Murmillions, the people living
on the easternmost peninsula of Nybelmar,
are a very religious kind. All of their history and culture are influenced by
their strong beliefs which they are summarizing under the name of
"Shadowcasting". The name comes from one of their favourite expressions - "to
cast the Shadow of the Burning Mountains" - which means to spread the truth
that was revealed to them on their sacred mountains by their ancient
forefather, Menemronn, the wizard of old.
The Murmillions religion is basically a monotheistic one, with a single god (Mari, the Goddess of Dreams and Hopes), who is in charge of tending the matters of the world, and a principle of destruction and chaos that strangely enough is creating everything that exists. They are also founding their religion on the belief in the existence of two worlds: one in which they live, named "the World of Exile" - seen as a means for one to reach wisdom and enlightenment, and another world, named "the World of Dreams", a paradise promised to the worthy, the prize for reaching the state of enlightenment in "the World of Exile". This religion was developed in opposition with "Aseya" - the Korweynite religion, polytheistic and stating the possibility of a paradise in the only world in which man may exist, the one that Murmillions are identifying as "the World of Exile" - thus creating the ground for a bloody conflict that has lasted for millenia.
Prevalence. The Ehebion peninsula of east Nybelmar still represents the coreland of these practices and beliefs known as "Shadowcasting". The Moon Hills area though (the territories just west of the Ehebion peninsula) went through an important change during the Year of Darkness (1649 b.S.) when, due to a war against Aca-Santerra, the Ehebion Kingdom was restrained inside the peninsula. The Goddess Mari was adopted by the Santerran pantheon and metamorphosized to fit their needs. Thus a lot of Murmillions are worshiping this version now. Still, the Santerrans tolerate their old ways, and so the traditional forms of Shadowcasting may be encountered on the Moon Hills as well. Other minor cults, derived from it, might be also encountered inside the Korweyn Empire and Anis-Anpagan, though outlawed and harshly punished (they are a reminder of the Dark Age of Nybelmar, when the Ehebion Kingdom dominated all the east and southeast of Nybelmar). Also, the city of Fullwanooth is known to have shrines dedicated to Nybelmar, though that would be the Arkhaeon Guild's version of Nybelmar.
Belief Outlines. Mari is the only god that Murmillions are worshipping. She is everything in this world for them, from the air that they breath to the miraculous visions of a future destiny. To some extent one could say that Mari, much more than a personified being, is the world itself. They believe that she has as many manifestations as there are things in this world, thus following her path means to follow the true path, that which can only lead to a complete understanding of the world and to the complete mastery of it. And this is what they believe to be their redemption.
As mentioned above, there is more than this world for Murmillions. They believe that they, as sentient beings, have been exiled into this "place", thrown away into this life, to grow, to reach their very essence and become perfect. And there is more than this world for them, as actually there is more than just Mari. This "more" is one of the most complicated matters of their religion. Although, Mari is their goddess, they do not see her creating the world. According to the shadowcasting beliefs it is not Mari that created all things that exists, but something else, and this something else is not a god. Actually the break between the Moon Hills Murmillions and the Ehebion ones during the Year of Darkness (1649 b.S.) originated in this controversy: whether this "more", this "something else" is a god or not. The free Murmillions (the ones living inside the peninsula now) are stating that this "something else" is merely a principle - and this is already too much said about it. As words are veiled and unveiled by silence, as light is veiled and unveiled by darkness, as life is veiled and unveiled by death, such is this relation between Mari and the "Unspoken" principle. The Unspoken is in essence an absence, or destruction, or chaos, or nothingness, yet is the very ground on which everything that exists stands, being revealed by it.
Death, for Murmillions, means departing from the world of Mari, and becoming one with this Unspoken. But this also means that in death lies the very possibility of a new life, as by dying they are born again, thrown away into this world for one time more - without the memories of their old life, just their essence and another attempt to reach perfection. Redemption comes from Mari. By walking the path of Mari they believe that eventually they will become like her, which means that they would become one with her (since she is everything that exists). And this would be that "other" world in which Murmillions believe, the promised paradise, the "World of Dreams" - a world which holds no secrets for them and a world that can bend to their will.
"Walking the path of Mari" would be for Murmillions to try by any means to master this world. As this would be the only way to avoid that "plunge" into the abyss of the Unspoken after death. By mastering/dominating this world one would escape its rules and thus avoid being thrown back inside it from the nothingness that surrounds it.
Origin. The true origins of these beliefs are unclear for Murmillions themselves and they seem to be as old as their kind, if not older - which would mean to date them back to at least the mythical War of the Chosen. Murmillions are the nation forged by the followers of Menemronn (called "Lords of the Sickle"), the mythical wizard from the beginnings of the Nybelmarian history. These followers were human but also elven kind so it is possible that the "Shadowcasting" was born from crossing some Cárpa'dosían originated beliefs with some probable human pagan ones. There are no elves now among Murmillions (and it is known from various historical sources that the elven clans suddenly disappeared from among the Lords of the Sickle when the clan wars ended) but traces of a certain interbreeding might be noticed by a keen observer, even their name can only be the human transcription of the elven Mór'Melór (Mór'Melór, Styrásh, "deep shadow") and also their glyphs might be derivated from an extinct ancient elven tribe writing (if one takes into account the fact that they always kept two styles of writing). With all these though, Murmillions will always refuse to admit their elven heritage, hide it in shame or bear it like a cursed burden when too obvious. Actually they see the elven kind as beings trapped by their own will inside the World of Exile and with no more possibilities of redemption - which would make them worse than the Korweynites, Murmillions' "prodigal brothers". Nevertheless the resemblances are there, now whether they mean something or not may not be proven.
The Shadowcasting does not come from Menemronn though, as one might probably think. If there is to identify a first prophet of this religion, then Kyras the Dark would be that one (the first King of Murmillions). He was the one who initiated the first version of the "Sermons" (later to become the "Sermons of Mari") using the glyphwriting that Menemronn used - thus the belief that some of the glyphtexts in the "Sermons" are written by Menemronn himself. Yet Kyras always pretended that he was doing nothing else than what Menemronn would have wanted him to do. A strange disciple indeed, considering the fact that Kyras and Menemronn were sworn enemies until the wizard's disappearance (or death). Menemronn is now believed to be, by Murmillions, the first enlightened one, the first to reach perfection, the first to join the World of Dreams. But Kyras was the one who showed them the meaning of Menemronn's deeds.
Gods Overview. Mari, the Goddess of Dreams and Hopes, is the only god that a Shadowcaster is worshipping. She is believed to have many forms/manifestations, yet she is one and the same everytime. Although she reigns over the world she is not the one who created it, but the world appeared in between the relation of Mari with the "unspoken principle", the nothingness. For a true Shadowcaster this principle may never be worshipped and considered as a god, yet such a heresy was encountered during the Year of Darkness. Thus, some of the Moon Hills Murmillions are still considering this Unspoken as a dark god, Mari's counterpart.
Worshipping Practices. For each of Mari's manifestations there can be dedicated a certain cult. Thus there are lots of such cults in the history of Murmillions. However, when a cult runs out of adepts, it is cancelled, so the list of Mari's cults is ever changing. Three of them, though, managed to endure in time, the Cult of Moth, the Cult of Fire and the Ressurection of Menemronn. These cults represent the center of Murmillions cultural life and each of them has its own practices, though as a common feature, they are all encouraging individual prayers - their sermons being actually collections of such prayers. The work of the cults is mediated by a special organization, named the Arkhaeon Guild.
Information provided by Smith in Exile