Places of Worship
     Deital Powers

  Chapter 4: Religion

          Feyworld is unusual in the Multiverse in that pantheons, per se, don't really exist. One is either a god or one isn't, and it is irrelevant what culture worships what group of gods or how they view them. There are, however, several different traditions which may or may not constitute different pantheons of gods.
          The vast majority of humans who live on Galorea believe that the Triad (composed of Lord Ptharos, Betshaba, and Baelthor) created the world and everything on it, while the sinister Dagon attempts to destroy all that they've done. Even those who do not actively worship Lord Ptharos or the Triad do not usually refute this story. What happened after the creation of the world, however, is the subject of several contested legends.

The Imperial Belief
          Citizens of the Empire of Zeth in western Galorea generally believe that Lord Ptharos reigns supreme over the deities and all of his descendants serve him as his subjects. Those descendants of Dagon should be propitiated, when necessary, but not actively worshipped. There are, of course, secretive cults of some of the darker gods here and there are a few of the descedants of Dagon, such as Kratos, God of War, are rarely proscribed. The central concept of the Imperial Belief is that Lord Ptharos reigns supreme, with his daughter, Betshaba, and his son, Baelthor, as his highest Lords. Together, the three form the Triad. The combined Temple of the Triad is common in the Empire, with separate worship areas for each deity contained within the same building. Separate temples for each member of the Triad do exist, but they tend to be rare.
          In the Imperial Belief, the Emperor retains the title Pontifex Maximus, highest priest of all the gods (even though no Emperor has actually studied as a priest in any religion). Each church is subordinate to his command, though each also has single Pontifex who has authority over spiritual matters of the Church and is directly subordinate only to the Emperor. The Pontifex presides over the High Temple of the deity, most of which are located in the city of Zeth.
          Dagon is considered to be the prime enemy in the Imperial Belief, with his descendants generally of progressively lesser evil the more generations that lie betwixt them. Worship of Dagon, even in a moment of need, is punishable by death.

The Koramian Heresy
          A little under eleven centuries ago, a young sheep herder in Imperial Cimmeria (modern Koramia) named Garimund of Ryard discovered a flying vessel and within, a holy book called the Koram. The Koram soon became the basis for what is now known in the Empire as the Koramian Heresy. The holy book told the story that while Lord Ptharos was once king of the gods, he eventually became a tyrant. Realizing this fault, he passed on the crown of rulership to Vortumnus, god of chivalry and last of his descendants.
          What was a minor sect of heretics eventually became the predominant belief structure of Cimmerians after the departure of Imperial control in the region. When William Greysword I reunified Koramia half a century ago, he conquered in the name of Vortumnus.
          For over six centuries, the Koramian Church developed independent of the Imperial Church. As such, it has taken on much of the flavor of the region. Most church hierarchies are much more democratic than their Imperial cousins and few pay homage to the Emperor as Pontifex Maximus. The predominant religious figure is the Prelate of Paeldain, though he is specifically the High Priest of Vortumnus and has no direct control over the internal workings of other Churches. His influence, both political and spiritual, however, is all but absolute.

Aebasan Belief
          The Aebasan Belief structure holds that once, most of the gods were harsh, tyrannical, uncaring deities who commonly used mortals as pawns in their horrific deital conflicts. Lord Ptharos, once kind and beneficent, fell under the influence of Phlegethon, God of Tyranny, and his children began to take on these traits as well. Eventually, mortals turned their backs on the gods and stopped worshipping them. Some of the gods rebelled against Ptharos and, in the end, Lord Ptharos himself stepped down, on the condition that the gods would be permitted to elect a council to rule over them.
          The Celestial Council, as it came to be known, was composed of Abaris, Goddess of Magic; Aridnus, God of Judgment; Cthos, God of the Underworld; Fides, God of Oaths; Himere, Goddess of Poetry; Kratos, God of War; and Ophion, God of the Sun. Phlegethon, God of Tyranny, was banished for his unnatural influence over Lord Ptharos and is considered the chief villain of the Aebasan Belief, with Dagon fulfilling an almost comical role as a fool who seeks perfection by destroying what was created by the Triad. Lord Ptharos was reduced to an advisor to the Council, and generally lives out his existence in solitude as a hermit.
          The Aebasan Belief is almost completely separate from the Imperial and Koramian Beliefs due to the distance and lack of communication between the three lands. Each Church has its own high priest and the methods for choosing a high priest vary from church to church, as does the political influence of each church over the lands in which they are established. Followers of Phlegethon are proscribed in most regions, though the former Empire of Bakal has a long tradition of Phlegethite worship.

The Tuatha de Dannan
          The Tuatha are unusual in that they are not the descendants of Dagon or Ptharos, but are reputed to have been mortals who discovered the Secret of Godhood. The western religions are completely ignorant of this secret history, though there are a few scholars in the east who are aware of it. During the time in which humans turned away from the Gods, an alchemist named Danu and several of her companions discovered the Secret of Godhood. They were kind deities, willing to help mortals and preferred not to involve them in the same archaic schemes that the Old Gods did. The rise of the Tuatha signaled the coming of the Second Age of Man and worship of them spread throughout much of the known world.
          The Tuatha traveled the width and breadth of the world, searching for a culture with which they could share the knowledge that they had gained. They eventually chose to share their secrets with the Elves. One amongst them, however, felt that the secret should be shared with all mortals. Math Mathowny, on of Danu’s original companions, rebelled against his fellow gods and tried to bring the Secret of Godhood to everyone. In the ensuing war, Math was defeated, but mankind had fallen back into barbarism. The elves hid away in secret valleys and deep forests and the Tuatha eventually moved on to another dimension altogether. Worship of the Old Gods returned and the Tuatha were eventually forgotten by all but isolated pockets of tribal groups and some very knowledgeable scholars of the east.

          In some past age, Darcingetorix was a “typical” dragon. Already powerful in the extreme, he convinced a tribe of sub-human creatures, now known as orcs, that he was a god and their belief in the creature elevated him to such a status. He taught the orcs that all creation was invented to discover which of the races were the strongest and that he would lead the orcs to domination in the Final Days. Darcingetorix shaped orcish society around this concept, which has lead to the militaristic society in which they exist today.
          Very few non-orcs are aware of Darcingetorix, instead assuming that orcs are nothing more than godless ravagers of civilized lands. Even eastern histories do not record a time in which orcs worshipped the Old Gods, so it is assumed that the worship of Darcingetorix has been predominant for several millennia.

The Danish Gods
          The barbarian raiders of the Danelands, far to the southwest, worship a group of deities which seem to have no direct relation to any other belief structure. There is much contention as to whether the Danish Gods actually exist as individual entities or are merely aspects of the Old Gods. The gods worshipped by the Danes have many of the same spheres of interest as the Old Gods, though all of them seem to represent some aspect of war. Danish belief holds that the world was created from the dead body of a gigantic deity and that the gods themselves are destined to die in a final conflict which will span the cosmos. It is unknown how this belief structure developed, but its existence independent of orcish belief system, which has a similar “End Times” story, suggests that there is some verisimilitude to the latter belief system.
          Few people outside the Danelands and the Empire of Zeth have any knowledge of the Danish belief system. Imperial sages generally believe that the Danish gods are merely aspects of the Old Gods and the stories are mere fabrications.

          Basically, gods are everywhere on Feyworld, and each has a story of how he came to be. It is not uncommon for a new god to appear on the scene in a small, remote area, and one day gain enough popularity to push out the worship of other gods. And it all, somehow, meshes. Very, very few gods are jealous ones (except when it comes to their priests and others who have taken Vows or Pacts) and there's always room for a new temple near the capitol. Because of the plethora of gods and traditions, this work will focus primarily on the Ptharian belief structures (Imperial, Koramian and Aebasan). A few words will be said of others, but other beliefs must wait until a future work to be detailed.