Cult of Evolution
The Cult of Evolution is a quasi-religion founded around the principles of forced evolution, societary advancement through mutations, and the self-betterment by bargaining with Void Essences and Forces and sometimes even Exist Essences and Forces to make one's self stronger, smarter and longer living. the Cult of Evolution is very similar to worshipping the Void, but falls more in line with what is publicly appealing as a religion, capable of gaining followers among the normal faithful people who are living a hard life, instead of just the fringes of society and what Ailor traditionally consider the "evil" Races. In principle, the Cult of Evolution believes the same core concepts as the Faith of the Dark Ancients, but goes about this in very different ways, and is considered a far more reasonable alternative than the classically evil-perceived Void worship. It is a relatively modern religion, coinciding with the rise of the Horopadosi Sect in Unionism, the two being very strongly related and even made by the same author. Devotion to the Void is mostly found among the Kathar, while the Cult of Evolution is mostly found among Altalar and Ailor.
Devotion to the Void had long existed in the bellows of the Regalian Empire, interfacing on occasion with Unionist Sects and inquisitorial forces. By far, the Faith of the Dark Ancients was deemed an "evil" faith, and remains classified as such to this day, even with expanded religious freedoms, because that faith, in particular, proposes and glorifies very violent and depraved activities. The Etosian Reverend Horopados however argued in many thesis that Ailorkind was on the backfoot with many Races, despite their mental fortitude and spiritual superiority. He argued that it could not be denied that the Eronidas were stronger, the Altalar more arcane gifted, and the Qadir more in tune with the spiritual world around them, while Asha could run faster, and Mai-Allar could swim faster. Indeed, Horopados was of the opinion that fire ought to be fought with fire, and so instead of destroying the Void, he proposed selectively picking apart all that constituted the Void, and extracting only the goods parts that could be controlled by Ailor will of mind, and re-purposed to initiate a new progress and a new evolution of Ailorkind into better servants, warriors, and thinkers for the Unionist faith. By the time Horopados died in 173 AC, his scriptures were translated from Etosian soil to Regalia, where they long languished in obscurity until around 251 AC when Url started increasing in numbers in the capital of the Regalian Empire.
With more and more written essays surfacing on the benefits of Symbiosis for the Regalian Military, Horopados's writings were re-examined. A notable break with the Horopadosi Sect occured in 263 AC when Deacon (or Reverend) Hippandreos of Etosil, who was residing in Regalia at the time, unleashed his thesis on the true nature of evolution, essentially giving rise to the first concepts of the Cult of Evolution. He converted away from Unionism, adopting still to adhere to the spiritual and secular intent of Unionism and Ailor supremacy, but instead followed what he more tangibly saw as the Void Beings of Supreme Power. It is notable to say that the Cult of Evolution never acknowledges their Beings of Supreme Power as gods per se, but may sometimes shorten that term to "god" for the sake of communication. Hippandreos was declared a heretic by the Crimson Inquisition at the time, and would never live to see his cult grow and become even legal in the eyes of the Regalian Law. Hippandreos was burned at the stake by the Crimson Inquisition in 292 AC during a dissenter purge of the lower slums of the city, though his cult continued to live on without him, even if just as a handful of people.
The final break of the Cult of Evolution was around the official adaptation of the Melennar Confessions into Regalian Law, and the subsequent discovery and revelation of the 10th Creed. With the way cleared for the Evolution Cultists to legally spread their faith and obey its tenets as set out by Hippandreos built upon the work of Horopados, the cult multiplied in numbers quickly, until covering several thousand worshipers, with at least one shrine in the city dedicated to the pantheon of Beings of Supreme Power. Evolution Cultists are still somewhat reviled by those of other faiths, purely because of the common ancestry of the Faith of the Dark Ancients, and it is true that many Cultists are still somewhat unhinged and violent, but by far the majority of their members are very normal people who believe very strongly in the ideals of self-improvement and enhancement through whatever means they can get their hands on.
- The central belief of Evolution Cultism is self-betterment, to become stronger, smarter, faster and more capable, and to purge any weakness from the self.
- Evolution Cultists engage in a variety of meditation and self-analysis to discover their personal weaknesses, and lay them bare for all to judge and see.
- Evolution Cultists seek out arcane and occult forces in an attempt to strike bargains for self-betterment and enhancement, while reducing the downsides.
- Evolution Cultists have been known to seek out Mages, but also Mutants, Arken and even Vampires, though the latter with extreme caution.
- Afflictions that alter the mind of Evolution Cultists are still very illegal. It is heretical in their faith to surrender one's mind to affliction or others.
- Url are held to a high standard by Evolution Cultists, but also a developmentally dead end, because Url cannot be affected by further Void Essence.
- Evolution Cultists form cults around their favored deity, and only have nominal alliances with other cults of the same faith. It lacks priests.
- Evolution Cultists do however have public speakers, and every Cult generally has a "Beacon", who professes the will of the Being of Supreme Power they worship.
- Evolution Cultists are cautious with Magic, but generally well disposed towards it. Most of their religion is focused around the physical, not mental and arcane.
- Evolution Cultists are libertarian in nature, believing in free will and free spirit, against censorship, and against inhibitions to their personal self-gratification.
- Evolution Cultists can as such sometimes be seen as debauched, however they do have morals and restraint, and are good at practicing it in public with poise and grace.
- Evolution Cultists usually keep a statue of their Being of Supreme Power in their house with candles to pray for blessings to, and offer animal blood in bowls to.
- Evolution Cultists can generally worship all Beings of Supreme Power, but tend to stick one single main Being, and join a pre-existing or found a new Cult for them.
While the Faith of the Dark Ancients has a theoretical infinite pantheon of Gods with a main roster of 7 Void Gods, the Cult of Evolution only has 8 Beings of Supreme Power, and while there is some overlap with the Void Gods from Ancientism, they are not always the same. Even when they are the same, their tactics and themes often differ, so the Faith of the Dark Ancients and the Cult of Evolution are entirely incompatible, Evolution Cultists believe Ancient Worshipers are insane and follow a corrupted version of their self-betterment faith that will lead to apocalypse, while Ancient Worshipers believe Evolution Cultists to be weak-minded, only accepting a watered down version of their true faith and deserving of being purged from the world.
- Herpaal, The Bleeding Crown:
- The Bleeding Crown represents the Supreme Being of Power of Rule, power, domination and control. As its name implies, the Bleeding Crown is often depicted as a crown covered in blood. It is also represented as a skeletal spirit whose crown is constantly leaking blood. The Bleeding Crown is the so called "Blood Lord", because he stands for the self-improvement and betterment through the blood of others. Some misinterpret this as proposing Vampirism, but this is in fact far from the truth. Herpaal in fact hates Vampires as the "thieves of power", and proposes their utter eradication. What Herpaal instead wants its followers to do, is to absorb the power of blood of others into themselves, believing that the power of others and individuals is carried in their blood. This usually involves extracting a (reasonable) amount of blood from a willing person who is willing to share, and creating a ritual of offering, before the consuming of wine with 3 droplets of the blood in it as part of the ritual. The blood must never be acquired forcefully, and must never be consumed more than the 3 droplets, after which a rag is soaked in the blood, and then burned on an open fire. Herpaal worshipers are at the cutting edge of Hemathurgy, the art of blood sciences, but anything major has yet to be discovered. Still, there are rumors that some Herpaal worshipers are on the trail of the secret Genos-splicer magics of the early Avanthar, to try and reverse engineer their techniques to achieve new outcomes.
- Nirvaan, The Verdant Ember:
- The Verdant Ember represents the Supreme Being of Power of Nature, wild creatures and the animal kingdom as a whole. The Verdant Ember is usually represented like a mangled rose bush twisted and piercing a humanoid skeleton as if it has grown from its rib cage, but then tore it to death with its thorns from the inside. The Verdant Ember proposes that self-betterment can only come through embrace of nature, and it should as such not come as a surprise that those who worship Nirvaan usually end up becoming Url. By far, Nirvaan's worshipers are largely made up of Url, some of whom even become "Nirvaan's Chosen", which are a famous band of Evolution Cultist Url warriors who consider themselves the royal guard of Nirvaan and bring animal offers to her in sacrifice. Nirvaan worshipers build great wicker men in the woods, setting them alight while dancing and praying around it with wicker men face masks, either conformed to the Url's skull, or shaped like a bison's skull and affixed to an Ailor head. Nirvaan also praise the Oorl Worm with almost fanatic intent, and believe that by adopting the strength of nature's wild animal predators, that Ailor can become the ultimate beings on Aloria.
- Abbados, The Thriving Beast:
- Abbados, The Thriving Beast, The Savage, is the Supreme Being of Power of Lineage, descendants, relations and fertility. This Supreme Being of Power does not have a set appearance, every person may depict them in their own way It usually is consistently a male figure (though females may also be found), with a strong muscular body, red crimson skin, a Direwolf's skull as a head, the skull of which is also covered in Void Script. The Thriving Beast is said to be of an "intoxicating nature", drawing out all the worst and repressed desires in those who worship this Supreme Being. Abbados stands for the belief in self-betterment through selective copulation, giving birth to a stronger lineage through selection and careful mating. Being that, Abbados also believes in the strength of fertility and virility, this being where Abbados is usually seen as the more debauched of Supreme Beings since many of his depictions are in various states of undress. Abbados is never directly worshiped, instead, a statue of this Supreme Being is positioned in a bedroom, usually at a convenient vantage point from where it can see anything happening in the room. Besides the obvious carnal overtures of this Supreme Being, other aspects of Abbados include adopting strong and powerful individuals, and growing a large and capable family of driven individuals, one of the few wholesome aspects of this Supreme Being. Abbados is also popular among the city's courtesans and prostitutes, which should not come as a surprise.
- Odella, The Mother:
- The Mother is frequently mistaken for the spiritual female representation of Priscelle Unionism's Spirit worship, in that she appears just like a normal woman clutching her hair to cover her modesty. The Mother is the Supreme Being of Power of Mental Fortitude, Intelligence and Wit. Her realm is that of books, but also more arcane methods of intellect injection through artifacts, mutations, special Abilities, and pacts with Void beings for more knowledge. Odella proposes that physical progress is not the best way to self-improve, but rather mental strengthening. Many of her worshipers are Mages and Sorcerers, though those seeking the forbidden and occult arcane knowledge might also find her to be a mother of knowledge and learning, one who will foster their hunger for the academic sciences, but also unlock the way to the more unknown and mysterious arts of mental enhancement. Odella is also popular among some Qadir who have started experimenting with mind-infused Clockwork, trying to trap Soul Essence in Qatil's loaded into Mind-Loaders which then transfers memories of the dead to the Qadir so they can learn more. Nothing has yet been fully tested without side-effects and malfunctions, but some promising progress has been made.
- Woldmar, The Golden Scourge:
- The Golden Scourge is another unusual Supreme Being of Power, in that self-betterment for Woldmar does not come through physical or mental, but rather through financial gain. Woldmar is a god that proposes cheating your way to wealth, and then using it to self-enhance and improve by buying the most expensive gear money can buy is the true way to power, and is as such at the same time the most vice-prone of the Evolution Cultist Beings, but also the least mutation-prone. Woldmar worshipers often completely avoid any arcane or occult powers, instead strongly focusing on their skills to cheat with coins and swindle with money, while also using a quicksilver tongue to get the best deals and the best cuts from enterprise. Woldmar worshipers tend to take the ban on mental affection a bit more loosely than the others. Among Woldmar cultists, using Slizzar to deceive others, as well as using mind-altering drugs on others is fully permitted and even encouraged, while mind-altering Artifacts of Greed are also fully allowed, despite their mental effects being clearly noticeable on their owners.
- Anu, The Hubris Scorned:
- The Hubris Scorned is the Being of Supreme Power of self-realization, self-manifestation, and self-exploration. Hubris Scorned worshipers do not have any depictions of their Being of Supreme Power, besides a tattoo that they apply from the base of their neck, flowing along their head to their forehead. It should come as no surprise as such that many who worship Anu are in fact bald. They also practice a form of asceticism, being diametrically opposed to Woldmar who worships ownership and materialism. Anu worshipers spend most of their time in meditation and self-analysis. They also have somewhat looser rules with regards to mind altering drugs only, and only used when meditating to achieve clearer visions from Anu. Anu worshipers are also immensely pacifist, as it is their belief that violence in itself is a flaw created by the living state of Aloria, and that violence itself is not something the Void engages in unless prompted, as such opting to cut this entire aspect of them out of their lives. Any worshipers also have the highest quantity of visual mutations on average, save for preserving the tattoo spanning from their neck to their forehead, and they also frequently get mutation cleansings and re-mutated with other types of mutations. A mutation to an Anu worshiper is a new lens through which to examine the self, so they frequently mutate themselves and then ask themselves "What have I become now, How can I be improved now?".
- Gaarl, The Cloud Chaser:
- The Cloud Chaser is the Being of Supreme Power of the Arken, and other divine Void beings. While other Supreme Beings of Power can occasionally interact with Arken, Gaarl specifically proposes that the Arken are the right way to power, and that one should always endeavor to seek out Arken with the intent of striking deals to self-improve and remove weaknesses. Arken are immensely difficult to find and even more difficult to convince, therefore Gaarl is also a Being of persistence, dedication, patience and never surrendering to setbacks. Gaarl believes in trying until one's entire life is spent, and never giving up. Some of the other cults see Gaarl worshipers as "try-harders" or those who are too desperate for a gift that will never come. Ironically however, those Gaarl worshipers that do end up succeeding end up with Arken gifts, which in terms of providing power for self-enhancement are the cream of the crop. Gaarl is frequently depicted as a young boy with a slingshot, aimed nowhere in particular, but in the process of taking a shot. He is usually accompanied by a trusty hound called Lot, who is the physical embodiment of Gaarl's loyalty and dedication.
- Draga Ifrit, The Thousand Scales:
- The Thousand Scales is the Being of Supreme Power of the Revenge of the Dragons, all Primal things, and Primal beings. Draga Ifrit's exact identity is a bit unclear, because there are conflicting theories. There are those that believe Draga Ifrit is a distinct Supreme Power with no connection to the Dragons. There are also those that believe Draga Ifrit is the Void name of Ruunh who was touched by the Void and became a Supreme Being by being ascended. And finally, there are those that believe Draga Ifrit is Ruunh's soul trapped in the Void and used to create a split-version of him in Aloria. Either way, worshipers of Draga Ifrit are fanatic supporters of the idea of divine vengeance and revenge, and the power acquired through them. The basis of their quest for power begins at a wrongdoing (either towards them or others) and their pledge to seek revenge. It is important to make the distinction here that Draga Ifrit worshipers do not act out of a perceived sense of justice, just out of a petty desire to get back at someone for perceived slights. Once revenge and vengeance has been sated, the act is offered up to Draga Ifrit, who is believed to bless the winner with a piece of the power of the person who they enacted their vengeance upon. Those that chain their vengeance onto others are believed to receive additional blessings and power from the Dragon(s), which they consider more tangibly powerful than the other Supreme Powers. Draga Ifrit worshipers are as such in a bit of an awkward spot, since the other Cults don't normally like them, and they are generally also sidelined by Dragon Worshipers for not believing the correct version of Dragon Dogma. Still, Draga Ifrit worshipers end up gravitating near and around Dragon Worshipers largely because their goals tend to align: Those that worship Draga Ifrit believe in the blessings of the Dragons and body-altering powers of Dragons. Draga Ifrit is generally depicted as a jet black statue of a Dragon that is polished to reflection, surrounded by candles. Worship takes place through imitating Dragons, whether that is by attempting to gain a Draconic tail, wings, scales, or plain tattooing said scales on their body. Songaskians have a special place among Draga Ifrit worshipers, for looking much like their deity in Ancient Form, and so Draga Ifrit worship is also quite popular among Songaskians in Regalia who have turned away from Shambala. It should be noted that the act of imitation of Dragons is considered taboo among Dragon Worshipers, so Draga Ifrit worshipers who seek to be compatible with Dragon Worshipers often avoid the physical renditions and seek out more subtle powers.
- The Cult of Evolution has rapidly been appropriating the members of the Faith of Dark Ancients, namely because it is much more legal and socially acceptable, as well as being more in line with what a normal person would morally be willing to do.
- The Cult of Evolution spread from Ailor to other Races, there is however no particular one it praises as better or best. It acknowledges flaws and room for improvement for all.
- The Cult of Evolution's view on anti-mind alteration is extreme to the point of having parallels with the inquisition. Evolution Cultists have internally banned all opiates, mind-altering substances, and have a particular hatred for Slizzar who are known to mess with one's ability to think properly, as well as Lexxon Ailor.
- Evolution Cultists intensely despise Dragon Worshipers (aside from Draga Ifrit worshipers) as well as Dragons themselves, from the moment it came out that Dragons could mind-enslave Archbloods and other normal people at a whim.