Tradition Mythology Religion Cult of Ntima 'The Dragon'

Akheron

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The Cult of Ntima 'The Dragon '
Description


“Death remembers all.”
- Cult of Ntima motto.


Originally formed In the final days of the ancient Sith, just before the Jedi and the Republic destroyed the Brotherhood of Darkness and the Rule of Two was created. The cult was formed by a Sith Lord whose name has been forgotten fled from a powerful Jedi Master and out into the Outer Rim, carrying ancient Sith texts with him. According to legend, the chase lasted years, and each side came close to destroying the other in several hard-fought battles. Eventually, the Sith was decisively defeated and fled once more, wounded and broken. In his blind retreat he came across a crew of pirates, who made their living by raiding the settlements of the Outer Rim. He promptly dominated them through the Force and mundane fear, and they became tools and shields in his flight. However, the Jedi would not give up the chase. Finally, in desperation, the Sith fled with his new crew into the darkest parts of the Unknown Regions, and the Jedi ended the pursuit, unwilling to follow his mad prey along the uncharted hyperspace lanes that would kill them both.


What happened next is not entirely certain. But what is, is that it soon developed into a warrior cult that has preserved legends from that time, but they’ve been warped so much by allegory and embellishment that it’s impossible to separate fact from fiction. The best guess is that the Sith and his new cult, the Cult of Ntima or ‘Dragon‘ survived their desperate escape and wandered the Unknown Regions for a time coming across the Purebloods there. The Sith ruled for years and had numerous children with his crew but was eventually slain by some great monster. The Cult of Ntima continued on without him. When his children showed signs of Force-sensitivity, they were inducted into the secrets of the Dark Side that their founder had left behind in the Sith texts, and the Cult of Ntima continued in that way for millennia teaching his descendants who in turn taught other unrelated followers. Occasionally they would emerge from the Unknown Regions to raze and pillage the Outer Rim before disappearing for decades more, never staying long enough to be more than a whispered story told by deep space pilots and frightened survivors. They spoke of men and women who became monsters in battle, who ritually sacrificed those adults they didn’t kill outright, and who stole children of the slain to indoctrinate into their numbers. What Cult of Ntima truly went through to warp them into what they are today may never be discovered.

When the Sith Empire began to emerge once more recently and with the rise of king Arcanos, they emerged with a new purpose after attempting to stay hidden from view of the Empire, various Syndicates and Jedi. They claim that Arcanos rise was the culmination of several prophecies made centuries ago by their priests, and that it was the will of the Dark Side that the Cult of Ntima lend its strength to the Sith.

The Cult of Ntima has expanded over the millennia from the single crew that aided the original Sith Lord to a small fleet of stolen vessels filled with warriors, assassins and alchemists. The marauders within the fleet have an unusually high rate of Force-sensitives in their numbers, and while the cult ascribes religious reasons to this, others believe something in the Unknown Regions may have affected their descendants. They've continued to grow across the galaxy as they induct any willing force-sensitive and even interested warriors lacking Force-sensitivity into their ranks.



Customs, Traditions, and Beliefs

“They’re coming. They’ll never stop coming.”
Rambling of refugee found in the remains of Ganava Spaceport

The Cult of Ntima culture is rooted in their beliefs. They worship the Fanged God, either another name for the Dark Side or some form of avatar of the Dark Side with strong connotations towards death. Their veneration of this mystical (and potentially fictional) figure is the driving force of their lives, closely followed by a fanatical devotion to the Cult of Ntima itself and the Sith.



Worship of the Fanged God

Mention of the Fanged God predates the Cult of Ntima, the myth of the being found in several texts that might be older even than the Sith themselves. Where or how the warrior cult came across the idea of such an entity in the Unknown Regions isn’t clear even to cult elders, but for as long as any of them can remember the Fanged God has been the centerpiece of their existence.

An outsider looking to understand the idea of the Fanged God has a difficult task ahead of them, partially because of the insular and violent nature of its worshippers. However, the simplest explanation is that the Fanged God is supposedly the entirety of the Dark Side of the Force with it being viewed as a sentient entity manipulating events within the universe who bestowed the power to become demigod's upon the chosen, with one above all chosen as an avatar for the Fanged God itself as a Grand Champion, a Sith'ari. The priests of the Cult of Ntima claim that such a power cannot be comprehended as a single creature by our limited minds, so the clan worships a series of aspects that together make up the whole of their deity.


The Dragon -
The primary aspect of the Fanged God in the eyes of Cult of Ntima, representing the Dark Side’s destructive, violent nature. To wield the Dark Side is, as far as the warrior cult is concerned, to offer your soul up to this entity to be devoured, whether you know it or not. It is a cornerstone of their beliefs that the Dark Side does not grant immortality, for the Dragon forgets no one. All will be burned and devoured in their time. Wounds in the Force are sacred manifestations of the Dragon.

It is linked to the emotion of anger and the strengthening of the Dark Side by violent death.


The Robed Master -
Representing deceit, greed, and ambition, the Robed Master only holds minor roles in the rites of the cult. The archetypical Sith outside the cult is usually believed to be under this aspect’s influence whether they know it or not, and the cult members pride themselves on not needing to be lured to the Fanged God by such a being. Despite this, the aspect is still respected, if not trusted, and is revered as the entity who grants Force-sensitivity as dictated by the Fanged God to those destined to serve and wield the Dark Side.


It is linked to the emotion of fear and the addictive nature of the Dark Side.


The Maimed Beast -
This aspect that represents the maliciousness and perversion of the Dark Side, as it twists what is natural into abominations. It is often portrayed as representing the tenacity of the Dark Side as well, and is invoked in the act of the hunt or in satisfying grudges. Sithspawn are considered to be this aspect in its purest manifestation.


It is linked to the emotion of hate and the warping of life by the Dark Side.


The Father of Dust -
Considered to be the quietest and most passive of the aspects, but also the most insidious, the Father of Dust represents the decaying, withering nature of the Dark Side, along with the inevitable lifelessness that is left in its wake. In rituals it's usually invoked as the inheritor of the universe, the final aspect that eventually consumes the other four, even the great Dragon. Korriban and Moraband are considered to be particularly aligned with this aspect.


It is linked to the sensation of pain and the slow consumption of all things touched by the Dark Side.


The Golden Slave -
The Golden Slave represents raw power, pure and simple. It's usually linked to one of the other aspects in rituals, and Cult of Ntima members often carry small, gilded totems of this figure on their person to pray to when they find their own abilities outmatched. The Cult of Ntima oddly enough portrays the Golden Slave as good and even selfless, yet it is always mastered and commanded by the other four aspects of the Fanged God. Through this, they draw parallels to their own compassionate, noble, generous impulses, and how they must master them or else end up a slave to those more worthy of the Fanged God's favor.


It is linked to the emotion of joy and the easy strength and power offered by the Dark Side.



Rituals and Rites of Cult Ntima

While the worship of the Fanged God involves many occult ceremonies and recitations, there is no real standard across the cults nomadic fleet. Where one ship might offer a burnt offering to the Fanged God before a battle, another may mark themselves with ink in their own form of dedication. There are, however, a few rituals universal enough to warrant mentioning, even if their specifics may differ ship to ship.


Marriage -
In contrast to their violent demeanor, the Cult of Ntima often shock outsiders with the respect and reverence they treat marriage with. To them, marriage is an unbreakable bond to hold to until death, and adulterers are often punished by torture, execution, or both. Those who study the warrior cult explain this peculiar quirk by citing their history of generations spent aboard ships, crowded together and isolated for months on end. Maintaining accurate bloodlines would have been a necessity to prevent undesirable mixing, and holding marriage sacred would help prevent fights over love from turning into massacres. Regardless of the original reason, marriage is extremely important and only to be undertaken after careful deliberation and the approval of the Master of Hides (see below). Pre-marital relations are allowed, but must not result in children or violent conflict, else all parties are punished. An interesting sidenote, a spouse is the only person permitted to kill a fellow cult member outside of a formal duel or official execution. That spouse may never marry again, but no investigation or reprimand is put against them for the murder. This is considered to be cults way of ensuring spouses retain a healthy respect for the other.


Funerals -
Perhaps in mockery of the Jedi, or perhaps purely by coincidence, the Cult of Ntima commit their dead to flames. Funeral pyres are traditional across all ships, and the act is meant to represent the dead's final consumption by the Dragon and meeting the Fanged God in the realm of Chaos. If the cult cannot retrieve their dead, they will do their best to bombard the battlefield before fleeing in the hope of paying their final respects by destroying the bodies. Barring this, they will return later to scorch the earth as a sign of devotion to the Fanged God.


Sacrifice -
Not a specific ritual as much as an all-purpose addition for any rite of the Fanged God, the Cult of Ntima sees the sacrifice of sentient beings as one of the purest forms of worship. While duels, battle, and other forms of violence have their place, it is the personal and simple act of sacrificing another creature in the Fanged God's name that always finds favor in its eyes. As an act of devotion, it is only surpassed by massacre of such scale that it creates a wound in the Force.



Warriors, Assassins, and Sorcerers
A casual observer might mistakenly assume the Cult of Ntima to purely be a warrior culture. While the way of the blade is honored and respected within the clan most of all, each of three paths of have their role to play in the Fanged God's service.

Warriors carry the purest essence of what being in the cult means, and are deeply respected. Their singular devotion to skill and power in the art of dealing death is as pure a path in the Fanged God's service as any could hope for, and they serve the bizarre role of moral compass for the cult.

Assassins are seen as artists, inspired master craftsmen exalting the Fanged God through their subtlety and deception. Whether it's a quiet knife in the back or a decades long plot culminating in a target's "accidental" demise, their work serves as an inspiration to their fellows.

Sorcerers are considered the sages of Cult of Ntima, keeping the ancient secrets while also being innovators seeking new ways to bring about death. When an enemy or problem confounds the cult and their traditional methods, it is to the sorcerers and their hidden knowledge that they often turn to for a solution.



Avatar of the Fanged God, the Dark Lord of the Sith and Sith'ari

What might surprise outsiders is that the most important spiritual figure in cults religion is an outsider themselves.

The Dark Lord of the Sith and the so named Sith'ari, whoever that might be, is believed by the Cult of Ntima to be the chosen vessel of the Fanged God, even if they are unaware of it or vehemently deny it. Legends were passed down during their centuries in the Unknown Regions, and the shadowy figure has morphed into something holy in their eyes. With the rise of the Sith Empire, they have taken it upon themselves to serve this figure with all the zeal and devotion they normally reserve for the Fanged God. Specifically, they volunteer to serve as the butchers in battle, or even as bodyguards if permitted. There is, however, one caveat to this otherwise selfless service.

They will never interfere with a legitimate challenge for the title of Dark Lord by another, for it is through tests of power that the Fanged God selects new tools of his will. A member of the cult might even suggest a suitable replacement themselves if they feel the current Dark Lord has lost the Fanged God's favor through weakness or disgrace.


The Enemy

Spoken of only in their most secret rites and sacred texts, the Enemy is the Fanged God's opposite, an unnatural and subtle abomination that promotes stagnation, selflessness, and peace. In the same way that the Fanged God is the Dark Side incarnate, so is the Enemy reflected in the Light. It is seen as a perversion of the truths the Fanged God embodies, and it seeks to poison the galaxy with its malignant radiance. Referred to as the Winged Goddess in their oldest records, the Cult of Ntima refer to this ancient rival only as the Enemy when they speak of it at all. Some of them believe that the Enemy and the Fanged God are equal and opposite, destined to fight until one consumes the other. Others believe the Fanged God created the Enemy so that it would have something to fight, as was its nature. Whatever the truth may be, the cult fear the Enemy more than anything else. They will gladly despoil any manifestation of the Light Side they find through bloodshed and destruction, for to fight the Enemy is as worthy an act of devotion as any battle or slaughter. The Jedi and other wielders of the Light Side of the Force are believed to be the creature's unwitting puppets, and they are to be feared, hated, and killed without hesitation. Only those with the potential to be corrupted and freed from the Enemy's service are to be spared.



Roles

While the members of Cult of Ntima proudly consider themselves a single group, undivided by the posturing and squabbling of other such Dark Side warrior cults, they are split apart by necessity due to their nomadic, starfaring lifestyle. Each ship in the marauding fleet is a community unto itself, and traditional roles have emerged in the crews of each of these ships.

Lord-Captain
The one whose word is law aboard the ship. The Lord-Captain is master of the ship in the same way that most Sith would perhaps rule their respective domains: pure power. The Lord-Captain is, by intent, the most powerful aboard, and any Linnorm (see below) aboard the ship may formally challenge them to combat for the right to rule if they so desire if they feel they could do better. Aside from this right to challenge, along with a few responsibilities held by other positions, their authority is absolute. They are the only crew member permitted to be punished by execution.


Master of Hides
Serving as the ship's chronicler and keeper of lore, the Master of Hides is unusual among the positions of cult, due to the requirement that they must *not* be Force sensitive. The Master of Hides acts as a sort of officiator, and is required to approve official challenges to the Lord-Captain's authority as well as approve marriages as the keeper of bloodline records. By making the position only available to non-Force sensitives, the Master of Hides is outside of the ambitious rank climbing. It is also considered one of the highest crimes for anyone outside of the Lord-Captain to harm the Master of Hides unless done with a good reason.


Master of Iron
The Lord-Captain's lieutenant, the Master of Iron is responsible for the ship's armory. They issue weapons, oversee the ship's battle-readiness, and manage the drills and training of the Linnorms. It is the Master of Iron's job to ensure that the ship and its crew are ready to fight at a moment's notice. In the event of a Lord-Captain dying outside of a proper challenge, the Master of Iron assumes the role by default, though they can still be challenged for the position.


Master of Cloth
The Master of Cloth is the spiritual leader of the ship's crew, filling the role of priest and advisor to the Lord-Captain. Expected to be trained in the art of Sith alchemy, they also serve to create or oversee the creation of things such as Sithspawn, Dark Side weapons, toxins, etc. As one who supposedly speaks the will of the Fanged God, the Master of Cloth is both feared and respected.


The Linnorms
The Linnorms, named after a beast supposedly encountered in the Unknown Regions, are the ship's fighters. While they may hold other positions, they are warriors first and foremost. Any crewmember, Force-sensitive or not, can become a Linnorm under the approval of the Master of Iron. The only requirements are the skill and desire to serve the Fanged God on the battlefield.


The Crew
Other positions, such as the more traditional roles of navigator, engineer, etc. are also present on a ship. These responsibilities are often spread out among the Masters or the Linnorms, though menial crew members can also be selected. Those with no position are the lowest of the cult, existing only to serve their betters.


Intent
To flesh out a new dark side based warrior and marauding pirate cult that I hope to have my character Karai Hekk iv-Adas recruit with help from others to the Sith. There has also been interest from a couple others about potential interactions.
 
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