The Soaring Faith and Kæmhan Culture
The Kæmhan are mostly composed by open minded individuals, including but not limitted to, honorable warriors, scholars, merchants as well as liberated slaves. All of the above, have 1 trait that connects to such a deep level, putting everything else aside, that being their collective thirst for freedom, accompanied their devotion and dedication to see through their ambissions in order shape their own faith how they see fit.
Population wise however, they are very diverse, as anyone is allowed to partake in their faith or merely follow their ideologies, as of now, they are mostly populated by Elfs of all sorts as well as humans.
Due to their vastly questionable backgrounds and general location, an exact origin is still unknown until this day, however, only around the time that the descendants landed upon the lands of Almaris did the Kæmhan begin rising, slowly emerging from the shadows.
From the high and might mountains of the east, to the thick jungles of the wests, many splinter groups have been formed, never quite lasting that long all together, with the only settlement ever recorded in their history, being Aethervale, a small village near the Urguani mountains, which also was short lived.
While they do not have a perfered climate of choice, they do prefer areas with higher winds, however, due to diversity of their population, such places rarely become their homes.
The Kæmhan are not the typical type of 'religous' as one might think they are, as they view their gods more like a pathway to self enlightenment, or a general value, to impower them mentally so that they may keep pushing forward. Due to their mix backgrounds, one would think that they would be a lot of bickering, however, due to the general belief and thought systems that have been passed down, they mostly co-exist in harmony amongst one another, even amongst the oposite ends of spectrums. They seem to haven unspoken understandings, since, they all have gotten through different trials throught heir lifes, allowing them to see how much they needed True Freedom, be it spiritually or physically.
They rarely ever try to push their beliefs or religion towards other people and even at some cases, they seem protective of it, even excluding some, as they couldnt grasp the 'Aspect Of Freedom' that they hold so very dear. Because of that, they have no problem with other religions, some even adapting more than one, since they do not view it just as a religion, more of a way of living, thus rarely would they ever scold one of their own for disrespecting the Kæmhan culture, with very few examples, such us kneeling or bowing down, since it implies that you are willingly putting themselfs under someone else, in which cases, a devoted Riogh would receive major punishments.
All children are taught their right to freedom from birth and they are also taught to protect and respect not only their own, but others as well. The younger lifes of a Kæmhan child are seperate in 2 categories:
- A Kæmhan male, will be trained in their arts of combat and honor, so that they may grow up to protect their faith and loved ones. Their training begins with basic combat trainings with blunt weaponry, going to extreme ends near the end of their teen years, in which they are ready to enter adulthood through a trial. The trials can vary, depending on the Clan of the child, since each clan warships its on deity, but they can be anything, from preparing a might feast, to hunting a bear with only a spear or even liberating a slave.
Once they have passed their trial they are given a choice, either continue trainings, to enter the army or pickup an art, such as blacksmithing, music or even cooking, however, there is one more choice, a choice that once it has been peaked, the only way back is a path of shame for them and their Kin. Usually picked by the Eldest sons of the Kæmhan Clans, they can choose to follow the path of the Riogh. The Riogh are a secrate legion of mighty warriors, trained to the extreme, with the single goal of perserving their and their peoples Freedom, going to extreme extents to do so. Such a path requires the ultimate sacrfice in the Kæmhan culture, to put aside your own opinions and needs and to devote yourself to Feidelhm's teachings, becoming the True Liberators. (More in the military section)
- A Kæmhan female on the other hand, while still having the same choices as a male, usually the case for more muscular and promising females, or follow a more mentally challenging path. Since their partners are out there fighting for freedom, or merely working to provide for their family, they have to represent the family, putting all of the heavy burdens of raising their sons and daughters properly, managing their territories and even their economy, because of this, most of Kæmhan 'Officials' are women, with female Clan heads being as common as male.
Beliefs And Faith:
The basic beliefs of your average Kæmhan are simple, they strive for a peaceful and free life, devoid of impure or unfair doings. However, most often that not, to achieve that they need to go out of the way to do so, which is why they go through such harsh trainings as children, so that they can learn to over come any obsticles, be it alone or as a team, bound togother by their faith.
The Kæmhan still 'believe' in their deitys, perhaps not in the way one may think. They do warship them, however, not only through sacrifcies or offerings of items, but by actions, such as liberating a slave, a small prayer before a duel or battle, or any other small task, depending on the deity of choice.
The Soaring Faith:
The Kæmhan Faith is fairly straight forward, there is one true god, the creator, who is no longer alive, but his children have been left behind, to guide the descendants through their image, so that they may trancend their mortal bounds and become spiritually immortal. They devide their faith in groups, usually each clan belongs to a different deity, as they bare said deitys spiritual animal (in some ideration) as their clan crest.
The Deitys along with their beliefs are as follows:
The now dead creator that set the path for the rest of pantheon. He is viewed passively by the Kæmhan, they do not really warship him in any extend, merely celebrating him every first day of the new year, as respect for his creation. Information about him has been lost due to the passing of time and the fact that the Kæmhan have been nomads with no written history, their beliefs and history itself being passed generation to generation via verbal stories, with only few written records ever found and recoverd.
The one true Raven, the protector of freedom and the most respected deity amongst the pantheon. Though every individual who calls thy self a Kæmhan warships him, Feidelhm is the the god that their entire belief system is mainly based off, since he is the one who guides the descendants through the rough path until they reach the vast and windy hilltops. He is most frequently portraid as a man with a heavy plated armor, a mixture of black and deep crimson red color are the plates of such armor. Decorated with a coat of jet-black feathers, earning him his Raven tittle. It is said that he is missing his left eye, legends say that he lost it in his own journey to reach true freedom, which is a direct reference to the path that his strict followers must abide by, that sacrifices must be made to reach such noble goals.
Such strict followers are usually the spiritual leaders of the Kæmhan, called Fæ'id. They are the ones who look over their people and usually they have the last word for major decissions regarding their followers. A Fæ'id is viewed as a direct messanger of Feidelhm and they devote their lifes to their people and their needs. Every leader bears a mark of the clan they were born in, in which they were given after passing their Riogh trials, however if one was to become a Fæ'id, they are also given the appropriate mark called "The Sin Of Freedom", which depicts a Raven surrounded by a ring of black and crimson fire.
Feidelhm does not require any sacrifices or prayers on a regular basis, one should only pray to him when they feel like the freedom of a loved one, or their own, is in danger, or whenever they are in the process of 'Liberating' someone. Though altars for him can be found in the house of the Fæ'id, which are mostly decorated with a bird cage, the left of which has been removed forcefully, as well as the symbol of his image. Their only purpose, is for them to be used as a place for the Fæ'id to draw their blood, as they pledge themselfs for the cause.
The one who fights, the protector of the free and the punisher of the injust, Rioghnach the brave is the one who guides the Grivs and Plumes through the trenches, the mud and dirt and all other terrain safely, so that they may reach the battlefield to fight and defend their faith. He is the ideal soldier, he embodies the true meaning of honor and glory, as he awaits for all those who fall in battle honnorably, at the iternal mountaintop of the primordials, where they can sit and rest until they are needed to fend off the injust spirits. However, he forbids cowardice fighting, that sadly includes for a soldier to die by a stab in the back, which intails they were neither careful of their foes and perhaps not even their friends.
His symbol is a mighty brown bear, as he is often protraid as a tall, muscular male with silver armor, covered in the hide of a giant bear, weilding a might spear and shield, which is also why most of the Kæmhan legions are equiped with this combitination, as it also endorces comrodary and trust in your fellow soldiers, as they must be impenetrable unit. The greatest disgrace one can bestow upon Rioghnach and those who warship him is for a soldier to lose their shield, since that ruins the formation and leaves his fellow soldiers wide open.
The devoted followers of Rioghnach are on the wilder side in between man and beast. As their trials for reaching adulthood for both men and women are extreme, since they are left in the wilderness, without any weapons, food, water, tools nor clothes and they are told to survive and find their way back home, after slaying a wild beast.
Thus, whoever survives this trial is welcomed back, usually majorly different than how they left, now ready to serve in the front lines of the legions, or as acting commanders at greater scale conflicts.
Followers of Rioghnach avoid praying as much as possible, with their prayers boiling down to prayers for a successful conflict or hunt. They are also the first who are marked with full body markings apart from the standard circular mark of any other deity. Though varying from clan to clan, they usually begin from the persons ribs, going behind their lower back and up to the shoulders, in which they sprouth out to the arms and hands, ending on the knuckles. Their spiritual mark is usually placed on their chest or lower back in between the other pattern.
The only acting tradition of these followers, which is also common practice after a war or other major conflict, is offering up the body of the mightiest warrior of the enemy side that was slain, be it man or beast, in which case, they place them upon a stone altar, covered in flammable plants and other fibers, essentially creamating them as they pray for the warriors soul to reach the aforementioned mountain-top of the primordials. They later return the asses to the deseaced family, or they scutter them atop a mountain.
The one true protector of all, the one who knows true sacrifice and punishes the selfish, Einherjar is the one who protects the ideals of his brothers, Feidelhm and Rioghnach, sacrificing himself, become a the litteral shiled that protects the mortal plains from Llue's curse. He imbodies the meaning of self-sacrifice, giving ones life to save anothers, often seen in Kæmhan
culture, as high possition militants have jumped forth to take blows for their lower ranking brothers in arms. His true followers are few, yet they are the most respected, second only to those of Feidelhm. They are usually tasked with protecting the lands of the Kæmhan that go out to war, just in case war comes to their doorstep.
Einherjar himself is portraid as a man with a sturdy turtle shell on his back, that is seemingly one with the rest of his armor, a moving fortress of some sort. His followers dress alike, in times of war or other conflicts they can be heard roaming their lands, patrolling for intruders or thiefs, being very noticable by their heavy steps due to the weigth of their armor.
Due to their lack of numbers, most of these folk have grown fond of socializing, often resembling hermits, yet they still hold dear any friendships made from connections earlier in their childhood.
Following that pattern, their trainings as well as their trial into adulthood is uknown to anyone apart from the very few left, though its speculated that the only requirement is the for one to be either crazy or brave enough to become a human shield.
Even through all that however, they are usually the most attending parents, since their roles allow them to always be near their partners and children.
As for their traditions they currently only celebrate the date of the death of a fellow follower of Einherjar every 10 years. In which, they use an empty turtle shell, as they fill it half-way with fresh sea water, as they pour the aforementioned fallen comrade's favourite bevarage, setting the shell down upon the ground, as they use a stick to steer the contents of the shell, before offering a prayer to the three brothers and then pushing the turtle shell into the waters, as it gets swept away by them.
The hateful, the unjust, Llue is the neutral evil goddess of the depths, the one who released her infinite hatred towards the world, pushing us away from the eternal mountain-top of the primordials, leaving behind an infinite sea of destruction, our only vessel being our faith. She represents the hate of the close minded people, who flood the world full of lies and illussions just so they do not accept the truth about true freedom. She is portraid as a blue skinned woman with purple hair, however, that hair is actually tentacles, which are used to drag down into the cold depths those who oppose her.
She is mostly hated by the Kæmhan people, thus there has not been any recorded instances of warship towards her, even if they were however, they would have been swiftly been dealt with by the Rioghs as they are strictly forbiden.
Minor Deitys And Spirits:
The one births. Haertha is the mother of nature, she is kinda and warm to all those who care for nature, with her being warshiped primarily by woodelfs of the Kæmhan society, even if she is not considered as a primordial. In the pantheon, she is considered a Minor Deity of Forests and Mountains, while also being charged with animals, oceans and essentially all flora and fauna.
She is depicted as a young woman, with enormous antlers sprouting from atop her skull, through her messy hair.
In the traditional Kæmhan faith, she is viewed merely as a force of nature, that she will treat you how you treat her, thus all Kæmhan folk, regardless if they warship her or not, will always try to preserve nature if possible. Her followers also refrain from sacrifices, only going as far as preserve nature but, there have been many reports of them going to great lengths to punish those who harm it.
The one who sees, the one who warns. Iðunn is less of a deity and more of a 'prophet', entirely 'warshiped' only by one person in the Kæmhan, which would be the Fæ'id, as they would seek his knowledge and foresight for up coming conflicts, diplomatic afairs or even how this year's crops would turn out. He is depicted as frail old man in purple robes, a long grey beard on his chin and neck, with the only other noticable feature being his missing left eye, that leaves behind a deep black smoke effect.
Sacrifices are usually minor things, such as burning specific leaves or other ingredients, in order to create a smoke like trans so that he may pass down any predictions via a vision.
The one who hosts. Embla is the Minor Deity of Fertility and Hospitality, as well as the wife of Einherjar. She represents family and the bonds that one family might hold dear. This would also include non-blood relatives, such as adopted children, since family is what you make of it and not it makes of you.
Most Clan Leader warship her to some extent, prayer that she may bring hope and luck into their extended house holds, however, other individuals such as mothers make offerings to her, so that they may see their already existant kin rise, or if they wish to become a mother again. Offerings to her are small yet meaning full, such as singing a lullaby in front of a fire place or doorstep of their house, or hanging up small artifacts with meaning to them or their kin atop the fire place.
A must for all her followers however, is to provide hospitality to anyone who may seek shelter within their walls. They will have to welcome any guests, provide for them food, drinks, a warm bath and bed to sleep for at least 3 days. When that has been done, the land owner can choose wether or not they allow the guest(s) to stay any longer. If not, then they will be given some neately homemade food and sent on their way.
The mad one, the hateful one. Sjofn an evil spirit, that ressembles the feelings of pitty, jealousy, revenge and other injust negative emotions. She is often depicted as old hag, with white hair and pinkish eyes, as her leggs are those of a goat, causing her to have a commically short appearance. She is not typically warshiped, but one might decided to say a prayer to her if they wish for another to be plagued by bad luck or to be overcome with negative feelings.
She also has a reputation of deception, as her jealousy of the mortals who have transended into a higher spiritual level anger her, thus she tries to temp them into stooping on her level by implanting them with feelings of doubt, this is also frequently seem amongst the spiritual warriors of the Kæmhan.
The who creeps, the one who haunts. Hodur is an abomination, hiding in plain sight, she is associated with dreams, specifically with nightmares and also works as a bad omen, though she is not just the messanger. She disguises herself as a young girl with a yellow hood, as she roams ones dreams, waiting for them to spot her, when that is done, the individual can feel their stomach drop, as she slowly makes her way towards them through the dream, altering it from small to incredibly horrific and gory details. Near the end of the dream she will reveal herself directly, a clear depiction of her face remains unknown, all anyone can remember is a cold feeling, as through that whole where her face should be, a dark void stares back, as a symbol slowly can be made out, before the individual awakens, drenched in cold sweat.
The symbols vary drastically, yet some have been decyphered through the years, witht he most common being the following:
-Fish: Death looms near those who are assosiated with the individual.
-Wild Cat: Wild cats indicate a feature with worries.
-Rotten Egg: Bad luck lays ahead.
-Calm Water: Peace is near.
-Leaves falling: Change is near.
-Raven: Good luck lays ahead.
Military And Hierarchy
Both the Military and general Hierarchy structure for the Kæmhan is essentially the same, in the sense that there isnt one, not the in the typical sense at least. Within their communities, their exists no royalty, no kings or queens, nor princes and princesses. The general structure for the people is as follow:
-Spiritual Leader, The Liberator, The Fæ'id:
The Fæ'id is not born into the possiton, unlike most other hierarchies, he is instead elected, not only through the people, but also through the Primordials as well. Before one may even begin to consider becoming the Fæ'id, they must first go through the trials appointed to them by their Clan (The Maturity Trials), which on their own are challenge enougn, however, that is nothing compared to the mental training that they are put through, usually through the current Fæ'id or by an elder member of their Clan.
The Fæ'id is the 'Leader' in more than one ways. While there is a Clan council within Kæmhan communities, it is not very common due to their current population that is not only thin but also spread all across the world, thus the Fæ'id has taken on the sole burden of 'leadership' of their people, which can be anything from managing religious events to even being in charge at times of war, since its the Fæ'id's responsibility to protect and serve their people. Due to all of this, the Fæ'id (like mentioned above) goes through intense physical and mental challenges, thus by the time a Fæ'id steps up to replace the old one, they are filled with knowledge, experience and ambitions.
The one trait that the Fæ'id must lead by example with is True Neutruality, as at times they may be forced into being 'Judge, Jury and Excecutioner.' both literally and metaphorically, for both interal and external affairs.
The view of the Fæ'id summarized with a simple example is the following: "The world is like a coin, it seemingly has two sides, heads and tails, yet people always seem to acknowledge the thrid sides, which is the ring around it, a very thin and fine line that belongs to neither of the aphromentioned two. Maintaining a place within that line is like a fine pressure, that can either create a diamon, or grind you into dust."
Apart from that, the Fæ'id is also responsible for teaching people within or outside of their community (if they are willing) about the Soaring Faith and their belief systems in general. It is also their job to train the Preachers of the Soaring Faith, known as the Trauc'er.
-The Trauc'ers, Preachers and Liberators:
The Trauc'ers have a simple yet crucial role within the Kæmhan community, which is to preach and help the willing, via expanding their horizons through the teachings of the Soaring Faith, or to simply provide advice for those in need, believers or not. They are the ones who help the Fæ'id with any religious responsibilities and act like disciples of the Soaring Faith.
-The Extended Kæmhan Military:
The military structure of the Kæmhan is vast yet straight forward, however in a social ladder they stand right bellow the Preachers of the Soaring Faith and this category includes any and all military related personal, from the Plumes up to the Kriyell and everything in between. They are all respected and at some cases, usually the rather extreme Squadrons of the Spiritual warriors such as the Rioghna's, are usually feared as well due to their extreme skills and devotion to the cause.
-The Kæmhan People:
This includes everyone not included within the categories mentioned above, regardless of birth, power or economic status. They are the 'common-folk', with a majority of backgrounds much like the rest of the Kæmhan, ranging from liberated slaves, repented thieves up to warriors, scholars and merchants, as all are welcome in the eyes of the Kæmhan people, as long as they are willing to co-operate of course, with even cases of non-descendant races/creatures joining their ranks.
Everyone within this category is essentially the backbone of the Kæmhan community, as they are the ones who keep it alive either through devotion to the faith, or simply because they feel like they want to help in any way they can and support the cause, without the need for warship.
The Kæmhan Military and The Warriors Of The Soaring Faith
The warriors of the Soaring Faith and the Kæmhan Military are essentially one entity working with different views and systems with the common feature of no clear hierarchy, in the sense that, no person is more important than any other, as they are all people fighting for their beliefs and their freedom.
The Kæmhan Military focuses on protecting the people and any land owned by the Kæmhan as well as fighting in any and all conflicts if instructed by the Fæ'id while the Warriors of the Soaring Faith, regardless of the deity they warship or their possition, are always fighting under the direct command of the Fæ'id witht he own common purpose of Liberation of the people of the mortal realm, as well as the maintance of the peace and freedom of the Kæmhan people from any outside threat.
Kæmhan Military Structure:
The Kriyell can be described as a General for the Kæmhan forces, acting directly under the Fæ'id in terms of military leadership, taking lead in the Fæ'id's absense as long as permission is given. Only one may be entitled to this role at a time period.
The Grivs: The Griv are the 'Special' forces of the Kæmhan Military, a speciallized unit of honorable warriors that, for whatever reason, has chosen to refrain from the Soaring Faith or they just did not want to go through the trials to join one of the Spiritual Warrior groups of the Soaring Faith. They are the elite soldiers of the Kæmhan Military, with admirable brotherhood amongst the troops, perhaps at the cost of devotion to the Liberating cause of the Soaring Faith.
The Plumes are the common soldier of the Kæmhan military, yet at the same time the most important part, as they are the backbone to the army themselfs, brotherhood also runs deep amongst them, with shared bonds and the wish to protect their land, homes and those who they hold dear. One might think that they are not as compotent as the Grivs, however, through sear determination and teamwork, they have overcome great foes and they continue to do so.
Warriors Of The Soaring Faith: These people are the absolute pride of the Soaring Faith, as they are the truely devoted Liberators of the people across the mortal realm, carrying out the will of the Fæ'id via special missions, using their experience, expertise and other special skills that they may have acquired. They are split into divisions based ont heir Deity of choice and they specialize in different types of tasks, from assasins to frontlines and everything in between.
Little is known about them due to the nature of their lifestyle, since their devotion leaves little space for them to engage in any activities, hobbies or anything else apart from family.
Tradditions (More to be added in the future)
Funerals & Grievings:
The Kæmhan culture is straight forward towards funerals, as an ordinary citizen, believer or not , will be given a burrial and will be read a prayer by a Trauc'er in the hopes of salvation for their soul.
Where as a warrior, will be cremated, and their asses will be spread wherever their family deems worthy. At the chance of no known relatives they will be again cremated, however this time, depending on who they were, based on beliefs and their service to the Kæmhan military, they might spread in the ocean or on a mountain top.
The Kæmhan have their own version of 'Heaven' and 'Hell' without anything too specific being mentioned in their records.
They refer to their version of heaven as "The Eternal Hilltop" and its a place high up upon the mountains where those who lived free lives go after they die. When they do die, they are judged by Feidelhm, the true Liberator of mortals, and depending on ones life, the god they warshiped and the deeds of their life, they get to join the deity they warshiped, or if they didnt warship one at all, they would be sent to the one that suited their life style the most.
The warriors who fought and died to protect their brothers and sisters in arms go to Rioghnach, so that they may fight once more if they are ever needed to fend off against Llue.
The warriors of Einherjar, who have protected their lands and their families, who have been the frontline for their brothers and sisters in arms, they will be the shield and frontline against Llue if she ever dares come back.
And the Liberators of Feidelhm, they who have sacrificed everything for the freedom of their people, they shall join in him in the eternal journey to reclaim the birthright of Freedom for those who seek it.
As of those who lived twisted lifes, that took advantage of others, who did not care about their fellow descendants, they shall be thrown into the deepest trench of Llues ever flowing oceans, made a slave for her ever present hold on people who hesitate to do the right thing. Forever alone in dispair, with no hope of salvation.
Marriage and Relatiosnhips: Kæmhan tradition does not prohibit relationships before marriage, however it is frowned upon for a couple to have a child before they get married, with exceptions being made for couples who have adopted children.
Marriage in the Kæmhan community is like mating for life, typically Kæmhan people only have one partner, however there have been rare exceptions through the years as well as same gender marriages, in both cases, it is acceptable like any other marriage, perhaps rarer.
The marital ceremony is simple. After either man or woman proposes, a feast is hosted for the soon-to-be-wed couple, there traditional foods and drinks must be served by both families of the pair and at the end if the groom is the one that got proposed to, then his family must dump the remaining alcoholic and not alcoholic beverages on him, as a sign of good faith, of being washed over any last minute doubt and insecurities.
(In the case of same-gender marriage, the one who got proposed to will be the one who will get the beverages dumbed upon them.)
The wedding itself has very few limitations, such as guests requiring whatever they may judge as "formal" attire, only excluding any religious warriors of the Kæmhan, which are encouraged to wear clothing that reveals their marks, as a show of respect towards the couple.
The choice of a priest is up to the couple, but anything is acceptable, from priests from other religions to even the Fæ'id themself.
The couple is encouraged to create vowes much like other religions and even to exchange something apart from the usual ring, something of spiritual value, something symbolic of their bond.