Most on Norn believe that after the Nine Crusaders passed away, their spirits ascended to godhood, reuniting their own divinity with Io, the Divine Creator. The thought that holy Io permitted the crusaders’ ascension, or apotheosis, was at one time considered preposterous by laymen and heretical by Io’s clergy. Many innocent beings were imprisoned and punished during this time. Even before their apotheosis, many still revered the crusaders as saviors and divine heroes. The transition from hero worship to deification was more a political shift than an ideological one.
Today, few remain who do not believe in the crusaders’ apotheosis, though there are many who chose not to worship one crusader in particular. Many humans offer blessings to several or all of the crusaders, and there are many of all kinds who still revere only Io. Many clerics and paladins are servants only to a specific crusader; the Lion Knights of Brei are devoted to the crusader Baldur. There are some priestly orders, like the Congregation of the Ascended, who revere all nine crusaders, but who pay no homage to Io. These orders are few and far between.
The most obvious evidence to support the crusaders’ apotheosis is the divine magic granted to paladins and clerics across the continent. Their devotion to their god or gods is rewarded; the crusader grants them a small fraction of their sacred power in order to preserve justice across the land, or so it is said. Ionian monotheists claim that all divine power flows from Io, and the Great Dragon is simply rewarding those who follow in the righteous footsteps of the Nine.