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 Post subject: Gaijin Religions
PostPosted: Fri Aug 04, 2017 6:09 am 
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Kharsis

The Faith of Kharsis has been the dominant belief in the part of the West still unconquered by the Yodotai Empire. Its origins lie in the original beliefs of the Hanif, the Radian, and other ancient tribes of the West, which in some aspects are not dissimilar from Rokugani theogony. Like the Yodotai of today, the Merenaese, the Thranish and the Sheel believe that Gaia and Caelus rule in Heavens among angels and saints after Caelus cast their ten children onto Earth as punishment for the defiant challenge for the rulership of his heavenly domain the first and the ninth of them had launched against their parents. Some of them allegedly did not survive the impact. But while those Hanif who would become the Yodotai received their guidance from the returned spirit of the firstborn they call Conquest and have appropriated his siblings as other deities of their pantheon, they rarely ever worship the Tenth. They don't even agree on her gender, or name, often uttering it with condescension and disregard just short of hate they reserve for the Ninth, the Mighty and Merciless Sea. They often call him or her Mercy, Redemption, Sacrifice or Rebirth, and consider a god for the weak, hapless, bereaved and downtrodden, not what they respect or aspire to be.

For the other peoples around them, she has been Kharsis. They believe that a few centuries ago Kharsis had walked the earth before Conquest manifested himself to the Yodotai as she had been the one to survive the fall from Heavens by falling into the ocean along her sister. She was the most innocent, compassionate and forgiving from among the heavenly progeny, she had had no part in their defiance and had had tried to dissuade her brother and sister from challenging their parents. Before Caelus meted out his harsh punishment for the rebellion she had pleaded with him and her mother to forgive her siblings. It is believed that Caelus hesitated the most when he was about to cast his last daughter through the Hole in the Sky. Before he did, he would say that for her there might be one day a way back to Heavens.

Ever selfless, Kharsis concluded that through her sacrfice her siblings could be redeemed, and people that would follow her teachings and example could be led to ascension and join the ranks of angels and saints. She argued with her sister, the ninth sibling whose spirit would make the sea her domain, to not forsake the hope of redemption. For whatever reason the Ninth tentatively consented and struck a truce with Kharsis, granting her immunity from her malice and, more conditionally, to those who would follow her as long as they would remain true to either of them, retaining storms and krakens of the deep as tools of her vengeance. From then on, Kharsis could calm the seas and walk on the water as if it was land. But for all the miracles she performed and the message of salvation she carried, only a few listened and followed her, clinging to their own ways and considering her the embodiment of weakness. The Radians created their own seafaring kingdom, and the warrior tribes of Nyask fared well without her assistance, as both worshipped the Sea directly, offering sacrifices and their dead to her embrace. it is the rise of the empire Kharsis' eldest brother precipitated that galvanised her supporters and sealed her fate.

Conquest never liked or respected Kharsis, and in his defiance he went further than the Mighty and Merciless Sea herself, but forsaking Heavens and deciding to become the ruler of whole mankind on Earth to replicate what his father had denied him in Heavens. For him, there was no return or redemption and he asked for none. Some believe it was Kharsis' gospel of salvation that precipitated his drive to step up and inspire one of the tribes of the Hanif to wage holy wars in his name. Kharsis was reaching out to those who rejected her brother's belligerence and suffered for it, trying to deliver them to safety. As the Yodotai waged their Great Crusade. Some of the Hanif she saved by leading them south would become the Sheel, the Radians she led west across the sea would become the Merenaese, the Nyaskese that would follow her to the isles to the northwest would become the Thranish.

But in the end, she committed to stopping her brother's bellicose folly and decided to confront his champion, Octavius, when he was about to lay siege to Akkanon. It was then when the Radian king Gradiel wanted to sacrifice his own heir to the Sea to grant him victory against the Yodotai. Kharsis pleaded with him not to do so and set out to parley with Octavius, but the self-righteous man, inspired by Conquest and his four other siblings, Devotion, Fidelity, Justice and Shadow, took the Tenth Sibling as a blasphemer and had her tortured, crucified, her body burned and ashes scattered to the four winds. As the news reached Gradiel, he offered his firstborn to the Sea and while she had no mercy for him, neither did she for the Yodotai, flooding Octavius' army with a gigantic tsunami in The Battle That Must Not be Forgotten. For killing her sister Kharsis, the Ninth laid a terrible curse on the Yodotai, promising them death whenever they enter her domain, forever denying to her brother's Empire the conquest of lands beyond the seas and oceans of the world.

While some of those Yodotai who witnessed Kharsis' final moments converted to her gospel and carried her message of sacrifice, forgiveness, hope, redemption, salvation and rebirth on, as the news spread many of her earlier followers, especially those in Thrane, listened to the whispers of the Sea and focused on vengeance on the Yodotai for killing Kharsis. While many cathedrals, churches and chapels have been erected for Kharsis, ever since, and many pray for her salvatory return, as a deity she has grown distant, her following manifestations rare and apocryphal. Legends have arisen of relics carried away from the site of Kharsis' torment, splinters from her cross, the goblet into which her blood dripped, ashes from her pyre, that would allegedly hold fractions of her power. Some of her pupils wandered the West and beyond in the wake of her death, but most of them remained anonymous. It is an irony that the original scripture that contains the records of the life and teachings of Kharsis was written in Yodotai. Some stipulate that the man known as Mekhem was in fact a student of Kharsis who fled Yodotai persecution to J'li'lu and then emigrated to the Burning Sands where the return of Kharsis had been foretold in the ancient Senpet prophecies of the Awakening.

But while in the kingdoms of the West Kharsis is revered in the light of day, many of those who live off the sea from Merenae or Thrane have quietly shifted their venerations to the darker, vengeful goddess of the depths who has given them drive and blessings to raid and pillage the continent and on whose good mood their seafaring depends. In a way, they have returned to their violent ways of their tribal times, turning their backs on Kharsis' teachings, revelling in war and conquest no less than the Yodotai they deplore. Among pirates and buccaneers it is not unheard of to offer blood sacrifices to appease storms, and those who have 'sold their soul to the Sea' are known to be fearsome sailors who can call to the dark deity to bring storms and waves onto their enemies, or maybe even summon krakens and giant sea serpents. Many could argue that the current dominant Western morality originates more from those darker instincts than from Kharsis' lessons.



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 Post subject: Re: Gaijin Religions
PostPosted: Sun Aug 06, 2017 4:28 pm 
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The Lost Daughter

It is a syncretic religion recently adopted as the state religion of the Tarkhanate, but has a wide following in the Unicorn Clan as well. At its root, it is a cult of Shinjo. While the original Ki-Rin had once believed in what is believed in Rokugan, centuries of traversing the Burning Sands saturated their religiousness with many local beliefs, and the influence of Martazera was non-negligible in making their understanding of the supernatural as more ritualistic and practical than theological. The Moto, once they had forsaken the faith of the Lords of Death, have only known Shinjo herself as their sole guardian goddess, and for more transcendental narratives they had the belief in Shilah, Kaleel or Mekhem to fill in the blanks. Even before Kami Shinjo perished in the Battle with the Shadow, the religious practices were very heterodox and diverse among the various groups of the Ki-Rin.

Of them, two groups were instrumental in spreading this heterodoxy and religious innovation. One were the Ide, because of whatever arcane tales their time with Hojyn has left them with and their early cogent exposure to the religions of the West, particularly the Faith of Kharsis. The other were the Iuchi, because of their discoveries about the beliefs of the Medinaat al-Salaam on the Awakening, old Senpet prophecies about Selqet included, Mekhem as a prophet living in their time and their studies of sorcery beyond kami worship and their forays into understanding of the Hakim's Seal.

When Kami Shinjo was lost, a need for a message of hope was more dire than ever, but Yonaru was not big on religious ideas with the trauma still fresh. He was too humble to promise his people that Kami Shinjo would one day return, and gave no ear to Iuchi Suasan's stories of ancient prophecies that could be portending just this. His son Kublai had far more audacity, and he saw virtue in providing a religious narrative to his legitimacy as the Khan of Khans, especially that it was one the Desert Moto recognised. Under his command of the Horde, essentialised Shinjo worship became dominant, even though it was no longer clear to many who she was. Those who married into the Unicorn understood her in their own terms, a child of Shilah and Kaleel, an avatar of the Sun herself, a Jinn Lord or something else. The common denominator was that she would eventually return to save her people from a great calamity, perhaps another Day of Wrath, or eternal darkness, and that Mekhem was her prophet.

In another corner of the continent, Moto Hulagu was facing similar dilemmas. His nascent empire was extremely multicultural, their frequent contacts with the Merenaese and the inclusion of many Sheel slaves as Mamluks in the aftermath of their foundational war made worshippers of Kharsis a very significant group among his subjects. Radical Kharsites were responsible for a few small rebellions of 470s, most likely inspired by outside agents to subvert his rule, but crackdowns were no long-term solution. It is the reunion of the children of Shinjo for their unified attack of the Jewel that allowed for increased exchanges between the Iuchi and the Ide. In the end, it was the Grand Vizier Mansoor al-Eidi (Ide Mansuri) who came up with the basic doctrine of the simple, framework religion that could accommodate many beliefs under one roof, and integrate the Iuchi into the Tarkhanate.

The Lost Daughter is the epitome of goodness, righteousness and compassion and the promise of salvation. She is the child of the heavenly parents who has sacrificed herself for humans on Earth and will return once more to save her faithful from an otherwise certain doom, in undetermined future. Mekhem was the prophet who had foretold her return. The rest... is fluid, because there is no scripture, nor one religious vernacular. In a sense, storytellers would become preachers, in line with how the wisdom of the Ki-Rin had been passed before. Iuchi daimyo would become the Grand Mufti, but his fatwas would become more organisational than doctrinal, though most of Shinjo's Laws have been worked into it, like prohibition of incest and inbreeding. However, polygamous and polyandrous relations have been allowed, and many social mores relaxed into a basic message of human kindness and decency, while retaining the right to wage holy wars against the enemies. The accounts of evil others in this syncretic denomination are mostly a la carte, be they the Senpet, the Yodotai, the Merenaese, or some particular groups, though they are all portrayed as the agents of Darkness.

The imams have been given much freedom of interpretation and adjust it to the spiritual backgrounds and needs of the worshippers, the effort of the state was to build grand mosques across the Tarkhanate that would impress the goddess' power to the diverse population. Even if theologically unimpressive, for many Kharsites, believers in Shilah or the students of Mekhem it was just enough to see their own deity in the Lost Daughter while basking in splendour and being a part of the emerging greater whole. The purpose is not zeal, but internal stability.

And yet, among the steppe Unicorn another, harsher and more demanding doctrine has emerged soon after the initial spread of the faith of the Lost Daughter. One that emphasises simple life and demanding of oneself, less tolerance for decadence. It has tied the idea of Shinjo's return to the concept of a holy pilgrimage, her faithful people getting back to the place where she fell from Heavens, to the lands of the Emerald Empire. Shinjo Kublai is its firm proponent, and many of his direct followers look at the permissive lifestyles in the Tarkhanate with contempt. Whether it is a natural notion left by Shinjo's heritage or an exercise in ideological engineering to keep the old Ujik-hai ways of the desert, for those Unicorn that abhor settling down because of their inherent wanderlust it has become the central idea of their spirituality, and as a consequence a major contention between both Khans and their respective powerbases.



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