August 01, 2004

Cymur - The Golden Faith

Known as the Great Dragon to most, his real name is rarely used and thus far less known, only knowledgable clergy and those who have read the oldest holy texts know that when he originally made his presence known he introduced himself as Cymur.

The Golden Faith has a very strong footing among all those of Telanthan birth, though outside of Telantha it only found a very small following, primarily among Humans though some other races have been known to worship the Great Dragon, though more often than not these were merchants who did a large part of their business in Telantha. It is well known that the Great Dragon favours that city and its inhabitants and so many of those who had dealings within the city on a regular basis would offer prayer to the Great Dragon upon entering the city or as they were leaving.

Number of Worshipers
Prior to the cataclysm the amount of followers likely counted into the tens of thousands, though keeping track of exact numbers in these times would be difficult, but roughly the number of followers was slightly greater than the entire population of Telantha (The majority of the Telanthan population plus small pockets outside in other cities) However since the cataclysm and the horrendous death toll that has been levied upon the city, the number of followers would be greatly diminished, though with out a doubt the number of followers for the Golden Faith would overwhelm that of other religions, perhaps claiming a little over half the population of the city (And thus half of all known survivors of the cataclysm)

Methods of Worship
There are many different ways that worship is conducted, and many of these forms have strong roots in tradition. However the most widely used and regular form of worship is prayer which can be conducted at churches or temples early every morning in large communal but simple ceremonies, or personally. Having once had the Great Dragon live among them, many of his followers feel a keen bond with their deity and converse through prayer on a regular basis, often only to relate the days events. He even blessed the fountain within the centre square of Telantha ensuring the purity of the water for the town's people.

In the military there are only a few traditions, the most prominent of which is the blessing of armour before a battle by the clergy which takes place in a large ceremony in which the owner of the armour will pray for a swift conclusion to the battle and for the safe passage to the mists for all those who will fall in the coming conflict. This tradition serves not only to hopefully turn the blades of their enemies, but also it is believed that those wearing blessed armour are more visible to the Great Dragon and that their deeds (Heroic or cowardly) will come to his attention above all others on the battlefield. As a result, many believe that those who are unwilling to attend or simply miss the ceremony do so with an intention to commit an act of cowardice during the battle and thus want to avoid the Great Dragons attention. It's worth noting that while the natural vocation of Telanthans has always been farming, and thus they are not the most highly trained warriors, that despite this they are known not to retreat from combat. They are by no means berserkers, however even faced with insurmountable odds it is more common for a man to fight to his death than consider retreat.

As might be expected there are many traditions tied with agricultural, almost all farms, even orchards, have one small field they use to grow wheat (from March, harvest on July, in the off months the field is left barren though due to the land shortage after the cataclysm some farms have taken re-using this field for other purposes, but many frown on this practice and believe it brings bad luck) Just before the wheat is ready to harvest a priest from the temple is sent for, who will come to bless the crop. The wheat from this field is used to make extremely lavish pastries, breads, etc (Traditionally by the wife of the farmer, though this is the case simply because traditionally the women of the household are the better cooks) There is an element of competition in this as it is seen as a measure of a persons devotion to he Great Dragon and everyone strives to make the best goods as a result. (There is a belief that if for some reason the goods are spoilt, for example the bread doesn't rise, that it is a sign that the family has committed some act of wickedness in the past year. Naturally people tend not to show these goods if this happens, and so those who don't take part in this tradition or those who don't present much goods are suspected by others) These goods are then transported to the great temple where they are arranged in the great hall (previously the residence of the Great Dragon himself) in stunningly mouth watering displays. However the food is never consumed, and in fact it is a crime to do so, as these offerings are meant to show the peoples continued devotion to their God and their hard work even in face of the new threat, it is believed that should the offering be made in sufficient quantity and be prepared to a suitably high standard the Great Dragon will return. And despite the fact that thus far it has not happened every year the people are even more hopeful than the last (and in fact many farms increase the size of the field annually, hoping the improved yield of the crop will make a difference)

Aside from this larger display, the first goods made from a harvest are commonly offered in a more low-key, personal offering to the Great Dragon on shrines situated in the yard of the farmhouse. If the offering remains unspoilt (By the elements or wild animals) for a week then it's believed the Great Dragon is pleased with the offering and the further harvests will be especially bountiful. Also, since the cataclysm, exactly three months to the day after the anniversary of the cataclysm families hold a large feast in thanks and celebration for the Great Dragon repulsing the darkness from above Telantha. (Naturally as this is a belief that mainly only the Telantha's believe in this is a celebration that only they observe) That day is a holiday and very few stores remain open (And even those that do often don't get much custom save from non-Telanthans)

Dedicated Temples and Priests
The great temple within the walled inner-city of Telantha is dedicated to the Golden Faith, and outside the city there are many small churches and shrines erected so local people need not travel too far to consult with the clergy or attend the morning prayer. There is a moderately large and dedicated order of priests which maintain the various churches, temples and shrines and offer blessings and lead prayer for the civilians. They also maintain the massive library in the great temple, copying the most important books painstakingly to preserve the teachings and more notable literary works in case of disaster.

Worth noting is that there is also a class of warrior/priest that function as the guard for the temple. These men are the descendants of men hand picked by the Great Dragon himself over a century ago, and are the most highly trained and feared military presence in the city. Though by and large they rarely leave the temple save to act as representatives on the behalf of the Golden Faith during the monthly court the Duke holds in the city hall. The temple guard maintain their own weapons and armour and are known to be the only people with access to the (albeit small) stores of mithril the city has stock piled. They are accepted as the military hand of the Golden Faith but also when they speak their words are considered that of the Great Dragon himself, the only authority which exceeds them in religious matters are the higher ranking priests. They do not socialise by and large and remain a mysterious and perhaps terrifying enigma to all but the priests, in reality they simply have no time for it, instead they spend every waking moment (When not eating, etc) either in prayer or training. For it is their belief that when the Great Dragon returns he will lead them against the darkness in what they believe will be a deciding battle which will either see the darkness put down and all of its spawn wiped out, or themselves, Telantha and everyone in it consumed by the dark.

The Great Dragon, as the name implies appears as a massive Dragon with golden scales. However it is known that the Great Dragon can assume many different shapes and alter its size at will, however many believe that the form of a Dragon is its natural form and that the ability to change shape is simply a manifestation of its power, and while it has been recoded to have assumed both male and female genders when it has chosen to alter its form, it is largely accepted that the Great Dragon is male.

The goal of the Great Dragon has always been to maintain and protect Telantha and her inhabitants(The human ones at least), as he sees them largely as his adopted children- he had no hand in the creation of Humans, however it was largely due to his guidance that Telantha arose and grew strong in both Trade, and toward the later years before the cataclysm, improved its strength in the military fields. Thus, his motives for favouring this city and its inhabitants are largely those of a parent or mentor, he wishes to pass on his wisdom and help improve the lives of his followers.

He reacts extremely aggressively to any force which threatens the city if he believes the threat is not offering a fair challenge. An example would be that while he didn't move to intervene when mortal armies fought with Telantha, instead allowing them to apply the knowledge he had taught them in a fair contest, he did repulse the darkness- a force which was unnatural and at the time, impossible for the forces of Telantha to combat (Thus, an unfair fight)

Cymur's symbols
Dragons, especially those of a golden colour. The most recognised symbol is a golden dragon standing on its hind legs with its wings spread and its mouth open as if roaring.

Posted by ShadowSiege at August 1, 2004 01:21 PM