Three nations make up the region where Angeyoki is practiced. Like the desert, these three countries share a common language and religious tradition, each is a separate nation, and each practices a different form of government.
Every person becomes a spirit when they die. Spirits are wisps of the stuff of life, and influence the world around them. Each person is linked intrinsically to all the spirits of his ancestors, and the honor upon them brings good things. A family with no honor upon its name has endless bad luck and must struggle for everything. A family with great honor succeeds, fortunes laid upon their feet.
The religion known as Angeyoki (Ahn-gay-YOH-key) began with a man named Angeyo Kenashi. The texts, inscribed on tablets in the High Temple of Sulei in Ansenik, say that he was a lecherous layabout who had no direction in life, wasting it away on foolishness. On his 30th birthday, he was visited by the spirit of his father. In this visit, his father told him that because he had no honor, he was doomed to failure. He was forced to see visions of himself doing honorless things, followed by the unpleasant repercussions of those actions. Angeyo realized that he was an idiot and set out to change his ways.
By his 40th birthday, Angeyo reputedly saw visions of many of his ancestors on a fairly frequent basis, who would help him to choose the right path, the honorable path. During his 50th year, they urged him to explain to others of what he had discovered. He began to do so, telling people that their ancestors watched over them as spirits, and could affect the world around them, if only they would let it happen.
Angeyo’s ideas got him burned at the stake for rank heresy, as the preeminent view of the time stated that the Emperor was God. But his ideas lived on, with people discovering that they could, in fact, better their lives by putting honor above self interest. Four years after his death, Angeyo’s ideals sparked an uprising that ended with the death of the Emperor at the hands of Angeyo’s son on the anniversary of Angeyo’s burning. Once it was revealed that the Emperor could be killed, people were willing to believe he was not God, and Angeyo’s ideas were embraced.
The leader of the Angeyoki religion is called The Ge’o. This person can be male or female, and the office has been held nearly equally by both genders. The Ge’o is the ruler of Ansenik, and is supposed to be the most honorable person in the world. The new Ge’o is chosen as a small child, by the current Ge’o. This is done when the Ge’o reaches his or her 54th birthday, the age at which Angeyo was killed, and the child must be 4 years old. At first, it was only Angeyo’s own descendants who were chosen as Ge’o, but later times saw the rise of other families as honorable and worthy. According to the elders of Angeyoki, the spirits of Angeyo and all the former Ge’os guide the choice. The child who will be Ge’o is called the Ge’at.
The average person’s connection to Angeyoki is the Khasi. A Khasi is akin to a village priest. They are typically trained by their predecessors, and generally serve as teachers to their village. A Khasi performs the ceremonies for recognition of the important times in life: naming of a child, adulthood, marriage, and death. The ceremonies are simple and short, and always accompanied by food and flowers. The marriage ceremony is, of course, optional.
Marriage as a legal arrangement in Angeyoki is a complicated affair, and not all couples marry, regardless of how many children they may have. Because a marriage binds the ancestors of two families together, sometimes there is opposition to a particular marriage. In the case of two people who wish to be married but aren’t allowed to by their parents, there is a legal contract they can enter that has no effect on the ancestor spirits, but joins them for legal purposes. This contract is cheap and easy to obtain, and can also be broken easily and cheaply. It does, however, have less intrinsic honor. Such a couple is referred to as being ‘joined’ as opposed to ‘married’. The children of a joined couple venerate their father’s ancestors.
Followers of Angeyoki have a strict code they are required to follow. It is embodied in just seven words: Responsibility, Courage, Mercy, Sincerity, Honor, Politeness, Loyalty. Generally, the code is about doing what is right, no matter the cost or odds, and taking responsibility for one’s own actions.
Angeyoki has two specific holidays. In addition to these two days, each family sets aside one day in each season to honor their past ancestors who were born and who died in that season. How the ancestors are celebrated varies by region, but it always includes a meal and the lighting of incense at the family shrine. Each season’s celebration is generally the same, though individuals may vary their own.
Nameshi (Nah-MEH-she) – This is the first day of the year. It is a riotous celebration whose purpose is to amuse the ancestor spirits. It is said that when a man’s ancestors smile, his fortunes grow. It is also said that the tone of the first day of the year will be the tone of the entire year.
Sutone (Sue-toe-NIGH) – This is the anniversary of Angeyo’s death, which falls on the Summe Solstice. Everyone fasts for the daylight hours, ingesting nothing but water. Those who can spare the time spend the say in contemplation, but only fasting is required.
Mishan (Me-SHA-en) – The spring celebration of ancestors.
Surate (SURE-ah-tay) – The summer celebration of ancestors.
Ketimi (Keh-TEA-my) – The autumn celebration of ancestors.
Nocata (No-CAH-tah) – The winter celebration of ancestors.
Chanes is a group of islands. The largest holds the capital, Mekyi, which is a city of roughly 10,000. The next largest population center is Kateka, on the smallest island. It is a fishing village of about 2000 people that covers the entire island. For the most part, Chanes is rural and the people are spread out across it in small villages that dot the landscape. The land itself is not particularly hospitable to large cities, as it is mostly rocky. The indigenous plants are all marine grasses, cypress tress, and various kinds of flowers, but no grains. It was originally settled by a group of people fleeing what they viewed as tyrannical religious persecution in Ansenik. Fortunately for them, they brought along rice.
The diet of the people of Chanes relies heavily upon seafood and rice, with some of the local flora having been selectively bred over time to provide a small amount of nutrition to humans. The primary industries center around fishing and boating.
The ruler of Chanes is called simply The Leader, and he is elected in a more or less democratic process. Everyone is welcome to vote, but there is little oversight of the process, and the person selected for the duty is typically the one wanted by the wealthiest people of the country. The Leader is installed for life, with a new election held within six months of the previous leader’s death.
Ansenik, as the home of the High Temple of Sulei, is a theocracy. The laws of the land were set long ago by the founders of Angeyoki, and are not changeable. They are written on the tablets at the High Temple, and part of the Ge’o’s duty is to oversee the rigid enforcement of these laws. Anything that is not honorable is illegal. There is a long list of things that aren’t acceptable – it grows longer often.
The capital is Sulei, though it is only a village of about 500 people. Everyone who lives there tends to some need of the Ge’o or the Circle of Elders.
Daelitor was founded as a separate nation only about 50 years ago. Originally under the sway of the Emperors, then the Ge’o, a group of rebels forced a revolution in the eastern half Ansenik, calling the ways of Angeyoki and honor an unacceptable way to rule a nation. The original rebel, Cauderi Palit, is still alive and hearty at the grand age of 80, and still leading the country as something of an experiment in secular government. It is his belief that the realms of religion and law should be fully separate. People should follow Angeyoki, which he strongly believes in, privately, and let the government handle things like trade, fighting, and other issues that are too big for an individual community to deal with.
To this point, the experiment has been a fairly bloody affair that the people grow weary of. Unable to field a strong military, Caledina and factions in Serescine wage a nearly constant war to take precious non-desert land from them, Ansenik strives to bring it back into the fold, and the elves endlessly contest the border to, as they put it, liberate the trees on the Daelitor side. The country, as a result, is fairly poor in general.