Log In

Categories

Archives


Series are multiple stories that go together; the order they are listed in on the tables of contents and directory pages are their chronological orders within the universe, not the order they were written or posted in. A tilde (~) denotes an original fiction series, while an abbreviation such as HP denotes a fanfiction series.

The City and: Religion

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series ~ The City

THE CITY AND: Religion

The City is a surprisingly tolerant and open-minded setting, as far as religion goes, but it wasn’t always so. Far in the past, the occasional influx of new religions into the City would lead to racism and violent crimes. At one point around seven hundred years ago it grew so bad that it was nearly impossible to walk down the street and not see some sort of desecrated holy place or mark. The fighting pulled workers away from their jobs and guards away from their duty, to arrest the fighters or join them. The queen of the time, Queen Amyssa II, made a ruling as a last desperate hope to keep religion from tearing her kingdom apart. She had the bazaars and markets moved from their place alongside the Court and, seizing private property from some of the wealthiest citizens, merged them with the merchants’ residences, and decreed that the now emptied section of the City would be renamed the Cathedral. This was now the only place any religious structure could be built; anything larger than a shrine niche in a private home was either moved or demolished. Furthermore, it was the only place religion could be taught or discussed in public. Anyone caught discussing religion in any other section of the City would be immediately arrested; anyone committing a crime in the name of their god would be immediately executed. Less than a dozen executions later, the City calmed and slowly settled into the oasis it is now. Those laws are still in effect, though more loosely enforced.

In general, any gods brought from the outside become assimilated into the pantheon that most in the City worship, or at least pay lip service. At last count, the official register kept by a very aged priest in the Cathedral of gods in the pantheon was over three hundred and seventy; most of the Cathedral is populated by temples of varying sizes and wealth to those gods, and that priest is probably the only one who knows them all. Occasionally an entire new religion will crop up, like the worship of Illari the Allgod, but they are slow to take root and more likely to be absorbed, especially since anyone hearing about a new god will normally assume it’s simply one of the pantheon of which they haven’t heard. And, thus far, nothing has been able to supplant the worship of Pegasi that the royalty take as their faith.

To most of the world, the City is something of an oddity in that, having foresworn magick as one body centuries ago, they approach religion as a science and science as a religion. One of the most fervently followed gods is Tallos, god of Science and Progress. Priests are essentially scientists who perform experiments and learn laws of nature… That this nature has little to do with the physical reality around them matters not at all. Summoning or speaking to gods is a science, though exceptionally difficult and costly; many gods have yet to be summoned or contacted, but all are sure it’s but a matter of time. Few take it as proof that any of them don’t exist, only that their methods aren’t yet sufficiently advanced to reach them. No one, for an example, really expects to hear Illari’s voice within his lifetime, though there have been priests researching and experimenting for generations to reach Him.

Priests spend their time either performing these experiments, performing services for the community, or teaching anyone who seeks their knowledge. Each god has an individual set of tenets to his or her name, and each priest behaves differently; many of them become quite wealthy from their expertise or services or money taken from the collections of the temple, while some choose or are forced to live a life of poverty and sacrifice.

Building in the Cathedral is very strictly regulated by the government; it must be in some way a religious structure, of a proven religion, and original, or not redundant. There aren’t two temples to the same god in all of the City, save private shrines and anything the residents of the Coffin construct away from the eyes of law.

There are three major religions in the City:


Illari, the One God –
Alternate Names: The Scribe, The Allgod, The True God, He of Fate

-Worshippers-
Royalty: minute/none
Nobility: moderate
Wealthy: high
Honest poor: minute/none
Criminals: moderate
Magi: unknown

Seen from a purely clinical perspective, this is likely what happened when either a trickster or a disgruntled priest decided to create a fictitious god more powerful than the entire pantheon worshiped by most.

The facts, however, are that around three hundred years ago, a priest entered the city with a book, and began quietly spreading the word of Illari, without waging war against the established temples, without incurring the wrath of the priests or royal family. It caught on, especially among the wealthy and affluent.

Fittingly, His temple in the Cathedral dwarfs any temple from the pantheon, due in part to the generous contributions from the followers. The massive structure, fashioned from the stones that make up the cliff on which the rear end of the city rests, is decorated inside and out with gold and jewels. The stone steps, two dozen of them leading to the ornate doors, are habitated constantly by beggars, birds, and a variety of statues of Illari and his most famous followers.

His teachings preach of destiny and obedience. Also known as ‘The Scribe’, Illari is said to have a book in which he has written the entire past and future of the universe, and spends his time watching the present. No one’s actions are said to be able to change the future he has written, but they can fight it all they want. One’s fate in the afterlife is determined not by his or her actions or moral compass, but by their acceptance of their place in life. Those who embrace their lot are rewarded with a place in His eternal court; those who struggle against their natures and place in life are doomed to always be reborn to try again, until they get it right.

He is especially popular among the merchants and the wealthy of the City, the original targets of the unnamed priest who brought the Book (named after the tradition of the City). A few in the nobility of the Court have taken to His word as well, though the royalty regards the entire religion with a sort of bemused tolerance. The people of the Crib have little to no use for His teachings, of course; the idea that they are destined to be exactly as they are isn’t as comforting to them as to those of higher status. Perhaps surprisingly, though, within the last hundred years the various criminals of the Coffin have begun to embrace Illari as well, and there are even rumors of a temple in His honor hidden somewhere in its depths. Of course, the idea that they are destined to be criminals and lawbreakers and are doing the will of their god by embracing that fate wholeheartedly obviously holds some appeal. It’s safe to say that if His word holds true, there will be a great many former residents of the Coffin in his court.


Pegasus Worship –
Alternate Names: Royal Pets, Noble Bestiality (both mockingly)

-Worshippers-
Royalty: very high
Nobility: moderate
Wealthy: low
Honest poor: minute/none
Criminals: minute/none
Magi: unknown

Probably the oldest religion in the City is the worship of the Pegasi that occasionally visit the plateau. From time immemorial it’s been a spectacle and an important event in the eyes of the people who live there. Eventually other gods moved in and the people drew away from the baser animal worship, but the royalty and some of their hangers-on still hold fast to it.

The Pegasus temple is massive, inversely proportional to the size of its following. Gleaming white marble, imported from some vague ‘far away’ since it’s not native to the plateau, make up the structure in the center of the Cathedral, the first building started after the Cathedral was set aside for religious structures. Even so, it took the lifetimes if three rulers to complete, and is still being continuously renovated as age takes its toll on the building. To have a job working on the Pegasus temple is to have a job for life, no matter how short that work may make that life.

The priests are housed inside the temple and serve for life; the positions are hereditary and permanent, as a priest can neither be removed from nor willingly leave the ranks of the priesthood, and almost as prestigious as the royal family itself, though occasionally another can be appointed from outside as the ranks dwindle, to start a new line of them. They begin to learn as children, from their parents and the other adults around them, and only young children of nobles can be given to the temple to be adopted by a childless priest when the numbers fall too low. Both men and women serve, and usually marry only within themselves; if any outsider is romantically taken by a priest or priestess, they are married almost purely in name, for outsiders cannot step foot inside the temple unless royal or accompanied by royalty, or given a special pass as a true worshiper from the ruler him- or herself. Those in service to the Pegasi rarely leave the temple, and if they are married to an outsider they are only allowed one visit per month, for twenty-four hours. As marriage, and loyalty and all other virtues. are taken very seriously by this religion, this leaves the outsider spouse in a romantically and sexually undesirable position. Any children born of such a union are taken to the temple to become priests immediately upon their birth, and never see their other parent again; the arrangement rarely works out happily for anyone.

The Pegasi visit the plateau only once every seven years. The priests of the temple have an elaborate calendar based on this, called the Divine Calendar, and use it regardless of the rest of the City. When the time approaches again, a respected priest or priestess leaves the temple and the City, waiting outside the wall on the edge of the cliff, sometimes for weeks, until the mystical animals arrive. When they do, the entirety of the temple and palace are emptied as the priests and priestesses and their children and every member of the royal family, and every other worshiper, flood outside the City to greet them. Nonworshipers can only watch from atop the wall, if they even know the time has come.

The Pegasi never stay for more than a day, but they are lavished with attention while they do. Despite being wild animals, they are easy to get close to, especially for children, and then women; grown men have a harder time, but it’s not unheard of for a prince to get close enough to touch one. They are completely docile and enjoy being petted and having their wings stroked, though have been known to be startled away early at the sight of weapons, which they seem to recognize, no matter what form they take.

Pegasi are usually white, what would be called albino if not for their predominantly gold eyes, with white feathered wings, though they have been known to vary along the range of normal horses in coloration. Chestnut bodies with black wings have been seen. Palominos are especially beautiful. Black Pegasi are extremely rare, but not unimaginable.

A Pegasus has never been killed in even the memories of the fables; to do so is the most unthinkable and monstrous crime imaginable, even in the minds of nonworshipers. Nor have they been captured or tamed, though in the distant past people were known to try. As stated, they flee at the first sign of a weapon, and stand ultimately for peace and gentleness, and only secondly for divinity and royalty. Anyone who is able to touch a Pegasus considers herself blessed, and will be known for that until they come again. In the eyes of most, it’s a test of virtue; the royalty strive to touch them at each appearance, and by doing so prove their right to rule and their worthiness of the position. It’s nut unheard of for a king or queen to be assassinated within a year of failing to touch a Pegasus at their appearance.

No one knows where they go the rest of their lives, how long they live, or what their life cycles are like; it’s the standing of the priests of the Pegasus that they are in themselves gods that come to bless the City and take the spirits of believers who passed away within the last seven years on their journey with them, and the world will end when they fail to show up. Funerals for believers are very ornate and beautiful, to encourage that spirit to stay near its body until the Pegasi can come again, so that the Pegasi have a reason to come.

However, most, to reconcile the Pegasi with their own beliefs, think them more messengers to the gods of their pantheon, and offer prayers for them to take back when they leave, shouted from the tops of the walls. It’s really impossible to tell if they are listening or not.


THE PANTHEON
The majority of the City worships a variety of gods, over three hundred and seventy at this point; most choose a certain god they have an affinity for and take him or her as their patron. There are a small handful of very widely worshiped gods, though they all have their place.

Tallos –
Domain: Progress, Science
Alternate Names: the Forward-Looking, the Helper, the Learned

-Worshippers-
Royalty: low
Nobility: moderate
Wealthy: moderate
Honest poor: high
Criminals: low
Magi: unknown

All priests, even those of another god, wear the star symbol of Tallos in addition to that of their primary god.

Tallos is the patron of knowledge and progress, and is one of the few gods that his priests have managed to contact; he taught them how to do it, though the method is different for each god, and it is by no means easy. His presence in the City brings solutions to problems and help to the unenlightened.

His temple is the largest of those from the pantheon, always busy with scholars and priests. Occasional members of the royal family with a severe dilemma with visit in an attempt to clear their minds and find the solution.

Eviran –
Domain: Nature (with various children and sub-gods for each aspect of nature)
Alternate Names: the Mother, the Provider, the Fickle (all three major goddesses have ‘fickle’ among their titles, and are sometimes collectively referred to as ‘the Fickle Ones’ or ‘the blessed three’, most often as an oath. ‘Blessed’ in this sense can sometimes be construed as a swear.)

-Worshippers-
Royalty: low
Nobility: moderate
Wealthy: moderate
Honest poor: high
Criminals: low
Magi: unknown

Eviran is shown as an ample woman with deep eyes and masses of brown hair, often naked. She is the mother of all gods and everything in the world, and sees over all aspects of nature through her children and subordinates. Her moods change drastically, quickly, and all do their best not to anger her, though there is a sense that there is little any one person can do to change her mind.

Her symbol is a vague, exaggerated female form.

Her temple is medium sized, the building itself small but surrounded by a large park that strives to contain every element. Her priests and priestesses, equal in number, are more caretakers of nature than people, and tend to the gardens rather than to their worshipers.

Charn –
Domain: Darkness, Stealth
Alternate Names: the Masked, Lightstep

-Worshippers-
Royalty: low
Nobility: low
Wealthy: low
Honest poor: low
Criminals: high
Magi: unknown

Charn is actually a lesser god in the service of Isarin the Dark, a powerful god of chaos and destruction, but his master has fallen out of favor and left Charn as the primary dark god, patron of thieves and criminals and little more.

He is shown as a slight man shrouded in darkness, and his face is never seen. His symbol is a mask, but few of his adherents openly wear it.

His temple is small and dark, and mostly located underground. There is only one priest of Charn at any given time, in the cathedral, though it’s likely there are one or more illicit temples in the Coffin.

Seiayo –
Domain: Healing, Life, Death
Alternate Names: the Balance, the Fickle

-Worshippers-
Royalty: moderate
Nobility: moderate
Wealthy: moderate
Honest poor: high
Criminals: moderate
Magi: unknown

An eternally silent goddess with an impassive pale face, Seiayo has the powers of life and death in her hands. It’s said that if she touches you with the left, you will be healed and live; with the right, she ends your pain and your life.

Everyone worships her to some degree; failing to show deference to the goddess of Life and Death is a foolish move few are prepared to take.

She is shown as a tall woman, deathly pale with white hair and equally white clothes, never with an expression on her face or a voice to her lips. Some pictures erase her mouth altogether. Her symbol is a hand; which hand it is depends on the path of her follower.

Her temple is large, but not ostentatious. Her priestesses and few priests are the only real healers in the City, and they are the only ones allowed to practice outside of the Cathedral. They work in a combination of normal medical methods and calling on her not inconsiderable strength through prayer and meditation. Her servants are not allowed to speak, but rather learn an esoteric sign language and usually have an interpreter that accompanies them at all times. Priestesses of the Left Hand are called upon to heal; Priestesses of the Right hand are called usually after all else has failed, to give the wounded or dying person a merciful and dignified death. This is of course sometimes used as a method of murder or assassination, by poisoning the intended victim and then calling the Right Hand to ‘put them out of their misery’.

He’n –
Domain: Work, Integrity, Physical Labor
Alternate Names: the Strong, the Rock

-Worshippers-
Royalty: minute/none
Nobility: minute/none
Wealthy: minute/none
Honest poor: high
Criminals: low
Magi: unknown

Sensible, practical, humble, strong, and hardworking, He’n is worshiped primarily among the working poor, those who work fields, build houses, maintain walls, and the various other menial tasks that occupy most of the populace.

He is shown as a tall, swarthy, muscled man, usually naked or half naked. His symbol is a hammer.

His temple is a simple wooden building, not overly large, in a back street in the Cathedral.

Kar –
Domain: War, Violence
Alternate Names: the Bloody

-Worshippers-
Royalty: minute/none
Nobility: low
Wealthy: low
Honest poor: moderate
Criminals: moderate
Magi: unknown

Kar is a strong, fiery-tempered, heavy-handed god from a distant land that grew in popularity quickly. He is something of a combination of all the war gods before him, and is regarded as the most powerful of them.

For the lower classes, violence is a way of life, and all show him respect. The royalty, who do not wage war and have never suffered or acted out a rebellion, have little use for him. He is highly worshiped by soldiers and guards; there are always guards in armor outside his blunt stone temple in the Cathedral. It is a special privilege for city guards to be allowed to guard their temple. People often visit the temple to learn another art of war or to train in one they already know, or to duel with someone who has wronged them, when simple murder won’t do.

Amin –
Domain: Art, Beauty, Romance
Alternate Names: the Lovely, the Fickle

-Worshippers-
Royalty: moderate
Nobility: moderate
Wealthy: moderate
Honest poor: moderate
Criminals: low
Magi: unknown

Far from a gentle goddess, Amin is both the most beautiful and the most fiery of them. She is a patron of artists and lovers, and is easily offended, enough to end their inspiration or their romance. She is often praised, and more loudly cursed.

Her symbol is a rose.

Her temple is as beautiful as she, and only the most attractive of women are allowed into her priestesses (she has no priests). They often perform marriages and divorces, and any other counseling, as well as selling paintings and decorations. All priestesses of Amin are as skilled in some art as they are beautiful.

Series NavigationThe CityThe City and: Technology

Leave a Reply

  

  

  

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>