A Numen is a gathering of a religious nature dedicated to the 15 gods . The original Numen events where organized to test the active disciples and to pick new disciples if needed. Although this is still the main reason to organize Numens, this sort of event has attracted the attention of others as well. A Numen can be held anywhere on Heimr and the initiative to call for a Numen is in the hands of the gods.
Every Numen is hosted by a single one of the 15 deities and an important religious figure is usually appointed to organize the event. Sometimes entire new temples are build to host the event; at other times important religious sites are used instead. The organisation of a Numen can cost months or sometimes even years and organisers frequently pay a lot of gold to secure the location, buy protection from mercenaries, provide food and lodging, spread the word of the event to the far corners of the entire world and a host of other expenses.
Because disciples and other followers their devotion is tested during the Numen the gods take turns in actively "attacking" the community hosting the event. Usually one Deity (a different one from the hosting Deity) is in charge of making sure the Numen is... "challenging". The forms of challenges are divers and could entail physical attacks, mental puzzles, social problems or emotionally traumatic events. Most of these challenges can be fatal if failed miserably.
Godless terrorists and other people of ill intent might want to attack the Numen community. The mortals themselves are in charge of making sure such attacks fail. The gods don't distinguish between a genuine pilgrim and a murderer in disguise.
As if the Numen wasn't dangerous enough: packing together followers of 15 different gods (and numerous religions devoted to those gods) often results in in-fighting. Some Numens devolved into bloody fights even without the help of outside forces.
Disciples have followers, friends and cohorts that help in them in their duties. These people can also be found on Numen events.
Petitioners are (usually desperate) mortals that want to ask the Disciples for help with some matter. They make the dangerous journey to the Numen event to befriend the Disciple and make use of their vast religious and political influence.
Pilgrims can also be found on the Numen. They usually arrive a day early and leave before the disciples arrive (as to dodge the dangers of the Numen itself) but some devoted pilgrims ask the gods for help during the most dangerous parts of the Numen, hoping that their prayers are heard because they show extreme dedication.
People seeking justice sometimes travel to the Numen to ask the "counsel of disciples" to pass judgement over certain mortal deeds when mortal legal systems fail them. Sometimes they travel with a captive that they want to be punished or sometimes they seek to escape punishment. The authority of disciples has at times swayed courts and sometimes judgement can even be meted out during the numen itself.
Merchants and other camp followers can be found on the Numen. Because the Numen is such a melting pot of cultures and far away, travelling merchants can strike it rich in this dangerous environment. The Numen grounds are usually also declared lawless territory which brings merchants and smugglers that might be interested in peddling otherwise illegal or heavily taxed wares.
The Numen community has been in decline the last few years. Especially after the massacre by the "cult of the sand" several years back. But they are now slowly gaining more members again.
Many organisations and famous merchants are (or at least where) aligned or even part of the Numen community. Some of these organisations have refused to sent representatives the last few events though. Claiming the Numen has gotten to dangerous, even though the "cult of the sand" has been defeated.
Some of those organisations are named here:
- The Osterian Crusader strikeforce (A small militia that is in charge of the security of the perimeter around the Numen community. They have their own leadership structure but have been known to occasionally follow the orders of some disciples or other prominent members of the Numen community. This is the first group that has returned to active duty after the cult of the sand massacre. They where instrumental in killing the remaining cult of the sand members.)
- The lorekeepers (A large group of knowledge gatherers that worship Talor . They used to send several members of their order to record whatever happened on the Numen. But lately they have simply used proxies and bought their information of other Numen visitors)
- The shamanic tree of six (A powerful network of shamans that have aligned themselves with the gods after the spiritual revolution. They stayed away for one Numen after having lost many spirits to the cult of the sand. But they did send a representative the last three Numen and seem interested in joining the Numen community again)
A young Fae worshipper is told what the numen is
The Fae woman sits in front of you, looking amused. Her lackeys stand nearby to protect her from any harm you might cause. But you have no desire to cause her harm. You are much more interested in what she has to say.
"You never heard about the Numen? Well then, let me tell you about it." She shifts her weight and lets her chin rest in her slender hand.
"Even as a high priest I have only been to a Numen twice. Not that I am not allowed - everybody is allowed. But I have little reason to go and it is a dangerous gathering." She lost you already. It is a religious gathering, right? Why would a high priestess of Danu have little reason to be there?
"Listen child, it is simple. Sometimes the gods needs something done, but for whatever reason they cannot use their angels or deamons to do the task. In those rare situations they use mortals, called Disciples." This makes you wonder what tasks could not be accomplished by angels or deamons. Most of those creatures are vastly more competent than a mortal would ever be.
"There are gatherings a few times per year, that are attended by the disciples to discuss things, choose new disciples, hold audience and be tested by their gods. Those gatherings are called Numen. I am not a disciple and do not need anything from them, which is why I have no reason to go to the Numen. However, I have been there twice in my younger years... as a sort of pilgrimage." Now it is starting to make more sense - a gathering of disciples of the gods.
"So, danger." she continues. "The great mother and all other deities send angels and deamons to these Numen. These divine beings are there to test the disciples and those wanting to become disciples. The Numen also attracts other dangers, like cultists, looters, thieves and other opportunists. Also, many worshippers of rivalling gods do not exactly see eye to eye. Some Numen have degenerated into bloody fights."
"Why would anyone ever visit such a place? There are many reasons. Obviously, many disciples and would-be disciples are there for reasons already stated. But some desperate worshippers seek an audience with the disciples to ask their help in specific manners. The disciples, especially those that have been around for a while, sometimes hold immense political and spiritual power. An audience with such a person could potentially accomplish much. Others are there to support the disciples, out of loyalty or simply for money. Still others are there as a form of pilgrimage, a test of their own devotion, just like me so many years ago. Lastly, some courageous merchants visit to seek profit from those that visit the Numen." A silence descends as the the priestess finishes her list.
Suddenly, she seems to think of something. "Tell me, little one, would you like to visit the next Numen? I need somebody to find out what disciples of Danu are active at the moment... if any.... I heard the last Numen was very... interesting."