Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Veil, a Cubic Dystopia

Once upon a time, there were many deities.

All were equal, though some, of course, were more equal than others. As with any power structure, the weak soon aligned with the strong, or with each other, creating alliances and pantheons in competition for the souls and riches of the world below. They warred.

Constantly.

Eventually, when the sky was filled with fire and smoke, the land smashed and broken, and the seas choked with holy power, the war met its end. Few mortal creatures survived, and those that did were irrevocably scarred with the terror and pain of generations of divine battle. It was plain to see that the world was in its death throes, and such constant hostilities might soon cause even gods to perish. Without an end to the war, there would be nothing but blood, and dust, and Void.

So the gods convened. A truce was formed, and the task of rebuilding the world begun. The gods called into existence a great Veil, one that no sight nor sense could pierce. The Veil concealed all knowledge of each god's ultimate whereabouts in the new world, hiding from them nothing except their own ultimate place in the world's foundation. With the Veil in place, there could be no hierarchy, no intrigue, no sabotage - every god, save the insane ones, would naturally desire a world where none among them would risk annihilation, or deprivation, or injustice.

So, in the final phases of the world's construction, they decided to merge. There would be but one God, they said, intrinsic to the structure of this new existence, and there would be no rivalries, no contention, nothing but an eternal Peace. And as the dissenters felt their powers drawn inexorably into this thing, this singularity of energy, they broke the agreement.

There was a pop, and a tear, and the Veil tore, and the new earth wrapped itself around the old, and all the old idols crumbled with the shock of rebirth. Dissenters, malformed and shrunken, fled to deep and hidden places. A new Humanity rose up and began slaughtering all the creatures from Before. And there God stood, and saw it was good, and said, "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust."

The new Deity could be called the Primarch, they decided. He - she - it - had dominion over all the beasts of the land and air, the strange creatures of river and sea, and the weather, and the rocks, and everything between and beyond. It could be prayed to, but would not respond except in whispers, or subtle signs. And it wished nothing more than the killing of those "traitors," hidden everywhere in Veil. These demons, it said, were weak and atrophied, wanting nothing more than the plunging of the world into brutal Chaos, or to enslave it a grip of iron, or imprison it in soulless Order.

It was nothing if not vague.

As the Faith spread, adopting nonhumans and barbarians under its wing, it changed, then flexed, then split entirely. Now there are three Faiths, each with their own great city, and client kingdoms, and millions of worshippers.

The Western Faith believes that the forces of evil will bide their time, gathering strength and plotting a single, crippling blow against all holy order in a coming Armageddon. In the fires of the Last War and among the tsunamis of gore will be born an Anti-God, an avatar of nihilism, and the cosmos will return to the hell that was Before. So followers of this Faith hone their blades, building tall fortresses of stone and faith, stockpiling food and gold, all to serve as bulwarks against the Reckoning.

The Eastern Faith instead wishes to fight fire with fire, and use the tools of the Enemy against it. Their great Prophet, Aloysius the Tall, was even an accomplished diabolist, who habitually summed great Terrors only to bind and destroy them, so as to always be practiced at the art. Eastern priests are well-known evangelists, everywhere using the power of negotiation and commerce to bring new lands into the fold. Many Eastern holy sites are built atop known ruins of the old order.

The Southern Faith is composed of the Primarch's Chosen, every one of them, in the flesh. People of other faiths are, of course, welcome to their doubts, and welcome also to live and work in southern lands. Of course, they are obviously unqualified to hold office, or lead armies, or cross any borders or travel long distances.  Southerners believe that their souls, Chosen as they are, can never leave the world - usually, they are recycled as newborns in families of loyal Chosen, but sometimes they appear far afield, in foreign lands known not to the men of Faith.

There are, of course, a few things all three Faiths agree upon:
That there is but one true God.
That It has a Plan.
That It hates the traitor Demons.
That those Demons have many tricks and many disguises.
And They could well appear to be Prophets of the Faith.