A History of Faith on Aqualon: The Old World
A variety of religions and spiritualities have arisen on Aqualon over the course of its history. Because of historical and empirical evidence of the Great Clockwork's existence, most of these faiths have common themes they adhere to, accommodating certain inherent truths about the universe in their world views, but they often focus on different aspects. Aqualonian historians have often relegated certain spiritualities into the realm of philosophy rather than faiths due to this.
The Soul Titans of the Broken WorldThe first call to faith came from the original shamans, ur-mages to which the Schamani of Druith claim to trace their ancestry. When the Nine Realms were forged from the debris of the previous incarnation of Aqualon, mankind emerged anew from the Great Clockwork. They called it "the Soul Forge". They stepped onto these mighty asteroids, the stars above their head and a rainbow river flowing around the land, still untamed and dangerous. The human race had been born in division, for five of the realms were populated by them, but the chasm between them no one was yet able to traverse. From the wood of the forests, they built their houses, and from the rivers and lakes of the lands, they caught fish to eat, and it took many centuries for them to advance but a little. But a year would come, the year of stories, where men on all the settled realms would tell a tale; a tale so powerful and moving that it lit their people's souls ablaze. When this first great tale was told and the white went into those who heard it, the great spasm of magic that was unleashed awakened the Titans, who had slumbered within the very cores of the shard worlds. From each populated asteroid, a mighty weapon rose out of the ground, and with it embedded in their heads, four-legged titans grew, made out of their distilled elements: Water, Fire, Lightning, Earth, and Wind. The titans arose and mankind held its breath before their awesome might. As the seconds ticked away eons of dark anticipation, one man or woman would step forth and stand in front of each titan; one per world. They would reach out, and the titans would lower their heads and touch their hands. On that day, the Trinities were rekindled, and the Age of Shamanism began. With great titans at their behest, the land was suddenly for the shamans to mold as they saw fit, and they raised mountains, filled oceans, and cleared forests. With their awesome might, the great civilizations of the Nine Realms were born, and their splendor would rise to ever greater heights, until the day they finally managed to cross the rainbow river. When the river had been traversed and mankind found each other, great titans on either side, not all sought peace and harmony. And with the Titanic Wars, the Age of Shamanism ended.
The God KingsAs the Titanic Wars raged across the Nine Realms, ordinary men and women were swept up in the mayhem of raging titans, flinging the elements like fists at the land, and not all would stand for it. They prayed for the titans to be merciful and calm themselves, but in the end, the shamans were the ones controlling the titans, and none of them could find the courage to end the fighting, terrified the others would turn on them and grind them to dust. So then, the people turned their backs on the titans, turning instead to the Soul Forge, hoping to find strength at the source; and they did. The mightiest warriors sought out the Great Clockwork, the Soul Forge, traveling through all the Nine Realms to seek the points where its forge fires still bled into the world: The Groves of Kilmannen in Midgard, the Volcano of Nidavellir in Swartalbaheim, the Well of Wyrd in Asgard, the Sunken Glacier of Jötenheim, and many more. There they found themselves, and within themselves the gates to the Soul Forge, where they asked the Avatar of the Forge, Tilkváma, to give them the weapons to slay the titans or at least their shamans, and Tilkváma assented. They came forth then, from the ends of the worlds, the mightiest warriors of mankind, and they broke through the elemental shrouds of the titans with their newfound power and destroyed the shamans. The titans vanished, but the weapons embedded in their ethereal heads remained, falling dormant to the ground. None could touch them directly without burning, and their power was sealed within. And though many did try, no other weapon was powerful enough to shatter the ones left by the titans. So, the warriors who had slain them took them as trophies, and each one of them declared one of the Nine Realms their new kingdom. Where the people had prayed to the titans and shamans before and the Soul Forge after that, now they prayed to the God Kings.
The GodsThe God Kings themselves were not eternal, and though their contact with the intersecting points of the Soul Forge had prolonged their lives unnaturally, after several centuries, they grew old and died. In that time, new shamans were born in secret. Always five, one for each element, and shaman cults arose all over the Nine Realms, also in secret. Again and again, new shamans would rise and stand against the God Kings, trying to dethrone them and reclaim the titan weapons, but most would fail. When the old God Kings were nearing their end, they declared their successors, usually their oldest sons, and the Prince of Asgard, a power-hungry trickster named Echwaz, began to scheme for an even greater power. He united the heirs and overthrew the old God Kings before their time. Then, he gathered the most learned arcanists and lore masters in Asgard, making them research the Well of Wyrd until such a time immortality could be extracted from it. When they succeeded, Echwaz had them killed and drank deep, becoming immortal. He lead his co-conspirators in a bloody battle against the other eight realms, and in their onslaught, they destroyed all the other intersecting points with the Soul Forge. When they were done, he and his court returned to Asgard, where he granted the titles of gods to his fellow princes and princesses and let them drink of the Well of Wyrd. He named himself All-father and took on his rule as lord of the gods, and the people of the Nine Realms had little recourse but to worship him and his kind.
The Grand SagesDuring the rule of the gods, there was great splendor among the Nine Realms, but also ever more wars as the gods sought to entertain themselves, turning games and intrigue into the problems of the masses, seeking fights with the Jöten, Vanier, and Swartalben. Among the rabble, five voices began to swell, seemingly out of nowhere. These five, Chakravarti, Versha, Ronilda, Drahoslav, Almelon, had lived at the fringes of society, reading the old shaman texts and seeking out the ruins of the intersecting points. Within themselves they found gates of their own, new access nodes to the Soul Forge, which they called "the Great Wheel". So popular were their tales of the Great Wheel that the term began to stick and was taken up all the way in Odenheim by the gods themselves, who took credit for the idea. Under the guidance of their leader, Yilik the Prophet, they aspired to new heights, releasing texts on philosophy, morality, and the makeup of the universe, first creating the idea of the Core Trinity. What would become "Reality, Existence, and Origin" one far off day was first put into words by Yilik as "Ri, Qi, Gen, or Rikkigen".
These ideas, principles, and teachings would lead to a rise in more powerful individuals among the inhabitants of the Nine Realms, more and more oppressed ones gaining access to the Great Wheel and in turn becoming stronger and wiser and more fit to oppose the gods. When the Faceless World Shaper arrived, seemingly out of nowhere, the Grand Sages and Yilik flocked to him, joining his quest to unify the Nine Realms into one planet, which lead to the War that Reshaped the World and the dawn of a new age.
RiRi means something like "reason" or "principle". It is explained by Yilik as a primal energy or truth, which imbues all things with the rules that define what they are. The principle which imbues a rock with the concept of being a rock and not something else is Ri. Ri brings order into the universe.
QiQi means something like "spirit" or "energy". It is explained by Yilik as the primal energy or truth that imbues living beings with the power to move and act of their own accord. It is opposed to Ri and brings chaos into the universe. People, too, according to Yilik, could choose to act on their Qi or on their Ri. The former meaning acting against and the latter towards their archetypes. As such there is a Ri of being a son, a Ri of being a father, a Ri of being daughter, a Ri of being a mother, a Ri of being a farmer, a Ri of being a king, and so many more.
GenGen means something like "origin" and refers to the primal energy or truth that enables things which have Ri to develop Qi, surpassing their own concepts. This aspect is the least understood of the three basic truths, and even the later form of the Core Trinity does not really change this truth in any meaningful way. Modern philosophers and technocrats in particular ascribe the concept of "emergence" to what was understood as "Gen" in the olden days.