THE MARI CULT OF FIRE

BELIEF OUTLINES - MEMBERS - COAT OF ARMS - TERRITORY - TRADE AND PRODUCTS
WORSHIPPING PRACTICES -
TEMPLES/HOUSING - SYMBOLS - MYTH/LORE - IMPORTANCE - HISTORY

Overpopulated with commoners, the Cult of Fire has always been the most popular sect for worshippers of Mari, the  Murmillion of Goddess of Dreams and Hope. The members view Mari as an eerie, red headed woman, with wings made of flame. Being one of the largest cults, about half of their people inhabit the immense Drak in Dasans, while the other half lives in the southern section of the Burning Mountains that provide the region its name. Lava flows down the rocks; this cult has settled in a place that all of the others have deemed inhospitable, yet they continue to thrive there, having found that the destructive nature of the volcanoes is made up for by the lush, fertile soil that remains after the occasional eruption.

One of the very first cults established, around the same period of time as the Arkhaeon's Guild, House Pheronn, the original noble family, has provided the Kunran of the sect since the founding. They are certainly one of the most influential cults, as their massive numbers allow them to delegate a lot of representatives when choosing the king, and they almost always set up trusted members as his advisors.

Belief Outlines. In the heart of the city of Flaynna, there is a great library, with one scroll cherished by the Master Librarian above all else. If one were to unfold the musty paper, they would reveal an ancient depiction, drawn by Pheronn, the founder of the Cult of Fire himself. Intricate details give one a very accurate idea of what the Mistress looks like, making her appearance consistent and decisive between members. Other scrolls in the library contain other versions of the deity, but all of them share many base traits, and vary only in the style of the artist.

A cascade of crimson lava runs down about her shoulders, her tresses appearing to be one smooth river of the fiery substance. The tips of two distinctly elven ears poke out from the silky stream, like two slender stones peaking over the surface of a babbling brook. Chiseled cheekbones, placed at a precarious loft, lend a greater sense of majesty to the alluring Goddess. Atop her perfectly angled cheeks, set two fierce eyes, a hue reminiscent of blood mingling with fire. Such a distant, brooding gaze is quite frankly disturbing, as there is no doubt that the ethereal, eerie deity is plotting other’s demise. Her angular chin, and long, thin nose are also blatantly of the elven variety, probably due to the
Murmillions admiring the portion of elven blood that flows through their arrogant veins.

Her supple shoulders careen gracefully into a slender frame, the dancing ends of her seemingly animated hair twirling about her lissome waistline. Though her locks extend all the way to her rear, about midway through the stream of red, a grand spectacle protrudes from her lithe shoulder blades. Magnificent wings, made literally of great, blazing fire, add a final, radiant touch to her already fierce, yet oh so beautiful looks. They extend outwards a little over two fore, making them not quite immense, but still formidable. It is said that at times when her morbid passions burn the fiercest, her entire body becomes encased in flame, a glorious sight indeed, if not a bit morbid to see such a ghastly, yet beautiful woman licked by the scalding caress.

While all but one depiction of the Mistress show a radiant woman immersed in flame, myth tells of an alternate look that occurs when Mari loses followers. As long as she has a large amount of followers, their spirits will act as fuel for her incinerating regalia, but should she lack the support of the cult, her power dwindles. At times like this, her searing wings completely vanish, without a trace of the majesty they once displayed. The fiery hues of her locks fade to a smoldering, ashen gray. The skin that had remained taught over her angular visage droops loose and flabby from the bones. Only a single, indication of such an event exists in the sect's records, so ancient that it is considered nothing more than a myth, but it remains in the Master Librarian's possession as a reminder to all of the duty they show to Mari, lest a stellar opposite of the deity they loved take her place.

Although the Goddess of Dreams is certainly a lurid, ethereal sort of Goddess, in order to match the entities she represents, the majority of the
Murmillion cults keep to that definition, but all of the sects have certain areas where they stray from the common definition. The Cult of Fire has mingled the mysterious nature of their Goddess with a zesty ferocity, making her the embodiment of both dreams and fire. In addition, the members believe that Mari revels in human sacrifice, and has a much shorter temper than their peers. At meetings of the Council of Cults, the representatives of this sect are always the first ones to arouse discrepancy, especially if one were to insult their volatile interpretation of the Mistress. Most of the affiliates agree that it is their duty to defend the Mari they know, but that it is inappropriate for a cult to discredit another depiction of the deity.
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Members. The members of the cult consist of the Murmillion men that inhabit all of the Ehebion Peninsula that is north of the Moon Hills. Thus, their appearance and style of living is nigh identical, with a few minor variations. First and foremost, the Cult of Fire is known to be the most warlike of the cults, and willingly provides a profusion of soldiers for the king, and often establishes some of their members as his 'councilors' only to whisper warlike ideas in his ear. They are known for being much more brutal than other cults, punishing prisoners of war by sacrificing them to Mari in Mt. Memflaynna, with a cunning savagery that few can rival.

In addition, the Cult of Fire has a sort of alliance with the
Arkhaeon's Guild, forged centuries ago in order to surreptitiously benefit both organizations. With the Cult of Fire having such a deluge of soldiers, the Guild felt that they would like to have these forces behind their backs, and thus may tinker with discussions to be in favour of the Cult of Fire at meetings of the Council of Cults. In addition the Cult seems to have members of their sect put on the throne more often than the other Cults, as if the moderation of the meetings had altered the decisions a bit.
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Coat of Arms. Being Murmillions, their traditional banner is a purple banner, with the Glyph of Dreams painted on it. Often times the Glyph will be painted in black, but as a symbol of the fires of their Goddess, they paint the syllable in bright red. House Pheronn, the sponsor of the cult, applies their personal motto to any of the banners: "Only the Flames can make Shadows." The rise of the Fire will evoke the third rise of the Shadow. This is displayed in glyph-writing upon the vertical margins of the banner, and suggests that the cult considers itself to be the only one who can restore the Shadow Realm to its former glory. Return to the top

Territory. The Cult of Fire established itself in a realm deemed inhospitable by nearly all other people, and has continued to thrive there since the founding of the Arkhaeon's Guild, after discovering how the ashes actually fertilized their valley. Unlike most cults, they cult members inhabit their Drak in Dasans, yet have had to relocate half of their members to a new settlement, due to their numbers being so massive. They named this city Flaynna, after its founding in 2224 b.S. For the most part, the Burning Mountains do not keep to their namesake. However, a few of the peaks around the city are indeed active volcanoes, which the members see as indicative of the fiery powers of their Mistress.

Flaynna is located beneath the shadow of Mt. Memflaynna, the tallest volcano in the Burning Mountains range, but miraculously, its non-explosive lava flows are located entirely on the side that spews away from the city. However, a few vents were once active on the other side, they became dormant after nearly destroying the city, as if Mari had sealed them for her Cult’s benefit. With their city being located in the deepest stretches of
Murmillion land, they face no immediate threat of being attacked by Aca-Santerra, however, they provide the king with the majority of his Drakkars for his personal army, and are always willing to help in any battle that may threaten the safety of any of the other Cults of Mari.
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Trade and Products. Like most Murmillions, the Cult itself is a religious function, but House Pheronn, that dominates over the group’s common folk, maintains trade under the name of the Cult, as the members consider the weapons they make to be holy to Mari, and trading is thus almost a religious function. The volcanoes about them contain exceedingly rare materials, although the mithril sources have run dry from overuse of the hallowed product, they still manage to produce an immense amount of opals and amber, the likes of which they often implant in their swords for decorative purposes.

In addition, they craft some of the finest blades in Nybelmar, though those are sold exclusively to other
Murmillions with no exceptions, as having all of their soldiers' finely crafted weapons pitted against the Santerran's, for example, lesser means of offense, provides a considerable military advantage. Perhaps the reason they are so adept at the art of metal crafting is their close proximity to such immense, natural furnaces; that burns hotter than any man-made fire. These natural fires are certainly holy to Mari, and using them for their benefit is an example of their dominance over their nature, yet another of their many religious beliefs. In addition, they provide the other cults with quite a few vegetables and produce that they grow in their lush valley, the ashes from the volcanoes having fertilized the area many years ago.
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Worshipping Practices. All Murmillions believe that ironworking is a special route to reach Mari's essence, but the Cult of Fire truly hallows the art above other forms of worship. They see it as a mingling of nature and civilization. Both the flames in the forge and the metals which are molded come from Mt. Memflaynna, and are therefore considered to be gifts from Mari. By taking these presents and transforming them into something amazing, they have given a gift back to the Mistress. In addition, the Cult is much more warlike than its various counterparts, and so extra metallurgy is certainly not looked down upon. In fact, they believe it the will of their Goddess to conquer, and crafting the objects necessary to achieve her desires is a great honour. Although, orders from the Murmillion King are the only thing that can officially declare war on another culture, but when the need to fight does arise, it is the Cult of Fire who sends out their soldiers.

Although the practices of smithery are quite common amongst the people, this sect has established a unique tradition, which makes them one of the more fearsome groups in the area. Despite their ruthless cunning in military matters, the cult prefers to take prisoners rather than slaughter on the battlefield. After returning to Flaynna with the enemy, they are thrown into the flaming heart of Mt. Memflaynna, as a sacrifice to the flaming Dreamer. When the Murmillions are not actively in war with the Santerrans, and for the most part there are small skirmishes, it is not unusual for the Cult to call upon their own subjects or to demand tribute from a neighboring cult. Although these practices aren't officially legal as per the rules decided at the Arkhaeon's Guild, no one mentions the incidents. For the Cult of Fire outnumbers all of the other cults put together, and its people are certainly better trained. The only sect who could help them could easily vanquish any of the cults single-handedly, despite them being the smallest, as the Cult of Dreams' clerics wield an immense power from their Goddess. Unfortunately, they no longer attend meetings of the Arkhaeon's Guild, and even a sole member is rarely seen.
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Temples/Housing. The Cult of Fire's homes vary slightly from the average Murmillions, as the northern half of their city’s mountains are filled with lava, making them inhospitable when building Draks. Therefore, all of the tunnels have been carefully placed amidst the mountains of the southern side, but not quite all of the members can fit in the space comfortably. If the city were under attack, or one of the volcanoes erupted, flooding the valley, there is enough room for every citizen to withdraw into the Drak, temporarily, though they would feel a bit crowded.

Ordinarily, the commoners build small huts of wood, which they gather from the forests outside the valley. The city of the Cult of Fire is lush and vibrant, due to volcanic eruptions that had actually flowed into the city, rather than outside of it, in the distant past. The fertility has reached a culmination, so that it is nearly equal in profusion to the rainforests that thrive upon the western half of Nybelmar. Each home has a miniature garden, where the Murmillions have 'dominated' over nature, as the men believe to be their holy duty, yet other cult’s think them insane for risking the endeavor, despite the possible benefits.

The largest of the rooms inside either of their drak is their main temple. The two places of worship, one in Dasans and one in Flaynna, are identical in layout. As can be expected from all Murmillion houses of worship, most all decorations inside the room are abyssal blacks and purples, creating an eerie feel when mingled with the dancing shadows about the room. Obviously enough, these flickering traces of darkness originate from the massive flames that glow about the room. Every wall is lined with candles, and a massive fire burns on a vertical block of wood, during sermons, just behind the altar where the Kunran stands. Return to the top

Symbols. As the sect's name suggests, the rivers of fire that flow down their mountainous landscape are certainly considered to be gifts from Mari. The amount of ash produced by the flaming liquid helps to fertilize the growth in the area, thus they also recognize fire as being an element of rebirth. The largest volcano, Mt. Memflaynna, which towers above the northeastern corner of the immense city, is thought to be Mari's abode in Caelereth. Therefore, the crater at its pinnacle is the venue they use to channel sacrifices to her. The rituals for such a slaughtering are complex, intricate, and various depending on the current interpretation of glyphs, and the number of days before the next eclipse.

Unlike the volcano, located in their immediate proximity, the other symbol they revere as holy, the haloen bird, must be imported from the Sarvonian continent. As a result, the Cult of Fire was the first, and currently the only group of
Murmillions who maintain contact with the Santharians. The methods by which the traders catch the elusive fowl are not always righteous, as the birds are known for being against capture. Whether they steal the eggs, or temporarily decapitate the full-grown birds, perhaps by a fast-acting sedative, or something of that sort, they never tell the Cult that catching the bird required them to harm it, for fear that the members shall refuse to purchase it, or even punish them for desecrating the Mistress' bird. After they have imported the flamboyant fowl, the nobility will keep them as pets, being careful to be a master over them, as they are nature, but be reverent at the same time, as they are holy. This can be a difficult endeavor, but the Murmillions have always been known for their ridiculously impossible tasks to please Mari. Return to the top

Myth/Lore. Like all Murmillions, the Cult of Fire enjoys their role as extremists, and are known for being willing to act in ways that appear both stubborn and arrogant in order to please their dream-like deity. Perhaps the most notable of the cult's odd practices is that of human sacrifice, which they extract from the skirmishes with Aca-Santerra upon the southern border. Surrounding nations of Nybelmar know of the group's relentless ferocity, and there are myths that their weapons appear to set ablaze with the fires of Mari when they fight, though whether this is a poetic metaphor for the crimson blood that oozes from their fine blades, or truth, is unknown for sure. Return to the top

Importance. Being one of the most influential cults of the Murmillions, their noble family surreptitiously intertwined with the manipulative dealings of the Arkhaeon's Guild. In addition, the interpretation of Mari they revere is quite popular amongst most of the people, thus making it a sect of massive numbers. Although the Murmillions themselves are a relatively feeble nation in modern Nybelmar, they are one of the three ancient tribes, and their history is a glorious one. With the Cult of Fire having such a high level of participation in the numerous battles that forged the ancient empire, the group is known for being one of the leading factors in the rise of the Shadow, and they remain influential to this day. Return to the top

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THE ERA OF MYTHS
(YEARS 4.300 B.S. - 3.170 B.S.)
3525 b.S. The Rise of the Cult of Fire
During these years the majority of the Cults of Mari are founded, including the notorious Arkhaeon's Guild. A man with a dream, Pheronn Kunran founds a noble household, and settles himself in a comfotable drak in the capital city. One night, while scribbling in his glyphic language, a page of his notes falls into the fire. Devastated, as they are licked up by the greedy flames, he quickly pulls the burning sheet out, and stamps out the scalding tongues. Although what he has written is contorted, the singe marks on the paper have formed the shape of two glyphs, or so it is told: The Glyph of Fire and the Glyph of Dreams, linked together by the curls of a flourish, immediately give Pheronn the idea that he has just been given a divine message, and begins garnering follows for the fiery version of Mari.
  

3199 b.S. The Reign of Theodunn
Although the Cult of Fire has already been growing in popularity, due to commoners simply fancying the depiction of Mari, the rise of a celebrity from their own ranks only heightenes this social status. Although his being the youngest of all Captains of the Drakkars has originally made him very famous, his (and the Cult's) popularity reaches their culmination when he is put on to the throne, the first member of the Cult of Fire to be made king. It seems that a deluge of valuable members joins during this era, and the Cut flourishes.

THE CURRENT AGE
(YEARS 2.970 B.S. - 1.667 A.S.)
2224 b.S. The Founding of Flaynna
After many centuries, the group continues to expand, while new cults form, but none have overtaken the massive numbers of the Cult of Fire. Their personal drak has been under close quarters for many years, but eventually they can stand it no longer.

As a result, the leader at the time, Lhinras Kunran, leads an expedition with half the cult behind him, while appointing a temporary leader to rule the remaining people. After wandering for many months, they finally witness great rivers of fire flowing down rocks, and see the holy element as a sign from Mari that this is their new home. It takes them a while to adapt to the ways of life in the valley, but eventually they construct a fine settlement, which they name Flaynna. From then on, the Kunrans move back and forth between Dasans and Flaynna, every half year.
  

ca. 2200 b.S.
to 1800 b.S.
Rare Metals and Stones Discovered
At this point in time the Murmillions are at the peak of their power, and control much land outside of the small peninsula which is the center of their home. The Cult of Fire, too, culminates, especially when they discover several rare gemstones and metals within the slopes of the volcanoes that surround their home. Mithril, amber, and opals are found all in abundance, however the first mentioned quickly runs out due to its popularity. Amber and opal, however, can still be found in the mountains today.
  

1793 b.S. Transported to Lhindal
The Murmillions originally had their cults living in their own drak within the capital of Dasans, and a few of the larger cults having some members in other cities. When the city of Lhindal is founded in 1793, all cults are forced to relocate in the city, and build their temple there, making it an immense religious center. Some tensions spark between opposing cultures that have been forced to live in the same city, but it makes the Murmillions more connected as a people. However, it also detracts from the wide range of resources that have once been available to them, as the Cult of Fire can no longer harvest their ores and gems, due to their new territory.
  

648 b.S. Brutal Losses and the Scattering
During the invasion threat from the Santerrans, the Cult has commissioned at least one quarter of their entire army to be sent to the king to fend their borders, only for the entire force to be mercilessly mauled. When Asthalon the Black finally fights his way to Menemronn's ancient throne in the heart of the Murmillion capital, Dasans, the Cult no longer holds back any men, sending their entire army in conjunction with those of the other various sects to usurp the foreign leader. After attempting to remove the ruler from the throne for one and a half years, they finally remove the man from power, regaining the Murmillion capital. Nearly three quarters of the Cult's soldiers are lost in the vicious war, but in the end they receive compensation for their heavy losses. The next king that the council of representatives from the various cults selects is a famed general from the Cult of Fire, giving the Cult even greater influence in royal decisions.

Although the Murmillions have successfully regained their capital, their border has receeded to include the Silver Forest, just north of the Moon Hills, and back onto the Ehebion Peninsula, all of the way to the Burning Mountains. The City of Lhindal, where all of the cults have long thrived together, are being taken when the Oberion Thaleseth is, and thus all of the cults return to the capital, and the larger ones reclaim their personal cities. The plethora of resources that the distant cities collected was recovered, and they aren't quite as crowded into one city. Most members of the Cult of Fire are much happier to return to their original way of life, and have a great animosity towards the 'Fallen Families' in the Cult of Santerran Mari.
  

298 b.S.
to 1.668
Holding Steady
At the beginning of this era armies to the south make a pact against the Murmillions and the Korweynites, but the Murmillion are obstinate in not allowing their borders to recede past Oberion Thaleseth. The mountain range provides them with excellent fortification against the onslaught, because their treacherous terrain makes it extremely difficult to march an army through quickly and unscathed. The King sends out a plea to help defend Dasans, the capital, and its two bridges with their roads, the only safe entrance to the peninsula. In the end, they are successful in holding the border.

The Cult of Fire hsd risked the greatest amount of soldiers (and civilians) in the attack, suffering the heaviest losses of all the cults, but in the end they benefit once more. After securing the border, and ensuring that it has enough defenses to not waver past the Moon Hills mountain range, the sect has become renowned as one of the favourite cults of the majority of the Murmillion people, due to their reinforcements saving the war effort numerous times, and their numbers of members are quickly replenished. The border remains in the same place to this day, with the Cult of Fire providing whatever forces are needed to prevent the threat to their lands.

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 Date of last edit 13th Fallen Leaf 1668 a.S.

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