- Religious beliefs
- The priesthood and the Four Orders
- The basic principles of Kavehan magic
- Magic: civil applications
- Magic: battlefield applications
Kaveha religion is monotheistic, worshipping a local variant of Allurism with its supreme god known as Zurvan. Zurvan is a god with two hearts and minds much like the Kaveha people, represented by the twin aspects of Ahrmazed and Angra Mainyu. Ahrmazed is the bright aspect of Zurvan, often depicted as the sun and representing Creation and life-giving. He is worshipped in times of peace and plenty, and is beloved by farmers and merchants. Angra Mainyu is the dark aspect of Zurvan, depicted as the moon, and represents Destruction and life-taking. He is worshipped on the battlefield, and is beloved by the warriors of Kaveh. Both aspects are in balance, each as powerful as the other, but also struggle eternally. It is circumstances that allow one or the other to dominate temporarily, though the balance of power always flips eventually.
The core of Zurvanist belief is the cycle of life and death. Everything in the world is seen as part of the cycle of creation and destruction, the two aspects of Zurvan himself. Birth embodies creation, and death destruction, but through the eating of corpses by the birds of the sky and beasts of the field the remains of those who died can feed a new rebirth, and new life. It is for this reason that Kaveh burial rites revolve around the placing of the dead on manmade hills out in the desert, known as a ‘tower of silence’. Marriage, the adjoining of two souls in the sight of the Heavens, is a momentuous occasion because it is there the cycle is perceived to start again.
These forces, according to Kavehan religion, also exist within each person. Commoners spend their lives honouring Ahrmazed with their acts, and avoid comitting acts that strengthen the Beast within themselves. Some have no choice, and many warriors commit fully to it. When going to war, Kavehans become able to indulge it to the full, and the consequences tend to be exceedingly bloody. Of particular note is the role of this duality in magic-casting.
Fire is considered sacred, and cannot be tainted with unclean objects such as coconuts, lumber other than the steppe acacia, and corpses. Zurvan is worshipped in ceremonies involving the lighting of great fires on hilltops, but unlike their ancestors the Kaveha do not perform human sacrifices. This is considered profane, as it taints the holy fire with an unclean corpse. To perform such a profane act feeds the inner darkness, and is perceived as a strengthening of Angra Mainyu. Warfare, crime and violence also do this. By doing such things, Kavehans feed the darkness within themselves, and if many do so the nation is in danger of falling as a whole into the dark, violent bloodshed that marks Angra Mainyu’s triumph.
Zurvan has a dedicated priesthood that maintains many temples throughout the Kingdom, headed by a religious head known as the Mobadan-Mobad, the Priest of Priests. The church does not possess worldly or military power, and its clergy gain their income from the charity of local lords.
Despite the relatively secular position of the church, the Kingdom does know four prominent religious orders. The members of these orders join either for life or for a number of years, with only the life-sworn being permitted to hold the highest positions in their respective order. Each is dedicated to Zurvan and particular facets of the Creator.
The Order of the Dawn
The Dawn Order, whose sacred day is the spring equinox, was the first among the Four to be founded. They are dedicated to the study of magic and its use in civil applications - in farming, in engineering, and in the crafts and sciences. In this, they are the counterpart to the Sunset Order, who also specialize in magic but use it for purposes of war. Mosty fundamental research into the nature of magic, science and God is conducted by members of this order. They liase closely with craftsmen, industrial entrepreneurs and normal people, and produce many useful amulets to aid common Kavehhans in their daily lives. In doing this, they often use Arejo crystals - potent magical amplifiers that, through an unknown process, creates amulets that yield more power than what was originally put in.
The Order of the Noon
The Noon Order, whose sacred day is the summer solstice, is the one that embraces the teachings of Ahrmazed most completely. Not only are their members the priests that conduct most of the religious ceremonies at the fire temples, but they also dedicate themselves to the study of medicine and the art of healing. All hospitals in the Kingdom are ran by the Noon Order, and its members usually accompany the Kaveh army whenever it goes to war to provide battlefield medicine and conduct surgery on wounded soldiers.
The Order of Dusk
The Sunset Order, whose sacred day is the autumn equinox, counts amongst its members all the battlemages of the Kaveh Army. They provide the officer cadre for the Shah’s military forces. The Order is dedicated to studying the application of magic, which depends on the balance between Ahrmazed and Angra Mainyu, for purposes of war.
The Order of Midnight
The Midnight Order is the most secretive and smallest of the Four. Their sacred day is the winter solstice, and whereas the Noon Order uses science and medicine to provide life, the Midnight Order wields them as weapons to bring death to the Kingdom’s enemies. The Midnight Order is known as the hashashin, and its members are the main devotees of Angra Mainyu in the Kingdom. They are priests of their destructive deity, fully embracing the darkness that lurks in the heart of every Kavehan, and act as special operatives, saboteurs, spies and assassins in the service of the King. Many of their agents are abroad, involved in intelligence work and clandestine operations.
Kaveh magic is closely intertwined with religion, as it depends on balancing the energies of creation and destruction, the worship of Ahrmazed and Angra Mainyu, within oneself. The coexistence of these polar opposites creates friction in a way that is similar to static electricity or thunder, and the Kaveh mage works by encouraging this friction and drawing upon the energy it creates for his spells. This takes some measure of talent, but is mostly a matter of disciplined training, usually undertaken under the auspices of the Dusk and Dawn Orders in the Arcane College in Kurshid. It is mostly nobles, however, that have the time and money needed to dedicate themselves seriously to learning the magical arts.
It is for this reason most Kaveh magic works by manipulating energy - warmth and cold, magnetism, and electricity. This allows for a diverse array of spells, ranging from fireballs to blasts of lightning, weather control and telekinesis. Three main schools are distinguished in this way: the Elemental School, the Magnetic School, and the Energetic School. Many mages specialize in one of these three, but some become generalists.
A unique property of Kavehan magic is that the energies created by mages can be embedded into objects to be tapped into at will. These objects, or amulets, and their use are widespread in Kaveh society. Most are created by the adepts of the Dawn Order, especially those who specialize in the Energetic School. An amulet, effectively, functions as a battery - it is a temporary store of magical energy that depletes over time as it is used, and must be refilled regularly to keep working.
The Energetic School works through the manipulation of energy - as applied to objects and to people. When embedded in a particular form in an amulet, it can increase, among other things, the effectiveness of human senses or other bodily functions. For example, labourers might use an amulet to replenish bodily energy after a hard day’s work. Builders can draw upon amulets for strength to lift inhumanly heavy loads. Craftsmen might draw upon them to sharpen their eyesight or hand motor skills, allowing them to craft objects with great precision. Other magic-users, lastly, might use raw magical energy stored in an amulet to fuel their own spells.
The Magnetic School is a bit of a misnomer. It does not deal only with magnetism, but with the manipulation of metals in general. It is mainly the province of blacksmiths and warmages. Blacksmiths use magical amulets to further their craft. It allows them to fashion metals that are harder, sharper, and keep an edge better than what might be possible by other means. Kavehan metallurgy is highly advanced, and most of this is due to use of the amulets.
Kavehan magic is a powerful tool in war. The Elemental School allows mages to wield highly destructive spells, making for a potent and versatile weapon, on land and at sea. Elemental attacks make for powerful missiles to hurl at the enemy, and to meet in battle a Kavehan battlemage skilled in the use of water is the stuff of nightmares for any sailor. The Energetic School has a more subtle application, and is mainly called upon in the creation of magical shields to defend forces against ranged attack. Projectiles coming into contact with an Energetic shield will promptly disintegrate. This allows the Army to compete with the missile-heavy forces of many other powers. The projection of energy blades from a magically-conductive hilt also creates the much-favoured armour-piercing swords of the high Kavehan nobility. The Magnetic School, with its manipulation of metals, also finds an application in war. It is a potent tool indeed to be able to affect the weapons and armour of foes - to be able to turn swords aside, rip them from their wielders’ hands, or even throw armoured men away wholesale.
The manifold applications of Kavehan magic in battle makes it one of the chief weapons at the Shah’s disposal.