Aurea Lux (The First Tree), Creation (personified force), Joy & Hope (spirits of nature)
The origin of Citrus society dates back to the creation of the Citrus themselves, following the grief of Aurea Lux. However, sources differ in their estimations of when Aurea Lux was born and so the creation of the Citrus is unknown. Needless to say, the Citrus are far older than any humanity. The Citrus do not keep many records of their past, instead preferring oral storytelling to preserve their history. Currently, the Citrus are led by citruspowder, a young (compared to humanity) scholar and leader who took up the mantle of responsibility after their father, the old leader, passed.
Before the time of Empire, before even the reign of nature, the land of Eldham was covered beneath molten rock and fire. The primordial creation gave rise to the earliest forms of life; crude, brutish beasts made of fire and ash, their sole purpose to devour the material world in fire. For eons, Eldham remained a desolate land devoid of organic life and water, mountains rising high into the sky like the fangs of a monster.
However, Creation itself had seen the cruel nature of the fire beasts and, in seeking to create a beautiful world, moved the planets themselves. Solstice, the very first solar eclipse, had begun. Veils of warm, orange light blanketed the land. Fire beasts and Ashen looked to the light in hatred, roaring at the holy beams. The annular ring of light in the sky condensed into a single droplet, a seed of gold that fell to the earth. Within a moment, the solstice was over and the fire beasts hissed in celebration, believing their dominion assured.
The land rumbled and shook like a bell, then it cracked and twisted upon itself to swallow the fire beasts whole. Mountain ranges crumbled, and the earth’s flames were extinguished. Where the golden seed fell, a tree rose, soaring into the heavens, her branches spreading far with leaves the size of boulders. The Ashen storms were siphoned towards the tree and dissipated at once, becoming the air and sky. The tree stood alone, immovable and glorious amid a fractured world.
Aurea Lux was born, the very first tree. She opened her eyes and saw the devastation brought about by her birth, and so she wept. She wept for the world and for herself, for none existed save her. For centuries, her tears rained upon the land in mighty torrents, filling the crevices and valleys of Eldham. The next time she opened her eyes she found a new world, unrecognizable from the chaos she had witnessed. New life had spread outward from her roots; grasses and shrubs covered open plains, upon which danced the flowers of Joy and Hope. Aurea was filled with joy, but still, she longed for companionship.
She gathered the colors of nature and hung them upon her branches. Her leaves shielded their growth, and her spirit nourished their fledgling spirits. From her came the Citrus, First of the Branch, guardians of nature. The many colors of the Citrus would serve as the inspiration for the rainbow, created by Hope and Joy.
Aurea’s bark became the forests of Eldham, each as diverse as the Citrus themselves. The Citrus founded homes and communities beneath the canopies provided by their mother and all shared in the tranquility of nature.
The Citrus Race
Citrus are bi-pedal, humanoid creatures, though their biology differs greatly from humanities. Their skin is much alike to that of oranges and limes, so one may interpret this as an origin point; religious scholars assume that the Citrus were firstt created from citrus fruit, rather than the other way around. Citrus do not require food to survive in the traditional sense, in that, organic matter may be consumed to repair their bodies. Some energy is gained by consumption but the majority of their energy needs are met by a sort of symbiotic relationship with nature. The Citrus have the ability to share energy with nearby plants by placing their hands upon them; if available, vegetation will receive excess nutrients, though an exchange is not necessary.
Citrus are born from the branches of Aurea Lux, though their numbers have been in decline for several centuries. Citrus infants start out as flowers found in nature but do not require pollination to develop. Over the course of a few months, their bodies rapidly diverge from normal fruit to humanoid as appendages develop. The body develops outward from the fruit, which serves as the head for the duration of development. Infant citrus are delivered to waiting couples to begin new families.
The Citrus hold an unwavering love for nature and, in theory, all living things. Citrus follows the teaching of Aurea Lux, the First Tree, and the origin of organic life in Eldham. Aurea Lux is revered as the mother of the Citrus, and as a spiritual teacher. Her teachings encourage followers to value all experiences; whether pleasant or painful, followers of Aurea are avid peacekeepers and practice non-violence. Only followers are permitted in the presence of Aurea Lux, trespassers are never allowed to return.
Although the Citrus worships Aurea, they do not believe her to be the original creator of existence. She herself has been rumored to come from “the spirit of creation, which guides all existence”. It is unknown if Creation is itself a deity or an impersonal force.
The Citrus regard themselves as the guardians of nature, protecting all forms of life small and large. Society functions symbiotically with the environment. The Citrus afford no excess, believing that nature will provide everything they need. To want more is to offend their creator, and so they repay nature with kindness and gifts regularly.
Life and Death:
Aurea Lux’s power to create life is revered by the Citrus as a force that can transcend death itself. Aurea’s powers enable her to reincarnate followers if their physical forms perish, although memories do not persist after rebirth.
As the first mortal race, the Citrus believe themselves as the rightful inheritors of the earth and all life. Their mission includes guiding all intelligent life under the protection and kindness of Aurea Lux; non-citrus may follow Aurea’s example, but cannot deepen their understanding of nature without bonding to Aurea Lux. Followers may request of the Citrus to bury them before the roots of Aurea Lux at the time of death. Just as the Citrus may be reincarnated, non-citrus can be reborn and become one with Aurea Lux.
While the followers of Aurea Lux may choose to be reborn as a Citrus, there is no pressure or requirement; Citrus will encourage this final step to all followers, (One must understand that the Citrus do not perform sacrifices. Followers who wish to be reborn request this honor before the Citrus, who will carry out their wishes upon passing) as those who do not reincarnate will roam the world as spirits until reborn.
However, those souls who commit terrible atrocities, including murder, risk their souls to the corruption of the Fire Beasts. The birth of Aurea Lux sealed away the Fire Beasts in the earth, commonly known as the Nether, but this action did not destroy them; instead, their spirits rose again to the earth and instilled fires in the hearts of all living creatures. These are the origins of all sin and avarice. Those guilty of atrocities may find their souls dragged deep within the earth upon death, and will be reborn as terrible monsters.
Although, there is hope for the guilty. The presence of a Fire Beast grows within one’s heart by repeated offenses and a lack of remorse. If guilt is present, then there is hope to make up for one’s actions and instill goodness in the world. Those who have not accepted Aurea’s offer of reincarnation are judged by her at the time of death; if guilt and remorse are present in one’s heart, and honest attempts to amend for personal crimes, the soul will be allowed to wander until rebirth. However, the remorseless is cast into the earth, set to wait for the day that Aurea’s roots pierce the crust and flood the fiery depths.