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The Religions of Acqua

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Cheka Man:
Jovian priests
There are two main religions on Acqua, those who worship Jove and those who worship Ulmaina.

The Jovian priests started in Banhoesea but have since spread across many islands. They are more then just men who pray and maintain their churches.They help the sick and the dying, and many Sea Wizards belong to the priesthood of Jove.They lend money at a 3% interest rate (more then 3% is seen as sinful.) The ships and boats (with the exception of the great De Madden Company ten masters, because of company policy) are decorated with beautiful purple prayer ribbons and prayer wheels that blow around in the wind.

On the minus side, they tend to be highly patriarchal, and at the least highly discourage the following of other religions, being more intolarent the closer they are based to Banhoesea.They are banned from shedding blood, but a handful of warrior priests have been known, in which case they carry maces.

Their churches often have a small amount of amythest on the altar.The symbol of Jove is a small globe of reddish amber.

Cheka Man:
Jovian funeral rituals
The normal funeral ritual that takes place in the great majority of cases is that the body is laid in state for twenty-four hours to enable people to pay their last respects, and then it is placed on a funeral pyre. Three times the name of the dead person is called and the priest and relatives circle the pyre seven times and say prayers for the person's soul, the priest holding a flaming torch in one hand and twirling a prayer wheel.Then the pyre is set alight and the ashes and burnt bones are put in an urn and stored in the family home.

For the great nobles and the most famous commoners things are very different.All the priests turn out and they spin their prayer wheels and pray for the departed soul.A holiday is called so that people can line the streets to see the coffin go by to where the nobles are buried.The body has gold pieces placed upon it's eyes and then the coffin lid is closed and the body is placed in a tomb of green jade.It is thought that being buried with gold pieces in such a tomb cancels out the person's sins and lets them buy their way into Heaven.

For the worst murderers and the traitors, the priest curses them, and they are bound and gagged, a weight is bound to their legs and they are taken to the deep ocean and dropped overboard alive into the Hell of the sea bottom where the G'Thrann wait and where it is thought their souls will remain trapped for all eternity.

The worshippers of Ulmania have differnt funeral rituals. Within the tribes outside Banhoesea some cremate the dead, some bury them, some place them on rafts and float them out to sea,some that are at war catapault them into the other tribe's fortified places to cause disease, and some feed them to the Kraken known as Big Red.

Cheka Man:
The Jovians
The Jovians, or the Illustrious Messengers of the Sky Father, as they are officially known, are the priests and religious community dedicated to the spreading of the worship of Jove, the Sky Father, the Red Lord, the Great Judge, the Great Eye, the Thunderer, the Vengeful One, Bestower of Blessings, Giver of Punishments.

Jove is the Great Lord of the Sky, and in Acquan mythology, is presented as the father of the world of Acqua. In the dualism of the Divine Couple, Jove contrasts his former lover, Ulmania, in representing the "negative" aspects of the world (though the word "negative" is to highly-charged with connotation to represent the actual concept)- darkness, night-time, emotion, extremes, great heat, the sky, wild animals, and death.
He is a strict, judgemental god, vengeful in his character, who demands great obedience and strict standards of behavior from his followers, whereby his title the Great Judge. He is regarded as a constantly watching (as the Great Eye) and judging god, who keeps long tallies of all of mankind's evils and sins. At one's death, Jove calls the soul to him, and passes judgement over the dead. If the soul's karmic balance is judged to be positive, the soul passes on to Isles of the Blessed in the Sanctuary Sea, where Ulmania dwells. If the soul's karmic balance is judged to be negative, the soul is torn apart by Khuber, the Great Hound of Jove, and is then spat out into the watery realm of Hell, which lies at the utmost bottom of Acqua's oceans. But most often, the soul's balance is neither overwhelmingly positive nor overwhelmingly negative- the soul is flung by Jove to the far, grey reaches of the sky, beyond the stars, where the soul drifts boringly and without personality for all eternity through Takhol, the Realm of the Dead.
Jove is also presented as an angry and vengeful god (especially by the Tulukhai Clan, a fanatical extremist Jovian sect)- the Jovians relate often the tale of the birth of Acqua, though it is tempered in that Jove is angered by Acqua because Acqua is a homosexual (something the Jovian sect declares an abomination). Thus, Jove wishes to destroy Acqua, and all humanity, for beings born of Acqua are tainted with Acqua's sins, as well as their own evil. Most Jovian ceremonies and rituals (including their main festival, Apang-Ma-Takha, Aversion of Judgement) are concerned with the abasement of beings before Jove and the aversion of his wrath and judgement upon the world. Jovian ceremonies always feature fire, and the burning of sacrafices and incense. Symbols of all the various aspects of Jove- Great Judge, Great Eye, Red Lord of Fire, Sky Father, and all the 1600 others- are represented in silk banners. Ceremonies tend to be grandiose in scale- Jove enjoys things which he sees as grand and reflective of his greatness.

Jovian temples are constructed in the form of towers or ziggurats (step-pyramids) to better elevate prayers toward the sky. As Jove is constantly visible in the sky, most temples prefer to have an open skylight, and balconies for observation of his glory. The color scheme of such temples is overwhelmingly red, and tends to be very simple, elegantly sparse, and even spartan, in contrast to the elaborate, sculpture-encrusted, and baroque temples of Ulmania. The top of a Jovian temple generally contains a Flame of Remission, a flaming altar that is kept constantly burning.

Jovian Clans
The Clans Ecclesiastical: (to be completed)
The Clans Militant: (to be completed)
The Clans Recluse: (to be completed)
The Clans Heretic: (to be completed)

Cheka Man:
The One Who Must Scream For all Eternity
When the God Jove came into existence,he created the order of angelic beings known as the Ashervati to help him rule over all creation. Beautiful beings of pure light,the Ashervati were the most regal and magnificent of Jove's creation, molded from the very rays that emanated from the Great Lord of the Sky.

Among them,one soon rose quickly to become the most beloved of Jove. Sargash or 'Beautiful Light in the Heavens' was the youngest of the ten Ashervati brought into existence by the Sky Father. Despite this,he soon won himself a special place in the otherwise stern and unyielding heart of Jove ,with his earnest dedication to help his divine master create an ideal world. Unlike his older and more tranquil brothers,the blood of young Sargas was easy to excite. The passion flowed strong in him and the great Jove was touched that Sargas believed so deeply in his grand experiment of creation. The other Ashervati merely carried out his bidding like the loyal servants they were,but Sargash actually dreamed ....

Ironic then,that the same passion which won Sargash the favour of the Great Sky Father,would utimately cause his down fall. But perhaps,no shock to those who realize and accept the other aspect of Jove,that of the stern Great Judge and Bestower of Punishments,the stern and unforgiving master who can forgive no transgession,even the slightest. As cold and ruthless as the waters of the ocean is Jove when he wears that mantle of vengeance and punishment.

Thus it was,that when Jove discovered the rephrensible homosexual nature of his Son Acqua,he cursed him for bringing such dishonor upon his father and swore that he would have nothing to do with him again. Never would Acqua's safety be guaranteed,for Jove would not hesitate to smite him into nothingness were he to commit sin again. And the same watchful,unforgiving eye would be turned upon the children of Acqua,for it was inconceivable that they not inherit the sin that had stained the soul of their father.

Appalled and furious was the compassionate Sargash when word of Jove's decision to ostracize his own flesh and blood reached his ears. Acqua had been his dear friend. Ignoring the prudent counsel of his brothers who warned him not to question that which Jove in his infallible wisdom,had decreed,he strode into the Hall of the Sky where the great Sky Father resided,to demonstrate his angry disapproval of what had been done to his friend.

Heedless of the terrible anger that darkened Jove's face at this intrusion ,he lambasted the Red Lord for his inability to mingle his cruel justice with mercy. Mercy that was more important in a God than justice,for without mercy how does a God differ from any petty lower being that would kill others of its own kind for even the most petty infringement of inflexible,rigid laws?

Enraged by this blasmepheous comparision,Jove grabbed Sargas by the scruff of his neck and flung him into the absolute dark depths of the oceans where only the fearsome levethians of terror known as the G'Thrann dwell,declaring that for daring to accuse the Great Judge himself,Sargash would never be welcome at the doors of the Sky realm again.

And in the black,icy depths of his place of exile,Sargash grew bitter. Cursing Jove as a tyrant,he swore that he would show himself more worthy than the intolerant and haughty Great Judge of,ruling the hearts and minds of thinking beings. Spurning the blind,fanatical world of dogma that Jove would impose on mortal kind,he would build his own realm,one free of guilt and sin. There mortal kind would have to fear no divine wrath,ruled only by their own conscience.

With this in mind,he used his powerful gifts to bring forth a most magnificent city into existence at the bottom of the ocean. This would be where his alternate vision would blossom. Or so he imagined.

Unknown to him,the emergance of this abberation in their domain had not gone unnoticed by the G'Thrann. Uttering angry cries,they emerged from their dark lairs and wiped out the city utterly,in the process crushing the seeds of Sargash's plan.

Unable to stop them,the Ashervati could only look on in impotent rage from the crevice that concealed him from the abominations,as they went about their dreadful work. When there was finally nothing left to destroy,they departed leaving huge devastation in their wake.

Gnashing his teeth in rage,Sargahs decided then and there,that the insult done to him by the hulking monsters would not go unpunished.

Soaring out of the ocean depths with a stroke of his powerful wings,he flew towards the peak of the great fire mountain Thurang. There,hovering just above the crater that seethed with lava and molten rock,he spread his arms wide and begin to cast a powerful spell. If all went well,he would soon be a vast monster ten times the size of the largest G'Thrann there was. Then he would return to the ocean depths to inflict his bloody vengance on the accursed brutes.

He had not reckoned on the ever watchful Eye of Jove,however. Angered that Sargash had returned from his exile to the ocean depths,the Red Lord was nevertheless puzzled by Sargash's purpose in coming to the fire mountain Thurang and decided to observe him to divine the fallen Ashervati's purpose.

His question was answered when the first grotesque physical changes started to come upon Sargash. Realizing swiftly that if he did nothing to halt Saragash's transformation,a monstrous threat would be unleashed into the world,he summoned the tiniest portion of his power and blasted Sargash with a counter spell.

Even that little exertion on the part of Jove was enough to to send Sargash reeling. Stunned,he toppled from the sky into the burning crater directly below him,a hideous mix of monster and angel.

Then with a mere flick of his hand,Jove sealed the lips of the crater,imprisoning Sargash in that burning prison for all eternity.

To this day,Sargash remains the prisoner of scorching Thurang,the smouldering inner fires in the bowels of the fire mountain eating into his malformed flesh. His loud screams of agony and torture reverberate for miles,causing any ship within miles to tremble violently,as if hit by a gale or storm. For this reason,many mariners avoid the waters surrounding Thurang,convinced that to sail into them would be to tempt the powerful evil that lies imprisoned in Thurang's smouldering embrace. Only when the G'Thrann forgive the fallen Ashverati,will those waters be safe.

Cheka Man:
Ever since the two major religions of Acqua, that of Jove and Ulmania, were created, their clergy have hated each other with a passion that at times has led to violence. Mostly it just means that they do everyrhing differently out of spite.They have different liturgical uses, different hymms and prayers, different baptism,wedding and funeral services. The priests of Jove favour cremation for the dead in nearly all cases, so the priests and priestesses of Ulmania favour burial.

Where there is enough space this is not a problem, but in crowded Banhoesea it became a major issue.The bodies of Ulamanian worshippers were being buried secretly in the floors and foundations of houses or in soon to be dug up land or in crop fields.After a major outbreak of disease the De Madden Company Central Council, of which all but one worshipped Jove, threatened to outlaw the Ulmanian religion, persecute it's beleavers and confiscate it's assets.

The great majority of Sea Witches and a few Sea Wizards were Ulmanian beleavers and called a nationwide strike, trapping half the De Madden Company fleet in harbour.Without magic most could not leave harbour safely and even the ten masters would take a long time to get anywhere.

The Central Council got really angry and arrested the strike leaders, threatening to hang them. The strikers threatened to use their magic to cause huge waves within the harbours and wreck the ships within.A compromise was reached.The strike leaders were set free and Ulmania's Church purchased a large,partly rocky, mile-long island, with a quarter of the Church's wealth. This was to be their Isle of the Dead.

All burials outside it were banned with the threat of very severe punishment for those who disobeyed.

That was over seven hundered years ago...

The first thing one notices when downwind of the Isle of the Dead is the smell, a foul musty smell of stale saltwater mixed with the stink of decomposing flesh, that gets much worse when one lands upon the island itself. The island is covered with graves in every patch of dry earth, tombs and catacombs,pyramids and family vaults.There is a jetty that allways has at least one boatload of dead bodies awaiting their turn to be buried, covered up with navy blue tapaulins to prevent hungry birds eating the bodies.

There are many locked and barred doors leading to the catacombs that have been dug out over the centuries by generations of faithful Ulmania worshippers after all the burial space on the surface had been finally used up. On each side are niches cut out of the rock.The upper niches hold dusty skelitons of those who died centuries ago and who's souls went to their eternal rest a long time ago. Here there is silence, except for the chirping of the seagulls outside, and the speech, and the sound of the feet of any adventures as they walk along.

The corridors are lit by glowing stones known as mori rock, and are often patroled by the Silent Guardians of the Final Rest, the holy security guards who prevent grave robbers and necromancers and other unwanted intruders from getting in. They will almost certainly react very violently to any living being who is not wearing the robes of the Priests of the Lightless Depths. They wear black armour and carry razor-sharp cutlasses and small black iron sheilds. Their helmets are shaped like the heads of birds with a long *beak* and a plume of black feathers.

The further down one gets, the more recent the corpses will be.Some have golden bracelets on their arms, others have silver coins in their mouths to pay their way into heaven.They start to be rotting away, rather then just dry clean white bones. The stench here is digusting and it is hard for those not used to it not to be sick.On either side the bodies are wriggling with fat white maggots and worms. The sombre chanting of the Priests of the Lightless Depths can be heard from down below as they conduct funerals for the most recent dead and pray.

Over the centuries the island has began to sink into the sea because of the weight of all the tombs, and the water here is knee deep. Great saltwater crocodiles have infiltrated through underwater tunnels and are feeding on the bodies, and will snap out at any unwary people. The sounds are the dripping of water, the cracking of bones, and sometimes the chanting of the Priests. There are beautiful statues of Ulmania, and some of these have been colonised by the Hulags, amphibious squid like beings with five tentacles and a beak with a poisonous bite, which look rather like giant hands with long claws on the end. These have their egg sacs and nests to defend and will therefore leap out at anybody who gets too close.

Finally one will reach the levels where the newly dead are being laid out and prayed for by the Priests, who wear red skullcaps and blood-red robes with purple belts and are unarmed. If a Priest is threatened or harmed, then a wraith of the newly dead will appear, outraged by this ill treatment of the one who has helped him after his death.

Wraiths look like they did in life, but glow with a reddish light and are see through.Their touch on living flesh burns it and causes sickness.The injured person will feel faint and might throw up, and will drop anything they are holding into the murky,cold, waist-deep water.Wraiths on the Isle of the Dead, can only be harmed by a silver weapon, or a weapon that has been blessed by a Jovian Priest.

A Raise Dead spell will trap them in their bloated, stinking body, which will then raise itself and attack, and can be killed in the normal way with normal weapons.


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