The history of the Way
The History of The Way
Priests and Scholars of The Way have unearthed myths and legends of Exemplars and Paragons that go back as far as any history or saga. Belief in reincarnation pre-dates understandings of the Labyrinth of Ages and can be found in multiple disparate cultures.
The Way of Virtue first began to take shape during a period of Highguard history called The Revelation. A Highborn Chapter called The Scions of Atun found a way to unlock the potential of Vinum, a herb previously used by the Navarr for medicinal purposes.
Through a complex system of refinment and maturation, The Scions of Atun created Liao which, when used, opened up a person's mind to the Labyrinth of Ages. In its rarest form, known as True Liao, it grants humans clear visions. During this time, another Highborn Chapter - The Distant Shores - uncovered proof that the visions were of events that had truly happened by matching up archaeological evidence and historical record with the visions witnessed. This was the spark that ignited The Revelation in Highguard. Further study by the Scions, Shores and other Highguard Chapters uncovered other secrets, such as the nature of the Labyrinth of Ages, the Seven Virtues and the identities of some Exemplars and Paragons.
Having taken root in Highguard, several Chapters - most famously the Winds of Virtue - carried The Way to the other Nations. As they did so, they learned about Exemplars and Paragons that had manifested in those lands, taught the people of the Labyrinth and the Virtues, and invited pilgrims to come to Highguard to experience the truth of The Way through the True Liao visions.
The spread of The Way amongst the nations preceded the rise of the First Empress, with pilgrims coming to Highguard in search of pure liao visions and to learn liao ceremonies. Yet The Way truly became dominant when the Empire was founded and the Empress formally recognised The Way as the religion of the Empire in the Imperial Constitution. This included the creation of the Synod and the granting of its powers.
Since the founding of The Empire, the combined insights of priests, holy mystics, scholars and wise ones from all nations have further informed the understanding of the Virtues, the Paragons and the Labyrinth of Ages. Further study of liao has also revealed it has applications in ceremonial rites that can facilitate or hinder a spirit's passage through the Labyrinth of Ages as well as demonstrating and aiding the power of Virtue in this lifetime.