Rituals across the Realms are extensive and varied. Some are rites to royalty or nobility - others to the gods, and still others for magical affinity or power. Some of these rituals are listed here, split by Realm.
Halgian Marriage Rites
The Halgian marriage ritual is where a pre-existing pairbonding is officially recognized by the Empire of Halgia. Firstly, the pairbonded couple must travel to a shrine of Lady Daama; there they will spend an entire day, and ask Daama for her blessing. Often, they will make an offering to her, an item from both parties to represent union. At dawn of the following day, the couple will leave to find a priest or paladin, and schedule a wedding for later in the day.
The ceremony will usually take place near the shrine, or other places in a Halgian city - the celebrations vary in expression and expense, but the ritual remains the same. Most weddings are small, and the couple will only be accompanied by their friends and family. There will typically be a cleric or priest there to witness the couple exchange pairbonding rings, crafted of divine metal some time before the wedding takes place. Once the rings are exchanged, the pairbond marriage has been officially recognized as being wed by the whole of the Halgian Empire.
Heartwoodian Marriage Rites
Influenced by centuries of friendship with the Halgians, the elves of Evylon - centered in the Heartwoodian Forest - have adopted their own rites of marriage, and gifting of pairbonding rings. A pairbonded couple will have two rings, usually identical, crafted by an elven smith - these rings will then be enchanted according to the pair's wishes. Common enchantments include various spells of protection and wards, spells of comfort, guidance, or communication. The more spells layered on a pairbonding ring, the more jaden it will cost.
Elven marriage celebrations often last for several days, held in a variety of venues, usually in forested areas of Evylon. The pairbonded couple are offered gifts and have flowers woven into their hair and placed onto their clothing, differing by day. On the final day, they will go before a priest of Daama, and exchange the enchanted rings. The priest blesses their marriage, and they walk down an aisle of friends and family, who throw petals and leaves into the air as they pass. Afterwards, they will wear their rings until one or the other dies - and even after, the surviving member may keep them in memory of their deceased partner.
Other humanoid species in Evylon may come for the same, or similar, rites, but they do not often happen outside of that particular Realm.
Rituals of the Knightly Orders
When a squire is ready to become a knight, they and their mentor come to the Leader of their Order and petition for a Test. This Test is an advanced assessment run by a council of mages, the dragon Mage, and the current Leader of the Beryl.
The point of the test is to take a knight and put him or her through their greatest fear, placed within a created world where their terrors are made completely real. If their fear is read to be the death of another, that person will generally be asked to be present when they emerge - either in victory or in failure - so that they immediately realize it wasn't real.
The fears read are many, and anything is possible within the created world of a Test. It is crafted with a goal in mind - overcoming one's fear. If a fear cannot be overcome (IE death of self), then the next greatest fear will be used.
If the Test is won, they will be given a certain amount of time to recover, and a date will be scheduled with the Queen (or King) to have a number of newly-Tested squires knighted. As the ceremony begins, the Queen will make a short, celebratory speech; and then call the first to-be knight before her. Generally, this will be approached in alphabetical order.
The knight is then called to kneel and draw his sword, holding it with the hilt presented to the Queen, its sharp point to his heart. Once the Queen bows her head, he recites the following oath:
"Beneath the eyes of the Five, before whom I kneel, I swear to ever be faithful and true to the Code of the Ten. In reciting this code, I will take upon myself the honor and integrity of the Realm; I will protect the weak, stand to the strong, help the helpless, fight with the valiant.
"I will not bring harm to my King and Queen, for they are the pillar upon which my strength is built; I will not befoul the safety of which I am vowed to protect; I will not destroy the trust of the people in which I serve; and I will not break the loyalty of which I pledge.
"Under pain of death, beneath the eyes of the Great Gods, I pledge myself to the honor and protection of Vystriana and all of her people, beneath the Lady verridith. Ayddn'yen'n 'a fae'niel. Anein."
The Queen then replies, "Should your oath be false, the Five will strike you from this room. Do you submit your soul to truth?"
He then says in reply, "I do."
The Queen will then stretch forward and touch her muzzle to the knight's forehead. He will lower his mental barriers and let her see his intentions; if pure, she will draw back and speak the words below* to bind his loyalty completely, and the light within the room momentarily goes dark. This is seen as the acceptance of Time**, and the completion of the Knighting; the knight will rise and sheath his sword, then join the Leader of the Order of the Sword.
From here, they will spend a full year as a Sword, until they are deemed ready to be sorted into one of the other Orders. Very rarely will a knight choose to remain in this Order - there are few who act as mentors to the younger knights, but no more.
* The words are thus: "curai, morra'a estal, sikor v'll'il k'nova 'a'aydaa! Begela'oal'i F'neil 'yael nilth kitool'rel ukes." which means 'darkness, taint and despair, begone from this body and soul! Belong to the Oath you have taken in full.'
** Should Time not accept the ceremony, it will be postponed for that particular to-be knight. Should he fail more than once, he will be banned from the Orders and a further investigation will follow. In some rare cases, the light from the gemstones and torches will grow immensely bright - and then the knight-to-be in question will erupt in white flame, and burn for malicious intent.
Rituals of Yorije
Yorijian dragons are closely governed by the rituals that mark the uniqueness of their breed and country. Many of these rituals are listed here.
Initiation of the Black Guard
At the end of five years with the birth family, a member of the Black Guard is brought to the Isle of Djomwhetta to begin her training. The Initiation is performed upon her arrival.
All current Black Guardians form a ring in the Celestial Room, with the exception of the eldest. That Guardian leads the neophyte to the room, where she kneels before Calypso, who is in the center of the ring. Calypso will bow back, and then close the open space in the ring, leaving the eldest Black Guardian and the neophyte inside.
The neophyte will acquit herself through a brief battle with the eldest Black Guardian. It is expected that she will lose, however, she is not told that winning is unnecessary. It is up to the elder to determine when the battle is over. Blood must be drawn.
Once concluded, the elder will withdraw and Calypso will take her original place. The neophyte will kneel once more, and Calypso will gently touch the wound, covering the crescent mark on her claw. Displaying this tribute to the neophyte, Calypso will then request her loyalty in all things:
"Child of the heaven without stars, mother of the darkness before slumber, mistress to the ocean black with the life of your enemies; swear to me on bended limb your mind, your body, your soul to unleash as I choose."
The neophyte will swear their loyalty, and the Initiation will conclude.
The Mating Ritual
The mating ritual is a mixture of consent and instinct. Once it begins, the female will flee from the male, though not so far as to truly escape. Rather, she leads him through an increasingly elaborate dance through either ocean or air, drawing him closer and then fleeing again. The male is driven to catch her, simplicity against complication. If he succeeds, their long bodies will intertwine, and the pearls of both male and female will be pressed together in their foreclaws. The magic spurred on by this ritual will meld the pearls into one (this is a giddying sensation particularly strong to those not normally gifted with magic). After a time, as the magic siphons the energy from both, they will separate; the result is a single pearl between the pair, which now contains the beginning of a new hatchling.
Pairbonding in Yorije
Pairbonding in Yorije is a simple if profound ritual. The two will journey to the Isle of Djomwhetta, whereupon they will enter the Room of Five. This room is of a pentagonal shape that details the five Families, the five Gods, and four witnesses of the pair's choosing. Each witness will stand by the walls, with the fifth wall - that of Saoyan - being occupied by the pair. There they will pray to Saoyan and make an offering of something they have designed together, which will be left by the wall for the Black Guard to collect and hold for the God should he arrive. They will also present each other with something of their own make and design. There the pair will remain for one full night, from moonrise to moonset, and upon the new dawn will leave pairbonded.
There is no telling what the pair will experience during this time. It is inferred that a powerful connection seizes the two during the moonrise, which reaches its pinnacle at the zenith and slowly dwindles off. Regardless, at the end of the ceremony, the pairbonded will be able to sense when the other is in danger, hurt, or dead. Speaking of what occurred, especially if Saoyan replied to the prayer, is strictly forbidden.
The Ascension is a ritual experienced only by the Daugher of Yorije upon Calypso's death. The Daugher of Yorije will bring Calypso's body to the tallest room on the Isle of Djomwhetta; the Spire. Once there, she will build a funeral pyre around the queen's body and burn it. For the next three days and three nights, the Daughter of Yorije will keep a vigil by the ashes. These hours are said to be the days of judgement to determine whether or not the Daughter of Yorije is suitable for rule. Saoyan could arrive at any time during these days, but without fail he will make an appearance before the dawn of the fourth day. Upon his arrival, the Daughter of Yorije will stand to greet him.
Legend says that Calypso is the embodiment of the ocean; temperamental, placid, kind and cruel, patient and unforgiving. Saoyan is the moon that guides her, the inexorable push and pull of the tides, the utter calm as his closeness and terrible restlessness when he is far away. The Daughter of Yorije will always display these quicksilver qualities, for she is the Sea, his bride made flesh. The usual pairbonding does not work for these elements; instead, Saoyan will reveal an incredible truth to her, a truth secret to each and every Calypso upon her Ascendancy. She will learn her role in the world, and see it briefly as the Gods see it. This is Saoyan's gift to her. The Daughter's gift to him must be a reflection of Yorije as she sees it, a personification of the kingdom she is to lead.
The Daughter of Yorije will briefly touch Saoyan. When she does, the God's mark - a crescent moon encircling a sun - will be burned into her left shoulder. This is the final mark of Calypso.
The ritual concluded, Calypso is now bound the Saoyan, able not only to detect his distress but also his proximity and moods. In the event of danger, she will be able to contact him directly as no other being in Yorije can. She will also be able to sense the birth of a new Daughter.
After a criminal is tried and sentenced, judgement will be passed; those sentenced to die will be executed in the Landing Field, open to all who wish to come and watch. Four dragons wearing black armor that conceals their appearances, gifted with the element of fire, will bring the prisoner out to a large flat marble dias, charred black from years of use. The prisoner is allowed last words when on the dias, and then offered a choice of a hood or none; regardless of choice, a priest of Linath will then give them a single, smooth opal to hold, and the execution will commence.
Once the priest is out of the way, all four dragons will bathe the prisoner in searing flame, one dragon per point in the square dias. The dias is enchanted with powerful reiatsu spells; in the event that a prisoner is immune to fire, these spells will activate upon the executioners' flame touching the marble, and fiery reiatsu will consume them within the flame; this makes it appear as though the prisoner is still burned to ash, as their body will disintegrate, and the ritual continues on. In any case, the prisoner dies almost instantaneously, obliterated within moments. All four dragons stop breathing fire at the same moment, and depart as the priest of Linath returns.
It is a commonly held belief that if the opal cannot be found, the prisoner's soul was guilty; but in the rare chance that the opal remains untarnished, it is considered a grave omen of an innocent person's death. In cases such as these, the executioners will return to stand vigil without food or water for one week. The ashes are gathered and returned to the family, and the Crown will pay them graciously for their mistake.
The executioner dragons, however, will continue to do their duty for many years yet, unless they voluntarily leave or are killed in battle. Their identities are never known.
When a demon from any Kingdom wishes to win Kingship over the Realm of Kurai and gain access to the Silver Throne, he or she must complete a variety of exceptionally difficult trials, as well as win the support of all four reigning Lords. If any trial is incomplete, or the allegiance of a Lord is left in opposition, the gods will not support the Demon King, and his or her reign will be severely weakened.
In accordance with the laws of Lethias, a sacrifice of souls must be given; one hundred individuals must be sealed within Soulgems, and offered to the Goddess of Death before the Throne's barrier wall. The goddess will appear, and judge whether or not the offering is acceptable; if she deems it is, these Soulgems will then be devoured by Lethias, before she disappears.
Neiren will appear, and demand that the to-be King show her their physical prowess. The to-be King must then find and defeat each demon Lord in battle, but not to kill nor maim them so that they cannot resume their duty as Lord - magic also cannot be used by either Lord nor to-be King. Once the last Lord has been defeated, the to-be King returns to the barrier wall of the Silver Throne with each defeated Lord - each Lord will pledge their allegiance to him or her, and the wall of trees will open.
Within, Zailen will greet the to-be King. He demands the to-be King to display his or her magical prowess; he and the demon will be transported to the lower Bloodsouls, where no other demons may be harmed. The to-be Lord is then instructed to make a show of magical power - often obliterating the surrounding countryside for miles all around. If Zailen deems the to-be King to be powerful enough, he leaves, and the demon is left back at the Silver Throne. If he or she isn't proven magically, they risk being devoured or maimed by the Famine god, if they cannot win his mercy.
Orphethas will appear and land before the to-be King, offering one final test. He or she must survive beating the god in a mental game of strategy, in a large game of living igo. Usually, the board is forged of solid crystal, and the pieces are round bit of either player's reiatsu. Should the to-be King defeat Orphethas in this game, he or she will become the King of Kurai; should he or she fail, they will die.
Upon surviving, Orphethas will be gone; instead, the souls of former Kings will greet him or her, and congratulate them on their victory. As they fade, he or she will sit upon the Silver Throne, and the Ascension will be complete.
Lord's Ascension Rituals
When a demon Lord dies, it then falls to the next in line - the Lord's heir - often a son or relative of the same family, and also of royal blood. If no royal demon exists to take up the mantle, then a new Lord must be chosen to begin a new royal family. In both cases, the ritual of Ascension remains much the same.
Each Lord is granted new power and becomes a famed royalblood; they often gain a second, humanoid, royal Tri'akun, as well as the Ito'niza - also known as the Lord's Form. These traits are commonly echoed in the royal Tri'akun, but any Lord can summon or banish these traits at will, at any time, including partial forms and singular traits.
For example, a Death Lord may summon only the long, straight horns if he or she desires; or he or she may summon all of the traits at once.
Ito'niza (Lord's Form): Long, straight horns of any color; Plated scales anywhere on the body; Skull mask of any shape; Glowing red eyes.
Ritual: Lethias comes to choose her potential Lord/the Lord heir and Ascend them, and summons the royal pack of hellwolves to wherever the ritual is taking place. She then instructs the Lord to choose one of the hellwolves and to kill that hellwolf - and once done, offer the skull and blood to her as sacrifice. Lethias, satisfied with this offering, then takes the blood and skull and bathes the new Lord in it, while Ascending him or her to Lordship. As the new Lord is Ascended, the remaining hellwolves chant 'Rise!' into a chaotic, howling crescendo.
Ito'niza (Lord's Form): Large wings; Rib-cage exoskeleton; Glowing green eyes.
Ritual: Zailen appears to the potential Lord/Lord's heir and summons the hellwolves of the royal pack; he then summons the spirit of the former Lords to surround the new one, and fuses their souls into a single, shimmering orb. Then, this orb strikes the new Lord as the hellwolves begin to chant - 'Rise!' - and lifetimes of experiences and memories assault the new Lord's mind. If he or she survives, they become the Lord of Famine, as the hellwolves lift their muzzles in a long, musical howl.
Ito'niza (Lord's Form): Large, venomous saber fangs; Large, venomous talons; glowing golden eyes.
Ritual: Orphethas lands before the potential Lord/Lord's heir he's chosen, and summons the royal pack of hellwolves about them. He summons a basin, and a goblet - and instructs the to-be Lord to not only drink from the basin (which is filled with toxic liquid; sometimes acidic in nature), but to retrieve the goblet from the bottom of the basin without complaint. Should the to-be Lord be successful, he or she will drink the liquid; and if they should survive, they will stand and be Ascended into Lordship by the god himself. As they stand, the hellwolves will chant - 'Rise!' - until descending into a long, single-note howl.
Ito'niza (Lord's Form): Ram horns; Large feathered wings; Sharp talons; Glowing blue eyes.
Ritual: Neiren lands before the potential Lord/Lord's heir she's chosen, and demands a tournament to first blood. She summons the hellwolves of the royal pack, as well as the Lord's Chosen - elite samurai, and the best warriors in the Kingdom. Next, the Lord must fight the best of these samurai to first blood; if the potential Lord is the one to gain first blood, he or she then takes some of the blood of the defeated and offers it to Neiren. The goddess transforms into a woman of exquisite beauty and drinks the offered blood, then gives the victor a kiss, after which she disappears. The Ascension happens to the chanting of the 'wolves - 'Rise!' - until it descends into a chaotic cacophony of snarls and roars.
None are known at this time.
Noktureesah Ether Ritual
Once a new Ether of Millirand is chosen, they are invited to Noktureesah while no other ritual is underway for a feast, during which the Priest Kings and their people undergo bloodletting in a display of support for the new Ether. The Ether isn't expected to undergo bloodletting, or drink the offered blood, but refusal of the blood is considered to be a grave insult. Merely accepting the offered blood then setting it aside or handing it off to another is acceptable. It is common for those with the means to bestow gifts upon the new Ether.
Mythkin are created from a ritual that involves human bones, dragon blood, and molten mythmetal. As they cannot reproduce in any natural way, this ritual is the only means of survival for their species. This ritual takes place almost specifically in the Realm of Millirand, but may be found in other Realms where mythkin are found.
First, the bones of a human must be gathered; these bones must be stripped of any flesh or rotting tissue, cleaned completely and flawlessly. Complete skeletons are preferred, but incomplete skeletons may be used as well. Placed on a bowl-shaped dias, the cleaned bones are then arranged into a pattern unique to each ritual, as other mythkin heat mythmetal into a malleable, molten liquid. When ready, the molten mythmetal is poured into the bowl-shaped dias, where it completely covers the bones of the human.
Next, before the metal cools, a pitcher of dragon's blood - no older than a day - is poured into the molten mythmetal, as two mythkin chant an ancient incantation:
"ketha Zaeli, Ni katro vee
rathe gurthael, yeen vael
ve thriu ne zelka, Ni pael vee
livi vrik grithaeli no Gurthril"
Which roughly translates to:
"under queen, I raise thee
over beauty, thine rule
with grace and power, I charge thee
owe thy divinity to Guthril"
These words are ones given to the First Mythkin upon his creation; they are known only by the mythkin, and are the only way that a mythkin may be created. When spoken by a non-mythkin, they hold no power, and the ritual will fail.
After the words are spoken by both mythkin, a change is seen across the basin; the molten mythmetal begins to shine, and ripples cross its surface. It begins to shrink and take shape, coating the human bones and filling in wherever bones are missing or broken. The bones reconfigure into a humanoid shape and bind together, as the dragon blood swirls to form new shapes, growing and changing in an instant of movement.
The blood forms veins and organs; muscles and sinew, tendons and ligaments. It grows to cover the new forms with skin, glowing in different colors depending on the gender of the new-made mythkin. Finally, once the form is complete, this glow coalesces into swirling patterns across the skin, that dull into tattoo-like markings that a mythkin will carry their entire life. Males will typically have tattoo-markings in cool tones, such as greens and blues; females will have warm tones, such as reds and oranges. All mythkin are formed as adults, completely naked, and without hair.
Once a mythkin's birthing ritual has been completed, they will waken, and the color of their eyes will reveal their future hair color. They are draped with a ceremonial robe, and given a name within their Clan.
It should be noted that the ritual must be completed in this exact way; if anything is changed, the ritual will result in either a complete failure, a deformed being, or a completely powerless mythkin individual. This includes, but is not limited to, using blood that is not a dragon's, using bones that are not a human's, using metal that isn't mythmetal, and the incantation being spoken by a non-mythkin.
None are known at this time.
Sphinx Pharaoh Mummification
Should a royal sphinx of Arcadia die, their remains are mummified and placed within a tomb carved into stone in a remote location. The royal mummy is concealed beneath a stone sarcophagus after being imbued with some of the memories and spiritual essence of its departed soul. This allows the mummy to act as a final tomb guardian in the event the tomb's other defenses are bypassed. However, a reigning Pharaoh, or one with the Pharaoh's blessing, can enter a tomb and consult the sphinx mummy after awakening it with the proper ritual.
A key part of the creation of a royal mummy lies within the Pharaoh's crown. Each deceased Pharaoh is buried with their crown, which is specially enchanted at the beginning of their reign to be imprinted with their spiritual essence and memories, allowing their souls to pass into the afterlife upon death, while ensuring their knowledge and experience is not lost.
Sol'tera Tattoo Ceremony
Infant sol'tera are born without markings; their skin is often dark in color, but as they grow, they cannot absorb the suns' rays as well as needed with the magical power young children often discover early on. Therefore, when a sol'tera child finds their magic, they are considered at the age to gain their first tattoos.
As soon as the date is set, both the sol'tera child and his or her parents will go to a sol'tera tattoo master; usually an elder artist, and any apprentices they're currently training. They will sit down with the child and talk with them until the sun is high in the sky. Topics would include interests and abilities, what they want for their tattoos, patterns and designs. The decided-upon designs will be magically applied around noon by the tattoo master, permanent dark-ink markings inlaid with sun-absorbing enchantments that help the sol'tera all through their life.
Once the tattoos are complete - taking anywhere from several hours to several days to finish - the child will be presented with a piece of jewelry, often gold, that they wear until adolescence, when they can craft, earn, or buy their own Ristellan trinkets. The mark of their tattoos, and their first piece of jewelry, often marks the beginning of any formal magical training they will receive in the city or tribe they live in.>
The iahake have a similar ritual, but the ink is light in color, and it is done by the moonlight instead of the light of the suns.
Coming of Age Ceremonies
Xeriin tribes and clans are all different; each Kin type has its own way of welcoming their children into adulthood. Some of these rituals vary by tribe, but the core points all remain the same.
An adolescent forest-Kin adolescent will be painted in the colors of their tribe or clan, in varying designs across their body. The adolescent will then be tasked with a great task to showcase physical skill - it can be anything from a cross-country race, a hunt of great prey, scaling an ancient tree, climbing a snowy peak, or other such things. Once completed, a feast will be thrown in their honor. Sometimes, multiple adolescents will embrace their coming of age challenge together, and a grand feast will greet their entry into adulthood.
An adolescent of the ocean-Kin must fast for five days; after this week has passed, they must prepare for along journey to find the Wandering Isle. The adolescent will often be decorated with seashells and coral, pieces of shiny rocks and bones. They are sent off amid prayers of protection and safe travel, though most do not find misfortune on their journeys. These xeriin must find and climb on top of the island, and find a carved seashell that can only be found on the Isle. Then, they must make the return journey; as soon as they reach their home, they are considered an adult.
Compared to other Kin types, sky-Kin xeriin have a very straightforward coming of age ceremony; there are no exclusive rituals or celebrations, save for a tradition of including the entire family. When an adolescent is ready to fledge, the parents will invite any living family to come and join them for their child's First Flight. The adolescent must display the ability to hover, glide, fly some distance, and land with some proficiency; if they can do this, and are of age, they are considered Fledged and are considered an adult.