"In silence, there is hope. In death, the life of others" -A common prayer of the Paladins of AnuKnown to the Ornese as Anu, the Nicifians and Velocians as Anthyu, and the Bis as Anyu, she is the Goddess of Hope, Compassion, and Peace.
Or rather, she was. She's very much dead now, and currently the only Divine being to be as such. Her priesthood holds her as a martyr, however, and is still a prominent presence in the world. She created the angels, along with dozens of other creatures that are now considered holy by most of the known world.
Spheres of Influence Edit
"So, umm... how are you casting spells out of a taxidermied turtle?" - A confused onlooker, commenting on a particularly eccentric Priest of Anu's choice of holy symbol.As the Goddess of peace, compassion, and hope, Anu had a shape in a great many things that brought comfort all over the world. She was, and is, associated with music, shields, healing magic, and bells. Places that were said to be areas sacred to Anu are covered in layers of vivid green grass, and flowers. This has led some people to believe she had influence over life, and creation, but others claim this to be exaggeration. Numerous breeds of flower have been named after her, such as Anthralia, Anu's Resolve, and Yu Blossems.
Additionally, and perhaps more famously, Anu is renowned for her banquets and feasts. Anu has dominions over parties, gatherings, or any communion born out of hope. During her life, she could manifest on the Living Realm with incredible ease at particularly big events.
Upon her death, graveyards and tombstones were also added as symbols sacred to the church. Though she is by no means a death goddess, many associate her with the comforts that a funeral rite can bring, and other events that gather people around tragedies.
Anu is strange among the gods in that she has no unifying symbol of her church, or holy marking of any kind. Instead, the members of her faith can channel her will through personal symbols of hope: a good luck charm, or a family heirloom. As long as it remains a symbol of hope, it is indicative enough for Anu.
"...So, in summery, don't be a dick." - Hayer Faynes, a notorius criminal-turned-Anuin-cleric, concluding his first sermon.The tenants and commands of Anu are as simple, and easy to follow. In her life, she was a goddess who protected and aided mortals, shielding them from dangers and giving them the courage to forge themselves into heroes of legend. Her interest in the world was in the motivations of humans, and in her interactions with mortals she would seldom intervene outside of emboldening the hearts of those who faced difficult situations. She was a patient deity, who never directly interfered in any situation where mortals themselves could act. As such, there is a strong disconnect between the actions of the diety and her followers. She teaches that courage, humility, and patience are the strongest values a human being can have.
One of the few surviving religious texts of Anu from the second age is the Treatise of Heart and Flower, a text that both focuses as a guide and a collection of ancient documents that grant a plethora of boons to the Priesthood of Anu. The core messages of the Treatise can be summed as such:
- Hope is not a finite resource - as long as the heart beats true, hope shall too remain. Do not act in haste, but wait for when your courage is needed most.
- Courage is not the property of the individual. As the mortal relies on the sun and the stars and the moon to brighten his path, so too does he rely on his allies and friends to brighten his way.
- The hand of forgiveness must always be offered before violence is considered - especially to those who would do you harm. If there is hope in all things, there is hope that even the vilest of evils can tamed.
"...In addition, the Solidarus would like to extend the offer that you rejoin the paladins. It is not too late to return and preach a better message to the betterment of all who would listen. We simply ask that you stop killing people for a living, and that you not send Grand Hope Riella the decapitated heads..." -Excerpt from a letter to the leader of a Crusader BandDespite the death of Anu, her church remains one of the most steadfastly organized (if not the most steadfastly organized) churches in all of the Four Land-Regions. This is due largely in part to her efforts in the second age. Anu decided early in her dealings with mortals that the most effective means of spreading hope is a recognizable banner to rally behind. Thus, where most of the other Gods allowed multiple followings which created schisms in even those who followed the same Dieties, Anu's church was a bastion across the world.
The organization of Anu's faithful is called the Solidarity of Hope, or the Solidarus for short. The head of the church is a high priest called the First Hope, appointed by Anu herself. In her absence, angels - the most steadfast of her creations - meet upon the death of the previous First Hope to appoint a new one. Under the First Hope are the Grand Hopes: a council that oversee various regions of the world where communes of the Solidarus are established. A single Grand Hope could look over an area as big as a small country.
Beyond the Grand Hopes, the church then splits into multiple branches. The most common branch is the priesthood, which is comprised of rank and file clerics referred to simple as clerics of Anu. As a form of respect, they refer to each other by the title of Hayer, an old word meaning 'simple prophet' or 'Shepard'. These Hayers are the preachers of Anu's word, giving voice to the dead Goddess' message of peace and compassion and reassuring those who are in need. Then there are the Paladins. These are the closest the Solidarus has to a military force: the Paladins are knights who travel wherever they are needed. Ideally, this would be wherever hope is needed most, or where the future seems most grim. Thanks to the documents in their holy Treatise, no border is ever closed to a Paladin, so long as they overtly refuse participation in any major conflicts or battles or political events. Lastly, there are the Moths. This order operates with the most independence from the others, and answers mostly to the First Hope exclusively. The Moths are tasked with searching out important relics of Anu - the only things left behind of her, and securing them for the Solidarus.
The Solidarus' main stronghold is located on the shores of Monvale, the continent of monsters. It is the only permanently established living environment on the entire continent, thanks largely in part to a retinue of Paladins who crusade tirelessly against the seemingly endless hordes on the continent. Beyond that, the churches are smaller and more tailored to individual communities.
The church isn't as unified as it once was, however. With the death of its core diety, there has been unavoidable schisms. Though small fraction groups have broken off for the most part, the whole of the Nacifian Soladarus works much more closely with countries on a political scale. This has put them at odds with the Ornese Solidarus. The Ornese believe that close interactions, however noble the intentions, with political bodies put the Treatise at risk and devalues it's ability to negotiate borders. The Nacifian Solidarus can also be at contention with itself, as different Grand Hopes tend to take on nationalist ideas. Though there has been no official schism, there is talk of them breaking away with the Solidarus entirely.
Additionally, hundreds of years ago, at the death of Anu, a group of paladins left the church on a crusade to wage war against the Valenese - those deemed responsible for Deicide. Though the Valenesion empire has long since vanished, the crusaders still seek a cause to fight for, having cast what they view as the restrictions of peace and diplomacy forced on them by the Grand Hopes. The majority of them act as mercenary bands in the warring lands of Northern Orna, where tensions between countries enable them to evade persecution of the Solidarus. Both the Nacifian and Ornese Grand Hopes denounce these crusaders as bandits and savages that would have lost favor with their diety were she still alive.
"If the warmth of kindness be a beacon, then the sting of guilt is but a snuffing of the heart..." -Excerpt from the Treatise of Heart and Flower, often interpreted as a dismissal of a fellow deityAnu, while she was alive, Anu was on good terms with a great deal of her fellow dieties. Though she felt the God of Strength and the Goddess of Decision were often too harsh on Mortals, she appreciated the aims of their goals. They would sometimes work together, but differences in their methodology of dealings with mortals would prevent them from forming any sort of relations beyond courteous respect.
She was great friends with the Goddess of Travel, the God of Children, the God of Knowledge, and the God of Settlements, who together formed a sort of pantheon that was widely heralded and regarded. Most who worshipped Anu at the very least acknowledged one of these four other gods. A good deal worshipped several of them, and some Grand Hopes overtly worshiped all 5 (though they viewed Anu as their chief deity, of course).
She staunchly disliked, however, Yarano, the God of Guilt, and viewed him as a sort of negative counterpart. Though their methods were similar - fostering emotions of mortals to their eventual betterment, she detested his preying on the negative emotions and believed it to be ultimately self-destructive for his followers. The two would often engage in contests over mortals in a game to prove their own views to the other. As such, the two as a pair were often conveyed with a dualism that is largely to blame for Yarano's demonization by modern society. Yarano is still bitter about that.
Anu openly hated the God of Immortality, the Goddess of Fear, and the Goddess of Secrets. She loathed their selfishness and they all found her varying degrees of naive and boring. Since her death, the worshipers of the Goddess of Secret have started something of a shadow war with the Solidarus, attempting to collect relics of Anu before they can be recovered. The reason for this sudden interest is unknown, and considering the aggressors, they likely will never be revealed beyond a handful of scattered individuals.
In recent history, the Nacifian Solidarus has also managed to earn the ire of the Priests of the God of Sovereignty. Their tampering with politics often puts them at ends with rulers who possess a Divine Mandate, and as such, at odds with the aforementioned Priests. They do, however, possess a much more neutral relationship with the Ornese Solidarus.
"My banner is the torch of Anu, and its glimmering light shall flood the horizons" -the first First HopeAnu was among the first of the gods to be born from the First Act of Creation - an event that kickstarted the universe, erected the Pillars of the Living Realm, and eventually resulted in the Second Act of Creation - formation of the Living Realm.
It is often said that Anu was the first Deity to discover Mortal life, and that she's been with the Living Realm since the first Mortal was shivering alone in a cave. Anu began the first age by her earliest interactions with life, marking the first known incident of Divine Interaction. Scholars do debate this however, mostly due to how difficult it can be to ascertain Anu's involvement in her miracles. Still, the notion is widely held that she is the first. Throughout the first half of this age, Anu saw the rise and fall of countless heroes, and spread tales of their heroism to inspire yet more people to follow in their footsteps.
It was in the second age where Anu formed the Solidarus. Over decades, she began to realize the importance mortals ascribed to not just ideals, but organizations that upheld such ideals. She noticed how their nationalism would often times win out over their better judgments. To counteract this, she spoke to a particularly hopeful young Elf in what is considered to be the Northern half of Nacifi. She told this Elf that she would be her champion in the Living Realm, and a singular voice piece for others to rally around all over the world. This Elf was to become the First Hope of Anu, who went around the Four Land-Regions preaching her name and gathering a following. The first Grand Hopes were those individuals Anu deemed best fit to aid the formation of her church, and the paladins came about from the lineages of heroes that owed their courage to Anu. Anu was careful with the paladins - and would often times have to personally remind them the importance of temperance.
And then, there was the death of Anu. The Valense empire, an ancient empire stretching across several continents and boasting some of the most powerful magics known to Mortals, was slowly earning the wrath of the Gods. As the empire formed, idolatry of its King began to grow and the Gods began to grow jealous. In an act that is legendary in infamy to Mortals as a relatively bad idea, the Valenese King proclaimed himself to be an equal to the Gods. One of the Gods (it is forgotten who) was not having this shit, and promptly killed him at the end of his speech. The Valenese Empire was beheaded in an instant, and floundered in decay until the Gods stepped in and restored the pyramid properly. Or rather, that would have been the case had the Valenese people not borderline worshiped their King. They declared war against the Gods - an act of supremacy that their King would have been proud of.
It is forgotten why they targeted Anu as the first of Gods to be killed. Perhaps they saw an easy target. Perhaps they hated mortal reliance on what they viewed as unnatural hope. Whatever the reason, she was to be the first to go. Considering how poorly the Gods viewed mortals, it is perhaps not surprising that they severely underestimated how powerful they had become by the end of the Second Age. Using rituals devised out of decades of research and built up resentment, Anu was bound to the courtyard where the Valenese King was first stricken down. Then, she was killed by a weapon that shook reality to its core - her divinity stripped in an instant. The Gods, at that point, realized that they had somewhat made a mess of things.
Though the truth of the matter is more complex, as most things are, this is how the Solidarus teaches the death of Anu. Though different voices stress different points (the crusaders who left the church for revenge vilify the Valenese significantly more), the general details are the same. Historians use Anu's death to mark the End of the Second Age, and the beginning of the Divine Civil War that eventually ended with the first year of the Third Age.
It is said that before her death, Anu was silent before the Valenesions assembled to execute her. If words were exchanged, it is unknown what they might have been. Upon her death, it is said that every flower in the courtyard turned a steel grey. Attempts to plant any other flower in their place has only resulted in the immediate withering of the new plant.