|The Dragon Faith|
The Dragon Faith had been in existence for longer than anyone can remember. It started as a simple belief in dragons among the wandering clans of northern Westwall. These barbarians would make sacrifices to these creatures of myth in hopes to appease them or grant themselves non-existent boons. The more civilized Illumantes, scoffed at these tribes from their ivory towers in the southern lands, never feeling threatened by these "savages" considering their huge advancements in technology in comparison to the barbarians. The two societies often had heir own share of conflicts, and the barbarians kept to their cults in the frozen north while the Illumantes expanded through the south and beyond. However, things changed during the Dawn of Fire around 2000 BU, when the peaks known as The Dragon's Mouth proved to be an active volcano which had exploded in a fiery rage. The devastation was so great that the entire southern lands were covered in clouds of ash and everything near the mountains was burnt to a crisp. Earthquake tremors also spread through the land, causing many cities to be destroyed in the process.
While the Illumantes monuments of power were in ruins, the barbarians to the north went by largely untouched due to their location. According to their cultists, they were told that this was because a dragon, who resided in mountain, had approved of their lifestyle. They believed that it was the survival of the fittest methodology which had spared them from the cataclysm of the volcano. As Westward rebuilt itself in the face of the destruction, it was these dragon cults that provided context and guidance for living life beyond the disaster. It wasn't long before nearly all the clans, even some of the surviving Illumantes began to subscribe to this cult. The Dragon Faith would only become a full religion upon the formation of the Zealot's empire in 1784 BU, with the Dragon Council already in full control of the country. During this time, concrete rules had been established by the Council, which, despite being argued with a little bloodshed, were fully accepted by the populace.
The Dragon Faith would continue its tradition in this matters for thousands of years until the War of Unity in 0 AU, which the colonies of Westward split off from their motherland. After the great war, when the Reach was its own nation, this area of the Eastern Territories remained as a bastion of the old religion. However, with religion abolished in Avalot in 209 AU, the western nations were inclined to make some changes to the agenda. This new sect of the Faith removed many of the philosophies concerning strength and honor, instead choosing to focus more on the folk tales of the religion. They honored fire and mythical figures more than they did respect the actual beliefs of the original Faith. Things would continue to stay the same with these two branches of the Faith much into the modern day.
The Faith centers around the belief that dragons exist in the world and they are to be considered as gods to the masses. The dragons themselves are believed to be immortal creatures of power that dwell in various mountains across the globe, spewing fire and shattering the earth when someone does something to anger them. Even with recent technology proving that this is simply not the case, and the mountains the dragons are said to dwell in are actually volcanoes, the Westward people hold true to this tradition. There are said to be four major dragons in some of the largest mountains in the world:
- Altas- Said to dwell in the Dragon's Mouth. Supposedly slain by Krohn the Dragonslayer in the year 10 BU. Also the first dragon ever to be named.
- Zalnor- The dragon located in Mount Redstone. Worshipped heavily by the locals on the nearby island of Ragos.
- Seidon- Located in Mount Glox. The eruptions in the area are so extreme that the entire surrounding desert is glass.
- Wirn- The newest dragon located in Cheng. Because few Zealots have traveled to Cheng, few have named it thus.
With their belief in dragons, the followers of the Faith hold themselves to the strict concepts of strength and rebirth. Originating from their rigid lifestyle, in which death was commonplace, many who are extreme practitioners of the Faith are dedicated to physically improving themselves. Many of the devote, save the high ranking Zealots, are fit and strong. This is because of the first Tenant of the Dragon, survival of the fittest.
Thy body is thy weapon, like the teeth of thine great serpent. Hone it and conquer, for it is thine birthright.
Often, the Westwardens will challenge each other in bouts of strength to honor the dragon. Death becomes commonplace as a result of all the fighting, with wars sparking between clans for almost no reason at all other than for the barbarians to prove their worth. Because of these short and violent lives, the faithful easily subscribe to the concept of rebirth through fire. Fire, being an element of the dragons they revere, is held with respect and a means of renewal.
Fire is the element of our makers. Thou shalt be born from fire, thou shalt be slain in it.
Cermating the dead is a long tradition in Westward culture. Those who do not have their corpses burned are said to never be reborn, or reincarnated into their next life. Fire is said to be cleansing, enough so that those of the Faith have a special day at the start of winter called the Burning Day where they burn any regrets and usually dance naked around a fire pit.
Disturb not the mountainside, for thy shalt awaken the Dragons.
Lastly, those of the Faith have a great respect for mountains and dare not enter any mines or caves. As a result, they do not venture underground often and take their stones or ores only from the surface. This would normally be a problem for any other nation, but the snowy wastelands of Westward have tons of exposed minerals.
The followers of the Faith in the East hold a much different respect for the Dragons, instead they focus more on the folk tales and stories told around the barbarians clans long ago. They do not only worship the Dragons, they also worship the mythical entities as well, making a sort of pantheon of gods. With more figures to rever, there is also less devotion from the eastern followers, who merely appeal to these myths for boons and only give them the bare minimum of respect lest they be considered Zealots. Some of the many entities the east worships include:
- Obitus- The symbolic figure of death who guides dead souls into the afterlife. Though portrayed as a hero in the stories, he is more commonly perceived as a villain.
- Merr- The avatar of festivals. Said to attend parties as an uninvited guest and bring good luck to the host.
- Odira- The maiden of war. Claimed to always ride with the men in battle, disguised as a soldier.
- Cruk- The plague raven. An omen of death and disease. Worshiped by doctors so that he may pass over their patients.
- Gorg- The fat skeleton. Started as a legend of a dead man who loved eating so much that he never stopped.
- Amerra- The muted angel of mercy. She comes from a story about a strangled woman who doesn't point out her assailant out of mercy.
Also, the followers in the east do not hold the concept of physical strength with the highest belief, as the Westwardens do. This was one of the primary reasons the eastern followers wanted to separate themselves from their western cousins, as they believed intelligence and technology were more important matters than physical capabilities.
- Hysaph Jaric- Though not a devote believer, Jaric was known to respect the religion he was raised by.