Friday, March 2, 2012

[Varyonde] The Church Most Holy and True

AKA The White Temple
Symbols: Ankh
Colors: White
Worshippers Alignments: Neutral Good, Neutral, Chaotic Good, Lawful Good, Lawful Neutral, Chaotic Neutral
Clerical Alignment: Lawful Good, Neutral Good, or Chaotic Good

Twelve centuries ago, following the War of Gods and Demons, the Seven Prophets proselytized the peoples of the Elysian and Bharata Varsha Empires, initiating the Rectification of Gathos (Gathos being the Southron city from which four of the seven prophets originated). The Seven Prophets revealed the Source of All Things unto Gods and Men, showing them the error of their ways in reverence of the Gods of their ancestors, and bringing unto them the True Way of the Source.

Bowing to the Will of the Source, many of the goodly and lawful Small Gods bended their knee to the Prophets, and so became the Intercessors of Men. Known also as the Immortal Gods, for the Source greatly increased their power for their loyalty and ensured their eternal salvation, as opposed to the Small Gods or the Rebel Gods, whose power would with time, fade, and as with all things not of the Source, die altogether.

Unfortunately, not all Gods or Men approved of the message of the Prophets, and within a decade, three of the Seven Prophets had been martyred and their Message had been splintered in the Unholy Schism. For in Men’s misunderstanding of the Prophet’s teaching that all things were by and were of the Source, Dissent crept in concerning the true nature of the Force of Evil and the Power of Chaos; thus were the Convocation of Evil and the Temple of Chaos founded by the Fallen Disciples of the Lost Prophets.

The Four remained faithful, however, to their original cause, and rightly ordered the Church Most Holy and True (also known simply as the Holy Church) upon its foundation. Gathos being caught at the heart of the Unholy Schism, the Four settled each in one of four cities at the four corners of the Great Inner Sea: Elysion on the north shore, Alphaias in the east, Kardhanova in the west, and Rhakotesh on the south shore. The Four remained equal in all things, and so peace reigned between their followers… so long as they lived.

In time, however, as with all such things, the workings of Men turned from thoughts and deeds holy and fell into the secular and mortal. Several generations after the passing of the last of the Four, during the height of the collapse of the Elysian Empire, discord ruled the day between the Four Patriarchs. The Patriarch of Rhakotesh sought primacy among the Four, as he held the seat of the city from whence the other three had sailed to their own cities. The Patriarch of Elysion thought that he, as the patriarch of the Imperial City, should have primacy. Neither of the other patriarchs though either of the two had precedence over the others. For the most part, the division of the Church was peaceful, though the followers along the borders of the four patriarchates often turned to the division for reasons to attack and plunder their brothers across princely boundaries.

Since that time, each of the patriarchates has generally sought converts in their own regions. Each ahs developed its own books of canon, though all four have much in common. Now and again, each has had cause to deal with its own heretical offshoots; sometimes one patriarch supports the heresies found in another’s domain, but this is rare. In the past, the patriarchs have cooperated against common enemies, though in the case of the Fall of the Warring Kingdoms of the New Elysian Empire, the hubris of the Patriarch of Elysion was the undoing of the faithful in the north, as he turned away all assistance offered against the barbarians by his brother patriarchs as well as by the Order of the New Rectification.

Thus, in the eight decades since the fall of the Warring Kingdoms, the various northern churches of the Holy Temple have often had to go their own way. First they did so out of necessity, as wide swaths of monster and barbarian-haunted wilderness separated them from Elysion. Sometimes early and often of late, they did so due to the less-than-pious directives and demands of the Patriarch of Elysion. In the last decade in the north especially, various bishops, more or less independent by default, have declared their sovereignty from the Holy Church of Elysion. Some of these independent churches band together to form their own larger communities; others remain wholly independent, if remaining in communion with neighboring churches and sometimes with Elysion.

Rumors abound of the reaction of the Patriarch in Elysion to the largest and most recent “defection,” that of the Archbishop of Varyonde, who oversees a large if scattered community of like-minded temples who seek a return to the simple holiness of the Four, rather than the more worldly, sumptuous, and some dare say, blasphemous activities of the Holy Church of Elysion. Most rumors say that Patriarch Palladius VII fell to the floor, frothing at the mouth, spitting blood and curses upon the head of the Archbishop. Writs of excommunication were sent to every signatory of the letter sent to the Patriarch, but not a single one has been known to lose access to the miracles granted by the Holy Gods… this, while the streets of Elysion itself were filled with those dying of the plague. Or so it is said…

The Immortal Gods of the Holy Church are represented in form as men and women of Human sort, for they were all of the Gods of Men, as none of the gods of the other races were persuaded as to the Truth of the Source. Holy Church temples are decorated with at least one statue or icon of each of the Immortal Gods. In temples of the Holy Church of Elysion, these are usually placed in a specific order, from the apse to the narthex:
·         At the center of the apse, before the altar, is found the Throne Inviolable; above the Throne (which represents the Source) hovers the temple ankh;
·         To the right of the Throne in the apse, the statue of Orusar (holding a statuette or icon of the Prophet Verus), to the left, the statue of Nysinia (holding a statuette or icon of the Prophet Capella);
·         In the chancel, to the left of Nysinia the statute of Ansar (holding a statuette or icon of the Prophet Matho), to the right of Orusar the statue of Kyrisia (holding a statuette or icon of the Prophet Crispus);
·         The transept, each end of which usually terminates in a chapel dedicated to the local saints;
·         Along the nave, to the left of Ansar the statue of Narysa, to the right of Kyrisia the statue of Nuvar;
·         Further along the nave, to the right of Nuvar the statue of Nylvaria, to the left of Narysa the statue of Serek;
·         Further along the nave, to the left of Serek the statue of Athyra, to the right of Nylvaria the statue of Qonash-Gar;
·         Further along the nave, to the right of Qonash-Gar the statue of Oryma, to the left of Serek the statue of Aeson;
·         Finally, at the convergence of the nave and the narthex, to the left of Aeson the statue of Tyanka, and to the right of Oryma the statue of Rughar.

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