Unionism: Difference between revisions
No edit summary
mNo edit summary
|Line 3:||Line 3:|
|pronunciation = Yoon-yen-is-m
|pronunciation = Yoon-yen-is-m
|origins = Emperor [[Theomar]]
|origins = Emperor [[Theomar]]
|deities = The Everwatcher
* [[Evintarian Unionism]] Schism
* [[Evintarian Unionism]] Schism
* [[Emended Unionism]] Schism
* [[Emended Unionism]] Schism
Revision as of 20:53, 1 August 2022
|The Everwatcher and various other Gods and Goddesses|
The origins of Unionism are well recorded as it is one of the youngest religions in the world. Unionism was originally founded as an Ailor-only religion by the prophet Emperor Theomar I Ivrae-Kade, of the Regalian Empire following its founding. The prophet spoke about a divine entity called the Everwatcher contacting him in a series of visions, before appearing to him in person, to speak to him about the fate of all living things under the stewardship of the Ailor Race. Emperor Theomar then wrote the holy chronicle called the Creed, which acts like holy scriptures, containing all the religious laws and concepts dear to Unionism. Following the prophet’s death, it was ordained that the Everwatcher would select Emperors of Regalia as its Vessel through which it would speak and guide destiny. Each successive Emperor has made small and large changes to Unionist doctrine by editing parts of the Creed, meaning this holy scripture ended up being a document that evolved as time passed. The core concept of an Ailor-dominant world eventually made way for the concept of a Regalia-dominant world, inclusive of all other Races and creating a more acceptable secular basis for the religion. Unionism is fairly unique in comparison to other religions, in that it suffered several schisms, major events of theological conflict between its worshipers that resulted in the community splitting each time. As such, there are 4 distinct Unionist beliefs now: Dogmatic, Evintarian, Emended and Vultragon. Each of these have their own structures, beliefs, and hierarchy, though all invariably worship the Everwatcher, and work towards a common goal, of Regalian hegemony and rule over all the world and its people and for the Emperor of Man to become the Emperor of All.
The Evintarian Schism occured directly after the death of the prophet Theomar, when the Concilly Council convened to discuss the matter of the succession. Several Concilly members had dabbled into Magic already, and more of them were of the opinion that Magic could be used to advance Humanity by using it. The hardliner Dogmatic Councillors however felt that Theomar’s preaching on the purity of the soul proved that Magic was a corruption that should be guarded against. The Schism occured when the hardliners broke off the Conclave and started hunting down Magic-users, turning the Empire distinctly anti-Occult. The Evintarian (named after their preacher Horopados Evinter), fled to Etosil and seceded from the Empire. They were later re-integrated into the Empire, but remain religiously separate. And have developed a more pro-Occult and evolution-oriented view of Unionism called Evintarian Unionism. There remains a lot of bad blood between the Evintarian and Dogmatic Unionists because of the religious violence between the two over the centuries.
The Vultragon Schism occured regionally in the very south of the Regalian Archipelago, and was triggered by the arrival of Dragons in the Empire, but was already building for a long time because of resentment against the aristocracy and the ruling classes abusing their power. Vultragon Unionism formally split when the Celates of Vultaro and Montania declared apostasy from the Concilly Council. Instead, the Council was locally disbanded, and a single figurehead was chosen Supremoclast by vote from the Celates. Vultragon Unionism diverges from Dogmatic and Evintarian Unionism in that it takes a very critical approach to Unionism where asking questions and being critical of religious dogma is encouraged, something the other Councils consider heresy. Vultragon Unionism as such is a much more science and fact oriented faith where spirituality and natural science often blur together. For a while Vultragon Unionism rejected the Divine Beings, but eventually it adopted the Emended Divine Beings and restored the Dogmatic Divine Beings as canon, though with a twist. Because of its inherently critical nature, Vultragon Unionism is not well liked by the other religious schisms of Unionism.
The Emended Schism has a somewhat more staggered appearance, in that it did not come about in just a single schism. Originally, Emended Unionism was Dogartan Unionism, which was a very small schism of Anglian preachers who rejected the wealth of the Evintarian and Unionist Councils. Dogartan celate eventually came to espouse the virtues of asceticism and poverty, and rejected a formalized religious hierarchy, though were largely still in line with Dogmatic tenets. In more recent years, the Dogartan celates have developed new theological arguments heavily rejecting Ivrae-Sange legitimacy and establishing the Emended Divine Beings as their true version of Canon, claiming that the Ivrae dynasty was so incompetent that by their incompetence, they admitted to being usurpers of the true Vessels. Emended Unionism still upholds that Theomar was the prophet, but claims he was never the first Vessel.
Unionism is a religion centered around the tenets of devotion, piety, obedience and ambition, to live by the example of virtuous forebears. Unionism is an organized religion with a centralized priesthood and structure, though each schismatic group is different. Because each group has different core concepts and tenets, each of them will be discussed on a separate page.
- Bravery: Unionism requires that all Unionists show bravery in the face of demons, adversity and the natural vices that all living things are born with.
- Calm: Unionism requires that all Unionists remain civil with one another and show kindness even when cruelty and aggression is inflicted on them.
- Chaste: Unionism requires that sexual relations happen only in wedlock, and only in a monogamous sense. Adultery is strictly a sin.
- Ambition: Unionism requires that all Unionists contribute no matter how big or small, to the great dominance of the Regalian Empire.
- Diligence: Unionism requires that those with merit and skill are rewarded and raised to better positions of power to reward their duty to the Empire.
- Forgiving: Unionism requires that all Unionists are forgiving and do not relent to the vices of revenge and pettiness for they are barbaric and banal.
- Charity: Unionism requires that all Unionists create equity for the poorest and weakest, so that even the infirm can contribute through charity and help.
- Honest: Unionism requires honesty and truth, professing the need for a strict but fair law and for fairness for the people both highborn and lowborn.
- Humble: Unionism requires that all Unionists see themselves as no better than the great who came before, and who they will live as an example of.
- Obedience: Unionism requires all Unionists to be obedient to the hierarchy of the state, to the Nobility granted rule from the Emperor, who must not be questioned.
- Great Way: Unionism requires all Unionists to constantly strive to contribute to the Great Way, to find opportunities to further advance the Empire and its people.
- Vessel: Dogmatic Unionists believe that only male Emperors can be the Vessel of the Everwatcher. The succession is Elective however, meaning no-one knows the next heir but the Emperor.
- Narrative: In Unionism all faithful (and even unfaithful) contribute or detrimentally affect something called the Great Way. The Great Way is a promise made by the Everwatcher, that the Regalian Empire now carries the Mantle of Creation, a concept that they must protect life and existence itself from the ruinous powers of corruption and evil. The promise is that one day, if Unionism succeeds, the whole world will be ruled by the Regalian Empire as one state, and all living things will be subject to the Emperor and Vessel of the Everwatcher. When that time comes, the Everwatcher shall unchain the gates of the afterlife where all past Unionists have gone, revive the dead, and bring about a paradise without sickness, death, or sadness. Those who are denied entry into the gates of the afterlife, are instead re-incarnated in the mortal world after their death to try again to prove their soul is worthy.
- Canon Evil: Unionist Canon Evil is somewhat dubious, and exists on multiple levels. The most obvious evil in Unionism is called the Sin of Creation. The Sin of Creation implies that all living beings were born with inherent flaws to overcome to prove their worthiness for the cause of the Great Way. As such, evil is done simply because people do not have self control or inhibitions. The next stage of evil are Demons. Unionism acknowledges all entities coming from different dimensions save the afterlife as Demons seeking to corrupt the minds and wills of the living. These beings infest or seduce the living into giving into their Sin of Creation. The third level of evil is somewhat more ambiguous, as it is other religions. While Unionism doesn’t strictly deny the existence or validity of other religions, it does claim that by worshiping anyone but the Everwatcher, that the living are led astray from creating Paradise, and that they live in sabotage of the Great Way’s conclusion. Essentially, other religions are seen as a distracting evil.
- Identity: The Unionist Creed has no words or thoughts on the matter of gender, sex, sexuality or gender-identity, though the topic of homosexuality is somewhat contentious among Ailor. There is nothing strictly against homosexuality, but a theological argument is made that every Unionist has a duty to sire the next generation of faithful, and to be celibate, same-sex loving, or simply choose not to have children, is seen as a selfish act and one that detrimentally affects the Great Way. As a result, many same-sex Unionists adopt, or find other ways to have children.
- Conversion: Unionism is a religion that has invariably been applied with the sword, or with word, and both interpretations are somewhat correct. Unionists believe that a person, even one who is not Unionist or pretends to be Unionist, can still work towards the Great Way if pointed in the right direction. This is why the Confessions of Melennar are important, because this preacher created a common understanding that as a Regalian Unionist ruler, one’s non-Unionist subjects can still work towards the Empire’s cause, while not believing in the Everwatcher, and their soul can still ascend to the Unionist afterlife if their own religion or a-religiosity will not claim them. As such, conversion by the sword is also fully acceptable, because it forcibly induces someone into the Great Way, though it has become more controversial and less acceptable as of late.
- Sins & Taboo: The worst cases of sinning and taboo for Unionism are blasphemy against the Emperor, hedonism in cruelty (torture, mental abuse, domestic abuse), moral corruption among government and nobles, infanticide, desecrating holy sites, attacking clergy and temples (even of other religions), rejecting the Everwatcher, and being a traitor or saboteur against the Regalian Empire. Unionism does acknowledge confessionals, but Celates can issue a Writ of Sin, a public denunciation and excommunication of a Unionist (or Unionist) to declare them anathema to the religion. It is possible to reverse a Writ of Sin through a Writ of Harmony, but only through some act of self-sacrifice or service to the Emperor.
Gods and Goddesses
Unionism has a concept referred to as Trans-Divinity. Trans-Divinity means that whatever their faith understands to be divine, is fluid and constantly changes based on interpretations. By standard, the Everwatcher is always the indisputably most important entity in Unionism. The Living Emperor is also a living Divine Being who should be worshiped as a god, though it is not illegal to acknowledge his sin of creation flaws from time to time. Below the Emperor and the Everwatcher are the God-Emperors and God-Empresses. When an Emperor or Empress dies, they are no longer divine, as the Vessel passes on to the next heir, but some Emperors or Empresses are raised up in the afterlife by the Everwatcher and sent back to Aloria to guide the people, during which process they are made Divine Beings. Finally, on the lower end of the spectrum are the Heroes of Unionism, which are also considered Divine Beings. Heroes are raised to divinity by the Concilly Council even while they are still alive, and continue to be worshiped after death. This all means that Unionism, as time goes by, gains more and more Gods and Goddesses, while other religions are fairly stagnant. Furthermore, it also means that it’s theoretically possible for other religions to merge into Unionism if their Gods and Goddesses can be proven to be real, and prove their divinity or past divinity. Unionists can combine a variety of Divine Entity worship. By default, all Unionists worship the Everwatcher, however, whoever else is worshiped additionally is up to the individual. Some worshipers choose only a single patron deity, while others choose a collection, or leave just a few out. There are no hard rules to Divine Being worship, in general they exist more as examples to live by, instead of a strict pantheon that demands worship.
|The Everwatcher, is the supreme Divine Being of Unionism, the source of all creation, and the final destiny of all things. The Everwatcher was the first thing that was created in the beginning of times and created all other races, creatures, land, and all that was and will be. The Everwatcher is not traditionally depicted in any way shape or form. The Everwatcher is the same for all Schisms, though the Schisms have internal disagreements about who should be the Vessel of the Everwatcher. Generally speaking, Dogmatic and Evintarian Unionists support the current lineage, while Emended and Vultragon Unionists support the erasure of Ivrae legitimacy. The Everwatcher is the highest supreme being which lends divinity to the Emperor-Vessel, and which also sends the God Empresses and God Emperors back to the land of the living, and also imbues certain people born with god-like powers to fulfill their role in the Great Way. The Everwatcher is eternal; it sees all and knows all, though it only works through agents so as not to blind the living from the trials of the Great Way, which are theirs to prove.
Worship of the Everwatcher is never done specifically by praying or asking for its blessings, but rather simply by being a good Unionist. There is only ever one direct interaction between a Unionist and the Everwatcher, and that is in the moment of their death, for their soul to be weighed against their role in the Great Way. If they are left wanting, the soul will be returned to Aloria to be re-incarnated, given another chance to prove itself. If they pass, the soul will join the Everwatcher in the Unionist afterlife. Matters regarding the Everwatcher are always the highest forms of heresy if claimed in contradiction to established theological doctrine. While the Everwatcher does grant blessings to individuals who are born all across the Empire, because it has determined some religious purpose for them at birth, the Everwatcher never speaks through anyone except the Vessel.
Theomar, Prophet of All
|God Emperor Theomar, or just Theomar (sometimes also nicknamed the Sun-Father), was the first Emperor of Regalia, Emperor Theomar I Ivrae. Theomar was the founding Emperor of the Regalian Empire and the creator of the Unionist Faith, writing the first version of The Creed. As God Emperor, Theomar represents fatherhood, leadership, ambition, devotion and piety. He was known as an Emperor with exceptional charisma, capable of swaying even his most ardent opponents. He is also remembered as an excellent father who had a loving family and acts as an example to all those bringing about the next generation of Unionists.
Theomar is often depicted holding up his hand, with the palm to the viewer. This is to emulate his proclamation of Unionism. He is always depicted very dignified, and clothed in his royal purple and cream yellow robes, his favorite colors in life. Shrines to Theomar usually feature a golden bowl in which promises of good lives and good wishes for children are deposited by fathers, or good wishes and promises for fairness and kindness from one employer to employees. As such, Theomar shrines featuring this bowl and his likeness can be found in the home, or in workplaces, where Theomar’s name is invoked for the good fortunes of the business and the good wellbeing of its leadership, who in turn invoke the wellbeing of the workers and productivity.
Theomar has historically appeared only during very significant events of religious importance, when the continued existence of Unionism hung by a thread, or when the power and influence of the other God Emperors or Empresses would simply not suffice for a task given by the Everwatcher. As such, Theomar has never truly appeared before any one particular person having a problem, but rather appeared in pivotal moments of the Empire’s general history to provide blessings of protection and reinvigorated power. Theomar’s Cloister Trial involves several tests of morality and making the right decision in a tough situation to test the ethics and fairness of the pilgrim. Theomar’s Cloister Trial is at the Arch Temple of the All-Beacon, with the inner Faith Chamber containing his Sarcophagus.
Ness, Lady of Forgiveness
|God Empress Ness, or just Ness (sometimes nicknamed Nessie or Mutt-Mother by non-Ailor), was the wife of Emperor Henri I the Honorable, as his wife Empress Nessaria I of House van Sherburne. Empress Nessaria is best remembered as being an indignant wife to her husband early on, resenting the marriage with Emperor Henri I. Through her early years, she committed many sins of unfaithfulness to her husband in spirit and name. This led to her being punished with being blinded, after which she wore her signature silver butterfly wing eye covers and coronet piece. Despite being vengeful after being blinded, it is said that the Everwatcher gave her sight back after she discovered love for her first born child when she found love in motherhood. She spent many years a devoted mother, only to have her children violently taken from her, and still she found it in her heart to forgive the assassins, giving them blessings as they wept for forgiveness at her feet. Ness is the representative Goddess of Forgiveness, Acceptance, Repentance, Absolution, but also the Downtrodden, the Forgotten, the non-Ailor, and the Half-Ailor who feel abandoned.
Ness is always depicted in her mourning dress with her signature butterfly eye-covers and accessories. Butterflies strongly represent Ness, a being and symbol of forgiveness of Unionists, and for those seeking repentance. She often carries a golden Unionist Eye chain, along with a golden rose and two sets of rose-thorn stalks. These items are meant to represent her objects of the many facets of forgiveness through faith, repentance through loss, and the beauty of absolution. Sometimes her statue has three infants around her pedestal to signify motherhood, and sometimes it has three chained criminals to signify the forgiveness she gave. Offerings to her are silent candle vigils, or the repentance those who have wronged seek to the priests of Unionism. Ness frequently appears to those who believe in Unionism but need the strongest forgiveness or cannot go on without help to learn to live with their grief, guilt, or torment. Ness appears relatively often, even seen walking the streets of Regalia seemingly going nowhere.
Ness is often worshiped by criminals, judges, those who are poor and feel forgotten and downtrodden, those seeking redemption and forgiveness, and those who seek the strength to forgive others. Ness’s Cloister Trial involves priests drawing out the sins and crimes of the individual in confession, after which they are confronted with the circumstances and challenged to find peace and love for themselves despite them. If they are proved worthy by the priests, they are allowed into the Faith Chamber of the Arch Temple of Salvation, where five sarcophagi stand, for Ness and her four beloved children (As Emperor Leomar I, her youngest son, was also buried there after his natural death).
Juvin, Oracle of Knowledge
|God Emperor Juvin, or just Juvin (sometimes also nicknamed the All-Knower), was the 11th Emperor of Regalia, Emperor Henri III Ivrae de-Sange. Juvin is commonly remembered as the most pious and religiously pure Emperor, who lived an ascetic life of inner peace and perfection, and outward serenity and virtue. As a God Emperor, Juvin is the god of piety and virtue, the perfection of learning, and thinkers. Juvin was known to be an Emperor with exceptional wit and knowledge even at an early age when he could easily debate and out-smart his teachers and superiors. Juvin was also an exceptional philosopher and thinker who would spend long periods of his rule contemplating the meanings of everything, and make modifications to the Creed to reflect a more pure lifestyle.
Juvin is often depicted in simple garb with only minimal decorations and dull colors, bowing, kneeling or in some form of submissive stance. This is to emphasize that Juvin never considered himself above everyone else, and served knowledge and virtue more than anything. He is depicted tall and frail, with a bald head and a long robe that may sometimes also contain several scrolls and items that intellectuals use to ply their crafts. Shrines to Juvin are usually put into an alcove inside a larger bookcase, surrounded by knowledge and learning. Candles are lit to his will in front of his statue, while incense is let to absorb the knowledge of the books, in the hopes that Juvin will give the offering person the means to learn faster. Juvin shrines can be found in any library or school. Juvin rarely appears, but all divine appearances have been reported in libraries, for Juvin to hand the willing exactly the one book they were looking to embark on their journey, while that book was not even in the library to begin with.
Juvin is often worshiped by priests, librarians, scribes, teachers, tutors, researchers, alchemists, philosophers and thinkers. Juvin was largely responsible for the creation of the Dogartan Schism, as many Celates in Anglia started imitating him, though it is not officially recognized as a Schism because of how smooth and regional the transition was. Juvin’s Cloister Trial involves several tests of wit at the Arch Temple of Greater Understanding, before pilgrims can reach the inner Faith chamber containing Juvin’s Sarcophagus.
Almar, Jester of Justice
|God Emperor Almar, or Almar (sometimes also nicknamed the Blind Jester or Allmaverick, the word Maverick comes from his name), was the 13th Emperor of Regalia, Emperor Allamaria I Ivrae Heiligenblut (surname differs as he was a Wirtem Emperor alongside his older brother Lilienmar III). Emperor Allamaria I was also the second son of Emperor Henri III, making God Emperor Almar the son of God Emperor Juvin, while he is also the grandfather of God Emperor Allest. Almar is remembered for several things. Firstly, he is remembered as a rambunctious adolescent, spending much of his early years being a boisterous and wild man with many conquests and broken hearts. He spent money like no tomorrow, and offended many foreign dignitaries with his crude behavior, equally letting many of his stewards and guards land in prison, taking the blame for his juvenile actions. As rule came closer to him however, a series of visions of the past and future caused him to completely reform his life. Where there in the past was celebration and endless nights in leisure, there now was endless nights studying and codifying law to create a semblance of order and justice. Almar is the representative God of Justice, Law, Honesty, but also of Leisure, Entertainment, Vanity, and Ego.
Almar is often depicted as a suave and handsome young man, always with either a blindfold or some kind of unraveling cloth disappearing from his eyes. This cloth is meant to represent the blindness of justice, but also the fact that Almar was blind to the truths of duty and fate for so long in his life, until he saw the light and reformed. He is also always depicted with a scale, the symbol for the Regalian Judiciary, that weighs the value of crime and punishment for those who are subject to Almar’s laws. Almar’s shrine equally has a scale, one with a golden feather, and another with a small box. These items normally weigh roughly the same, however anyone wishing to bring offering or pray to Almar, writes a plan or thought on a piece of paper, inserts it into the box, and then lets the scale weigh the value of this thought. If it is heavier than the feather, it is unlawful or sinful. If it is lighter than the feather, it is lawful and righteous. Almar is not known to appear before anyone, but the Concilly Council still acknowledges him.
Almar is often worshiped by justicars, bureaucrats, lawmakers, but also entertainers, Musicians, dancers, romancing couples, and those looking for the perfect partner. Almar’s name is often invoked for good blessings to a Courtship or wedding. Almar’s Cloister Trial involves several tests of restraint and self control as the pilgrims are led from one seduction to the other, until they finally pass into the final Faith Chamber in the heart of the Arch Temple of Eternal Justice, where the Sarcophagus of Almar rests with his favorite scales on top that are said to weigh the heaviness of a soul as they enter the chamber.
Allest, Lord of Domination
|God Emperor Allest, or just Allest (sometimes also nicknamed the Bear-Claw), was the 15th Emperor of Regalia, Emperor Allestrain I Ivrae de-Sange. Allest ascended to Godhood after his death from an arrow in the back that penetrated his heart on the field of battle while holding off a hundred soldiers by himself allowing his own soldiers who had been cornered by the enemy to escape certain death. Allest is best remembered for being a beast of a man, alongside his best friend Arch-Chancellor Alexander the Giant, the both of them forming an inseparable warrior duo on the frontlines as the Empire expanded. Allest was the first frontline commander and warrior Emperor, and was an undefeated warrior who seemed to get that much more skilled with every champion he defeated. Allest is the representative God of Conquest, Rule, Brotherhood, and Fame.
Allest is often depicted either in his massive bulky armor, or in some state of removal of this armor to emphasize his god-like physique, in a victorious or intimidating stance. He is depicted tall and glorious as an example for all Ailor to strive to physically, and for the many victories he brought Regalia despite his short time on the throne. Allest is often also depicted with two large claymores, or scabbards holding his favorite swords: Blutkraft and Sangria, weapons that passed into Artifact Legend after his death. Shrines to Allest feature larger wardrobes or tables than most other shrines, allowing the owner to cover the surface with a cloth, and put their weapon in front of the shrine to ask for Allest’s blessings. The cloth is often wrapped over the weapon, with the cloth then doused in some form of alcoholic beverage, as Allest was also known to be a heavy drinker, before the liquid is washed off and the item removed from the Shrine. It is believed that Allest continues to lend strength and right of conquest to Unionists to this day. Allest has appeared historically after the end of major battlefields, not to fight, but to mourn the losses on the battlefield with the survivors.
Allest is often worshiped by kings and queens, princes and princesses, commanders, generals, gladiators, but even many in the criminal element, due to his inherent connection with victory and conquest of others who are weaker and less willing. Allest’s Cloister Trial involves several mental tests of self-sacrifice and willpower at the Arch Temple of Perpetual Glory, before pilgrims can reach the inner Faith chamber containing Allest’s battle armor, as his body was never recovered from the battlefield and rumored to be preserved in a perfect state somewhere.
Elia, Mistress of Victory
|God Empress Elia, or just Elia (sometimes also nicknamed the Brass-Fist), was the wife of Emperor Allestrain I, as his wife Empress Eolaria I of House Cadar. This makes God Empress Elia thus the wife of God Emperor Allest. Elia is the representative Goddess of fighting, combat, warfare, victory, love and loss. She is remembered for having been at the very frontline of every battle she participated in, letting the generals do the planning, and just punching her way through the enemy lines with her legendary shield Draackenbuster and her spiked war-glove called Porcelain-Face, both of which passed into Artifact Legend after her death. Elia was the only spouse ever suitable for Allest, rivaling him in size, and reputedly being able to knock-out punch an Eronidas with one heavy punch to the face.
Elia is often depicted with her fist up, sometimes with or without her spiked war-glove, but always with her shield Draackenbuster by her side. She always wears a muscle-fitting bronze armor with a long crimson dress (which she did not wear into battle) complementing her crimson hair. Shrines to Elia feature her as a statue guarding a small locket box underneath that has a small key-hole. Owners of the shrine put their secrets and diaries inside, along with notes of the names of their loved ones to protect them from harm. It is an unspoken law among Unionists never to steal documents from shrines of Elia, in order not to evoke her wrath. It is also believed that putting things inside this small locket box will aid Elia in protecting them from harm, especially loved ones. Flowers are sometimes also offered to a statue of her likeness as a sign of adoration or love that she had for her husband, even in death. Elia has appeared historically in select battlefields while the Empire was expanding, leading a divine charge.
Elia is often worshiped by soldiers, sailors, knights, regalian guards, mercenaries, but even criminal thugs on the street who simply wish to strive for the strength and power she had, as well as the endurance to continue on even in the face of loss and suffering. Elia’s Cloister Trial involves several rooms of increasingly difficult duels of combat against other Pilgrims as a test of strength, before the final victor of the tournament is allowed into the inner Chamber of the Arch Temple of Unyielding Perseverance (though locally known as the Arch Temple of Punching Harder). Inside this inner chamber, lies the sarcophagus of Elia, next to an empty sarcophagus which is meant for her husband, though for who this sarcophagus was, is unknown.
Vess, Liberator of Chains
|God Emperor Vess, or just Vess (sometimes nicknamed Vilgy), was the 26th Emperor or Regalia, Emperor Vilgemar I Ivrae de Sange. Vess was the Emperor who rid the Empire of corrupt politicians and served as the last Emperor before the Regalian pessimism, heralding the last period in time during which the Empire was truly content and there was true hope for the future instead of a constant battle to stave off apocalypse. Vess is the representing God of happiness, liberty, liberation and freedom, more specifically the breaking of chains and bondage, as he liberated an unprecedented amount of indentured servants and slaves from cruel masters, and spent a large amount of time interfering with foreign nations who tyrannically repressed their local people. Vess is also remembered for being a general fun-loving person who could never be caught in a bad mood.
Vess is always depicted as a very youthful looking young man (though he is equally often depicted as androgynous or of ambiguous gender as he enjoyed breaking gender expectations), as he still looked youthful even towards the end of his life. He wears the traditional garb of the palace entertainers, a group of people who he had good relations with, and is always standing in some sort of playful position or pose that elicits some sense of playfulness or youthfulness. Vess’s statues often double as ponds or fountains, with water reaching from some object he is holding, or his hand, with flowers being very common in and around the water. Prayers to Vess are usually made by releasing wishes and prayers into budding flowers, and then inserting said flower into the water and letting the petals open up as time passes, believing the wishes to be released into the world with Vess’s blessings as the flower flowers before it wilts. Vess has rarely appeared, though every time to smash the chains of groups of slaves, or free them from a burning barn or barrack.
Vess is worshiped by party-goers, children, those who treasure freedom and liberty above all, journalists, bartenders, inn-keepers, indentured servants and slaves, particularly for their liberation from bondage. Vess’s Cloister Trial involves challenging the pilgrims to entertain or provide happiness for those struck with mental illnesses or depression, who often gravitate to the Arch Temple of Joyous Everwatch to seek help for their despair. If the pilgrims succeed, they are permitted into the Faith Chamber of Vess, where a single sarcophagus stands surrounded by a sea of broken chains, each belonging to a slave he helped free, tens of thousands of them.
Alexander, Mentor of Compromise
|God Emperor Alexander is the 28th and 30th Emperor of the Regalian Empire, with a short period of Interregnum and Cedromar I’s rule before his abdication. As Emperor Alexander is still alive, he is seen as the Divine Vessel, not quite the same as a God Emperor or God Empress. Emperor Alexander rules during a time of great upheaval and chaos, as the world rapidly changes around the Empire, and the Empire has trouble catching up or staying ahead of these changes. Emperor Alexander is the Divine Vessel of change, reform, compassion, compromise and mentorship. His most common perception among the people of the Empire is of a mentoring Emperor who seeks to rule more by implicit consent than with absolute authority, always seeking compromises and challenging the peerage to think of the commoners first, and their wallets later.
Alexander does not have formal shrines dedicated to him, as having shrines built for the Divine Vessel is very uncommon, because the Divine Vessel will lose its status as soon as the Emperor dies and is not elevated to God Emperor. Instead, Emperor Alexander is praised through art, with statues and paintings in particular, with every major government institute or office having a large life-size or greater than life painting of the Emperor in full regalia. Alexander is also seen as a compassionate and caring Emperor for the Occult, the first Emperor who has shown overt positive attitudes towards the Occult and even tolerated them to climb to high government offices in the Empire, something thought impossible mere decades before his rule.
Alexander is yet often invoked by mentors, diplomats, government bureaucrats, and particularly those campaigning for more equity for the Occult of the Empire. Even within Crookback the Emperor has some support, as he is equally the first Emperor to not just dismiss the Occult corrupted and the downtrodden, and has reformed the state to allow them to live with some modicum of dignity. As such, Emperor Alexander is sometimes also called the Dignified Vessel. Alexander has no official Temples, though the Palace doubles as one would traditionally see many pilgrims traveling to the Imperial Palace, and lighting candles near the front door as an offering of prayer.
Taal, Mother of Purity
|Divine Heroine Taal is a still-living Divine Being recognized by the Concilly Council with godhood. Divine Heroine Taal is best known as the benefactor of the Belliard Guild and the factions of Unionist Purists who take a hardline stance against the corruption of the Occult among the population. Taal is not explicitly violent against the Occult, but takes a very hardline stance that often conflicts with Emperor Alexander’s more moderate and conciliatory tone, while Taal demands the immediate expulsion or termination of any Occult who step out of line, and the cleansing and curing of whatever can be cleansed and cured. Divine Heroine Taal is the Goddess of purity, cleanliness, obedience to heritage and hierarchy, and the matron of tradition and customs.
Taal does not have any official shrines dedicated to her, as having shrines built for Divine Heroes is uncommon, but more and more worship sites have been built in her name in private homes. The most common form of these private worship sites is an altar or table of some kind, upon which the faithful polish and clean silverware, jewelry, or other valuables in service to others under candlelight. It is said that Taal approves of service to others by cleaning that which has accumulated grime and dirt from the passage of time, and to use this time in contemplation of the cleanliness of the soul and self contemplation. Taal is equally a very self-assured Goddess, one that requires all faithful be sure of their actions and banish any doubt, and that those wish doubt seek out confessional to rid themselves of what she refers to as “the first door through which evil enters the soul”.
Taal is invoked by purists, as well as anti-Occult hardliners, and as such is an incredibly controversial figure, especially to Evintarian Unionists who do not explicitly reject her divinity, but do not openly include her in their pantheon. Taal does not have any Temples, as Temples built for living Divine Heroes is not possible, though it is assumed that after her death, a Temple to her name will be built in her homeland of Calemberg where she was raised an orphan, where her trial will inevitably have something to do with cleansing the soul and inner purity. As a native of Calemberg, Taal is frequently seen in the surrounding regions but largely avoids coming to Regalia, working closely with the Darkwald Order and other Purist entities in the Empire.
Borond, Lord of Seas
|Divine Hero Borond is a still-living Divine Being recognized by the Concilly Council with goodhood, following petitions by Eronidas Unionists, as well as first-hand accounts of his assistance with a variety of Regalian engagements. Borond is a so-called integrated Divine Being, meaning he comes from a different religion originally. Indeed, Borond is identical to the Eronidas god Buru from the Asaredu religion, though there are a couple of differences. Borond is the god of the seas, of the military, or storms and rainfall, and of military ingenuity. He is seen as a guide to the Regalian Armadas and fleets, and a patron protector of merchant shipping.
Borond’s shrine shows a depiction of his very Eronidas-looking appearance with the lower body of a shark or dolphin, next to a large gong. The Gong is a reference to the practice of Regalian Armada flagships to have a large gong close to the water, which can be struck in a matter of emergency. It is said that the gong reverberates into the seas, and can be heard by Borond, who has occasionally answered the call and appeared in dire circumstances to save a ship from sinking or being destroyed. In the home, the gong is struck merely ceremonially, while prayers for good winds and fair weather are made. Borond’s role in Unionism compared to Buru in Asaredu leads to some contentious conflict between Eronidas and Unionists (as the Eronidas consider Borond a false interpretation). At the same time however, Borond’s existence in Unionism is an easy way for Eronidas to quickly grow comfortable with Unionism, and a notable minority has converted.
Borond is invoked by sailors, usually with a necklace, wooden carving or silver depiction of borond, praying for fair winds after which the necklace is kissed. His infrequent appearances to save Regalian ships from destruction has led to him being recognized as a God of another religion with distinct value for Unionism, thus becoming a Unionist God also. Wave-Born Asaredu worshipers are not acknowledged in Unionism. Unionists, contradicting Asaredu dogma, believe that Borond does reproduce with non-Eronidas, and that if they are Unionist, they are called Borr-folk. Borr-folk are born with webbed toes and feet as well as a prehensile shark-like tail and patches of dark shark skin (all of which are just aesthetic), though these are entirely rejected by the Asaredu faith.
Nicholas, Architect of Magnificence
|Nicholas the Architect of Magnificence, (who may also go by the name Volodomyr in Krainivaya or Klaas in Anglian) was the 14th Arch-Chancellor of the Regalian Empire, and generally remembered fondly to be the best that the Empire ever had. Nicholas took the position when he was 16 years old, and would reign for 86 years, the longest reign of any Emperor or Arch-Chancellor, with a long list of accolades. Under Nicholas, many lands were conquered or subjugated through diplomacy, the economy soared, Unionism spread like wild-fire, and finally united all of the Archipelago under the Regalian banner. Nicholas had to learn on the job as it were, but quickly proved to be the most competent of rulers the Empire had ever seen, and was the architect of many of the Empire's greatest moments, as well as the increase of power of House Kade itself through skillful political marriage of his many sisters.
Nicholas is always depicted in his Arch-Chancellor robes with his long hair and distinct frail appearance. Nicholas is always depicted in some mid-command or mid-statement pose, as if he is ready to lift or strike out his hand to give the order to unleash whatever machination he has stewed up. Nicholas's virtues are leadership, foresight, insight, good planning, longevity and excellent design. He is the patron of all politicians, barons, dukes, generals and admirals, army officers, aldormen, but also architects and artists and bankers. His often less discussed divine flaw is that of "holding on for too long", referring to the fact that he held the position of Arch-Chancellor for so long without resigning, that he condemned the Empire to a string of less-than-stellar Arch-Chancellors who never had the experience on the job to succeed his legacy. This example is often set to the Dukes and other political rulers of the Empire, to resign when it is time for a new generation to take over, so that they may take their own place in history, and not have to hurriedly fill the shoes of the past generation and fail in doing so. Nicholas has been known to appear before politicians to assist them in taking momentous decisions that changed the course of the Empire's history, as well as to fortify the resolve of young Emperors who have just come to the throne.
Nicholas's name is invoked by politicians who seek the insight and foresight that he had, as well as for success in their endeavors. His name is also invoked by scholars to aid them with discovery of truth and attain the correct interpretation or dissertation of their subject. Nicholas's pilgrimage site is Nicholas's Temple in Axenfoort (one that is shared with Emended Unionism), a grand Unionist Temple specifically built in his honor. Nicholas's Temple has often been described as a "pincushion", as its spires are exceptionally sharp and many, imitating a cushion with many needles in it. Those that hold Nicholas in high regard often play a game called "Cross-Bearing Kings", which is a board-game simulation of court life, intrigue, marriage, and plotting. The goal of the game is to accrue as much land as possible each successive generation with skilled use of relatives and politics, to prove their virtues in comparison to Vlaas's accolades.
Elen, Lady of Rivers
|Elen the Lady of Rivers, is another example of an integrated Divine Entity that finds its origin in the Breizh faith that existed before they adopted Unionism. Unlike Borond and Asaredu, the Breizh Faith was completely absorbed by Unionism as they only believed in Ailwen, the Lady of the Lake, with all tenets roughly compatible with Unionism, and their concepts adopted by Elen's virtues. Ailwen was renamed in common to Elen, and canonized by the Concilly Council as her divinity was proven, and her worth to the Great Way manifest in the actions of the Breizh under her guidance. Elen is the goddess of purpose, meaning, destiny, judgement and burdens. She is specifically considered the patron goddess of Unionist Mages and the Magically tainted, putting her in direct opposition with Taal, Mother of Purity.
Elen is a somewhat complicated deiety because she is specifically known to have been a Magic user, and one who considers Magic to be a burden from the Everwatcher. Magic is a bit more complicated in Unionist dogma, because the clergy nor the Creed have ever really defined Magic (especially when born with Magic) as a flaw in the Everwatcher's creation, just that Magic users are usually corrupted. Elen's place and her role for the interpretation of Magic as such has always been dominated by the idea that to be Magic is bad, but to be Magic without purpose or meaning for the Great Way is worse, so Magic with purpose is actually acceptable so long as the soul is virtous. She represents a path that allows for Mages to be accepted by the Unionist community so long as they learn Magic solely for the good of the Empire and others and not for selfish reasons, and are guided under the strict moral supervision of the Emperor (who is accepting of Magic) and measure their worth and purpose based on how much they contribute to the Empire. Elen is always depicted in her Breizh linen, holding a pearl necklace of purpose, with her white feathered wings spread wide. Worship to Elen is performed through meditation and contemplation, and to seek out those who have strayed from the Unionist cause and re-commune with them.
Elen's name is invoked by Magic users and those who are affected by the Occult, but also those who are impacted by the Occult. She is both prayed to for guidance and purpose by the non-Magically inclined, as well as to be protected from evil Occult, as much as she is worshiped by the Occult to give them a purpose and let their burden (their Magic) find a way to bring glory and benefit to the Empire and the Great Way. Elen has been known to manifest before those at a pivotal point in life where they feel their purpose is wavering, only for Elen to give them a vision or moral guidance with which to reinvigorate their destiny. Elen's Temple is the Temple of Divine Purpose in Kintyr, which is also home to the Unionist Seers. Seers are sort of like Celates, but not really, they are lay-priests who receive visions of Elen and help those who pilgrimage to the Temple with personal guidance on their road to redemption, or teaching them how to deal with whatever burdens they deal in life, magical or not magical.
Dogmatic Unionist priests are part of the so-called Dogmatic Religious Community. At the very top is the Concilly Council. Originally this organization had a leader called the Supreme Reverend, however the Supreme Reverend position was abolished when the last Supreme Reverend discovered insidious corruption within the religious community, tried to expose it, and was assassinated for it. To compensate, Conclave determined that the Dogmatic community should henceforth be ruled by a Council of elder Arch-Celates. Below the Concilly Council, are the Arch-Celates, which are equivalents to Dukes in the Regalian Empire. They wield considerable power and rule over vast areas of land, subdivided into Celeries. Below the Arch-Celate is the Celate, or just the average priest. Each Celate administrates a Celerie, which is usually a piece of land donated to the clergy where they maintain temples, shrines, and convents, while also producing crops and tending to cattle. Celates perform all religious tasks such as confession, preaching, hearing concerns, and simply taking care of Unionist needs like a social caretaker or mental health worker. Arch-Celates on the other hand are more administrative in that they take care of the treasury, any military attached to the religious orders, and communication between the Concilly Council and the vast wide-spread Unionist elements. Formally the Emperor is the leader of the Holy Seat, which is more of a group term for the Palace and the Concilly Council grouped together, but historically Emperors have interfered very little in the day to day running of the Celeries, and as such, this fact is usually ignored, the Emperor being considered a completely independent entity. This has also historically separated the Emperor from controversy among the Celates, and vice versa.
- The matter of depicting the God Emperors or God Empresses is controversial at best. Many priests believe that mortals are fallible and cannot depict the Gods and Goddesses in an accurate or divine manner. Any art produced of the Gods or Goddesses is extremely scrutinized. More curiously yet, the eyes of all depictions of the Gods or Goddesses are always depicted in white. This is because the iris colors of the Emperors or Empresses is always a matter of intense debate and historical revision.
- Unionism used to be mandatory for nobility somewhere during the second century after Cataclysm, though this Holy Law was removed when the war against the Skagger Horde ceased, and the Empire benefited more from including non-Unionists into the peerage. An exception had always been made for the Altalar nobles of Solvaan origins in Solleria however, called the Confessions of Melennar.
- Sectarian violence largely came to an end at the turn into the fourth century as the last attacks on Vultragon Unionist by state forces ceased, and an uneasy truce was signed between the Schism religious communities. They still do not see eye-to-eye, and the different Schismatic groups still prod at each other, but instead of murdering each other over sectarian differences, they mostly fight with words nowadays, a legacy of the Kleine Rechnung, the document that called for the truce.
- Despite Elen's absorption into Unionism, the Breizh still maintained a high level of cultural autonomy, some even clinging to old beliefs. As such, even when Magic became illegal in the Empire, the Breizh Aelrrigan Order continued to find and train Mages safely in their sanctuaries while the rest of the Empire turned to brutal oppression (and the Magic part of Elen was surpressed from dogma). Elen's faithful among the Aelrrigan Order are commonly cited as the reason why Magic acceptance eventually returned, and Elen's magical nature in theological teachings was returned.