(Guys. Guys, oh my gosh. Guys, I'm going through creativity withdrawal. I need to be creative about something. I'ma just. I'ma just write. Stuff.)
((http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=iYiN ... nderground I was listening to this non-stop while I wrote all this.))
In the time when vampire hunting was at it's peak in the continent of Lordwain, many vampire hunters got sent into the wilderness, with no contact from the outside world, and noway back to civilization for lengthy periods of time, as storms closed what could loosely be called 'roads' at the time in the untamed wilderness. It is believed that this is when the first seeds of Death's Devotees were produced, when parties of vampire hunters, faced by the prospect of their own death, comforted themselves with the idea that death was preferable to the alternative- and began romanticizing the idea of dying. Such thoughts brought peace of mind, and smiles to the faces of those slowly freezing to death with a weapon in hand, and so they were welcomed with open arms.
Fast forward to the dissolution of the major vampire hunting guilds, and circles, and many older members found themselves with an opportunity to 'retire'. All it took was one of them, Theodore Butelle, to settle in a remote village in Lordwain, and take over as the acting pastor, to sew the seeds of Death's worship to the community. Children were raised to find beauty in, and have silent respect for, the passing of all things. Mortality was admired, and cherished- and something to be protected, from creatures like vampires, and 'mad-men' that sought immortality. This went unnoticed at the time, Mercala's church too busy to pay any mind to a remote village, and their depiction of the faith.
When Theodore died of natural causes with a smile on his face, the faithful of the village in it's entirety gathered for his procession, and burial, his smiling face bringing smiles to his followers, and solidifying the idea of Death's embrace being kind. A younger pastor took up Theodore's mantle, and soon, as is often the case with young men, ambition lead to a 'revelation', and the young man set about spreading the faith across Lordwain. This was much harder to miss, as pastors of other villages contacted the Mercalan Church, telling stories of preachers passing through, talking about Death as one might Mercala, leading to an abrupt, yet discrete inquisition, where the church attempted to silently show Death's Devotees the error of their ways. A compromise was eventually struck, and Death's Devotees removed all traces of Mercalan faith from their teachings, replacing their robes and habits with mourner's attire, and adopting the title Death's Devoted officially. From this point on, the Mercalan Church speaks of Death's Devotees as an obscure group of cultists, refusing to acknowledge the connection their faiths once had, some of their most outspoken preachers getting quite heated, and adamant that Death was the exact opposite of what Mercala stood for, so the idea that Death's Devoted could have originated from their faith is ludicrous.
While Death's Devoted had been branded a cult, their day-to-day deeds, and acts of faith were far from destructive. They opened, and managed graveyards across Lordwain, treating and dressing the dearly departed, and condemned alike, burying them in beautiful coffins, and maintaining the gravestones, cleaning, and decorating them regularly. Their strange choice of attire was seen as respectful in this environment, and their care for the graveyards endeared them to the people who frequented their loved one's resting place- opening them to hearing more about their faith. Soon, their faith spread enough to impact more young lives, which grew- and headed across the sea to various continents, for various reasons, leading to new splintered off branches of the faith...
Sigrogana accepted Death's Devotees as readily as it accepted all other walks of life, having seen worse than a bunch of gravekeeping enthusiasts.
For political, and economic reasons no doubt, Death's Devotees have yet to have any of it's followers move to Gold. Gold's opinion is unknown, as a result.
Kysei was a mixed bag, Karaten deeply considered welcoming them, if for no other reason than to discourage young mages from aspiring to be liches- but in the end, turned them away for unknown reasons. Chatarunga was more welcoming, though it's take on the faith is wildly different...
In Egwyn, Kaelensians chased the faith out of their homeland, stories of 'corpse-eating cultists' spreading wildly...
Alstalsia, is as of yet, unvisited by members of the faith.
The Moon's Orthodox -
Believed to be the original, and 'only true branch' of the faith by it's followers, it originated in Lordwain. It speaks of Death as a white-haired beauty of indiscernable gender, with skin as white as the moon. While it's preachers try not to say it out loud, the reason they chose the Moon to be Death's symbol, was that it was the silent reflection- and polar opposite- of the sun, the bringer of life, which is thought to be a humble, and subtle connection to their roots as a part of the Mercalan faith. This branch of the faith preaches respect of Death, not Dying, urging it's followers not to seek Death, or push others towards Death, ironically leading to their following being almost entirely pacifist- though martial pursuits are still encouraged, to defend the dead and their resting place from those who promote undeath. They are also the only branch to view Death as a thing of beauty, decorating graves, and gravestones, preserving bodies before burying them, and dressing the dead in fineries as they prepare them for the earth.
'The Seventh Piece' -
The Chatarungan branch of the faith speaks of Death as the untouchable, intangible seventh piece on 'any and all chessboards'. They are not fighting for you. They are beyond your control. But you can pray to them... They're always listening. The Chatarungans do not generally believe in superstition, and black magic, but many of them do believe in Death- as it's a constant, omnipresent risk, a force of nature that's always waiting for them to make a mistake. As such, some of the shaken, or hobbled will carry with them a small black marble carving of a hooded figure with no face around their neck, belt, or weapon, whispering pleas, and prayers to Death as they draw steel, bargaining for more time, to be overlooked this fight. This does not work well with the rest of the faith, Death's Devotees don't really consider Chatarungans whom carry such idols to be a part of their churches, but the Moon's Orthodox, at it's highest echelons, has expressed a great deal of interest, and respect in their marble carvings, and idols, as things of beauty.
Brothers of the Bog -
What happened to produce this branch is unknown, but they're based out of Egwyn, or at least, claim to be, so it's likely they're the reason the rest of the faith is unwelcome. While The Moon's Orthodox believes Death to be beautiful, Brothers of the Bog 'know the truth'. Death brings rot. Death brings odor. Death brings horrible disfigurement. As a result, the followers discourage beauty of any form. They discourage women from acknowledging their own gender, as being 'of the fairer sex' is disrespectful to Death, bringing new life into the world, and aspiring to 'be beautiful' as they tend to do. Man and woman alike get very short, unkempt haircuts, with uneven patches, wear rags, and carry their scars, disfigurements, and illnesses as badges of honor. Thanks to their experiments, and exploration of rotting parts of their own body, many believe them to be plague-bearers at a glance. They bury their dead without coffins, and in some sects, with the head still sticking up out of the ground. Brothers of the Bog are seen as extreme by the rest of the faith, and even actively acknowledged to be 'cultists' by most of the pastors of the The Moon's Orthodox. Their altars to Death are very unpleasant. Whether or not there's any truth to the Kaelensian's stories about them consuming the corpses of the dead is unknown- no one wants to look into it too deeply.
The Moon's Orthodox has three primary tenets that they adhere to;
I Do not mistake Dying, for Death. We offer praise unto Death, not Dying.
II Do not take your life, or another's life prematurely, trust in Death.
III We do not admire the corpse, we admire the person now with Death.
While these tenets are often framed, or etched against walls, to serve as constant reminders, only the most faithful of pastors, and preachers bring them up, as each of them imply something unpleasant about the faith's history. With each tenet came an unspoken story of tragedy, when the faith was perversed, or twisted to some mad-man's ends.
Men of the faith often dress in black suits, uniforms, and black hats of various styles, as though attending a funeral. Similiarly, women of the faith dress in elaborate black dresses, adorned with black, lacy veils, as though in mourning.
It is said that Death's Devoted actually have a 'festival' all their own, at the very beginning of Winter, the last day of Autumn, when they gather together in their graveyards, to watch the moon rise with the dead. Some of the faithful swear that on that night, when the moon is at it's peak, some of the dead's spirits will speak to them. This is not a scientifically proven phenomenon.
While many faiths seek to answer what comes after death, Death's Devoted are, ironically, unconcerned with it. They trust Death. Whatever comes after, it will be welcome- though, that doesn't stop individuals from forming their own beliefs, the most popular of which are always 'a restful sleep', and variations on Mercalan stories of a paradise free of pain.
As previously stated, they treat the unwanted, and unsavoury with the same respect, and care that they offer to loved ones that have passed. Just as Death doesn't seem to care if you're a noble, honorable prince, or a filthy, cruel bandit, Death's Devoted do not treat you any differently. As no royalty, or nobility has ever approached their faith to bury their departed, this has yet to draw any ire from anyone.
(And then I made this DeathPiece icon, like a mini, handmade addition to a chessboard, to be prayed to as mentioned up above. It could maybe possibly work as an item for the game, maybe a 10* that auto-revives you if you get KO'd once per inn-visit, restoring HP/FP by UL%. Added it to Submissions.)
((And just to dampen the inevitable stoning any-kind-of-post-seems-to-bring's enthusiasm some, here's a disclaimer: I don't expect this to be added, I'm not demanding it be added, I wrote it to eat up time, and give me a chance to be creative about something, the icon, and item idea, also just suggestions, and not something I'm demanding. Put the rocks down, brosis. Or at least, aim away from the face.))
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