In the beginning, in the dark and cold of the waters, humanity huddled together for warmth and protection from the Deeps and the things spawned thereof.
And then stood Lir, proud and unafraid, and said to the people STAND, AND BE ONE.
And He led them to a great city undersea, empty of life but full of spires and buildings, room enough for them all.
And in the palace of the city undersea, his daughter declared herself Queen Beneath The Waves, and named the gathered people Rebman, and called them a nation.
And seeing this, Lir said these things:
There will be blood before these claims are truth, but once true they will be bound with blood.
For Above and Below are unbalanced, and unbalance cannot stand.
There is power Below, as there is power Above, but the power Below is sealed until Above and Below are joined.
And having said these things, Lir left the people in their city, to do these things, and so it was.
Worship in Rebma
Religion is a quietly contemplative part of a Rebman's everyday life, based on thousands of years of untarnished belief they are the Sea's Chosen. As Rebma is the keeper of the Past, so its religion looks backwards to the lessons of history and the words Lir left when He took His leave. Since His final commandments could be summarized as 'sit tight and wait,' followers prescribe a few simple expressions of faith:
- Be thankful for the gifts of Lir; the City, the connection to history, and the riches of the Sea are all considered to spring from Lir, who is often equated with a personification of the Sea.
- Wait for the time when Above and Below are joined, and watch for the signs.
- Acknowledge that all Rebmans are the spiritual children of Lir; do not make War on one another. (This commandment can be bent to near the breaking point when Houses come into conflict, although commando raids and political struggle are generally considered to be short of War.)
The female-dominated clergy is similarly understated - to the outside observer, they may even be mistaken for academics as they spend their lives in study and meditation. House Dilwen makes up a large portion, considering it to be their birthright from the days of discipleship under Lir Himself. This has resulted in the inclusion of runes and tinctures in their religious practices, and an ability to sanctify and/or protect people, places, and things. A number of priestesses have achieved meditative states through which visions and omens come to them, providing insight to issues affecting individuals or the realm as a whole. Of more mundane value to the populace is the cult's rite of Reconciliation, in which any of the Following may confide in them and receive spiritual counsel. A cleric can only break the confidence of Reconciliation if, by her own discretion, she feels the information threatens the fate of the realm.
Although not perforce opposed, members of the clergy must take vows upon ordination that preclude the dedication necessary to hold mastery over mirror magic. While it is for this reason most curtail their learning to the basic spells, there exists a natural rivalry between priest(esse)s and magi, particularly when it comes to influencing the Throne and the general populace. Members who do not display a certain disdain for the use of mirrors in lieu of their own meditative connection to the Sea's divinity do not tend to go far in the Cult's hierarchy.
The eldermost of the clergy form a council which advises the Deep Throne on spiritual matters. Among these, Tanwen Dilwen, sister to the Marchioness, was for a time the most senior and influential, and therefore called High-Priestess. Her uncontested successor is Dryssana Morfilod, for even though she is not a Dilwen, her visions and omens are nearly always spot on. Highly revered and respected, she is married to an influential Dilwen politician, Lord Tatsel. Under her, the priesthood's ranks are of three designations: Elders (referred to as Your/his/her Most Holy Reverence), Priests/Priestesses (Your/His/Her Reverence), and Novitiates (referred to as Brother/Sister).
Members of the clergy may marry, but they hold themselves to a higher standard of private morality than a typical Rebman, and are expected to remain chaste until marriage and faithful once in it. They are also sworn to only marry others of the devout (except with dispensation from the Throne) following. As for the rest of the populace, any Rebman seeking to wed an outsider to the faith would do well to research the precedences and gain the approval of Lir (ie. the Elder council). It happens often enough to be a matter of respectful routine, however high-profile cases are dealt with more serious scrutiny, as they must set an example.
Notable Incidents in History
During the cataclysm, many clergy were lost, and the rest retreated to the Temple of Lir and have been there ever since, save for those who represent the council during Court.
When Moire fell ill and Martin rose to power their political influence lessened as the Mirror Cabal's rose, this is largely blamed on Martin being half-Amberite. They are currently attempting to regain their power. He is starting to offer olive branches but it may take a while to win them back.
The Place of Worship
The Temple of Lir is built into the rocky northeastern side of the same undersea mountain occupied, on its south face, by the Royal Palace. It is conspicuously outside the enchanted breathable limits, which speaks to a certain prejudice against visits by Flatlanders, although it is those Royal Amberite blood who will find themselves ultimately rebuffed. The steep and winding ascent must be undertaken as opposed to swimming a direct path, to display humility and give time for proper contemplation. The main entrance has the startling appearance of a gargantuan skeletal sea monster's open jaws, and those of insufficient faith and/or confidence may wonder if that levering twitch of the gaping maw had been real or imagined. Public functions and scheduled ceremony take place in the first stages of the marvellous and spooky edifice, while there are inner sanctums which very few non-clergy have ever glimpsed.
The Holy Order of Eilrahc
The Cult of Lir is the only accepted faith, even amongst the other Great Races of Rebma, consolidated under the divine rule of the Deep Throne. While there are no doubt many other cults or divine entities existing within the realm, they are branded as heretical upstarts and are systematically rooted out wherever they are found.
With the support of House Dilwen, the Cult of Lir long ago founded and maintains a skilled force of specialists and master combatants to see to their protection and interests. The Order of Eilrahc is comprised of devout nobles and civilians raised to knighthood by Moire or Martin. They are aloof from secular matters, living and training in isolation, within interconnected lodges that open out to either side of the temple grounds. They undertake missions/crusades as ordered by the Temple High Priestess, currently Dryssana ap Morfilod.
The Knights and their mounts, hand-tamed and faithful narwhals, are skilled at underwater cavalry formation and manoeuvres, and are recognized by their distinctive silver/purple heraldry. Armed with javelins for ranged attack, corseques for spear-fighting, and close-combat daggers, they and their mounts are protected by light shell and ceramic armor plating, as well as the holy blessings of the Lir Priestesses.
The Knights can surge forth at great speed mounted to meet an enemy force head-on, or charge their flank should battle already be met by allies. They can fight beyond the breathable limits, and upon the surface. The narwhals, being mammals, will need to return to Rebma City proper or head for the surface before their fine breath control gives out at a hard limit of 50 minutes.