History and Overview
The religion of Dae’Kos was founded in the Sovereignty of Riavan centuries ago in the uncertain time before The Fracture. It has since become the dominant faith of the Sovereignty and also has followers throughout the Many Worlds.
One legend of its origins is of the mythic figure, Dallaran Ekos, writer of the Code of Dallaran which guides the Sovereignty of Riavan’s people. As the legend tells, when Dallaran sought to end the conflict tearing his people apart he journeyed to the summit of the tallest mountain peak on the world of Spire. There he meditated for twenty days and twenty nights as the cold and wind ravaged him and his soul rose up in a desperate search for answers. Finally, on the dawn of the twenty-first day his eyes opened and, in battered and tattered rags of what was left of his clothes, he stumbled down the mountain and wrote two great works. The first, the Code of Dallaran, allowed his people to end a bitter civil war. The second, said to have taken the rest of his life, was called “Meditations of a Watchful Sky,” and formed the basis of the Dae’Kos faith.
Dae’Kos is notable for its loose structure in which Monasteries form the center of spiritual thought and development. Each Monastery is wholly independent, with no central authority, founded by individuals committed to the exploration of Dae’Kos in their own way. Those who head a Monastery, or devote themselves to one as their primary calling, are called Anchorites.
By long tradition, each Anchorite is expected to meditate on Dae’Kos and its possible implications and write what they have come to realize or believe. These writings are distributed to other Monasteries and form the collected wisdom of the faith; to be studied, commented upon, debated, and taught. The most compelling philosophies then cause their authoring Anchorites, and their Monasteries, to rise in the esteem of the entire religion. These Anchorites are the de facto leaders of Dae’Kos though they have no authority beyond the respect their treatises have earned.
First among equals is the Monastery on the Sovereignty world of Teralon. For generations, the most revered insights into Dae’Kos have originated there and it is considered the most sacred place in the universe. The head of the Monastery is an Anchorite known only as The Sedate.
Unlike the other major religions, Dae’Kos has no specific Gods. Rather, the core belief is that the universe itself, as a whole, will reward the virtuous and punish the wicked. Sometimes the reward or punishment may come to descendants instead of to the person directly. Therefore, followers of Dae’Kos believe in a fundamental fairness of an ordered universe, but sometimes that fairness can be hard to discern.
Much of the writing done by Anchorites is focused on defining what is, and is not, virtuous. “Meditations of a Watchful Sky,” itself, is curiously sparse on the subject. This has led to some in Dae’Kos to believe that the Code of Dallaran is meant to be read as a companion piece to “Meditations,” while others believe that true virtue is almost impossible to discern and manifest for the flawed mortal soul. However, over many centuries, some general consensus ideas have emerged.
The foremost commonly taught wisdom of Dae’Kos is that the self is merely the means to effect the world around it. If the universe will punish the acts of the wicked then it must be primarily concerned with what we do to each other. The self is an instrument of change or impact, but it is less important than those around it. The whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts.
The second wisdom is that right and wrong may be mitigated by intent, but intent alone cannot make evil into good. Stemming from a long line of theological debates in Monasteries located in the Hegemony, this wisdom arises from the analysis of how information, or its lack, informs our judgment of others. Further exploration of this line of thinking are said to have given rise to the Rite of Amanuensis (see below).
The last wisdom that is mostly shared by the faithful is the generational nature of the ways in which the universe might reward or punish. If the world we live in is fair and ordered, write the Anchorites who developed this concept, then the virtuous who nevertheless suffer are reaping the bitter harvest of their ancestors’ misdeeds. And those who are malign and still prosper are benefiting from the goodness of their progenitors. To be good or evil is always rewarded or punished, but it may be some time for those consequences to manifest.
Rites and Symbols
Rite of Amanuensis
One common tradition most followers of Dae’Kos share is the Rite of Amanuensis. During this Rite, the worshipper writes down their deeds in a personal journal and reflects on whether or not those deeds will likely cause the universe to reward or retaliate. Teachings from Teralon say that this should be done daily and for all actions, but most followers of Dae’Kos only do this sporadically and often just the more notable things they do instead of the minutiae of life. It is a subject of endless debate among the faithful as to whether or not these writings must be kept intact as part of a sacred bond with the universe or can be destroyed in the interest of privacy or security. Many have found a compromise by using personal ciphers to encode their journals so others cannot read the details of their lives. However strict the adherence, Dai’kos followers are often drawn to being Scribes, accountants, writers, and teachers.
Rite of Remembrance
When a follower of Dae’Kos passes away it is customary for those who knew them best to read a final goodbye. Drawn from their knowledge of the one who has died, these close friends and family write as full and true accounting of their life as they can and choose one person to recite it at the ceremony. While uncommon, it is not unheard of for those who were rivals or enemies of the dead to be included as well for a more in depth testament.
Pilgrimage of One Thousand Steps
The Pilgrimage of One Thousand Steps is a holy journey to the Monastery of Teralon. Named for the vast length of stairs carved into the side of, and sometimes through, the mountain the monastery sits on, the Pilgrimage is filled with challenges of the mind, body, and soul. Unlike similar paths of hardship and worth that lie in the Many Worlds, the Pilgrimage is rarely lethal. Those who fail are usually seen simply walking back down or are brought to a nearby settlement by gentle Blood Witch Anchorites so they may recuperate. Very few of the faithful of Dae’Kos ever undertake this journey. Of those that attempt it, even fewer complete it. Those that do succeed are regarded as blessed and sacred, and they are given a place of honor in the rare circumstance of a Monastic Assembly being called.
Followers of Dae’Kos often wear beaded jewelry with two different colors of beads to represent virtue and vice. Others may also decorate their homes with balancing scales or similar and add counters or tokens to one side or the other over time when they feel they have done something noteworthy. It is considered extremely rude in Dae’Kos to overtly comment on the balance of morality someone is displaying unless you have an invitation to do so.
Figures of Note
Though it lacks traditional hierarchy and structure that many religions possess, Dae’Kos does have some individuals that most faithful have heard at least some word of.
The most revered figure in Dae’Kos is unquestionably The Sedate. This Anchorite of the Monastery of Teralon is known for their wisdom and wit in their writings, but all else is shrouded in mystery. No one who has not undertaken the Pilgrimage of One Thousand Steps knows anything else about The Sedate.
It is commonly thought that The Sedate is a rank given to whoever is the head of the Monastery of Teralon as writings from them date back centuries and would require a series of individuals carrying on the tradition. Examination of the treatises note that the writing is always done from the point of view of a singular person, including when referencing previous works in generations past, but most assume this is a clever rhetorical choice to convey stability and tradition.
Cassandra is an awakened Wood Golem on the Sovereignty world of Miskalopos. She serves as an Anchorite of a Monastery near the city of Eskarion, capital of the Duchy of Miskalopos. With a Terminus Node so close by, her Monastery enjoys easy access to the greater society of the Many Worlds and so has come to serve as an unofficial repository of the collected works of Dae’Kos. Every day sees scrolls and books brought here and carefully stored and categorized under Cassandra’s watchful eye.
Like most awakened Golems, Cassandra was crafted for a different purpose. In her case, she was made as a bodyguard for Lady Sotar Alithian, a Princess of the Sovereignty of Riavan. A few years later she gained self-awareness but in keeping with the law, remained as a guard and property of the Princess. Then, one day during a ceremonial procession, Lady Sotar was attacked by a band of traitors and grievously wounded. She survived and escaped, however, thanks to the efforts of Cassandra who took the brunt of the initial assault. When order was restored to the area, the Princess found her loyal bodyguard and proclaimed her free and simultaneously adopted her into the aristocratic Alithian family.
Deleros Kiel is a young Zeverian on the Calid Circle world of Til-Mar who is known among Dae’Kos for his passionate and sometimes inflammatory writing style. Young for an Anchorite, and certainly young for any degree of status within the Calid Circle, he has nevertheless made a name for himself. His works focus on the the true nature of intent and responsibility. While much of Dae’Kos considers intent secondary to the effect of an action upon another, Deleros argues that it is far more paramount in the assessment of one’s standing with the universe. And that, if the universe is able to reward and punish, what is in the heart is something that it can perceive. Most of the faithful disagree with him, but more and more are commenting on his philosophy and it is gaining ground.
Places of Note
The Monastery of Teralon
Referenced numerous times above, the Monastery itself is physically impressive in addition to the merits of its Anchorites. Teralon is a rugged world of steep mountain ranges and harsh cold and wind. The Monastery sits high in the Carvelekos Mountain range, separated from the Baronial populations to the East and West. Neither Barony claims the Monastery and it is considered to be a direct Royal holding within the hierarchy of the Sovereignty of Riavan. However, by long custom, the Archon of Riavan does not visit unless prepared to undergo the Pilgrimage of One Thousand Steps. No Archon has ever done this and thus whatever contact with the Royal government is minimal, through letters or the occasional Envoy who has walked the path.
The Monastery of Shadows
This Monastery lies somewhere within the Khezeratt of the Sun and Stars despite the prohibition against other religions. It is rumored to be on the Khezeratt world of Omniel but the need for secrecy keeps the exact location a mystery. Those of Dae’Kos who look for it can sometimes be arrested, but stories persist that searching faithful are approached in the dead of night by an Anchorite in a dark mask and brought to the sacred place for services.
In times of crisis that may affect the entirety of the faith a Monastic Assembly may be called to address the issue as one unified religion. These Assemblies are incredibly rare, the most recent one was hundreds of years ago in the year 637 and concerned a fanatical cult that targeted Monasteries for arson and murder.
There are few hard and fast rules for these Assemblies, given the loose nature of Dae’Kos, but there are some. First, and foremost, is that the head Anchorite of any Dae’Kos monastery is welcome. Those that can not, or choose not, to attend may ask another attending Anchorite to speak for them if they wish. Second, those who have made the pilgrimage to speak to The Sedate are welcome as well. And lastly, it is expected that those who participate, or have another speak for them, will abide by whatever decision or plan is made.