Aura's Almanac is a set of maps, charts, and other information about Aura Lockhaven's world to help make your reading of A Path of Stones more enjoyable, and understandable. I chose not to include these as pages in the book, to save you a bit of money at checkout.
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The Faiths of Sareth
Religion plays an important role in the lives of the people in Aura's world, especially Aura herself.
The Towering Ones: The oldest organized faith in Sareth, it was the original religion of Karanth, Bellicia, and Aitia. The Towering Ones were sixteen gods and goddesses, all related and intermarried, who ruled with absent-minded hands, although they often sought mortals for sexual pleasure. By Aura's time, this faith was relegated to stories and art.
Pendurism: A faith of total balance, it was founded by priests of the Towering Ones who knew their gods were mere archetypes, but also believed that someone controlled the universe. Pendurism has four gods: Pacion (the god of peace), and his opposite, Ballion (the god of war), Vitara (the goddess of life), and her opposite, Dessia (the goddess of death). Pendurism replaced the Towering Ones, and was the recognized religion in most of the civilized parts of Sareth before the arrival of Iricanism.
High Temple of Irican: Founded by the Pendurist priest Irican. He said that there were only two gods: Pacion and Vitara were the masculine and feminine aspects of the good god Baniar, and that Ballion and Dessia were the masculine and feminine aspects of the evil god Mallarion. The path to heaven was to renounce Mallarion and his ways, and to embrace Baniar. Immortality may be achieved through generosity, kindness, mercy, and compassion.
Iricanism is the state religion of most countries of Sareth. It is divided into two major branches: the High Temple (which is imperialist, and rigidly legalistic), and Frankenism (named for Sire Franken, the renegade priest who stripped Iricanism of its imperial ways and returned to the lofty code of its founder). The High Temple forbids magic and considers Pagans to be heretics. They have a sect of warrior monks called the Knights of the Holy Torch. They are witch hunters.
The Wealdenda: The original faith of Nebeland, Frystun, and Skoldun, with quite a bit of incursion into Glasenya. The Frystings and Skols still practice it. The name Wealdenda means "Guardians of the Earth," and they act like it. They are twelve gods and goddesses of honor, valor, and war. They can be harsh, but fair.
The Gweryn: The original faith of the Tangoi (the inhabitants of the Forested Islands, Saporia, and the defunct nation of Louden). It is Aura Lockhaven's personal faith. The Gweryn were gods and goddesses of forests and magic, who lived with people. Of all the pantheons, they alone have no god of war. The Gweryn are the sons and daughters of the brothers Day and Night, and their wives, the four Forested Islands. They are cousins, and divided into two distinct families: the Dyddau (children of Day and deities of forests) and the Tywelch (children of Night, and deities of magic). Like so many other deities, they married each other to form one pantheon.
The Eight Magical Orders
The Alchemists: More scientists and philosophers than magicians, alchemists practice magic of the mind. Their rituals and spells are dumbfounding and convoluted, often involving elaborate sigils. They can solve a problem faster than anyone else can identify that a problem even exists. The Alchemists are strictly men. They are governed by a Premier.
The Druids: The remains of the priestly class of the Forested Islands and all other Gweryn worshipping nations. They keep the lore, tend the gods, and work in harmony with nature. While they practice magic, most of their esoteric skills are those of encouragement, exhortation, education, and balancing. They are excellent musicians, poets, and singers, and many make their livings as wandering minstrels. Both men and women druids exist, and both are referred to as druids. They are governed by a High Priest.
The Enchanters: A dying order. They harness the power of their feelings to propel magic. None are better at healing, and they are highly intuitive and empathic. Their voices are quite seductive, and their walk and mannerisms alluring. For this reason, they often act as diplomats for kings. Many people are suspicious of them for their ecstatic and erotic reputations. They don't help their reputations by wearing what little they wear. There are both enchanters and enchantresses. They are governed by a Chancellor.
The Mages: Mages are born, not made. They are psychics and telepaths. Perhaps 100 exist in all of Sareth. Mages are rude, appearing when they wish, and knowing what they want, without invitation. The other orders are terrified of them. They keep to themselves. They are governed by a Supreme Mage.
The Shamans: Another dying order. Their form of magic has been replaced by more organized methods. They work in trances to channel the spirits, divine the future, and conjure spells. Shamans are the closest any magical order in the east has to a necromancer, as they often contact the dead. They are excellent illusionists. Shamans have their own religious beliefs that lie outside the structures of the other Sarethian faiths and may be older than any of them. A man or woman can be a shaman. They have no governing body or leader.
The Sorcerers: They practice magic of the will. Knowing how easily they can go astray, they are highly disciplined. Sorcerers do not drink, do not use smoker's nightshade, and they are chaste until marriage. They are noble, honorable, and aristocratic (sometimes insufferably so). Sorcerers often harness the power of spirits and preternatural beings to assist with their spells and rituals. They are often called upon by kings to help in times of war. No one is more manipulative than a sorcerer, but an honorable one will only resort to that in dire times. There are both sorcerers and sorceresses. They are governed by a First Sorcerer.
The Witches: All women, and a faith based order. They work with the power of plants, stones, animals, and the Elements. It is hard to walk in a witch's house for all the tags of herbs hanging from the ceiling, and sit for all the stones laying on the furniture. They are excellent apothecaries and often midwives. Their primary duties are the physical needs of their communities, from luck charms and house cleansings to healing potions and blessing livestock. Once, there was a male counterpart, known as the Cunning Men, but they merged with the Sages to form the next order. They are governed by a High Priestess.
The Wizards: The Wizards resulted from the merger of the Cunning Men and the Sages when both abandoned being faith based, around the year 735. They retain the nature-based magic and apothecary skills of the Cunning Men, as well as the lore knowledge and counsel skills of the Sages. Their primary duties are to advise mayors, elders, thegns, and other men in authority. Wizards work freely and easily with witches, and it is common to find a wizard and witch who are also husband and wife. They borrow ideas, rituals, and spells from the Alchemists, Enchanters, Sorcerers, and Witches. This leads them to be called the Order of Borrowers, or the Order of Thieves. They know something about every other order's ways, however, making them extremely flexible and difficult to outwit. The order is mostly male, but wizardesses exist. They are governed by a Chieftain.
Copyright Nathan Boutwell and NJB Media, 2017.
Updated February, 2017.