Iron Cult of Leng
|Iron Cult of Leng|
|Official religion(s)||Benacian Bassaridianism|
|- The Cereberi||TBA|
|- The Six Teeth||TBA|
|Area||~ TBA sqkm|
|Population||57,700 (38.68 PSSC)|
|National animal||Leng spider|
|National tree||Pan moss|
The Iron Cult of Leng was first formally established in 36.81 PSSC by Normarkian followers of the Stripping Path who - as a result a decree by the Pentheros of the Dozan Bovic Church - were enslaved during the Strait of Haifa Campaign in the extensive iron mines which exist beneath the island of Leng. Originally established with financial support from the government of the Haifo-Pallisican Imperial Trade Union, which channeled funds to the cult through investments in the Foreign Ports of the Stripping Path, the Iron Cult operated in near-complete secrecy in the darkest, hellish depths of the icy arctic island, until the early 38.40's, when the cult was allowed to gradually emerge from the underworld following the large-scale abandonment of Leng by oppressive SANE forces in 38.38.
In the late 40's PSSC, the Iron Cult of Leng fell into a period of chaos and turmoil after an outbreak of plague left the inhabitants of the nation's capital city unable to attend to their duties and rituals which were intended to prevent the escape of the fearsome, demonic entity which inhabits the so-called Black Cathedral. Following the escape of this entity, the inhabitants of Normaria were forced back into the mines which lie beneath the city, where the cult had originally been established. Eventually, however, the demon's wrath became exhausted, and a group of religious leaders - after days of battle - were able to drive it back into the Black Cathedral. Following the re-capture of the demon, the residents of Normaria were able to re-emerge from underground, and to begin tending to the chaos and destruction which had befallen their city.
While the inhabitants of Normaria had been pushed into the city's mines, the Elwynnese Republic expressed their intention to annex the area in order to unite all of Leng under their rule. In response, the Jingdaoese Empire and Alriggian Republic announced a joint military exercise would be held near the city. The Elwynnese launched their own operation, called Fälttåget Norrsken. Meanswhile, the Elw people would be rapidly blamed for the outbreak of plague in Normaria, and would be forcibly expelled from the city. Several notable Elw leaders, who had led the charge to annex the city, were imprisoned and ultimately sacrificed in the mines which run beneath Normaria. Any "Elw" living amongst the Bassarids at this point, the behaviour of their ilk being well attested by this point, only had themselves to blame. It is entirely possible that the victims of the pogrom were those Elfinshi dissidents who had sought sanctuary in Normaria after the occupation of the greater part of Leng by Elwynnese forces after the Kalirion Fracture; which would have made their plea for Elwynnese protection and their subsequent fate at the hands of their erstwhile hosts doubly ironic if true.
The Iron Cult of Leng maintains extensive control of the vast network of iron mines which runs beneath the surface of the frozen island of Leng. It also maintains a formidable, formal presence in the Screaming Mosslands, a region of western Leng which is home a species of giant moss, known as Pan Moss, that has evolved psychic defense mechanisms which render in humans a sense of utter, unspeakable terror or indescribable bliss, depending on the character and nature of the individual who is afflicted. It has been observed that individuals of less desirable natures - murderers, corrupt politicians and businessmen, and slave drivers - tend in the Screaming Mosslands, to experience heightened levels of bliss and euphoria, while those of admirable or decent nature tend to experience greater levels of fear, terror, and desire for death. These psychic effects become more pronounced throughout the course of a lunar year. They, furthermore, are known to reverse during the brief, irregular periods in which the Host Spirit is present in the city of Normaria, so that less desirable people experience greater fear and terror, while more desirable people experience greater bliss and euphoria. The effects of the Pan Moss were in full display when, in the late 40's PSSC, the lands of the Iron Cult were visited by foreign soldiers. The region, with this said, is also home to the fearsome Leng spider, which is the only species known to be immune to the psychic defenses of the region's giant moss. In some parts of the Screaming Mosslands, travelers may also encounter the Obsidian Spires, large conical formations of sentient obsidian which some believe represent an alien race that arrived on Micras aeons before the arrival of humans. It is widely believed that the Obsidian Spires are closely connected to the comings and goings of the Host Spirit to and from the island of Leng.
The capital of the Iron Cult is Normaria. The sky-line of this humble city, which sits surrounded by the dozens of mineshafts which provide access to the vast network of caverns in which the Iron Cult originally formed, is defined by the presence of an ancient, windowless cathedral constructed out of black marble which is the home of a powerful, wicked cosmic entity known only as The Haunter of the Dark. The culture of Normaria heavily reflects the fear and reverence which the people harbor regarding the terrible cosmic entity which resides in the black cathedral that marks the heart of the city.
The culture of the Iron Cult of Leng is defined by a variant of the Bassarid religion which centers around the worship of Dionysus Khthonios, the aspect of Dionysus who resides in the underworld, and who governs the dead. This variant of the Stripping Path differs considerably from the variants found in the southern Strait of Haifa and across the Bassarids, which center around the worship of Dionysus as the god of ritual madness and chaos, and from the Apollonian Bassaridian religion, which highlights Hermes as the primary focus of its worship. In terms of beliefs and practices, the type of beliefs espoused by the members of the Iron Cult of Leng are similar to the practices of the Alperkin worshipers of Tar. With this said, such similarities are mostly general, and are somewhat superficial.
The people of Normaria celebrate two major holidays. The first of these is Ecazdebéibanuzi, a three-day festival which spans the peak of the month-long aurora borealis that occurs at the beginning of every third Summer. During this festival people from across the country to the City of Greens, a small area of ancient forest found not far from the Black Cathedral in the nation's capital city, in order to engage in games, entertainment, to participate in nightly ritual celebrations and feasts. The second of these two festivals occurs during the Blackness, an annual three day period during the peak of winter in which the stars and moon are seen to vanish entirely from the night sky. This festival, known as Ziebevebeíoe centers around human sacrifice of Iron Cult citizens at the foot of the Black Cathedral, and ritual self-mutilation.
The Iron Cult of Leng is an independent nation governed by a High Priestess of the Stripping Path known as the Cereberi, whose powers and responsibilities are in principle similar to those of the Basileusa of Zartosht. The Cereberi is represented in public by a group of six powerful political figures known as The Six Teeth, and by three high priestesses known as The Council of Tongues. The Council of Tongues is known to assemble in a radiant underground chamber, located several miles directly beneath the black cathedral which marks the heart of the city of Normaria.
Despite its political independence, the Iron Cult of Leng is economically dependent upon trade with the Haifo-Pallisican Imperial Trade Union. In 38.68 PSSC the Iron Cult assumed control of the abandoned iron mines of Leng, formally adopting iron as its primary export on the Port of Vines. The Iron Cult is also reliant upon the support of the New Zimian War League. In 40.55 PSSC, the War league called upon a force of roughly 36,000 professional and civilian soldiers, spies, and various special forces, to defend Normaria and western Leng from the potential likelihood of future foreign aggression against the region.
The Iron Cult is represented on the Port of Vines as a constituent member of the Port of the Bassarid Kingdom of New Normark. Key industries in the territory controlled by the Iron Cult of Leng include the extraction and export of iron, and the cultivation and fermentation of the region's native, edible lichens. The Iron Cult of Leng is also a major employer of spies and mercenaries in Keltia - operatives representing the Iron Cult of Leng have historically played a role in all major conflicts in Keltia since the outbreak of the War of Lost Brothers. Iron Cult Operatives operate under the command of the New Zimian War League. Following the expulsion of practitioners of the Stripping Path from Kalgachia, the Iron Cult extended its support to roving Bassarid priests and priestesses in Benacia, who - working with members of the continent's ancient Dionysian cults - helped to establish and develop the religion of Benacian Bassaridianism,