User:SleepyWolf

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Current Unathi dev :)

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Religions of Moghes

Sk'akh, The Three Headed God, The Great Spirit

The primary faith of the Izweski clan, and the Hegemony's only recognized religion, the Faith of Sk'akh is based around the central Great Spirit, also known as The Three Headed God. Overall, the religion exists only in the Untouched Lands, and is the second-most populous religion on the planet behind Th'akh, followers of the Ancestors. Unlike Th'akh believers, Sk'akh followers believe that in death, all spirits will join Sk'akh's soul, becoming one whole.

Sk'akh is a gender-neutral God, being called 'he' or 'she' interchangeably to represent that Sk'akh is a collection of all Unathi, and are often represented as a group (They/Them). They are often called Three of One because the spirits combine into three minor aspects that are all part of Ska'kh: the Warrior, the Healer, the Fisher. These three spirits are personifications of the most important aspects of Unathi society. It is said that all three are equally important and that disasters are caused by an imbalance in the Great Three. Priests of Sk'akh often stress the importance of balance on a spiritual and societal level. Some followers of Sk'akh choose to follow a specific lifestyle of an aspect of Sk'akh, praying to one of the Heads in particular, although still venerating the others.

The Priesthood

The Sk'akh church saw a sharp increase in power in the last few decades as Sk'akh priests tend to try to embody one of the Great Three. They become warrior priests, doctors or surgeons, or aquatic farmers. Warrior Priests of Sk'akh are near-universally highly respected, and form a small, elite fighting force that is on par with the War Riders. They go into battle with intricate runes drawn across their armored plates, chanting to Sk'akh for her blessing in the battle. Regular worship is communal, with Unathi clans or villages coming together for feasts or festivals to give thanks to their ancestors and Sk'akh for good tidings, or to ask for favors or assistance in life, with a priest to guide the service or provide interpretation of Sk'akhs intentions or assistance in contacting ancestors.

Sk'akh priests universally consider synthetics to be devoid of a soul, and thus they cannot be considered living beings. In December of 2457 the Council of Teht was held, in which an assembly of Sk'akh priests mandated this as doctrine for the faith. While a minority of priests argued against this, they were overruled by the majority.

Typically to become a priest you must seek and obtain a Master in Sacred Theology in a major Moghean university. The degree usually takes 3 - 4 years to obtain, and is much easier to get if you are in an Izweski-loyalist and from a Noble bloodline.

The Maraziite Order

Also known simply as The Maraziites or The Iron-Masks, the Maraziite Order is currently a garrison of militant Sk'akh faithful under the command of 'Chapter Masters'. These Maraziites have the right to bear arms and dispense justice against spiritual threats to the Hegemony, and patrol major Izweski cities for Th'akh extremists believed to be blood cultists. Known for their silver cloaks and iron masks, in ancient times they were known to brutally dominate entire regions in what are known as the Iron Crusades, something Th'akh believers should not forget. The Maraziites are known for taking hundreds of prisoners, seizing many tomes and documents that Maraziite authorities claim are evidence of cult involvement.

Chapter Masters run individual Chapters of the Order in their specific settlement or city, operating out of churches or holy septs. These authority figures oversee Maraziite officers and are responsible for the efficient running of their Chapter.

Beliefs

Sk'akh is the central diety of Unathi, and although other 'Gods' may exist for other species, Sk'akh is the only one for Unathi.

Sk'akh is most often shown in statues as a three-headed Unathi holding two spears. They are often created in marble, basalt, sandstone or obsidian.

There are three minor aspects of Sk'akh - The Warrior, the Healer, and the Fisherman. All of them are equal, and are kept in balance by prayer.

Prosthetics are unaccepted if built out of anything that has not lived. Only bone, wood, or diona prosthetics are accepted by the priests, otherwise they are believed to be unnatural. On Moghes, amputations were common in war, and there are whole businesses around crafting bone or wood prosthetics. Only recently have Diona become an interest to the church - primarily for their spiritual connection to Sk'akh as multi-mind organisms.

A foundation of Sk'akh beliefs is that the soul is the actual person, and not the body it inhabits. When a hatchling develops within the egg, it is believed that the Great Spirit instills a newly created soul within.

The creation myth for Sk'akh follows that after the universe was birthed, it was cold and dark and empty, without any value. Over time the first living things walked across creation. These first souls were deeply alone and isolated, and when they died they entered an empty spirit plane with nothing to guide them. In both life and death creation was chaotic and without meaning. Eventually, even the stars, without purpose and order, fell from the sky and began to burn creation to cinders. Three wise elders, the first fisherman, the first healer, and the first warrior came together in the spirit realm and declared that order must reign in a chaotic universe. Merging their souls together they formed Sk'akh, who became the custodian of creation. Sk'akh is the source of duty and purpose. It is by His command that the stars remain in the sky, that the rivers flow, and arrow flies. This myth makes Sk'akh followers scornful of the Th'akh, who they see as encouraging the chaos that came before Sk'akh. Beings that defy the demands of order in the universe are scorned by Sk'akh and their spirit is left to eternally wander isolated and alone, eventually becoming forgotten or even becoming an evil entity.

On Death

On death, it is believed the soul leaves the body, wandering for minutes, hours, maybe days before finally being taken up to join Sk'akh, becoming one with Them. If a soul has unfinished business, it will remain watching until it accepts death, or its body is laid to rest. If a body is cloned, it's believed that the soul is snatched out of the spirit realm and put back inside the body.

Cyborgification is considered heresy amoungst Sk'akh doctrine - dictating that the unliving metal violates the soul beyond repair, sending the soul to oblivion. It is believed full-body cyborgs to be without a spirit completely.

Burial Rites

The body is to be treated with respect, with open wounds sealed or cauterized. A priest oversees a funeral process and gives a sermon on the individal, which is traditionally a communal affair assuring the attendees that the individual in question will join the Great Spirit after the ceremony. The ceremony begins by placing valuables onto the body, and then setting the body aflame. The spirit may eventually find its way out of the body, however cremation will assist the spirit in the process. If a person dies and is cloned then the former body is simply an empty, rather useless vessel, and should be disposed of as soon as possible. If someone dies a good person, they join Sk'akh and become a part of the Great Spirit. If someone dies an evil or wicked person they are barred from joining Sk'akh, doomed to wander the world as an exiled spirit - made a Guwan after death, judged by Sk'akh. These wandering spirits tend to become malicious and hateful and are easily manipulated by the daemonic forces of that stalk the realm of the dead to engage in evil acts against the material world.

History

HISTORY OF SK'AKH
      The Sk'akh Faith's history, filled with crusades and glory.

Dating back to 500 AD, the Sk'akh faith has always been primarily located in what is now known as the Untouched Lands. Originating from the region around Skalamar, it is believed to be what caused ancient Unathi to settle down from a nomadic lifestyle, forming towns and cities around the three Aspects of Sk'akh. All major Izweski cities in the modern day still show the effects of this - having three major districts dedicated to the Warrior, Healer, and Fisherman.

Over the years, with kingdoms being created and destroyed, Iron Crusades were called against neighboring enemies of the Sk'akh faith. The centralization of the church made priests a powerful role, being able to command armies alongside generals and kings. The ancient order of the Maraziites were warrior-priests of the Faith, and were feared by Th'akh believers for their strength, spiritually and physically.

Prior to the rule of Clan Izweski, the central Church had no 'Head Priest', instead being a council of priests from various city-states. This changed when the first Izweski Hegemon violently overthrew the previous Clan to hold Hegemony, and proclaimed Sk'akh to be the only Faith recognized by the ruler of Moghes. He rebuilt the Great Scept after it was destroyed in the coup and resulting civil war, and began the tradition of there being a High Priest.

This alliance between Clan Izweski and the High Priest allowed years of co-operation, with both players defending each-others claims. The Hegemon would enact Sk'akhs justice, and the High Priest would support the Hegemon as long as he followed the will and beliefs of Sk'akh. There would be balance for years between the two powers.

Powerful nobles and wealthy merchants would convert to Sk'akh for many reasons. Some because of true Faith to Sk'akh, some to find wealth and power, and some because of a direct command to convert by the Izweski Hegemon - at risk of being exiled or destroyed.

The Third Sept's Ashes - Recent History

During the reign of S'kresti Izweski the Mad in very recent history, the central Sept of Sk'akh in Skalamar was burnt to the ground. The Mad Hegemon giving the command to torch the Sept destroyed artifacts that were hundreds of years old, dating back to before the Third Sept was even created. This has not been the first time the Sept has been destroyed, however - the Third Sept was actually only constructed 20 years ago, with the Second Sept being destroyed in the Contact War and the First Scept being destroyed when the Izweski initially took control of Skalamar over 500 years ago.

Now, the Sept is only a massive foundation, under which tunnels of tombs and artifact storage sites are kept. The massive Cathedral no longer stands, instead priests creating hundreds of small shrines until construction of the Fourth Scept begins.

Th'akh, Ancestral Bloodlines, Wandering Spirits

The most pervasive and common religion among Unathi. It dates back even before the First Hegemony, and as a byproduct of Unathi stubbornness has remained central to Unathi spiritualism. The basic concept of Th'akh is that all the spirits of past Unathi now reside in the spirit world that exists in tandem with the material world. These spirits exist in objects and nature - bringing either good luck or sorrow. Particularly nasty natural disasters were often attributed to particularly strong groups of spiteful spirits influencing events in the material world. They tend to paint their bodies in paint blended of berries, some shamans even going so far as to mark themselves with the name of villagers who died in his village, making them a walking library to add to the strong oral traditions of Tha'kh. This practice, for obvious reasons, tends to be more common in smaller villages.

Shamans

Many tribes had their village shamans, who were elderly men or women seen to have a special connection to the spirit world. They consumed mind-altering herbs to enter and interact with the world of spirits, and to channel their energies into the Spirit World, or the World of the Ancestors. Tribes would hold elaborate rituals where the village shaman would call upon the ancestors of the hunters or warriors to enter their weapons or fill the warriors with great courage and ability in battle. In modern times, this ritual is still practiced, but most Unathi now call their ancestors to fill their weapon and grant it extraordinary abilities before they enter a battle.

Shamans tended to live simply and dedicate their efforts to improve the community. They were spiritual leaders, and it was very rare that any got involved in politics. This lead to them being exploited by the Izweski nation, who drafted many into the army to make them perform rituals for the soldiers, often under duress. After the war ended with the nuclear devastation, the shamans began to be discriminated against by the government, and many are leaving the Izweski nation as traveling shamans or even leaving Moghes entirely.

Bloodlines and Spirits

Th'akh beliefs are heavily decentralized and individualistic,

Beliefs

Although

On Death

Burial Rites

Burial rites are similar on solid ground or in space. If a person dies and is unable to be cloned then the body must be tended to and made as presentable as possible in order to appease the passing spirit, which can often become upset and therefore malicious if they see their former body being defaced. The corpse should have any open incisions cauterized and all wounds should be sealed and treated with gauze or an advanced trauma pack to stop any bleeding. The corpse should then be dressed in a white uniform or the uniform the person died in; whichever is more respectable or available. The funeral should be communal, with the shaman overseeing the viewing and encouraging people to share stories of how the person lived a good life. Once this is done the body should be buried, stored away, or left in a crypt or tomb, as Th'akh often believe any wounds to the body will follow them through to the spirit world. If a person dies and is cloned then the former body is simply an empty, rather useless vessel, and should be disposed of as soon as possible. Individuals that die a good person join the ancestors and live with them in the realm of the spirits in tandem alongside the material world, and are very much still with the living. If someone dies wicked or evil they can be scorned by their ancestors and exiled. Their spirit, without the closure of being with their family and ancestors, can become overwhelmed by grief or spite that it takes it out on the material world, causing all sorts of ills.

History

HISTORY OF TH'AKH
  Th'akhs history, following key spirits that shaped how Th'akh believers view spirits today.

The oldest recorded written work depicting a version of Th'akh spiritualism dates back to 100 BC, with bonework totems and other artifacts that would have been carried with nomadic tribes of Unathi on the backs of community leaders. Over time, this culture evolved into the creation of the first Shamans, who would be the most experienced Unathi of the tribe.


Akhanzi Order, Mountain Temple Shamans

Portrait of Vuthix Akhandi, circa 2459.

The Akhanzi Order is the oldest known Th'akh religious group on Moghes. Akhanzi itself translates to "Spirit Wanderers" in the general sense. Historical sites of the Order go all the way back to 1200 BCE, over a thousand years before Unathi ended their nomadic lifestyles and built the first towns. The Akhanzi built their temples in secluded mountainous areas, where they were insulated from the greater outside world and able to practice their faiths, nearly unchanged, for thousands of years. The Order focuses on inward perfection of the self, with its philosophies stressing the importance of understanding the world (reimagined as 'the universe' in contemporary times) and the wishes of their ancestors. They are highly dedicated to knowledge and the preservation of knowledge.

Mountain Temples

Each temple of the Order has a commune of male and female shamans that are dedicated to its maintenance and preservation. When they join the Order they renounce their Clan name and all ties to their family and other organizations before taking on the title of Akhandi, which loosely translates to the singular term, "Spirit Wanderer". New recruits serve as acolytes and can be promoted at any time, but by tradition it usually requires the approval of multiple Shamans within the same temple. Their temples are dedicated to learning as well as teaching. The shamans live in a symbiotic relationship with their local communities. The people of a village or town bring the temple offerings of food, water, or other material goods. In exchange for being provided for, the shamans, in turn, use their temples as places of learning for all Unathi that ask, in fields from astronomy, history, mathematics, and philosophy. There are also several sections of the Order which teach more physical pursuits, such as martial arts, farming, fishing, or ranching. While technically they will offer lessons to any Unathi that asks, it's traditional for you to provide an offering of food in a fair exchange. Temples are ancient and incredibly sacred to the Order. Defilement of the temples is an unthinkable crime.

Unfortunately these temples were razed to the ground by the Sk'akh Inquisition in May of 2460, and their archives were lost. The survivors of the crusade have fled to space and many are congregating in Tau Ceti. There they maintain large community centers that act as libraries, colleges, and living areas for the shamans. The Order is struggling to restore fragments of its lost archives, having to rely on the memory of the older members who committed texts to memory. Now they serve as important facilities of Education for both Unathi and non-unathi within the system.


The Si'akh Heresy, the Purifying Flames of Sk'akh

Born from the fires of the Contact War on 2439, Si'akh has rapidly spread across the Wasteland. It is lead by charismatic former Sk'akh priest Juzida Si'akh, who claims to be the Messiah for Unathi. It is a radical Sk'akh heresy that claims the Contact War to have been Final Judgement for the Unathi species caused by their innate wickedness. He claims that all Unathi that died in the 'cleansing fire' of the atomic weapons were given salvation, and that all Unathi that survived are damned to remain trapped on the Hell of Moghes unless the species and Moghes are rapidly purified. The movement has nearly a hundred thousand followers and it has come into immediate conflict with the orthodox Sk'akh church due to Si'akh claiming it to be completely illegitimate. Its followers are ruthlessly hunted down by the Maraziite Order when they enter cities, and many of its followers are fleeing into human space as they try to find personal salvation. It is treated as a Sk'akh heresy or a fanatical doomsday cult by orthodox Unathi.

The Prophet

Portrait of Juzida Si'akh in the middle of a firebrand sermon, circa 2457.

Born Juzida Aizahi, the now Notable Unathi Juzida Si'akh was born on 2409 and was rather unassuming as a priest until the Contact War brought nuclear devastation to his village. Si'akh was the sole survivor in his village after a nearby nuclear blast flattened the entire area. He emerged to the blasted hellscape and saw Sk'akh in the distant mushroom cloud, who spoke to him and gave him divine inspiration, declaring him the Final Prophet: the messiah and last hope for Unathi. Since that day he has been a firebrand preacher, traveling the Wasteland and giving incredibly intense and passionate sermons. He claims to have a direct connection with Sk'akh which gives him supernatural powers. He claims he can bring salvation to Unathi with a simple touch. He travels the wasteland wearing simple robes, typically with nothing but his walking stick and his journal. He is an extremely charismatic leader and has spawned a cult of personality around himself. His formal title is the Final Prophet Born of the Purifying Flames.

The Fire Priests

The church organization is decentralized due to its nature as a radical heresy constantly hunted by the established Sk'akh Church. However beneath Juzida there are his Speakers of the Purifying Flames, or Fire Priests that spread his message across the Wasteland. Named in reference to both the cleansing fire of the atomic weapons that swept across Moghes, it is also in reference to the firebrand sermons given by their messiah. Flame Priests tend to be former Sk'akh priests that embraced Juzida's radical messages. However in the past Juzida decreed that anyone with a determination to spread the message can become a Flame Priest, but it is a rite of passage to first come before him and recite all of his sermons from memory. Radically, even a female can become a Flame Priestess, which is something even his most ardent followers must come to terms with.

The Reavers of the Flame

Being situated in the incredibly dangerous Wasteland, and coupled with ruthless oppression from the Maraziite Order, Si'akh early in his days as messiah created a fanatical militant holy order answerable only to him. Its members are called Reavers, and they are charged with the protection of Si'akh and all of his followers. Based in ruined Wasteland forts they guard pilgrims who travel for miles to follow the traveling Si'akh, sheltering them from bandits. They are frequently attacked by the Maraziite Order patrols that make expeditions into the wasteland, and have taken to arming themselves with crude ballistic weapons and antiquated steel spears. Using welders Reavers are required to burn off their horns when joining the Order, giving them a strange appearance compared to typical Unathi. Joining the Order is a fast track to salvation. Additional, more in-depth information can be added to Si'akh's Notable Unathi entry.