The Hopeful, also known as the Creed of the Hope, the last followers of an ancient religion that has shone since the earliest days in history. Although now that light has faded to a mere glimmer of what it was, the Hopeful still follow that shine and let it be what guides their entire lives. Unfortunately, those who have stared into the light so long are certain to have been blinded by it. A collective madness has settled into the culture of Hope believers which warps their philosophies into harsh extremism. The Hope is a representation of the world’s happiness, everything that makes the world brighter and better. In the eyes of the Hopeful, anything else that goes against that is a darkness which threatens to shroud and consume all the good on Tertia. A darkness that must never be allowed to spread further than fleeting shadows.
Tahtim is the homeland for these Hopeful, a small country founded by scattered followers after their belief was directly attacked by the old gods. The Hopeful act as this nation’s government, thus their beliefs are ingrained into Tahtian society. Moreover, no one contests the punishments that the Hopeful deal, no matter how harsh they might be. The worst of these punishment comes in the form of the blackout prisons, underground confinements where light is never allowed to reach the prisoners. In fact, these prisoners are cursed with a ritual that makes the light burn their skin on exposure, something the Hopeful believe to be a suitable punishment for those who blaspheme against the Hope.
PACT DEALER – APHEN
Aphen, a sudden burst of malicious light who has only served to worsen the controversial practiced performed by the Hopeful. Aphen is a nightmare associated with the Deepest Fear who, upon his attaining of a physical body, was attracted to the greatest source of the paranoia which initially birthed him. Aphen presented himself to the Hopeful as the manifestation of the Hope that they have been long awaiting, come to salvage the world from encroaching darkness. In truth, he is fear of the dark given form and he aims to further feed from the nyctophobia of the Hopeful. His pact is one which amplifies that fear, thus allowing Aphen to draw from his pact-bound before the time of their deaths. Expanding the Deepest Fear’s army doesn’t hurt either.
Aphen convinced the Hopeful of his status through his world-known feat of bathing an island to the south of Tahtim in an eternal light. Within this light not even shadows are cast, it is the perfect holy place for those who believe it sinful to even be out in the dark. He claimed at that time that the old and true gods were both tests to determine those who were not loyal enough to keep following the path lit by the Hope. The island was the first reward for those who did not stray, before Aphen could eradicate darkness from the world completely. The true intention behind this island is it’s use in making the Hopeful even more reliant on the light. So much so that the dark utterly paralyzes them, for Aphen cares not how they feel, only how they fear.
The Majakka is the title given to the person highest in the Creed of the Hope hierarchy. This also makes them the Prime Minister of Tahtim as higher positions within the creed mean more political sway. This governmental role means that the Majakka is the one who represents Tahtim when it comes to matters with the Crobayoran Court of Justice. More importantly, though, the Majakka is the cornerstone of the creed. The religious ceremonies performed by the Majakka, involving readings from the holy texts of the Hope or self-written philosophies regarding things like light and the sun, are attended by every single Hopeful in Tahtim. While smaller religious gatherings are held on a regular basis, the Majakka is who binds them all together and leads the journey towards light.
The Majakka is always chosen from a group of high-ranking Hopeful referred to as the Vescovo. Since a majority of Vescovo hold the same values and political viewpoints, that isn’t what determines who is worthy to be Majakka. Instead, in line with the teachings of the Hope, the Majakka is the one who brings the most happiness to the people. The Hopeful are not a malicious group and its members are very community driven. Every Hopeful is expected to go out and bring smiles and laughter to as many as they can. They want to be a positive force in the world and help people to enjoy the lives they’ve been given. They empathize with how difficult it can be, especially with all that’s happened throughout Tertia’s history.
The current Majakka is called Kaana Vati, an old Magia who once went on a journey to Knuse to learn the ways of performance and entertainment. An innovator in the industry of smiles who always finds fresh ways to bring joy to those who engage with her. Even after becoming the Majakka she still acts more like an entertainer than a politician. This isn’t unusual for the Hopeful, though, even in government positions they refuse to devolve into stuffy ‘professionalism’. They see no reason why the issues that come before them can’t be handled with an outlook of positivity . Every story must have a happy ending in Tahtim and the Majakka is the author who must enforce that rule.
As has been prior mentioned, the Vescovo are high-ranking Hopeful who have done enough good to be recognized as potential successors to the Majakka. Due to the relative smallness of the creed, each settlement in Tahtim has at least one Vescovo around. In essence they’re peacekeepers, charged with making certain that there’s no blasphemous activities going on and assuring that religious gatherings go without incident. Religious buildings of the Hope are referred to by the Hopeful as ‘Beacons’ and the Vescovo are also tasked with overseeing any rituals that go on within them. As an aside, the Majakka resides in the Basilica of Longing, the largest of the Hopefuls’ holy structures which can be found in Tahtim’s capital city; Esperanza.
While they do have the authority to do so, individual Vescovo are recommended not to issue punishments upon sinners. Instead, such cases are to be handled by a council of Vescovo who are specifically dedicated to such matters. Though, since the appearance of Aphen, this council’s decisions have been becoming less and less forgiving. Nowadays anything that’s perceived as bringing darkness or negativity into the world is seen as a grave sin, enough to get someone thrown into the blackout prisons. Notorious arrests have been made, for example an author was put away for writing a story which had ‘too many sad scenes’ in it. People have even been tried for being seen not smiling on days of Beacon gatherings.
One of the more well-known Vescovo is named Valgus, a man who was actually born in a blackout prison. His mother was consigned to the prison about three months into her pregnancy, she begged to not be locked up for the sake of her unborn child but her adultery was not forgiven. She had brought great sadness to her spouse and made the decision to snuff out the light between them. For that, she was locked away and afflicted with Vampirism. Her last moments were spent in a lonely cell, crying from the pain of a birthing she did not survive. Valgus himself was lucky to survive as wardens took notice of his newborn cries just soon enough.
He was lightened as a child who represented the Hope, an unexpected light which shone through a deep darkness. The creed thought that he would burn in the light due to being born from a woman afflicted with the curse but no such harm came to him when he was brought to the surface. The Hopeful saw this as a sign that he was chosen by the light as one who would bring happiness to their people. Having no mother, Valgus was raised by three matrons of the creed who taught him to always smile and find the Hope even in the most hopeless of situations. He rose through the ranks of the creed as he matured, though he always had dreams of seeing the world past the borders of Tahtim.
Hopeful will often go out into the world in search of new lights and to spread happiness to folks from all around. Though, it is also seen as a risk, for outside of the borders is a world which rejected the Hope. Lands of unchecked darkness, full of sinners who might lead a Hopeful away from the light. Valgus did not fear such ideas, going so far as to ask his fellow clergymen if they really believed the light of the Hope was that dim. He set out to experience the Hope in ways that many of the creed had forgotten and, upon his return, he brought back over a thousand new followers to the belief. He had even successfully conjured an Aberration as a light to guide and protect his new congregation.
Valgus was not present in the time that Aphen first appeared to the Hopeful. In truth, Valgus has doubts about this figure, though he dares not speak out for he sees the ways the creed has changed. They were always harsh but they had almost become unwelcoming, as if one great light had made shadows of all others. He visited Aphen’s isle of light in an attempt to dispel his doubt and when he returned something fascinating happened. The light stuck to him as if he had once again been chosen by it. A light gifted directly by the Hope. Valgus was immediately appointed the role of Vescovo and the creed believes he will easily become the next Majakka. What they do not know is that Valgus has yet to be convinced by Aphen, for he senses no happiness in the pact dealer’s light.
The Manifestation of Nadiya
Throughout Tertia as a whole, Aberration are extremely rare entities to the point where it’s debated whether or not they exist at all. They’re elusive to the point that all ‘sightings’ of them become difficult to believe as the proof just isn’t there. They’re insubstantial and seem to blink in and out of existence as they please, making it impossible to definitively identify one. There is, however, one place in the world where Aberration are much more common. To the point that they’re frequently sighted by visitors, staying in their peripheral vision just long enough to become rumors. These are the ghosts of Tahtim, otherwise known as manifestations of key figures from the holy texts of the Hope.
The first of these Aberration to appear, Nadiya, came about due to the strong collective belief in the Hope shared by the Hopeful. This is how Aberration are normally born, as a collective of strong wants, feelings and emotions that are shared across massive gatherings of people. While Nadiya has not the ability to communicate with the Hopeful through speech, the creed managed to figure out that it was their belief which brought her to be. As well as justifying their belief, the appearance of Nadiya led the Hopeful to develop rituals which allowed them to summon further Aberration. Rituals where the key component is not magic or energy but faith. All in an attempt to make the Hope’s guidance more clear to them.
There is a story in one of the holy texts which tells of an age where the light of the sun was rejected and as a result ice spread across and consumed all the world’s land. It was the cost the world paid for its people straying away from the path of light. A world with no warmth and only despair. When it seemed that all the world’s people would die and Tertia would not recover, a baby named Nadiya was born. The baby brought happiness to her mother and father and to the entire community around her. She emitted a warmth, one which melted the ice and saved that community from their fate. Hailed as a savior before she could even walk, and when she could she found reverence wherever she went.
She traveled all the world’s lands, melting the ice and saving the scattered few who had held on so long. She spread hope wherever she went, eventually coming to be known as ‘the radiant’. Her warmth became stronger throughout her journey, to the extent that it could be felt miles away from her. Though it seemed one that touched the center of that warmth would be burned, it remained soft and comfortable no matter how close one got. She even melted the ice from the highest point in the world, at which point she fell into the lake that formed under her and drowned. Her death blessed the lake with an essence of life that would spread throughout all the waters in the world, thus revitalizing all things after an age where it was all thought lost.
She brought Hope back to the world after it had been lost. The Aberration who bares her image emanates an aura fitting of such a figure. She gives off the iconic warmth told of in the story and people find themselves smiling when they catch even a glimpse of her. Life seems to grow faster, healthier around her, though she never goes near the coast. It is implied that her drowning to spread the gift of life was a selfless choice within the text, though it’s understandable that one would not wish to be reminded of such a death. It’s worth noting that some depictions of Nadiya see her as a warrior of warmth who can manifest weapons of flame with which to purify the world’s despair. The Aberration Nadiya reflects this image and is more than willing to burn those who would bring Tertia back to the age of ice.
HIGHEST ACTIVITY AREAS
It should come as no surprise that the Hopeful are most active in Tahtim. In fact, they don’t even have Beacons anywhere else in the world and haven’t since before the rule of the old gods. The Hopeful aren’t completely bound to the country in which they hold influence, though. They’re more than willing to go outside the borders in an effort to bring happiness to people beyond their own. It’s also not particularly lucrative to make your aim ‘bring hope back to the world’ and then refuse to try and introduce hope back to the world. There are more than enough members keeping the local population of Tahtim entertained, anyways. Some may even be trying too hard. Bottom line is, they can be found all over the place but it always comes back to Tahtim.