Religion in the Imperium
The Oracles of Harmony
According to leaders of the order, the religion traces its roots back to when the city was no more than a few homes, a mill, and a stone fort to protect it all. One fateful day, the loggers discovered a severely wounded stranger lying in the woods. Luckily, altruistic members of the fledgling community had previously established a rudimentary hospital inside of the fort to offer medical services to the loggers and their families. The stranger was brought promptly back to the hospital, and over the course of many days, nursed back to health by the first citizens of Aurim.
The stranger, subsequently known as “the Poet”, had no memories of who he was before, but instead felt his mind filled was with seemingly endless stories. Grateful for what the villagers had done for him, he stayed in the village, telling his stories to the town over campfires and spending the rest of his days committing the tales to parchment. Not long after the Poet’s death, the first Fated began to appear. These were people gifted with the powers and destinies of characters from the Poet’s stories.
Recognizing the Fated and their connection to the works left by the Poet, the villagers of Aurim who had grown up hearing the stories from the Poet himself established the Oracles of Harmony and shortly after, the Lorekeeper Order.
Beliefs and Duties
The Oracles of Harmony believe the stories told and left by the Poet to be sacred and immutable. As such, they, with the aid of the Lorekeeper Order, seek to guide the Fated through the events written in their stories. They hope that, by having each Fated play out their designated roles, they are able to maintain harmony; both by ridding the Fated of the distress that comes from fighting a predestined fate and by using the Fated to keep the stories alive for the rest of the faithful.
Another common belief among the faithful is a sort of karmic reincarnation. While it is known that when one Fated dies, their associated storied spirit is reborn into a new body, nothing is officially said by the Oracles of Harmony about the spirits of ordinary people. As such, the common belief is one of reincarnation with rebirth as a heroic Fated as the most sought after. Because this encourages most believers to act morally and to the benefit of their community in the hopes of being reincarnated into a better role in their next life, the Oracles have done nothing to dispel the rumor, and it has become accepted by most as an inherent part of the religion. Certain mistrustful individuals speculate that the rumor was originally circulated by lords as a method of keeping their vassals docile and accepting of their poor positions in life. This, however, has never been confirmed.
Perhaps the most important duty of the Oracles is the role they fill in preserving the writings left by Poet and then instructing the faithful about the morality espoused by the stories. Many Oracles work as scribes, copying by hand, crumbling and yellowing manuscripts. While others work as local or travelling clerics, spreading the faith and mediating disputes.
The Sect of Righteous Will
Little is known about how the Righteous Will began. What is clear is that its members began to gather in secret, discussing their displeasure with the predeterminism preached by the Oracles and the possibilities of writing new stories or discarding the Poet’s works entirely. Eventually, the sect gained enough traction to declare separation from and opposition to the Oracles of Harmony.
This members of this splinter group of the Oracles of Harmony believe in self-determinism, to varying degrees. Some think that the Fated should be allowed to live how they want entirely independent of the Poet’s stories. While others believe that they should be allowed to write new stories for the Fated to follow. Still others want to discard the Poet’s altogether and that by doing so the Fated will no longer appear allowing ordinary people to finally live in peace.
Despite the differing intensity of views within the sect, something every member holds as truth is that sufficient will can allow one to alter or even completely ignore fate.
Response by the Oracles
Because of the Oracles’ belief in fate as a very real and absolute force in the lives of mortals, they view the Sect of Righteous Will as fools and heretics in equal measure. On one hand, they believe that the Righteous Will is doomed to fail because fate has already determined the winner in their conflict. On the other hand, they cannot simply allow this splinter group to spread doubt in the minds of the commonfolk nor can they allow them to lead the Fated astray as that would disrupt the harmony the Oracles strive so hard to achieve. Thus, the Oracles have established that they are unfazed in the face of opposition by the sect, but still make sure to have their agents and clerics keep an eye out for the sect’s schemes.
Because of the Imperium’s nature as a nation guided by a theocracy where the top officials are members of the Oracles, other religions are only found in small pockets, often found in areas far from the holy city like those closer to the Dark Woods, or are otherwise practiced in secret.
An exception to this is the freedom with which the Woodsmen are allowed to practice their own religion, one which they supposedly brought with them from beyond the Dark Woods. The reasons for this are threefold. Firstly, the Woodsmen are isolated to the Woodsmen’s Quarter in Aurim thus limiting their contact to only other Woodsmen. Secondly, the Woodsmen agreed to only spread their religion among themselves in exchange for being allowed to live in Aurim. Lastly, even should the Woodsmen choose to leave the city, the stigma against them is so strong and the language barrier so high that no one is liable to listen to them anyways.
The Oracles are generally religiously tolerant with regards to what is practiced in private; they, however, do take action against those who proselytize other religions or defame the Oracles’ beliefs. The current leaders of the Oracles are said to be the most tolerant in many decades. Many believe it is this soft-handedness that has directly resulted in the audacity with which the Sect of Righteous Will has openly attacked the Oracles.