There are not only many gods in the world, but many kinds of gods. First, there are the Primordial. Primordial gods are those that existed first; creators and builders which are responsible for the existence of the Planes. We know nothing about where the Primordials came from, but we do know that there was nothing here before them. More precisely, there was no “here” at all. They made the universe, the Planes, and the Major Gods, but we know precious little about them, because they left for elsewhere. Despite the reverence they are held in, the Primordials are not truly worshipped and answer no prayers.
The Major Gods were created directly by the Primordials to maintain the world. Major Gods are naturally powerful, requiring no external power to fuel their actions and blessings. However, all Major Gods are tied to a single concept or a specific set of rules each and will rarely act outside of their Domain. It is just as rare that they will empower [Priests], because they care little for prayer and worship.
Minor Gods are a diverse bunch, containing several subcategories. Broadly though, they can be divided into two main groups: the Ascended and the Faithborn.
Ascended are the rarer of the two, consisting of mortals who have shed their mortality and transcended their shells to become Minor Gods themselves. Like the Major Gods, they have their own power and require no external power to maintain themselves. Ascended require no worshippers to exist, but they often gather worshippers to expand their power and influence.
Faithborn Minor Gods, in contrast, rely on their worshippers for their very existence. They are born from the faith of their worshippers, literally coming into existence as a result of being prayed to even when they didn’t exist. There are a countless amount of Faithborn, but the vast majority are relatively weak. When you hear a tale of a high-leveled individual facing down a god, they are almost always fighting a Faithborn. Although it is worth noting that only the highest level individuals armed with powerful armor and weapons can do such a thing; only a legend among legends can fight even the weakest of gods.
While the vast majority of Faithborn are weak, the minority of strong Faithborn are incredibly powerful. Some Faithborn, particularly those that are worshipped by a large congregation for millenia, reach a state of immortality where even the elimination of their worshippers can no longer kill them.
The pantheons of Ra’Sharon and the Myca Kingdoms are a prime example of this. Even now, where their worshippers have dwindled to mere cults, they maintain the ability to bless their most devoted followers with incredible power.
Even more incredibly, a few Faithborn have even reached a level of power that they were able to challenge the Major Gods and win. The War of the Gods occurred soon after the Descent and lasted several centuries as some of the most powerful Faithborn fought the Major Gods for dominance. This war shook the Imperial Confederation to its core as the institutions of faith within the Confederation became a destabilizing factor for the Empires.
(-an excerpt from: “The Many Gods of Humanity” by [Cardinal] Alexi Ricardo)
Hasa was… Not very impressive, to be honest- not compared to the cities of Ra’Sharon. Still, it certainly was a large city and a welcome sight for my weary eyes for a multitude of reasons. When we had left Kuwa, we had sent a [Messenger] ahead of us, so our arrival was anticipated. I would be visiting the temples and the [High Priests] to be healed before going to meet Sut’s family, which was also my family now.
An odd thought that; counting Sut’s family, I’ve had four families over three lives. I even had a good relationship with my first and second, and that thought was not just odd but also worrying. It feels wrong to group the families I’ve had into good and bad as if they were days. A family was not supposed to be just a tally in a column, but perhaps thinking that way would be an inevitable result of my existence.
The pessimism I was feeling was likely because of my anxiety about meeting my husband’s family. Meeting my first boyfriend’s family was bad enough and it had nowhere near the same kind of consequences for my life. Of course, on the other hand, it wasn’t like any consequence had real weight either. Being… Well, not immortal - I have died too often to be called immortal, which is saying something considered I’ve only existed for a bit over fifty years in total - but eternal, every negative experience would lose their value as well. If I was thrown into a prison and tortured until death, it would be terrible, but in ten thousand years would I even recall the event?
Wow, I was cynical today. Probably because this life and my last life had me dealing with people who could have me killed without much thought about it. A [Maid] dealing with [Nobles] could be tossed aside like trash at any time, and the daughter of a [Baron] was hardly capable of protecting a mere [Maid] from someone like a [Duke] or a [Marquis]. In this life, my brothers and sisters also could have pulled off killing me if I had misstepped, and by Hin’Tye laws my life was very much in Sut’s hands right now.
I hope in my next life I am reincarnated into a world where the consequence of being rude to someone is something more proportional. It would be nice if I didn’t have to worry about a headsman or a poison dagger in the back but instead just have to deal with whomever I offended calling me an asshole.
I was lost in my thoughts for a while as we went through the market. There really wasn’t much to look at here because impressive architecture and art was reserved for the nobility, priesthood, and particularly rich [Merchants]. The vast majority of everyone else had what amounted to huts, with the only real difference between any one city and another being the materials that the huts were made out of.
Or so I had thought, but an item in a stall caught my eye. It was, I suppose, a near worthless item in this market, with no real value except its rarity.
Because to a bronze age civilization, what was iron but an ugly and useless metal? It was brittle, it rusted, it was hard to work and expensive to heat; iron was simply not worth the effort to mine it. No one had even known what I was talking about when I had first tried to ask about it as a child and to be honest I had forgotten about it as time went on, but I could recognize it on sight.
I got Sut to stop the chariot and excitedly jumped out to see the merchant. Of course, I can’t actually hear or speak right now, which makes explaining my actions a pain in the ass and also makes purchasing anything just as big a problem. I can’t tell him what I want and he can’t tell me the price. The poor man looked terrified actually; he looked like just a simple [Trader], with a rough wooden cart and some assorted low-value wares. Being approached by an obvious noble riding in a chariot with a noble man - after guards had cleared the way, announcing the presence of the [First Prince] - nearly drove him into a panic. I couldn’t even say anything to calm him down. I was just a silently smiling noble woman approaching him excitedly, which even I admit is kind of creepy.
I didn’t bother to try miming or explaining, instead I merely removed one of my rings - a golden piece with small rubies - and tossed it to the [Trader], who fumbled and very nearly dropped it, and I grabbed the iron bauble. I cheerily went back to the chariot while getting amused looks from Sut. He probably thought I was just interested in something unique and that the iron amulet had caught my eye for that reason, but here was something practical I could do to improve the world around me.
While it is true that I can only wish I had paid better attention in my History and Chemistry classes all those decades and lives ago, I had some very basic knowledge from my first world that no one else had in this one.
I knew that iron was the main ingredient in steel. I was fairly certain that the other ingredient was carbon, and I kind of knew how charcoal was made. I think. I was pretty sure that you just had to heat wood without burning it to make charcoal, and while that was an issue in Ra’Sharon, there were actually forests near Hasa!
Sure, there were quite a few kinks to work out, but even if I wasn’t very knowledgeable about the process I certainly knew enough to grab a dozen [Miners] and [Smiths] and start them experimenting. I mean, how hard could it actually be? People figured out how to make steel before they figured out that shitting in the same water you drank was a bad idea, so it should be easy enough.
There was a reason that I was so particular in what I drank when I could be. I had Aj and Sere use a tool from an [Alchemist] called a retort to purify the water I drank. Well, actually I was even more careful than that. I had alcohol added to the water first, then simmered to boil off the alcohol and then ran through the retort to leave the water as pure and clean as possible.
The point here is, that I am confident that I can figure this out, or that I can hire some people to figure it out anyway.
I was lost in my fantastical daydreams of revolutionizing society and have working toilets when we reached the temple. Hin’Tye [Priests] were a weird bunch in my opinion. Most of my three lives had been spent in places where religion was fairly organized and centralized, but the Hin’Tye worshipped dozens or hundreds of gods. Every random village seemed to have their own weather or storm god and the empire had [Priests] and [Shamans] scattered pretty much everywhere.
Personally, I believed there was a link to the disorginzation of the Hin’Tye religion and the relative weakness of their [Priests]. After all, you can hardly have a [High Priest] without having other [Priests] for them to be “high” over. So it would stand to reason that the larger a religion was, and the more [Priests] it had, the more [High Priests] it would be able to maintain. At least, that is my theory anyway.
This disorganization is also reflected in the temple’s construction. It was… Unimpressive; by comparison, anyway. The grandeur of Ra’Sharon is perhaps an unfair comparison though because the grand workings of Ra’Sharon are impressive even by the standards of Earth. Sure, the modern society I lived in could build skyscrapers, but that was a fairly recent development. Prior to those there were few places that could match Ra’Sharon and all of the places that could were well known.
The building was made of piled stone, not even properly cut blocks. There were statues and decorations, but they were rather few and far between. The temple seemed rather drab to me, maybe it would look better with flowers and greenery? That might go along well with the piled stone style, making it look more natural.
It seemed my thoughts had wandered again, because I hadn’t even noticed the group of [Priests] that had come to greet Sut and myself. I blame my inattention on my deafness; without anything to listen to, it becomes really easy for me to get lost in my own head. Hopefully, that will be done with soon.
An older man came up to me and seemed to greet me happily. He had a smile on his face, somewhat covered by his grey beard, and from the colorful designs on his robes - and the situation I was meeting him in - it was easy to guess he was a [Priest]. Possibly the [High Priest] himself, that would make sense considering that I was visiting with the [First Prince] and that the [First Prince] was my husband.
Actually, when the old [Priest] leaned in close and put his hands over my ears, my initial reaction - quickly suppressed - was to pull myself back and push him away. I mean, sure I was here to be healed, but it wasn’t like he warned me; admittedly he couldn’t have if he wanted to though. His lips moved, and I guessed he was saying a prayer when his eyes glowed and then…
“...and bless this woman with your healing, praise to you and the heavens above!” I was able to hear the [High Priest] finishing his prayer, and the bustle of the city around me. I was healed!
“Thank you,” I said, finally able to speak again as well, and bowed to the [High Priest]. “I am incredibly grateful for your help. I was worried that I would be stuck in silence forever.”
“There is no need to thank me [Princess],” the old [High Priest] gestured for me to stop bowing. “I merely channeled the will of the Goddess Camursypa, and She granted me the ability to heal you.”
“Then please, allow me to thank the Goddess.” I mean, to a certain degree I was nervous about interacting with religion. Getting the attention of a capricious non-human entity of vast power seemed like a bad idea, and I was somewhat worried that they could somehow find a way to stop me from returning to Podi. On the other hand, I certainly was grateful that I could speak and hear again. “Should I make an offering? I apologize that I am not entirely familiar with the gods of your lands.”
I wonder if anyone is. They have so many gods that I wouldn’t believe anyone who told me they actually knew them all. Someone should catalogue them and make a single temple for all the different storm and weather gods. After all, they all do fundamentally the same thing right? If they worked together they would be far more effective, I would think, although I have no idea what the gods are actually like.
“If you truly desire to do so, it is traditional to sacrifice a ram when thanking Camursypa,” the [High Priest] recommended. “You do not need to wield the blade yourself, although that would be for the best.”
I would rather not kill an animal if I could help it. I mean, I had killed people in a previous life, but this life was different and there is something about killing animals. I guess, on reflection, that it is not about whether what I am killing is animal or human, but rather how “innocent” whatever I am killing is. I don’t think I could kill a loving mother of three, but I could kill an [Assassin].
“No, [High Priest], so long as I can be guided into doing it correctly, I will wield the knife myself.” At least that way I can kill it as humanely as possible.
I wouldn’t be doing the sacrifice now, but I should do it soon. For now though we had to go to the palace; I still had to meet my Father-in-Law and Mother-in-Law, as well as my husband’s other wife. My anxiety had returned in full force now that I didn’t have much to distract me, or I didn’t until Sut pulled me into a one armed hug as he drove our chariot towards the palace.
“I’m relieved that you can hear again, Hem.” He said with a smile, “I was worried that they wouldn’t be able to help you.”
“I am relieved to be able to communicate properly again,” I agreed emphatically. “It was intensely frustrating especially when I had questions and no way to ask them! It isn’t like I can properly write while bouncing around in a chariot, or that you could read what I wrote while driving one!”
Sut laughed saying, “well I have a question for you first, why did you get so excited buying that trinket earlier? It is a symbol of a northeaster weather god, I think, and it isn’t nearly worth the ring you traded for it.”
“Because it is iron,” I didn’t know the word for iron and ended up using the english word for it. “You have no idea what can be done with this metal. Iron is the gateway to a whole new world of possibilities.”
“Eye-run?” Sut asked in confusion, “do you mean iron? It is nearly worthless because of its fragility, what would you use it for?”
“Iron,” I tried out the Hin’Tye word for it, before explaining. “It is fragile because you are forging it wrong. Properly made, iron is stronger than bronze, but I am not interested in that really. No, I want to make steel.”
“St-eel?” Sut quirked an eyebrow at me, “I’ve never heard of that before, is it something you had in Ra’Sharon?”
“Oh no,” I shook my head immediately. “Steel requires iron to make, like bronze requires copper, and we had no iron sources in Ra’Sharon. Bronze is made from copper and tin, while Steel is made from iron and carbon. Steel is many times stronger than bronze, and if it is made properly it does not rust as iron does. Admittedly, I have no idea how to make it so that it doesn’t rust, but one step at a time, right?”
“So if Ra’Sharon has neither iron or steel,” he asked slowly as the chariot pulled up in front of the palace. “Where did you learn of it?”
Oops. I was too excited about finding iron and being able to talk again. Thankfully, a group from the palace was coming to greet us because I had no idea how to explain this one. I could only hope Sut would forget, but I doubt he would. My work to create steel would remind him even if he did forget...
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