War of the Burning Sky
It is commonly accepted that there are no gods in the traditional sense. Instead, everything was created by the coming together of great elemental powers: fire, water, earth, and air. At first, these elements ignored or squabbled with each other, and sometimes cavorted, but remained independent. Then they decided to come together to shape the world.
On that day, something unexpected happened. When the four elements came together, a fifth was created: life. The elements immediately experimented crafting with this new element, and several powerful creatures were created: the Flamebringer Dragon, the Worldshaper Worm, the Tidereaver Kraken, and the Stormchaser Eagle.
But since all things must balance, when life was created, so too was death, the sixth element. Only these four creatures, who were made before death was born, were immune. Thereafter, all beings of life would die.
The great elements created plants and animals using the new fifth element. Finally, the elements created stewards to tend to the world for them. These were the humans, elves, dwarves, and other sentient races.
Average people worship in small ways, at small shrines. Sailors might pray to the seas for safety and invoke the winds for speed. Fires at hearths are fed cinnamon to keep the house warm throughout the long nights of winter; hawthorn is planted in farmers’ fields to bring a bountiful harvest.
It is common to see small, untended shrines at locations of elemental power or significance: high mountain passes may have periodic shrines to air, river crossings have shrines to water, sites of forest fires have shrines to fire, and earth shrines are common. These are sometimes sought out or simply acknowledged by passing travellers. For larger concerns, a witch or shaman is called to properly invoke the spirits. These are people, usually locals, with some degree of power over one or more elements. They are not necessarily associated with any particular religion, and may vary wildly in practices from town to town.
Elementals are a common enough sight. Most people understand that there are many, many elementals in the world, and they are all different. They each have their own personality, but the problem is since their forms are mutable and they don’t speak in a way people can understand, it’s often impossible to tell who that water spirit in the river over there is. While some are friendly, others are mischievous, and still others are antisocial or hostile. Thus, it’s generally agreed that appeasing the spirits is a good idea. People have been known to drown in their own beds as they sleep, or find their prized bull’s charred remains in the morning. Note that the elemental spirits do have names, and the names of the larger and more powerful ones are commonly known, such as the four winds: Boreas (north), Zephyr (west), Auster (south), Eurus (east). When calling on a specific spirit, its name should be invoked.
Although most agree on the nature of elements and the spirits, their interpretations of what to do about it vary wildly. Several different takes on organized religion have arisen, with varying levels of popular appeal.
- Stewards of Gaia
- Order of the Aquiline Cross
- Order of the Cleansing Flame
- Blessed of Tagas
- Children of Elz
- The Wardens
- Harmonious Path
The previously mentioned religions are only the most popular and best known. There are plenty of other takes on religion and strange cults that exist across the region that have a much narrower appeal. For instance, the Monastery of the Two Winds is a monk school that teaches a martial arts style based on the East and West Winds. It does not have mass appeal, but it is an organization that has its own philosophies.