Sandbox focusing on the religious teachings, practices, gods and spirits of Vespia.
The Vespian priesthood, known as the ionakin, are among the most important and most powerful individuals in Vespian civilization. Due to the deeply devout and superstitious nature of the Vespians, the ionakin wield vast amounts of power within society compared to the nobility. A Vespian ionak has the power to inspire extreme degrees of zealotry within the general population, and they are widely feared and respected by the nobles and warriors, especially given their potential role as allies. According to the traditional structure of the ionakin, there are seven priestly orders within the Vespian clergy, each known as a tazanotak, or "order of the holy". Each tazanotak is responsible for a particular aspect of the religion's growth, maintenance, and execution of rites and ceremonies.
- Ankazhan – An ankazhan, known as a "lustmaster", is a Vespian priest whose field of expertise involves the use of sexual behavior to forgive sins and pass on blessings through physical contact. The Vespians believe that in the same manner that blood was used for the creation of life, that semen and other sexual fluids are responsible for the transmission of sins, blessings, and curses, as they are the only substance actively and consciously ejected from one's body at will. As such, the ankazhanin are responsible for serving as the gods' catalyst for the transmission of various blessings on their behalf to their Vespians servants. In the realm of forgiveness, an ankazhan may receive the sins of a Vespian upon themselves if they are female, or impart divine cleansing power to a Vespian if they are male; representing the binary nature of sexual biology. However, as 80% of Vespians are female, the use of tribadism or cunnilingus is employed to "extract" these sins from another female Vespian. The order believes that upon achieving an orgasm, a divine epiphany takes place, facilitating the transmission of a blessing, curse, or a sin. They are identified by their TBD.
- Nunazhan – A nunazhan, known as an "artsmaster", is a class of priests responsible for use of musical instruments, dance, painting and sculpting, singing, and poetry within the ionakin. It is their responsibility to play the songs and dances at the zhekarin during religious festivals, as well as beautify religious sites and shrines throughout Vespia. They likewise produce the clothing and jewelry worn by the priesthood, and provide the incenses needed for the frequent ceremonies that take place at the religious institutions of the Vespians. They are typically well-trained in their tasks, and rarely interact with the other orders of the priesthood so as to wholly devote themselves to the needs of the faith to maintain a strong artistic tradition for Zheaniism.
- Onazhan – An onazhan, known as a "knowledge master", is a class of Vespian priest tasked with the accumulation of knowledge and information for the clergy, as well as the conducting of religious gatherings and sermons. The onazhanin are responsible for maintaining the holy records and documents from throughout Vespian history, ensuring their accuracy during the copying process, keeping the sacred lore and doctrines of Zheaniism as true to its original meanings during sermons, and advising Vespian citizens and leaders on matters of religious importance when requested. Furthermore, they assign newly adopted acolytes known as onazhenin, to the tazanotak they have been tested for and accepted into. Unique among the orders of the ionakin, the onazhanin are solely responsible for supervising the behavior of the other priestly orders, and managing the various religious sites and buildings that are located across Vespia. Each and every yazan and zhekara has an onazhan who manages the property, and determines which members of the priesthood may officiate at the location. Furthermore, the onazhanin are also responsible for managing disputes between priests, and have been known to provide their services to the state on matters of religious law. Consequently, due to their role within the priesthood and Vespian society as a whole, the onazhanin are considered the most senior members of the caste, though one of the less numerous religious orders within the priesthood.
- Ovikazhan – An ovikazhan, known as a "fatemaster", is a class of Vespian priest responsible for the deliverance of divine messages, seances, predictions of the future, and reading of fates for Vespians throughout society. They are one of the most common class of priests, alongside ankazhanin, tazazhanin, and vakazhanin. They lack the ability to forgive sins so as to prevent them from attaining divine insight, revealing it to those who have been judged, and forgiving them on the before the judgement of the gods has been passed. They are easily recognized by their veiled eyes, which symbolize their reliance on the will of the gods for insight into the metaphysical and things unseen by those outside of their order. Only the embroidered icon of an eye exists on the face of the veil, and immediately calls attention to their status as a member of the order. Ovikazhanin are generally feared within Vespia as they have a great deal of freedom as to how the interpret dreams and visions, and can easily turn what was a blessing in a curse, either if they feel the individual seeking their services would benefit from the life lesson, or if they have found fault in that individual and believe they are not yet worthy of a blessing. Very few Vespians can read the cards of fate and sacred glyphs of the ionakin properly, and as such, very few ovikazhanin exist within Vespia. Because of this, many Vespians are willing to pay to secure the time of an ovikazhan, and secure for themselves a blessing or to curse their enemies.
- Tazazhan – A tazazhan, known as a "ritesmaster", is a Vespian priest tasked with the execution of rites, ceremonies, and passages within the Vespian population's many religious events. They cover everything from marriages, assisting with coming-of-age ceremonies, supporting the activities of the other priestly, opening congregational meetings, to leading prayers on behalf of any number of gatherings. It is often the role of a tazazhan to initiate opening of a sacrifice, meeting, assembly, or announcement, as well as deliver messages to political, religious, and civil bodies on behalf of the clergy. Tazazhan typically sing, dance, and conduct rituals on behalf of their order, as well as serve as representatives for the priesthood at times due to their extensive background within the clergy. Though their name would indicate a very narrow range of responsibilities within the priesthood, tazazhanin cover a multitude of duties that generally fall outside of the defined responsibilities of the other orders of the caste, and thus a tazazhan may find themselves well-suited as the jack-of-all-trades within the Zheaniist faith. Vespians who have either failed to attain entry into the other orders of the ionakin or desire more freedom to act on their own, will find themselves best suited to serve as a member of the tazazhanin. Because of their flexibility and ability to support the needs of the other priestly orders, the tazazhanin are the most numerous priests of the ionakin caste, and can be found in all corners of Vespia and its territories.
- Vakazhan – A vakazhan, or "warmaster" (-zhan differentiating the religious title from the militarized -dak in zhadak), is the war-priest responsible for providing religious services to the warriors of Vespia. They carry with them blades of all sorts, with the TBD serving as their signature icon of service within the priesthood of the warrior caste. Vakazhanin conduct the rites of war and death for warriors before, during, and after battle, blessing them before their glory or martyrdom on the field of battle, and sacrificing prisoners in the name of the Vespian gods of war and violence. Wearing armor and trained in the martial arts, all members of the vakazhanin have successfully completed the final stage of the dukorun, a requirement for all those seeking to join either the vakazhanin themselves or the vakoranin warrior caste. Consequently, combined with their training and armor, and the TBD which a vakazhan carries with them, serves as more than just a mere religious standard, with vakazhanin fight with those whom the shepherd in the heat of battle. Vakazhanin are uniquely well-built physically, even by Vespian standards, standing taller and stronger than the more lithe and nubile members of the Vespian priesthood. Additionally, the vakazhanin stand out more given that of all the tazanotakin, the vakazhanin have a large number of male members compared to the predominately female priestly orders of the ionakin.
- Vinkazhan – A vinkazhan, or "shrine-master", is an ionak tasked with the upkeep and maintenance of their assigned shrine and fetishes. They clean, fix, and protect the shrines assigned to them by the priesthood, as well provide services to any of the visiting worshipers in need of information, guidance, or blessings at the shrine. They may join in prayers with Vespians seeking to communicate with the savina represented by the shrine, as well as inform them of the proper conduct and protocol of using the site to prayer. The role of a vinkazhan is considered the next step of a novice member of the ionakin, as they are promoted from the prior role of zhekazhan, and assigned a shrine that allows for more independence. Likewise, the role as they are granted is both a sign of trust by the priesthood, as well as a measure of prestige as one serves as the "voice" of the savina of the shrine, as well as the main point of contact for any individuals seeking a blessing from that particular spirit. However, the ionak of the shrine is held responsible for any damage to the shrine, for they allow are responsible for its upkeep. Failure to maintain the shrine after several warnings and reprimands is grounds for automatic expulsion from the priesthood, and depending on the severity of their shortcomings, slavery or outright execution is the punishment.
- Voyuzhan – A voyuzhan, also known as a "painmaster", is a class of Vespian priests who devoted their skills to the service of Vikara, the Goddess of Pain. They are master torturers who have taken up the task of procuring for the goddess the pain of others to strengthen her powers. Such Vespian priests typically hail from the house of Dekan, where the majority of orders devoted to the art of torture are located. It is believed that the pain of others strengthens Vikara, who turns her spiteful gaze away from the Vespians, and instead inflicts untold suffering upon the lands of others. In this chaos and disorder, the Vespians find strength and unity, allowing them to further pursue their divine mission to purify the lands of the world and bring true peace to the universe. Scarification, body piercings, ritualized masochism in the form of flagellation and bloodletting through the act of katin, are the most visible aspects of the voyuzhanin. Though these methods are the most well-known aspects of the priesthood, gruesome and violent acts such as live cannibalism, beatings, feeding individuals to animals, immolation of sacrificial victims, and brutal murders during religious festivals, are the domain of the voyuzhanin, who supervise the acts and ensure that the most physical, mental, and physiological suffer is inflicted upon their chosen victims.
- Yanuzhan – A yanuzhan, also known as a "fleshmaster", is a Vespian priest skilled in the art of the manipulation of flesh, bone, and organs. Historically, yanuzhanin were the first true surgeons in human history, developing highly detailed and intricate maps of the body and its organs, and determining the role of each. Highly secretive, fleshmasters form special orders that can only be joined through the support of one of their own, and proving oneself worthy of joining these orders is a long and difficult ordeal. Vespians typically heap praise upon members of this class of priests, viewing them as following in the footsteps of Zhautan, reshaping the body and mind of an individual, and creating something barely human for the entertainment of their people. They are feared for their expertise with the experimentation on human subjects for their work, and have been known to be able to completely butcher a grown man, skin him, amputate the limbs, withdraw all of his organs with care, and keep him alive for months on end; before what was once a recognizable human being succumbs to the sheer pain and exposure to the elements subjected against it.
- Zakazhan – A zakazhan, or "bloodmaster", is the class of priests responsible for procuring the vast amounts of human blood needed for the constant religious festivals of Zheaniism. They are easily identified by their red-trimmed priestly robes they wear signifying their status as the keepers of the zakana, or "blood-debt" of the Vespian people. Zakazhanin are tasked with the bloodletting festivals of Zheaniism, and the sacrifice of individuals to repay the blood-debt of the Vespians, determining where the blood should be drawn from and how it shall be transferred to the gods, typically via burning the blood, drinking it, or pouring it out on the ground to "water to earth". Zakazhanin are also tasked with maintaining the vast stocks of slaves and prisoners who are to be sacrificed to the Vespian deities, as well as ensuring that all of the blood itself has been confirmed as clean and without fault, conducting blood tests on all those who have been chosen for sacrifice. The zakazhanin likewise serve an important role in conducting the Vespian coming-of-age ceremonies, known as the Vyashonin or "Three Waters", where the priests baptize a Vespian youth in water to cleanse them, wine to bless them, and blood to confirm their service to Zhautan.
- Zhekazhan – A zhekazhan, or "temple-master", is one of the most common priestly roles within Vespia, as they are responsible for all of the upkeep of Vespia's countless tens of thousands of ziggurats, temples, holy places, and relics. Though considered the umbrella group of which the independent vinkazhanin originate, the sheer number of shrines in Vespia−numbering in the magnitude of several hundred thousand−necessitated the need for two separate groups focusing on two separate yet similar tasks: maintaining and operating the temples and major holy sites, and another focusing on the management of the countless hundreds of thousands of shrines the Vespian faithful interact with on a daily basis. Zhekazhanin constitute the majority of the priests residing in the temple complexes of Vespia, handling the bulk of the menial tasks that the other ionakin cannot be bothered with as they handle the rites, rituals, and sacrifices for worshipers. Serving as a zhekazhan is the first role a newly-minted member of the priesthood will adopt, prior to advancing through the ranks of the ionakin. Though the less prestigious role in the priesthood, the rest of the ionakin have a great deal of respect for the zhekazhanin, as they understand that without these young individuals, the operation of Vespia's yazanin and zhekarin would be impossible.
- Zokizhen – TBD
- Zovazhen – TBD
- Ovazhen – TBD
- Adizhen – Adizhenin are the lowest-ranking members of the ionakin priesthood caste, roughly analogous to the role and rank of a neophyte in other faiths. They recently adopted members of the priesthood who successfully passed into the holy services of Zheaniism, and have undergone the first period of their theological education. Almost all aduzhenin are about eighteen years of age at the time of their joining the priestly caste of Vespia, with citizenship within Vespian society (and thus passing the first two stages of the dukorun) a requirement for all those looking to serve as a priest. During the three years of their religious courses, all aduzhenin commit the passages of the Zhantana to memory, and undergo the necessary training and preparations to join the tazanotak they wish to serve in.
- Aduzhen – Aduzhenin are individuals study admitted members of the They are regarded as aspirants for the time they are undergoing their religious education at the zhekara. They are not considered members of the ionakin, and do not have any of the special rights or privileges associated with the caste.
All Vespians are required by religious teaching to read the Zhautana regularly and on a daily basis. This teaching is mandatory for members of the ionakin, are must be able to know the teachings of the holy text by heart, and be able to explain its passages to other Vespians when asked. They are also expected to be knowledgeable of all their gods and religious teachings, and any new edicts passed down by the caste. As such, all members of the ionakin, regardless of their age, rank, or division, are required to take part in and complete, an annual exam designed to determine their knowledge of the Zheaniic religion and its teachings. This ensures that only those who take their responsibilities seriously are allowed to remain within and lead the priesthood. The types of exams used each year varies division to division, though the higher divisions of the priesthood receive what can only be described as significantly harder exams.
An example of the increasing difficulty of the exams would be that given to the most senior division of the caste, the onazhanin, or the "masters of knowledge". Unlike the other priestly divisions of the ionakin, the onazhanin from whom the most senior members of the priesthood are taken, are required to know the Zhautana by heart and explain its passages and reasoning of the gods from memory. They are held to a higher standard compared to their peers in the other divisions, are failure on the regular annual exams is more severe for them. They are not permitted to have the Zhautana with them during an exam, and are punished to a greater and lengthy degree than the other priests. Conversely, the lowest-ranking members of the caste, the zhekazhanin, or "masters of the temples", must only prove a strong knowledge of their religion and the duties of their rank within their division to pass.
Regardless of rank or division, any priest who fails the exam may experience one of four punishments as a consequence. They are, in order of severity:
- Should they fall 10% below the passing grade, they will be verbally reprimanded by their superiors and given a second opportunity to take the exam. During this time, their monthly allowance is halved, and they are prohibited from taking a leave of absence to visit their families or leave the temple grounds for personal time. A fellow priest will be assigned to the failing priest as a minder to ensure that they spend their time studying, and focusing on preparing for the next exam afforded to them.
- Should they fall 15% below the passing grade, their rank will be demoted to the next rank below and their monthly allowance cut by half for the next six months, and prohibited from being considered for a promotion in rank from one year to as many as five years. Should they already be at the rank of adizhen, they will be placed within the lowest rank of aduzhen for a six-month probationary period, and must take the entry exam again to regain their original rank. They will be prohibited from leaving the temple grounds until the next entry exam, and will be barred from receiving guests until their probationary period has been lifted or has expired on its own.
- Should they fall 20% below the passing grade; they should be expelled from their original priestly division and assigned to a lower division as determined by the caste leadership. They will be placed into a six-month probationary period with the rank of aduzhen, and permanently barred from seeking re-entry into their original division without the approval of caste leadership. Their monthly allowance will be reduced to the lowest grade as befitting their current rank, and prohibited from leaving the temple grounds until the next entry exam.
- Should they fall 25% below the passing grade; the individual will be castigated before all of their fellow ionakin members within the temple grounds and stripped of their rank by the chaste leadership for the temple. Their head will be shaven and the and their vestments burned in the central square of the temple. The defrocked priest will then receive twenty-five lashes plus two (from all the gods plus two from Zhautan), indicating their failure to maintain a strong personal knowledge of the faith as befitting their responsibilities as a member of the priesthood. Depending on the severity of their failure, they will either be returned to their family or handed over to the state to be enslaved (dependent upon their rank and grade within the caste).
Divisions of the Tazanotakin
Each of the tazanotakin are divided into a sub-group known as a ion'nomud, or "priestly division". These divisions are responsible for specific tasks within their tazanotak, a necessity given the vast size of the priesthood as well as the worshipers they are responsible for shepherding. These ion'nomudin are grouped into three bands known as TBD, ranking the relative rights and privileges afforded to members of that division, as well as their ranks within the priesthood as a whole. Each band affords its members a certain allowance in addition to their caste rank and role within the priesthood. For instance, an ovazhen judge of the onazhanin would by default, receive a higher allowance and quarters than a zovazhen painter of the nanuzhanin priestly order, even though the painter has a higher caste rank than the judge. Since the judge belongs to highest band of the highest-ranked priestly order within the caste, she would receive more rights and privileges than painter, who belongs the mid-ranked ion'nomud of the second-lowest ranked priestly order. The priestly orders and their divisions are ranked by order of precedence below:
|Divisions of the Tazanotak|
|1||File:Emblem of Zheaniism.svg||Onazhanin|
Masters of Wisdom
|N||File:Emblem of Zheaniism.svg||Tazazhanin|
Masters of the Rites
|N||File:Emblem of Zheaniism.svg||Vakazhanin|
Masters of War
|N||File:Emblem of Zheaniism.svg||Ovikazhanin|
Masters of Fate
|3||Clairvoyants||Senior priestesses who are trained in viewing the future of those who come to them and provide details on events pertaining to one's life.|
|7||Bonereaders||Priests who specialize in the art of bonereading, and work with the bones of animals and humans to decipher dreams and prophecies.|
|8||Scryers||Low-ranking members of the priestly division who specialize in the general reading and deciphering of cards, palms, and dreams.|
|N||File:Emblem of Zheaniism.svg||Vinkazhanin|
Masters of the Shrines
|1||Jivanamunin||Jivanamunin ("firewatchers") are priests assigned the responsibility of keeping the lanterns and fire-wells of the zhekarin alight.|
|N||File:Emblem of Zheaniism.svg||Ankazhanin|
Masters of Lust and Desire
|1||Operators||The priests responsible for managing the sexual activities of all lower members and assigning them to their roles and areas of operation.|
|2||Courtesans||Priests who specialize in sexual services and entertainment for male Vespians, and live with the families of men of the zhanokin caste.|
|3||Masseuses||Priestesses skilled in the art of massaging visitors using their bodies and perfumed oils as the tools.|
|4||Sapphists||Members of the order who specialize in offering sexual services to female visitors who comprise three-fourths of the Vespian population.|
|5||Traveling Prostitutes||Traveling temple prostitute who offers sexual services blessed by Voyana beyond the confines of the zhekara.|
|6||Temple Prostitutes||Sacred prostitutes who provide services on behalf of Voyana, and operate within the bounds of the zhekara.|
|7||Hebephiles||Priestess assigned to the task of performing oanku, or "child-sex", to the children of temple visitors.|
|8||Oralists||Priestess who offers oral sex services to visitors to the temple.|
|N||File:Emblem of Zheaniism.svg||Nanuzhanin|
Masters of the Arts
|3||Tattooists||Priests responsible for administering the izhovaka to adherents of the Zheaniic faith, and expanding upon existing tattoos as required by the priesthood.|
|6||Painters||The artists of the priesthood responsible for producing all manners of artwork for the temples, shrines, and chambers of holy sites throughout Vespia.|
|11||File:Emblem of Zheaniism.svg||Zhekazhanin|
Masters of the Temples
|1||Overseers||Overseers are responsible for the day-to-day management of the zhekarin, and hand out the daily responsibilities of the lesser members of their order.|
|2||Attendants||The attendants are responsible for admitting individuals into the temple grounds and assisting visitors during their stay.|
|3||Furnishers||Priests responsible for the production of new equipment, furniture, and materials commissioned by the ionakin.|
|4||Laborers||Laborers are responsible for the material maintenance of the zhekara, and construction of any new buildings and shrines requested of them.|
|5||Gardeners||Priests responsible for the maintenance of the temple gardens and floral arrangements in and around the zhekara.|
|6||Aquifers||Priests assigned the task of cleaning the holy water basins and blood wells of the zhekara, as well as cleaning the priests and sacrificial victims.|
|7||Washers||These priests are assigned the task of washing the clothing of the priests, and cleaning of all the utensils and sacrificial alters of the zhekara.|
|8||Domestics||The lowest-ranked role within the priesthood, domestics are responsible for the cleaning and maintenance of the temple grounds.|
- Akzuna – Goddess of wealth, greed, and fertility
- Emana – Goddess of health, medicine, and goodwill
- Hazana – Goddess of honor, courage, and discipline
- Ionoko – God of wisdom, faith, and knowledge
- Jeyana – Goddess of romance, family, and tithing
- Jivadena – Goddess of drugs, music, and entertainment
- Noraya – Goddess of nature, animals, and insects
- Onavoya – Goddess of random numbers, poverty, and luck
- Ovani – Goddess of protection, time, and interiors
- Rodan – God of food, feasting, and wine
- Shidona – Goddess of beauty, envy, an jealousy
- Shonada – Goddess of storms, floods, and earthquakes
- Shovik – God of speech, messages, and travel
- Takina – Goddess of enchantments, curses, and rituals
- Varshan – God of war, blood, and weapons
- Vikara – Goddess of fear, pain, and suffering
- Vakon – God of hunting, monsters, perils and traps
- Voyana – Goddess of rape, lust, and orgasms
- Yon – God of justice, truth, and equity
- Zhanka – Goddess of hate and strife
- Zhautan – God of creation, life, and the universe
- Zhevon – God of joy, happiness, and contentment
- Zhevona – Goddess of light, stars, and birth
- Zhon – God of darkness, mysteries, and secrets
- Zhona – Goddess of death, mourning, and miscarriages
- Azhayuka – Goddess of sins, mistakes, and foolish reasoning
- TBD – God of lies, trickery, and vendettas
- TBD – God of trade, ships, and favorable winds
- TBD – Goddess of forges, tools, and handicrafts
- TBD – A nude, all-black female spirit with four arms and four eyes, who stands on one leg and points in the four cardinal directions. She is responsible for redirecting evil spirits and harmful auras away from the home she is assigned too, and considered a spirit of goodwill. Her fetish is placed in a prominent position within the home, and cared for by the paramount wife or eldest daughter of the head of the household. Vespians will pray to the spirit before leaving the home and sleeping, and a prayer by the eldest daughter to the fetish is presented before every meal. A gift of cloth is presented to the spirit to "keep her warm" and as a sign of gratitude for protecting the family and their possessions from harm. The spirit is considered a servant of Emana.
- TBD – A tall, slender and nude female spirit with dark red skin and pale body-markings, and adored with various piercings and jewelry. The spirit is a representation of lust and violence, which are considered one in the same within Vespian culture. The TBD has long horns which represent the aggressive nature of sexual activities, and has male reproductive organs as a sign of its ability to engage in the active pursuit of lustful desires against other beings both willing and unwilling. Fetishes representing the being at typically placed above beds next to effigies of Voyana. When preparing to engage in intercourse, Vespians pray to these spirits and light incense for them to attract them to be bedroom, and "partake" in the event. The spirit is considered a servant of Voyana.
- TBD – A two-faced, heavily-muscled male spirit with warpaint and various weapons readied for battled. The entity is said not to blink so as to ensure he is able to maintain a constant watch for enemy forces seeking to enter his domain. Vespians place his fetishes near walls, at military bases, barracks, border crossings, and within law enforcement offices, as he is responsible for maintaining the warrior spirit of those sworn to fight on behalf of the Vespians. Weapons, ammunition, body armor, and other weapons of war are presented to him by either the commander of the soldiers, or by the soldiers themselves, as proof of their willingness and readiness to maintain the watch with him. The spirit is considered a servant of Varshan.
- TBD – A nude, taut, and heavily-muscled female spirit with a longsword and shield, as well as a long tail with a sharp end to it. She represents the warrior spirit in action, and is actively engaged in battle at all times, with her weapons drawn and primed for striking another individual. She has various horns on her head, and sharp teeth ready for tearing flesh from enemy soldiers within arms' reach. Vespians place her fetishes in warzones, city walls, besieged locations, and even within political offices, where the Vespians will be engaged in physical or mental struggle against another opponent. The spirit is considered a servant of Varshan.
- TBD – An elderly male spirit draped with the robes of a Vespian ionak, sitting with legs crossed on the ground and hands either clasped together or crossed under the sleeves. He represents the waiting and watchful spirit of the Vespians, and serves as the constant reminder to rely on one's ability to reason and act on knowledge rather than emotion within formal settings. His fetishes are placed within office spaces, courtrooms, political centers, libraries, and laboratories, where insight is more important than raw strength or fury. Prayers to the spirit for insight and guidance before making important or weighty decisions is a tradition of politicians and leaders throughout Vespian society. The spirit is considered a servant of Ionoko.
- TBD – A pre-adolescent female wearing a <<TRADITIONAL SHORT DRESS>> with legs apart and dress pulled outward. She represents Vespian girls and their hyperactive and lustful nature, and their desire to seek pleasure with others compared to their male counterparts. Her fetishes are placed within the rooms of Vespian girls, who are tasked with maintaining them and presenting small gifts such as toys and candies to keep them happy. They are the first spirits a Vespian girl will most likely be given responsibility for, and are considered the primary companions and guardians for female Vespian youth. The fetish remains with the Vespian girl throughout her life regardless of her status or position, and is typically buried with her upon death as a companion in the afterlife. They are considered the servants of Zhevon.
- TBD – A male Vespian child wearing <<TRADITIONAL BOY OUTFIT>> and holding a katar between his arms while standing at attention. Represents the young male spirit to accomplish great things and their vigor to surmount any obstacles that may impede their goals. Fetishes typically presented to Vespian boys around the age of five, and serve as their companion throughout childhood, and are kept near the bed of the boy or where he spends most of his time. Because of the important of the spirit in the lives of Vespian boys as a source of encouragement, the fetishes are typically passed from father to son as a gift and a source of pride for the great things the father may have accomplished throughout his life regardless of the accomplishment itself. They are considered the servants of Zhevon.
- TBD – A tall, nude, and slender female spirit with a long black tail and digitigrade legs, as well as sharp teeth and claws, and a long, black prehensile tongue.
She is believed to stalk individuals and guide rapists toward them during the evening, and has a vindictive view toward those who attempt to defy her attempts to harm others physically and emotionally. She was also known as the spirit of evil responsible for attacking youth and causing the onset of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, in infants and toddlers belonging to Vespians who had run afoul of her goddess' wishes.She is also believed to be responsible for scaring away rival spirits that seek to enter the areas which she has claimed as her own. As such, Vespians place fetishes of her in areas which they seek to protect from harm and possession from evil spirits seeking to do harm to the individuals passing through the location. The spirit is considered a servant of Voyana.
- TBD – A heavily-pregnant female spirit with long hair and large breasts, resting in a squatting position with legs apart as if ready to give birth. She is believed to represent fertility and virility in Vespian men and women, and their ability to produce large numbers of healthy offspring. Fetishes for this spirit are placed above the bed and cared for by the wives of the uvazhak, or patriarch of the household. Offerings to her consist of breast-milk and semenial fluid, as well as honey and pomegranate seeds, all with the hope of attaining her support in producing a child. During a pregnancy, the mother-to-be will offer beseech the spirit to help her carry to term and protect the child from harm, as well as assist her during labor. The spirit is considered a servant of Akzuna.
- Zakunin – A tall, emaciated male spirit with sharp claws a fully-revealed skull, with sharp teeth in a grinning or yawning position, and greedily presenting a bowl awaiting it to be filled with a blood offering. He represents the insatiable thirst of Zhautan for the blood of sinners and debtors, and is responsible for overseeing the acquisition of the blood debt. His fetishes are placed in zhekarin, yazanin, and home shrines (TBD), where blood sacrifices are presented, or during regular personal offerings of blood within the home. The spirit is believed to bring the offering of blood to Zhautan for his consumption, and reporting on the quality of the offerings provided by Zhautan's Vespian servants. The bowl held by the spirit serves as the receptacle for a blood offering, scaling in size depending on the offering and location of the fetish. House fetishes of the spirit double as incense burners and candle-holders, which are often doubled with the blood offering to attract the attention of the spirit to deliver the offering to Zhautan. Because of the spirit's relationship with blood and tithing, it is believed to be a dual servant of Varshan and Jeyana.
- TBD – A female spirit with the lower body of a snake and venomous barbs for hair, along with deep brown skin and golden eyes. The spirit lives in the desert and represents the manifestation of the massive sandstorms that frequent the Tuvada Desert throughout Vespia. The Vespians have traditionally believed that the TBD crawl out of the sand and strike at traveling merchants and commoners moving through the desert to an oasis, taking advantage of the sandstorm that is underway, resulting in their abrupt disappearance in the desert. As a sign of respect and fear, the Vespians carry fetishes of the spirit with them while in the desert, believing that doing so prevents the TBD from attacking them, as two TBD will not hunt on each others territory. Likewise, oasis towns place large fetishes of the creatures in their city centers, with the hope that during a sandstorm, the creature will not strike them and carry of their residents. Because of the TBD's role as a nature spirit of sandstorms, it comes under the supervision of Shonada.
- TBD – A young male spirit with large robes and a cloaked face who sits in an inquisitive posture as if examining someone. He represents the spirit of dreams and premonition responsible for managing what dreams a Vespian while they sleep or rest, and directing their dreams in such a way that they receive a glimpse into the future. Considered wily and unpredictable, Vespians generally seek to please the spirit by providing him gifts of sweets, jewelry, and even displays of nudity so as to remain on his good side and receive positive blessings from him. A TBD cannot place curses upon a Vespian, but he can withhold a blessing or choose not to shield a Vespian from a nightmare or night terror. His fetishes are placed with the bedroom or where a group of Vespians are most likely to rest during the day. As apart of their end of day prayers, the Vespians will pray to the TBD last to ensure that his full attention has been acquired and his protection granted. The spirit is a servant of TBD.
- TBD – A young female spirit with large robes and a cloaked face, sitting in a TBD position and with an inquisitive appearance as if awaiting orders or information. She represents schemes and secrets, and is believed to be a repository of forbidden knowledge granted to her by her patron deity, Zhon. Her fetishes are placed in hidden locations throughout a home, and serves as a "safe-keeper" of knowledge a Vespian may be to ashamed to share with anyone else. A Vespian will enter the hidden location of the fetish, and then tell her all of the secrets they have with the hope that she hides them away from their family, friends, or enemies. TBD are generally described as gossipy, sharing the secrets of their wards with one another and trying to outdo their colleagues by revealing terrifying secrets or damning revelations. However, they will never share this information with anyone other than their sisters and their father Zhon, who as the god of secrets and mysteries knows everything there is to know about all Vespians.
- TBD – A spirit of varying ages and sexes, donned in full vakoranin armor and equipment, who serves as a guardian spirit for all ziggurats, temples, and shrines throughout Vespia. It is the designated guardian for all holy places throughout Vespia, and appears to be in a constant state of vigilance, keeping watch over the grounds it is located upon and the worshipers visiting to pray. The TBD is unique in that unlike the other spirits, these spirits are instead the deceased Vespian warriors who now watch over their living counterparts and prevent the yadavin spirits from harassing their people on the temple grounds. Unlike its fellow guardian spirit the TBD, the TBD is the only spirit permitted the honor of watching over the holy places, as its counterpart is deemed too "unclean" by Zhautan's standards to be present on his hallowed territory. Consequently, these spirits answer directly to Zhautan himself.
- TBD - A tiny and lithe female spirit with the wings of a wasp who travel the physical plane alone or in groups to spy on all manners of life. They are responsible for collecting any information for Yon, the god of justice, for him to use in his never-ending goal of judging the good and the evil in the universe. These tiny spirits are quiet and secretive, and only come out if instructed to do as a part of their mission. They are sometimes identified by their malicious behavior, deliberately causing harm and trouble as they seek to gain Yon's approval by bringing him reports of evil behavior. Such reports are rewarded with gifts and favors from Yon, as catching acts of unrighteousness are paramount to his ability to punish evildoers and correct the faithful from potentially harmful courses of action. TBD are also prone to bouts to envy and jealousy towards their sisters, and constantly brag of their many rewards and accolades from their father with one another. However, Yon is described as having some insight into their antics, but regards their actions as a necessary evil as they are crucial in his goal of punishing far greater evils than anything his daughters do amongst themselves.
- TBD - A young, nude female spirit with long hair and glowing eyes, as well as a glowing white, blue, or yellow body, representing the countless stars in the universe. TBD are the spirits of the stars, and are responsible for governing the actions of the planets under their oversight. They are generally depicted as withdrawn and totally occupied by their responsibilities, ensuring an orderly universe by preventing the celestial bodies from deviating from their assigned courses. Some enjoy interactions with their sisters, while others simply refuse to deal with one another. Rare outbursts of anger caused by displeasure with the behavior of the celestial bodies to obey their commands, or too many objects cluttering their "perfect gardens", are considered responsible for the creation of supernovae and black holes. TBD are considered the daughters of the twin gods; Zhevon, the god of joy and contentment, and Zhevona, the goddess of light and birth.
- TBD - A youthful female water spirit physically similar to a nude teenage Vespian girl with an appearance deemed to be of peak beauty, which resides alongside riverbanks and at the center of oases throughout the desert. They represent the gift of life as presented through the provision of fresh water, and are generous and merciful by nature. Effigies of these spirits are located throughout the country near its water sources and wells, where they are honored with gifts of the water they provide and the food that they nourish with their water. Unlike the majority of Vespian spirits, these water nymphs are naturally peaceful and joyous, and abhor violence as it is against their nature as spirits of life and substance. As such, they are sworn to Zhautan.
- TBD - An older female spirit with a matronly-figured and large bosom, typically clad in robes and carrying an infant or child, representing motherhood and the protection of the young, innocent, and forgotten. Much as a mother will faun over their children in life regardless of their age or distance, these spirits will ensure the motherly love expected in life is carried over into the spiritual plane and beyond. They watch over infants and protect them from harm, and guide the steps of the elderly to ensure they do not fall. In the event that a faithful Vespian dies alone, it is this spirit who will wait with them to offer comfort and companionship as they prepare to leave the mortal world. As such, nearly all warriors will keep on their person a small gift of honey or hibiscus as a sign of appreciation for the matronly care this spirit shows for those who may die alone and forgotten. Likewise, idols of the spirit will be kept in hospitals and the bedrooms of the elderly to ensure that these spirits know where their attention is needed to ensure no child of Zhautan dies alone. They are aligned with TBD as a direct consequence of Akzuna and Jeyana feuding over who should be their master.
- TBD - A gigantic bestial spirit with large claws and teeth and bodies of pure muscle and bone, responsible for the collection of warrior souls and protecting them from the corrupted spirits opposing Zhautan's celestial empire. They remain near battlefields and track down the lost souls of warriors who could not find their way to TBD. Large creatures, they manifest on the battlefield following a battle's conclusion, and proceed to strike down any evil spirits which seek to capture the souls of Vespian warriors who fell in battle. Though terrifying to look upon, they are benevolent to all those who died as faithful servants of Zhautan, and are only to be feared by those beings aligned with Zhanivoyan. They are directly subject to Zhon and Zhona due to their tasks in securing the souls of Vespian warriors.
- Yazurayanu – Known as the "Day of Skins", Vespian priests adorn themselves with the skin of those who have been sacrificed for one month, and plead for the blessing and forgiveness of the gods. Akzuna, Emana, and Ovani are main deities invoked during the festival with the aim of securing their aid. Skins are removed at the end of the month, signifying a renewal of the people's relationship with the gods, and the cleansing of the flesh as the decayed remnants of the skin are removed. The skin also represented the renewal of the earth and its vegetation as putting on the skin reflected the new crops, and removing the decayed flesh reflected the removal of the old and decayed crops.
- TBD – Captives are tortured, flayed, and smoked by the priests, and feed to the public as gifts and charms of goodwill. It is believed that by consuming the flesh of the captives, the Vespians are consuming the cleansed energies of their opponents. This permits them the ability to carry out sacred duties where they will in turn impart that spiritual energy on to their gods, who store it in preparation for the great war against Zhanivoyan, and the vast evil and corrosion it seeks to spread across all of universal creation.
- Yamekinoku – Known as the "Ashes of Youth", the children of slaves are immolated as offerings to Zhona, as thanksgiving for preventing miscarriages and deformities. It is believed that by offering the children of other peoples and nations, Zhona will turn her anger away from the Vespians and their failures to met her high standards, and striking down their offspring. The burnt flesh of children satiates Zhona for a time, and acts as a form of incense that keeps her in a pleased mood toward the Vespians, much in the same manner a person gives a person a gift as a way of asking for forgiveness for a great sin.
- Ta'Shokon No-Zaka – Known as the "Great Lake of Blood", a massive pool of blood created from slaves, captives, and criminals as a drink offering to the gods, and a spiritual bath for the Vespians. It is considered the single greatest and holiest festival of the Zheannic faith, and lasts for nearly a week as thousands of captives are bleed into a vast artificial basin in the holy city of Ravaza. The sacrifices represent the offering of a payment to the great blood debt incurred by the Vespians during the creation of life by Zhautan. As the whole universe was created from his blood, no offering is ever great enough to pay it back, and thus the Vespians provide their latest "payment" in the form of a great lake of blood from the opponents of their god. Vespians bath in the blood as a sign of submission to Zhautan's authority, and a reminder of their eternal obligation to ensure Zhautan is paid what he is owed. Ta'Shokon No-Zaka is performed once every decade, and requires the sacrifice of some 300,000 victims alone just to fill the 500,000-gallon capacity of the Great Crimson Basin in Ravaza for the festival. Because of the vast manpower required for the sacrifices and to handle the slaves, a black harvest is always anticipated before each sacrifice, and tens of thousands of priests, warriors, and slaves are sent to Ravaza to assist with the preparations for the event. Once the festival has been performed, at the end of the week, the blood is drained from the basin using drainage mechanisms installed at the bottom of the pool, which transfers the blood to an underground site to decay away from the city's population.
- Zhudoka – Known as the "Black Hunt", slaves released into the wild by the Vespians, and ritually hunted by the Vespians. They are later sacrificed on top of the yazanin throughout Vespia. The hunt represents the great effort the gods put forth to control the great evils that attempt to escape into the physical realm and wreak havoc throughout all creation. By performing the act of hunting those who would waste no effort in harming fellow Vespians, the participants understand first hand the difficulty of controlling and eradicating harmful elements the gods go through for untold millennia for their creations.
- TBD – Massive orgy held following the torture of thousands of slaves in the name of Voyana. Takes place during the evening; considered especially fortuitous for newlyweds. Children conceived on this day are considered especially blessed, and are often given gifts of good-luck and fertility totems. The night is a festival of celebrations in honor of the gods, who blessed the Vespians with lust, happiness, and strength, as well as the ability to fulfill their deepest desires. Furthermore, in the manner that Zhautan, the personification of life, gave birth to all life, the Vespians believe it their duty to sacrifice thousands of lives to repay that gift of life. The festival night is considered an grand act of tajivasho, or "holy entertainment" for the gods, and is held twice a year during the flooding of the Zhona River, beginning in the city of Ankashun. According to religious tradition, Akzuna, Emana, Jivadena, Voyana, Zhevon, and Rodan, held a great orgy at the source of the Zhona, where modern-day Ankashun is located. So great was the orgy's size and endurance, that the region overflowed with sweat and semen, leading to the formation of the Zhona River. The Vespians believe that each inundation of the Zhona is linked to the regular orgies of the gods at the source of the river.
- TBD – Warriors present enemy combatants before the priests who invoke the name of Varshan, the God of War, before beating them to death as a punishment for raising the sword in defiance to the will of Zhautan. As the Vespians view enemy combatants as agents of Zhanivoyan, the malevolent entity of Vespian religion regarded as the absolute embodiment of evil and corruption, beating such individuals to death is considered a righteous act that brings honor to Varshan as the chief warrior of his father's divine army. The beating is also considered a form of cleansing for the captive, as it is performed by warriors who are deemed holy representatives of Zhautan, and have the means to "save" the captive from eternal obliteration in the afterlife. Though they will never hold the same status as a Vespian, they have the "honor" of being cleansed by the warriors and permitted to serve as war-thralls during the coming great war against their former master, Zhanivoyan.
- TBD – Gladiatorial games representing the creation of the universe held; slaves representing the forces of Zhanivoyan, and warriors the forces of Zhautan. The games begin with a warrior representing Zhautan, dueling with a slave who represents Zhanivoyan. The warrior is personally selected by the Tazen for the honor, while the slave is selected from among the most capable members of the slave population. The slave is painted white, which signifies evil and corruption in Vespian culture and religion, and given a club to signify to blunt and brutal actions and behavior of Zhanivoyan's misguided or otherwise foolishly loyal servants. The sacrificial victim isn't expected to win, nor is the Vespian warrior allowed to lose, and both fight for as long as both have the strength to continue. More and more warriors will join the initial warrior until the victim is slain, and seen to symbolize the unrelenting nature of the Vespian people in the face of evil, with their nation willing to continue fighting regardless of the circumstances. Once the victim is slain, their body is burned on a pyre and the smoke offering given in the name of Zhautan for his protection of Vespia and the Vespian race. Once the sacrifice is finished, groups of slaves will be pitted against one another for the entertainment of the audience, while warriors may join to show off their martial skills and increase the number of fighters in the arena. The games will run for about a week, at which the ionakin will call the Vespians to prayer to end the celebrations.
- TBD – Priests of a community sacrifice a young male adult or adolescent, typically between the ages of 13-24, so as to bring about a lush, and bountiful new year. Unlike the other human sacrifices in Vespia, the victim is of Vespian birth, and not always a criminal or outcast, and the sacrifice itself is not considered a punishment, but a great honor as the individual has been handpicked by Zhautan himself to join him by his side as a unique warrior of god. The individual is rarely from the higher classes of the population, but not always from the lower classes; most of the men sacrificed hail from the middle-class population. This individual is granted any reasonable request prior to their sacrifice, and typically has a harem of women provided for entertainment, any choice of foods he desires, and a luxurious room to remain for the final week of his life. The sacrificial victim willingly leads himself to the top of a yazan under escort where he is to die, and is given a concoction of drugs to put him under prior to his death so as to prevent the on-sight of fear or panic in the final moments of his life. His death begins the new year in Vespia, and the start of the TBD, where 365 captives are to be sacrificed for each day of the new year.
- Voyashodeka – Known as the "Tears of Fertility", nearly a thousand children are subjected to great amounts of physical pain to induce crying. Their tears are collected by the ionakin and then showered upon an statue of Shonada, the goddess of storms, floods, and earthquakes, with the hope of receiving good rains and an abundant harvest, as well as keeping the many oases of Vespia well-watered and prosperous. The children are later burnt alive as an offering of smoke incense to the goddess, with the hope that it will please her and prevent her from striking the land with earthquakes. The flesh of the children is served to the communities where the sacrifices take place, and a period of celebration for a good festival held for a single day. All of the children are taken from members of the slave population, and are selected from among those between the ages of three and nine.
- Yazura No-Kayuniva – Known as the "Day of Joyous Life", the entire day is devoted to song, dance, and celebrations in honor of Zhevon, Jivadena, and Rodan, collectively known as the "Gods of Joy". Vespians throughout the empire fill the streets and join in celebrations, feasts, dancing, and revelries, spending their time with one another and ignoring any other task. Officially, no work may be performed during Yazura No-Kayuniva, and all Vespians are required to pass aside their personal feelings for one another and spend their time doing something which makes them happy. The entire purpose of the festival is to bring the Vespians together and remind them of all the blessings provided to them by their gods on their behalf, as well as to remember the peace and prosperity they possess as a nation. Vespians conceived on this day are given names which represent joy, peace, love, and prosperity. The festival is considered an act of tajivasho, or "holy entertainment" for the gods.
- Yazura No-Iduya – Known as the "Day of Mourning", this festival is a nation-wide mourning period for all of the Vespians who died in the course of their lives furthering the goals of Zhautan and the Tavina in purifying the universe for all material and immaterial creation. No feasts are held, no celebrations or dances are performed, and no work may take place, with nothing but mourning songs sung throughout Vespia and the diaspora community across the globe. A dual sacrifice is performed; one for Zhautan, the god of life and creation, and a second for Zhona, the goddess of death and mourning. The sacrifice represents the Vespians inviting the two gods to mourn with the Vespians the deaths of all Zhautan's faithful servants who sought to ensure that the universe was safe for future generations of Vespians, as well as to carry the messages of well-being from the living Vespians to their deceased brothers, sisters, and ancestors in Takiyavin, the afterlife where the living seek to one day rejoin their loved ones in death.
Icons and paraphernalia
- TBD - TBD, or "luck charms", are common items found throughout Vespian society, often used by Vespians to attract the favor of their gods. They come in various shapes and sizes, and cover a multitude of topics and events depending on the individual and caste utilizing them. Due to the deeply superstitious nature of the Vespians, many variants of these charms exist for nearly all occasions, and Vespians take seriously the rules and regulations involving the usage of such items. Failures to display the proper respect and etiquette revolving around TBD often carries stiff punishment for the offender.
- TBD - TBD are stiff, perforated slates which can be broken into small square chips that are traditional scattered to invite good luck and the favor of the tavina or their minor savina servants. Each chip is stamped with the holy icon of the takon which produced the slate, or with the vak of the tavina whose attention an adherent wishes to obtain. TBD are never scattered within an enclosed area, but rather in the desert, in the river, or within a city square known as the uka. Any Vespian regardless of caste may utilize TBD for their personal worship, and are primarily scattered during major festivals throughout Vespia, or during funerals and weddings. TBD come in multiple colors, though the most common colors are red representing a sacred blood offering to feed and host the minor spirits of immaterial realm, and black for purity and the cleansing of the area to better invite the attention of the gods.
- TBD - TBD are wafers that are traditionally used for the purpose of attracting the favor of the gods regardless of the circumstances of a given day. Unlike the rest of the charms and tokens used by the Vespians, TBD are edible and believed to ward off illness and evil spirits. They come in a variety of colors which indicate their intended usage. Examples include blue wafers are placed in the water and identified as attracting the favor of Shonada, red wafers are crushed and scattered over the soil to attracted the favor of Varshan before battle, while purple wafers are consumed to ward off illness and obtain the protection of Emana during bouts of fever. Other such wafers include grey or black TBD which are consumed or buried during funerals to obtain the favor of the Zhona, the goddess of death, to protect the mourners and the soul of the deceased as they head into the afterlife.
- TBD - TBD are tag-like emblems hung from items of clothing, furniture, or buildings to invite the favor of the tavina upon the bearer and their possessions. They are most commonly worn on the body, and inscribed with requests for protection or overall favor from the gods of Vespia. TBD come in large and small sizes, with the size indicating the extent to which a wish is desired by the Vespian. Small charms are often placed on items of clothing belonging to children before they leave the home, or upon the weapons and armor of warriors heading into battle. Larger charms carry more power in the eyes of the gods, and are inscribed with phrases ranging from the vague to the very detailed, indicating what wish a Vespian desires to be answered for that day, month, or year.
- TBD - TBD are spell-swatches used solely by the ionakin to confer blessings upon the faithful, or to place curses upon a person or group of people. They come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, and colors, all representing an equally wide range of blessings and curses known only to the ionakin and a few select Vespians privy to their secrets. Vespians can purchase them from temples and request from the priesthood that they be used for the act of obtaining a blessing from the tavina. Misusing a TBD, or even worse, attempting to curse a fellow Vespian with one, is taken so seriously as to be grounds for capital punishment under Vespian law.
- TBD - TBD are charms used by the Vespians to communicate wishes they desire to be fulfilled by their gods. A Vespian may express their most deeply held desires into such charms, and then burn them at their home shrines to pass their wishes on to the tavina. The Vespians believe that obtaining the TBD of other Vespians magnifies the scale of their wishes, as each TBD counts as a separate yet shared prayer for the same wish in the eyes of the gods if burnt together. As such, multiple charms are often collected by groups of ionakin or regular Vespians for the purpose obtaining a blessing for a shared desire. It is common to see takonin set fire to thousands or even tens of thousands of TBD following natural disasters, wars, major political events, or less serious matters such as weddings, funerals, and festivals.
- TBD - TBD are paper flowers that are used in festivals honoring the Trinity of Delight, consisting of the tavina Zhevon, Rodan, and Jivadena. The blue flowers represent Zhevon, green flowers represent Rodan, and red flowers represent Jivadena. Hundreds of thousands of them are produced prior to major festive occasions, and thrown about during celebrations by the Vespian participants, who often carry dozens of them on their person during such events. The TBD are collected at the end of a festival and ritually burned by the ionakin to dispose of them in a respectful manner.
- TBD - TBD, meaning "bless(ing) staff", is a common item held by all members of the ovikazhan priestly division. It is considered a major sin for ionakin not belonging to that division of their caste to handle such an item, and a grievous sin for any non-ionakin Vespian to come into contact with one if not in the process of receiving a blessing. Such a staff is made from ebony wood, and engraved with the secret commission of Shovik, the god of messages, allowing the ovikazhanin to convey blessings from the tavina upon Vespian worshipers in their behalf.
- Vyadova - A vyadova is a black, vertical gem-insert permanently affixed to the forehead of a Vespian woman, indicating her status as a married individual. The gem itself represents the third eye of Jeyana, the goddess of romance and family. Her third eye is said within mythology to be capable of seeing into heart of an individual and discerning their most deeply-held thoughts and desires. It is believed that the heart rather than the mind is what truly determines a person's actions, as the more emotive heart directs of its bearer more so than logical cousin the mind. As such, every Vespian woman has a vyadova affixed to their forehead in honor and submission to Jeyana, which the Vespians regard as a symbol of love. The gem is buried into the forehead of the woman, and a gold insert built around it and glued into place by a substance produced by the ionakin which combats infection and causes the gold and the gem to permanently attach to the skull of the bearer.
Zheaniism begins with the actions of the eternal deity known as Zhautan, the creator of the universe and all life within it. Zhautan created the universe to serve as source of personal recreation, akin to a garden that he would maintain solely for his own pleasure. Consequently, the universe is referred to as the Eruzhautak, or "the meadow of Zhautan", in Zheaniic texts and Vespian literature. Many eons after the universe's creation, the physical and spiritual realm Zhautan presided over was breached by the entity known as Zhanivoyan, the purest embodiment of every evil and atrocity possible within creation. Zhautan fought the entity off after several years of struggle, and banished the creature to the realm outside of existence where the monster had originated from. Though he had been victorious, Zhautan witnessed the vast destructive and corroding influence the being had wrought throughout his realms, and was equally aware of the fact that entity would return in the future seeking revenge.
So as to prevent this from taking place, and to combat the forces of corruption within the spiritual and physical realms, Zhautan set forth creating the forces he would need to protect his creations from the malevolent entity. Using his blood as the medium, Zhautan created the Vespians, who were to serve as his physical sentries and protectors of all physical creation. The first of these individuals would be Veskan, who would father twelve sons, who in turn would become fathers to the rest of the Vespian people. However, due to the corrosion of all creation by the Zhanivoyan, many of the first Vespians created by Zhautan turned out to be crippled and barbaric versions of his envisioned warriors. These individuals were not destroyed by Zhautan, who saw a purpose for them in his greater plans for the universe and its survival, and he allowed them to live and go on to become the ancestors to the rest of the human species. The Vespians, however, would be his special and chosen people, the people on who's behalf he would intervene so as to ensure their prosperity and overall function to serve as the guardians of physical creation.
Within the spiritual realm, where Zhautan himself resided, he would fashion for his own domain divine offspring who would not only serve at his side as fellow warriors, but also as guardians and overseers for the Vespian people. These deities, known as the Kovinan, would hold dominion over a particular aspect of human behavior, emotion, and concepts, which would serve as a source of power for the entities themselves, strengthening them for the battle that was to come with the Zhanivoyan. The first kovina would be Ionoko, the god of wisdom, who Zhautan assigned to guide the Vespians in his ways and ensure their ability to organize as a civilization. The second kovina was Akzuna, who would be responsible for ensuring good harvests for the Vespians. Third and forth were Varshan and Vakon, who would train the Vespians in the ways of war and hunting to survive in the world. Fifth were the twin deities Zhon and Zhona, who would prepare for the inevitability of dark and darkness. The cycle of deity creation would continue until twenty-three gods had either be created by Zhautan or born to his children.
- Zheaniism is a quasi-monotheistic, polytheistic religion that worships a single all-powerful deity known as Zhautan, the creator of all life in the universe, and his twenty-two divine offspring known as the Ta'Vina.
- The physical and immaterial halves of the universe collectively make up Tazoniyen, or the "Universal Heart", which itself sits within Tazokira, or the "Universal Shell". If one were to look at it conceptually, Tazokira would appear as a spherical pearl with all of creation sitting within it as a snowglobe of sorts.
- Beyond the two lays Zhanivoyan, the "White Horror and Infinite Beast of the Void", which seeks to corrupt and consume all of creation at all planes of existence. It's evil is simply beyond the comprehension of both humans, non-humans, and spirit beings, so much so that it's motivations defy the capacity of Zhautan himself to understand. Zhanivoyan does not sit within or between the infinite void beyond the Tazokira, as Zhanivoyan is the infinite void.
- Zhanivoyan is "wrapped" around the shell protecting the universal heart and all of existence as we know it, and is actively attempting to "crack" the shell open, using his corrupting and corrosive influences on life within the shell to create fractures it can seep into. When a region of creation is corrupted thoroughly enough, Zhanivoyan can reach within and devastate entire zones of creation, snuffing out life and existence within an instant. The Vespians believe the "Great Void" (the Boötes void to us normies) to have suffered a catastrophe caused by Zhanivoyan entering that region.
- The Tazokira was created by Zhautan following his great duel with Zhanivoyan, in which the beast retreated to heal from its wounds, allowing Zhautan to create the shell and expand it as Zhanivoyan lost ground to him. The Ta'Vina were created shortly thereafter as guardians to help aid their father while he himself recovered from the encounter, and prepare for a final battle with the beast.
- Humanity was created by Zhautan to aid in spreading throughout creation and destroying all instances of Zhanivoyan's influence, and securing the physical plane of existence for Zhautan. However, as he was creating humanity, Zhautan's wounds caused by the horror were corrupted and allowing Zhanivoyan to directly impair Zhautan's attempts at creating life. Consequently, only a handful of the humans made by Zhautan emerged from the experience untouched by Zhanivoyan. These were the ancestors to the Vespians.
- The Vespians were gathered at a single location so as to ensure the marshaling of resources was not wasted in a now dangerous universe, and that the purification of all creation had a central location from which to be directed and spread. As a direct result, this is why the Vespians are as brutal as they are in life; they are preparing for a universal campaign that will last for eons and requiring a hardened people to fill the armies that will save all of creation from destruction by a horrifying beast that cannot be reasoned with.
Zhanivoyan, commonly known by the titles of the "White Horror", "Infinite Beast of the Void", the "Terror Beyond the Veil", and the "Anti-Life", is a massive beast which exists outside of the physical and immaterial realms of creation, outside of all known dimensions of space-time, within a state of being that can only be described as "non-existence". Zhanivoyan is a creature so incomprehensible in its insatiable hunger, that it baffles the minds of men and gods alike, and its mere existence a mockery of the material and spiritual realms of the universe. It has no other motivations, strikes no deals, interacts with no agents or servants, and has no direct interaction with any beings within the universe outside of its devouring of creation. It exists outside of the concepts of good and evil, as it simply "is". Within Vespian mythology, Zhanivoyan is the Anti-Life, the opposite of creation, and is absolutely incapable of co-existing with anything remotely affiliated with life. In orientation, Zhanivoyan is effectively "coiled" around the known universe, constantly attempting to breach the shell that holds all of the material and spiritual creations. Of note is that while the Vespians have consistently depicted Zhanivoyan as a creature wrapped around the a spherical universe, in the same manner that the universe is effectively "infinite" is scale, Zhanivoyan residing outside of all dimensions of existence is itself massive beyond all measurement, infinite in every manner conceivable.
- TBD – The Tavina instruct the Vespian warrior, Vezudar, to hunt down the evil spirit TBD, and execute him for stealing from Zhautan and attempting to side with Zhanivoyan to increase his power in the physical plane. Vezudar travels into the TBD in far eastern Vespia, where he encounters various monsters, tribes, and heroes during his travels. The timeline of the epic spans a period of eight years, with Vezudar departing from his home city of TBD with a hundred fellow warriors, and ending with his return to his homeland and service to the newly enthroned Tazen, TBD.
- Vezudar – Vezudar was the protagonist of the epic, serving as the traveling warrior of the gods and executing their will on Sabel. He was charged with the pursuit and execution of the evil spirit TBD, who was found to have stolen a crucially important item from Zhautan, and was actively attempting to hand it over to one of the servants of Zhanivoyan.
- TBD – TBD
- Okiyana – Okiyana was a warrior from the city of TBD, who received her own mission from the Tavina instructing her to liberate the stolen spirits of dead children from the human-spider hybrid, TBD. She joined Vezudar and his band of warriors for a time, assisting him in his own travels in return for assistance hunting down TBD. The two warriors developed a relationship over the course of their journey, though Vezudar refused to pursue further romantic interactions with her to focus on his divine mission. Once the creature had been located, Okiyana split from Vezudar and killed the monster, ultimately returning to her home victorious and ending her own story within the epic.
- TBD – Man-eating giant who active hunts members of Vezudar's warrior band after one the warriors, Izeyata, skins TBD's newborn child as a trophy to present to the Kovak of TBD. TBD is slain by Vezudar by tricking him into chasing the band into a desert valley, where several of the warriors break his legs and crush him to death under the weight of a border from the cliffs. Other members of TBD's tribe attempt to average their comrade, but are ultimately wiped out as a people by Tazen TBD near the end of the epic. TBD is best known for his quick wits and cunning intelligence, both of which were hampered by his arrogance and uncontrollable rage, allowing him to be outsmarted by his enemies, and slain in the valley as a consequence of his own foolishness.
- TBD – A female human-spider hybrid who fought against the warrior Okiyana in the land of TBD, after being hunted to her nest and feeding lands. TBD stole the spirits of miscarried children, preventing them from entering into the realm of Zhona to spend their afterlife. Okiyana received instructions to slay the monster, and joined with Vezudar's party to further her own mission. TBD would be slain in a battle between herself and Okiyana, freeing all of the spirits of the miscarried offspring and granting them entrance into the afterlife. She was identified by her six legs with sharp talons at the ends of them, and multiple vaginas which were used to spray caustic acid and webs at her prey. She likewise had a head with two faces, one on the front and another on the back, allowing her to see in both directions with ease.
- Zhautan fought Zhanivoyan for the purpose of preventing the corruption and corrosion of the spiritual and physical realms of creation. Much like an infection, once the influence of Zhanivoyan spread throughout all of existence it was without any hope of redemption, and would ultimately result in the death of all creation.
- The Vespians were created to serve as the physical manifestation of Zhautan's efforts to remove the corruption of Zhanivoyan from the material half of existence, while he and the tavina led the effort to cleanse the immaterial portion of existence.
- Sacrifices to the tavina serve to help sustain them in the immaterial half of existence, as they too require sustenance to survive. These offerings are known as takimana, meaning "holy tithing", are provided to the Vespian deities by the Vespians via a series of sacrifices originating from different sources depending on the purpose of the offering.
- Blood − Zhautan used his blood to create all life, and as such, all life requires blood to live. Because of this, the tavina require blood to continue on with their efforts to support their armies and those of the Vespians through various blessings and interventions on their behalf. Without blood sacrifices, the tavina cannot sustain themselves or their wards, and would be quickly overtaken by Zhanivoyan in the endless battles raging in the spiritual realm. Most Vespians have bowls known as sazaku, with which they offer portions of their own blood during personal worship period, cutting their wrists and letting their blood fill the flat basin of the sazaku to offer it to the tavina.
- Flesh − As the Vespians do, the tavina require food and drink within their own realm, which they and their subordinates enjoy during their periods of rest during their struggles against Zhanivoyan. As with humans, the gods have certain tastes and favorite foods that would derive from them the best blessings. Historically, human flesh was the primary flesh offering given to the tavina, but beyond the borders of Vespia, more and more Vespian communities have taken to offering animal flesh instead for political, demographic, or cultural reasons.
- Incense − Sweet fragrances are burned to obtain the attention of particular tavina prior to a ceremony or major offering by the Vespians. In the same way particular aromas draw the attention of those exposed to such, the gods of Vespia are delighted by particular fragrances which are burned with the goal of attracting their favor before a sacrifice is made in their name. Incense serves to sweeten that sacrifice before an offering, and softens the face of a god before a request is made by the Vespians to obtain a blessing.
- Semen − TBD
- Tears − TBD
- The divine commission to the Vespians to purify creation ends only once Zhanivoyan has been defeated by Zhautan and the tavina for all eternity.
Zheaniism is divided into five schools of thought known as the hunokunin, or "paths of excellence". These schools all agree upon the same basic principle; that Zhautan's divine purpose for the Vespian people is to spread throughout all of physical creation and purify it against the unrelenting assault by Zhanivoyan. All of the hunokunin agree upon the manner in which worship should be carried out, and adherents freely mingle with and respect the views of one another. However, the main point of contention is upon the execution of Zhautan's will. Though Zhautan's direction to purify the universe was explicit, how he wished to have his will carried out was left without explanation. The hunokunin are listed by extremity of their stated mission as follows:
- Shakin – "(True) purity"; Exterminating all non-Vespians and establishing a purely Vespian world free of the influence of heathens to achieve a pure universe.
- Eyazhan – "Freedom (from) impurity"; "Liberating" non-Vespians from the burdens of free moral agency through enslavement to the Vespian people.
- Akikon – "Pure haven"; Establishing bastions of pure worship exclusively for Vespians, and denying Zhanivoyan further regions of creation to corrupt.
- Auzovan – "Delegating knowledge"; Tolerating and educating non-Vespians, as they too were created by Zhautan and must abide by his standards.
- Uvomuzan – "Unity (with) foreigners"; Uniting with non-Vespians so as to better confront and destroy Zhanivoyan, and denying it further vessels to corrupt.
As shown above, the followers of Zheaniism are divided more by their disagreement on how to go about saving creation from the corrosive influences of Zhanivoyan, rather than on any theological disputes. Given the unique universal approach of their religion, the Vespians are more concerned with the manner in which they shall proceed cleansing the universe; some believe they must exterminate all non-Vespians to prevent an organized counterattack on their mission, while others believe they must educate and unite with the non-Vespians to better combat Zhanivoyan. No Vespian would ever deny the legitimacy of one hunokun over another, but determine based on personal opinion which of the five schools of thought was the most realistic and rational to work with.
Due to the nature of Zheaniism, and the historical interactions between the Vespians and non-Vespians of the world, it is commonly believed that Zheaniism is a death cult bound to the concept of exterminating all life on the planet, and establishing a wholly Vespian future for Sabel. However, it is poorly understand that Zheaniism is a living religion that while structured and with a clear goal mind, has divisions based on the execution of divine will rather than a rigid and inflexible adherence to dogma. Throughout Vespian history, the various hunokunin have grown and waned in power and influence, leading to a full spectrum of Vespian culture that has altered the manner in which Vespians viewed and interacted with the rest of the world.
The Shakin school is one of the five hunokunin of Zheaniism. It was founded by the ionakin scholar Sheyava Vajahuk, in line with her puritan views on the subject of Vespian interactions with the rest of the world. It was her legal opinion that all non-Vespians had to be exterminated, as they were "vessels" forever bound to the will of Zhanivoyan, and thus incapable of redemption by the Vespian people. Her students went on to propagate her legal opinions, finding a strong following in the zharukdoms of Mazhun and Ruzhan, the two most violent households of the Vespians, and historically the most expansionist throughout all of the Vespian historical periods.
Shakin is the second-largest school of Zheaniism, and the most radical of the five hunokunin, with approximately 22.5% of all Zheaniists around the world adhere to the teachings of Shakin. It's students believe adamantly that in order to save all of creation from imminent destruction at the maw of Zhanivoyan, they must destroy the means by which it can influence the physical universe. That means they much destroy the non-Vespians held by Zheaniism to be the corrupted manifestations of Zhautan's representatives in the material universe, i.e. the Vespians. While their beliefs are generally accepted as canon by the rest of the Vespian population, most are cautious and fear that an aggressive campaign of genocide against the non-Vespian would be infeasible as of the present date, and thus pursue other methods of accomplishing Zhautan's will.
Members of the Shakin school refuse to interact with non-Vespians, and actively avoid them whenever and wherever possible. Should circumstance dictate they remain in close proximity to non-Vespians, Shakin students will actively form enclaves unto themselves, or cloister themselves off from their neighbors and only interact with fellow Vespians either through regular worship or social media. Because of their hostile view toward all non-Vespians and their introverted and antisocial behavior, Shakin members are the most easily-radicalized adherents of Zheaniism, and consequently the majority of the world's most dangerous terrorist organizations originate from the Shakin hunokun.
Places of worship
List of structures
|Ahoyik||Âhoyīk||Âhoyīk||"sermon podium"||An ahoyik is the space from where an ionak will deliver their sermon within the takuja, or worship hall, of the takon. The ahoyik will typically be placed at the front of the worship hall, where the ionak responsible for the sermon and their aides will gather. The podium is usually adorned with gold or silver gilding, and made from a dark woods to better highlight the speaker and thus the information they are discussing with the audience.|
|Ekovinka||Ekovīnka||Ekovīnka||"traveler's prayer shrine"||Though not commonly found at a takon, an ekovinka may often appear at a minor takon beyond the lands of the Vespians, usually in regions where the Vespians do not maintain a permanent presence, and have yet to consecrate the grounds properly for the foundation of a true vinka.|
|Ionkuma||Īonkuma||Īonkuma||"priestly home (apartment)"||TBD|
|Iosanka||Īosânka||Īosânka||"circle (of) priests"||TBD|
|Iotaju||Īotâju||Īotâju||"priestly holy room"||An iotaju is the administrative office of the chief priest overseeing the operations of a takon.|
|Izhoneduka||Īxonīduka||Īxonīduka||"assembly place of the dead"||An izhoneduka is a consecrated place which functions as a cemetery. Erected for deceased Vespians, an izhoneduka serves as a place for the spirits of those returning to visit the mortal plane to congregate. An izhoneduka is typically located on the grounds of a takon, and generally hosts the cremated remains of thousands of Vespians. Any location consecrated by an ionak may function as an izhoneduka. As the Vespians do not believe in eternal damnation, failing to consecrate the grounds of an izhoneduka simply means that that location is not yet an izhoneduka, and Vespian spirits will not congregate to that location. If no izhoneduka exists, then the spirits of deceased Vespians will simply not visit the mortal plane in that region until one is properly established.|
|Korak||Korâk||Korâk||"center of prayer/contemplation'"||A korak is a Zheaniic monastery which houses members of the ionakin population within, who focus their energies on religious duties, meditation, and contemplation on the will of Zhautan. Korakin vary greatly in size and can be found anywhere in Vespia, as well as the rest of the globe, assuming the non-Vespian states and peoples tolerate their existence within their lands. A korak differs from a zhekara in that while both are religious complexes which house members of the ionakin priesthood on a permanent basis, a korak is generally far smaller in scale, lacks the status as a place of consecrated worship, and generally operates independently from the governance of the zhekarin as a community exclusively for the ionakin. The monks within, known as izhakin, support themselves through handicrafts, trades, sexual services, and advance medical treatments, all of which are provided to the communities in which the korak is located or neighbors. A korak may be established for any number of reasons, ranging from a desire to study a particular esoteric or scientific field, pursue a religious calling, or promote a particular hunokun in their region either inwardly or outwardly. As such izhanic orders have developed within these korakin to pursue said goals, often with the full blessing of the tazens and the ionakin as a whole.|
|Jayuda||Jâyuda||Jâyuda||"holy of holies"||TBD|
|Jivanamu||Jīvânamu||Jīvânamu||"fire-pit"||A jivanamu is a sunken fire pit utilized by the members of the ionakin to symbolize the eternal light and glory of Zhautan, as well as the spiritual armies under the command of the Ta'Vina deities he fathered. Each jivanamu is tended to by a member of the jivanamunin rank within the vinkazhanin priestly division. These ionakin are young members of the priesthood who have been recently inducted into the caste, and are now responsible for what the priesthood deems to be a simple yet important task for the zhekara – maintaining the icon of Zhautan's glory and majesty on the temple grounds. The precise number and appearance of a jivanamun within a zhekara varies greatly, depending on the god being honored, the size of the zhekara, and the number of staff and resources available to that zhekara.|
|Sazaku||Sazâku||Sazâku||"shallow blood bowl"||TBD|
|Takashohon||Tâkašohon||Tâkašohon||"temple reflecting pools"||TBD|
|Takazhu||Tâkâxu||Tâkâxu||"holy water basin"||TBD|
|Takinuka||Tâkīnuka||Tâkīnuka||"temple grounds"||The takinuka is the main space and temple grounds for any religious complex in Vespia. This area is considered sacred as with the complex, and no violence against fellow Vespians or even slaves may take place within the takinuka. Such spaces follow strict guidelines as to their construction, with black gravel or volcanic sand filling all of the space, and dark stone slabs making up the pathways between buildings and prayer locations. A takinuka is constantly maintained by the resident ionakin who live on the grounds, and also administer services to visiting worshipers who request their aid. All grounds within the walled boundaries of a takon not within a room, space, or structure, is automatically considered an integral part of the takinuka. Purposefully desecrating any part of a takinuka is grounds for immediate death, regardless of the individual's status within Vespian society.|
|Tavijuna||Tâvījuna||Tâvījuna||"shelf for fetishes/idols"||TBD|
|Vihomoju||Vīhomoju||Vīhomoju||"shade room"||Vihomojunin serve as the protection from the sweltering heat and light from the desert sun while worshiping at a takon. Referred to as the "sacred awnings" of a takon, vihomojunin line the pathways of takonin throughout Vespia and the Eastern Reaches, and are indispensable in their usage as protection from the heat worshipers in the desert must endure throughout the day while on the takon grounds.|
|Yazan||Yâzan||Yâzan||"sky mountain"||Yazanin are massive ziggurat structures that serve as places of major religious festivals and human sacrifices. Such structures are were, and typically still are, the tallest and largest man-made structures in any Vespian city. Yazanin are the sites where thousands of human and animal sacrifices take place within a Vespian city, and are the only ones equipped to carry out the major human sacrifices required under tayohun law. The adjoining grounds and building complexes for a yazan are generally large enough to constitute an entirely separate and distinct district of a city, home to hundreds or even thousands of ionakin, and tens of thousands of regular visitors from throughout the city. Unlike the much smaller and austere zhekarin, there is only ever one yazan per city within Vespia for those that can afford the cost. Traditionally, the successful construction and staffing of a yazan was the marker of having become a proper city under Vespian law. Today, only cities with a yazan are permitted to qualify for marin status in Vespia, with those lacking such a structure relegated to a subordinate position within the administration of a marin. The only exception to this rule are the so-called "Aynakarin", or "First Cities", where Vespian civilization emerged and prospered. These cities typically have two or three yazanin, or in Ravaza's case–five yazanin–in light of its role as Vespia's holy city.|
|Zhautashoak||Xâutâšoak||Xâutâšoak||"water purification room"||TBD|
|Zhekara||Xekâra||Xekâra||"god's refuge"||The zhekara is the religious complex in which a takon and yazan reside, along with all of the major furnishes necessary for worship within Zheaniism. All ionakin assigned to a zhekara reside on its grounds, living within the priestly apartments built within the premises, resulting in a resident population numbering in the hundreds or even thousands of priests. A zhekara may only be established and designated as such by a high-ranking member of the Onazhanin priestly division, usually a judge (temp.) or more commonly an elder (temp.), who consecrates the foundation of the central takon which shall serve as the nucleus of the complex. According to the Zhantana, a zhekara may only be established if it possesses both a takon (worship hall), block of ionkumanin (priestly apartments), tahuka (sacred avenue), takashohon (gardens), shautashoak (washing rooms), shoamoju (baptismal chambers), and tavijuna (sacred obelisk), the last structure serving to identify the complex as a fully consecrated zhekara in the eyes of Zhautan and the ionakin. There is no upper-limit on the size of a zhekara, with many such as those located in the holy city of Ravaza, spanning dozens of square kilometers of land, and housing tens of thousands of Zheaniic priests and priestesses, as well as acolytes, monks, slaves, animals, and human sacrificial victims.|
All Vespians worship at religious sites known as a takon, or "holy refuge", where services and rituals are carried out by the priesthood.