The Branchway is an umbrella term for the various religious groups in the Kuhneebo Conglomerate that are closely related. It is a belief system that involves several tiers of deities, with a chief one known as Aeloaten residing above other. It teaches that there are a seemingly infinite number of worlds that are all connected via the branches of the Nharbojtl, the world tree, and newer worlds form as the tree grows. Zeconis, the kuhneebo, and everything else in the Known Galaxy are part of one such world.
The exact origins of the Branchway are unknown. It is believed that the First Path was developed as an oral tradition before the migration of the early Kuhn around the world, as archaeological records can be found globally that have similar concepts. The Second Path originated in Inovanri prior to the rise of Gurbenia, while Dann the Immortal established the Third Path which she spread throughout the Dannic Empire.
After a long period of global development, and decreasing aggression between nations, the Fourth Path was established. By the time of the Fourth Path, societal development had already caused faith in the supernatural to decline. When the Fifth Path was created, it sought to rationalize the concepts of the previous Paths to be compatible with modern society. The deities, Nharbojtl, magicks, splinters, and other concepts were linked together using an informed understanding of the universe. As a result, what had previously been accepted as supernatural was attributed to the existence of extra-dimensional forces, beings, and objects that exceeded current understanding.
The Fifth Path ushered in an era of commercial development, intertwining it with financial and corporate systems.
Widespread at the time, the three paths were heavily superstitious. Many of their most extreme beliefs and traditions, such as sacrifices, were no longer required, as ancient religious tales and commandments were established as metaphorical rather than literal. With the creation of the Fifth Path, understanding of the Branchway was further adapted in a way that allowed it to be compatible with the economies of the modern world.
The beliefs of the Branchway in the galactic age are considered in vogue by the majority of Kuhn culture, making them widely believed and accepted. Because of the unique culture of the Kuhneebo, the Branchway is integrated into economics in a way that is far beyond any other religion in the Known Galaxy. To observers from foreign cultures and religions, the Branchway has so many commercial aspects that it may be difficult to differentiate where religion ends and business begins.
The splinter is a concept in the Branchway that draws parallels to souls, spirits and essences from various other relationships. As such, it is often translated into other languages as one of those terms. The core principle of the belief in splinters is that all of reality is a product of Aeolatan, and part of Nharbojtl, the world tree. Each being, and everything in the universe, are splinters of the tree. When a lifeform dies, or something is destroyed, their splinter is returned to Nharbojtl, providing it with power, and used in the creation of more worlds and beings.
The Branchway has a complex multi-tiered Pantheon. Aeloaten is the ultimate life form, and resides at the top. Below her are the fourteen Nudotinas - assistants whom she has bestowed aspects of herself so that they may oversee reality. Below the Nudotinas are several tiers containing countless beings, heroes, creatures, and others.
- Astaria the Huntress:
- Odros Uorednac the Unslain:
- Khosynth the Silent King:
- Morelegarr the Corrupted:
- Alitsab the Repentant:
- Oavnoissim the Shadow:
- Gorlagg Twice-Slain:
- Annairbdnah the Maiden: After witnessing Lysina's works she adopted the Kuhn as her children. She is by far the most popular Nudotina among females.
- Zarchron the Carpenter: Zarchron is the god responsible for maintaining Nharbojtl. Xe is favored by simales, who view xer example as inspiration for the simple, almost rustic lifestyle that most males and simales enjoy.
- Odnib the Elder: Odnib is the Voice of Aeloaten, and serves as her representative to all of reality. He has the ability to speak in her voice. As his power comes not from himself, but in being able to employ the words of Aeloaten, he is seen as a symbol for the role of husbands in Kongolese culture.
Existing in ancient oratory tradition for thousands of years, very few records exist of the Branchway before the Dannic Empire sought to preserve knowledge. The majority of records prior to this time were likely shattered, burned, or cast into the ocean as a result of conflict between tribes. The writings of the Branchway are divided into five books, known as the Five Paths
The Path of FuryEdit
"Those who do not swim in the river of blood will drown in it."
The oldest path, the Path of Fury concerns itself with the origins of the world, the pantheon, and tales of the oldest heroes. The use of violence to solve disputes and achieve goals is common, while many rituals and supernatural powers are used by its heroes.
Origins of the UniverseEdit
The Unnamed One (known as Aeloaten, translated from the ancient Dannic word for "The one who created all things and has always existed but as they are the first there was none who could bestow them with a name") is a being who existed before time itself, and created the universe out of loneliness by breaking a fraction of her spirit off to create Nharbojtl. The tree would sprout a world on a branch like a fruit, which she would explore as the tree grew. When a new branch grew, she moved on to the next world, exploring further and further. One such world consisted of the known universe, and while it is unknown where it is located specifically, it is considered one of the newer, top-most worlds.
Entire eternities passed and she enjoyed being able to explore her creation as it grew. However, in creating time, she created the End of All Time as well. One of the original fragments of Aeloaten's spirit had spent all of time angry that it had been cast off from her perfection, and swore vengeance. It grew in secret, absorbing the spirits of all who died until the day it was capable of being Aeloaten's equal. On that day, it absorbed all of existence, creating the End of All Time On the verge of defeat, Aeloaten escaped to the beginning of existence, a feat which the End of All Time was unable to perform.
She once again fragmented her spirit, knowing that the End of All Time's was waiting for her in the future, as it was now a part of existence that she could not control, only avoid. She copied what it had done, and allowed her spiritual fragments to grow, absorbing them when they perished, until the date of the End of All Time's existence began. The two fought again, but Aeloaten still could not defeat it, and once again escaped to the past, this time keeping an extra drop of blood. Again and again she lives through existence, growing stronger as she approaches the End of All Time, and each time able to keep more of her blood with which to seed Nharbojtl. This process is known as the Cycle, and each time it occurs Nharbojtl is able to grow stronger and larger to support her.
Adoption by the MaidenEdit
During in the Era of Silence, the Kuhn climbed to the top of the highest Iaddoras, and used its wood to begin building upwards and seek the higher paths. One of the people, Lysina, refused to be like the others, who by building from the trees had allowed nature to determine the limits of their foundations. She decided to start from the ground itself, so that when she reached the stars she would be the only thing bridging the two worlds.
She dug all night in the mud, and she piled the soil all day so that it could dry. When her hill grew too tall for its base, she widened its base so that it could support its own weight, and again grew it higher. So high did she sculpt the earth, that it formed a mountain greater than any Iaddora or building could ever hope to be, until one day she could dig no higher as she had reached the sky.
Digging and piling was all that consumed her life, until she took her last breath and collapsed on her mountain. So high had she built, that when she passed away the Maiden herself was able to reach down and take her to her domain, placing Lysina at her side. The Maiden took pity on the Kuhn, and adopted the people as her charges.
The Path of BattleEdit
"All must battle for the benefit of the gods."
Another ancient set of lore, it lays out the guidelines for how a tribe may win favor from the divines through righteous battle. Like the previous Path, this is mostly interpreted metaphorically.
The Path of ServiceEdit
"She who slays with the spear of her sister brings glory to both."
The first Path that can be considered to have traces of "modern" thought, it discusses how there are ways to favorably serve the gods without serving in battle. The foundations of what would eventually form the Third Path were created by Dann the Immortal during her creation of the Dannic Empire. Many of the events that would shape the history of Zeconis have their origin in the words of the Third Path, and the effects it had on the individuals involved. Many cite the creation of this Path as the most significant catalyst that caused the barbaric peoples of Zeconis to one day become a space-faring galactic power.
The Path of KnowledgeEdit
"A spear thrown true is worth a dozen made new."
One of the newer paths, this one expanded the role of service from solely trade skills to include scientific thought.
The Path of ProfitEdit
"The sweat of one's brow stings foes as a spear."
The most modern path, it less like a traditional religious view and closer to a governing philosophy, and laid the basis for much of the current understanding of labor and its relation to capital, and subsequent economic thought. Governments are described as the last great barrier to a truly prosperous society, with corporations being the ideal pinnacle of organization.
"It is the ultimate irony of existence: We must live so that all others are eradicated."
The Eradicators are extremist group of Branchway fundamentalists. Formed at some point during the Galactic Dark Age, they viewed the collapse of galactic society as proof that existence is an abomination, and that Aeloaten desired the destruction of all life. They view existence as an error, a blemish of the perfection of the supreme creator, and believe themselves to be her instrument of correcting her mistake. The creation of new life via reproduction is seen as a necessary evil in their quest, and flogging and self-flagellation are common parts of daily life.
Very little is known about their general activity, aside from the infrequent, but large, acts of violence they perform once or twice per generation. They are known to be based on an ancient pre-Dark Age Ark, though details are sparse. It is theorized that they operate as pirates and slavers on the fringes of galactic space utilizing stolen ships to extend their reach, and employ a splintered-cell approach to keep layers of their organization insulated from each other.
"What does it profit a Kuhn to refuse to sell their heart?"
Unlike those in the Kongo who utilize regulated trade and commerce to balance social issues with profitability, the Profiteers believe that nothing is more valuable than profit. The majority of Kuhneebo pirate organizations are members of the Profiteers, and have such little morality in the pursuit of profits that it is considered extreme even by the standards of the Kongo.
"YOU DIE NOW!"
An extremely small religious group, they are uncivilized primitives who live in isolation on a remote island of Zeconis. Refusing to follow the tenets of the Third, Fourth, and Fifth path, they instead continue living as they did ten thousand years prior, calling themselves the Second, as they follow the Second Path. They were founded in the first millennium by an extremely rich simale who sought to return to the old ways. Their numbers are in the low thousands, and they remain unmolested due to the relatively unprofitable location and resources of the island, as well as an agreement between the nearby corporations whose researchers study the inhabitants.