Redeemer or Destroyer
The Cult of the Illuminated
History of the Faith
A revelatory religion founded Realm Year 732. 36 years ago in Chiaroscuro, by the prophet Vax. His visions of a radically different world and the imminent arrival of the Shining Ones, demigods who would affect that change. The current cycle of the world would soon be coming to an end preached Vax. That the world was suffering because of the corruption of Dragon-Blooded and Heaven. That all the toil and suffering in their downtrodden caste-filled pitiful lot in life is coming to an end. The Chosen Children of Heaven will come and end the tyranny of the Dragon-Blooded and of Heaven. Making a world vastly different, where everyone has choices, everyone has options; make a world where the farmers and the laborers and the whores who fought for the the Shining Ones, will stand at their sides and be rewarded in this life and a vastly different heaven.
Vax preached in the slums of Chiaroscuro many heard him talk a few moved the fervor of his words and the power of his faith listened. One day a boy of ten years named Shen Aru, who’s parents where serf of distant Dragon-Blood masters were going to sell him into slavery. He escaped to the cult and became like Vax’s adopted son. Shen Aru learned at Vax’s knee, growing strong in the faith and when Vax died in RY 754, Shen Aru became the new prophet.
With Shen Aru’s guidance the cult settled in small village in Yane, a village that was renamed Vision of Light within a year of the Cults coming. The Cult became the official religion of the town and Vax’s grave it’s most sacred shrine. The cult then started to proselytize in the south and the Scavenger Lands then on to the rest of creation.
During Calibration in RY 764 the remaining righteous gods came to Vision of Light, they arrived in golden chariots, on Garda Birds, with retinues of lesser gods and elementals, they arrived in all their majesty and terrible splendor and prostrated them selves before Shen Aru proclaiming him the Herald of the New Age presenting the paperwork from the Celestial Bureaucracy to prove it. Taking Shen Aru to his new home in Heaven, the Cult spread like wild fire in creation. New temples appearing all across the Threshold with the gods presenting new and clarified gospels. Sadly Vision of Light was razed to the bedrock by the Immaculate Order in RY 767 the entire population killed or enslaved if the recanted their faith, all the remains are rubble and ghosts. Even the Holy corpse of Vax was ritually burned by the Dragon-Blooded monks.
Four years latter the cult is Stronger and more wide spread than ever before. Spreading all across creation except the North and even now zealots and missionaries are hard at work spreading the faith.
The Children of Heaven
The cult teaches that the Exalted are the Righteous Children of Heaven, freshly incarnated into creation their memories are distant hazy or non existent. This is to keep them focused on their task at hand ushering in the new Golden Age for mankind. This does leave the Chosen vulnerable to their enemies the most dangerous being the Wyld Hunt. It is the duty of the cultist to approach the Shining One and speak plainly and truthfully telling the Exalt who and what he is. That the cult is here to aid him and spirit him away to safety. If the Exalt accepts he is taken to one of the safe houses of the cult to the adoring fawning mortals and copious amounts of the sacred hallucinogen; bright morning, later one of the gods arrives to take the Exalt to one of the training camps.
The Sequestered Tabernacle overseen by Venerable Silk is hidden deep in the North a massive Solar Manse in the misty mountains of Dehennen. Here the you are taught to become the culmination of all that is good and achieve perfection of thought and form. Here the Solars are attended by worshipful demons, and taught by smiling approving gods. As they have transformed you into a paragon of righteousness so is it your place to change creation into a more perfect place.
Kether Rock lead by Maduka Shin is found deep in the Badlands of the South among broken mesas and imposing cliffs. Here you are continually challenged, molded through hardship and adversity into a hero of the age. Life is hard for the Solar here everything is set against you the environment is scotching even in winter and hellish in the summer, water and food scarce. Here you are taught to survive and overcome all challenges with indomitable strength and unparalleled cunning. As you’ve overcome the oppression of your environment so will you help creation overcome the oppression of the Dragon-Blooded and Heaven.
The Underground Sanctuary guided by Joseph One Shoe, located in the underbelly of Nexus realizing the hunted nature of the Solars, here you are taught to hide your divinity, work your miracles out of sight, this training camp resembles more an organized crime syndicate crossed with soup kitchen. The Graduates lack the Pride of the Sequestered Tabernacle and the aloofness of Kether Rock. These Solars are the street messiahs and heroes of the common man working to save creation one mortal at a time.
In any of the Schools there are three degrees of initiation, each advancement coming after a year of study and contemplation. The first year you are stripped of all possessions and given a simple robe or tunic. for the first month living on a diet of rice and water laced with the sacred hallucinogen Bright Morning. After the purification, you are given a golden robe, vegetables and meat are slowly added back into the diet, the only thing still forbidden is alcohol. Sashes are awarded at each graduation. Hour long prayers are conducted at sunrise, noon and sunset. Training becomes more intense and more specialized as the years advance. Culminating with the Award of a golden sash at the final graduation. After graduation Exalts are only required to pray at sunrise.
The five promises are old prophecies recently rediscovered that predate the first age. The first three have already come to pass and we are seeing the fulfillment of the fourth.
1. The Promise of the Sword: The glorious first age will fall and creation will become corrupted. The first age ended in sorrow and flame, when the Dragon-Blooded rebelled against the rightful rulers of Creation. Though this act corruption entered the world, death and devastation abounded, so many and so much were lost.
2. The Promise of the Quill: Creation will Struggle onward. Even in the midst of all the destruction life carried on. People struggled to survive and all the Dragon-Blooded would do was struggle amongst themselves over power. Though creation continued is was far less than it once was.
3. The Promise of the Key: The gods will not forsake creation. The remaining righteous gods decided that a new age must be ushered in. The mortals needed mentors and leaders to guide them spiritually and politically. After much debate, they decided to send their children; The Shining Ones to restore creation to it’s former glory. Sharing their wisdom and scouring creation clean of the Fair Folk and the Dragon-Blooded betrayers.
4. The Promise of the Gauntlet: The gods will send new champions, The Shining Ones. They will arrive in the dark of night many of them alone, addeled and vulnerable from the hazardous journey from heaven. Only when they have been reminded of who they are and gathered together can they achieve their purpose. This is the calling of all cultists, to find and unite the Shining Ones so they may stand against the corruption of the world.
5. The Promise of the Ewer: Creation will be restored to it’s former glory. Once the corrupt Dragon-Blood lie in their graves or banished to the Wyld can the Shining Ones take their rightful place on the throne of the world. Lending their power and good will to the mortal to uplift them into a new and righteous age with the Cultists as their most favored disciples.
The Mortals Venerate the Shining Ones and the Illuminated Kingdom that will come after the world is remade but never the Celestial Incarna, and the exalted venerate the Incarna.
High Holy Days
The first five days of each descending season are considered holy days, and the first five days of Descending Wood are considered the most holy days of the year. These days are marked by fasting and meditation. The only foods allowed are rice and water. The days are marked by prayers at Sunrise Noon and sunset. The cultists are given access to many different drugs to induce ecstatic visions, some prefer self flagellation or extreme deprivation to induce these states or to purge themselves of any perceived sin.
The High Holy days in particular are used for serious self examination. The truth must be told during these times, this involves taking the time to meditate upon the darkness in your own soul meeting your personal demons face to face. Questioning your own motive and actions, many leave the cult during this time, nearly all come back after a short time alone. This proves to be a time of personal betterment after taking a long hard look at your own soul. This is also the time to forgive those who have transgressed against you.
Calibration: Unlike the rest of creation Calibration is celebrated by the cult, all rules and stations are forgotten as every member becomes and equal. For those five days feasting is common and no food or drink or drug is forbidden to any member. Many of the Exalted prefer to spend calibration with the mortal cultists and the celebrations become all the wilder for it.