“Behold the writhing worm – a lowly dweller amidst the dirt and trodden by the humblest of fanglings but feeder upon Thralls and Chiefs alike. Thusly is our creation a circle: just as mortals were created by Wyrm and we are the fodder of worms in the end” -Tulken the Thinker
The Thinker taught his Disciples that before time and song and writ, there was the Silence… and with that Silence lay unmoving Serenity – but Silence and Serenity cannot last and must give way to Song and Chaos before returning to its former state.
Wyrm was there in the Silence Before the Beginning, before thought and action. She writhed in her coils and the Silence gave way to dreams and nightmares. She awoke and from her coils sprung the Totems of the Underworld and the Gods of the Overworld. The Totems were elemental powers given purity and form. The Gods were abstract concepts such as Death and War made incarnate. What sparked the tempestuous battles between the two factions is lost to thought and memory – Tulken believed that such conflict was inevitable as the clash between summer and winter, between chaos and order.
The war between the elemental Totems and the celestial Gods shivered the Overworld and the Underworld with its fury. At the center of it all was Wyrm, her infinite coils wrapped in troubled thought. Wyrm was elemental and celestial both, the progenitor of those embittered Races and the living weapons they used. The peace of long ago was so distant and so remote that only Wyrm bore it in her mind.
It is after long years of thought that Wyrm discovered the path to tranquility. She slipped into a death-slumber; her stilling flesh gave birth to the very form of Midworld and her vast mind became the ethereal realms of Aetherworld that ringed it.
When the Gods and the Totems saw this, they stopped their melee and viewed the dreaming death-throes of their creator and the World she had created. They then observed that even in her death lesser creatures had sprung from her mind and her body. Some were mindless and unchanging. Others were simple creatures. But some, those they called Mortals (for each and all of them were all fated to die), possessed the potential for great wisdom, for great power and for great folly – like a microcosm of the Gods and Totems themselves. Unlike their elder siblings however, the Mortal Races were more akin to Wyrm herself, as though her perfection was shattered into the tiniest shards; each Mortal held both traits of elemental power and celestial grace.
Some of them knew then that their wars had only wrought destruction and would only led to their utter oblivion. They were awakened to the patterns perceived by Wyrm in her wisdom, to the futility of their violence and to the true will of their creator. Those nine Totems and Gods that sought to shape and preserve the Midworld and the Aetherworld then became the Guardian Keepers of her Fate (called the Keepers of Fate by the Gnomes)- those who would guard and guide the souls of mortals to their ultimate destiny. The Horned-King Malleus believes that the destiny of the Mortal Races is their reincarnation into Totemic Godhood and the revival of Wyrm.
The Keepers of Fate would shield Midworld from the depredations of those Totems and Gods that continued their eternal wars. To that end, they lost their basic characteristics and their innate prejudices, both elemental and celestial, then faded into Dreaming-death alongside their creator. They were faceless but not mindless, utterly devoted and single-minded so that they could never be distracted from the task Wyrm had given them. Just as Wyrm had sacrificed herself to ensure peace, so too would they make the sacrifices necessary to guide that peace.
Celestial Church: The Shaedlings of the Ixian Celestial Church does not recognize Wyrm as the progenitor of all Races although it holds a great reverence for that divinity. The Shaedlings hold Reatha-Morriana, the Elven Goddess of Night and Magic, as their true matron and the sole guide of their ascendance into supremacy.
Keepers of Fate: Those Gnomes that continue follow the Keepers of Fate place a greater emphasis upon the Keepers over Wyrm itself. Like many of their kind, these Gnomes believe that the Gnomish Race originated from the very dreams of Wyrm, thought and whim made incarnate. However, those that follow the Keepers believe that they are the very purified essence of Wyrm itself and that Wyrm’s sleep directly relates to them… hence the strangeness of their Racial lifecycle. These Gnomes hold to the vague ethereal truths and the guiding dream-songs of the faceless Keepers.
Nine-fold Virtues: The Virtuous believe in faceless reincarnation – that all life leads to another, regardless of race, sex and status. Therefore, a life of peace and the encouragement of peaceful life serves future generations and future selves. This strange view of soul transference is one of the reasons why Ixians are so hesitant to spill blood or even engage in torture. The soul of one’s ancestor or the future soul of one’s descendant could very well be within the reach of an over-eager sword arm.
The first Teacher Tranquil said thusly of violence: “The Virtuous disciple believes that bloodshed is sometimes necessary but it is the final resort taken. Use diplomacy, enchantment, covertcy and cunning first – but blood-letting is the last. Each act of bloodshed should be lamented by the Virtuous; it diminishes the slayer more than it does the slain and those that drink too deep of the crimson cup may find that their bloodthirst never quenched. Perhaps such problems are easier solved by violence, but did not Wyrm choose the hardest path to peace? And did we not all benefit from her choice?”
View of Evil: Teacher Terror once asked of Malleus – if everyone’s souls are so intertwined, why does Evil exist? Why does suffering exist? Does Wyrm desire suffering of us? Does that not make her Evil?
Malleus then said to her: “There is Evil within us all, a desire for suffering and for death. For some, this desire is greater. For others, it is lesser. Similarly, there is Good within us all – in varying amounts. What is given to all of us by Wyrm is willpower – it is something that can be nurtured and strengthened to combat the Evil within us all and within others.
Suffering is a natural part of the world like the quaking of the earth or the blistering winds of winter. Suffering by itself is not Evil. Sometimes, suffering may be used as a tool to find enlightenment.
Sometimes, Evil in others may teach us about the Evil in ourselves. The Slaver can remind us that all life deserves dignity. The Murderer can remind us that all life is precious. The Thief can remind us that possessions can come and go but the spirit and the soul are what is truly important.
I believe that Wyrm desires no suffering from us, she desires growth in spirit from all of us that we may one day reach the end of our many-pathed journey.”
Celestial Church: The Celestial Church of the Shaedlings also believe in reincarnation but they do not agree that it is “faceless”. Like many religions across Midworld, they believe that Elves reincarnate as Elves, Shaedlings as Shaedlings. This is one of the many conflicting beliefs between the Celestial Church and the Nine-fold Virtues. The Shaedlings do not agree with the communal, unified nature of the Virtuous perspective.
Keepers of Fate: Likewise, the followers of the Keepers of Fate distance the Gnome Race from the other Mortal Races. Their place in the world is different and patterned according to the Keepers’ obscure plan. This explains the oddities in Gnomish death-ritual and the strangeness of their final days.
View of Magic:
Most Ixians believe that most magic is merely the extension of the will. Most of those who practice the arts arcane are simply in communion with the primal forces that dwell outside of Midworld. They believe that Witches are in communion with the Totems while Priests (of other Religions such as the Celestial Church) channel the powers of the Gods. Because of the charged spiritual nature of Ekthalon, magic is regarded as natural although not necessary mundane or commonplace.
Adepts, Witches and Priests are those who have honed their talents toward practical and controlled application. Indeed, the first Teacher Truthful spoke thusly of the topic: “True magic-users are made, not born – those who choose to pursue the difficult path of spiritual or of pious contemplation are blessed and cursed by the gifts of their devotion”
However, Ixians view the different facets of Sorcery with a darker light. After all, this brand of magic is requires considerable delving into corruptive arcana. When a Sorcerer sells his soul to otherworldly entities, destroys his sanity to attain power or places his very being in the grip of a parasitic presence, it is an act that endangers his own soul and therefore will affect those beings he will be in the future. Among the eldritch paths, Necromancy is considered the least disruptive to the greater destiny – but such practices and paths are nonetheless held in disdain by the greater Ixian populace (though it is not illegal in most Ixian communities)… except for the Ixian Celestial Church which embraces magic in all of its forms.
The Nine-fold Virtues
“A life of peace is a life well lived; a life for peace is a life fulfilled” – Ixian Proverb
The Nine-fold Virtues is a philosophical religion created by the Horned-King Malleus that attempts to unify Ixia in thought and theology. The Nine-fold Virtues holds each disciple to find their own path in the world. Most of the time, this path lies in meditation or discourse in the temples.
Those who follow the Nine-fold Virtues, be they Priest or layman are sometimes called “the Virtuous”. The Virtuous do not often refer to themselves as such – they use the name to identify those who share their faith.
- Clarity – only with a clear mind, un-intoxicated by hate, fury or fear, can one do right.
- Honesty – lies delude both the speaker and the hearer.
- Mercy – mercy is free and lives are precious.
- Piety – to forget the gods is to forget the truth of our being.
- Loyalty – the bonds of kinship, friendship and allegiance free us instead of binding us.
- Charity – those who have much only have more to gain by sharing their wealth.
- Propriety – those who speak and act in ill ways will only gain illness.
- Chastity – those who continue to indulge in flesh will be consumed by it.
- Serenity – though violence may be necessary, peace is the true goal of any virtuous soul.
Symbol and colors: The symbol of the dominant Ixian religion is a golden disk with the symbol of the World Serpent at its center. Nine scratches or half circles lie at the edge of the disk. The colors of the Nine-fold Virtues are orange (primary), gold and white or brown.
Spells: Priests of this Faith invoke the Mother of all Dragons, “Wyrm” for their spells, although they derive their power not through devotion to her but only through years upon years of discipline, meditation and focus upon the Nine-fold Virtues. Spells of this religion’s Priests that use divine damage inflict Silver-type damage.
Clergy: The Priests of the Virtuous are Disciples who have studied the philosophical texts of their religion and have achieved the necessary discipline to utilize the mental mantra and verbal sutra handed down generation to generation from the Thinker himself. Yet this training is only the first step of their journey – the Disciples are expected to find their own path to enlightenment.
Azura: Most Disciples are called the Azura and they find their path in meditation at a temple, in philosophical discourse or in guiding the Virtuous. They become pillars of society, performing good deeds and inspiring others to do the same.
Naraku: There are those that discover that their path lies far from temple and home – in the very midst of the violence and chaos that are so antithetical to contemplation and communion. Named the Naraku, these Disciples find themselves called to the worst of that the world has to offer with the intention of inspiring Virtue in those around them and protecting the Virtuous from Evil. The Naraku are a rare sight to see because so many either die or fall from grace.
Vhranas: These are Virtuous Disciples that have been elected into leadership roles at their temples due to their wisdom, their experience and their seniority (in that order). Vhranas oversee the training of the Virtuous and provide guidance to those who cannot find their path in the journey of Enlightenment.
Deva: The Deva are the highest and most unattainable tier of the Virtuous Priests. These are Priests that are believed to have achieved enlightenment and their lessons of their life continue to educate future generations (though slavish devotion is discouraged). Most Priests who achieve the rank of Deva do so posthumously with the notable exception of the Horned-King Malleus.
Leadership: The leadership of the Nine-fold Virtues is the Horned-King Malleus and any other living Deva. His role as the secular leader of Ixia creates a conundrum for the the Horned-King, Malleus actually defers many of his Deva roles to his peers – the pressures of his royal position occupy too much of his life. The Deva meet in the main temple of the Virtuous, deep in the heart of the Darkling Halls.
The Keepers of Fate
“The Fates of all Worlds can be found in the hands of the Keepers”
The Keepers of Fate is a strange religion held by many and most Gnomes in and out of Ixia. The core tenets of this faith involve the accumulation of secrets, an alternate dreaming reality and the ultimate destiny of an individual gnome – it is exclusivist if only because it is understandable only by gnomes themselves. Much like the Priests of the Virtuous, the priests of this religion are less like celebrants or ritualists and more like philosophers and will-workers capable of harnessing the power of their faith upon the world.
· All knowledge is worth having and worth hoarding.
· Protect the Gnomish Race but do not hesitate to make sacrifices for the greater good.
· Trade, Trickery, Wordplay – these must all come before the knife; let the True Keepers decide the Fates of Mortals.
Symbol and colors: A dark blue stylistic visage with four gems (one between the eyes, one at each temple and one beneath the lip) by a grey light. Gem colors may vary. The visage is usually emotionless but there are those that display crazed grinning or somber frowning features. Some Keepers display their faith upon a mask they wear to hide their features and unnerve those they meet – a few use glowing masks of Astralline make. The colors of the Keepers are Grey and Dark and/or Light Blue.
Spells: The Priests of this Faith invoke the “True Keepers” in the usage of their spells, drawing from mysterious powers from beyond the scope of reality and sanity. Spells of this religion’s Priests that use divine damage inflict Lightning-type damage.
Clergy: The Gnomes have many names for those that use the power of the Keepers of Fate. The most common and used title is simply Keeper; the titular divinities of this faith are referred to as True Keepers. The Keepers are many things to the Gnome Race: teachers of ideology, spiritual guides, seekers of lore and secrets, and paragons of Gnomish ideals.
One’s initiation into the Keepers of Fate is as strange as the genesis and death-ritual of the Gnome Race. It is known among Gemling, Whisperling and Warpling that Gnomes become Keepers in a process that happens overnight and only happens to very young Dream-singers. Initiates awaken from a particularly disturbing nightmare and find themselves Chosen by the True Keepers, possessing a faith in an incomprehensible mystery and a drive to unravel it by picking up bits of knowledge and lore from the very corners of Midworld.
Some children never wake up from the nightmare and these remains are treated with the utmost of respect and sorrow – they are considered Chosen by the True Keepers but given a different task in the next world.
The Keepers have no central governing body although they recognize one another as walkers upon parallel paths. It is believed that Keepers view each other as rivals as well as companions in this spiritual journey and may inflict obstacles and hindrances upon one another just as easily as they may share secrets and friendships. Some Keepers practice their faith through directing the faithful, others protect the Chosen while there are those that police the Gnome Race for those that would doom it – however, all Keepers are united in their goal of Racial Superiority and Spiritual Enlightenment.
Leadership: Just as there is no hierarchy among the Keepers, there is no leadership as well. each Keeper is expected to find their own ways in this life without the meddling of others to mislead them. This chaotic order suits the Gnomes well – especially because they tend to be more insular or individualistic than the other Races of Midworld.
The Celestial Church:
“Before the Sun, the Stars and the Skies, there was Darkness and Silence…” – the First Rime of the Twilight Scriptures.
The Celestial Church in Ixia is devoted to Raeatha-morriana (usually invoked as Reatha), the Elven Goddess of Darkness, War, Magic and Secrets. They also believe that Raeatha-morriana did not abandon the Elves like the other Elven Gods did. She chose the Twilight Empress Shaedis as an avatar and marked the Shaedling Race as her own. It is believed by this extremist sect of the Celestial Church that the jealousy of the Wildlings and the Callasine that have laid low the truest and most faithful of the Elven people.
Commandments (in an ancient, Twilight Empire dialect of Ark-spiel):
· sul Arkthalon, Aethyris, Sorseris (Piety, Courtesy and Will – the three disciplines of magic): Collect and accumulate magical lore and magical power – each is a gift and a tool to use in our ultimate goal.
· Shaed-ling verathas, Shaed-ling veridun, Shaed-ling veradas!: Protect, propagate and progress the Shaedling Race (and to a lesser extent, the Ixian Kingdom).
· sul Nirathas, Querathas (Silence and Darkness): Peace is the ultimate goal of the Ixian Celestial Church – even though the path to that peace is wrought in Silence (murder) and Darkness (deception).
Symbol and colors: A graceful and grey-feathered left wing across a field of dark violet. It is flanked by three silvery stars (above, below and left). The colors of the Celestial Church are Silver, Dirty Grey and Dark Violet.
Spells: Spells of this religion’s Priests that use divine damage inflict Shadow-type damage.
Clergy: The followers of the celestial church in Ixia believe in Shaedis as the incarnation of the twilight empress – they embrace the mystical aspect of her and her devotion to the magical arts.
They are a secretive, mysterious church that tenaciously clings to Elven tradition, reconciling the dark arts of sorcery with the tenets of Ixia. The result is a highly disciplined, highly traditional, tightly self regulated organization that occupies the darker aspects of Ixian pacifism – knowledge and peace are worth any price to these disciples and acolytes of the Celestial Church. They maintain that the Twilight Empress Shadis was attacked by the Elven forces of Verdis and Solarian millenia ago. In the Church’s scripture, the Twilight empire was broken by Solarian and by insurgent sorcerers that made pacts with demons to rule the Twilight empire afterward- the Twilight empire was instead consumed by demons and its survivors were Shaedlings and Gorgons.
Leadership: The Twilarch, the Hierophant-priestess of the Celestial Church leads her people’s beliefs. She does not have a seat on the circle but she is of great significance despite this-rivaling a Teacher of the Circle in influence and power.
The current Twilarch of the Ixian Celestial Church is the Avorah Caellinrah: the Matriarch of Choir Caellinrah (Heavensung in ancient Ark-spiel dialect). Only 50 years old, she is one of the youngest Twilarchs (and Matriarchs) in recent memory – and she has bent her thoughts and her will to the world outside of Ixia, sending out acolytes to determine the fate of the Shaedling Race beyond Ekthalon and perhaps, the weaknesses of the hubris-ridden Kingdom of Callas Selvarion.