Religions and Faiths of the Continent, both True and Heretickal
written by Patriarch Mors of Illenbridge, learned-brother of the Holy Throne, in 703 AE
“Pantheon of Extribus”
The most predominant of all the major religions of the Continent, practiced from the northernmost reaches of Alsheraa to the Marches, and gaining traction among the Greater and Lesser Kkham, the Pantheon is well-regarded even among heretics, witches, and blasphemers, if only for the sheer power it commands. While the faith itself has existed since the first incursions of the Elves of the south, the true date of the foundation of the Pantheon coincides with the inception of the Holy Throne as a political entity, two hundred years before the Elf-fall. Following a guerrilla war led by the crusading Xander the Prophet, the Alsheraadi ceded the lands north of the River Daral Harib and west of the Worldsfall Mountains, the area then known as either the Haribban Potentate or the Almovar Ranges. With the creation of this independent state, the first codifier of the traditions of the Nine-from-Three (as it is colloquially called) was elected unanimously by all attending as Steward of the Holy Throne, a title that would evolve into the position of First Patriarch.
The predominant tenets of the Pantheon are known to all, but it is, for the sake of comparison, still worth listing the major beliefs. The world, and all its inhabitants, were born from the Nine, who in turn, were born from the Three. Whether these Three were born in turn of some ultimate deity or have existed since the beginning, it is unknown- but what we do know is that these great deities -the Husband, the Wife, and the Wild One- are responsible for the three more personal gods, the ones we give reverence to. In the words of the Proclamation of Xander:
'For it is from the meeting of the Husband and the Wife that we have the Farmer, caretaker of the smallfolk and the commons, protector of the meek and the one who claims the hard-workers as His own in the Beyond, favoring His Father; and the Lady of War, patron of soldiers and the defenders of their homes, the one who claims the glorious dead as Her own in the Beyond, favoring Her Mother.
'For it is from the meeting of the Husband and the Wild One that we have the Barbarian, caretaker of those un-anointed in the Pantheon, bringer of chaos and strife and humbler of the mighty, favoring His Progenitor; and the Woods Witch, caretaker of the settlers of the deep wilds and adventurers, favoring Her Father and claiming the anointed who worship none other.
'For it is from the meeting of the Wife and the Wild One that we have the Lover, patron of those who follow their hearts truly and the one who claims those who protect their own as His children in the Beyond, favoring His Mother; and the Laughing Widow, who protects the artists, the musicians, and claims those who keep joy in their hearts as they live without regard for the consequences or the doubts of naysayers, favoring Her Progenitor.
'And it is from each of the Three that three more emerged. First, from the Husband, there came the King, caretaker of the rulers and those who seek to be rulers, favoring strength and honor above all else, and claiming those who die amidst power. Second, from the Wife, there came the Matriarch, caretaker of those who sought not power, but piety, those who held to their faith and the Pantheon above all else, and claiming those who died righteously. And third, and lastly, there came the Magician, born of the Wild One, patron of the unpredictable, of the mages and bringer of the Art. It claimed none but the practioners of magick and those who brought great uncertainty to the world, and it is Its actions that led the Three to awake from Their slumber and remove the force of magick from the lives of the common folk.'
These Nine are the gods that watch over us in our daily lives, and omnipotent in their sphere, these Nine are the ones that dictate to us what the righteous path should be. There are priests and priestesses dedicated to each of these Nine, accordingly, it is from their ranks that the Deacons and Women of the Faith are chosen. In turn, of course, it is these Deacons that are selected for the rank of Archdeacon, whose ranks in turn inspire the selection of Patriarch, and so on...
...and it from these ranks that we know that magick has truly left the world, and the only forces left are those of Man and the other...
Elsewise known as the Ividalan Faith, this religion -largely, as one would assume, limited to the people in the demesne of the Holy Kingdom of Ividal- is derived from the faith of the Pantheon of Extribus. It should not come as a surprise, then, that the holiest figure of the Ividalan Faith bears some superficial similarities to Xander the Prophet, for they both claim a significant role in the history of the Continent, to say nothing of the personality traits they both held in common.
Said holy figure, Vidal the First, formed the nation of Ividal only seven years after the Elf-fall, in which the Alsheraadi forces were defeated by a coalition of disparate Saenwyne lords and Vidal's holy warriors. Initially supported by the Pantheon of Extribus, the First Patriarch was soon dissapointed when King Vidal claimed that the Extriban explanation was entirely wrong. There were no Nine, Vidal said, only the Three and the aspects thereof...and that therefore, any attempt at worshipping the heroes and magician-kings of years past was folly and heresy...
...since that fateful split in the Third Ividal War, the deacons of the Pantheon and the Ividalan Grey Priests have fought a shadow war, with words, coin, and faith instead of swords....
“The Heavenly Brothers”
A faith predominantly adhered to amongst Kharkhedonians to the south, the basis of this oddity is that two gods, “Zun” and “Soma”, brothers in some interpretations, a genderless pairing in others, are responsible for the creation of the world - and are embodied in this day and age as the heavenly spheres, the Sun and the Moon respectively.
Through their infighting they clashed and created the world as we know it, yet neither was powerful enough to overcome the other and rule the world in its entirety, and thus the rhythms and patterns of the world are manifestations of their battling - from the lengthening and shortening of the days and nights, to the seasons themselves. It said in their annals that in the past Soma, the Moon, held dominance over much of the world, but in a great fight one eclipse, Zun shattered Soma’s strength and he diminished. As a result, Soma took part of his broken strength and forged the stars to bolster his dimming brightness against Zun’s strength.
Other observations of note include that the Kharkhedonians believe magick never truly belonged to Man, and was a blessing from the Gods. To this end, there are a number of bickering interpretations for the power’s disappearance from the land, including that it was meant only to raise Man out from amongst the beasts, and that other Men, especially those followers of the Pantheon of Extribus, have misused the powers and thus they were withdrawing.
Soma is often worshipped by farmers and those depending on crops, who draw some link between the pale light of the Moon and the sap of plants; Zun is often viewed for his relation to time and decay. However, there is little to no infighting between those who favour either God, as they are often, despite their warring, viewed as a bound pair intrinsic to the other.
The followers of Kazar, or Kazarans, believe in an all powerful god of everything, but particularly life and death. In keeping with the war-like culture associated with the Senevni, this Kazar is a particularly violent master, who blesses and raises up the souls of fallen heroes, who join with their God, and feeds upon the souls of slain enemies to sustain himself.
As such, the Senevni people largely use this as an excuse to wage wars, both amongst themselves and with their neighbours. They have blamed bad harvests, disastrous weather, defeats in war, and most of all the disappearance of magick, on a lack of souls being supplied to Kazar - or on the conversion of his followers.
The Elves worship a far more curious idea, one as alien to our way of thinking as they are themselves. The believe in a sense of the “Eternal Creation”, a concept that states that the universe has always existed and will always exist, and can be embodied by a flame, which they refer to as “Un” - a contracting and expanding eternal fire that symbolises the universe, changing over time from soldering embers to roaring infernos and all stages in between.
It is a peculiar and difficult to grasp faith, maintained only by the Elves and ill-explained to outsiders and non-elves, who even during the zenith of the Sharifate’s expansion, were expected only to adhere and obey, rather than comprehend. Worship was commanded of those lower and freely given by those higher at consecrated “Firehalls” - elaborate structures of stone that seemed to sway and move before your eyes, though whether by design or queer Elven magicks it is unclear. These Firehalls were focused around carefully maintained flames, connected to furnaces deep within the structures.
Other peculiar indicators of Unnism include its fierce repression of heretics and heresies, often purging or cleansing them with rituals fires. This is typically in contrast to other practices of the faith, which has been a largely quiescent force, though insidious and relentless in its spreading.