The Maganist faith grew out of the tribal beliefs of the first Umeri followers of Magus as tempered by the Chief's immense influence on their culture and history.
Core Beliefs Edit
Ancestor Worship Edit
At the heart of Maganism, as with the Umeri beliefs that it originated from, is the worship of one's fallen ancestors. Maganism is an essentially dualistic system of belief, which holds that all humans have an essence or soul that endures beyond death, remains conscious and can even be communicated with by the proper entreaty. Most of the moral and social guidelines contained within Maganism are geared towards ensuring that you are remembered well and offerings are made in your name by your descendants. The greatest punishment that can be meted out in a Maganist community is not merely execution, but the striking of your name from the Tome of Ancestors, ensuring that any worship or offerings made in your name will be punished, and that you will eventually be totally forgotten by your community.
Honouring Magus Edit
Although Maganism does not acknowledge any gods and worship is reserved only for ancestral spirits, the role of Magus in the faith is confusing to some outsiders. Frequent reference is made to Magus in almost all rituals and prayers, as well as in daily life and language, but never as a deity. Magus is seen as a prophet and leader, a mighty warrior who codified the beliefs of Maganism and unified the faithful; frequent titles for Magus are "Ancestor of All", "The Conduit", "The Axis of Faith" among many others. In a religion with such a strong focus on death, Magus inhabits the vital the role of psychopomp.
Early in Magus' rise to power their influence was based on supposed precognitive abilities. Magus claimed to be in constant communication with the ancestors of their Umeri followers, and historical record certainly indicates an improbable level of luck or foresight displayed during Magus' reign. Foreign scholars are quick to point out that Magus lived in the Post-Magic Era, and even when magic existed in the world evidence of divinatory powers has never been confirmed. Despite this, the role of omens and auguries, fortune-telling and prophecy grew to become central to the practice of Maganism.
The Umeri Before Magus Edit
Prior to the rise of Magus, the Umeri were one of a multitude of ethnic groups attempting to eke out an existence in the Post-Magic Era. Scholars have traced their potential origins to several of the great civilisations of the Golden Age of Magic, but the Umeri themselves made no attempt to reconcile their mythic history with the legacy of magic. A collection of nomadic tribes, joined together by bonds of marriage and blood, before Magus, the Umeri fought among themselves as much as they did with other nations. Famed as skilled warriors, the best cavalry in the world, Umeri mercenaries fetched high prices in the City-State Wars that preceded the rise to dominance of Chandor on the continent.
The Rise of Magus Edit
Where the Umeri had been a mighty but fractured people in time before Magus, the coming of the Axis of Faith forged the divided tribes into a unified horde, one that shook the world before dashing itself against the walls of Chandor.
The true identity of Magus is the constant fascination of scholars to this day, thanks in no small part to the active campaign of misinformation circulated by the Maganist clergy in the centuries after The Conduit's death. Stories variously have Magus as the son of a warchief who was betrayed by his comrades, who the young Magus in turn hunted down to take his father's place, the daughter of a shepherd who wandered in the desert seeking revelation, a foreign prince who so impressed an Umeri tribe that they swore to follow him, or a shamaness whose famed ability to whip her soldiers into a blood-fury propelled her to lead the Umeri, to name but a few of the varied narratives.
Whatever their identity, the mark Magus would leave on the Umeri, and the world, would be indelible.
The First Siege of Chandor Edit
So pivotal was the First Siege of Chandor in the formation of two great religions and the history of the world, that latter-day historians of a more secular bent constantly propose a universal dating system that measures the passage of history from before and after the first clash between Umeri and Chandori.
The Umeri, united behind Magus for years at this point, had plundered their way across the continent, sacking city-state after city-state, painting the landscape red with blood. Chandor was beginning to rise to prominence at this time, and while not the jewel of the world it would come to be in later centuries, by the standards of the world at the time, it was a rich goal for Magus and their followers.
Explanations for the Umeri failure at the walls of Chandor are as many and varied as the stars in the sky, and many a modern scholar has dedicated their life to attempting to puzzle out the reasons for the Chandori victory. By rights, the Umeri horde should have overwhelmed the city-state, but the path of ruin cut by Magus' followers was stalled at the Temple of Chandria.
The dominant historical narrative holds that a combination of factors including weather, disease, timely reinforcement by troops from the neighbouring Lornfiegn, and the death of Magus' lieutenant Anu combined to rout the Umeri forces. Both the Chandrian and Maganist faiths have their own, slightly more fantastical explanations for the outcome of the Siege, but ultimately why the Umeri lost is nowhere near as important as the simple fact that they did.
The Flight, the Purge and the Tome Edit
Defeat at the walls of Chandor could have spelled the end of a united Umeri and Magus' rule, and it is a testament to their political acumen (or supposed divinity, among devout Maganists) that they retained control of the tribes, and even used the defeat as a way to solidify their control over the Umeri.
Ask a Maganist about the Flight, the Purge and the Tome and they will tell you it was a time of reformation and judgement, where impious Umeri chieftains were put to the sword for failing their tribes and their ancestors, where the Ancestor of All sat in judgement over their people and lanced the corrupt boils that were weakening them, where the wisdom of the ancestors was made temporal in ink and vellum.
Ask a historian and they will tell you it was a time of political violence and show-trials, where those powerful enough to question Magus' rule were executed, and mystical justifications written into law to justify Magus' power-play.
Regardless of perspective, in spite their defeat at Chandor, in the years that followed it the Umeri, though reduced in number, became even more united under Magus' leadership, and an explicit cult began to form around them as their lessons were written into holy text. Fleeing east and south, the Umeri crossed a land-bridge in search of new lands to call their own, and found vast territories of temperate, fertile land, inhabited by the Quavians, a peaceful people with a culture less advanced than Chandor and the city-states. The warlike Umeri met next to no resistance in their rapid conquest of the continent. The Umeri and the Maganist faith had found the homeland that would allow them to grow into one of the world's great powers.
The Death of Magus Edit
Magus had taken a scattered collection of tribes and turned them into a nation united in faith, leading them into battle and to a new homeland. Magus' Tome had become the founding text of the cult gathered around them, and the shamanistic traditions of the Umeri were formed into the state religion of this new nation. In spite of this, the death of Magus nearly proved the undoing of the fledgling Umeri Empire.
Though Magus lived to a venerable age, they never parented any children, nor named a successor to their power, so in the vacuum left by their death, civil war engulfed the Umeri. Although the conflict was between feuding Umeri tribal groups, with old rivalries rising to the surface without Magus to unify them, the vast majority of deaths in what history would name The Decade of Blood, were among the Quavian serfs the Umeri had enslaved, as raids against these living assets became the norm in conflicts of the civil war. It is estimated that as much as a quarter of the Quavian population that had been subjugated by Magus' conquest was slaughtered in the ten years of civil war that gripped the Umeri.
But as the war raged, the Cult of Magus slowly began to spread its influence to every level of society. Soon every Umeri warlord had a cultist in their court, every Quavian village had a cultist preacher in the town square, and Umeri high and low were making offerings to their ancestors under the council and guidance of the Cult of Magus. Although the person was dead, the legend of Magus lived large in the imaginations of Umeri and Quavians alike. In the end it was likely as much simple fatigue from the war as the maneuvering of the cult that brought the Decade of Blood to a close and heralded the ascendancy of the Maganist Theocracy, but just over ten years after the death of their leader, the Lord Mancer took dominion of the Umeri and Quavians, and accepted the vassalage of the feuding warlords and proclaimed the foundation of the Talumer Empire.
The Talumer Theocracy Edit
In the uneasy century following the Decade of Blood, the Lords Mancer undertook a campaign of concerted social engineering. Their mission was to complete the process begun by Magus, that of transforming a nomadic and bloodthirsty race of warriors that the Umeri had been, into a prosperous and stable empire. Early on in the Empire's history the favoured tool of the Maganist Mancers in this were the Quavians.
The decimation of the Quavians had been almost complete, few adults had survived Magus' initial conquest, and the Decade of Blood had finished off those that remained, as well as the old and weak. The younger generations of Quavians had no concept of life without the Umeri, and the Mancers ensured the divide between the two peoples remained deep, even as they fastidiously converted the Quavians to Maganism.
The superiority of the Umeri became core religious doctrine, and the Mancers ensured as much aggression as possible was directed towards the Quavians rather than at fellow Umeri. The extent of the atrocities committed by the Umeri toward their Quavian subjects in this period is unknown, but the death of their culture was total. It would be centuries before the Quavians would have an identity of their own other than as virtual slaves of the Umeri.