If there is no honor bestowed upon the dead, if their keeping is corrupted, then there is no honor for the living.
-- Sister Yengara, Order of Cinders
It's said that God became angry with His angels and cast their tower into the depths of the ocean. A curse of time fell on Emberscythe and all those who lived in what was once paradise were no longer the keepers and protectors of the dead, but began to know death themselves. The continent shook and broke, the oceans rose and waged war against the land. Dragons fell from the sky and the sun disappeared. Portals dimmed, quieted, and turned to ash. At the edges of the destruction a forthright and stalwart community found themselves in one of the last untouched portal plains of Ehrylion. So they set forth to take up the mission the angels failed in-- to guard and uphold the integrity of the dead until that time they could pass through the veil into Heaven. And with this vow, Carrion the Bastion of the Ehrylion Plains, rose into prominence.
Reign of Fire
The celestial dragon A-beth circles Carrion in a pattern as if she were herself a sun. There is no other source of light for Carrion. Daytime is when she is overhead, and night is when she has gone over the horizon.
Like all celestial dragons of the Emberscythe plane, she leaves behind wake-- a pheramonic byproduct-- which streaks across the sky in gold, pink, and green hues. When her orbit becomes closer to Carrion, which happens in regular intervals, the interaction of her wake with the Carrion atmosphere create giant swaths of fire falling from the sky. This has led her to be known as "vindictive."
Effects on Greater Carrion
The yearly reign of fire had marked effect on Carrion architecture and building practices. Many towns were carved out of mounds or built of the red stone of the Carrion desert. Some smaller towns and cities were established inside great caverns (though these were commonly reserved for Ehrynite Creches).
Because of the heat of the desert and the fires themselves, travel during the Fire season was quite trecherous, leading to some ingenious metal clad carriages and even a few underground roads that led to the capital.
Food could be hunted from indigenous wildlife that seemed to, over the years, evolve strategies to stay free from flames, or provided from plant and animal life grown and tended inside of protected Creche greenhouses.
Festival of DescentWhen the season of flames draws near, citizens of Carrion migrate underground to vast retreats of luxury (or at least safety). During this time there are great festivals and feasting, as well as large worship services for the Honored Dead.
Religions and Beliefs
The Faith of Q'Samae
Eschewing the "old" God of Emberscythe, the people of Carrion formed a new religion based on their belief that a great dragon, Hata-i lived below the surface of the plains in a deep slumbering, and his mate-- the vindictive A-beth-- flies in the sky bringing little light to the world. Each dragon is worshipped (even A-beth) as part of the draconic divine duality of Carrion.
A core teaching of Q'Samae is that Hata-i and A-beth will eventually unite and hatch a great magical egg, giving birth to a greater god of the undead, Samaeth who is destined to lead Carrion into a golden age.
It is said that Hata-i blessed the dead and raised them from their slumber so that his son, Samaeth, would have an army for the conquest of Emberscythe. A-beth, being a goddess of destruction and flame, destroys the dead so that Samaeth cannot throw her from her seat of power in the sky.
We've flourished in a desert, tempered in the heat of flames, just imagine us in paradise anew! If only A-beth would not scorch the earth we walk on and set fire to our crops out of her jealousy of Hata-i's slumber.
Lord Merinden I, Avatar of Hata-i
An offshoot of the Faith, the Ehrynite Congregation was a complex culture inside Carrion Society.
The religion was based primarily on the belief that bonded twins Ehryn and Ehryn were the emissaries of Hata-i and A-beth, not the Avatar of Hata-i who sat on the throne in The'en Cathedral. Having been granted vision into the knowledge that the dragon gods held, the Ehryns founded a series of creches across the lands of Carrion.
Ehrynite Creches were unparalleled in their understanding of the natural, growing world. Inside caverns and fire-safe greenhouse cities, they provided and cared for the bulk of Carrion's foodstuffs.
Book of q'Olandiel
Purportedly "discovered" while forming the mound in which to build the town of White Skull, the Book of q'Olandiel is the premier religious text for Q'Samae. Attributed to an angel who survived the sundering, Olandiel, it is a long adventure tale of over 1000 pages that follows Olandiel on his journey from the heaven of Ojsai to the plains of Ehrylion.
It imparts many precepts and practices to the Faith, and contains primary themes of the treatment and honoring of the dead, the role of Hata-i in the raising of the dead, and the necessity for keeping A-beth from she herself taking rest as Hata-i does lest the world be torn asunder.
Books of Pure Duality and Pure Totality
The first of the two Ehrynite religious texts, the Book of Pure Duality is traditionally covered in white leather and details the bloodlines and lineages of the Ehrynite Congregation. Its required in all households so that there is no inbreeding.
The Book of Pure Duality, in a similar note to the Book of q'Olandiel, is a tome that explains the way of the Ehrynite way of life and traditions. Its major themes are centered around the idea of "two-into-one" and practices, rituals, and traditions that help bonded pairings (or "twins") maintain this holy union in their daily lives to be closer to unity and te totality of all that is.
The Fall of Carrion
There has been no greater influence on modern culture than the influence of Ancient Carrion. If the Bastion of Ehrylion had not been destroyed, Emberscythe would be a vastly different society than as it currently stands.
-- Dr. Jon Avrael, School of Histories
The portal plains describe the regions of greater Emberscythe where world portals were located. They are so named because they are devoid of much mountainous terrain and their geography is primarily flat plains of grass. "Ehrylion" is the name given to these four locations, and they surround Emberscythe.
Once, each plain was inhabited by great dragons who would activate the portals and bring trade and travel from Emberscythe to the greater connected multiverse. They essentially connected the lands of paradise undying to the material, earthy realms. However, since the sundering, none of these portals seems to be functioning.
What a marvel of engineering The'en Cathedral is! With spires reaching so high they could graze A-beth's belly (if she ever dared to fly overhead) and an interior cavern reaching so low one could hear Hata-i himself snoring in his peaceful slumber, this cathedral city dominates the center of carrion.
It's easy to see why no other city has risen up in the Carrion Empire to compete with such splendor; even after almost two-thousand years. From the hanging gardens tended by loving bonded Ehyrinite twins, to the glass palaces of the Honored Dead under the cathedral itself, this extensive metropolis is incomparable to all.
Run out an' tag one of them wardens, Joss. Looks like the worm of death is here.
--Carrionic Wise Woman
RAISING THE DEAD
Hata-i gave the power to raise the dead to the monastic orders of Q'Samae. Freshly dead corpses are soaked in ley and a warden is assigned to paint special glyphs, called kocharin, across the honored corpse to hold in the soul.
These bodies are then placed in special caskets and laid under the surface of the Ley Road, and towed to The'en Cathedral where a ritual is performed to bind the soul permanently to the undead body.
If blessed by Hata-i, the corpse rises anew, bonded to one of the Tez'equiel Council, and has a station of honor in Carrion society. If not, the soul is captured into special crystals and placed into carved skulls for safe keeping until the birth of Samaeth.