A primitive culture typically located in the Skerry Isles. Known amongst themselves by the endonym of "Askerr", these ferocious savages are almost universally known by their neighbours as the "Dromosker" after the name of their island of origin.
"Am En Lugal Barrowa-Eggel, Am!
Behold, I am Lord of the Bloodied Hand! Behold, I am Master of Ninety-Spears! Behold, My followers are hungry! Behold, I am possessed of Great Mana! At my approach the village women wail! Before my club the Raskol demons quail! And from my arrow not even the flightless Wagga can fly, though fleet of foot!
Am En Lugal Barrowa-Eggel, son of En Lugal, who was En Lugal before him. You who are from Great Beyond Water, you know nothing of our power! Great Mana I have consumed! Four villages I have conquered! This valley! The best of all valleys! This is mine! None dare strike their spears lest they anger me! Even Raskol-Lugal in Calēkhōpraksis tremble when I look towards his stinking corpse lake. With each year the spearmen and the clubmen who share in my mana come closer to Calēkhōpraksis. The sons of Eggel will feast upon the demon-children of Lek! The Sons of Eggel will rule all the Askerr by right! There will be Great Feasting! You want speak to Dromosker! You speak to me!
I chose to heed your message, out of friendship. Out of friendship in return give me the plumpest man in your company for our cooking pots. Let us feast in friendship then we shall send man to speak unto En Lugal of Great Beyond Water."—En Lugal Barrowa-Eggel, A paramount chief amongst the Dromosker, responding to an entreaty of friendship with a reply largely indicative of the culture he represented..
The Askerr ("Hunters of the Long-Pig") are a primitive bronze-tech race which subsists on the remarkably fruitful harvests yielded from the marginal land of seven inter-connected 'swamp valleys' which lead back to a central lake at the heart of the island on which the 'floating city' of Calēkhōpraksis rests, a jumble of priest huts built on stilts projecting out into the lake all of which surround a small 'wizard isle' with a solitary stone building at it's peak. No other sign of human activity on the isle itself is discernible - suggesting that there may be some form of strong taboo associated with the location, hence the religious-cultic significance of the settlement and its subsequent impact on the political system of the Askerr tribe.
The geological conditions of Dromosker renders it an atypical 'isolate' that is resistant to communication and contact with the outside world. It would appear that the island was formed by volcanic action over unknown millennia which formed its infamous shoreline of twenty metre high columnar jointed basalt cliffs.
At some point in the pre-history of the Dromosker Isle it seems that there occurred a caldera collapse which was fundamental in the development of its insular inward looking geography and ecology which descends from the basalt rim through the swamp valleys to the lake itself.
There is speculation that the entire island is in fact a dormant stratovolcano, which if confirmed could have ominous implications for the future.
The En Lugal Enis is responsible for the regulation of the 'mana' (spiritual essence) of the island which is harvested in the form of prayers and supplications in much the same way that canoeloads of yam taro, banana, sago are brought into the capital to feed the En Lugal Enis, his acolytes and their families. The mana derived from the faith of the islanders is harnessed and applied by the priesthood to placate the 'Angry God of the Depths'. The residue mana is generously returned to the community through the production and distribution of fetish items imbued with spiritual power which is entrusted to the headmen of the surrounding villages as a mark of the gratitude and esteem in which they are held by the placaters of the Angry God for their regular and prompt food deliveries.
The Askerr are an indigenous Skerrian population with a common ancestry with the Skerrian race of ocean going navigators who fanned out across the Orange and Captive Seas to populate the Cyberian Isles, the Islas de Libertad, and the island of Kumara. That the ancestors of the Askerr tribe allowed themselves by accident of geography and rigidity of thought and practice to be trapped a small island on a lake in the middle of a larger island and regress to the point of falling into a state of complete ignorance of the outside world had the unintended consequence of sparing them from the remorseless processes of cultural assimilation that washed over the Skerry Isles as the seas came to throng with the trading and warring ships of Babkha, Baracao, Natopia, Stormark, and Treesia (amongst innumerable others).
In Dromosker mythology there was an age of darkness when the world turned on itself and the light of the sun failed. During this time the Askerr hunted the long pork and with the mana thus acquired rekindled the sun and the stars.
Cannibalism between the Askerr in subsequent ages however is largely taboo for the eating of kin brings shame. However there are two exceptions: The heart is the seat of the mana-lode. When an enemy falls in a spear fight or game of clubs it is to the slayer that the victor's portion is presented so that he might thereby inherit the courage, insight and mana essence of the vanquished. Only a warrior killed in honourable combat may be consumed in this way to restore his mana to the community.
Rise of the Raskol
"Three Gifts of the Jungle We Fear
The Beak of the Wagga Bird
The Club of the Raskol
The Tears of the Child of Woe."—Dromosker folk saying.
The Raskol are the male youths who are expelled from villages when they are deemed a challenge to the headman or else there is a lack of brides. The Raskols live a desperate life in the jungle as outcasts from Askerr society, where they subsist by foraging, hunting and acts of theft from the settlements they have been expelled from. The Raskol aggregate together into desperate outlaw bands where a kind of feral instinct controls their actions. The Raskol gangs have a dreadful aspiration, to swarm a vulnerable village and slay the headman and the menfolk. In villages where this horror has occurred, after the slaughter the Raskol butcher all those children who have failed to flee into the bush and hold a cannibal feast whereby the seed of the slain headman is exterminated. Women of child-bearing age are kept as slaves so that the Raskol might begin their own bloodlines. Villages which befall this fate are shunned as places accursed. Often the survivors of Raskol massacres, especially the young, are themselves inducted into other Raskol gangs - often as the only means of survival available - where they are locked into the same cycle of slaughter and despair.
Those Raskol who do not achieve success in conquering a village - as indeed most do not - resort to cannibalism as a means of obtaining nourishment, and they are noted for the low stratagems by which they obtain their victims - they often elect to torture the youngest boy in their group and leave him by the stretch of water used by the washerwomen so that the sobbing might prick the maternal instinct of one so that a meal might readily fall into their trap.
The En Lugal has a sacred obligation to eradicate the Raskol, or at least to keep their numbers in check so that the problem is manageable.
Population expansion and raiding
Intrusion of the Maritime Free Republic
After 1629, the Maritime Free Republic is even more strongly backed by the Jingdaoese Empire and any attacks on its merchants are harshly punished with a brutality that is sometimes even new to the Askerr. A mutual understanding is reached that the Jing will not venture into the inner lands of the island and the Askerr will not come near the Jingdaoese port. A highly polished chrome-plated version of the coat of arms of the Great Jing Dynasty is given to the chief of the Askerr, who adopts it as its personal emblem. With other shiny artefacts, the Askerr are introduced to the Tianchaodao and the celestial greatness of the Heavenly Light. Very little changes to the actual situation on the island, but the fact that the natives at least worship the Heavenly Light in their own way is enough to still any Jingdaoese temptations to purify the island, and the recognition of the Jingdaoese symbols taught the Askerr what targets to avoid.
The Skerries in the aftermath of the Alexandrian Flu and White Plague
"Looks like meat's back on the menu boys."—Unknown Raskol brave, Approximate translation of words spoken to camera immediately prior to clubbing a journalist to death live on Natopian television during the evacuation of the Skerry Isles
One of the curiosities of the subsequent pulse of ravenous Askerr expansionism across the devastated island archipelago is how this backwards tribe, which had frequently allowed itself to fall out of contact with the greater portion of humanity, managed to survive sudden exposure to viruses, plagues, and blights to which their immune systems ought to have had no ability to cope. Certainly it was galling for observers to witness great nations crumble as contagions laid low populations who had hitherto benefited from all the rigours of modern medicinal science whilst passing over filthy and ignorant brutes whose collected store of medical lore consisted of waving a fetish stick at the afflicted parts and trepanning the skull in order to excise malevolent spirits. The Askerr, or those who could understand the question put to them at any rate, would attribute their vigorous good health to the virtuous mana they had acquired by the broiling up of honourably slain enemies in the communal cooking pots of their clans. Such claims are, of course, patently ridiculous. Nonetheless students of anthropological medicine attached to the Honourable Company, having studied select specimens in their natural habitat and upon the dissection table, are continuing to investigate in order to ascertain the true cause of the indomitable constitutions of the Askerr. This research became much easier following the subjugation of Dromosker Island (now known as Imarru-Lugal) at the hands of forces from The Hexarchy in 1690-1691 AN.