The religion of The Five Paragons is a religion practiced throughout nearly all of Andoras and most of Doras Edrossi (with the exceptions mainly of the city-states of Meyron and Ceryne), with varying sects and believers in nearly every nation around the world. When someone refers to the Five, they likely refer to the Paragons. Their influence has had impact on the culture, language, architecture, and day-to-day life of their believers. The religion stems from an older religion that predates history known as Geodalism. The religion is popularly known for, and sometimes mocked for, the fact that four out of five paragons died while defending a lost or unpopular cause. While believers sometimes take strength from this, there are those who have died themselves defending the Five Paragons. Martyrism is also popular in the religion.
While several different sects of the religion exist, heresy is not very prominent, and the Church of the Five is the highest authority and most-followed religious organization in the name of the Five Paragons.
The history of the Five Paragons is tricky to pinpoint to one specific source, and many are conflicting. The most that can be garnered is that the Paragons were once mortals on the plane of existence, and, by some stroke of power granted to them -- some say by nature itself --, they are able to ascend into gods. Only those who have been deemed worthy by this mysterious force that guides the choosing of the Paragons are able to ascend, although there is controversy over this, such as the possibility of a Sixth Paragon or more, which brings up moral issues as well. It is a popular topic to discuss in the theology of the Five Paragons.
The church of the Five Paragons emerged as a heresy of the religion of the Dragonlord in Drakonia after Nyule, known in life as Varen Diomadron, ascended to the heavens after being assassinated in an event known as the Vices of Jaerys. A gathering of devout followers of Nyule, discontent to accept his death and subsequent ascension (after hearing of Alzar's tale) as coincidence, begin to worship him and Alzar as gods. Drakonia had always had a stance of free religion, but there was no stipulation against shunning those not Dragonlord-faithful. They were typically ignored and often outright declared blasphemers anywhere they went. Ethryke did not hold this stance as formidably as the other city-states and Drakonia itself, and many of the citizens tolerated the proselytizers enough to listen to their sermons. They convinced more than enough followers, having evidence of the latter Paragon as proof. Tattered pieces of Nyule's robing were said to have positive effects when one held it or carried it. Those who were convinced agreed to join the covenant, and the foundations of an outright religion began to be laid. The numbers began as hundreds, but soon grew into thousands and tens of thousands. The exponential growth was partially helped by the fact that there simply could be no denying the power that Nyule's artifacts that he left behind gave power. Disbelievers were often seen as foolish or in denial, despite the religion being very much a minority at the point of time.
Eventually, missionaries found their way across the sea to Andoras, where the men of Andoras were unusually attentive and willing to listen to their messages; half of which they could not understand. Once language barriers were breached, the opinion of their preaching did not change. Andorasi seemed to be particularly inclined to believe in men ascending to that of a god. Many Andorasi who became missionaries themselves were the strongest speakers of the religion. This was no small coincidence; many of them reportedly felt sudden enlightenment upon touching any of Nyule's clothing or hearing their names being spoken. Much of what the local populace knows of ancient Andoras comes from two sources; runestones, cave paintings and ancient artifacts. The missionaries of Doras Edrossi provided most of the other source; personal journals, diaries, and reports of the status of Andoras and the tribes there.The Five Paragons can be thanked for, in that aspect, for providing history where little was being recorded.
Evidently, the missionaries' work was successful; the religion has survived into present day whereas belief of the Dragonlord has almost entirely died out, even in Doras Edrossi.
Alzar, Paragon of Strength
Main article: Alzar
Alzar was the first human to be declared a Paragon. Records indicate (the Church began with his ascension) that he was around 37 years old when he was killed defending his faith. These records predate Aegor I's building of Drakonia by about thirty years, which makes Alzar one of the first recorded individual humans, and making his name one of the first known human names.
The story goes that Alzar was a young chieftain in the mid-western region of Doras Edrossi, particularly in the Leyse Woodlands, where they created a small shrine to the earth near a large waterfall. Another tribe heard wind of this, and, worshiping their own pantheon of gods, gathered together and planned to annihilate any trace of this religion. It was known as Geodalism, and Alzar was a fervent believer that whatever the earth willed him to do was better than any fate that could take him. Some of the tribesmen criticized him on this, but he dismissed this as meager doubt and prepared to mount a defense. After what is said to have been five long years of siege warfare, Alzar finally gave in and was killed by a rival chieftain; but not before slaying untold numbers of men in the world's name. All men there described the sensation of soothing peace, and the very ground quaked; not an earthquake, but as if a child shaking in joy. Alzar's body seemed to have ascended into the heavens, being risen there as if by magic.
Alzar is the Paragon of Strength, because he clearly shows this trait. Just as the earth is first and foremost strong and otherwise desolate if not for this strength, so is Alzar. Alzar is typically seen as the leader of the Five Paragons for this reason.
Nyule, Paragon of Wisdom
Main article: Nyule
In life, Nyule was born Varen Diomadron, and grew to be an influential politician, diplomat, philosopher, and one of the first advocates for Con-crownism. He was the second person to be declared a Paragon, and dubbed the Paragon of Wisdom. Like Alzar, he died defending himself and his beliefs. For his time, Nyule had peculiar beliefs. He believed in separation of church and state and the autonomity of vassals. He helped in the founding of Meyron, a city known to this today for its relative freedom and liberalism.
Voraea, Paragon of Love
Caridre, Paragon of Justice
Volus, Paragon of Resilience
The 'Sixth Paragon'
There has been debate over several candidates who would qualify well as a paragon, but due to worldly issues, an unconfirmed or no confirmed miracle or ascension, tradition (i.e. "We've always had five paragons, why do we need six?"), or lack of agreement, these people have not been chosen as sixth paragons.