Tales from the Inner Sea
Nerukata is the Noble and Mighty Sun, the king of the (good) gods, husband to Sensu, and father to Satrom, Bumi-Bijiran, Perang, Yesan and Ciha. His titles are many, like the aforementioned Noble and Mighty Sun but also King of Heaven, The Lawgiver and many others. He is depicted as a mighty bearded warrior clad in heavy armour, armed with a Longspear and a Shield; in mosaic and fresco he is often depicted placing his Shield between the world and the darkness of Evil, and it is commonly held that what mortals see in the sky is the glowing circle of his shield known as the Aega Incanda, with the glowing power of the god shining from behind and through it.
Common doctrine holds that the Gods were created from the thoughts of the original creator Goddess Tiada, who is regarded as the absolute beginning of all things. She had a thought, and this thought became Time, the original and strongest of her children gods. She had many other thoughts, and each thought became one of the greater gods. Amongst the primal chaos of existence the created gods clamoured for something to hold to and so they turned to Time, who began to organise the gods and give them structure from the whirl. In their doing so Tiada became fearful of her creations and her thought of fear created a new powerful god, and in time she named him Mowta. This malevolent entity devoured and destroyed those who she felt would oppose her, and he led the host of monsters and demons who she set against her other creations.
The gods were afraid and called on Time to aid them, and the mighty deity leapt into the Sky Goddess Neraka and in doing so ceased to exist as Time and became Nerukata, the god of the Sun. Neraka was burned by his creation and fled to Tiada, who gave her command of the darkness and night, but on seeing beautiful Nerukata for the first time Tiada knew Passion, and from this unconscious thought was created Sensu, who instinctively fled to the side of Nerukata. Tiada ultimately fell before Nerukata and her remains were used by all the gods to create the Mundane Plane (that of mortals), the Godplane (where Heaven and Hell abide, amongst other places) and the Spirit World in between. Nerukata learnt Love from gazing upon Sensu and Sensu learnt of everlasting beauty by looking at Nerukata, and between them they created mortals and animals to populate the Mundane plane and provide them with worshippers and a reason to exist.
Following on from this Nerukata and Sensu had their children, and in order had Satrom, Bumi-Bijiran, Perang and Ciha; Yesan Who Hungers was fathered by Nerukata upon his daughter Bumi-Bijiran whilst Sensu was pregnant with Perang, and this foolish act of rare weakness is the main reason why incest is a great sin, for it created Famine and Desolation upon the world.
Nerukata’s faith is strong and on the balance of it the most important and widespread religion in the civilized lands of the Inner Sea, though there are regional variables, such as Sensu’s importance in places like Menetia and Satroms following in Voya. Fairness in rule and honourable dealings are the cornerstones of Nerukatan worship, and like a strong father he is stern, demanding and wise.
His role is protector against the evils of Mowta, Neraka and Yesan and he despises these deities and their followers, charging his followers to oppose them however they can and to help protect the faithful of all other religions from their predations. The main centre of Nerukata worship is in Armarissa, at a huge temple of golden domes, spires and minarets called the Hama Encanda. Here the Indomitable Sun Father (the Grand High Priest of Nerukata) resides and offers wise leadership to the faithful, and his words carry the weight of law to many lands and temples within the Inner Sea.
His clergy are organised, extremely hierarchical and have an extensive information exchanging network as a result, and the Orthodoxy based in Armarissa has grown vastly wealthy and powerful over the 1300 years of the Armavine Empire; indeed, the history of one in the Inner Sea is inexorably linked to the other, with the Indomitable Sun Father historically being one of the advisers and confidantes to the Imperial Throne. The last 250 years have been challenging ones for the Orthodoxy as the rise of the Cult of Armanixes has seen influence diluted as the position of High Priestess of the Empress Cult has gained more and more influence with the Throne and become much more wealthy, but the clergy have had to learn to live with this adjustment due to the official doctrine that Armanixes is the “Celestial Daughter” of Sensu and Nerukata and within the Empire (if nowhere else) there is now seen to be a spiritual triad of deities.
Outside of the Orthodoxy (that is strong in the old former Imperial colonies like Ateliket and Padiha for example), Nerukatan faith prospers in places like Bassur, Vardonne and Koltovaere for example with their own regional variations, still holding to the core beliefs but having their own way of doing things; the doings of the Hama Encanda are always watched though, and if there are disagreements, they are normally debated and discussed in great Conventions where Priests and theological thinkers meet to go over matters of faith, understanding and scripture.
The day to day concerns of the Nerukatan faith are administrative and advisory, for whilst the Priesthood can heal and in rare cases Resurrect, their focus is more on combating civil disorder, promoting civilization, preserving knowledge and educating the populace correctly. Healing is the sphere of Ciha for example, and other deities have their own allotted responsibilities and domains of influence. This is not to say that there are no Nerukatan monasteries given over to more martial or healing aspects of the Noble and Mighty Sun (for there are a few scattered orders loosely affiliated with the Orthodoxy), but the concerns of the Sun-King of the Gods are set on bigger issues; thwarting Evil and Chaos as forces rather than abstract concepts.
The clergy are not bound to be celibate, but faithfulness within marriage and abstinence outside of marriage are mandatory, with Initiates being on a somewhat lighter leash than the priesthood. Some of the more martial orders are celibate and chaste from the point they take their vows. Day to day expected behaviour from the clergy is law abiding (but strongly tempered with justice), being a paragon of good conduct, fair minded yet strong principle and always available to advise anyone who asks, whether it is a low born serf to a noble or king. Opposing evil and petty acts is important, for even a small evil can become a greater one and thus allow evil forces a foothold. Defending the weak and the good is expected, and convenience or expediency is no excuse for not doing the right thing.
The clergy garb and robes comes in 3 types, depending on what duties the priest expects to be engaging in; elegant and impressive robes of white and gold silk and linen for official appearances, a simpler linen and woollen outfit in similar colour schemes for day to day wear and impressive armour in leather and chain for cases when diplomacy and words have failed in the defence of the faith. A SunFather (and very rarely a SunMother if a priestess) is given a Longspear called the Sunspear on their ordination that serves a symbolic use (Badge of Office) and a practical one (it is a very well made and often enchanted weapon as well). Most of the clergy take at least a little training in the weapons use, with facility being proportionately more likely the farther away from civilization the priests flock is located; mendicants and martial orders will have a higher frequency of competence as is to be expected.
The High Holy Day of the Cult is the same as that of Sensu’s, and it is called the Festival of Light and Love, always held on the first day of the seventh month. The 3 days beforehand and the 3 afterwards are filled with prayers, feasting and celebrations in any area where the faith is followed, and great spectacles, games and other grand events mark the duration of the festival. In an area where the Chariot Races are followed (especially in the Empire), races are thrown with lavish prizes awarded. The week within Armarissa itself is known for being wild and riotous, with public decency and decorum often thrown to the winds in a combination of racing, partying and religious zeal.
Cult Skills are Orate, Speak Own Language, Read/Write Own Language, Human Lore, Search, Evaluate and Scan. Training for any of these can be expected in at least a small temple upwards, if not a shrine.
Magic of the Faith is strong and varied, with a good mix of Divine and Spirit available to both Initiate and Priesthood;
Spirit – Detect Enemy, Glamour, Demoralize, Farsee, Fireblade, Light, Lightwall.
Divine – All Common, and the following Special spells; Command (Eagle, Hawk, Salamander), Cloud Clear, Resurrect (Reusable, but Divination with Nerukata required first), Shield, Sunspear, Truespear.
Attitudes towards the Nerukatan clergy are largely positive, with good relations with all the Heavenly deities, especially Sensu. His attitude towards Loksan is careful watchfulness, and towards Ba’Ath previous hostility (due to her parentage) has in time become similar to her Trickster ally. Nerukata is mindful of the good deeds that the pair of them perform, but dislikes the wild and seemingly haphazard way they do things and their stubborn wilfulness. Still, since they are now the only two full deities who can manifest on the Mundane Plane, they have their uses, and at least they seem to be completely opposed to Mowta and the other Evil gods. His hatred for Mowta, Neraka and Yesan is total, and he acts as the focus for the opposition to their plans and wishes.
The majority clergy view on Sorcerors and Shamanists is one of stern disapproval, but not necessarily anger or defiance; they are misguided and in great danger from the forces of Evil and their lack of worshipping a god (any god, not counting evil ones) puts their souls in great danger. Some of the more zealous amongst the clergy (Orthodoxy and otherwise) seek a more evangelical approach to conversion, but for now they are still in the minority and most in the priesthood prefer to convert by example, not coercion.