The Theocratum



Theocratum1.jpg

Overview

The official state religion of the city-state of Quacia involves the worship of the Wounded God. It is commonly referred to as the Scarlet Belief, with its primary instigators and adherents being the Theocratum.

The Theocratum operates all of the city’s chapels and the Citadel of Truth where worship of the Wounded God may be practiced in earnest. They are fiercely zealous, allowing for absolutely no other religions to be practiced within the confines of Quacia, and specialized agents are dispatched to exterminate heretics.

The Scarlet Belief

The crude and cruel religion of the Scarlet Belief is founded on principles of mortification and sacrificial suffering. The deity of the Scarlet Belief is the Wounded God, who is said to reside somewhere beneath the surface of the world. It is the official canon of the Theocratum; the official church of the Scarlet Belief, that the Wounded God was beaten into a semi-comatic state during a fight against the Originals and their offspring, who are viewed as nothing more than vulgar parasites by the faithful.

In order to revive their god to his full strength, practitioners sacrifice and suffer in his name, shedding blood in this life so that they may assist in his recovery. Those who do not adequately shed their blood find that their souls are taken upon death, and used as bandages by the damaged deity, their consciousness drowned in his divinity until they have lost any semblance of coherence, and become little more than a wrapping.

Jealous and vicious, the Theocratum operate on a basis on ignorance and terror. The official holy text of the Scarlet Belief, the Ecclesiast, for example is carefully guarded so that the laity may not find any contradictions within its texts, and those who obsess over, and ask too many questions about the belief quickly find themselves in a precarious situation. The situation is worse for the unfaithful and the godless, who are forced to repent for their actions under the guise that their souls are being rescued. Heretics in particular are a threat to the power of the Theocratum, and find themselves in the hands of the religious secret police, where they are subsequently flagellated, tortured, and ultimately given the punishment of Anathema.

Ranks

The religious power of Quacia, enacting their own religious laws and governances in order to ‘save’ all of the city’s residents. Due to the agreement signed at their creation, they are granted power to follow through with a great deal of disciplinary measures upon the general populace, and in return provide a certain level of stability to the ruined city.

Titles associated with the Theocratum are Devotees, Tribunals, Herald, and Voice.

For players looking to progress through the Theocratum, this is based on story at the city mod's discretion.

Serving as the interpreters and enforcers of the official state religion of Quacia, the Theocratum hold a power and sway over the city which is seldom rivaled by any of the other factions. Their monumental political power can especially be felt in their relative control over the disorganized Heaps, assorted kindnesses tossed down at the illiterate and dysfunctional crowd in order to ingratiate them, whilst simultaneous rituals and rites grant the lost and the weary a sense of purpose and community otherwise lacking in their unfortunate lives.

While it is true that a majority of the members of the organization are motivated solely by their religious beliefs and are acting in full accord of their religion, it is simultaneously true that many of the Theocratum’s hierarchy are involved for the sake of the political and social power granted to them. The Heralds are especially guilty of acts involving attempted power-grabs, and as such it is not uncommon for such high-ranking officials of the Theocratum to find themselves transferred to far less kind positions after they’ve made a mistake.

Their constant purge of heretics and infidels has led to the religion being associated with far more cruelty than many of their foreign contemporaries, and the presence of what essentially amounts to a secretive inquisitorial force prowling the city for signs of such persons has on occasion led to quickly-silenced critics. Regardless of the morality behind their actions, they’ve managed to hold a fairly vice-like grip upon the religious status of the city, and it seems unlikely that they’ll be dislodged anytime soon.

Devotees

The life blood of the Theocratum, these are the congregations of the chapels and citadels. They are the followers of the Scarlet Belief. Even those who are only curious about the belief are considered Devotees by most of the Theocratum. There is a very fine line between Devotee and Heretic... with many Tribunals seeking to identify individuals as either one or the other with no possibility of something in-between.

Tribunals

The bulk of the priestly class within the Theocratum.

More professionalized education programs exist for the Tribunals of the Theocratum, who are taught the necessities of their spy-work. These programs are directed towards young children who later grow into their roles, with the Theocratum relying upon the collection of orphaned children to fill the ranks of their Tribunals.

The Tribunals of the Theocratum often refer to one another with the honorific of Catechist, while their superiors, the Heralds are typically referred to as Father or Mother.

Due to this, Tribunals can be any age but the majority are often in under 30 in arcs.

Heralds

The Heralds of the Theocratum are experts in crafting well-worded messages, and are typically capable of speaking Common so that heretical prisoners can be better interrogated.

Heralds oversee chapels and aspects of citadels. They usually have a fleet of Tribunals underneath them, often causing pseudo-factions with certain Tribunals particularly loyal to the Herald who oversees their work. Heralds range in ages, but the average age of a Herald is 40+ arcs.

Some Heralds have specializations that were involved with their promotion from Tribunal to Herald, such as the educators of the Theocratum often being granted the status, even when they might not oversee chapels or congregations.

The Voice

Archimedes III has recently died, but in the past he served as the Voice.

He has not been replaced by a Herald yet.

Archimedes III (Male Human)

Born as Davin Velani, the man who would later grow to become the Voice of the Theocratum was raised by a poor family living within a mere shack within Shanty. Whilst the remainder of his brothers and sisters chose to work in various fields and professions, Davin never truly removed his sight from the strange religious men and women he would see scattered throughout the city, observing as Tribunals went about their secretive agendas, as Heralds preached.

When his father was slain by a Creep-creature on a routine trip to Mirage, Davin was devastated, and found himself drawn ever closer to the comfort provided by the Theocratum… what little was to be found, at least. He became acutely aware of the rules of the Scarlet Belief, and found himself enamored with the possibility of a Wounded God awaiting rebirth at the bottom of the world, below any concept of physicality, awaiting the signs… the healing of his damaged un-flesh.

Velani served briefly as a lesser member of the Theocratum, gradually drawing the attention of the members of the upper echelon with his devotedness and ability to reason. Following a debacle in which a Herald was unceremoniously granted Anathema for his heretical teachings, Velani was allowed to fill his position, and soon became aware of the true nature of the Theocratum. He was exposed to the backdoor dealings, the sneaking suspicions of his peers, and the constant need to exhibit certain favorable qualities to the public.

Having never been granted such luxury as he was now given, Velani worked with exceptional prowess, his determination leading him to a great deal of success, and when it became time for a successor to the deceased Voice to be chosen, he managed to slyly captivate the hearts of his fellow Heralds, promising them powers and authorities, asserting his dominance over those who had not yet caught on to the nature of the game.

He had since worked tirelessly as the Voice to ensure that the status quo is maintained in a favorable degree, and that the heretical footholds of the city are quelled and annihilated before they can grow into any form of proper threat to himself or the followers of the Scarlet Belief. His charismatic speeches and rhetoric were on occasion broadcast entirely to the city by means of The Caller, throwing citizens into a fervent and fanatic state of devotion to the Scarlet Belief, enacting his will, and that of the Theocratum with ruthless efficiency.

Practices

Worship of the Wounded God is a heavily ritualized process with a great deal of strange rites, though a great many of these deal with inflicting self-harm in order to please and heal the Wounded God who waits somewhere below the confines of the world. It is commonly believed that if one is not pious enough in their service to him, and that if they do not give of themselves in life, then at death they themselves will be used as bandaging for his many wounds, and that their souls will drown in the divinity of his blood.

Blood Prayer

The most common worship practice of Scarlet Believers and the Theocratum is the Blood Prayer wherein a group of devotees gather together within a holy structure, and are led in prayer by a Herald. These prayers typically ask for the wounds of He Who Bleeds to be healed, for their sacrifice not to be in vain, and for their offering to be accepted. At the pinnacle of these prayers, adherents of the faith ripple apart chosen areas of their flesh with bladed instruments, and allow their blood to seep into the ground (or ritual chalices or basins) where it is easier accessed by the Wounded God for use in bandaging his wounds.

These occur at all Theocratic chapels and citadels every ten trials, at least. There is often a morning service and an evening service. Evening service is specifically defined to pool the blood of a community, thereby bonding the congregants to each other in their devotion to the Wounded God.

Incidentally, the blood of these prayers is typically collected for use in the feeding of Bloodlights. This process is not considered to be at all counter to the beliefs of the religion, despite the evident logic that the blood is not immediately being used by the Wounded God despite its having been granted. Religious experts agree that this is because the blood which is offered is actually used, and that the substance which returns, while still blood, has been stripped of the vital components necessary to heal the Wounded God.

Ritual Carving

Carving of the flesh is also a common practice, especially among members of the Theocratum’s forces, as it is believed that certain symbols and images when put to flesh will allow aspects of the Wounded God’s power to be made manifest. It is uncertain how much of this is simply a placebo effect, and how much is genuinely some measure of divine influence, though the fanatical strength of those affected by such rites is in itself a marvel to observe.

Common Carvings

Mark of Faith

Appearing as a pair of light vertical slashes with a triangular arrow point slash connecting them.

Believed to be a sign of a greater degree of faith towards the Wounded God. Persons with this mark are typically allied to the will of the Theocratum, and have been reported on well by the general congregation of the Scarlet Belief. In effect, this is a marker of loyalty to the religious beliefs of the Scarlet Belief.

Mark of Prowess

A slash in the shape of a cosmic star identifies the Mark of Prowess.

Believed to be a fleshy sigil which allows the Wounded God to funnel power into the person who possesses it, the Mark of Prowess supposedly grants a greater degree of skill and ability to its user. Typically, this increase in skill exerts itself in a martial competence, though it may also apply to less violent works such as artistic pursuits or craftsmanship.

Mark of Repentance

This mark takes the form of a circle with several dots placed closely together at its center, in mock imitation of an eye.

This mark is used when one has committed a serious transgression against the Scarlet Belief, and wishes to atone for their wrongdoing. It is typically reserved for those who have turned themselves in for punishment, as there is a degree of leniency granted to such ones. Those who have committed truly heinous acts as typically responsible for carving the mark into their own flesh as opposed to receiving the assistance of others.

Litanies and Prayers

Words, whether spoken or sung also possess a place within the worship of the Wounded God. At times, these litanies and prayers may be used in the midst of battle for the invocation of strength, or they may be used in prayerful worship. There are a variety of sayings, each with their own uses.

The Crimson Hymnal

Listen to his voice calling you,
Asking you for your blood,
Hear the moan of our god,
As we bleed in thoughts of him.

Astray with forgetfulness, you may go,
Still, he calls for your blood, leading you back to him.
We shall give our hearts to you,
To heal your wounds, as we watch over you.

The light of our lives is in your crimson glow
Fighting to ease the sorrow we sow.
Then from his grace, he shall send,
A peace will come to us in the end.

So listen to his voice calling you,
Asking you for blood once again,
Give unto him every drop,
For our crimson praise shall forever flow.

Prayer of Scarlet

I am weak.
You are strong.
I have blood in plenty.
But you are the one who bled.
Give praise, to our avenger.
Who bled for us unhindered
When gods abandoned, when magic failed.
When the world unfurled, and terror hailed.
And let us repay out debt… to you.

Litany of Perseverance

My enemies lie at the gates.
Chomping at the bit like beasts.
Yet even with all of their hate.
I do not fear in the least.
Though vine and claw and fang.
May make a noose for me.
I shall gladly hang.
And give my life to thee.

Heretics

While it is the most common practice of Quacia and the state-religion, the Scarlet Belief is not the sole religion of the area, merely the most prominent. The Theocratum both enforces its own laws, and is protected by the other factions of Quacia. Any religion, worship, or spiritual following of anything that is not the Theocratum is considered heresy.

Theocratic Law

Law of the Theocratum

Crime Punishment
Refusal to Shed Blood in Prayer Flagellation.
Assailing a Member of the Theocratum Anathema.
Stealing from the Theocratum Flagellation.
Support of a Heresy Anathema.
Worship of the Immortals Anathema.
Worship of the Immortals by Non-Citizen Defamation.
Public Disrespect of the Theocratum Defamation.

Definitions of Legal Punishments

  • 1. Slavery – Self-explanatory, service to the Guilds or to the Dukes.
  • 2. Sacrifice – The forced labor of an impossible or extreme task, especially those which lead to bodily harm.
  • 3. Execution – Public loss of life.
  • 4. Imprisonment – Internment within a prison. Time held within is judged on a case-by-case basis.
  • 5. Loss – A very broad punishment. Loss could imply merely the loss of a portion of one’s possessions to make reparation, or it could mean the loss of feeling within one’s body as they are beaten into submission. There are few guidelines in relationship to Loss, though there is little doubt when it occurs.
  • 6. Flagellation – The whipping of one’s body. This may be done by oneself in order to reduce the number of lashes, or may be performed by a Tribunal.
  • 7. Anathema – Expulsion from worship of the Wounded God followed by subsequent annihilation via pyre.
  • 8. Defamation – The public humiliation of a person. At times, this can be as simple as forcing them to walk naked through the streets, though in more severe cases it may involve the extraction of teeth, the removal of earlobes, or the prodding of an eye.

The Cult of Puppets

Before the The Death of Dreams, perhaps the greatest of the assorted heresies located within Quacia is the Cult of Puppets. The Cult believe in several similar aspects of religion as the Scarlet Belief, including that there is a Wounded God located beneath the surface of the world, but they simultaneously believe that the Puppets remaining in the land are aspects of his divinity, and that if they can combine them all together in some obscure process, they will be able to resurrect the Wounded God to his position of might and prominence.

After all the ancient technologies dissolved into ethereal dust, this included the Puppets, and the cult was quickly disbanded - both by choice, and by force as the Theocratum recognized the opportunity to strike. Most followers were defamed and executed. The rest likely fled the city. A rare few managed to convince mercy and converted over to the Theocratum instead, often on the basis of pointing out their once-fellow cultists.

It wasn't uncommon for the Cult to experiment upon assorted magical properties and equipment in their futile attempt to construct a Puppet for themselves. Due to the great deal of work that they put into this, they were technologically-minded compared to the far more belief-oriented Theocratum, and it wasn't unusual for them to invent minor devices of strange operation and intricacy in their pursuits of divine reunion. Most of these devices were destroyed, or taken, by the Theocratum while they dissolved the cult.

History of the Theocratum

The Theocratum Rises

In the history of Quacia, the Theocratum was sanctioned by the young King Davin Arkenstone in Arc 414. This was the year after the Cataclysm nearly destroyed all of Quacia and King Davin was the sole survivor of the royal lineage. The Dragoons enacted martial law during this time, to try and bring order to a city shaken apart by disaster. During this time, a grim and dark cult formed. Radical, zealous, and with an ambition to restore Quacia to its former glory before the Catacylsm occurred.

Men and women who at one point would have been considered terrifying fundamentalists quickly became the model of sanctity. They spoke of a Wounded God who had been harmed in his battle with the Immortals many eons ago, and how he had awoken only recently from his catatonic slumber, his wounds still bleeding, and in need of healing.

The Quacian people, similarly shattered, could feel a kindling sympathy for the Wounded God, and before long, more and more of them gathered around these unknown preachers, listening to their tales of the injured deity… and wondering how they could achieve salvation.

Rituals began to be committed, carving of the flesh to sate the needs of the Wounded God, and for all of the crudeness brought about by the new belief system, it carried with it a sense of community and kinship that was desperately needed by an ailing people. The violence began to settle… the anxiety and frustration suddenly being directed, not to others, but to oneself, the hostility pouring out of them even as their own blood was spilled.

Davin saw a possible solution to the irritation of the masses, and a secret meeting was called between the King and the leaders of the religious movement.

An agreement was stricken between them that all matters theological and religious would be placed into the palm of the radical fundamentalists, and in return, they would quell the outrage of the people, and establish in their dogma the divine sanctity of the Kingship.

An official sanction was signed…

…And the Theocratum was born.

The Corpse King's Rule

Between the arcs 489 and 612, for 123 arcs, the Theocratum worked alongside the Dukes to use the corpse of King Arkenstone as means to rule Quacia. The people of Quacia were informed that the soul of the King remained within the confines of his corpse, and that it was the wish of the Wounded God that he continue to rule, for his body would serve as an avatar of He Who Bleeds.

The proclamation was certainly strange, and there was a hint of discontent which arose at the idea of a fallen corpse acting as King, but it was drowned out by the cheerful jubilance which swept through the city: The Wounded God would be taking his place among them! Their prayers had at last been answered!

The Dukes, now unrestrained from the rule of a proper King began to act as absolute authorities over the city.

The people began to chafe under the rule of the Dukes, a few critics arising from the masses and questioning why the arrival of the Wounded God was taking so long, other faithful silencing their criticisms and imploring them to continue waiting in faith for his arrival.

Facing a similar series of the circumstances, the Voice of the Theocratum went about the process of curbing undesirable qualities in the laity. Tribunals were dispatched to homes, investigating for any signs of heresy.

Vices began to be crushed under-heel as well with the reasoning that such things were distractions from the service of the Wounded God, and that one’s entire being had to given in service to He Who Bleeds, or else his avatar would not be summoned in time to save the city.

Those who smoked and consumed assorted drugs gradually found themselves without any semblance of a supply, and those who continued despite the shortage were publicly whipped and lashed until they sought forgiveness.

Lust was curbed, alcohol intake was very nearly on the verge of forbidden, such delicacies hidden away within the confines of the Theocratum where the occasional bottle would incidentally go missing from the stores… discovered later in the refuse bins of Heralds.

The city was pushed to the breaking point. It had been here before.

The Heap's Rebellion

Though it was true that a great deal of the literacy and scientific talent that had once embodied the Quacian people had been lost out of necessity, and then further squashed by the restrictive attitudes of the Theocratum, there were still those few scattered hither and thither throughout the city who read of the former glory of their homeland. They saw the squabbles for power, the disdain that was felt for them by a pious organization of contradictions, a law enforcement fighting for assorted masters instead of for any semblance of law... and in Arc 612, they decided they’d had enough.

The Heaps for the most part had been a relatively docile force since the introduction of the Theocratum, but not after all of the things they used to relieve stress had been taken away, and their city had been plunged into the secret war of the Dukes.

Revolutionaries driven by their desire to return the city to its former glory united the Heaps. After all, they had always had more in common with one another than the nobility which ruled over them. They had not entirely lost their faith as a people, but many had become disillusioned with the rules and regulations of the Theocratum, the promise of an avatar for their Wounded God falling flat.

It started as a protest in front of the Fortress.

Heralds were dispatched to speak to the crowd, to dissuade them from their course of action, to instill within them faith and piety, but the rousing speeches and mob mentality of the crowd combined with their unsatisfied vices led them to weather the storm of religious fundamentalists.

On Saun 2, 612, the Dukes sent a force of Dragoons were dispatched to quell the gathering, armed with the technologies and weapons that had made them a resounding force.

For all of the equipment of the Dragoons, they could not hold against the sudden surge of anti-government opposition. Whilst the crowd did disperse, the city now found itself turned against the Dukes and their soldiers.

A mere season after the beginning of the protest, the gates of the Fortress were opened once more, and the Heaps swarmed within, slaying the Dukes under the watchful eyes of Dragoons who recognized that their own termination would be assured if they intervened.

The next-in-line of the Arkenstone family was promptly instilled by the revolutionaries as a concession to the Dragoons and the Theocratum… though it was recognized by both parties that the Heaps had full power to do whatever they desired.

The Corpse King was dismounted from his throne, his remains having fallen into mere bones. The Theocratum promptly began a campaign, explaining that the ascension of the Avatar would be halted due to the loss of the righteous Corpse King… but that a significant amount of piety still brought the chance of resurrecting him from his injured state.

Henceforth, there was a brief resurgence of heretics throughout the area, promptly stamped out by the Tribunals, and, as a concession to the Heaps, the creation of a new class of state-mandated sinners was created.

Vicemen were allowed their own territory carved out of Quacia (known as Lair) where they could deal with items that the Theocratum would have otherwise rejected, and persons affiliated with the religious organization were promptly banned from entering any part of the Lair on threat of imprisonment and revocation of their personal properties.

Modern Times

Order has been returned once more to the city-state of Quacia.

With the recent death of the last Voice, the Heralds bicker and squabble among one another over who shall next lead the Theocratum. Radical elements seek to dispel the system of vices implemented in the last Heaps rebellion, and to refocus the population almost solely upon their devotion to the Wounded God, whilst more conservative elements recognize the implicit danger of attempting to convince the people to abandon their sinful nature given the already volatile politics surrounding them, and instead seek solely to hold onto what power is already within their domain.

On the first of Ymiden in 719, the city of magic known as Quacia witnessed the fall of Emea like all other cities in Idalos. This trial marked what Quacians called: A Morte dos Sonhos. In common, The Death of Dreams.

On the waters, a storm of violent intent raged for the first sixty trials of Ymiden. It tore apart ships indiscriminately and stopped trade entirely. Among these ships, in the first trials, was the royal vessel of King Edmund II Arkenstone. He, and his first-born son, went missing at sea. Eventually, they were proclaimed dead. The city needed a leader in these trying times, and the monarchy would not be dismantled due to these troubles. The second-born son, Estavao, was crowned King with the support of the Theocratum and the Guilds.

Yet many citizens demanded to confirm the deaths of the previous royalty. In Late Ymiden, they were assuaged when the storm came to a stop. Bodies washed ashore the coasts near Quacia, and among them, Attuners of the Theocratum confirmed Edmund II and his son among the corpses.

With the disappearance of the storm, came the return of Emea.

This time became known to Quacians as A Ressurreição dos Sonhos (The Resurrection of Dreams), and many faithful believed it to be due to the fervent prayers and blood rites performed by the Theocratum church.

In early Vhalar, changes occurred to the structure of the Guilds and Nobility. A swath of nobility was executed for heresy under the Theocratum’s purview. Lands were reclaimed, and areas redistributed to a new generation of elites.

The Theocratum church continued to send out missionaries through-out Idalos, to spread the word of the Wounded God to the other cities, as well as make connections for potential trade expansion.

By Zi’da, the city had recovered. Some things would never go back to the way things were, but Quacia had survived cataclysm before. General sentiment among Quacians were that The Death of Dreams made them stronger as a people and reminded them of the importance of their faith to the Wounded God. It united the city, from the poorest beggar to the richest merchant to the haughtiest noble, that they were all Quacians and it would not be their generation that saw the end of this resilient and magical city.


Original Write-Up By: Tyrant
Art Credit to Ihor Pasternak

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