The Faith of Zedek

Disciples of Zedek believe that a world existed before this one. In an ancient dawn war between deities and primordials, Zedek alone survived. With only ruin around Him, He fashioned Daear out of the ashes of the old world.

Lonely amongst an empty world of plants and animals, He created the ancestors of the elves, the Ljósálfar. One of the Ljósálfar, Sarya, enamoured Zedek, and He took her as His wife. Elevated to the station of Bride of the Divine, Sarya took her throne in Ásgarthr as queen.

With beauty matched only by ambition, Sarya demanded that the ancient elves worship her as they did Zedek. Only one tribe, the Dökkálfar, would bend its knee in worship of the Faerie Queen. This sparked the Elfswar, as Ljósálfar loyal to Zedek fought Dökkálfar loyal to Sarya.

Owing to the long lifespans of the elves, the war lasted centuries. When it ended, the Dökkálfar loyal to Sarya, now branded "daemonfae", were cast from the surface, forced to live in the Hollow World Svartálfaheimr. For her hubris, Sarya was cast from Ásgarthr down to the bottomless Abyss, forever stripped of her divinity.

Zedek retreated from the world. He elevated seven Ljósálfar, charging them with guarding Daear. They became the first saints. Soon, one would fall. Asmodeus, patron saint of virtue and chastity, was tempted by Sarya. With honeyed words she convinced Asmodeus to rebel against Zedek.

Raising an army of rebel angels, Asmodeus slew his master. As He descended to the Underworld, Zedek cursed Asmodeus. He stripped the false saint's beauty, imprisoning him within Torment, the infernal prison.

Disciples of Zedek await the day that the Divine is reborn, returning from the Underworld in glory. Until then, they venerate the Seven. With Asmodeus' betrayal, a new saint was beatified. St. Dierdre, Our Lady of Sorrows, was elevated to the Seven.

After the War of Righteousness failed to destroy the Black Chalice, a schism occurred within the Faith, splitting it in two. King Rickart Graustark of Theudemeria sought a more militant Faith, vowing to launch another War of Righteousness. Patriarch Akakios of Albtraum instead sought a more merciful Faith, vowing peace with Bael Turath. Bête Noire thus became the capital of the western Faith, with the king as its head, while Albtraum became the capital of the eastern Faith. After the discovery of Sunderheart Below, it was expected that the Traitor King would launch another War of Righteousness. Instead, a Turathian became Queen Consort.

The Saints

St. Andraste, the Warrior
Andraste is the patron saint of glory, honour, obedience, justice, and righteous warfare. She serves as Zedek’s herald in battle. The Sword of Justice, as her followers call her, espouses the ideas of honour and righteousness in the defence of good and the battle against evil. It was in her name that the War of Righteouness was launched against Bael Turath.

Followers of St. Andraste have a strong sense of justice and fairness and an even stronger dedication to swordcraft, statesmanship, and bringing civilization to “savage” people. Her priests have a reputation for trustworthiness that serves them well in political affairs. She loathes incorrigible evil, demonspawn, traitors, and those who abuse good in the name of greater good.

St. Deirdre, the Healer
Ages ago, Deirdre was a priestess of Zedek until she was kidnapped by cultists loyal to Asmodeus and sacrificed in a dark ritual. Asmodeus sought to make her his consort, promising her a crown as Queen of Torment. Deirdre resisted Asmodeus until her betrothed, the elven paladin Rayah, fought to the heart of Nessus itself to rescue her. Deirdre escaped to Ásgarthr, but Rayah was not so fortunate. It's said that Asmodeus keeps her flayed soul on display as a warning to any who might seek his dark throne.

Since becoming a saint, Deirdre has become the healing hand of Zedek. Gentle and compassionate, St. Deirdre seeks to heal ills and minister to all creatures (whether good, neutral, or evil) through her servants on Daear. Her gentleness should not be confused with weakness, for St. Deirdre touches every corner of Daear with her power. If her power is ever roused to anger, she proves formidable.

St. Velentr, the Smith
Velentr is the patron saint of creation and patron of artisans, especially miners and smiths. He forged armour for the Ljósálfar during the Elfswar and is the guardian and protector of the hearth and the family. He demands these behaviours of his followers: meet adversity with stoicism and tenacity; demonstrate loyalty to your family, your clan, your leaders, and your people; strive to make a mark on the world, a lasting legacy.

To make something that lasts is the highest good, whether you are a smith working at a forge or a ruler building a dynasty. The Smith is stern, stubborn, and uncompromising, but tireless and brave in the defence of his creations

St. Zalera, the Judge
St. Zalera is the Night Judge, guardian of death. She is the spinner of fate and the patron of winter. She marks the end of each mortal life, and mourners call upon her during funeral rites, in the hope that she will guard the departed from the curse of undeath.

The Lady of Graves is cold and business-like in her demeanour, for she always has work to do and much of it is grim. Having seen infants die, the righteous fall too soon, and tyrants live to advanced age, she makes no judgment about the justness of a particular death and welcomes each birth with equal severity. At the moment of birth, she knows where a particular soul will end up, but she reserves her official verdict until the last possible moment, as she knows prophecies can be wrong or fail. She believes in fate and predestination but understands the need for vagueness and misinterpretation to allow for the illusion of free will. Those who die before or during birth are wasted potential, destroying a worthy soul’s opportunity to fulfill its destiny (and thus while she has no opinion on contraception, she opposes the killing of the unborn). Those who die before experiencing their fate may be lucky enough to return in this life or the next, though in some cases their fate is merely to die an ignoble or early death. She opposes undeath as a desecration of the memory of the flesh and a corruption of a soul’s path on its journey to her judgment.

St. Saoirse, the Liberator
A mortal sellsword before becoming a saint, St. Saoirse was a renowned freedom fighter during the Elfswar. She strongly believed that no man should hold power over another, and went so far as to leave jobs unfinished rather than violate her principles. Despite this, she believes that mortals should exist in harmony with the world and be free to make their own choices about morality and faith. As patron saint of knowledge, she advocates the growth of the soul through the experience of knowledge in all of its forms, without judgment or constraint.

She holds freedom and adventure in high regard, and opposes tyranny and oppression on principle. She willingly accepts challenges when they are issued, although not as a point of honour; he sees no shame in retreating when necessary.

St. Nehalennia, the Traveller
Nehalennia is the patron of all who travel long distances, no matter what path they follow or how they're getting there. She insists that people need to move around and experience new things. As patron saint of nature, she is friend to all who live in harmony with the natural world. St. Nehalennia expects her followers to live in harmony with nature in all its variety. Those who destroy or otherwise harm nature deserve swift vengeance in an appropriate manner. Those who are one with nature, however, have little to fear, although the well-meaning but foolish are sometimes brought down by a danger they could not avoid or divert.

Travellers on the Unterzee, frequently a superstitious lot, frequently ask for St. Nehalennia's intercession before their voyages. Nehalennia teaches that the wilds can sometimes be ugly, dangerous, or terrible, but those things are a part of nature and should be respected as much as those that are beautiful, harmless, or wonderful, for these characterizations mark a newcomer's perspective.

St. Méabh, the Trickster
Méabh is a saint of many faces and guises, including lust and revenge. She is held in especially high regard by elves, who often identify her moods and attitude with that of their people. A fondness of wasps has earned this vengeful patron the title the Savoured Sting; unlike bees, wasps can sting again and again without dying, just as sex and revenge can be experienced time and again.

St. Méabh is fickle, changing loyalties as her needs and whims suit her. She doesn’t do this to be hurtful, she just never lets her interest become too strong or too emotional and thinks that anyone who does otherwise is a fool; former partners and allies who are smart know to accept this and move on. Those who compromise her interests suffer her barbs, and she feels no guilt for taking an eye for an eye, or even more. She has no interest in love and sees it only as a weakness and needless byproduct of physical pleasures. Forgiveness is the domain of fools and weaklings unwilling to protect and avenge their interests. Though she is a patron saint of trickery and enjoys a good joke (or even cruel jokes), she thinks of common pranks and physical comedy as beneath her.
© 2014 Tyler Yaehne
All images are copyrighted by their respective copyright owners.