Religions on both continents [Work in progress, beware of loose ends]

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Religions on both continents [Work in progress, beware of loose ends]

Post  Berserker on Tue Dec 25, 2012 2:33 pm

Religions are common in the world. Some religions were far more prominent in the past, while others are rather new, and some have remained the same way from the very start.  This topic covers the various religions found in the world, and aims to provide the reader with great insight and understanding of what each religion stands for.  I will cover the three religions held firmly in Adrila, the Grey Marshes, the Ivellean Empire, the realms of Tyrica, and the wilder regions inhabited by wilder folk.  I will also cover certain cults that appear in the New World.

Of the gods
The Old Gods
In wilder parts of the world, where even humans live in primitive circumstances, a simple belief exists.  This particular religion arose millennia ago, when most of humankind was still wild folk roaming plains, forests and mountains in tribal communities.  As magic altered the world around them at an unchecked pace, save for at natural focus points, they gradually came to believe that the areas around the focus points were sanctified by the gods, and they often chose to settle in these lands, chosen for their relative stability.  This religion has grown less common over the years, but wilder folk, as well as folk in outlying reaches, still choose to revere these gods they believe in. It's hard to say whether these gods actually exist or not, as nobody can explain the natural focus points' creation, but the primitive shaman of the wild folk do have certain powers of a different nature than civilized wizards.

"Several months ago, I received a detailed report on the wilder savages of the Dimberg peninsula, between Ivellea and Adrila. My slaves had been caught by the barbarians, discovered in one of their crude tombs like the fools they are, but they were only captured, thankfully. During their capture, they were given good opportunity to observe and study their captors' habits.

The report I received gave excellent insight into their beliefs and their history. These barbarians, even uncivilized as they are, carry similar amulets and idols to what they have formerly found in ancient ruins dating back to long before we lost contact with the north. It appears that these savages have retained ancient beliefs we knew little of, before I received this report.  Going with this, and facts I have uncovered from studies later, I can confirm that these gods are based upon animals, and representing different aspects of the human spirit, such as their Bear God being beseeched to bestow strength and stamina, and their Wolf God prayed to to receive cunning and swiftness.  There are several gods like these, but I will not go into detail with this report.

I will rather ask if you, in the Sapphire Order, can write off their existence as fictional. There are many pieces of evidence that they do in fact exist, such as the tribes' "shaman", as they are called, capability of wielding magic of an entirely different form than our own mages. Additionally, the barbarians dwell near natural focus points in the mountains, ones that have been in far too harsh regions to construct anything beyond a simple wooden hut.  I will not speculate, but my logical impression is that these gods do in fact provide their followers with certain boons, as well as safety from the energies ravaging normally wild regions.  I will deliver a new report on the matter once I receive more information from my slaves."
- From a letter to the Sapphire Castle, delivered from a certain Master Galeron.

The Church of Guardians
A church exists as well, describing a pantheon of five gods as the creators and guardians of the world. This church is quite widespread across the Old World, although more so in areas like Adrila and Tyrica than in Ivellea and Elthern. It makes sense that it is so, for in these more martially-inclined lands, magic is a less valuable ally, and faith in the divine may be of more assistance.

The first of the Guardians was Aeras, the Stalwart. He came across an abandoned world, left by another god halfway through its formation, and he saw that it held promise, and adopted it as his own. He wished for a world where knightly ideals were held in high regard, and set about creating it. For months he toiled, reforming the lands, reshaping the seas, and sculpting the various creatures found in the Wilds, that his knights could test their mettle against. He formed iron and steel, so swords and armour could be forged. He created fertile lands, and he formed the peasants, so that his favoured knights could eat and drink. He put ambition and hope into the hearts of men, so some among them would become leaders and there would be order. As he gazed upon his work, however, he realised there was room for more in his world. He asked other gods to aid him in completing it.

The first who answered his request was Iryan, the Eternal. She helped Aeras, causing time's effects upon all in his world; knights and peasants would age and die if not falling in battle, crops would grow and provide the food they were meant to, creatures of the wild would grow in size and might. She added genders to his people, separating them as man and woman, so their race would still persist despite the passing of time, and added love and loyalty to their hearts, for those feelings were beautiful to her, as were all they brought with them.

Still, Aeras was not content, even though he and Iryan worked tirelessly. There was still room for more, so he called upon another god to aid him. Casun, the Crafter, answered, and to Aeras' world, he used his imagination and craftsmanship to add many forms of creatures to the world, and adding many ideas. In tribute to his own, he added creativity to Aeras' people, teaching them to combine the practical with the aesthetic, and to always improve upon their works, for he was as pleased in seeing others' works as in working his own.

Aeras' knights now held ambition, hope, love, loyalty and creativity, but he saw that not all would follow their ambition. He called upon a fourth god, Turas, the Clever, to give him more assistance. Turas looked upon the people of the young world, and discovered that they lacked pleasure in what they were doing, as though all they did were merely because they were made to do so. Turas and Aeras argued for seven days and six nights about whether or not that should truly be the driving force of the people, but finally Aeras grudgingly let Turas fill his people with a desire for pleasure, be it through ambition, love or creativity. Aeras never fully accepted this, but his people now had a reason of their own to do what they did.

As Aeras looked into the minds of his people, he could find pleasure being a considerable goal in many, but that something still was missing in those unable to find pleasure by themselves, and that some had nothing to place their hopes in. He called for a final god; Nirae, the Faithful. She saw the people's needs, and filled them with faith in themselves and their Guardians, so their minds would rest easy, confident in knowing their only dangers were ones they found in their lands, never from outside. As she worked for the people's enlightenment, she also determined they would need trials of faith, and spread doubt into the world, to test the hearts of men and see whether their spirits were strong or weak. The truly weak, Nirae said, could not be helped with faith.

Thus the Guardians ended their work, and sat back to watch the world they had made unfold. To this day, the Guardians are still watching, and their ways, while hidden to the people they watch, always serve a greater purpose. It is thanks to them that the people of our world have prospered and grown."
-The Myth of Creation, as told by the priest Avaldor of Whitemeadow.

The Guardian Church, perhaps ironically, has no order dedicated to its protection. Its clerics are generally peaceful people who feel a stronger bond to the Five than most, and choose to wield the Stalwart Sword. Technically, the clerics do not wield the sword, however; it is safeguarded in Silverdale, capital of Tyrica, but everyone joining the priesthood must travel to Silverdale in order to be accepted by the Overpriest, after being tutored beforehand. This dangerous journey is one not often undertaken, but the would-be clerics often come from mundane walks of life, such as knights or undertakers. Once in Silverdale, the cleric is accepted , before returning back to his or her homeland to spread the Guardians' wishes.

To acknowledge the diversity of the Guardians' creations, particularly that of its people, each church seeks to have a number of clerics dedicated to different Guardians. In Adrila, for instance, the typical knight will be most interested in the teachings of Aeras' clerics, as his teachings speak of the importance of valour, courage and loyalty, but there are also many knights who look to Turas' clerics for guidance, as their teachings speak of the wisdom to choose one's battles, the pleasure in increasing one's honour, and in always seeking the best in others. It is wise for a church to be able to accommodate these contrasting teachings, so that those visiting the church will follow in the Guardians' footsteps.

Note: All below information is based upon views in-universe, and may or may not be universally true.
Each of the gods hold certain values and ideals stronger than the others.
Aeras
The God of Battle, Strategy, Brotherhood and Honour

Aeras, the Stalwart, is the patron god to all knights and those who fight to defend their homes. He will look favourably upon the brave and the strong, although every knight slain saddens him. It is said that during wars, Aeras will watch the battlefield from above and weep for his brave knights. Battles fought during the rain are rarely given thought beyond practical implications by generals, but superstitious soldiers believe a clean and merciful death is more likely during rainy battles. He is considered the strongest and most powerful of the Guardians.

Iryan
The Goddess of Nature, Life, Time and Love

Iryan, the Eternal, look after all things that pass with time, be it the growth of crops, the change of seasons, birth and death and everything within the cycle of life. She cares for all who live, and all who die; she is considered a tremendously powerful god by her followers, almost as strong as Aeras. She, too, is said to cry during wars, but for all those who are harmed during the wars, not just the knights.

Casun
The God of Craftsmanship, Art, Beauty and Creation

Casun, the Crafter, is revered by many. Builders and craftsmen hold him in high regard, and will occasionally offer prayers to him when beginning construction of something new and important, yet at the same time, artists and those seeking to enhance the finer sides of life also hold him in high esteem. He is considered the patron god of all things created artificially, yet weapons and armour are more often considered Aeras' domain. Why that is the case has been a source of much debate, but the Overpriest of the time declared in 1893 that weapons and armour is considered Aeras' domain because they are tools of war and destruction, and Casun's domain is creation. This largely put an end to the arguments.

Turas
The God of Wisdom, Cunning, Pleasure and Hope

Turas, the Clever, is considered a very cunning god, but also very wise. Some consider him the patron god of thieves and scoundrels, but the majority of his followers are actually good people who seek to use their wits and wisdom for beneficial purposes, often through small deeds few recognise. This does have something to do with Turas' shady reputation; the glory hounds tend to look to Aeras, and many misunderstand Turas' followers as people who would rather keep their deeds in the shade, when in reality they usually don't care. The myths also speak of a great conflict between Aeras and Turas, and some believe this to be Aeras stating his distaste for Turas' methods. This is in no way proved to be a fact, and the Overpriest greatly disapproves of these rumours, but they still persist. He is also thought to consider pleasure a very important thing, something that has brought on some truly debased groups insisting they only do what Turas wants them to do. This does not sit well with most of his followers, who have gotten a bad name because of this, and these 'cults' often find themselves at the mercy of sell-swords.


Nirae
The Goddess of Faith, Doubt, Death and Sorrow

Nirae, the Faithful, is often viewed in a morbid manner, as befits her station as the Goddess of Death. It is believed she gathers a bone from every person she takes to the afterlife. She is only prayed to when a dear one is lost, as it is considered bad luck to draw her attention otherwise. Yet still, many find comfort and spiritual rest through worshipping her, and those who do often find it much easier to accept deaths of loved ones. There has been debates of this as well, of which god truly looks after the dead; Iryan or Nirae. In 1942 the Overpriest declared Nirae the goddess who treated with the deceased, but with no reasoning why. This did not stop the debates.

Of the worship of magic
The Arcane Church and the Primordials
As magic is a constant presence in the world, it is also a constant threat, kept safe from Focus Points. These amazing constructions are capable of drawing in magic from a wide area and conduct it safely towards another Focus Points, creating a ley line. However, their existence is, by some, considered unnatural and wrong. Those who criticize them are often parts of the cults worshipping pure magic as the sole force that should rule in the world.  These cults often gather in shadier parts of towns, plotting and scheming to further their plan of having magic rule the world, both Old and New.  Opposing these cults in the Old World is the grand Church, based in the capital of Ivellea. This order of priests and knights have declared the cults heretics and doomsday prophets, and their combatants constantly battle against Cultists. It claims to revere magic as part of the world, that provides to everyone.

"Grand Bishop,
I bring you this report after rooting out the Cults residing within Fort Rockden of the Kingdom Adrila. Their beliefs were gaining support among the general populace, and their battle-ready forces had drawn with them several units of the province's soldiery. By the time we arrived in the city, it was in turmoil, and our knights were severely outnumbered. In response, we conscripted several units from Adrila's military, choosing to gain a foothold in the city's outer quarters.  For two weeks, our priests preached to the general populace as we waited for reinforcements.  Eventually, these troops arrived, and our cleansing of the cult scum could begin.  The cultists, cowardly as they were, did not strike at us while we had the chance; surely it must be our priests' mastery over magic, rather than their foolish spellcasters who are only mastered by it, who kept them in check. As the great search started, our men searched every nook and cranny of the city, eventually uncovering the cultists, who had dared to use the very fortress' basement as their lair! None could tell how long this cult had existed, but we spared none of them, no matter their cries for mercy. In this moment, the Adrilan soldiers are on the march back to the capital, while our knights and priests are tending to the general populace.  Our mastery and strength must have appealed to them, for they seem grateful that we have cleansed the city.

Faithfully yours"
- This letter was found on a bloodstained workdesk, beside Cleric Danal's corpse in a house of Fort Rockden. On the letter was written "Magic is meant to rule!"


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Re: Religions on both continents [Work in progress, beware of loose ends]

Post  Octie♥ on Tue Dec 25, 2012 4:07 pm

Xillidan Religion

There is mass interpretation on the topic of what exactly the religious tendencies of the Empire are, however it is well-known that they are driven by religious means, for the Imperial Church governs a majority of the Empire's operations and population. Members of the Church are seen as important figures in Xillidan colonies and they are often protected as well. The High Priests are at the head of the Church, and comprise 50% of the ruling body of the Empire. Though not all Xillidi are as zealous as those higher up, they all firmly believe in the ways of the Church as if it were natural for them.

The Imperial Church
"It was an interesting wander through those streets, seeing other people like me and buggers getting on so naturally. I have to say, buggers really grew on me during my time here; they're just like us, really. But, if I may add, their system is still a tad suspicious if you ask me. They are all friendly folk they are, but their leaders seem to be quite commanding in appearance. From what I heard, they are members of the Imperial Church. I was told to lay low since they had a tendency to dislike humans, what arrogant bastards...Regardless, everyone made their way for them, and often asked if they needed anything. Some poor sod got in the way of them and he was arrested right there on the spot, for no reason. I don't get it.

When they left, I asked the shopkeeper about it. He just responded with a sigh and told me the full story. From what he said, it sounds like this Empire is partially ruled by what they call the Imperial Church. They seem to believe that their leader is the 'Great Mother' or something cheesy like that, and that their leader was the source of all creation in the world. That's fair for them to believe in and all, but this guy also said that the Church was very strict with its policies, and often they carry out punishments against foreigners and natives alike who do not follow their ways. Though, most buggers don't seem like religious twats at all. Confusing stuff, really.

So basically, this Imperial Church rules the industrial, political and military sides of the Empire....Isn't that like, all the sides though? I don't know, but I could feel it when those priests wandered the streets. They have power, and they're using it."
- A letter to home from Zayne Winchy, former traveller and currently enlisted in the Adrilan military


The Empress and The Ascetic Sect
"...Moving into more affairs of the Xillidan government, I strongly believe that their system ties in heavily with their religious beliefs. I interviewed my acquaintance Teshurr on the matter, and actually discovered some interesting things. Though not common public knowledge outside of the Xillidan provinces, a lot of commoners do hear rumors that go around about the true header of the Xillidan political system. As we all know, the High Priests and Sages are the ones who manage the system on the outside, but Teshurr did speak of a supposed 'greater' influence lying deep within the core.

I travelled to the Xillidan province Asc'Rular to find out more from a series of ruins he directed me too. Teshurr led me into the quaint ruins and showed me what he explained was the ancient dialect of the Xillidan ancestors. Unknown in form and in intentions, he explained how their ancestors believed in the world being formed by a giant web woven by a deity-like being that they worshipped. However, the name of such a being has been long-forgotten in the passages of time, yet he has a minor deduction that in fact the core of the Xillidan government has, this entire time, been the aforementioned ancestors.

With more research into the matter from data collected by myself and Teshurr, we can also confirm the existence of another caste in the Xillidan society. Sealed off to all, even their own people, we designate them as the Ascetic Caste. They are apparently the Royal Guard of the Xillidi Empire. Now, what they are the Royal Guard of isn't explained in any text I can find, but Teshurr assumes that they are in fact the Royal Guard of the Empress. Not much is known about the Empress herself either, except that she supposedly gives the orders to the High Priests. Accounts on the identity of the Empress are virtually non-existent. Only the elusive Ascetics have access to the Empress, and Ascetics themselves are questionable in existence themselves.

I concluded my research into the matter since it seemed like a pointless endeavor upon realizing we'd be searching for data that could potentially not exist at all. I will leave this mystery up to those who devote to it, for my primary purpose is political research, not solving religious mysteries."
- Extract from "An Insight into Politics of Non-Humans", written by Barik Herstall, Adrilan Professor of Foreign Political Affairs

The Heretics

"With a religious government comes those who will not follow its ways. It goes without saying that even the Xillidi Empire falls under this premise. While the topic is kept quiet and considered offensive to speak of, heretics of the Xillidi Empire do in fact exist. As many know, the core of Xillidan belief is that the world is created from a giant woven web, and those who are created within the pure threads are destined for greatness, while those in weak threads are condemned to damnation. A deeper belief held by the much more zealous believers is that the 'mother' of this giant web will one day return and reclaim the world as her own. Now, heretics are not common in the Empire because it is often the zealots that become the heretics.

Many Xillidi are generally passive and complacent about their religious matters, and often accept opinions of others. Zealots are devoted towards the beliefs and choose to uphold them as well. However, the zeal that is born within zealots can easily become doubt if they start to question the things they do. Because normal Xillidi do not think about it much, they do not have reason to resist against it, while zealots have much more fanaticism and therefore will resist in an equally radical way. This gives birth to a small but devoted caste of heretics that defy the beliefs of the Imperial Church and actively fight against it.

From one perspective, this could be seen as a Civil War. However, a lot of the battles of this so-called war are fought in streets as protests or in courtrooms as debates. The heretics are a very small body compared to the Xillidi Empire and therefore cannot put up any military resistance. Regardless, heretics are a problem for us as well as them. Heretics are deemed unworthy to reside in Xillidi territory and are shunned into foreign areas. Because they are zealous, they often cause unrest where they go, so they are often classed on a similar level as bandits in other parts of the world. They should not be taken as lightly as bandits though, however, for some zealots are known to be well-trained warriors from the Xillidi military."
- Extract from "Overzealous: Foreign Religions", written by Zurika Ferbolden, Independent Scholar
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