Two religions are at the forefront of Ferah-saar culture: Sa'haar'syk and Vaelyk'syk. Sa'haar'syk is the newer religion, having come into existence three millennia ago during the Faerwahl Period, while Vaelyk'syk is the older religion, having existed since the Ferah-saar were still confined to the Zyrsitian Highlands. While the two have different mythologies, beliefs, and traditions, both feature the revered Vaelyk-saar Tahr'saar'rihc and state that the Ferah-saar are descended in some way from the Vaelyk-saar.
Sa'haar'syk is the dominant religion of the Ferah-saar, focused on the worship of the Lavaak-sa'haar.
Many different schools of belief exist within Sa'haar'syk, each differing slightly in their interpretations of the Lavaak-sa'haar. Most sects worship a pantheon of six deities, though a minority worship a pantheon of seven. The deities are as follows:
- Zyrsit, the dual-faced god of water and ice, governor of the transition between summer and winter. Leader of the Lavaak-sa'haar. Sometimes split into the deities Zyrsiin and Zynlael.
- Seitziil, the primordial one, keeper of secrets who is always shrouded in darkness. Eldest of the Lavaak-sa'haar.
- Vahrtiis, creator of stars and suns, who brought light into the world.
- Lyvwekr, the shaper of winds and storms, guardian of the sacred peak.
- Faetrihc, the conquerer of earth and flame, defeated rival of Zyrsit.
- Xheiyran, the overseer of life and death, progenitor of the Vaelyk-saar and Ferah-saar. Youngest of the Lavaak-sa'haar.
All adherents to Sa'haar'syk have their own patron deity, which may be chosen by the individual or passed down through their home colony. Each colony has a patron deity, typically based on the location of said colony, and members of the colony will decorate themselves with the items, colors, or sigils associated with that deity. Those who move away from their home colony tend to retain the patron deity of their family, but it's not uncommon for Ferah-saar to change their patron deities over time in accordance to their needs, beliefs, or occupations. The concept of patron deities is so integrated into Ferah-saar society that even non-believers will often have a preferred Lavaak-sa'haar to quickly and easily communicate information about themselves to others.
Worship of the Lavaak-sa'haar mainly happens in temples. Most cities have special buildings or locations dedicated to each of the Lavaak-sa'haar that contains their likeness, one or more shrines, and many blocks of dry ice. Worshippers must enter the shrine room one at a time, carve their wishes onto a block of dry ice, place the block on the shrine, and wait until the block has sublimated before leaving. It is said that the act of sublimation mimics the departure of the Lavaak-sa'haar and allows the wish to be heard by the deities in question, wherever they may be. Each Lavaak-sa'haar once had a grand temple somewhere in their domain where they were purported to live, but their exact locations have all been lost.
"The universe was originally an infinite expanse of chaos, an unconstrained mass of endless possibilities and ever-shifting forms. Within that void existed an amorphous and nameless consciousness, a contradictory being that belonged to the chaos, yet also governed it. The primordial consciousness, in all its capriciousness, dreamed of the first light, and from that dream emerged Vahrtiis, creator of suns and stars. Vahrtiis forced order upon the darkness through the tyranny of light, and in response, the primordial consciousness fashioned an avatar to destroy the being it had willed into existence. The avatar, Seitziil, warred endlessly with Vahrtiis, swallowing stars as fast as Vahrtiis could create them.
From the conflict between light and darkness came heat, cold, and that which connected them both, and so came Faetrihc, Zyrsit, and Lyvwekr. With Faetrihc’s flame, Zyrsit’s ice, and Lywekr’s storms, they banished Seitziil and Vahrtiis to the fringes of the world, ensuring a balance between order and disorder.
In this bubble of stability, the three began to mold the beginnings of a new world. But Zyrsit and Faetrihc disagreed on the direction of this new world, as Zyrsit wished for a world of everlasting ice and Faetrihc wished for a world of endless flames. They asked for Lyvwekr to decide, and when ze would not, Zyrsit enticed zem with a promise of more power. And so Lyvwekr sided with Zyrsit, gained dominion over storms, and plunged the world into winter.
Some part of Zyrsit still held affection for Faetrihc, and so ze weakened zer hold on this for world for short bursts of time, allowing the ice to thaw into water in spring. From the water sprang Xheiyran, and so the concept of life and death came to be. Xheiyran began to fashion many creatures, but many succumbed to death when the water turned back to ice. Only the one known as Tahr’saar’rhic was able to survive Zyrsit’s cyclic freezes and flourish in this world of harsh ice.
Tahr’saar’rihc and ver children, the Vaelyk-saar, soon began to spread throughout the frozen world. They named their creators the Lavaak-sa’haar, for they were greater than any ‘saar. Though the Vaelyk-saar were want for naught, some became arrogant and complacent, thinking themselves to be above the Lavaak-sa’haar that had created them and the world they inhabited. For their insolence, Lyvwekr stripped away their wings and grounded them forever more, and so the Ferah-saar came to be.
Yet this punishment did not humble the Ferah-saar. They demanded their wings back, against the advice of Tahr’saar’rhic, and so the Lavaak-sa’haar withdrew their blessings and hid their presence from the Ferah-saar. The Vaelyk-saar then turned against the Ferah-saar, hunting them with the powers granted to them by the Lavaak-sa'haar.
It is said that when the Ferah-saar finally repent for their sins, the Lavaak-sa’haar will finally walk amongst them once more."
— Laxhaer, "The Six Great Deities"
Vaelyk'syk is the secondary religion of the Ferah-saar, focused on the worship of the Vaelyk-saar.
Those who follow Vaelyk-syk believe that the Vaelyk-saar are powerful nature spirits who are the progenitors of the Ferah-saar. As such, they are divine beings to be feared and respected (and in the modern day, protected from harm). While every Vaelyk-saar is sacred to the adherents of Vaelyk'syk, the important of them all is Tahr'saar'rihc, the First 'Saar. Tahr'saar'rihc is said to have been an enormous Vaelyk-saar whose wings were so large they could darken the skies, and without whom Myr'seros would not exist.
In the pre-modern era, colonies who followed Vaelyk-syk would often enter into a mutualistic relationship known as a "saar-faet" with one or two Vaelyk-saar in the vicinity. Within a saar-faet, the colony would offer up food and shelter to their contracted Vaelyk-saar in exchange for blessings and protection against other 'saar (Vaelyk or Ferah) in the area. Ceremonial exchanges happened each month and usually involved every member in the colony.
Nowadays, only a few colonies, generally on the desolate eastern side of the Zyrsitian Peaks, still have active saar-faets with Vaelyk-saar, as the species is critically endangered. Ceremonies are kept to a bare minimum as to not disturb the remaining individuals further, though food is still provided every month. Contracted colonies are fiercely protective of their local Vaelyk-saar and will bar all non-colony members from their territory during the week of the exchange. Followers of Vaelyk'syk may also participate in virtual ceremonies held twice a month, which goes through all the steps involved in an exchange without having to physically encounter a Vaelyk-saar.
"The world was originally an endless expanse of sea and sky, with no land in sight. The rulers of this flooded world were the Vaelyk-saar, whose wings allowed them to soar far above the water. All other creatures lived in the frigid ocean, for they could not fly. Tahr'saar'rihc, the greatest of the Vaelyk-saar, whose massive wings could black out the sky, felt pity for all the creatures constrained to the water, and so offered ver own back for them to live on. "Creatures of the sea," ve said, voice gravelly like crumbling stone, "If you wish to escape the water, then gather at the surface. I shall land in the ocean, and you may climb onto my back."
Many creatures accepted ver offer, but many also did not. Tahr'saar'rihc waited for them all to gather, and touched down on the icy water. Ve waited patiently for all the creatures to climb on, but as the creatures lacked legs, the procession took much longer than ze had anticipated. As a Vaelyk-saar who had never touched the ocean before, Tahr'saar'rihc was unused to the freezing chill of the ocean and soon fell into a deep slumber. Ice began to accumulate on zer body, hiding zer true form under a veil of white. The creatures upon zer back, who did not realize that Taar'saar'rihc did not intend to fall sleep, continued to flourish and multiply, and soon forgot about the Vaelyk-saar whose back they resided on.
Many eons passed, and the Vaelyk-saar who had been searching for their missing leader finally realized that the icy island that had suddenly appeared one day was actually the body of Tahr'saar'rihc. Thinking that the kind-hearted Tahr'saar'rihc had been tricked, the Vaelyk-saar began to hunt the creatures living on ver back. The former ocean creatures, who had adapted to life on land by growing legs in place of flippers and fur in place of blubber, could no longer escape to the oceans to avoid the angry Vaelyk-saar. Many creatures perished under the assault before Zaevyr'xheiyn, a descendant of the first creature to climb onto Tahr'saar'rihc's back, explained to the Vaelyk-saar that Tahr'saar'rihc had done this of zer own accord. This calmed some the furious Vaelyk-saar, who did not wish to destroy what their leader had given up ver body for. However, others were not so convinced and continued to hunt the creatures of Tahr'saar'rihc's back, in the hopes that eliminating them will free Tahr'saar'rihc from the chill of the oceans.
Great Tahr'saar'rihc's child, Ferah'saar'riin, was saddened by those who would not believe Zaevyr'xheiyn's words. Ve could not stand to see the creatures ver parent had saved be tormented by ver own kind, and so formed a union with Zaevyr'xheiyn. Their children, though wingless, were descendants of great Tahr'saar'rihc, and therefore the rightful stewards of ver sleeping body. The Ferah-saar, as they came to be known, were tolerated by the Vaelyk-saar, as long as they did not allow any desecration of the great 'saar's body. Should they falter in their duties and let the land fall into ruin, the Vaelyk-saar would return to finish what they had started.
— Unknown author, "The Saarsong"