The Twilight of the Known Worlds
In the new dark age that has beset the Fading Suns universe, religion plays a vital role. The Universal Church of the Celestial Sun is a vast and powerful organization, dedicated to spreading their doctrine across the stars. Some religious sects bear similarities to the churches of medieval Europe, but there are important differences between them. The Universal Church has a story all its own that has contributed to its wide spread influence and its domination as the only “acceptable” faith.
Origins – Zebulon the Prophet
In the time of the First Republic, space exploration was paramount among the interests of mankind. The jumpgates were new discoveries that demanded investigation. One such traveler was a man named Zebulon, traversing the jumpweb seeking answers to the greater mysteries of existence. His quest was answered by the revelation he received on Yathrib—a gift, perhaps, from one of the Empyrean guides. Zebulon was blessed with a vision of the Holy Flame at the heart of all things, gaining insight thereby to the process of creation itself. It was revealed to him that salvation for sentients lay in reaching that realm of Light. He also saw images of the cold, dark realms where demons rule—a warning to beware those insidious entities bent on seizing control of the universe and perverting it toward their own ends.
The Prophet left Yathrib with the knowledge that there was far more to existence than the life and death of the physical body, so dependent on material things for its survival. Passage through life was but one step in the journey. Zebulon saw that Earth’s previous religions had all glimpsed portions of this truth, and surmised that humanity had simply not evolved far enough to comprehend more. Until now. Having reached the stars, humankind had arrived at a critical juncture in their evolution. Zebulon shared his message of hope with the rest of humanity, and thereby made it possible for many of those who heard, and believed, to begin their spiritual journey toward the Light that holds salvation.
The Fading Suns Phenomenon
Everyone is aware of the fading suns phenomenon: the stars themselves are growing dimmer. The Church believes that one’s soul must be placed in order and that through doctrine, enlightenment can be attained. By believing in the Light of the Pancreator and acting with just cause, one can be saved from the darkness that will follow the fading suns.
The powers of the Church come from the Holy Flame, and the heart of this fire resides within the Empyrean. This mythical place of pure light is said to be the source of creation. A universe is created from the Empyrean, and when it dies, it returns there. Similarly, when mortals who believe in the Pancreator’s grace die, their souls pass into the Empyrean to join the light outside of time.
Called “Angels” by the masses, the Empyrian Guides are the intelligences of the Empyrean. These entities are likewise incredibly ancient, refugees of universes that grew cold countless billions of years ago, but they represent the souls that achieved sufficient spiritual enlightenment to transcend the material world and approach the heart of creation. Having shed the limitations of their physical bodies, these beings achieved a form of immortality. Along with it, they acquired wisdom and understanding inaccessible to sentients whose perspective remains constrained by physicality. There are scriptures that support the belief that angels, on occassion, visit the mortal realm to aid the sentients in their quest for enlightenment.
It is said that when a universe dies, not everything is consumed by the Holy Flame. The parts of the universe which are dark are left as such, and these regions become cold, desolate realms void of all light. A Qlippoth is the remnant of a universe and is left behind by time: an endless frozen void.
Doctrine reveals that a Qlippoth is not void of sentience. When the light of the Pancreator leaves a universe, there are mortals who are unwilling or unable to give up their physical existence. These souls are left behind, and though they are stripped of their physical being, their essence remains. These entities, known as demons, exist within the frozen wastes of the Qlippoth, deperately seeking to return to a living universe. Their anger, rage, and hate are trapped with them in the darkness, left to swell over time. Sometimes a demon is able to escape a Qlippoth and travel into a living universe. While it is not known how they accomplish this, they typically need a mortal host or a powerful relic to possess in order to survive. Theurgic rites use the Light of the Pancreator to drive demons out of hiding and back into the depths of the Qlippoth.