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 Religion and Death

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PostSubject: Religion and Death   Thu Aug 21, 2008 11:39 am

The Dead
The dead cohabitate with the living in the port, to the chagrin of both communities. The Eternal Bureaucracy, which co-exists with the port in some metaphysical way, processes the spirits of the dead, assigns them an afterlife, and ships them across the Aster Sea to their final destination -- ideally. In practice, the Eternal Bureaucracy is just as riddled by corruption, red-tape, and general incompetence as any mortal agency. More so, even. The majority of the dead spend years waiting to be processed. Centuries, in a few cases.

The district where most of the dead spend their time waiting until the Bureaucracy will see them is the Hereafter, or the Interim. There are, of course, Things that prey upon these luckless bastards, resulting in plenty of available berths on the Black Ships.

For those who wish to cheat the whole process, they can seek out the services of the Lithogenic Guild; Medusae and their kin, who will (for a fee) turn their clients into stone so that they can await the End of World (well, the next End of the World) in peace and relative safety. There is a ritual, in fact, that allows the Dead to reanimate their own corpses, and walk among the living once more. Itís a way of passing the time, continuing to annoy your relations, and perhaps earning some cash with which to bribe the bureaucrats. Cremation, not surprisingly, is quite popular.

Some of the waiting dead allow themselves to be fermented into Recollection Wine. A sad, heady vintage, to be sure, but not without its devotees. Since mortal kidneys arenít equipped to break down the immortal soul, the wine eventually leaves the imbiber. Oenophiles refer to this as Ďpassing griefí. The individual spirits reconstitute themselves in the portís sewer, or slightly out to sea. Most return only to sell themselves anew. Some souls do this for free, as a way of living again, if only for a time, in another personís mind, and bladder.

Religion
The Portís history is marked by periods of increased religiosity Ė normally prayer is more a species of commerce Ėcalled Revivals, usually the result of the arrival of a new prophet, Messiah, or actual god. The Gods of the port have all come from Beyond-the-Sea or wandered in from the Interior over the years. Rarely, two new gods arrive at the same time, causing a Schism, a period of righteous war. Lord Rum rose to power during the end of the last Revival, after the Governor decreed a Prohibition in an attempt curry favor with the newly-arrived God of Temperance.

One of the resident deities is the Eroded God Ė an enormous figure of carven stone, its features worn away long before it came staggering up out of the surf. It canít actually speak in anything other than an unintelligible mumble, but the priesthood will happily translate for a modest fee. Itís worked a number of minor miracles over the years (curing the sick, calling down bolts from the blue, and such-like), but it has a difficult time staying focused on such tasks. By and large it is content to set in its temple, listening to music and watching scantily-clad women dance, making the occasional prophecy or pronouncement. Or what is assumed to be such.

The Cult of That-Which-Is-Not worships a Sphere of Annihilation, which is either a path to paradise or a one-way ticket off the wheel of existence entirely.

An abandoned temple houses an entity known only as The Dog. An enormous hound, the size of a war-horse, itís apparently immortal (some 200 years old now) and virtually unkillable (as testified by the number of now dead folk who have tried). It wanders throughout the building, never showing any particular signs of more-than-canine intelligence, and will occasionally accept gifts of food from petitioners. Those whose offerings are accepted find themselves receiving a small blessing of some sort -- luck in love, recovery from illness, a sudden windfall. The Dog is served by a small and fanatical priesthood, who follow it about and clean up after it. They make a small living for themselves selling its droppings in the Five Fathoms Market, where buyers assume that the crap of a Dog that might be a God *has* to be worth something. If nothing else, it makes excellent fertilizer.

There are other gods, of course, great and small. Some accumulate worshippers, others prefer anonymity

While not worshipped per se, demons/devils come in from the Aster Sea, while angels wander in from the Interior. Some devils are tractable and honorable, after a fashion, and some angels remain terrifying, destructive and mad.
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