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Brazen Souls

"Upon your worldly demise, your spirit will pass into the Astral realm. Terrible beings haunt this domain, but if you have kept your Covenants in life, these beings will not harm you. For Vellis will soon find you, cover you with Her gentle Darkness, and take you to be Received. Then, after a brief time, you will enter into the eternal city of Aatimira."
— an excerpt from the Khairas Tome

 
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by J.R. Korpa

Death may be an end to the physical form, but one's astral self, the soul, lasts much longer. The Brazen religions do not believe in a hell as any specific place or plane, but do preach of the great risk an unfaithful soul faces when they die.

Demons leap at the chance to harvest free souls, and those who seek protection only after death may fall prey to the deals of devils. The Brazen gods promise to preserve their faithful and swiftly take them up to rest in Aatimiras, in exchange for living the principles of the religion during life.

The physical nature or location of Aatimira, the city of stars, was not agreed upon until interplanar expeditions to Mirala confirmed that it was one of a few flying cities on this plane. The others are assumed to belong to gods of other religions.

A proper funeral

Before one can be officially received into Aatimira, their mortal flesh must be completely gone. Rather than wait for the long process of decay, the Brazen Order hastens the salvation of their souls by cremating their dead. The impurities of one's mortal body are left behind during cremation as ash and bone fragments, while smoke, their "breath in death," can ascend to Mirala.

Cremation takes place on an open-air pyre so the heavens can see them. In addition, the ceremony must be performed when there is no rain, and different sects require different times of day. Clerics keep the bodies in a special room of a Brazen temple and cast Gentle Repose on them so they stay fresh until the right circumstances align, which can take a few red months in the rain forests of Thundermaw, where it's almost always raining.

The dead's loved ones participate in parts of the funerary ritual, including wrapping them in fabric with clay amulets to ward off evil, as well as their copy of the Khairas Verses. Once the body is prepared and the time is right, clerics place all bodies to be cremated that day on an altar with an intricate metal grate, and summon fire beneath them until only bone fragments, the amulets, and their Verses are left behind.

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by Valdemaras D.
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by Gilbert Beltran
From under the rubble, a dark, dusky hand stiffly scrabbles at the rocks and rails. A jagged joint of an elbow soon follows, straining against the unmoving stones in a mimicry of desperation as the rest of it sprouts from the cave-in. Although your eyes have never seen the likes of this creature before, you know the malice in this ghoul's eyes, its jealousy. 

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Cover image: Kyre's Banner by CuttleSquish

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