To say that the lordship of Penderona on the Northwest tip of Caelon simply shares similarities with the Saibhrean Isles, does not paint an accurate portrait of the relationship between the kingdom and the people of the isles. When compared with its nearest and much larger neighbor, the Kingdom of Olenos, Penderona shares significantly more similarities with the islands of the trade barons. This is in large part due to the fact that both Penderona and the earliest island settlers of the age were from the same group of pilgrims – the Daoine Farraige.
History of the Daoine Farraige
Traditionally, the Daoine Farraige claim to trace their roots back to a time before the Fall of Civilization. In their legends, the ancient settlers of the islands communed with the dead and were given a terrible warning in the form of a prophecy: retreat behind the walls of the Holy City, or be eternally blocked from the Underworld, the place where they believe all dead go prior to entering paradise in the end times.
While modern archaeological evidence has strongly suggested that there were many who succumbed to the Curse among the islands, it is possible that at least some of the denizens of the old islands did complete their journey in time to avoid the destruction that awaited the kingdoms during the time of the Great Fall.
The Daoine Farraige were among the first to reclaim the land, leading their people in a long march directly to the northwest of Caelon, where they founded the kingdom of Penderona, early in the current age. It’s worth noting that at that time and for nearly 600 years, Penderona owed no fealty to any other political body, until Penderona put forth by might and by birthright (the princess of Penderona was wed to the prince of Olenos), the strongest claim over the Penderonian throne, after the king and queen famously disappeared under mysterious conditions.
While the Daoine Farraige are allowed to practice their local beliefs and practices, Penderona is still considered a Torian controlled region – the Torian church is the official religion of the realm.
Modern Influence of the Cult of the Underworld (Faoin Domhan)
Outside of Penderona and the Saibhrean Isles, not much is known about the closely guarded secrets of the cult. What is known is that the people of the islands believe in a land accessible only to the dead, called domhan thíos, and all dead shall stay there until the day comes when the prophesied heir of El Tor, a hero they call An Áegair, will break through the Sealed Sanctum and give all dead salvation.
Outside of that, the mysterious rituals are not well known throughout the land. It’s important to note that even though the people of the isles and Penderona typically claim to have deep roots with the Daoine Farraige, the workings of the inner echelons of the cult are as closely guarded secrets as are the meanings of the megalithic structures strewn throughout the isles and near Penderona.
Looking at the architecture of the isles and Penderona, it’s easy to see a difference from the rest of the Torian North, but if one were to compare the laymen of the islands, not many differences would be found between them and the people of Caelon. As time has gone on, less and less influence from the cult can be found in the culture of the archipelago. As the houses of the islands have found considerable success with seaport trading, even with the Warathi people, commerce has become the true religion of the islands, in all but name.
There are rumors of secret sect of women priests called sagairt báis, who are said to possess the knowledge of an entrance to the mythical underworld, where they are said to commune with the spirits that there reside, on nights of full moons once a year. This is entirely unproven by academia, and if such a place does exist, it has eluded researchers in the modern times. The only solid evidence we have for this is from songs and poetry from the bards of the isles. However, they are well known for adding “enhancements” to the reality they record.
The official stance on the cult of the underworld is that the religion is considered dead, as no proof otherwise is likely to emerge. Still, the people of the islands will gladly let you know that their heritage is Daoine Farraige, and they are a proud people. After all, if their claims are true, they may be the only remnant from the societies that existed outside of the White Walled City prior to the Fall.
More research on this topic is needed.