Elmoryn: The Faith
Life in the lands of Elmoryn is guided by a few basic principles. Life is harsh, death is not the end, and life exists in everything. It’s almost a contradiction of terms to the philosophical: everything here dies, and death surrounds everywhere, but everything has some form of life, even what you would think is inanimate. This strange situation makes for interesting faith.
The two religions of Elmoryn are the Church of Souls, and the Church of the Artificer. Both of these faiths are also known as The Church of the Ancestor, and the Artificer Guild, respectively. The two religions dominate almost every aspect of day to day life, especially the larger and more powerful Church of Souls. Both religions espouse popular common beliefs, but at the root, the two couldn’t be more different. The Church of Souls operates with a single guiding precept: Those that have died and been consecrated exist all around us as wise and powerful spirits called Ancestor Spirits. True belief in this cycle of life and faith in the wisdom of the Ancestors will guide you to safety in all things and salvation when your time comes. The Church of Souls' specific patterns of worship vary from region to region. Worshippers in a town isolated by miles of wilderness might not say prayers to the Ancestors, but might specifically call upon a figure in their local past, perhaps a wise aunt, or strong warrior that once saved lives. These Ancestors are still around quite literally in Spirit, and local history pays a strong role in the worship in the Church of Souls.
The Church of Souls
The Church of Souls does preach a few points that are common amongst all major Cathedrals and temples of Elmoryn. These rules are called the Tenets.
The First Tenet: Take no life unless necessary.
The Second Tenet: No souls shall rot. All, good and evil both shall be released to the world.
The Third Tenet: Theft is wrong. Anything taken and not earned shall revisit you as punishment later in time.
The Fourth Tenet: Only by bettering ourselves can we expect salvation in the after-life.
The Fifth Tenet: Hate not the unbeliever. Time will show them the truth in all things.
The Sixth Tenet: Assist all those in need when possible. In this we stand with one another, and survive stronger.
The Six Tenets are common ground for sermons by the Apostles who lead the Church of Souls. The Apostles are the users of The Way who call upon the energies and favors of the Spirits. These men and women are strong of faith and will, and often follow the calling to lead others in the faith they love. It is worthy to mention that while most Apostles would be described as being good people, there are many who hear the calling of Spirits that are malicious. After all, everyone dies, but not everyone is good.
The Church of Souls operates and is administered differently by region. For the most part the Churches, Temples and Cathedrals of the religion are the centers of faith wherever they are. Small villages often have a tiny house dedicated and consecrated as a shrine to the Ancestors, usually overseen by an Apostle with slight manifested ability in the Way. The larger the settlement, the larger the house of faith typically is. Some cities or regions retain small shrines, and just have more of them. The larger cities can lay claim to the massive Cathedrals, large gothic buildings, or huge timber framed halls where Saints lay interred, consecrating the grounds with their holy presence.
These holy sites, large and small, are overseen by the Apostles. Typical organization at the churches sees a single Apostle placed in power by the locals, or by a larger governing set of Churches. For example, in the nation of Farmington, all decisions on who runs what in the Church are made by the Apostles at The Cathedral of Donovan in the capital city Farmington. The leaders of each church have days of rest, days of prayer, and open hours of worship. All Churches and houses of worship however, are available for the cleansing and purification of a dead body on short notice. After all, this is one of their greatest Tenets, and truthfully, their greatest purpose on Elmoryn.
Holy days vary depending on where you are. Most cities or villages have certain holy days dedicated to events from their past. Varrland for example celebrates the day their Tyrant King was taken from the throne forcibly. However, many local congregations celebrate the birthday or death of a popular local hero or figure. Most Saints have at least one holy day dedicated for their birth, and many have several, especially those Saints who led particularly interesting lives. Holy Days are celebrated differently everywhere. Usually feasting or the exchange of gifts takes place, but some holy days can be downright backwards. A small town in Northern Duulan near the Great Land Shelf was reputed to celebrate the birth of a local man who was a plentiful farmer by throwing small potatoes at one another all day. It takes all kinds.
Holidays in the Church of Souls are largely regional. The only widely celebrated holiday is the New Year. Birthdays are also popular celebrations, as are Deathdays. Deathdays are a celebration of a notable Ancestor’s death. Because death isn’t the end of life on Elmoryn, death is not quite as negatively perceived. Death, while regrettable, is sometimes looked at as a transition to a new opportunity, a new life. Other local customs include celebrating birthdays or Deathdays of local heroes. The Life Meal celebration is also common, especially in larger villages and cities. At the Life Meal, everyone in a specific area is expected to come to a pot-luck style meal where everyone meets and greets, and shares news of their lives. Life Meals are held at varying intervals based on the locale. Sometimes they are held once a season, sometimes once a month, or even once a week. Often the local church will call for a Life Meal after a bout of illness has passed through the town just to take a morbid head count of sorts. The other point of the meal is to ensure that everyone in the area is still alive, and doesn’t need an Apostle to pay a visit to look for active, angry corpses. These normally festive days are quickly made somber when someone doesn’t show up.
The Church of the Artificer
Life inside the Church of the Artificer is much different than the Church of Souls. Most of the people who follow the Artificer faith are crafters. After all, those who can create can appreciate more fully the value of the things they and others make. They have a different affinity for the tangible and are naturally inclined towards the Spirits within them.
The Church of the Artificer has very few guiding rules to follow on a daily basis. All of these rules revolve around the creation and maintenance of things. Specifically they seek to preserve the life of the Spirits inside all things, and seek to live their lives in a manner that works with these Spirits, and fosters their growth. The Artificers follow what they call the Principles.
Principle of Value: Everything made by hand has value. From the priceless drawing of a child to the priceless Artifact made by a master, each holds the same value to someone. Value Everything.
Principle of Quality: Do your best in everything you do. If you can make something better, then do so. Giving birth to sloth is nonsensical, and will only hurt others in the long run.
Principle of Repair: We can maintain everything if we take the time to ask the Spirits what they need. Things shouldn’t degrade because of our neglect.
Principle of Recycling: If something has seen its end of days, see to it that the pieces are brought along to a new life in something else. Even the things we create can have their own children. So is the cycle of all things.
Principle of Destruction: Nothing should be intentionally destroyed unless necessary to save life, limb or Spirit. Pay the proper atonement after such deeds, and ensure to live your life in remembrance of what you’ve done.
Principle of Research: Those who make are led by those who think. Support those who seek to find new and better ways to do things. Untold Spirits wait to be birthed by the hands of the seekers of knowledge.
The Principles teach the followers of the Church that progress is not only good, but necessary to improve our lots in life. The Church of the Artificer seeks to make quality in everything they do, and they demand effort by all those who dedicate themselves to a life of creation.
Unlike the Church of Souls, the Artificers are very organized. Each significant population center has an Artificer Guild Hall. In each guild hall is an assorted amount of artificers, sometimes just a single priest, occasionally as high as 50 or more. Large Guildhalls exist in Port Caelin and Daris that are extraordinarily large. The ten story tall concrete building in Port Caelin that the Artificers use is called their Church’s home. Prior to Port Caelin, the Artificers called Daris home. Each Artificer Priest specializes in certain sciences or arts and becomes an authority in the field they choose to study. Despite the fact that they are capable of communing with the semi sentient spirits inside crafted things, many Artificers have no skill in crafting. Artificers that can’t make something, even poorly, are often looked down upon with disdain by their more talented Artificer Priest brethren.
The regular day to day person pays widely varying amounts of attention to the Church of the Artificer. People who work with tools, or make their living relying on equipment often pay extra attention to the perceived spirits inside the things they have. Carpenters make sure their hammers are happy, painters make sure their brushes are extra clean each night, and wagon drivers make sure their wagon axles are greased. The average person may not be able to hear the spirits inside the items they own, but they do know that each item they own does have some kind of a spirit, and doing what they believe might make those spirits happy can only help them.
The Church of the Artificer has a single holiday celebrated across the lands. On the 1st day of the 10th month of each year, all Artificers celebrate Rail Day. Rail Day is the remembrance to the day the rail lines were completed on Elmoryn, allowing for continuous travel across the continent from coast to coast. Other local observations of holidays are quite common, especially when an Artifact is created. Artifacts are extremely powerful items made by exceptionally talented crafters. Often once an Artifact has been identified as such, the town or the local Guildhall will note it in their guild books. Every following year after the Artifact was made, homage will be paid to the Artificer Spirits in its name.
Those looking at the two faiths will see that they are not mutually exclusive. In fact, most people find that there are portions of both faiths that they find appealing. It’s not at all uncommon to find someone referencing both religions and their practices each day. Luckily both Churches realize that the world cannot function without both faiths working in relative harmony.