Ash'tor (pron. Ash-TOR) is a Nation of humans in the Continuation universe. They are primarily known for valuing valor in war, loyalty to the Nation, and religious faith. The word, "Ash'tor" may refer collectively to this group of people or to their culture or the region of space they occupy, which is predominantly in the galaxy of Sylmor. Their language is Ash'torian.
Ash'tor is the only Nation in the Continuation that came into being after the age of terraforming. Ash'tor originated c. 1800 BE as a splinter group of Ránlans and Leddies who were discontent with what they perceived as a life too buffered from immediate experience, risk, and sacrifice.
Origins of the Name, Ash'torEdit
While the Ash'torian language is clearly of Ra-Ledis origin, it was purposefully altered to form a secret language for this group. The Nation originally called itself the Aej-Tarver (Ash'torian: "water navigators"). The common explanation for this name is that early Ash'torians traveled in small, primitive spacecraft as ancient peoples navigated dangerous seas. However, an alternate view holds that the name does, indeed, originate from sailing on water as very early Ash'torians did on mostly water planet of Zeinnéfa (later R'Aej). Their original name soon phonetically shifted to Aejdar, thence to Aeshtar in the era of the Kiri-Sama War, and finally Ash'tor.
The Mercenary EraEdit
In their early development, Ash'torians took pride in acting as mercenaries in armed conflicts for other Nations. They chose whom to fight for based on both payment and moral assessment of the issue. They tended to characterize these conflicts as "war," though, in reality, most conflicts were local and the Ash'torians might more accurately be said to act as adjunct police. Exceptions were the Leddie-Sama War (1423 BE) and the Kiri-Sama War (final decade Before the End).
During the mercenary era, between approximately 1800 and 1300 BE, the Ránlans ceded their only star system in Sylmor to the Ash'torians. The Ash'torians named this system of four planets the Trae'dah (Ash'torian: "home of Tra'hae," the Ash'torian God). It remained the center of Ash'torian power.
The Imperialist EraEdit
After the War's End destroyed the Sama Empire, the Ash'torians were one of the principal peoples to recolonize many of the planets in Selbûn. In many cases, spurred by a sense of manifest destiny, they became an occupying force imposing government over Sama (and rarely Leddie) populations. Circa 2000 AE, this expansionist movement led to considerable violence in the form of Sama revolts and a border war between Ash'tor and Leddra. The imperialist era waned after the fall of Ash'torian leader, Naeq Sha'blonoq in 2137 AE. The Ash'torian empire contracted but retained a strong presence in much of Selbûn.
The Ash'torians were among the first to exploit Jana Walking for military and intelligence purposes under a program founded c. 2120 by First Walker, Ghanior Y'Seevoya Lastri'nom, who immigrated to Ash'tor. However, in the later Jana Era, Ash'tor did not keep pace with technological advances elsewhere and suffered considerably from socioeconomic destabilization, eventually fragmenting into individual governments, many of hybrid Ash'torian, Sama, and Leddie cultures.
Most Ash'torians are genetically descended from Ránlans and Leddies and show this resemblance. They may have quite pale to black skin and brown or red to black hair. One stereotypically "Ash'torian" phenotype expresses brown hair with mid-brown skin. In later years, many Samas were absorbed into Ash'tor, creating a new gene pool with a greater instance of blond hair and blue eyes. Ash'torians vary widely in height and build but most are physically strong, possibly due to relatively intense natural selection in harsh living conditions. To some extent, particularly earlier, physical appearance correlates to Clan affiliation: Ash'torians from Clans Tamehe'lem and Abte'nyq tend to be darker, having somewhat insular cultural affiliations with Ránlans.
The Nine ClansEdit
Traditional Ash'torian society is divided into Nine Clans, which emerged between c. 1800 and 1300 BE. Early Ash'torians were all affiliated with a Clan. In later times, the importance of Clans was less distinct, but they remained socially and mythically relevant. The Nine Clans, in order of seniority, are Ahma'hé, Qhe'byq (earlier Khebyq), Sham'taht, Yor, Sorq, Tamehe'lem, Do'shé, En'zah, and Abte'nyq.
Early Social StructureEdit
Early social structure was strongly patriarchal and hierarchical, oriented around loyalty and social position with regard to nuclear family, extended family, Clan, and Nation. Men were considered leaders, women advisors, though both sexes were expected to be outspoken and proactive under certain circumstances. Social conduct was a balance between rhetorical one upmanship and disciplined self-effacement, following complex rules. The nuclear family unit consisted of husband, wife, and children, with marriages typically taking place to form a social alliance between families. Homosexual relations were permitted as long as they did not interfere with the nuclear family structure. Particularly between men, they usually suggested a hierarchical relationship between partners, such that the junior partner in a male homosexual relationship might be viewed as a subordinate or easily subordinated.
Later Social StructureEdit
As Ash'tor grew and individual Clan affiliations and family groups became harder to track and organize, earlier social ties became looser. Clan affiliation became more symbolic. Gender relations became more egalitarian though some patriarchal preferences remained. Marriage continued to be primarily a means of allying families or Clans, but it ceased to imply a rigorous hierarchy, and same-sex marriage became permissable. It was not uncommon for married couples not to live together and not to bear children but rather to maintain extended family finances together as something like a business arrangement. Committed relationships between unmarried individuals became the norm and were permissible even if individuals were legally married to others. Loyalty remained a core value, but it was largely expressed as loyalty to the Naha'jûn, the subliminal telepathic collective of of the Ash'torian people, and to the God, Tra'hae.
Religion and LawEdit
Ash'torians are traditionally a highly religious people. Their National religion is called Aq-Tra'hae ("Tra'hae worship"). This religion may be described as monotheistic or polytheistic. It heavily prioritizes the single, omniscient and omnipotent God, Tra'hae, generally considered masculine, but it has a thriving folk tradition of minor gods created by Tra'hae as guardians of certain properties, such as love, war, etc. A favorite of these is Merva'shem, the goddess of love. A female aspect of Tra'hae is sometimes referred to as Tra'haem (the feminine form of the word), but this figure never rose to much prominence. While the minor gods are granted respect and represented in various ceremonies, the vast majority of religious energy is devoted to Tra'hae, often simply called "God."
Tra'hae is perceived as an active and involved God, but one whose action is more judgment than intercession. Prayers generally take the form of asking for strength and wisdom to act in the correct way. Tra'hae is seen as a fair and wise but exacting father, whose main goal in shaping his children is to form them into morally better, more courageous and wise people.
One of the principal Ash'torian virtues is to "yield" to the will of Tra'hae: to understand and follow it. In a more concrete sense, "yielding" can refer to admitting an error, crime, or sin. Those who commit such acts are expected to yield (admit the error), and then atone (make up for it). Depending on the circumstances and era in history, atoning may involve anything from public admission of guilt to community service to exile or imprisonment to torture to death. Those who do not properly atone for significant sins as assumed to be barred from seeing Tra'hae after death, to wait in a void until the end of the Turn (the end of the current universe), when it is assumed they will have a chance to be reincarnated in the next universe and atone.
Law is strongly driven by religion and legal standards tend to reflect religious teachings, though this is less so in later Ash'tor.