Setting Spotlight – Age of Tragedies Part 2: Rise of the Western Wars
The Hailene War of Ascension never crossed or even came near the Strait of Nivia. While airships assailed the Dragonpier and unsuspecting innocents in Rivenport burned in their beds, life in the west went on as it had for centuries following the breaking of Draconic Control.
Great walled cities; the former strongholds of the Nations of Red and Silver and Black when the dragons ruled; played homes to hundreds of thousands of citizens. Surrounding these were vast swathes of farmland protected by specialized knightly orders armed and trained to fight and destroy spirit beasts. The lands of Saint’s landing were a place of plenty and peace, but also stagnation. Tradition had kept the people alive and safe, and so the belief was that to court change was to court disaster.
Little could any of them know that change was coming from the East.
First, as the war raged on, tales made their way back across the Strait. Stories of hailene violence and and the formation of the Vishnari alliance were known to be sure, but the fact that sparked attention in the west was the touted motivation of the hailene: to raise up their hero and family gods above the Vishnari pantheon which the hailene accused of abandoning the world.
Until that time, religion had become much the same as everything in the West: a tradition upheld by rote and utilitarian value. The Vishnari gods still granted power to their clerics and templars, forming the core of many of the knightly orders that defended the great cities, but few outside of the temples and churches gave little care beyond lip service and holidays.
That all changed when news reached religious leaders of the hailenes’ blasphemy. Evangelists took to the streets with great fervor, speaking the word of the Pantheon and the evils of the distant hailene. It didn’t take long for the flame of religious zeal was rekindled.
This resurgence of faith was only spurred on as the apotheosis of Dey, the newest goddess of the Vishnari, ultimately became the catalyst for the war’s end. Her first act of divinity, the destruction of Illium changed everything.
The priesthood of the Vishnari were split; while some attested to being sent visions and divine emissaries that confirmed Dey’s place among the pantheon, others railed against such a possibility, decrying her as a false god or a small god whose devout were attempting to raise above her station—an event not without its precedent.
Since Dey was being touted in the East as a patron of the Vishnari Alliance; a goddess of obligation, duty and pragmatism (often boiled down to ‘doing what one must’) and the War was a distant and terrible thing in the West, those opposed to her gave her the moniker that still lingers over the church of Dey in the modern era: Goddess of Evil. Arguments raged and for the first, but certainly not the last time, schisms appeared that would rock civilization in the West.
Before this, the Vishnari religion was strongly polytheistic. Aside from the being outright created by Sylph, mortals honored the Vishnari as a whole with individuals, families or even settlements relating themselves to a specific patron, but the entire pantheon was revered together in the same temples or churches. This all changed with arguments over Dey’s validity, as not only did some communities force Deyic worshippers to create their own separate shrines, but the increased religiosity saw many adherents trying to elevate their patrons above all others.
Separate temples, churches, shrines and cathedrals went into construction, each reflecting the perceived aesthetics of their chosen deity. This new isolation allowed even further divergence in terms of tenets and focus. A once unified pantheon became a myriad of different sects, sometimes with multiple groups dedicated to different aspects of the same god existing in the same neighborhood.
Unsurprisingly, sectarian violence soon became a regular occurrence, usually resulting in one group being forced out, but occasionally in wholesale slaughter.
Eventually one sect would rise above the others, and in the second century after war’s end, one did.
Founded by Davir Calder in the city of Kaepheid, Calder’s Line was a movement devoted to Denaii as a god of absolute order. Their core belief was the unbroken line of destiny; the idea that everything had a place in Denaii’s ultimate plan for Ere. Initially, in Calder’s lifetime, this was a type of zen philosophy more about finding contentment with one’s lot in life. Already given a great purpose, Calder’s Line swiftly became favored with Kaepheid’s knightly orders.
However, within a few decades of Calder’s death a new concept took root: that the line could be broken by the ambitious, the foolish, the arrogant and the blasphemous. Those who either didn’t know or didn’t care about the divine destiny Denaii had in store for the world could potentially divert said destiny and doom all of mortalkind.
In a historically unsurprising turn, the devout of Calder’s Line decided that they alone knew the best actions to guide the world to its final reward and such, the ones who should rule. Leveraging their influence among the knightly orders and the favor they curried with the common folk, Calder’s Line soon took control of the ruling councils on most of Kaephied’s districts.
Rulership by council lasted almost a decade longer as Calder’s Line restructured the city with a strict caste system whose workings were so complex that only higher-ranking members of the Line could interpret and administrate it. A corps of proselytizers was created and dispatched with an aim toward giving aid to fledgling chapters of the Line in other city-states.
By the seventieth anniversary of Calder’s founding of the group, other councils and kings saw clearly that Kaepheid’s council was merely a matter of tradition and the real power lay with the Grand Reverend of the Line. Seeing the faith starting to gain footholds in their own realms, they swiftly outlawed the Line as a group—which immediately sent shockwaves through the other powerful and influential religious groups.
The backlash was profound.
Fearful that they would be next, various sects began preparing to defend themselves for a culling from the secular authorities, spurred on by reports of the execution of Line devotees in Spinar and even Sanna Rhovas, the city founded around the site of Saint’s Landing.
Priests and templars began rituals to empower themselves or lay soldiers. Expeditions were sent into the chaos in the East to scavenge magical weaponry and rituals. New prayers were devised for defense or destruction. And in not place was the mobilization greater than in Kaepheid. There, Calder’s Line had devised powerful rites that they bent to capturing and enslaving spirit beasts in secret and training a new cadre of warriors to deploy them in battle.
That battle would be joined shortly when a group of Line supporters instigated violent rebellion against the city of Uepariat. Said rebellion only lasted three days before the formidable ere-a magi of the city managed to route and annihilate the rebels.
Calder’s Line in Kaepheid had been waiting for just such a provocation—to the point that some historians speculate that the rebellion had been armed and funded by Kaephied itself—and declared the deaths of the Line rebels to be an act of aggression against their way of life. The following spring, three hundred and twenty-three years after the end of the War, Kaephied began its march against Uepariat. The Western Wars had begun.
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