Shugenja

Very few souls still preserve the ancient traditions of the shugenja, even in Xian. Originally elite temple hierarchs in the Ninefold Celestial Empire, all but a handful were slain in the Red Tide. Priests of lesser stature took over the temples, and now the shugenjas are relegated to chiefly ceremonial duties, when one can be found for a temple at all. Despite the confusion of religion in the Sunset Isles, no priest of the Nine Immortals would lightly scorn them to their faces.

Originally, the shugenjas served as the ritual priesthood of the Kueh people, an empire that competed with the Ninefold Celestial Empire early in its history. While the Imperials were much more sophisticated than the Kueh in their arcane talents, the found the subtle and sophisticated spiritual practices of their conquered rivals highly attractive. Kueh shugenjas were considered more enlightened and judicious than the simple priests of the Imperials. Jealous of the status of their former enemies, many of the most ambitious priests adopted the same philosophies and disciplines, and over the centuries the role of shugenja became separated from any ancestral background.

The blessings granted the shugenjas are similar to those bestowed upon the Favored Souls of the gods, yet characterized by a deeper affinity with the elements of creation.

The only shugenjas are those trained by the few survivors in Xian, or possibly one cast away in a more isolated village. By definition, they revere the Nine Immortals. There are no known nonhuman shugenjas, albeit it's not beyond possibility that one might follow that path.

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