As one of the two main world religions, Ardor worship's presence is felt across Flameverse. Believing that ten holy Flames sacrificed themselves to bring the world into motion, they focus on the individual's gratitude and affection towards the Ardor for their self-sacrifice rather than proselytizing or judgment. They believe that every individual is entitled to how they use their life, a gift from the Ardor, and believe in following the Ardor's acts of creation as a way to venerate them. Found primarily in Lacraya and Chellabra, it has a lower population than Fervor, but still outnumbers the other religions.
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All Flame and magic in the world was contained within Yerxes. At once, nothing and everything existed - all an aspect of Yerxes, an arm extended, an open palm. Yerxes knew that this was stagnation, rigidity, the ending of all things. Yerxes reached for their shadow and pulled it from the ground and called it Aither.
Yerxes told Aither of the everything-nothing, of the terminal beginning, and of the permanent changeless. He bade Aither be the harbinger of change, of growth, of decaying, of all. He bade Aither then do as he would, with this mantle, and show Yerxes what change could be.
Aither thought for only a moment, and hesitated only a second. He plunged his blade into Yerxes' chest, in a quick and sharp cutting motion, and sliced down into his guts.
From the wound spilled blood, magic, and Flame as one. They ran in eight great rivers across the expanses of everything-nothing, and poured out until they were the shape of gods. They rose from their afterbirth, looked upon the everything-nothing, and saw it for what it was. At once, they set out to form Laws, Shapes, and Truths, and as these set in motion, the World became as it was.
Yerxes looked out upon this world and thought it good. Yerxes looked at the blade in their chest and cried out. Yerxes gripped at their blood, but it slipped through their fingers. In a terrible and eternal moment, they fell, and the pillars of the land quaked. Aither looked out upon this world and thought it strange. Aither reached to pluck the bloodied knife, and took it to their own throat.
The eight gods looked upon the divine corpse and knew it to be a falsehood. They knew of the permanency of godhood, for they too were gods. They looked upon the world and wept, for they knew that it would be dust. They knew that after the maggots had chewed through Yerxes, they would find themselves born anew, and all would once again become the everything-nothing. But they also rejoiced, for they knew that all was inevitable: that the shadow would be freed again, and that the knife would be sullied once more.
Their tears fell to the ground, and sprang up as mortals. They looked upon their mortals, and knew this was what change could be. They whispered to them, and told them of the nature of the world, of the eternal cycle, and of the divine corpse.
Now, work finished, they laid down in the bones of the land and sea, and let out a sigh, and became as one with their creation. Their breathing was the wind, their tears the rain, their bodies the ground, their blood the waters. They nourished the world, in spite of its mortality, and they nourished the life upon it, in spite of its ignorance.
For this, we venerate them; for their sacrifice, we give to them; for the divine murder, we thank them.
⚠ Do note that several regions have their own versions of the myth. Debate of these details provides many of the nuance in Ardor myth. Some changes include, but are not limited to:
- Yerxes explicitly commanding Aither to kill him.
- Yerxes being shocked and betrayed by Aither killing him.
- Yerxes killing Aither as they bleed out.
- Yerxes forgiving Aither for killing him.
- Aither fleeing the world rather than committing suicide.
- Whether or not the eight minor Ardor are aware/alive after becoming "the world".
As Flame and magic are inherently born of Yerxes, both crave to return to them. During death, they are sundered from their mortal flesh and return to the site of the divine murder to rejoin Yerxes' soul. Throughout this world's life, all will eventually bleed back towards Yerxes, resulting in the eventual cold, lifeless end to all of existence. For, Yerxes is a god, marking them as unkillable in all ways. They are trapped in repetition with Aither - awakening in the void and being murdered - in order to allow the other gods to craft a world fit for mortals.
This is a natural process, one free of guilt and morality. It is not a bad thing that the world is cyclic; it simply is, and that must be accepted for one wishing to worship the Ardor. Because of this, it is integral to live the best life one can and give back gratitude to the world in form of gifts, time, effort, and affection.
Ardor worshippers believe that Yerxes' corpse rests (metaphysically and literally) in Worldshear, the enormous caustic canyon that cuts down the center of Cadava. However, it is generally forbidden to travel there - Yerxes has no hand in the creation of mortals save for fertilizing the seed of life, and therefore should not be bothered; and to touch Yerxes' divine corpse is to unwittingly sacrifice one's magic and Flame to their soul prematurely, resulting in death.
The Ardor venerate and adore mortals who seek to leave the world a more wonderful place than when they were born. To better the Ardor's creation with one's own self is the highest form of praise, to both the Ardor and the church. Selflessness, generosity, humility, empathy, and compassion are all traits that Ardor worshippers seek to emulate, especially within their own communities. Mortals who exemplify these traits will be noticed by the Ardor Flame, and be blessed in one way or another.
Gratitude and reverence must be expressed towards the Ardor, as they set the world in motion. Without their great effort and sacrifice, no mortal standing today would be alive. Therefore, Ardor worshippers believe their lives are a cherished gift from the Ardor, and believe they should celebrate that life with their own acts of creation, and indulge themselves fully in mortalhood. To wish to be something more is somewhat frowned upon.
For these reasons, the most-worshipped Ardor are Yerxes, Aither, and Navershin (the Ardor of mortality). However, Ardor worshippers are expected to maintain a good relationship with all ten Ardor, and venerate them (mostly) equally. It is understood, with a twinge of amusement, that mortals would come to love Navershin naturally, as he gave rise to their concepts, but it is rare to see single-god worship among the Ardor, unlike the Fervor.
Some worship-favoritism is allowed if the situation calls for it - for example, praying to Merse and Ceerie during supernatural events or bouts of good fortune. Doing so for extended periods of time is seen as greedy and misguided, and returning to a balanced relationship with all the deities is a must.
In addition, the Ardor do not give curses or challenges - they are not personally involved in the day-to-day lives of mortals. Most suffering is seen not as the work of the Ardor, but the actions or consequences of mortals and mortals alone. The Ardor are characterized as a force of goodness only, and so any evil in the world comes from mortals - either those straying from the Ardor's ideals, those explicitly and intentionally defiling them, or outsiders who do not worship the Ardor and do not follow their values. These people should be generally avoided and left alone to their devices,
There is no pressure to convert other people to the Ardor religion. Self-autonomy is important, and if someone chooses not to worship the Ardor, that is their choice to make, regardless of how foolish it is. Much of the Ardor code revolves around the self and expressing gratitude, and proselytizing (as well as religious guilt) does not fall under that.
Rituals & Rites
Though there are structures known as worship-houses where offerings are made, festivals are held, and discussion of Ardor myth is archived, they are not visited commonly outside of those niche uses. Most Ardor-aligned families keep small personal shrines to the ten and complete their own personal daily rituals with them rather than adhere to a schedule elsewhere. As there is no holy text or oral tellings save the creation myth, many only visit their worship-house to ask for advice or community help, which is freely given. Still, the worship-houses are maintained by a small team of priests.
The Ardor adore offerings, especially handmade or custom items. It's customary for worshippers to leave small gifts at the local worship-house every Jarusday, though it's understood if a week or few is missed. During festivals, however, attendance and participation are considered mandatory, and failure to comply results oft in the local community snubbing the offender.
Reincarnations are incredibly significant to the religion. They are mortals who have gained one of the Ardor's affection enough to be transformed into an avatar of them. Thus, they are explicitly holy and blessed by that Ardor. Pilgrims will travel leagues in order to meet and touch a reincarnation.
Note that 'reincarnation' does not necessarily mean the individual was born as an avatar of the Ardor, but has gained their Flames throughout their life. Half-reincarnations that include only one of an Ardor's Flames are seen as blessed, but are not revered as much as true reincarnations are.
For many Ardor worshippers, though Mewt Mavet claims to hold the Flames of Mewrune, this is considered either a trick or a corruption of Mewrune, and he is not venerated outside of Chellabra. Despite this, Chellabrans do not have a negative relationship with other Ardor worshippers - Ardor worship is about the self and gratitude to the Ardor for birthing the world, and judging others has no place in it. Associating with non-Ardor worshippers (or "wrong" worshippers) is not seen as a negative reflection on the self - the Ardor made the world selflessly, for every mortal to live the life they wanted. If some of those mortals do not worship the Ardor (or worship "correctly"), that is their choice.
Ardor worshippers' discussion revolves primarily around Aither and Yerxes. The interpretations of the other Ardor are fairly rigid, and there is no literary text describing mythos, legends, or tales - the creation myth is preserved through oral tradition only. Several regions have their own retellings of the dynamic between the two primary gods (as detailed above), and often engage in friendly debate with one another as to the psyche of Aither and Yerxes, as well as their dynamics.
Most of Ardor's denominations are, then, small regional interpretations of the two, localized to one particular community or worship-house. However, they are not so separate from one another that a person could not travel to another worship-house and receive essentially the same service, as there are no sermons or preaching that would conflict with the newcomer's beliefs. At most, they could engage with discussion with the local priests about the differences between their interpretations, but such a talk would rarely, if ever, escalate into an argument.
Regardless of individual thoughts, all agree that Aither's sacrifice was integral to the start of a cycle, and revere/pity him for it. Many believe Aither did not kill Yerxes willingly, but knew he had to - and speak at length of the Divine Murder or Divine Sacrifice. Specific words for Aither's actions will vary with denomination, of course.
Ardor worship is common on Lacraya, Chellabra, the Isle, and some parts of southern Bivve. Of these, Lacraya and Chellabra have the strongest centers of worship: the Holy Empire has long held the Blue Flame of Victory, considered one of Xharde's Flames; and Chellabra believes Mewt Mavet to be the reincarnation of Yerxes (and he currently holds the Flames of Mewrune).
The Isle hosts the Shrine of the Shifting, a dedicated temple to Mesechev, Ardor of the Celestial Bodies. It was founded by Chendren refugees fleeing Chellabra during its Unification War, and serves as the largest single worship-house for the Ardor. Many pilgrims visit it yearly and provide the island with much-needed tourism revenue during their stay. It contains an impressive archive of religious material.
The inauguration of Emperor Peaches, who also hosts Xharde's other Flame (the Pink Flame of Vibrancy) has intensified worship across Lacraya and reignited much religious debate and interest - worship-houses have seen an influx of donations and attendance.
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Mewrune of Totality
Reewah of Equivalence
Merse of the Opaque
Ceerie of the Gleam
The known reincarnations are as follows, in order of age: