By the reckoning of the old Imperial Calendar instituted by the Crimson Empire before it splintered and was annihilated by the Dominion of the New Order, the Creator fell in Its great battle with Muolih, the Spreading Darkness, in the year -10,782. That calendar was later replaced by the Epoch of the Creator reckoning (EC) for most of the former Imperial provinces, to comemorate the great religious awakening that came with the founding of the Sepulcher of the Creator.

Tales and histories, as well as surviving artifacts like the Purposeful Blade of Pexate, indicate that in the old days the forces of magic were much more powerful than they later became. Magicians, cantrips, magical artifacts…they are all well-attested for hundreds if not thousands of years. But no one can deny that magicks are rare and valuable in the latter days, and a careful study of history seems to show a gradual weakening, a slow petering out, of magic across the world since the great struggle between the Creator and Muolih.

This lost Age of Magic or Age of Wonders is held to have come to a close with the founding of the Sepulcher, which began to keep exhaustive records on magic and magic-users. While artifacts–like the aforementioned Purposeful Blade–where made after that point, no one has been able to deny that magic has slowly been disappearing from the world.

Many theories have been proposed for this. Chief among them is that the Creator was the font of all magicks and Its death resulted in the power slowly draining from the world as It dreamed in the process of ultimate Reconstitution. When the Creator rises again, renewed and dreaming no longer, the theory states, magic will be restored to the world. Another theory, popular in some circles of the Sepulcher, holds that magic sprang from Muolih, the Spreading Darkness, and that its disappearance is a good thing.

More prosaic suggestions have been put forth. Magic-bearing ores deep in the earth being depleted by heavy use are a popular one, as is the notion that sapients consume magic in the ambient environment and the population explosion since antiquity has left little to work with. Finally, some deniers insist that magic never existed in the first place outside of myth and that all the artifacts exhibiting magickal properties have rational explanations.

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The primary religious faith for humans in the Kingdom of Pexate and other states that were once part of the northern Crimson Empire is the Universal Sepulcher of the Creator, also known as the Universal Sepulcher, the Sepulcher of the Creator, or the Sepulcher of the One. “Sepulcher” is an obsolete word for a lavish tomb, and this reflected the overall belief among adherents that the Creator (whose holy name it was forbidden to speak) had been slain in mortal combat with Muolih, the Destroyer.

According to the most familiar version of the narrative, after crafting the world and its inhabitants, the Creator was challenged for primacy by his one-time right hand, Muolih. Their conflict spilled over into the world at large, and many of the sapients that exist in the world are held to be the result of their battle. Many humans believe, for instance, that goblins and orcs were created by Muolih as shock troops while ascribing elves and dwarves to the Creator to bolster Its ranks. Needless to say, this view is not shared by the sapients in question.

At a final great battle, Muolih and the Creator supposedly slew each other. The Creator was laid to rest in a fabulous tomb–the search for which has incidentally consumed many an adventurer–and Its servants now act in Its name to preserve the world. For, as the stories go, the Creator promised that It would return to life after an aeon of slumber on the eve of the fateful battle. At that time, all rights would be wronged–as they would for those souls who joined the Creator in Its repose.

Conversely, Muolih was consigned to the abyss after its death, but its followers are supposedly constantly seeking to revive it with offerings of souls and wicked deeds. Thus, for the Sepulcher’s faithful, good deeds lead to notice from the Creator’s proxies and eventual redress of wrongs, while bad deeds draw the gaze of the Destroyer’s minions and the possibility of consignment to its abyssal funeral pyre.

In Pexate, as in most of its neighbors, local groups build their own Sepulchers as focuses of worship, either to the dead and dreaming Creator, to Its still-vital intermediaries, or to those noble souls felt to have joined It. Memorials are held regularly, and many choose to take their devotion still further by taking up the life of a monk or friar.

The Sepulcher is regarded with varied feeling by other sapients. Elves often find it convenient to profess belief, especially if they are in high positions, while often remaining secretly devoted to the Eternal Way. Dwarves, whose religion was thrown into turmoil by the fall of the Shattered Isles, converted to the Sepulcher in great numbers though many remain dedicated to their native Twilight Courts of Dvangchi and Qingvnir. Orcs by and large regard the Sepulcher with contempt in favor of their atheist Hamurabash, though there are some converts in larger human cities. Goblins follow the precepts of the Sepulcher but in a unique way, seeing themselves as tainted by their association with Muolih and bereft of leadership and succor but what they provide for themselves.

And it goes without saying that just as the other sapients are not monolithic blocs, neither are humans. While the Sepulcher is the majority faith, the New Order (or often simply the Order) rules unquestioned over many of the southern lands of the Crimson Empire, and the Way of Being is also popular in areas along the great trade routes.

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