Tales from the Inner Sea
Comparatively new within the Inner Sea is the Imperial Cult of Empress Armanixes; this Cult has grown since the days of the Empress who won the Great Civil War over 300 years previously, and many of the citizenry of the Empire are Initiates into her Cult, the remainder at least being lay members of the faith. It came about 18 years after the death of the Empress when a young shepherd woman called Leontia was stricken with a vision whilst drinking water from a spring near the northern city of Videssa; this vision was of the Empress, telling her that she had been elevated to Godhood by the King and Queen of Heaven, and she still loved and cherished her Empire and her beloved subjects from the afterlife. Leontia became her first Priestess with the High Temple of the Cult being located in Videssa, rather than Armarissa. This was not unusual given that Videssa was the birth city of Armanixes.
She is depicted as she was in life, as a phenomenally beautiful pale blonde woman with amber eyes and a strong stern countenance. Her sphere of influence is the Armavine Empire, and her interests are in Duty, Loyalty and good rulership. Core tenets are the preservation of the Empire, the protection of the citizenry from incorrect influences and the maintenance of the Armavii bloodline through the female. Many schools are run by the Cult, teaching obedience to the Imperial Throne and reverence to tradition and Armanixes; also many infirmaries and charitable concerns exist to protect the poor and the needy from life’s vicissitudes and the High Priestess is amongst the more active Quorientes in civic matters. Over the last few decades there has been a movement within the Cult trying to increase slaves rights further, and also the banning of Imperial subjects becoming slaves for reasons of debt (an old practice that if a family falls into difficulties they can sell one into slavery to clear debts and legal problems); no subject should be deprived of their liberty or citizenship due to poverty; the Cult is still very keen on slavery for those who committed crimes however.
The Cult has grown steadily over the centuries and now rivals the Cults of Nerukata and Sensu in size and influence within the Empire; there is no rivalry however, given that the Cult preaches that Armanixes is like a daughter to them. The current High Priestess (the clergy are always female) is Domentzia Manyariis, and like most High Priestesses of the Cult before her is a powerful member of the Quoria, with especial indulgence and access to the Emperor or Empress. In fact the creation of this Cult has caused great theological debate amongst the clergy of all gods, for how can a new god be created with the Gods Peace in place?
Cult robes are white and golden, tinged with a sea blue hem, all colours to honour Sensu and Nerukata. The priesthood normally wears an old fashioned form of Imperial Legion Light armour, being leather, courboulli and some light chain. Weapons are normally frowned upon as such, but it is extremely commonplace for the clergy to be very proficient in Armanian Body Combat, and they often use a cestus like pair of gloves as part of their armour. The meditation aspects of the martial art form are a component of worship ceremonies and given it is a unique cultural skill, all priests and many initiates keep up their training to honour their divine patron. Marriage is an important cornerstone of the cult, for it is a key part of the Empire and its society. The preservation of family and the community is also an important aspect of the faith.
Her High Holy Day is the day Leontia had her vision, being the 14th day of the 5th month. It is a joyous affair, but tempered with a sober reflection on matters of family and duty; gift giving within the family unit is expected, and those who serve (slaves and servants) are by custom granted the day off to do with as they please, often given a gift of some coins or other small items.
Her cult skills are Orate, Speak Armanian, Read/Write Armanian, Human Lore, Fist Attack and Parry, Grapple Attack and Parry, Martial Arts (the latter skills indicating Armanian Body Combat, a key cultural skill in the Empire).
Her cult magic is unusual in that it focuses on civic order and protecting the community; given the cult dislike of taking up weapons, the Goddess has armed her Priesthood and followers with spells that allow Armanian Body Combat to become truly frightening in the hands of a Priest.
Spirit – Detect Enemy, Glamour, Demoralize, Mindspeech, Protection, Iron Hand.
Divine – Shield, Group Casting, Great Parry (Fist only), True Fist, Bless Home, City Harmony.
Her greatest allies are Nerukata and Sensu, for their adoption of her into the pantheon (however they managed to do it) has allowed her to become the Goddess she is now. Other Heavenly Gods look upon her as a new sister and like her it seems, and her abhorrence and opposition against the Evil deities goes without question. She is wary over Loksan for his tenets and manner is not conducive to civic harmony and unity; Ba’Ath is mistrusted but not disliked, for though she is an ally of Loksan, she has always opposed her parents and that is surely good for something. Her views on Shamans and Sorcerors are perhaps the most unusual amongst the gods, for so long as a person aids a community and is not selfish, they have merit in her eyes; given that in out of the way places within the Empire indigenous Shamans still exist (not to mention the Zevgenya Altai, who take to her Cult in greater numbers than any other deity) this is perhaps not unusual. Sorcerors who are staunchly for the Empire are also tolerated and treated well and with respect.