SummaryVolapaws as a faith is a muddied thing, intertwined with political machination, treachery, and human usefulness. Over the centuries it has taken many forms and names, some not even related to each other at all upon inspection. Nonetheless, the singular unifying element tends to be a kind of worship, regard, or belief surrounding Aerintor, perhaps the greatest human warrior to ever live. The very beginnings of the faith itself can be traced to just before the downfall of the Imperium. By the time of Aerintor's ascendance to renown across Aerthen, Lophern, and Votyoger, she had acquired a large cult following. Her physical prowess and capable command on the battlefield against Veltrona's most powerful beings was nothing to laugh at. Those who followed her took up a then a chant of her infamous saying, "To break the wings of dragons". It boiled down into 'volapaws', a word hated by many draconic beings that lived in the era of the Imperium. Thus, these original followers constitute the first, and perhaps only legitimate, cult of Aerintor. Following the downfall, Aerintor's sudden vanishing left an air of mystery around her. No body was found, and not even her hated enemies could affirm she was legitimately dead. Seemingly taking out the notorious Imperious herself, this all but deified Aerintor immediately in human cultures in Aerthen. What evidence there may have been was buried in the time of the Great Darkness. When the skies cleared, all sorts of micro-cults had formed claiming lineage to Aerintor or her followers. Sectarian violence followed swiftly, and centuries of bloody conflict ensued. Eventually, one group won out in the far eastern coastline of Aerthen. Establishing a monotheistic doctrine, they revered Aerintor as a warrior goddess ascended. While they codified what words of hers that could be found, her unyielding righteousness soon became a problem. Inconvenient, in a way, to rulers and those wishing to propagandize. Thus the first rewritings began, a fact lambasted by dragons and baarham. The latter of which, especially, hold Aerintor in high regard. She is in fact perhaps the greatest revered person that isn't a baarham themself. It is quite compelling to hear from those who had actually lived in that time, let alone fought Aerintor themselves or worked alongside her. Still, this too became inconvenient, and teachings of mistrust and warnings spread in the faith. It became an insular thing, only respecting those who had a life span as short as any other human's. After all, when those who know differently die out, the lies continue onward. Thus they become truth in their own perverse way. This baked in xenophobia did not mesh well and ended up splintering Volapaws into several distinct sects. The original pro-human variant, the one respecting draconic truth, the one that disregarded deification for factualism, and the fourth which ended up a branch of another faith from Nerzin. These four waged a battle across Aerthen for dominance, be it in the minds of the people or on the battlefield. In the ensuing centuries, the body count they became responsible for stood staggeringly high. Eventually all four of them met their end as a major power, for a fifth one emerged. Acknowledging draconic truth but seeking human supremacy, it embraced pursuing freedom and the power to defend it earnestly. All others could be tolerated, if they did not infringe upon this. The popularity of such an idea won over the masses, even if its teachings remained inconvenient for nobility. So has Volapaws remained since defined by the fifth and final of the great sects. The new centralized congregation spread across Aerthen, its missionaries found in almost every corner. Today, the heart of Volapaws sits in the Aerthen Imperial Federation, being the dominant faith of the Federation. It is also the ideological vehicle through which much of Aerthen's honorable-warrior cultures have arisen from. At least, in the human portion of the world. To acquire merit, to succeed and obtain honor, is done through personal glory found in difficult situations. War and combat is the easiest example to point at, but also running humanitarian operations, innovating on life-saving methods, and other ideas are valid as well. Volapaws demands this, so that when one dies, they're worthy of fighting beside Aerintor herself. To do otherwise is to become dishonorable, vain, and contemptible. The exact details beside this varies significantly within the faith's various microcultures, but the overall unifying idea remains apparent.
In officialdom known as Suivre pour Volapaws, the legal body is simplistic on the surface. Faithful members are overseen by priestesses, who are organized and ran by the Briseuse, traditionally successful veteran warrior-priestesses. Above them sit the Orders of Forgers, those who are responsible for the physical guts of the faith and arming its congregation. From the leaders of these orders is a consensus garnered, and the Dragonbones Conclave is arranged. Finally, the Conclave elects a figurehead to act as their singular voice in governance, and is given the title of Volakar, or dragon killer. A name believed to come from Aerintor's own sword, credibility not withstanding. The direct simplicity of this arrangement is to facilitate easier setup, recording, and administration of the faith. Various orders will impose more customs, doctrine, and ideas within their purview. While this has the benefit of bringing in local culture, it also makes the orders more beholden to their native lands than the unifying ideology. This forms the eternal undercurrent of Volapaws, a shared commonality that is always pulled by local interests. The Conclave spends most of its time managing this political dynamic and ensuring another schism doesn't happen. Given the ever prevalent threat posed by weather, wildlife, the Relentless, and the Forsaken, Volapaws does not want for opportunities to increase valor. Much of its membership can be found in hostile areas, or rotating between them. Newblood goes out to achieve merits, while older blood focuses more on domestic affairs as needed. Should an area stabilize and obtain a relative peacefulness, it isn't uncommon for expeditions to launch out and find new problems to deal with. Ranking within Volapaws is determined by acclaim and successful merit, chiefly. Being a warrior-minded faith, it is core to one's spiritual health to acquire merits in pursuit of noble goals. While this is often related to battle, by necessity other concessions were made. As a result, increasing seniority means increasing veterancy typically, making the leaders of a congregation rather fearsome. The legitimacy of one's deeds is of vital importance, and hence honor is extremely important to Volapaws. To act dishonorably in face of its doctrine is to see one's value destroyed with alarming quickness. The pervading influence of Volapaws left most of humanity in Aerthen viewed through a cultural lens of honor. It is not dissimilar to the honorable ways of Nerzin, Aerthen's ancestral neighbor. How it manifests is different, though, focusing more on personal glory than familial lineage/tradition.