Almost all citizens of the Aeoneonatrix Empire practice the same religion, to the extent that non-believers are virtually unheard of, except in cases where an immigrant imports their own religion or a conquered culture retains it, and this is not likely to last long, as there are strong incentives to convert, which strengthen as one stays in the Empire longer.
The religion revolves around an entity called the Cleanser, who is said to be the creator of the Aeoneonatrix, having raised them up from a state of non-sapience. He is said to be dedicated to fighting the evil in the universe and to have created the Aeoneonatrix to act as his agents. He is also said to have written or dictated several books that have been written throughout the Aeoneonatrix’s history.
In particular, the Way of the Cleanser revolves around making contracts with the entity, and consigning him your soul to him, or, if that is more than you are willing to offer, granting him lesser rights to it. The religion teaches that service to a higher entity is a superior way of being, because under his rule, you can and will do vastly more for the good of the universe than if you acted on your own.
Followers are almost always happy with their state, and have no shame in admitting that they are the Cleanser’s property. They are suspicious of those who do not choose to follow the Cleanser, or else another real benevolent god, as they do not see any reason why, other than the desire to do evil, anyone would refuse to follow him.
The Cleanser is said to command the religion’s practitioners in moral behavior, as well as instructing them to pray to him and perform other acts of worship.
In reality, the Cleanser is an ascended being and a member of the League of Patrons, more specifically, the Patron of suffering. Unlike other instances where an immortal has been taken for a god, the consideration is mutual between the religion’s practitioners and the Cleanser, who, like many members of the League of Patrons, considers himself a god.
The symbol for the religion is a fire, referred to as a "Cleansing Fire." It represents the idea of cleansing or purifying a person through suffering.
“I was once evil incarnate, part of the most awful of mortal races. But I was rescued, raised, cleansed. I soon found it prudent to raise a race to sapience, to act as my agents.”
- - The Cleanser
The Religion of the Aeoneonatrix has been with them since their beginning as a sapient species. The Cleanser revealed himself to them immediately after he granted them sapience 99,000 years ago. Immediately after the Aeoneonatrix began selling their souls to the Cleanser in the rite of dedication, there was little conflict between the various family groups, which were now forming themselves into proper tribes.
This did not last long however, after a few generations, non-dedication movements began to spring up. These tended to either die out after a short time or to envelop an entire tribe, so in most tribes, either everyone or no one was dedicated. This trend precipitated as tribes evolved into cities, which evolved into nations much later.
It was during the city stage that the modern Church of the Cleanser was formed, intended to allow further codification of the Aeoneonatrix's religious practices, arrange for more elaborate and powerful rituals to be performed and foster evangelism toward undedicated communities. Little more than this was ever necessary and this structure essentially persists to this day.
The Aeoneonatrix Empire’s religion teaches that the Aeoneonatrix were created by an entity known as “the Cleanser,” who is said to have granted sapience to a group of feral beasts about 20,000 years ago. He is said to have done this because he desired a species that could act as his agents, and hence, he created the Aeoneonatrix to further his own will.
The Cleanser’s will is said to be the good of all sapient life. He is said to be a being dedicated to fighting the forces of evil in this universe and any others. He is, in fact, said to belong to an organization called the “League of Patrons” which is dedicated to such ends. He is said to himself be the Patron of Suffering, and to be able to turn evil mortals into good ones without fully compromising their free will with a process called “cleansing.”
The Cleanser is said to be a god, and hence, a being who it is acceptable to worship. Indeed, he is said to command worship from his followers. In addition, he is said to command a rite called Dedication, in which all Aeoneonatrix, and other followers of the religion, present their souls to the Cleanser as gifts, usually at an extremely young age, making him their rightful owner.
Their holy texts and teachings also contain moral teachings. The ethics of the Aeoneonatrix religion are rather utilitarian in nature, putting preferred results, namely the prosperity of life, over and above moral principles like not killing innocent people, and act that is only said to usually be evil but conceivably justifiable. The same goes with most traditionally immoral acts, such as stealing and kidnapping.
The Aeoneonatrix Religion's concept of good and evil is black and white. While the Aeoneonatrix recognize that some good people are better than others, and some evil people worse than others, they do not accept the prospect that a person, barring those so young or mentally disabled as to be unable to comprehend moral concepts, may genuinely belong to neither group. In defense of this, Aeoneonatrix philosophers cite the Law of the Excluded Middle, arguing that because the word good has been defined in the context of their philosophy, and the word evil has been defined as applying to anyone who is not good, barring the exceptions above, to assert that a person was neither good nor evil would be to assert that the statement that they are good was neither true nor false, which would require it to possess a third truth value, which the Law of the Excluded Middle states simply does not exist.
The Aeoneonatrix believe that when followers of the religion, (specifically, those who have either taken the rite of dedication or granted the Cleanser the right to harvest their soul) and also some others, such as the loved ones of followers or likely future followers, die, they are taken by the Cleanser to a place called the “Great Glowing Sea.” It is said to be an ocean of lava, covering most of his moon. The persons are dropped in, and helplessly ride the currents, all while being tortured by all manner of devices submerged in the lava.
When a person is first dropped in, this is a horrid, torturous experience for them. During this time, they see flashes of their sins, for which they are being punished. They will hate this for a while, but eventually, they will come to the conclusion that they deserve punishment. Once that has happened, they have repented of the sins, and they have received the level of punishment that they deserve, the pain will suddenly be replaced with pleasure.
The actual experiences will not have changed. The person will still be being yanked about by lava, hacked, slashed, and stabbed by knifes, and otherwise put under the grip of numerous torture devices. However, their soul will no longer react to these experiences with pain, but with pleasure. First, the pleasure will be as intense as the pain the experiences would have caused had they happened before, but then, it will become progressively more intense, until it is vastly beyond comprehension.
For people who have done many good works in life, or been of stronger character, the pleasure of the experience will increase faster. For those who did fewer good works, or were of weaker character, it will rise more slowly. A person who merely lived an acceptable life as a factory worker and loving father may take years to gain the pleasure that a person who devoted their life to charity would gain in minutes. In all cases, though, the joy is far beyond what most would ever experience in mortal life, and because it never caps, a soul will reach any given level eventually.
At the same moment the inversion from pain to pleasure takes place, they gain the ability to communicate telepathically with others who have reached the same level, as well as those in all of the league’s afterlives who have completed their respective punishments. They usually do this a lot, having very regular conversations with their loved ones, as well as souls they have met in the afterlife, or known of, but never been able to speak to as mortals. Famous persons are often swamped with attempts at communication, but the Cleanser prevents them from being bothered by this, and prevents anyone from being forced to wait to converse with someone.
To prevent eternity from getting boring, the exact nature of the “torture” varies over time, with devices being switched out. In addition, there are billions of people to telepathically talk to, and the supply of such persons grows faster than anyone could ever go through it.
“I have put much thought into my every command. I have ordered them to do what was needed.”
- - The Cleanser
The Aeoneonatrix religion is not especially restrictive in regards to the everyday lives of the Aeoneonatrix; however, there are still practices it mandates. For example, it demands that followers pray with some regularity, put their children through a rite called dedication, obey any orders the Cleanser gives them and follow the religion’s moral teachings.
Aeoneonatrix usually begin and end each day with a prayer. In contrast to other species, however, they do not have a special tendency to pray before meals. Worship services do exist, and are common, but practitioners are obligated merely to attend them somewhat regularly and are not required to attend any specific one unless they are commanded otherwise.
They also give money to the church, but not out of obligation. In fact, the religious fervor of the Aeoneonatrix is sufficient to ensure that very little encouragement is needed to arrange that the temples have a more money than they need to pay their expenses. The excess is usually donated to charity, or used to improve the quality of the temple and other facilities. As a result, the temples are often absolutely beautiful, and are often used to house events and gatherings unrelated to religion.
The most important mandate of the faith, however, is to always obey any order the Cleanser gives immediately and without question. Orders are not so common as to intrude on the day-to-day operatings of an individuals life, but do regularly influence major life decisions which Cleanserists make. Choices like what career one pursues, who if anyone one marries, who one befriends and where people live are often made by the Cleanser. Though he does make some effort to allow his followers to live their own lives, he finds ensuring that the decisions his people make are the best ones to be far more important. The Cleanser does take into account his follower's wellbeing when selecting orders regarding their lives, so, when he needs to order a follower to do something, he will often choose a follower who will most enjoy or be least annoyed by the activity.
If a follower slacks off in respect to any of these practices, the Cleanser will pester them about it until they rectify the situation. He has also been known to punish his followers for violating the moral teachings, or disobeying him if their actions cause significant real world harm. These punishments almost always take the form of pain of whatever severity deemed appropriate being inflicted on them through direct manipulation of their souls, often accompanied by a hallucination designed to teach them why what they did was wrong. Because of their fanaticism, the Cleanser's followers almost invariably think this punishment is justified and do not seek to resist it.
Because he so tediously controls the actions of almost every person in the Aeoneonatrix Empire, Aeoneonatrix crime rates are extremely low to the point of virtual non-existence and the Empire's citizens are usually guided into living much more comfortable lives than they would otherwise manage for themselves.
“Mortals love to pray. It makes them feel happy, to feel that they are under the guidance and protection of something higher than them.”
- - The Cleanser
Citizens of the Aeoneonatrix Empire usually pray very regularly. Prayer is very personal for them. As a result, it is usually done in private, or in small groups, whether at home or in a temple, and rarely involves rehearsed or memorized prayers. Prayers often include praise, that is, complements and statements of emotional connection. They also often include requests. Requests are usually not petty, as they are submitted with the expectation that they will be directly and visibly filled. They are occasionally granted, but the Cleanser usually has more important things to do. He is more likely to grant a request if he receives it multiple times, or hears it from a greater number of people, because he seeks to provide incentive for regular prayer.
The Cleanser very regularly responds to his follower's prayers by manifesting himself as a voice in their mind. When the Cleanser responds like this, his followers respond back. This often evolves into what Aeoneonatrix Theologins call "Prayerful Conversation."
Prayer in the Aeoneonatrix Empire is similar to prayer in most other religions in its basic elements. The main reasons that the Cleanser spawned and has encouraged the practice are to deepen the Aeoneonatrix’s connection with him, which he believes will help them to be better servants, and because being worshiped strengthens his essence abilities.
The institution of prayer has been effective insofar as it has accomplished its goal of helping the Aeoneonatrix each feel as though they have a more personal relationship with the Cleanser than they would otherwise feel they had.
The Cleanser has also admitted that he feels a deep satisfaction when he is prayed to, and this is also part of the reason he encourages it. The Aeoneonatrix greatly enjoy the prospect of pleasing their master, so this is another great incentive to them.
The Cleanser seems to be able to hear many prayers at once and process them without being distracted. He also seems to receive the information instantly regardless of how far away he is. It has been theorized that he has some sort of special connection with the souls he owns, however it is exceedingly more likely that this is a function of the expanded awareness all ascended beings have.
“I have arranged that they sell their souls to me at the youngest age.”
- - The Cleanser
Dedication is the most important rite in the Aeoneonatrix religion. It is performed by every child as soon as they are old enough to comprehend its nature. More specifically, they must understand the idea of a soul (and that they have one), and the idea of a gift (which requires one to understand the concept of property ownership). This usually occurs by the time the Aeoneonatrix are 4-5 years old. It is also performed by any older converts to the religion.
In the rite, the person is usually taken to the temple, where their families and friends will have gathered. They are given a preset prayer, one of only a few, and asked if they understand it and what saying it entails. If they ask any questions, they will be answered. If they cannot understand the statement and what it entails it is concluded that they are too young to perform the rite. Once they confirm that they do, they will say the prayer aloud.
The prayer states that they surrender ownership of their soul to the Cleanser. Once it is said, they are considered by all parties to be the Cleanser’s property, and it is believed that the Cleanser has the right to do anything he pleases with them. Those who have taken the rite, however, have little to fear so long as they remain on good moral terms with the religion. It should be known that this prayer is all that is strictly necessary to perform the rite, and that the ritual of doing so in a temple is done to give the event increased weight and religious significance in the minds of the Aeoneonatrix.
The purpose of this is said to be that they can now more easily be used by the Cleanser to advance his ends, and be more easily corrected if they fall away from what is considered a moral lifestyle. It has been confirmed that cleansings have been performed on Aeoneonatrix whose souls had been acquired during the rite of dedication.
In theory, the rite is voluntary and the child can refuse it. In practice, the social pressure is so strong as to make it only nominally optional. A person who has refused the rite will be ridiculed and made a social outcast. In addition, undedicated citizens of the Empire cannot vote, hold elected office, serve in the military or be police officers and are given a tax penalty unless they have lived in the Empire for less than six months.
The pressure is not quite as heavy on immigrants, but is still existent, and gets worse and worse as the immigrant has been in the empire for longer and longer. The same legal restrictions also apply to undedicated immigrants.
Rites of Lesser ContractEdit
Those who do not want to take the rite of dedication can also opt for various rites of lesser contract. These are rites which, though they do not grant ownership of your soul, grant the Cleanser lesser rights to it in certain respects. The nature of these contracts can vary wildly, but often, the rights they grant to the Cleanser can include the right to harvest, that is, the right to take your soul to the Cleanser’s afterlife upon your death, the right to Cleanse, that is, the right to perform a Cleansing upon you, with possible restrictions on when and how this can happen, or right to control, that is, the right to control one’s actions by remote manipulation of one's soul.
Both rites of dedication and rights of lesser contract can be done as part of a deal, and one can demand concessions from the Cleanser in exchange for them. In both cases, the Cleanser and his priests are willing to take advantage of a person's desperation to acquire the souls of those with dire needs. In no case, however, does the Cleanser deliberately ensure that one’s deal works out badly for them of malevolence, though he will attempt to get the most he can out of the contract, and he always ensured the final draft has the wording he prefers, which will mean it is designed specifically to suit his ends.
This is not to say, though, that most such deals work out poorly. Most people who ask for deals at a Cleanserist temple will get what they wanted in roughly the way they intended. Most deals are modest, for example, a moderately valuable item or large but not outrageous amount of money. Many people also ask for themselves or loved ones to be healed of terminal illness. Usually, this works out well, in fact, often, the Cleanser will warn a person away from a deal if he foresees it working out badly. Because the rite of dedication is usually taken by children, the most common exchanges are for toys and candy.
Aeoneonatrix often frown upon making a deal as part of the rite of dedication when it is done for personal gain, the belief being that the purpose of the rite ought to be to make oneself more useful as a force for good. As consequence, only a small minority of the dedicated actually made a deal, most of them considering being the property of the Cleanser to be a positive thing by itself and needing no further encouragement.
Even when he does not cleanse the souls he receives, the Cleanser usually exerts certain controls over his followers. While he does not usually control their actions directly, he will alter their dispositions toward him so as to make them willing to obey him, and prevent them from acting against him. This is why all of his followers are so loyal, though this process does not entirely rob them of the ability to disobey or defy him.
Almost all Aeoneonatrix practice the Way of the Cleanser to the fullest extent. Most of the aliens in the Aeoneonatrix Empire also follow the Aeoneonatrix religion, with many being in a desperate state when they arrive as refugees, willing to latch onto anything to help them through their ordeal. Others were successfully pressured into conversion by the Aeoneonatrix's endless evangelism and oppressive policies.
The Church contains many different roles which one may fill, from the laity, which comprise the bulk of the church, to the priests, bishops, and the head of faith. All of these roles include their own set of rights, responsibilities, and privileges. Some of them are open for anyone, and some of them are appointed by other parties.
What all of them have in common is a shared service of the Cleanser. They are all his servants, but are filling different roles as such. Ultimately, they are all agents of the Cleanser’s will and are united under a common master. Some persons in the Church are considered worthy of special praise and honor due to their status, though the Aeoneonatrix’s individualism ensures that this solely the result of the merit that these persons are perceived to have.
The Laity make up the bulk of the Church. A member of the Laity can be considered to simply be anyone who isn’t anything else. As consequence, they are the most common and most diverse of the categories. They live mostly normal lives, but still take time to worship the Cleanser, study his teachings, and sometimes, attend religious gatherings. They usually contribute money to the Church, and at times, volunteer to work for it, but they do not work for it full-time, or if they do, they do so in a non-management role.
Priests in the Cleanser’s church are assigned four tasks. The first is to manage the day to day affairs of their own church, including its rules, policies, events, budget, employment, and maintenance of the church building itself and the objects within it. It is the priest’s job to hire someone to repair damage to the church, to set its schedule, and to ensure that its employees do their jobs correctly.
The second is to conduct or direct certain ceremonies such as the rite of dedication or church services. The third is to act as a sort of salesman, and attempt to encourage people to take the rite of dedication. Though some of their methods, such as providing clear explanations of the benefits of dedication, are pure enough, they also often resort to emotional manipulation. A priest is always careful to remind an undedicated man of the troubles he could wish away by making a deal. The recent increase in undedicated persons in the Aeoneonatrix Empire, and in evangelism outside the empire, has made this duty increasingly central.
To be able to do his job properly, a priest is usually given years of education in theology, psychology (to aid him in his efforts to encourage dedication), and management skills (so he may more effectively manage his church).
Monks are individuals who have chosen to dedicate every moment of their waking lives to the Cleanser and his service. They spend as much of their time as they can in prayer and other acts of worship. They do this because they understand that their prayers increase the Cleanser’s power, and, because they see such an end as desirable, they happily dedicate their lives to it.
They also do much of the work to maintain their own convents, and often, a lead monk manages the convent, though sometimes a local priest does this instead. They also sometimes take over the ceremonial duties of priests. Unlike other religions, Aeoneonatrix monks' lives are not especially restrictive. They are allowed to eat good food and engage in ritualistic sex with other followers of the religion, which is considered a form of worship.
Bishops are persons who have been charged with managing the affairs of large groups of individual churches. Their job is predominately to monitor the priests and discipline them should they act badly or fail to perform their duties properly. Bishops also often help to coordinate large scale events. All of this is in addition to, like priests, being charged with encouraging the undedicated to take the rite of dedication or rites of lesser contract.
Due to the size the church has grown to since the Aeoneonatrix Empire gained spacefaring status, it has been necessary to create tiers of bishops who could act to manage large groups of bishops. As a result only first tier bishops directly manage priests, while second tier bishops manage first tier bishops; third tier bishops manage second tier bishops and so on.
When a new bishop is needed, they are selected from the priests or lower tier bishops who were previously under his command by their own commander. For example, if a new first tier bishop is needed, they are selected from the priests who the previous first tier bishop of the area was responsible for managing by the second tier bishop who had been responsible for managing him. If there is no higher tier bishop to appoint the successor to a given bishop, the Head of Faith will fulfill this role.
Head of FaithEdit
The head of faith is the ultimate leader of the church and the Cleanser’s spokesperson among mortals. This person is usually appointed by the Cleanser nearly from birth and then groomed for his position for his entire childhood and the early parts of his adult life. This distinguishes him from merely being the highest tier bishop, as he has not ascended to the position like bishops do. They are responsible for managing the highest tier bishops, as well as the church as a whole, and for speaking for the Cleanser in certain capacities.
“I am the Patron of Suffering. I will barter for your soul and torture you, and you will kneel down in prayerful thanks.”
- - The Cleanser
The Cleanser is the primary god of the Aeoneonatrix religion. He is said to be the creator of the Aeoneonatrix, having propelled them to sapience to act as his agents. He is also said to be the rightful owner of their souls, because they sell them to him in a rite called dedication. Because of these facts, the Aeoneonatrix believe that their primary role in life is, first and foremost, to be his servants.
Converts from other species also consider this their primary role in life, but for different reasons. Those whose conversion is a result of cleansing serve the Cleanser out of gratitude. Immigrants also often have a great deal of gratitude toward the Cleanser, because most member races are the result of the Aeoneonatrix rescuing or safeguarding their species. Those who were conquered tend to serve out of a sense of higher moral calling, or, if they were previously malevolent, a desire for redemption. This sense may have been instilled with this sense by missionaries or had it inserted into their minds directly by the Cleanser when he acquired their soul. The Necroxi are a special case, as they serve the Cleanser because the Aeoneonatrix are currently filling their master slot and most desire for the Necroxi to serve their own master along with them.
In reality, he is a real being and a member of the League of Patrons. He did in fact raise the Aeoneonatrix to sapience because he felt it would be useful to have a species to use as his agents, rather than merely the few Cleansed persons who had previously worshiped him during the first thousand years after his ascension. Though he did create them primarily because he believed they would be useful to him to achieve his ends, he does genuinely care about them just like he cares about all sapient life.
“Yes, mortal, I DO have a God complex. This is because I ACTUALLY AM A GOD.”
- - The Cleanser
The Cleanser is egotistical, and has a very strong god-complex. He is not at all ashamed of this, believing that he really is a god. He believes that the natural role of mortals is to be subservient to immortals. He also believes that they are generally happier in such a role. He tends to view himself as the morally superior party in all situations, and those who oppose him as evil. He is somewhat possessive of the Aeoneonatrix and his other followers, believing them to be “his mortals” and, as a result, being offended by attempts to remove his control over them. This can result in justified resistance of those who would enslave them.
Though he does see the Aeoneonatrix and his other followers as tools, it would be incorrect to say that he sees them as nothing more than tools. He sees no contradiction between them being tools to be used and people with moral significance.
He is generally benevolent towards mortals in general. He works in general to help prevent mortal suffering and encourage their prosperity. It is evident that he has a deep compassion towards mortals, and sincerely desires to help them at least partially for non-selfish reasons.
He is a Utilitarian, just like his followers. He uses underhanded, manipulative and dirty tactics to get his way. His only true deontological ethic is his unwillingness to mind control or torture souls which do not belong to him. Even then, this is the result of the ethical standards of the League of Patrons. If he were permitted to, he would happily use mind control to make everyone he could loyal to him and single-handedly take charge of everyone's afterlife.
He is also somewhat sadistic in that he seems to enjoy the suffering he causes. He does not believe that he should, however, and sees this as one of his flaws, and it is generally not strong enough to significantly influence his behavior.
“I will take your soul, and torment it. I will put you through countless agonies and trials. I will make you curse the day of your coming into being. I will not do so out of sadism, however, for each pain you feel is carefully crafted, each agony selected with utmost precision, for the end, of cleansing you of your faults, and making you into a better mortal.”
- - The Cleanser
The Cleanser’s primary activity outside of managing the Aeoneonatrix is a process called “cleansing.” The process is performed on mortals selected by the Cleanser as being both in need of and susceptible to cleansing. The goal of the process is to turn a mortal deemed “evil” into a “good” mortal. As a result, candidates are selected based upon which mortals are perceived as evil. The targets of cleansing are usually either aspiring or actual dictators, murderers, conquerors, slavers, or the like.
Once a target is selected, the Cleanser will go near them, and communicate with them by manipulating their souls so as to cause them to experience the qualia associated with their voice. Doing this, he will ask them if he may take them to “his world,” because he has a proposition for them. He will admit if asked, that “his world” is actually merely an illusion he projects into the mortal’s mind.
Once they have agreed to come to his world, the Cleanser will project into their minds the sensory perceptions corresponding to some sort of beach. The time of day on the beach may vary, and may move at varying rates. There have also been reports of the beach not appearing photo-realistic, but more like a cartoon, imitating a style of animation that the subject of the cleansing was familiar with. In addition, there is at least one confirmed instance of the substance upon which the mortal stands in the hallucination not being sand, and several of the body of liquid nearby not being water.
In this illusion, the Cleanser, appearing as a figure floating above the water, though his appearance varies based on what he believes will make the mortal most likely to give him what he wants, will propose a deal to the subject. What he offers will vary, and usually be something that the subject desires greatly, or that the cleanser believes he does. However, the Cleanser will always demand the same thing, the subject’s “soul”, which, given his likely knowledge on the subject, probably is simply how he refers to their essence. He will often continue to plead with them for several minutes, and elaborate on the offer further, or make slight alterations to it, most of which involve him being disallowed from doing things he never wanted to do with it in the first place. If it becomes clear that the subject will not take the deal, he will leave. Usually, though, the subject takes the deal.
Though technically, the Cleanser always meets his end of the deal, there are often tricks in the wording designed to ensure that his ends are not harmed by it. Often, the reason for this is that the result of the deal is different after the cleansing than it would have been before, such as the subject using a large influx of wealth and power for ends the Cleanser desires as opposed to those he does not, or turning down a “chance” to do something that the Cleanser had given them.
If he successfully makes the deal, he then begins transmitting a new illusion to the subject. What this illusion is varies, but invariably, it is a torturous experience designed to alter the person’s behavior such that it is in accord with what the Cleanser wishes. Most often, this is done by placing them in the viewpoints of their perceived victims, for example, a slaver might be forced to experience a life as one of the slaves he captured, or an archetype of such a slave.
The process continues until the subject becomes repentant of their behavior, or, if they had merely aspired to it and not performed it, come to the conclusion that they should not do it. Once this occurs, or shortly afterward, they are made to once again experience the beach, though possibly in a different state or at a different time of day. He will have one more conversation with the Cleanser, who will then reveal his identity. He almost always looks the same as he does in real life in this second conversation, even if he had deviated from this in the first.
After the experience the person is very radically different. They will sometimes seek not only to not do the evil acts they had intended to do, but to prevent others from being harmed by such acts. They usually remain worshipers of the Cleanser for their entire lives, out of gratitude to him, because they perceive him as having helped them see the error of their previous ways.
Creation of the AeoneonatrixEdit
“I took mere beasts and crafted them into my servants.”
- - The Cleanser
About 1,000 years after his ascension, the Cleanser decided to create a race of sapient being to use as his agents. He surveyed the planets relatively close to Arcana and found the Aeoneonatrix. When he found them, they were nearly identical. Bringing them up to a level of sapience required him only to grant them essences and make very slight alterations to their brains. Once this had happened, he presented himself to the Aeoneonatrix as their god, and was able to win their souls very easily.
The fact that he is their creator is only a small part of the reason that they serve him. The primary reason is that they have gone through dedication. It can be said however that a very major part of the reason they go through that rite, at least for the Aeoneonatrix, is because of this perception of the Cleanser as their creator and therefore already their rightful owner in a sense.
As the Empire becomes more populated with non-aeoneonatrix members, the fact of the Cleanser’s creation of the Aeoneonatrix has become significantly less important.
The degree to which any religion other than Cleanserism is practiced in the Aeoneonatrix Empire is negligible. There are, however, a few practitioners of other faiths. First, there are followers of other members of the League of Patrons. Because of the League’s rules against sheep-stealing, the Cleanser is not allowed to attempt to convert such persons, and legal restrictions on the undedicated to not apply to them.
There are also persons who hold to their ancestral religions and worship the gods they followed before becoming Aeoneonatrix citizens. Many of these persons are undedicated, however, a slight majority of them are not. Many polytheistic systems have no trouble integrating the Cleanser into their pantheon, allowing them to synchronize their ancestral religions with Cleanserism. The Cleanser will avoid contradicting these religions until the vast majority of a population is dedicated, admitting to these persons that their gods do not exist, but not forcing them to believe him. The Empire imposes no legal penalty for worship of non-cleanserist gods so long as they are not real and malicious entities, or real entities otherwise opposed to the League.