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Old 11-26-2019, 07:02 AM
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Religions and History of Aldan

Religions of Aldan
A little History

The religions of Aldan all stem from a shared history of the continent. There are only 4 gods and they are historically deeply intertwined, with three of them being relatively young and none of them being creator gods of the world. Outside of Aldan other gods are worshipped, but most people from the country haven't even heard of any apart from these four. Around two hundred years ago the continent of Soinella, which is the continent on which Aldan resides, was largely under the control of a grand Empire, known as the Empire of the Dragon. Over the course of several hundred years, If the Imperium started in Mongolia, then Aldan is Spain.the Imperium had spread from its beginnings in the far northeast of Soinella to control all of it, except for Aldan in the far south-west. The Imperial Creed spread ahead of the armies, infiltrating other cultures and kingdoms and undermining them from within, turning them to the worship of (what they claimed) was the One True God, the Emperor.

Soiryk

Within the borders of the Imperium worship of any other gods was forbidden and, by the time of Soiryk's birth the old gods had fallen out of favour even among his countrymen. No one today really knows what the faith of Aldanisch people back then looked like, but it can be inferred from what little history remains that resistance to the Emperor was the focus of their devotion, whatever deity happened to back them. Soiryk himself was a soldier who set out to defend his homeland against the Empire, legend says he met a witch along his travels who promised would protect him. She didn't lie, but she cursed Soriyk with a painful kind of immortality. When the armies met the men of Aldan where beaten back and destroyed by the overwhelming power of the Empire. The numbers and training of their foes were simply too great for the Aldanisch to meet in open battle. Soiryk saw his friends and companions cut apart before his eyes, until he, too, fell under the onslaught, his last thoughts as a mortal man of his wife and children.

Legends then tell of Soiryk awakening on a battlefield covered in the bodies of his slain comrades and walking home, only to find his family killed by Imperial hands. Tales say that he simply turned and walked on, towards the seat of the Emperor, determined to end the god-man. It is also thought from the Sagas written nearer the time that apart from revenge Soiryk yearned for nothing more than to meet with his dead wife and children in the afterlife and that this fate is denied him even to this day. After slaying the Emperor and ascending to godhood Soiryk's scream of anguish is said to have split the heavens, as he awoke a new-made deity days after what he had thought was his final death at the Emperor's hands. Since his ascension he has searched the realms of the dead for his lost family, and whilst never finding them he has brought much of that realm under his control, such that he is a god of the Grave as well as his other aspects.

Soiryk's primary commandment to his followers is to become strong enough to finally end his existence. Other than this he simply asks that they protect the weak and, particularly, families. He is venerated widely amongst the military and mercenary communities but has few adherents other than grave keepers and mortuary workers outside of that. The funeral rites of almost all of Aldan are performed by followers of Soiryk, as Anelahk and Axela have no interest in the dead and commend them to Soiryk's keeping. Soiryk has fewer Clerics than Paladins and fewer of either than the other major Deities, as he pays little attention to the mortal world. Looking upon his beloved homeland causes the god too much pain, so he is reluctant to entangle himself with mortals unless they do something exceptional to gain his attention. Soiryk rejects worship and instead looks on his followers as comrades in arms, and as such, they are often referred to by the title Comrade.

Anelahk

Anelahk was not born in Aldan, rather she was born far afield in a country now long dead. The country she occupied had been under the heel of the empire since the time of her great grandfather and she had known no life outside Imperial law. Growing up this had caused he no ill as the farming town she was born into had no animosity towards their rulers and, mostly, just raised cattle. As she matured Anelahk keen intellect drew her to learning, at first just of cow herding, then barn building and the maintenance of structures. By the time she was nineteen Anelahk had started to hang around a local mine, about a days ride from her town, and had learned of tracks and carts as well as smelting. She took the knowledge she had and used it, making better versions of things that already existed, through careful study and diligent effort her feats of engineering took on greater and greater challenges. At twenty-five she was the foreman of the mine and the youngest member of the County Council, overseeing her old farming community and three other towns, including the mining town she was now based in. The towns under her oversight were growing more prosperous and interconnected by the day, particularly due to the tracks she had laid between them and the clockwork carriages that could be pedalled from place to place. The output of her mine had skyrocketed, far outstripping Imperial quotas and making a tidy profit. This drew the attention of the Imperial Governor, who sent a small delegation to 'congratulate' the mine workers and investigate Anelahk's methods.

What happened next is unknown, as the Diaries of Anelahk are silent for the next ten years. These holy tomes, which contain the ingenious thoughts and some preliminary blueprints of the Great Inventor are the Holy Texts of the Apprentices of Anelahk. Each one is complete, with neat indexes at the back, but Diaries III-V are clearly missing. This is evident from the references in Diaries VI-X and the from the meticulous nature of Anelahk's journaling, with each Diary chronicling precisely forty months. The first Diary is often read to or given to fresh apprentices to inspire them, as it was written by a young Anelahk, from the age of eighteen onwards and chronicles some of her earliest work. The designs and information in the last pages of Diary X are incomprehensible to any living Apprentice and unlocking their secrets, and thus, perhaps, the secrets of everything is their goal. These pages were written in the months after Anelahk's ascension to godhood, but before leaving the mortal realm. To her adherents, they represent her last, greatest work and the most precious object imaginable. The originals are housed in Karlsburg (the capital of Aldan), in the Great Temple of Anelahk.

At 35 years old, during the period of the sixth diary, Anelahk was on the run. The Empire had done something to her, though what no one knows. There are sporadic references to the day of the Purge, but no clear description of what it is, as it clearly occurred in one of the Lost Diaries. At this point, Anelahk was making war machines in secret and trying to raise an army to use them to fight the Empire, sadly over the next few volumes, the reader of the Holy Texts learns of betrayal on betrayal and failure built upon hope. By her mid-forties, Anelahk has discarded the idea of raising and equipping a fighting force and instead has built a series of deadly automatons, mostly wheeled contraptions with guns, but some more human-like. She wages a guerilla war against the Empire weakening it from within. It is not until she meets Soiryk and Axela, however, that she gains all the tools she needs for her final strike. The three marched on the capital, with Anelahk levelling its walls with her great weapons of power and grinding the palace to dust. After defeating the Emperor she carried Soiryk back to Aldan on her automatons, lying in state, for he had fallen in that battle. It was not until he awakened that Anelahk's own ascension occurred and the writing of the final chapters of Diary X began.

Anelahk commands her followers, who she deems Apprentices, not Worshippers to learn and work hard. She prizes study above all and has as many artificers in her ranks as clerics. Receiving the healing of Anelahk is said to be both the cleanest and complete healing one will ever receive and the most excruciatingly painful, as no blessing from her will allow a lesson to go unlearned and the pain of the injury is itself a great teacher. Anelahk has a reputation of being against fun, but that is not really true, she is simply in favour of getting things done. She teaches that one should find joy in your life's work and choose to do only those things that are useful, which can also be pleasurable if you have the right mindset. Apprentices of Anelahk are the builders of the country, the engineers and the tinkerers. To gain her divine attention takes one thing: Hard Work. She cares not for your talent or skill, just for your dedication to your craft, so even the low skilled worker can attract her attention by putting in enough effort at their chosen task.

Axela

To speak of Axela is to speak of a myth, one that surely could not be true. Except that parts are corroborated by Anelahk's Diaries and those are beyond question. As a mortal Axela was exceptional, she was naturally gifted, clever, quick and strong and had no fear of showing it. Born, like Anelahk, within the confines of the Empire she became a dancer and a storyteller, enchanting rooms full of people with her sensuous movements and evocative (if untrue) tales. Her followers tell you a story that is not written down anywhere of her life and her quest. This oral tradition is a central part of the faith and keeping of records is scorned by the followers of Axela. Ask one and they will tell you if you can't remember the story, then you simply lack talent and should ask your betters to relay it to you, if they take pity on an incompetent.

The story goes that one night after dancing and singing in a tavern Axela, who was an extraordinary beauty, was followed by an Imperial official as he wanted her to spend the night with him. When she refused he pulled a blade, which she promptly took from him and stuck in his neck. She fled the town but was quickly chased by the man's guards who brought her to bay at the edge of a copse. She had never fought before, nor touched a weapon outside of an eating dagger, however when they attacked she saw how much their movements were like dancing. For the first few moments, she flowed from step to step, moving with the rhythm of the steel, until she had seen enough. The men were getting frustrated, but from their movement she had learned to use a blade, so she took one from their least capable member with a simple kick to his wrist and used it to soak the hillside in Imperial blood. The young dancing girl stood, dripping blood and admiring her handiwork, five of the Empires elite guards dead at her feet and a red sword in her hand.

The Empire did not take kindly to this. Once others learned of what had happened more patrols were sent after her, but she knew the dance of Steel now and, not only that, but she quickly learned the Dance of Shadows. As each patrol came after her, she would meet them on the field, if they numbered less than ten, or pick them apart at night if they were more. With an impressive tally of one hundred and seventeen kills, or so the legend says, the Emperor sent to Axela the greatest gift he could have offered; a mage. One of the Imperial Incipit Ignis who, with a guard of only five came for her. She met them in the field, expecting to once more dance steel, but as the men at arms closed she saw the mage begin to weave. Her attention was riveted to this display, so much so that she could only keep the five men at bay, not kill them as she watched. As the wizard signed the last sigil of his spell, calling a firebolt to destroy her Axela had seen enough, she reached into the air with her free hand and cut the magic just so causing the spell to fail. Within a heartbeat, she had traced the sigils once more and loosed the mage's power back upon him. As he burned she laughed and danced with his guards, toying with them as she tested her new power, each dying to a different element as the world of magic opened to Axela for the first time.

Having mastered the Dance of Shadow, the Dance of Steel and the Dance of Power, Axela decided that she would take revenge on the one responsible for her troubles. She set off towards the Imperial capital, determined to bring the Emperor low and show the world that she was truly sublime. On her quest Axela met Anelahk and Soiryk, good companions surely, but as she had decided it was Axela who delivered the final blow to the emperor, tearing him apart with spell and sword even as he pierced Soiryk and laid him low. Axela has never forgotten the feeling of loss at Soiryk's death or her joy at his rebirth, which demonstrated beyond any doubt that she was right and that talent will show.

Axela is worshipped in the truest sense. She sees devotion as her due, but only accepts followers who are truly gifted. Hard work and effort are for those who are born lesser, talent is what truly sets people apart. Axela encourages her Devotees to live life to the full to seek pleasure before all else and to live in a way that best helps with that. She is very popular among bards and entertainers, as well as sex workers and nobles. Axela's adherents are at every level of society and bring joy to the land, with their performances and their passion. Axela loves nothing more than to see her Devotees bring a crowd to rapture or a mob to heel. Talent, power and the display of it are her core tenets.

The Emperor

The emperor was a man, probably, at least that is what the other faiths believe. He lived for hundreds of years, guiding the largest empire the world has ever known, The Empire of the Dragon. His detractors and enemies, which can count almost all citizens of Aldan among them say he was a tyrant and a despot. They tell of a man who stole the lands and birthrights of others and forced them to conform under the hobnailed tread of a thousand boots. The stories tell of death and fear wrought by the hand of the most evil being imaginable and implacable, unstoppable God, brought low in the end by the righteous might of honourable heroes. This is not the tale told by the Cult of the Dragon, however. To them, he is a great leader brought low by treachery.

The Cult tells little of the origins of the Emperor, referring to him as a mortal is seen as blasphemy within there ranks. They have many tales of his deeds, though and of his court. The Imperial Court was, according to the cult, the foremost centre of learning and wisdom in the entire world. He peopled it with those he found who had merit and elevated them to the ranks of nobility. All the races of the world paid homage to the Emperor in his court and in exchange he granted great powers to his senior advisors. The Cult tell how the Courtiers could heal or destroy at a touch, raise the dead and lay waste to boundless areas of land with mighty storms. Compared to the power of the Emperor these people were simply gnats, but any one of them was a force that could conquer a country single-handed.

At the height of its power, the Empire was a place of peace and prosperity with law and order absolute within its bounds. A single traveller, even a child, could walk the roads at night between cities unmolested, such was the might of Imperial Peace. The few who stood against the peace were selfish and arrogant, the Emperor's assassins amongst them, Soiryk the degenerate zombie who had raised arms against the Emperor when offred the Peace and then baulked at his punishment like a coward, Anelahk, the traitor who fled her duty to the Dragon and led whole populations to ruin and, of course, Axela, murderess and criminal with no redeeming quality who flagrantly broke Imperial law, lied, stole and killed. The Cult holds a special place of hatred for another, though, the one they call the Usurper.

The Usurper was sent by the Emperor to bring Aldan to heel and, instead, turned against his master. The only Courtier to ever break from the Imperial Truth, Karl Kämpfer, greatest of the Emperor's warriors was the bitter pill that poisoned there great realm. It was he that raised and trained an army of Aldanisch as the Imperial gaze was turned to the depredations of the Assassins. It was he who found the cells of resistance, created by Anelahk and wove them into a true insurgency whilst weeding out Imperial agents, even as the Assassins began their long march. It was Karl who walked at the head of a legion of these miscreants and stole the followers of the Emperor, shattering its foundations even as the Assassins drove at its heart. Without him, the Three would have fallen and failed, as surely had all such attempts before them, but with the Imperial Army fighting back against an insurgency led by its greatest general an opening was made and the unthinkable happened.

The Cultists, among whom the highest-ranked are still styled Courtier, teach that the Emperor brought stability and prosperity to the world and that the bandits and marauding tribes known today are a direct result of his loss. They seek to find the tools needed to resurrect their dead lord and bring him fully back to power, for they are certain he cannot be truly gone. Within the Cult it is believed that Soiryk holds their liege in his Realm of the Dead and that, with sufficient power, they can bring him back. Members of the Cult seek to emulate the lifestyles and behaviours of the lost Empire and champion the virtues of temperance, self-control and justice. The Imperial Cult strictly follows the rule of law, even within the borders of the younger realms, which they see as illegitimate. They do not see it as their place to enforce the Imperial Creed, but rather to practice it until such a time as the Emperor returns to set all right. This law-abiding nature has led to the Cult not being outlawed, even in Aldan, who's noble line descend from Karl Kämpfer, first King of Risen Aldan. No one trumpets their allegiance though, at least not outside of closed communes run by the Cult. There are no temples to the Emperor and Imperial Worship is a quick way to bring suspicion and retribution down on your head in an Aldanisch town.

Last edited by Drager; 11-26-2019 at 07:10 AM.
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