Akhenism is an ancient monotheistic religion. It is the most widespread faith in the world, with both human and Exekian followers. While it (technically) has no official clergy, there are communities for followers who have devoted their lives to prayer and service, and a great deal of religious art and architecture has been created over the centuries.
In more recent years, religion has lost influence over the people and no longer has as much sway in political and social spheres. The vast majority of the population might claim to be Akhenists, but atheism and agnosticism are on the rise, particularly among the younger generations.
The faith revolves around worship of "the god" ("Akhen" in Exekian), a creator deity usually represented by the sun. Driven by a constant desire to create, the god is said to have made the universe for his pleasure and sentient life out of loneliness.
In Alucarsian religion, the first sentient being he created was a spirit without a physical body, similar to himself, but lacking divine power. The spirit, Zius, grew frustrated with its helpless, incorporeal state and turned against the god, fleeing to the mortal plane to wage a holy war against him for all eternity. In the original Exekian version of the story, Zius was never mentioned. This discrepancy eventually led to the formation of Vormundism, a "traditionalist" branch of Akhenism.
The earliest known religious texts originate from roughly ten thousand years ago. Who wrote the Mandorlin, or Holy Books, is unknown. The name "Akhen" is Exekian in origin, meaning "Creator of the Universe".
The Exekians believed that Akhen created humans to serve them, and cited the hierarchy of nature and laws of survival to prove this. Religion was thus used as an excuse for slavery in the Old Exekian Empire. The humans privately claimed this was not the case, but rather Zius had influenced the creation of the Exekians, making them inherently evil and poisoning their blood.
After the fall of the empire in the First Exekian War and the creation of the kingdom of Alucarsia, Akhenism was declared the official religion of the humans. Ancient Exekian art and writings were destroyed, and the humans began depicting Exekians as devils and monsters bearing the mark of Zius' evil.
Foundation of Vormundism
During the reign of King Tristan, the human prophet Vormund founded Vormundism, which is considered a branch of Akhenism. Vormunds do not believe in Zius, maintaining that evil is simply the product of sin, which they define as disobeying Akhen. The Vormunds refer to the god by his original Exekian name, and maintain that all life was made by Akhen, therefore all life is sacred.