Rite of Ascension
The Rite of Ascension celebrates the life – and often causes the death – of an individual found Worthy by the Ascended Conclave. After speeches to their superiors and loved ones extolling the individual's life of service to Hydell and the Natural Order, the soul of the Worthy is bound into the mech that will serve as their eternal body, elevating the deceased into the ranks of the Ordained Ascended.
While originally only performed within a week after the death of the Worthy, the Rite of Ascension is now celebrated on the date selected by the Worthy themself regardless of their current living status. The anticipation of ascending from the Worthy into the ranks of the Ordained has led many to request their own death prematurely, and the Conclave has been more than happy to comply.
PreparationPreparations for the Rite begin immediately upon the naming of an individual as Worthy, regardless of when they intend to schedule the ceremony itself. The newfound Worthy is first interviewed to identify their future role within the Ordained, although this is a mere formality as their elevation to Worthy is typically in reaction to their suitability in fulfilling a desired role. The Worthy are also assigned a mentor, a still-living individual representing the will of the Conclave and tasked with teaching the Worthy additional required skills, occasionally technical in nature but more often lessons on the privileges, responsibilities, and etiquettes of their current and future role. Construction on the mech intended to house the Worthy's soul also begins at this time, although the Worthy themselves will not see their new mechanical body until the day they take their Rites. Once a Worthy is ready to join the Ordained – either due to death or a request to their mentor upon completion of their training – a date is selected for the Rite of Ascension and the announcements sent. An invitation to the ceremony is considered a great honor, reserved to friends and family close to the Worthy, as well as political guests selected by the Conclave and their representatives. Worthy individuals planning their Ascension often agonize over their guest lists.
It's the last day of my life, I want it to be perfect! We haven't spoken for years, but maybe I should invite her anyway? We were best friends once, and I'll never get to see her again.On rare occasions a small selection of heretics are also permitted entry to the festivities as a sign of forgiveness and an opportunity to recant and atone for past transgressions. These additions to the guest list are never announced in advance, and most Worthy dream to discover their life and Ascension chosen as a means of redemption for those who have wandered from the Natural Order.
CeremonyThe Rite itself is held on the Worthy's homeworld or, on rare occasions, on board one of the Sanctorum Dreadnoughts belonging to the Conclave. The Conclave never attends directly, regardless of the ceremony's location, as the privilege of meeting the reclusive eternal guardians of the Natural Order is reserved only for the Ordained. A representative of the Conclave, often a necromancer, will begin the proceedings with a speech extolling the virtues, accomplishments, and service of the Worthy before permitting the Worthy themself to speak. The Worthy's speech is carefully written with their mentor and most often focuses on encouragement for those in attendance, reminding that this is an honor they, too, can achieve. Those who are close with their guests also take the opportunity to say goodbye, often reminiscing on past shared events which led to this moment as a way to let go of their prior lives. Upon conclusion of the speeches the Worthy is introduced to their new mechanical body. If the Worthy is still alive their soul will noe be severed from their body, while those already deceased will be allowed to return to the Afterlife. The Necromancer of Ceremonies will then bind their soul within the mech, verifying with the newly Ordained that all intended functions of their new body are operating as intended. The Ordained will then address their guests once more, thanking them for their presence and support, and bidding them to enjoy the food and celebration in their honor. After a cheer from their guests, the Ordained will depart with the Conclave's representative and the feast in their honor will commence, sometimes lasting several days.
AftermathLittle is known about the experiences of the Ordained immediately following their Rite of Ascension. The devout hypothesize this is when the Ordained meet the Conclave for the first time, beginning their eternity of honorable service to the Natural Order, typically on one of the large Santorum ships housing the Conclave members. Those branded as heretics whisper reminders that very few among the Ordained are ever seen again.
How can you insist it's an honor when nobody even knows what it means?