Legacy of Heroes
The Church of Light
The Church of Light
Very little is actually known about the life of the Prophet, whose actual name was never given. For convenience we refer to the Prophet as “him” and that seems to be supported in old Remarian documents concerning his trial and execution. However, it should be noted that the language of Old Remarian has certain words that mandate gender. For instance, the occupation of healer has feminine connotations no matter if the actual person is male or female. Likewise the word for “heretic” is masculine. Remarians always called the Prophet, “the heretic” and the Prophet’s followers never documented anything until after “his” death and then it was assumed that everyone knew who the Prophet had been, which everyone did. So we have no way of knowing for sure.
Also a source of confusion is the nature of the Prophet. Was he of divine essence or a simple mortal? These are questions that were only asked by the Remarian judicatures and torturers and the Prophet only gave them answers that were esoteric and abstract at best. We can assume that he was not of Remarian nobility nor a member of the wealthy merchant class, since there would have been records of his birth. Additionally, one would think that his face would have been recognized when he was dragged through the city of Primus on the way to his public execution.
What we do know is that in 200 A.C., the Prophet met the Four Blessed at an outlying Remarian crossroads somewhere in the direction of Aeylamdyar. He then spoke to the Blessed and convinced them to join him in following the Light. The Prophet said that the Light was not merely another power, but a sort of supreme god who was responsible for all of creation and desired only peace and beauty. This itself is not terribly remarkable and puts the Prophet in the ranks of multitudes of cultists who all have claimed that their power was going to rise up and rule over all. The only real difference was that the Light was not an inherently aggressive power and did not seem to be willing to directly intervene – which the clever reader will remember is contrary to Trenus’s Theorem mentioned above.
Another major difference – though not directly relevant to the mortal world – is that the Prophet claimed the Light would embrace all who followed the path of good. So a mortal could worship, say, the cult god of the Unicorn, live a life that was just and true, and then upon death still be accepted by the Light if the mortal chose. This was verifiable through magical divinations and caused something of a stir as no other divine power would make such an offer.
The Prophet and the Blessed walked the Surrounding Lands performing acts of benevolence. Along the way the Prophet spoke to the Blessed about the philosophy of the Light. Again, this is typical of many cults and is only remarkable in that the healing and protective spells that the Prophet cast were far more powerful than any cult leader has managed to perform in recorded history. Some of these may be stories that have grown with telling, but there is no denying that the Prophet ended the White Plague in what is now Toulousia. Even though his flock had grown into the hundreds by then, such a feat would be considered impossible for a power with a similar gathering.
What the Prophet spoke of was considered heresy by the followers of the Hermitic Truths and word went out for his arrest. The Prophet managed to avoid capture for years and went into hiding. However, when ultimately captured, he did not resist and had given strict instructions to the Blessed to not do anything to effect his escape.
The records of the Prophet’s trial under torture are exhaustive but are considered to be highly instructive by the Church of the Light. A version of those records makes for the entire second half of The Book of Light. The Prophet would answer even the simplest questions with long sermons about the Light that had to be studied carefully under Remarian law at the time. Finally, the Emperor Justicanus II ordered his execution by drawing and quartering. (Each torn limb was supposed to be an offering to each of the Hermitic Truths) Though it had not truly been determined by the judicial scholars, whether when the Prophet spoke of the Light, he was not merely making references to an aspect of the warrior-sage.
The result of the Prophet’s execution was miraculous by any standards. The Prophet was marched through the streets and the people were encouraged to stone him as he passed. When he arrived at the Remarian execution field he forgave his executioners and asked them to send word that he forgave the Remarian people for their deeds. Then the horses were set to charge, each horse attached to one of the Prophet’s limbs and he was brutally ripped apart. But as the Emperor laughed and gave the order to sacrifice the Prophet’s remains to the Hermitic Truths, five “star rocks” flew out of the sky and landed on the scattered body of the Prophet. The star rocks shook the earth when they landed, causing the high temple of the Hermitic Truths to fall. What is miraculous is that priests and mages alike had been scrying for magic during the execution, expecting a last-minute attempt to save the Prophet’s life, and did not detect any supernatural energies during the strike. While star rocks plummet occasionally, is absurd to think that five could all fall at the exact same time and land directly on the Prophet’s remains without the aid of magic. But there is no question that is exactly what happened.
No actual battles were fought between the followers of the Light and the Hermitic Truths. Many feel this is because the similarity of the two faiths. Instead of following an avatar, clerics follow one of the Blessed. There is the fifth order of the Church of the Light, but since clerics are not permitted to join that order, it can be analogous to the Hermitic Truths’ avocation of the magical arts. Nonetheless in 375 A.C. the Church of the Light had been decreed the official Remarian faith by Emperor Ribius IV “the faithful.”
Five orders to the Church of Light exist:
Order of Blessed Donica – (Healing, Light, Protection, Restoration) Donica was a Remarian lady of noble birth. She was said to be especially empathic with the plight of the downtrodden. She is the healer. Her order is devoted to healing everyone, no matter who they are.
Order of Blessed Voporix – (Good, Protection, Strength, War) Voporix was Donica’s bodyguard. He was brave and valorous. He is the warrior. His order is dedicating to fighting those who are unwilling or unable to steer from an evil path.
Order of Blessed Gontier – (Animal, Good, Plant, Sun) Gontier was a peasant farmer. He was open and honest. He is the parish priest. His order wants nothing more than to help the local community.
Order of Blessed Denarka – (Good, Luck, Protection, Travel) Denarka was a dwarven sage on her way from Aeylamdyar to Remaria. She was the wisest and chronicled her debates with the Prophet after his execution. She is the missionary. Her order seeks out new lands and people to speak the word of the Light.
Order of Light – (none) The Order of Light dedicates itself to the Light (not to the Prophet as some mistakenly believe). They live lives of quiet contemplation and withdraw themselves from society to meditate on the Light. Sometimes they emerge from their monasteries and nunneries to observe the work of the Light in the world.
The Church of Light Today
The Church of Light is divided into five orders as noted above. Each order has an Archpriest and numerous High priests. The Archpriests make all decisions based on group consensus, but the Order of Donica handles the majority of the administrative detail.
Below them are the High Priests. There are roughly fifteen clerics and/or paladins for every High Priest. Their job is to act as a liaison between the “regular” priests and the Archpriests. Normally a High Priest has his own home and makes loose rounds, supervising his charges. Note that advancing in the Church hierarchy in no way relates to the individual power or level of the individual. A backwater Denarkan missionary might be able to channel the magics of the Light better than a Donican High Priest who gives sermons in the city of Primus itself!
Each listing also has the order’s Paragons. A Paragon is a person who followed in the footsteps of one of the Blessed and is responsible for maintaining a given domain within that order. A cleric of the Light may choose which two Paragons she wishes to follow each time she levels up. The cleric is considered to be meditating on these virtues for the duration of the new level. For example: A cleric who follows Voporix starts her career at 1st level and contemplates the lives of Paragons Utlanus (Protection) and Rasele (War). She gains all the benefits of those domains—including the longsword skill—until she achieves 2nd level. At 2nd level she can keep those domains or drop one in favour of another. She decides to keep on thinking about Utlanus, but decides the path of war is not one she needs to dwell on and stops contemplating Rasele in favour of Bartholon (Good). She loses all domain privileges of war and now has domain abilities of good. The player must chose which paragons to follow immediately on levelling (the character is encouraged to pray on the subject), and may not change domains until
Order of Blessed Donica
Donica Primorus was a Remarian noblewoman of no small standing. She never apologized for her wealthy heritage but was very concerned with the welfare of the impoverished. She was very concerned with healing those who could not afford the services of Hermitic Truth priests and before meeting the Prophet, she would travel administering what aid she could.
In theory priests who follow this aspect of the Light are instructed in the ways of treating wounds and disease; it is still required for acolytes to spend four weeks tending to the poor. However, a majority in this order has since lost their way.
Since Donica was a wealthy woman, her first connections in spreading the word of the Light were to the wealthy. Even before Remaria became an empire, it followed the Hermitic Truths. In order to gain inroads to acceptance, Donica was chosen to address those in power. She exposed many of the financial and political elite to the horrors of those they stood over. However, those that followed Donica had grown accustomed to their creature comforts and were unwilling to give them up. In fairness, Donica never suggested a vow of poverty for those in her flock. She just wanted them to go forth and heal the sick no matter what their status.
The modern Order of Blessed Donica is, overall, elitist. They do heal, but they heal those they come into contact with—in other words, the rich. They also strongly encourage donations to the Church of Light and the money generated has a way of winding up in their own coffers. It is typically hard to charge any given clergy person of this kind of corruption as the Order of Donica is also responsible for the care and maintenance of the Church’s facilities. So a large amount of money passing through their hands is all but required.
The current Archpriest of this order is Nataniax Bovorvius. He is a towering, corpulent man whose appearances belie a fondness for wine. Nataniax is only seen on the high holy days and even then he never steps outside the Church’s main cathedral in Primus. He is blissfully unaware of the situation in Launhym and claims to spend his time “meditating on the sorrow of the downtrodden.” The High Priests of the order are quite satisfied with him and are in no hurry to see Nataniax replaced.
The Paragons of Donica are:
Isodore (protection) – a healer who defended a small town that was being attacked by bandits. Though she did not know how to use weapons herself, she cast wards of protection around the commoners so that they would prevail. She died in the siege defending a small child.
Joltanus (restoration) – After a particularly virulent disease swept Primus in 487, he walked the low streets of the city attempting to help the impoverished reclaim their faculties in the wake of the plague.
Kaliati (light) – The only Dark Elf to ever follow the Church of Light, she joined the church knowing that she would die the second she touched for herself the magical source of the Light’s power. She is said to have perished immediately on taking her vows as a cleric with a beautiful smile on her face.
Oriada (healing) – A noblewoman of Donica’s acquaintance, she claimed that anyone in any situation should be able to receive healing. In her opinion, this also included foul villains who had injured themselves in the course of misdoing. She is the reason Donica is the only Blessed whose portfolio does not include “good.”
Order of Blessed Voporix
Voporix was not a Remarian Legionnaire as the legend goes, but was rather a simple bodyguard sworn to Donica’s service. He is often a Church example of devotion and loyalty. Book-minded scholars often wonder at Voporix’s transition from warrior to clergyman, and it is suspected that he was on a never-ending quest to find a perfect truth that needed his protection. He apparently found that truth when he met the Prophet.
Those in the service of this order are rarely wanderers. Their service is often dictated by the Donicans—who serve as their administrators for obvious historical reasons—and they are expected to obey their instructions to the letter. A very typical assignment would be for a Voporixian to be assigned to protect a Denarkan (since they are often on the outskirts of civilization). However, sometimes a Voporixian will be asked to enter into a new area to “test the waters” before someone more suited to missionary work is sent. Voporixians rarely, if ever, spread the word of their faith or try to convert others. They are expected to stand as an example to others rather than preach.
Voporixians are also charged with being the ones to go into war, should that ever be needed. This is the most common image of a Voporixian: the warrior-priest charging into battle with nothing but his faith and sword to protect him. While the Voporixians try to downplay this image, they get enough hotheads within their ranks that they have plenty of unfortunate subjects for their critics to point out. Members who continually display such outbreaks of anger are channelled into the outlying areas of the Church’s influence. The idea that if the clergyman is going to get into a fight, he may as well get into one with unbelievers; an attitude which probably explains why this order has attracted surprisingly few paladins.
The Archpriestess of this order is Annexia Puranius. She is reputed to have been a wild woman in her younger days but has since settled into her role. She is technically supposed to stand at Nataniax Bovorvius’ side, but since he rarely makes public appearances she spends much of her time training recruits or sparring with local Legionnaires.
The Paragons of Voporix are:
Bartholon (good) – A man of humility and self-doubt, he was the first paladin in the Church of Light and is credited for slaying a conjurer and his horde of outsider minions in 334 AC. He is said to have doubted his own role as a paladin and was constantly attempting to correct injustices in atonement for sin that never existed within him.
Rasele (war) – A general in the Imperial Legion, she single-handily defeated a cult avatar during Remaria’s campaign in Wirasantoso.
Utlanus (protection) – A sympathizer to the Prophet, he was the bodyguard of a minor Remarian aristocrat who was watching the Prophet’s pending execution. Though the aristocrat was cheering for the Prophet’s death, Utlanus jumped in the way of stone shrapnel from the destruction surrounding the event. The aristocrat was saved and was so moved by Utlanus’ sacrifice that he immediately converted himself.
Xenatix (strength) – A half-orc that served in the Remarian Army (but not as a Legionnaire), Xenatix is credited with saving the cathedral wall in the Home town of Far Shire in 702 while it was under construction. Xenatix is said to have kept it from falling by holding it up while the halflings scurried for a day and a night to reinforce it.
Order of Blessed Gontier
Gontier was a simple peasant farmer who tilled land just outside what was then the Remarian border (it has long since been conquered). His desire was to simply be present for the community in whatever capacity was needed. He wanted nothing more than to help children be born, see them marry, and tend the dying to their final rest.
Members of this order grow into their roles. The Church tries to place clergy who originated from a certain area back to his or her homestead, but a greater need for a Church cleric in another land will always take precedence. It is very rare that someone will be placed in an entirely foreign area, but it does happen—there are some very nervous Calisian Gonterian priests who dread the day they may be instructed to work in Launhym!
Surprisingly, this is the order that has the greatest number of paladins, a subject of no small debate in secular circles. The current thought is that the Gontier offers a hotheaded, but spiritual youth the opportunity to defend his homeland while following the Light. In contrast, Paladins of Voporix are expected to travel about more.
The Archpriest of Gontier, Lemannos Russus, is commonly thought to be relatively young for his position. However, his knowledge of religious history in general and Church history in particular is vast. He is not ambitious or power hungry – common traits among this order – and spends more time than he should poring over old texts. Concern grows that he will be removed from his post.
The Paragons of Gontier are:
Aliesyina (plant) – A former elven druid, Aliesyina converted to the Church of Light after a missionary helped save her grove from fire. She and the missionary engaged in dialogue for almost a decade before she fully accepted the Light. She spent her long years helping farmers grow their crops.
Farsolus (good) – A merchant from Provincia Moridia who built up a vast mercantile empire only to discover that his success had brought him no happiness. He dispersed his wealth into public works (the canals south of Primus were all financed by him) and took up life as a simple—but happy—farmer.
Toransalus (sun) – When the necromancer Josporus plagued Remaria there were many other necromancers that imitated him. Toransalus is credited with bringing the miracle of high noon to midnight, destroying an undead horde that would have destroyed a village that was too small for the Imperial Army to have the time to rescue.
Wherhin (animal) – a Swezeho stablehand, he is said to have converted an entire kingdom by taming the colossal dire horses that are found in the eastern lands.
Order of Blessed Denarka
Denarka was the only non-human in the Prophet’s original fold. Her time with him was somewhat unremarkable. She listened and walked with the Prophet but rarely struck out on her own. However, after the Prophet’s death she came into her own. Denarka travelled far north to her native Galkarnan, spreading the word of the Light as she travelled and converted many. When she arrived at Galkarnan she single-handedly converted the dwarves to the Church of Light. The process was long and tragic. The accounts of Denarka’s death vary, but it was most certainly at the hands of some embittered followers of Galtorzuk (the former patron of the dwarves).
The Order of Denarka is very loose and open-ended. Most followers start out as becoming acolytes of Donica or Gontier and then discover their desire to travel to the outskirts of Remaria to spread the word. Denarkans borrow from the philosophy of Voporix in that they do not seek to actively convert, but rather to set an example and act as a spiritual counsellor to those they meet.
Denarkans have grown deep ties with the Remarian Legionnaires. This may seem odd given that Denarka was a dwarf and Galkarnan-Remarian ties can be described as “bitter” on a good day. However the Legion made many overtures to the Denarkans when they realized they were an excellent source of information as to what goes on in the world. In exchange, the Legion openly welcomes Lightists into their fold.
The Archpriest of Denarka is Vallarit “Mistwalker,” a tall, dark-skinned gentleman from the far southern reaches of Remaria. He earned his moniker in a rite from his native land that he no longer chooses to discuss. Vallarit was originally chosen from within his order because of his fine attention for detail. Unfortunately, this blossomed into a penchant for micro-management and Vallarit is constantly checking into minute details that would be better handled by underlings.
The Paragons of Denarka are:
Borgan (good) – A dwarven blacksmith, Borgan was the first convert in Galkarnan. It was very upsetting to the dwarven community for a revered blacksmith to immediately give up the ways of Galtorzuk and he was stripped of his social privileges as a blacksmith and banished. It was not until much later that his remains were discovered off of a trail in the Worldspines where he had created wondrous frescos praising the Light in the mountainsides out of makeshift tools.
Cintatinia (travel) – A former wizard of the Imperial Academy, she was able to use her magic to carry her to all edges of the Remarian Empire and spread the word of the Light.
Itiki (luck) – A merchant who braved the Celestial Sea, Itiki had her ship sanctified by the Church and mandated that her sailors pray to the Light every morning. Her ship always had good weather and fortune would smile on her every time things looked bad.
Zanetar (light) – A bandit of some small infamy. Zanetar was part of a group that captured some Lightist travellers. When his comrades started torturing the travellers for sport, Zanetar screamed that they had gone too far and attacked them on the spot. He managed to survive, though he was permanently crippled in the melee, and dedicated the rest of his life to atonement and pursued bandits into the darkness of night.
Order of the Light
This is the monastical branch of the Church and it operates independent of the other orders. A learned monk from the monastery in Primus is given the honorary title of “Archpriest” and serves only to break any tie votes that may occur. Currently this person is Ahnabellea Ystralus. She is a very old woman who is given to spending weeks fasting and contemplating the Light. There are many that would prefer that she take a more active role in the Church, but she has said that she considers the Church to be a peripheral institution and inconsequential to the Light.