil. The Teregnaven were forbidden to wage war unprovoked, so they decided to change the very nature of the Orcs, with the same intent with which they themselves were founded. The created became the creators, and using force they took hundreds of orcs into their medical facilities. Genetic alterations were performed, using the very building blocks of life and their tremendous knowledge of magic, changing many of their tendencies and thoughts. It took hundreds of generations for the Teregnaven to perform their work. It was necessary to change single creatures, both male and female, and have them mate. Cruel as it may seem, these young were then separated and tested, changed, and mated again. Fine adjustments were made in their structure and genetic material, and they were raised to maturity in protected communities with great attention to religion and good moral values by teachers and priests dedicated to one vision - that of impressing upon them the values of following Bestra's teachings.
During this long period of time, the secret of the experiments became difficult to keep, and several times, word of the project made its way to the Orcs in the East. Twice, dark folk raids were launched, as the thought of the powerful changes that may be underway caused the evil ones to fear for their very way of life. But the Teregnaven strongholds held, and their defenses were sufficient to repel them.
The process of controlled change was repeated time and again, until a being emerged who would have stable patterns. After careful evaluation of their results, the program was determined to be a success, and now it was time to place the seed of their travails. Under the tutelage of the project's new leader, Gomairon Demerveaux, a group of Teregnavens headed out with their "children" to survey the continent for a suitable place to establish their new colony.
The Teregnaven and his group traveled around the south of Forntol and found a huge expanse of dense, lofty evergreen forests of the southern tier of Forntol. Here, the trees were huge and very tall, in some cases reaching fifty to seventy feet in height before branching. This area the Teregnavens called Melkuul Wesfar, or Forests of the West. When the Teregnaven had "bred" their beings, they did not attempt to remove their small claws, and so this vestigial reminder of the Orcish heritage still remained. In fact, they increased the size of the tiny orc claws. The new claws would allow the Kassa to climb trees with ease. It was evident that the people would do well in such an environment, and as this was an ideal locale, with its proximity to the dark folk acting as a buffer, Demerveaux selected this as the colony.
Demerveaux and several other consultants set up camp at the city's edge and stayed for several years, helping the new residents to build homes in the forest and develop social structure. Soon after this, a falling out and parting of the ways took place, and the Kassa repelled their makers, claiming the land as their own (see Politics, below). Attempting to leave their relationship under the best of conditions, Demerveaux and his party limped home, dejected in their expulsion, but confident that they had established an ally to help fend off the scourge that was the dark folk.
During the time the Teregnavens "built" this race, the best of each successive generation was selected for mating. Their configuration was changed to deplete the children of their evil tendencies; during the process, their physical size and strength, already considerable, were somewhat enhanced. This continuous gleaning of the results and arduous selection process produced a race of exceptionally strong, robust beings. The typical Kassa grew to at least six feet in height at adulthood. Two thirds of them reached another six inches, and half of that group breached the seven-foot mark. Their bodies were generally well-structured, with powerful chest, back and abdominal muscles for climbing. Kassa women were slightly shorter, but on the average, still well over the height of human, orc, and hobgoblin females. They tended toward strong, muscular bodies, but softer and more rounded, as females of other races.
The male and female Kassa faces were "toned" down from the typically broad, sprawling orcish face to one more typical of humans. The obnoxious tusks or fangs were removed during the changes, but much of the rest of the physical traits remained. Several genes governing hair growth were accentuated, although it is not known why, and many Kassa since have exhibited the ability to grow extensive masses of curly, thick hair. This feature, along with their size and strength, provide quite an imposing figure. Their noses are bulbous, not thin and narrow as with humans, but less so than the orc stock from which they were bred. Skin colors were evened out by the selection processes, and now, Kassa skin is generally smooth, dark tan to brown in shade and lacking in body hair. Facial hair is almost unheard of, except in later life.
- Languages: Trade Language and Kassa'melkuul.
Society and Community
Typically, in both Kassa communities, they live in a very close-knit family order. The household is slightly patriarchal, as the wife generally tends to the education and the raising of the children, while the husband maintains a job or has his own enterprise. The family stays in reasonably close proximity, with a higher or larger tree-home, or den, given to the longest-living of each extended family, and younger ones and newlyweds given homes on the perimeter of their sub-division, or hut. It is the job of the rest of the family to see to it that the elders are fed and cared for, sharing a portion of their wealth or sustenance with them. The oot(snort)gakk, or eldest father, leads the community in teaching, tradition, justice and in most major decisions. As a matter of fact, it is in the den of the elders, the eeoogloo, that the eeooyak, or family school, is held. The elder and his wife teaches the younger Kassa throughout their youth until they became old enough to be sent to the yakyakgloo, the school of trades located at Heekgloo, the central governmental hut. Further, in the case of the Sartine, the elders are also given the job of representing the family to the main Kassa government (see Politics, below).
Young Kassa are taught respect for their elders and reverence for Bestra the Good. They are given as much of the basic sciences, social studies, math, history and religion as was believed to be necessary to prepare them for trade school. The mothers aid their in-laws in the schooling as well as keeping up the maintenance of the home and preparing of food.
Being a religious people (valuing the worship of Bestra and the following of her ideals), they attend worship ceremonies by lunar phase, that is to say, at the Gibbous and Full moon, or twice a month. As the Teregnavens imbued within them the fear and respect for her, they are very ardent followers, refusing alcohol or other drugs and refusing to kill unless attacked or threatened. Their leader (in the west, the Oomodoo, and in the east, the Glemakmeetzak), serves as their political, moral and religious leader, and he furnishes them with direction, advice and punishment, if the need arises.
There are no jails in either of the cities. Due to their religious upbringing, the Kassa who cross the line of law are dealt with passively. Theft and deception are traditionally punishable by exile of varying lengths of time, a painful retribution to the average Kassa. Uncharacteristic public behavior is dealt with through public embarrassment and, if warrantable, flogging in front of the family. Murder or rape, extremely rare occurrences, garner the death penalty. A jury of sorts passes judgment (see politics, below).
As a community, the Kassa are very tight-knit. But in their dealings with other folk on the continent, their behavior tends toward isolationism. They have dealings with gnomes, hilken, humans and dwarves, but only for economic reasons. The reason for this may stem from several sources. It is possible that the Teregnavens built this tendency into their emotional makeup, but such a change may have been beyond even what they could accomplish. On the other hand, it may be because of some dealings gone wrong, or mistrust of those not as religious. And it could be due to jingoistic pride, feeling they are superior to others, in their own ways.
The Sartine Kassa are friendly with hilken and gnomes, due to their proximity, and the Wesfars have good but limited relationships with hilken, humans, gnomes, and dwarves. The relationship with Teregnavens, however, are scarce, perhaps somehow stemming from their creation.
In any case, their interrelationships with other races have been momentous. After a full-blown attack by the dark folk, the Sartine Kassa protected their own lands with overwhelming success, almost decimating their neighbors. And several times, Wesfar Kassa have excelled in combat, to the point where wartime cruelty and unnecessary violence occur, at which point they tend to step back and let the survivors escape. This has made other races look upon them as enigmatic and pretentious, but in reality, it was due to the Teregnaven's teachings.
They have been known to travel, to learn from others, and some have been successful as bards or sorcerers. Today, Kassa are known to roam among other cities, dealing for economic reasons and looking after their own interests.
Unfortunately, however, some Kassa, from both cities, have changed. Teregnavens believe the underlying causes to be social and economic, but perhaps they refuse to consider the alternative possibility: that somehow, even after the years of refinement, a few have begun to revert. Some who have crossed the Ootneekas (New Kassa) have found it to be an extremely unpleasant experience. Shedding their traditions, religious ties, and family mores, they have struck out on their own, forgoing the kind, thoughtful approach to life for one of ruthless dealings and self-centeredness.
The Kassa are traders, having found that their goods can be of value to other races. Meat and pottery from the hilken, grains and fine foods from gnomes, cloth goods from humans, and from some dwarves, sturdy blacksmith goods are prevalent on the market. In return from the Kassa, simple furniture, implements and curios are traded. They are known for their woodworking skills, in both locales, and their work is highly praised and sought.
Trade within the huts is quite active. Both areas have internal markets, in large buildings high above the ground, where different goods are passed between families. To the east, internal trading is comprised of grain, farm goods, yak milk and wool, reed ropes, wooden goods, fish, and blacksmithing products. In Wesfar, the goods include grain, vegetables, nuts, weavings, pig products, goat's milk, herbs, woodwork, and blacksmithing products. A monetary system is not used in either locale, as there is always some commodity worth trading.
Each hut, as mentioned above, has its own "government," and all huts are "tied together" with a central government. Living within close proximity of other races, the government of Wesfar learned the importance of maintaining a standing "volunteer" armed force, more for establishing borders and maintaining a feeling of security than for outright mercenary use. For these "armies, a general fund is collected, consisting of a small tax levied against all dealings with the outside world. The general fund is also used to help maintain the health and welfare of older Kassa, whom the community revere and respect. And it is used to maintain the vast expanse of bridges (see City, below), and the main meeting and marketplace buildings.
Within a hundred years of establishing the original Wesfar colony, a rift developed. The Kassa split over political theory. The Teregnaven, in their best of intentions, had helped to set up a provincial government within the Wesfar colony. These Kassa were given a leader, or Oomodoo, one of the stronger of the group, to act as a king. Some of the families did not take well to a centralized, dictatorial government and decided to leave. They found haven in the eastern forests, known by the Teregnavens as Melkuul Sartine.
The government of Wesfar consists of what might be considered a "loose" autonomy or a limited benevolent dictatorship, if such a thing is possible. The King is elected by the populace and his term is understood to be unlimited. He then takes his Name of the Crown, a surname phrase he uses during his service to the people. Few kings last longer than ten years, as they are usually asked by public pressure to stand down if their reign becomes too harsh. Such a system as this can become distorted and an ambitious person could take advantage of it. But only a few have had to be asked to remove themselves. Gloek of the Wind and Kelmut who Climbs were the only two who overstayed their welcome. It was Gloek who established an unhealthy atmosphere for those who eventually became the Sartine Kassa, causing them to break away and establish their own city to the east. His habitual abuse of his decree powers created more laws than he could enforce, and many of them did not follow the teachings of Bestra. The Kassa are never shy about disciplining their leaders, if only by public humiliation. But for the most part, leaders are welcomed into homes, and often travel to the individual eeoogloos to visit.
The King has the power to use the general fund for the public good. Often, discussions over the definition of public good are held, but his decrees are final and mostly fair. The general fund consists of a tax levied against goods traded to the outside world and a lighter tax on goods sold within the city. Many Kassa citizens have developed a system of bartering with each other, circumventing the taxation process. It is common for a thatcher or reed farmer to fix a roof in exchange for bags of flour or a knife. The King generally looks the other way in most of these cases, as he is still under the watchful eyes of Bestra and the paths of tradition. The general fund is used to maintain the infrastructure of the city and, in the case of the Wesfar Kassa, provide for its defense.
The Wesfar colony has found that their form of government, their proximity to other races and the fact that their military prowess is sought after has led them away from isolationism and conservatism, and into more liberal relationships with other races. It required of all of its youth to be conscripted into military service for a limited time, and could provide for a standing army, more for its own defense than anything else, but capable of adding the well-known Kassa might to the forces of good.
The military force maintained by the government is operated on a rotating, reserve basis. Each adult male past the age of fifteen is expected to report for two weeks of active duty every year. This was decreed by Stakoo of the Bridges many years ago after a very ferocious raid by Dark Folk armies had damaged much of their forest and many of their huts. The evil ones were repelled, but only after hurried preparation and training on-the-fly. The rotating system forces each male, otherwise a contributing member of the economy, to give an equal amount of his time to their defense, with the net cost to the economy being minimal. It causes some minor hardships, but the soldier's wives learn their husband's trades to aid in their family's solvency.
The Wesfar government is weak in the militant sense, compared to some of the human, dark folk, dwarven, or gnomish towns. These other communities are always prepared to rush headlong into wars, or at least, extended and vicious skirmishes. As such, their governments are prepared for such eventualities. Although goods are made and traded here, Wesfar remains basically an isolationist entity, fighting only when pushed.
Sartine Kassa Government
As mentioned above, the Sartine Kassa have little to do with world or continental politics. This second colony founded a government based on representative rule. This political system begins "at home." Each hut, or extended family, lives in close proximity, and being a patriarchal society, the elders of the family is revered and assumes the position of leader. The two eldest then "retire" from their jobs and report to the main building several days a week to express the needs and desires of their hut to the main body. This representative government then selects a leader, who takes on the responsibility of being the main religious figure, responsible for leading his people, representing his city in the affairs of other races, and for overseeing justice. He realizes his term is limited, and steps down after five or six years, or when voted out.
This system requires a great deal of faith and trust to work. It can be flawed, as it is possible for an aggressive Glemakmeetzak to wrest power from others and remain in control over the community. It is for this reason that he takes the Oath of Leadership, or Oinya-t-t-t, (below), to limit his term at the risk of expulsion. The heavily religious populace holds this oath as well, and it is their responsibility to remove him if necessary.
Oinya-t-t-t (the Sartine Kassa Oath of Leadership)
Oowt-hchc Bestra Gamootessa, Ak yakglemkik Ekirktooma, murr-pt opo Ek ik Kassapootoo erktoo, koot spkaglemk r-k-omoop Ak eeootoot meetzaknyeh-h-h!
(All powerful Bestra, Mother of the Earth, I pledge to do your will and leave when you or my brethren want, or my family will live in shame forever.)
Part of the reason this system has worked is the high degree of pride in their people, part is due to the Teregnaven's "brainwashing," and part may be due to the Kassa's highly religious way of life, worshipping Bestra and her peaceful love of nature. By any method and means, their system is one of passivity and generosity, but it tends to lean toward isolationism.
The Kassa split over differences in politics, and the second group traveled to a peninsula on the eastern coast of Forntol. A huge expanse of azure-tinted deciduous trees had spread across this land, awesome and spectacular in its beauty. This special variety of tree was found to spread for hundreds of feet in each direction by assimilating other trees. Its branches grew nearly horizontally toward others, and as it met them, grew around each "child" tree and merged its xylem and phloem tissue with that of the captured tree. Those branches that could not reach another tree simply bent down under their own weight and re-rooted once they hit the ground. Apparently, over the period of many years, the tree system grew to encompass acres of land, each new tree being transformed to take on the same hauntingly beautiful azure tint to its leaves. The area was named Merkuul Sartine, after an old Teregnaven dialect for "Azure Folk."
The Wesfar Kassa were blessed with an astounding forest as well, although one not quite as unique. Huge conifers brushed the sky, usually with few branches lower than fifty feet from the ground.
Along with their appearance, language and religion, the cities themselves are distinctive and impressive. It is a natural tendency for the Kassa to take up life in the trees. They had been altered, either purposefully or not, to the end that they are very much at home in the forests. Their incredible climbing abilities and love of nature made "tree houses" the logical choice for housing. This also leads to their impression of isolationism, as the climb to their houses is quite a chore for all but hilken and gnomes.
The construction of a typical Kassa hut begins with the protection of the tree. Care is taken so as not to damage the important fluid-carrying cells in the outer sapwood, so horizontal boards are placed, steamed and bent- around the trunk and pegged or nailed into the tree. Gaps are used to allow diametrical growth of the tree. Upon the base, or kakarookoohoseh, angled beams, or spikaanimakkoseh are set, pegged and nailed, splaying outward. The ends of these are tied together to form a ring, and tying these to the trunk, floor rafters are set horizontally and in a radial pattern to the center. Another ring is made, tying the floor rafters into the trunk, and the structure is now sound. Walls are built up, and another band is built. The angled beams and band are repeated above, in an inverted fashion completing the roof. A foyer, of sorts, along with some living quarters, or in some dens, storage area, is built between the angled bottom beams and the trunk, making use of the truncated cone below the house. Likewise, in some homes, the upper cone is used. Thatching over light roof purlins complete the sealing against the rain.
Wood for these structures comes from renewable resources. Not that the Kassa became aware of dwindling resources; as a matter of fact, the forests are quite prolific in the south, and to the east, the Kassamasteeka trees naturally grew into structures and assimilated them, creating wild growth. The Kassa "farm" some quick-growing Ash and Aspen trees, re-planting them to assure a full stand of useable wood every five to seven years.
The dens are connected by an extensive system of bridges. In the case of the Sartine, Glim of the Twig (the first elected ruler of the Azure Forest), ordered the funding of eleven bridges, laid out as spokes from the future site of the Great Hall. They were designed to pass between the largest of trees, usually in a straight line, but in some cases, bending to accommodate hills and large spans over sparser growth. In the case of Wesfar, the bridges are built to a circle fifty feet from the Main Hall, then into the hall itself. The extensive systems of bridges that link huts together are high-maintenance in nature and require constant work. The ropes of the bridges are replaced on a regular basis, normally on a rotating schedule of five years. The yakyakgloo is always in need of maintenance or expansion, as is the Heekgloo.
The bridges were built of rope and slats, with a series of sturdy ropes. In the east, the Sartine Kassa used reeds, dried and woven, while the ropes at Wesfar were of reeds but also of vines and hemp-like plants secured in trades.
Certainly one of the most distinctive traits of the Kassa is the language they employ. The unmistakable dialect of the Kassa consists of sharp, guttural sounds, mixed with song-like crooning sounds, punctuated by clacks, snorts, spitting, gags, and grunts, and accentuated by waving and thrusting of hands, smacking of butts, flapping of arms, and stomping of the feet. The words themselves are sung more than talked, as inflections and tones of the sounds are as important to the meanings as the words themselves. A group of Kassa engaged in conversation is certainly a sight to see.
The words themselves are numerous (see partial list here), as the Kassa feel a compulsion to name everything. Many common words are created by appending modifiers to a root word to create a longer, more involved one. This sometimes adds to confusion for others trying to understand a Kassa.
Inflection and intonation form an important part of the language, and as such, the Kassoinya (Kassa language) is difficult, sometimes dangerous, for outsiders to use. Harsh-sounding words such as kakaka, for ugly, contrast with the soft tones of such words as hoomoo-ooee, for moonlight. Inflections and intonation form a large part of the language. The words ga-ihak kakaKA (capitals indicate higher intonation), refers to an unpleasant-looking woman, typically an insult, while ga-ihak kAKAka indicates a woman of unhappy disposition, not particularly insulting. The inflection HOOmoo-ooEE refers to bright moonlight, while hooMOO-ooee refers to a dark, obscured moon.
Kassa use the inflections in normal conversation, but more importantly, in poetry (see The Sailor's Lament), where the sing-song techniques are utilized as expressions of emotion, of happiness, of despair, of elation, hate and love. As evidenced in this poem, several identifiers are used at the beginning of a passage to indicate the tenor of the words to follow. Sentences or lines beginning with 'Eee-' indicate the following will be an action; 'Mmm-' indicates a line describing thought, and 'Nahrr-' indicates powerful emotions are about to be relayed.
The teachings of Bestra also include reverence toward those of song and poetry. Kassa bards are not uncommon in either city, and Kassa poetry is some of the finest in Forntol. Not many of its inhabitants know this, as the inflections, structure, and singing method of delivery are difficult to grasp by anyone but a Kassa, Hilken, or a Teregnaven.
Common Kassa Names
Kassa names are, for the most part, interesting and diverse combinations of Tradespeak and early Kassa words. The first names are guttural and follow other words in the strange Kassa language, containing snorting, whistling, gagging and hooting sounds. Female names are generally softer and a little more flowery, but are also interspersed with guttural sounds.
Kassa use their clan names, which generally describe either their chosen job or field of interest, or were chosen in antiquity to represent an ideal. Surnames are almost always spoken as their human translations, a concession that Gloek of the Wind established early in the history of the Wesfar Melkuul, just before his ouster. He felt it would be a move toward understanding between the races of Forntol. Among other Kassa, the Kassa counterparts are still used, as they have somewhat of an emotional attachment to their own tongue.
- Barq, Bent
- Daaigh, Dargoo
- Elk-noo, Emno
- Gkakoo, Gkktk-ah, Gloek
- Haak-k-k, Hairroot, Hrrg
- Kackoo, Kelmuk
- Molk-k, Monk-gick
- Pairk, Pettska, Pktpak
- Ikagoo, Ik-Em, Im-ag-ah
- Loomak, Lootoo
- Majet, Moget
- Patak-ka, Pek(whoo)
- Goldtree, Graincrusher, Graingrow
- Laughing, Leaf, Leafbright, Leafsun, Longstick
- Mole, Mooktowood
- Pounding, Pinebright, Planetree
- Seahut, Strongroot, Swampman