The City of Mercuria: A Closer Look at my WIP Setting
I've had a decent amount of time to work on the fantasy setting I started constructing the other day, and in that time I've fleshed it out a bit more. I'm focusing on one city, Mercuria, at least for the first story or so. I've also combined the angels and demons into one group, daemons, while keeping the existence of the main church, which I've named the Church of Yaldabaoth. Conflicts still occur between the Church and the mages over the summoning and binding of daemons as servitors and familiars, which the Church believes to be a sacrilege.
I've also fleshed out the main character a bit. She's a chimera, and transgender, a former member of the church and a mage. She's got a sordid backstory, a distaste for authority, and enemies in both the church and the mage's syndicate. She's also a consulting theurge, taking on missions for the syndicate in order to give her some way to use her skills and satisfy her insatiable curiosity. We'll get to her in a bit, but for now, I want to talk a bit about the setting's major elements: the city and the church.
Mercuria, the City of Magic
Named after the philosopher Mercurius, founder of modern magic, Mercuria grew around the Gnostic University, the largest center for academic and magical study on the continent of Anval. More than two centuries ago, it was one of the first cities to rebel against the Great Empire of Anval, and it is widely believed to be the reason for the rebellion's success. After the rebellion, it became one of two countries that did not join the Federation of Free Commonwealths, along with the Old Kindom of Tudora.
Mercuria is governed by anarcho-syndicalist principles. It is run by a general assembly made up of delegations of the various labor syndicates. Officially, no syndicate holds sway over any other, but in practice the mages' syndicate and the alchemists' syndicate have more pull due to their role in keeping the city safe. Because of the mages' syndicate's extensive use of daemons as servitors and familiars, the city has gained the epithet “City of Daemons.”
The Church of Yaldabaoth
Recently, the local Diocese of the Church of Yaldabaoth has won the right to join the assembly as a syndicate after successfully arguing that its members provide valuable spiritual services to the community. This decision is not uncontroversial, though, as the church is both a hierarchical organization and beholden to the Grand Hierophant, an outside power. It does not help that the Church abhors the practice of binding daemons as servitors and familiars, a practice many mages argue is central to the security of the city.
The Church of Yaldabaoth rose to prominence during the Golden Age of the Great Empire of Anval by destroying or subsuming local religions. With the fall of the Empire, the Church is now the predominant unifying force among the nations of Anval.
The Church reveres Yaldabaoth as both the creator of the world and the King of Daemons. The Church also reveres daemons as lesser divinities, the servants of its god, and practices the theurgic art of invocation in order to commune with them. However, it frowns upon the art of evocation, which it sees as a sacrilege that dishonors the daemons, and actively bans its acolytes and archons from practicing it on penalty of excommunication.
Nicola Osman, Heretic and Consulting Theurge
Nicola is a chimera, having altered her body using alchemy to obtain the features of an anthropomorphic rat. She is currently using similar methods to bring her body closer in presentation to her true gender. In the past, she was an acolyte of the Church of Yaldabaoth, training to become an archon. Two years before the first story, Nicola broke the church's taboo on binding servitors in an attempt to save the life of another acolyte. She was excommunicated as a result.
Nicola now works as a consulting theurge, summoning and binding servitors for specific tasks. She is a member in good standing with the mage's syndicate, but is barred from teaching at the Gnostic University due to her controversial past. All that may change when a member of the mage's syndicate walks in her door and asks her to look in to the disappearance of a young acolyte...