Cleric

There were gods once, they shaped the world and more.   Then, reality collapsed. Yggsrathaal came. Uud shrank in upon itself, paling away to nothing. The gods now sleep, if they live at all.   In the long, slow backwash of this cataclysm, there are a few who still believe.   Yes, many claim to. They cling to faith like storm-tossed survivors clinging to a rock, holding on out of fear.   But not you.   Fear plays no role in your faith.   There must be more than this. You feel it. You know it.   There are many kinds of awakenings; for some, scripture, an ancient scroll, or rare surviving testament recovered from a dawn-age ruin in the Waste.   For others, experience, a waking revelation in a moment of despair or understanding.   For some, meditation, for others learning.   But many wake in sleep. The gods dream, or so they say, and in our dreams they still speak, as much as they can, and many are brought to faith through dreams.   Something greater spoke to you. You have been given a mission. You do not do this for yourself. An unveiling. You may not know exactly what that mission is yet, but you will find out.   And you know absolutely it is real.   It’s not about magic, because it’s not about controlling anything, or about seeking power. It’s about accepting that there is something fundamentally larger than yourself, about letting go.   Yggsrathaal is a test. Entropy is a test. Even death itself. A test set by the gods themselves, or one springing directly from the silence at the core of all things - it matters not from where the test comes, only that it is.   Did the gods not promise an apocalypse? An unveiling of terrors? An end to all things?   And did that end not come?   But after the end - a new world.   You are fire. A dream of the sleeping gods, a dream that will lead all to a great awakening. Gods and mortals will walk the world together, Uud will be re-united, and the entropic wyrms will bleed and die. A new world will be born.     RELIGION ON BLACKWATER   There are three broad classes of faith on Blackwater, though an infinity of specifics in any particular situation.     THE PANTHEON   Polytheists worship the Pantheon, or one particular god of the Pantheon, while recognizing the rest.   The Pantheon is. . . heterogeneous. Almost every human culture contributed something to Blackwater, and left some kind of trace behind, even if only a small one. The great list of gods contains multitudes.   They are organized around some prime archetypes, the Father, the Mother, Thought, Craft, War, Swift the Messenger, Love, Death, and the Watcher, but any particular god could be worshipped in any of a range of forms and under a wide variety of names.   And there are many more gods than these, local gods, city gods, and even minor or heroic figures.   It is a very general form of faith, guaranteed to be different in each place, interpreted differently in each temple, and with many local gods and legends.     THE ONE   Monotheists believe, or agree to say they believe, since the treaty of Birch Falls and The Tolerance, that one God, often 'Ark' or 'the Father' or 'the Reality', created everything, and that the rest of the Pantheon are 'expressions' of that one god, sometimes angels, prophets, or 'thoughts in his mind'.   Many monotheists believe that Ark fell and became the Mountains of Reality, and that it is the presence of his holy flesh there that keeps back the Waste.     THE WAY   Pathists follow one particular prophet, or line of prophets, who they refer to as 'teachers'. It's not clear to others if they truly revere the gods 'as gods' or simply as expressions of ways of being, or 'paths'.     As well as these, there are two forms of religion, or belief, on Blackwater, which have no parallel in any other world or plain of existence.     THE TOLERANCE AND ITS PRIESTS   Humanity is surrounded by total annihilation and infiltrated by predatory entropy. Monsters come out of nowhere and start killing, sometimes whole armies of them.   If the numbers, or military force, of humanity drop too low, all might be lost to some terrible event.   We have come close to it before.   So, after the last great religious war on Blackwater, came the treaty of Birch Falls and 'The Tolerance'.   Small, limited political wars are acceptable. Religious wars, crusades, genocides, and pogroms cannot be allowed to happen.   There is no morality in this policy, simply survival.   Religious wars never end. They can permanently split large populations. Genocide brings the numbers down, this makes humanity vulnerable.   Dreaming beings are, and must be, united, at least against The Waste. Or humanity will die.     THE PRIESTS OF TOLERANCE   The Priests of Tolerance are not truly Priests. They serve no God, though some may be believers. Instead, they act as a kind of Benedictine or Jesuitical order of monk or nun-like investigators and inquisitors.   They have but one holy cause - the survival of humanity.   They exist to prevent dreaming beings from turning on themselves.   This doesn't mean preventing crime, abuse, secular limited wars, grudges, murder, suffering, or moral wrong. These things are threats to people, and groups, not to the whole.   They specifically stop holy war, or anything likely to lead to it, ethnic conflict, either inter-Somon or between dreaming peoples, genocides, or anything likely to damage the defensive posture of humanity.   Exactly how broadly this should be interpreted is a subject of intensive debate.   The Priests of Tolerance are made up of only the most serious, careful, well-tested, neutral, intelligent, and capable individuals. Or at least so they claim. Becoming one is a little like becoming a judge.   Besides the respect and terror in which they are held, the enormous moral force of their judgments, and the material power of their organization, they have one major power no-one else on Blackwater is allowed to even attempt to access   They are allowed to make use of captured 'tame' or imprisoned Children of Yggstrathaal.   Those who break the Tolerance are not killed. In most cases that would only make them martyrs to their deluded cause.   Instead, depending on the severity of their offense, their memories are taken, their dreams erased, names consumed, and faces blanked.   They become non-people, with no identity, memory, face, name, or dreams.   Even those who would willingly die for their beliefs will rarely risk such a fate.   It is even rumored that a few of these individuals, the more capable and intelligent, are even re-educated into being new Priests of Tolerance.   Any freshly-awaken theist, especially one exhibiting fresh blessings, will get a visit from the Priests of Tolerance sooner or later, just to make sure they are not a potential threat, or an agent of Yggsrathaal.     THE CULT OF THE ELDRITCH FOUNDER   There have been no new gods on Blackwater, or on Uud anywhere, for thousands of years.   But now, in the last century or so, a strange new cult has arisen. Do they serve a new god, or the memory of an old? Or they are simply insane?   Origin myths for this cult differ greatly, almost as if there is no central organization or testament, only a hydra of self-activating cultists and lunatics.   Many of these myths claim that just before the death of Uud began, one God quarreled with the rest, Cunning perhaps, or Craft, or some wastrel demi-godling.   Others say it was some terrible chthonic power - a destroyer of worlds, or a demon, or monster of awesome capacity, too dangerous to be allowed to roam free.   Whatever they were, they were banished, or imprisoned, sent to the end of all things, far far away in the cosmos. Far from Uud. And they were sent there for a long, long time.   And so, they missed the arrival of Yggsrtathaal, the long slow fall of Uud, and the death of hope.   But they did not die, and they did not sleep. And, once their banishment had ended, or once they escaped their abyssal prison, depending on who you believe, this unknown Eldritch being quietly and silently returned, creeping back into what remained of reality like a thief into a burnt-out home, and found Uud in ruins with Yggsrathaal wrapped around its root.   Realizing they could not defeat Yggsrathaal, they hid somewhere out in the dark. They waited and watched, thinking on how to defeat the Dragon Who Devours Meaning, and they set about a strange work. . .   an Engine of Souls.   Using cunning and craft, and divine, or demonic, or abyssal, power, they formed a great foundry of souls, an engine of creation, a Seraphormer, into which they poured most of their power, and which could create whole fresh souls unlike any seen before.   Here, working in secret, they formed beings, each one entirely unique, each with a particular distinct expression, a place, a time, an arrangement of circumstance, when they would become fully themselves.   Then they hurled these souls at Uud, ghosting them silently past the coils of Yggsrathaal, sending them into the world to grow.   The Cult of the Eldritch Founder believes that certain special individuals were specifically created by this hidden god, and destined to come together to fulfill some unknown purpose that will, somehow, aid the cause of Uud and bring about the defeat of Yggsrathaal.   Exactly what this purpose is they do not seem to know in any particular case, but they wander around seeking groups of random oddities and trying to convince them they are destined to be 'heroes'.   The cult is widely derided as a bunch of ridiculous troublemakers.


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