Nessrassian, or the Faith of Nessa, is the religion mostly followed by the Slizzar of Hadaria. This form of worship was already established by the time of the Allar’s arrival and continues to be the main religion of the Slizzar to present day, as Slizzar tend to be very resilient against religious conversion due to their life philosophies. The Faith of Nessa is centered around the personification and deification of the Deep Sea Serpents that live in the oceans around and in Hadaria, that were occasionally spotted on the surface. The Nessa faith has known many great “Slithering Ages”, which have occurred at various times throughout the history of the Slizzar with the last one ending during the Chrysant War. That final period in particular was dominated by the Slizzar belief that their gods had come to deliver them to the throne of the world, only for that dream to fall apart in the face of the Regalian Empire. Today, as a result of that fall, the faith of Nessa is a small, almost cult-sized Religion, owing largely to the fact that there are very few Slizzar left on Aloria.
Nessrassian began some centuries ago, likely emerging around the same time the Slizzar emerged or reached Hadaria or more likely Hadar. Details of such an era are unbelievably scarce, as most of Slizzar history has been lost to the collapse of the Essa Empire in addition to the heavily individualistic and downright selfish attitudes the Race possessed for millennia. What is certain, is that by the Awakening of the Altalar people, the Slizzar had begun to worship the Deep Sea Serpents and they were in their First Slithering Age. This is known from Altalar writings, which mention Talea’s court meeting an array of “colorful foreign beasts with bodies not dissimilar from serpents” that had been located in the south. The powerful mage empress supposedly even visited Hadar, and some believe that if this is true, it explains the obsession the Altalar had later on with the region, as they tried to follow in the footsteps of their unofficial ninth goddess. Whatever the truth, the worship was definitely present later when the Altalar annexed Hadaria as their own, though the Religion served to help destabilize the region’s governance and even governance of nearby mainland Daen principalities as the Slizzar manipulated and seduced, as was their way and their form of worship to the Deep Sea Serpents. The arrival of the Nelfin to the region marked the Second Slithering Age. The faith would go on to survive the Altalar departure, for those Slizzar still on the mainland used their skills to continue worship, but also back in their homeland as the Slizzar returned to their former ways spread out across their humid homeland. This began the Third Slithering Age, commonly seen as the worst of them all as little activity took place, with few people to manipulate.
The arrival of the Allar helped the Slizzar enormously, and through their manipulations, their games began again with the Fourth Slithering Age. Additionally, the faith took on other forms of worship such as sacrifice, offerings, and festivals as it was made to appeal to the Allar population who largely also came to worship the Deep Sea Serpents. It was mostly for the benefit of the Allar though, and the Slizzar continued to follow the older “purer” methods. By 250 AC, the Faith of Nessa held enough sway that even Cro- and Es-Allar had been turned toward it and charismatic cult-leader Miko Missa promptly began to use this to her advantage. While many Slizzar flocked to her cult in what ultimately became known as the Sixth Slithering Age, Allar also joined her ranks and her partnership with the Cro-Allar Llsszz-arossa cemented such a bond even further. But then came the Chrysant War, and it all unravelled. Slizzar temples and religious sites were destroyed by Regalians in the first wave of anti-Nessa action and the Religion suffered another serious blow when Miko Missa was executed and her cult, which had the capacity to utilize powerful, Deep Sea Serpent summoning magics, was annihilated along with this knowledge. Then the second wave came, when the Allar reaffirmed their belief in The Great Alchzech but also fully unleashed their hatred on the Slizzar Race, destroying or ruining even more religious sites, and fully pushing Nessrassian worship to the fringes of their society. In the end, only the holy Slizzar city of Ssasrakand remains fully pious to their faith. Through the survival of the city, the Faith of Ness remained alive, but also in Slizzar long at home in distant areas of Aloria. In the decade since the end of the Chrysant War, Nessrassian has begun to morph, and it has become known as the Seventh Slithering Age. Realizing that their Race is, for now, largely unable to maintain their worship properly, Slizzar have quietly begun to recruit and seduce Humans into Nessa cults, so that even if they somehow fade, the worship to the great and powerful Deep Sea Serpents will endure.
The Faith of Nessa is based around a pantheon of five mythologized Deep Sea Serpents. The Slizzar worship them as gods, believing that their size is a definition of divinity and their serpentine physical appearance links them to the Slizzar. Indeed, the Slizzar actually believe themselves to be a largely accidental creation in Nessrassian creation mythology that involved the Deep Sea Serpents. These snake gods are referred to as “Ssepston” and are depicted as immortal, though they die often and are reborn. None of the gods represent overt kindness, honor, or virtues that moral individuals would otherwise view as positive. In the faith of Nessa it is believed that these virtues are weaknesses and the only measure of success is climbing to the top of the food chain with traditionally Slizzarin ways. Yet, the Ssepston also represent kindness and good things among the Slizzar people, teaching them moderation in their ways and intelligent use of their talents. Aside from the core tenets of each Ssepston, one’s own beliefs are free to be added into the Nessrassian narrative, with some believing in other deities (but also their vast inferiority to the Ssepston) or believing that all other gods are false compared to the true divinity of the Deep Sea Serpents.
- The Snake of Pride, Isskarno:
- Isskarno is seen as the largest Deep Sea Serpent, black scaled with red eyes and a large spiked crown on his head. Isskarno professes the need for Slizzar to always believe in their superiority over others and to strive to become the top of everything. Isskarno is often depicted eating the other Ssepston to make himself bigger or to become the only snake god. In traditional folklore, it is believed that Isskarno was the first and only Ssepston at one time that ate all the other snake gods. Then through the intervention of Ssaliden, the eaten snake gods were reborn as godlike beings. Ever since, Isskarno tries to eat them again to revert this birth of the other gods. Occasionally he succeeds, however, they are always reborn by the will of Ssaliden. Despite the entitlement that is seen in Isskarno, he is also revered as the vigilant guardian, an unwilling hero trying to undo the world of wrongs.
- The Snake of Greed, Ssaliden:
- Ssaliden is seen as the smallest Deep Sea Serpent, green scaled with yellow eyes and stripes across her back. Ssaliden professes the need for Slizzar to take what belongs to them and more. Ssailden is often depicted stealing things from the other snake gods, more specifically Isskarno. In folklore, it is believed that when all the Ssepston were eaten by Isskarno, Ssaliden managed to steal a part of Isskarno’s godhood and then granted it onto the other sea serpents. Despite Ssaliden’s greed, she is also seen as charitable, as she often grants her stolen things to others around her.
- The Snake of Vanity, Karidssa:
- Karidssa is seen as the most elegant Deep Sea Serpent, with vibrant crimson scales, red eyes, and long tendrils flowing from her crown. Karidssa professes the need for Slizzar to always look the best and be the most beautiful creature in existence. Karidssa is often depicted charming or distracting Isskarno from eating or from his possessions. It is often said that Karidssa was the one who distracted Isskarno during his digestion, allowing Ssaliden to steal part of his godhood and grant it to the sea serpents in his stomach. When she was reborn, she finally also gave godhood to Karidssa, making her the only Goddess granted divinity outside of Isskarno’s stomach. Despite Karidssa’s vanity, she is capable of acts of great selflessness, and in a way, represents the innocent maiden.
- The Snake of Betrayal, Kakonissa:
- Kakonissa is seen as the most mysterious Deep Sea Serpent, white scaled with solid black eyes. He has a single black stripe running from his nose to his tail along his back. Kakonissa professes the need for Slizzar to backstab, betray, and plot their way to power. Kakonissa is often depicted betraying the other sea serpents to Isskarno as Kakonissa led Isskarno to them, allowing him to eat them. Unfortunately, Kakonissa was also eaten by Isskarno. Kakonissa then told Ssaliden how to steal the divinity of Isskarno, which she proceeded to do. Despite Kakonissa’s treasonous nature, he is often depicted as a patron of wisdom and learning as well.
- The Snake of Power, Vailess:
- Vailess is seen as the most passive Deep Sea Serpent, blue scaled with solid white eyes and long thin strands of hair flowing from her crown. Vailess professes the need for Slizzar to control the minds of others, to bend the free will of nature to their own. Vailess is the magical snake and also the patron of Slizzar mages. Vailess was one of the snakes eaten by Isskarno, and reborn divine, though she has a surprisingly absent role in the whole tale of divinity. It is heavily implied by folklore that Vailess was actually the snake that orchestrated the entire event, whispered secrets to Isskarno that made him want to become the only sea serpent, nudged Kakonissa to betray the locations of the other snakes, and orchestrated the actions of Karidssa and Ssaliden. Because of this, Vailess is often worshipped as the most important Ssepston, embodying the pinnacle of Slizzar ambitions. Despite Vailess’s ability to control the minds of others, she always does right by them and never abuses her power, therefore also embodying justice.
- Various (Now Lost):
- At the height of Nessrassian, any Deep Sea Serpent or even Dragon bone known to exist was considered a sacred artifact. In the early years, these were all stored in locations scattered across Hadaria, but in the wake of the unification efforts of the Essa Empire, they were all moved to Ssasrakand for storage in the vast temple. There were also some objects made of Deep Sea Serpent scales, though most were stored away unaltered. Others were kept by Cro-Allar and major Slizzar alike as symbols of personal power. After the Chrysant War, however, the bombardment of Ssasrakand is thought to have destroyed almost all of these relics, while those fragments kept by the upper class of the Essa Empire were almost all confiscated by the Regalian Empire. Recently, the sunken bones of Deep Sea Serpents did arise to the surface, but attached to collosol lethal water-bound Bone Horrors. Many of these creatures have now escaped back to the depths after assaulting various major ports in the region of Hadar and Teled Methen during the Bone Horror Crisis.
Slizzar don’t formally pray, worship or even offer up sacrifices to their gods like the other Races do. Instead, they worship their gods through their actions and their ambition. Over the course of a Slizzar’s life, they choose a specific deity as their prime Ssepston, after which they receive a mask that embodies that Ssepston. This mask is usually adorned with the colors of a specific sea serpent and other various decorations to embody them. Then, when the Slizzar engages in acts which are glorified by their Ssepston, these acts are seen as homage to that god, bringing the Slizzar closer to divinity. Ultimately, the Slizzar believe that if their Race has ascended enough to the image of the snake gods, the Ssepston will come to the surface and herald the age of Slizzar domination. Additionally, worship of this faith is often individual and it is extremely rare for Slizzar to gather for worship. The only time that the Slizzar do gather, however, is during the solar eclipse that occurs every January 5th, often being total or very close to it. The Slizzar calendar believes a new year starts after a solar eclipse, as it is when Isskarno consumes the other four Ssepston, only to have them reborn, heralding the new year. During the day of the solar eclipse, thousands of Slizzar come together at Ssasrakand and sing in a melodic, angelic harmony to the Deep Sea Serpents in an attempt to summon them again as Miko Missa and her cult once did. The event has been further accentuated by physical performances underwater as this singing takes place, reenacting the consuming and then rebirth of the Ssepston in a ritual seeking to rebirth the Slizzar connection to their gods. This, however, fails every time, and so the ritual has simply become a cultural tradition and religious celebration. It is followed by an afternoon and evening of celebration in the city, which is part of the wider celebrations Slizzar partake in during the month of January.
- The formal symbols of the Faith of Nessa are usually snakes, fully or partially eclipsed suns, or a sun with a snake’s tail coiled around it. Most of the Nessian symbols are simple and often misunderstood to be simple jewelry, so it is not uncommon for Regalians to walk around with Nessrassian worship symbols and not know it.
- While the Allar of the immediate region around Ssasrakand are aware of the worship that takes place there once a year, the only attempt to disrupt the event (made in 300 AC) left most of the Allar dead, with only one Slizzar wounded as devoted bodyguards and servants aided the Slizzar in fighting off the attempted disruption.