Origins of the ChurchEdit
The Church, founded in 360 before the ECC, has been the center for Commoner and Warden religions belief for centuries. While the Creators have always been worshipped in some manner, this was the first time anyone attemped to standardize their worship and to collect everyone under a single banner.
While commoners flocked to this new way of Worship, many Casters and Wardens preferred to keep with their old traditions.
The clergy views the church as the natural extension of the Creators and as the divinely placed instrument against the Fallen.
The Creators created all life on Ethaeria, however their own origins are unclear. While the evidence is murky, most people agree that the Creators always have been alive in some form or another. The most commonly accepted viewpoint is that the Creators were at one time humans (or humanoids) that ascended beyond the need for physical form eons before the current timeline.
Faeron - Lord of all Creators. Lord of all life and the elements. Also patron of life in order/balance, men.
Baesari - Lady of all Creators. Lady of love and fertility. Also patroness of beauty and women.
Ratherr - Brother to Faeron. Lord of warriors, war, combat, honor.
Patil - Scholar of the Creators. Lord of knowledge, the sciences, magical learning.
Sarith - Brother to Faeron. Lord of death and ferryman of glorious faithful into the afterlife.
Their first creations were other incorporeal beings of great power. These four 'Firstlife' became corrupted, however, and were cast out. Their first corporeal creations, were the mythic beasts of legend (gryphons, manticores, dragons). These beasts were also the first to become corrupted by the Fallen. When the Creators saw how the majority of their first creations corrupted, they banished them to the far reaches of Ethaeria. They then set about creating a new form of life, one able to think about its actions.
The Fallen, four beings whom Creators had made in their image, who wanted to toy with the more dark and evil emotions of living beings and were cast out of the upper levels of the ethereal plane (Ethuin and Orthuin), and sent to a lower sub-plane (Loethuin).
Aze’uul - Lord of the Fallen. Patron of murder and chaos.
Mesaroth - Patron of violence and human blood sacrifices.
Veseri - Lady of the Fallen. Patroness of hate, disdain, jealousy/envy. Twin to Vaerol.
Vaerol - Patron of disease, pestilence, corruption.
The first humans were without any forms of magic power. However, the Fallen introduced this divine power to the world by recalling all of their foul beasts. The only answer the Creators could find was to bestow upon their newly formed mankind the power to combat this evil. However, to seek balance, a choice was given to every member of mankind. Those that chose to remain without magic would retain the direct oversight of the Creators, but at the cost of a more fragile existence. This is what led to the formation of the three great groups of Ethaeria; the Casters, Commoners, and Wardens.
The Planes of Existence Edit
Hithuin/Orthuin: Hithuin is the realm of the Creators. While they can exist in any of the planes, they spend most of their time here. Orthuin is the realm designated for those chosen to ascend to spend their afterlife with the Creators.
Medthuin: The realm of normal life. This plane is designed to inhabited only by corporeal beings. However, due to the corruption introduced by the fallen, incorporeal and ethereal beings (ghosts, banshees, etc.) have been known to exist here.
Loethuin: The plane of the Fallen. It is said to be a dark and terrible plane where harmony and order do not exits.
The Lexicon of Inspired EnlightenmentEdit
- Main article: The Lexicon of Inspired Enlightenment
The Lexicon is a collection of tomes said to be inspired by the Creators themselves, and is the holy book that all religious worship stems from.
The church is a largely male dominated organization formed in 360 before ECC. The church is the seat of all "enlightened" religious thought in Ethaeria. It is a large and mostly orderly body which relies on a strict hierarchy to function.
- Arch-Lecturer: The head of the Church as a whole. Supremely ordained patriarch and conduit between the common folk and their Creators.
- Lecturer (Journeying Lecturer): Leaders of the main districts of Ethaeria. A Journeying Lecturer is one that serves the outlying districts but is based in a major city.
- Pontiff: Leaders of individual churches and abbeys.
- Brother: These men serve as the bulk of the staff at churches and other holy sites.
- Sister: These women serve at convents, abbeys, and operate the many orphanages in Ethaeria.
- Layperson: Those not associated with the clergy of the church. The common church-goer.
The Arch-Lecturer is ordained for life, and can only be replaced if he dies or if he is found guilty of heresy, blasphemy, or any other 'unforgivable' grievance against Holy Law. Despite agreements and laws stating otherwise, most pontiffs and Lecturers are sons of wealthy or guilded families. This stretches back to the debt owed by the Church to the Tamorri family Banks.
Church Orginizations and OrdersEdit
The Enlightened Order of Thyrus Only the wisest and most studied clergy may be asked to enter the Order of Thyrus. Named after Thyrus Rolphsted, the first Arch-Lecturer, the Order is devoted to the study of the Lexicon and understanding its mysteries. Typically only current or former Arch-Lecturers are asked to join this order, however some of lower ranking have been initiated.
The Holy Order of Rolof These brothers take vows of silence and journey the countryside posting written verses from the Journeys of Rolof the Mute. Some go as far as to have their tongues cut out so as not to violate their vows. Viewed by some as extremists, they seek to keep the church "pure" and free from corruption.
The Sisters of Ealthia These women are dedicated to the healing arts practiced by renowned nurse (and sister) Ealthia of Orlsbad. They operate several large non-profit and free hospitals and clinics throughout Ethaeria, providing healthcare to the poor and elderly.
In addition to the large ones listed here, there are countless others groups and orders that are much smaller that reside within the church hierarchy.
Church Laws and OrdinancesEdit
There are over three hundred laws set down in the Lexicon that govern everyday life among the faithful. Of those three hundred, a fraction are specifically aimed at the church. Below is a small sampling of those church-focused laws:
- No illegitimate (bastard) male may be part of the Church hierarchy.
- No church clergy member may officially hold any lands, property, or possessions of value.
- The Church may not hold a standing army of its own.
- The church may not make a profit from any means.
- Women who enter into a convent to become sisters do so for life. Men who enter into the clergy are also dedicated for life.
- No guilded family can provide a son into the church hierarchy.
- Donations to the church must be used to benefit the laypeople and to run the church. Nothing more.
- Holy holidays must be observed by all clergy, regardless of what the laypeople do.
- The Sacred Library in Maevan must always be staffed by at least one Lecturer and one Pontiff selected by the Arch-Lecturer himself.
- Any matter to be considered by the Arch-Lecturer must be heard by him in Xianthe at the Divine Cathedral.
In addition the inspired laws, there are countless ordinances (which are usually later added to the Everlasting Laws). They range from when the Church is required to pay land tax (on Church owned buildings and property) to when it is proper for the Arch-Lecturer to consume his evening meal.
Arguably one of the most important laws are those that govern how a new Arch-Lecturer is to be selected and ordained. These strict mandates have made it difficult for the Church to find new leaders, and many of the clergy wish to have the laws rewritten.
- Upon the death of the Arch-Lecturer. His body must be prepared for burial and buried within five days. He is to be sealed in the Holy Tombs.
- After a two week mourning period, the Church may begin the process of ordaining a new Arch-Lecturer.
- The new Arch-Lecturer can be any male of the clergy (from brother to pontiff) but must be able to prove that he is not from a guilded family. The Assembly of Lecturers must agree unanimously on the proposed person.
- If a decision cannot be reached in two months following the death of the previous Arch-Lecturer, the church must hold a vote of all active members of the various assemblies and congregations. The ballot boxes must be sealed by a lock only the head of the Assembly of Lecturers can open.
- A prayer must be said over every ballot put into the box. Upon counting the ballots, the candidate with the majority of votes will be ordained immediately.