(This still under Construction A LOT)
In the beginning was Makan, the foundation of reality, the mind-which-creates, and Chaos, the sea of endless change. We cannot know and need not care how long Makan dwelt upon his thoughts before making the world. All we know is this. He gazed upon the Chaos; it defied him and he set out to be the master of it. In the First Action, he defined Truth, the First Rune. He applied Truth and banished the lies of Chaos, creating land and sea and sky by forcing endless change into the stability of a single truth. This is the First Action. Then he defined other things and strengthened the basic frame of the world by creation of the Runes, further differentiating everything and laying down the laws by which everything acts. In the Third Action, he breathed into some of his creations, awakening their minds. Some he especially blessed, the Saints, who would guide the others. The Saints gathered all who would follow them and created Danmalstan, the land most blessed of the Creator. The rest remained, creating other kingdoms and tinkering with the power of the runes; some transformed themselves into Elves, Trolls, Dragonnewts and so on.
For a time, there was a golden age, and the Saints ascended to dwell with Makan. But without their guidance, the people fell into sin, especially those who followed the foolish Vadel. In other lands, demons entered, calling themselves spirits or gods and swayed others and those who had abandoned their humanity plotted deep plans to make their Rune dominant. Thus the Fourth Action became known as Decline. And then Chaos itself broke into the world, the way opened by foolish men and krjalki.
In the Fifth Action, Malkion came, inspired by the Creator, trying to turn the tide of disaster. In their fear, the people called this Destruction but we know its true name. Sacrifice. Malkion let himself be slain to save the world by opening the way to Solace, shaming the gods and spirits and Chaos itself into retreating and giving men hope. Even his slayer, the atheist sorceror Zzabur was so moved, he spent much of his strength returning the Sun to the sky. Even as this happened, Malkion's son Hrestol returned from the Underworld with the Secret of Joy of the Heart, aided by the Lightbringers.
But now Zzabur tried to assert that everyone must follow *his* rules. He slew Hrestol who tried to stop him, but not before Hrestol taught many disciples the secret of Joy of the Heart. Some disciples gathered his teachings into the Book of Hrestol, and our founder, Aeolus, added his own Meditations to it. He taught us the art by which we bond to a Patron Saint to protect our souls from the Lies of Vadel and to wield the power of the Invisible God. Now began the Sixth Movement, the Age of Joy of the Heart.
Unfortunately, in time, many Malkioni became the corrupt God-Learners, who delved too deeply into the mysteries of Chaos, failing to understand that the author of their 'Abiding Book' was Vadel himself, and so they destroyed themselves and freed the sea to rage against the land again, destroying much of Seshnela and closing the seas to us until Saint Dormal manifested himself and ended the Closing.
It is to be noted that Rokar the Prophet was another mask of Vadel, spreading lies and corrupting Seshnela to wickedness. We know this because of his ties to the 'Sharp Abiding Book'. Anything drawn from the Abiding Book is clearly evil. Their efforts to subjugate us bear further witness to this. Further, the Red Emperor now sits in the throne of the Wicked Emperor in the North and seeks to enslave us all. Many fear that the Seventh and final Movement, Apocalypse, is about to begin.
In Danmalstan, there was a rigid caste system, but we have found it no longer works. Yet, adherence to certain laws grants the blessing of the creator. Everyone is born into a caste system, but those who dislike their birth rank, or who aspire to become men-of-all may undergo a holy test at age 14 and every 7 years thereafter. Those who pass it may change caste; those who spend at least 7 years of adulthood in every caste may try the test to become men-of-all, our greatest heroes and leaders. They are rare. Perhaps one in 100,000 or less manage to do this and few even try. About one in five hundred who try to change caste die; most fail the test. But you can keep trying if you don't die.
- Governors: The highest caste, they rule over the others. They act as generals in war but do not actually fight.
- Priests: They study the ways of the Saints and the Grimoires of wizardry. They ensure the people gain the blessings of the Invisible God.
- Soldiers: Soldiers fight and make and fix weapons. Many soldiers provide support services to the actual front-line soldiers.
- Makers: Everyone else is a Maker, though some Makers do things like transport goods. They make up the bulk of the population.
Every believer must attend weekly church services on RestDay? (day seven). During the service, the faithful pray and read from the Book of Hrestol and the Meditations of Aeolus, experiencing the stories told from it, culminating in the Joy of the Heart, for half the day. The rest of the day is spent in rest and prayer.
Part of the service is a divine blessing which augments his or her ability to perform common magic. Anyone who has attended weekly church can also benefit from the blessing radiated by the local Church. This typically focuses around a single rune and is most commonly the Water, Plant, or Earth Runes.
At age 14, you undergo a holy rite in which you live out stories of the holy texts and choose a Patron Saint, who will guide you henceforth. You gain a blessing from your Saint and now can learn Common Magic appropriate to your Caste.
Everyone learns Common Magic appropriate to their Caste; some join Fraternities and Sororities which teach spell magic appropriate to their caste. The Holy Society of Saint Barnabas, for example, teaches agricultural spell magic to its members. These societies require 30% of your time; their leaders gain even greater power, but 70% of their time is spent on holy activities. Priests have the broadest magical power of the four castes.
In the other castes, many never progress beyond Common Magic, but in the Priestly Caste, most do so, for obvious reasons. One who can only do Common Magic is an Acolyte, who assists the Priests and studies the mysteries. After passing a Heroquest, they can move up to Priest status, devoting 30% of their time to devotionals and beginning study of Grimoires, from which they learn spells. Eventually, they can become a Saint-Caller, devoting 70% of their time to holy work and learning to call upon their patron Saint to duplicate their great deeds.
The Clergy: Every village has a Shrine to the Invisible God and the Saints. Every village's Shrine is basically independent, though some have more influence than others and they hold Synods periodically where delegates meet and discuss issues of mutual interest. Every village has at least a Priest and a few Acolytes. Most have a Saint-Caller, a Priest, and a few Acolytes. Only the bigger communities have more than one Saint-Caller.
Gender: Both men and women can rise to the top in the Church, but it's rare to be a different gender than your chosen Saint.
During the Third Action, the Invisible God especially blessed certain of the new Men with his power, the Saints. They watch over all of us even now; every person has a special bond to one of the Saints. A handful of later people have also been blessed by the Creator with Sainthood. Perhaps even you, one day, if you pray and obey the Creator's laws.
- Saint Aeolus: He came to us in the darkness and taught us the true way to follow the Invisible God. Most popular with Priests. (Truth, Air)
- Feat: Revelation of Truth: The sealed manifests Aeolus' ability to reveal the proper way to worship the Invisible God and revere the Saints, enabling him to convert unbelievers into members of the community, to drive off the wicked magics of monsters and heretics and false religions, and to bring peace between theists and Malkioni. Those he speaks to experience the holy tales he tells, though it is not a full Heroquest.
- Saint Arachne: Saint Arachne is the patron of spiders, weavers, storytellers, and historians. She wove the Great Tapestry which established how the world would now look and function in the Sixth Movement and beyond. She it was who told the 1,001 stories which melted the heart of the Judge of the Dead, forcing him to release the Lightbringers to return to the world of the Living. When you die, she takes you before the Judge of the Dead, the Rune of Death, and speaks the story of your life. She was a Lightbringer. She is favored by Priests and Makers. (Stasis, Communications)
- Feat: The 1,0001 Stories: You know the stories she told to the Judge of the Dead, and you can melt the hardened hearts of others, calling them to generosity and compassion, by telling these stories. You cannot control what they will do, but you can be sure it will incline to mercy and helping others.
- Saint Arkat: Very few people are sealed to this saint; those who are typically have some high but grim destiny. Arkat was once a man, called by the Invisible God to defeat Wakboth's manifestation in the First Age, Gbaji, known also as Nysalor. Those who follow in his footsteps are meant to destroy some great evil, by any means necessary. Arkat may call members of any Caste, but Soldiers are the most likely to hear his call. (Death, Mastery)
- Feat: Mask of the King Troll: Arkat became a Troll, and like him, you take on the form of a troll, but not just any troll, a troll with *authority*, even if you are male. Trolls will accept and follow you, while you wear the mask and you can eat basically anything. Failure to act trollish enough will rend the mask, however.
- Saint Barnabus: The son of Esmerelda and Orlando, he invented the art of farming and teaches his secrets to the Maker caste. There is a very popular story about how he defeated Saint Uriel in a wrestling match and forced Uriel to pull his plow for a week. (This is also his most popular Heroquest.) (Water, Communications)
- Feat: Plowsong: Neither you nor your oxen tire while you do farm work; you can keep going without rest for days in order to get everything done in time.
- Saint Charlotte: Daughter of Esmerelda and the Wicked Emperor, a marriage arranged by Vadel, a marriage which should never have been. Nevertheless, even from bad things, good things can come, she teaches and lived. She it was who redeemed her love, Saint Gerlant, and led him to Danmalstan when her mother escaped with the aid of Saint Orlanth. She is the White Lady of Healing, whose chosen foreswear all violence and embrace peace and healing. She is popular among both Priests and Makers, for each have their share of her task. With Hrestol, she watches over birthing. She knows the powerful secret of how to Defeat Others Without Fighting, by which she prevented Kinstrife during the Fourth Movement. She is one of the Lightbringers. (Harmony, Fertility)
- Feat: The Secret of Fighting Without Hurting: You gain the charisma and wisdom of Saint Charlotte, able to persuade people to cease their violence peacefully as she did.
- Saint Conwy: A disciple of Malkion's son Hrestol, who gave up the easy comfort of the life of a Zzabur in order to share her wisdom with others; she visited us and taught us secrets and wisdom before the Zzaburi caught and murdered her. Conwy takes few disciples, but her sealed wander community to community, following the inner light of the Invisible God and teaching us when we most need to be taught. Most popular with Priests. (Truth, Movement)
- Feat: Comfort without Comfort: You can go without food, water, fresh clothing, shelter, etc, and still appear as fresh as if you lived a life of luxury.
- Saint Dormal: The Sailor who opened the seas of the world. He is the most recent saint and most popular with sailors. He urges exploration and friendship with other lands; he is friendly with Saint Isaac. Most popular with Makers. (Water, Communications)
- Feat: Fare Well Whatever Weather: A ship under your command can basically ignore even the worst weather as if the sea was placid.
- Saint Esmerelda: The wise counsellor and mistress of the divine household. She teaches there are many solutions to every problem and we must consider them all without rushing into action. Wife to Saint Orlando, and the patron of marriages within the community. Popular with Governors. (Earth, Harmony)
- Feat: I am the Mistress of this household: Those around you defer to you as if you were indeed the head of their household and follow your orders.
- Saint Eusebius: The younger brother of Saint Esmerelda, he is most famed as the inventor of alcohol. When the community needs to relax from their labors, we turn to his example and cut loose until Esmerelda says the time to party is done. He also likes to tell tall tales and play jokes, having a rivalry with Xylenia in that regard. Sometimes his pranks save the community or lead people to wisdom, and sometimes they end in disaster for him, but since he enjoys laughing at himself, he doesn't mind. Only the near-death of Esmerelda has ever made him angry, and then he turned his wrath upon our enemies, supporting Saint Mara's clearing of a road to escape to safety when Danmalstan fell with his vicious, angry pranks on our enemies. Because he invented alcohol, he is good friends with many other saints, especially Xylenia, Orlando, and Uriel. But he is unwed because even Xylenia could not keep her sanity if she married him.
- Feat: Drunken Master of Battle: You can drink virtually any liquid and survive it. You get drunk physically, but not mentally; this enables you to perform the Drunken Battle Dance, a potent, if ludicrous looking, battle dance, to destroy your foes.
- Saint Gerlant: Saint Gerlant once served the Wicked Emperor of the North, Pelor, who claimed Lordship over the Sun, when all should know that the Invisible God made the sun and the Fire Rune is its master, under the Invisible God. But Saint Charlotte healed his spiritual blindness and he pledged himself to protect her and her people. Guided by Saint Hubert and Saint Langston, he created the Code of Honorable War. The Invisible God blessed him with authority over the Sun. Saints of Saint Gerlant are at the forefront of opposing the Red Emperor, who claims to rule the Sun in the Third Age, and regard the Dara Happans, the people of Pelor, as human garbage. He is married to Saint Charlotte. (War, Fire)
- Feat: Resist Temptation: Nothing can deter you from your course of action, however tempting, as nothing could tempt Saint Gerlant to betray his trust.
- Saint Hrestol: Into the Underworld he descended after the death of the Sun. From the Underworld, he led the Lightbringers with the Secret of Joy. At Sog City, he was murdered by the filthy Zzaburi. But it was too late, the secret was out which the Zzaburi had hidden in the depths of hell so they could maintain their undeserved rule over everyone. Popular with Priests. Saint Hrestol's chosen ensure no one returns as undead and watch over birth and burials and the transition points of life. They also administer the tests for those seeking to switch Caste. He led the Lightbringers. (Fate, Death)
- Feat: Suffused with Joy: The Joy of the Heart fills you with its light; all believers around you are strengthened by it and their hearts protected and strengthened by the Creator's power.
- Saint Hubert: The grim, determined brother of Saint Orlando. To be a soldier is to be a weapon and Saint Hubert's followers stand for honor and valor in battle, and for discipline. During Sacred Time, he manifests to all Soldiers and sings to them the War Song, a poem explaining why some must fight, and why you should feel no guilt at doing that duty. All sealed to Hubert are severed from the bonds of kinship and take new oaths to serve the community. Popular with Soldiers. (Death, Law)
- Feat: Hubert Slaughters the Undead: You wreak havoc upon all undead by whatever means you chose to slaughter them.
- Saint Irene: Sister to Barnabas and daughter of Orlando and Esmerelda, Saint Irene discovered the secrets of communicating with animals; she brought some of them into the light of the Invisible God, turning them from feral monsters into herd animals, the friends of men. She was wooed by Saint Uriel and married him, but was slain by Chaos. The Lightbringers brought her back with them on their return from the Underworld. Because of her death and return, there is power in the death of herd animals, and they are used in sacrifices today. Her sealed are mostly Makers, but some Priests serve her for her authority over sacrifice itself. Her chosen die during the Sacred Time rites and return, bringing blessings to all, by the end. (Beast, Harmony)
- Feat: The Secret of Animal Speech: Everyone around you gains the ability to speak to animals while this lasts, and the animals are more inclined to listen to you.
- Saint Isaac: Isaac it was who first opened trade between Danmalstan and other lands. Isaac it was who was betrayed by Vadel, who brought back evil into Danmalstan. But Isaac did not let this break him; contact with others is risky, yet essential. No one people has everything they need; we gain more by cooperation than by fighting. He once courted Esmerelda, but she turned him down, saying they were too similar to each other and he saw the wisdom in this. He presides over marriages between believers and those of other communities. Most popular with Makers and Governors. He was a Lightbringer. (Harmony, Communications)
- Feat: Isaac Sees the Deal: You instinctively know what people want to give you what you want and how best to talk them into it; you can make even skinflints to be generous in their dealing.
- Saint Langston: Saint Langston was the first judge of Danmalstan *and* the inventor of books and scrolls and writing. He is thus revered by Priests and Governors. He urges us to be just, but also to seek new knowledge and record it for future generations, as he discovered and recorded the law. He was a Lightbringer. Husband to Saint Nomia. (Truth, Law)
- Feat: Langston Enforces the Law: When you pass a legal judgement, agents of the Invisible God will punish anyone who defies or violates it. You can bind the guilty with a geasa.
- Saint Malkion: He who sacrificed himself to save us all. When Zzabur himself slew Malkion, the gods and spirits were shamed and repented their wickedness and the Sun returned and the world was healed. Almost never does Malkion claim someone as his sealed; when he does, that person is honored, for when they reach the age of thirty-three, some destiny will present itself which will end in their death to save everyone. This happens only a few times in an age. (Fate, Man)
- Feat: My Pain Empowers Others: Whenever you are hurt while this is active, it strengthens your allies as Malkion's sacrifice strengthened us all.
- Saint Mara: The daughter of Saint Esmerelda and ?. No one knows for sure who her father was, as Saint Orlando was on the Lightbringer Quest, yet Esmerelda is a faithful wife. It may simply have been a miracle. During the Lightbringer Quest, Chaos assailed Danmalstan and brought about its downfall. In the process, Saint Esmerelda was mortally wounded and the best her daughters could do was to put her into a healing sleep. But from her wounds sprang forth, fully-grown, Saint Mara the Avenger. Mara it was who carved a path for the people to escape their enemies, howling out her wrath and bringing death to all the enemies of Danmalstan. Mara it was who confronted the Seven-Headed King and forced him to eat his own genitals. Mara it was who tore the Earth open under the Army of Illusion, causing it to fall into the Earth and be crushed. Mara it was who destroyed the plunder-machines of the Mostali and slew the entire Eleventh Caste of Mostali who made it. Mara it was who slew the mounts of an army of mer-folk and fed the people with the flesh of those mounts. Mara it was who drive the Tiger Clan into a volcano to die, then used their burning bodies to roast the aforementioned mounts. And Mara it was who collapsed in tears of joy when Esmerelda rose from her bed as the new Sun rose in the sky. Mara is the Avenger of the Invisible God, smiting all those who strike at the community. She is a patron to many women who fight within the Soldier Caste, but also to any woman who seeks justice. Bloody, a head for a stubbed toe, justice. She also curses those she hates with Earthquakes and blesses those she loves with the absence of Earthquakes. Favored by Soldiers. (Earth, Disorder)
- Feat: Rage Against The World: You go berserk, ignoring all damage until the fight is over and delivering blows with superhuman strength, as Mara did during the Escape From Danmalstan.
- Saint Nomia: She was the wife of Saint Langston, who inspired him to seek new knowledge as well as to preserve the old. Murdered during the rising of Chaos by the Chaos Demon Than, who cut her head off and tried to graft it in place of his own head to get her knowledge, she was brought back by the Lightbringers, but the Judge of the Dead depended on her so much that he required her to spend a part of the year with him, aiding his work. Her sealed spend their holy service time as a hermit, then return to share the insights they gained. Their mastery of their bodies enables them to go without food and drink during that time, passing into a state that resembles death. Mostly Priests are sealed to her, but certain unarmed warriors of the Soldier Caste have secrets from her as well. (Truth, Man)
- Feat: The Secret of Soul Travel: While your body meditates, your soul enters the Underworld or higher planes, doing whatever your body could normally do there. Your body is sustained without need for food, drink, air, or the like.
- Saint Orlando: The impulsive, rash husband of Saint Esmerelda. He urges us to get up and *act* instead of just contemplating our options and never *doing* anything. A very potent warrior and hero who protected the people of Danmalstan, while also sometimes getting them in trouble he had to then protect them from. Popular with Soldiers. He was a Lightbringer. (Air, Motion)
- Feat: Saint Orlando's Charge: You rush a group of foes, dodging all incoming missile fire and unleash your wrath upon them with superhuman speed. This can be used to charge through one group of foes unhurt to reach another.
- Saint Uriel: Saint Uriel was the leader of a tribe of nomads who Saint Isaac befriended in his journeys; during the Fourth Movement, Saint Uriel and his people moved to Danmalstan, where they became known as the Wandering Peoples, who traded with everyone and herded their cattle and other beasts across the land. Those who would not come with him eventually became the Praxians, selling themselves to spirits and demons to survive. It was in this age that he lost a wrestling match with Saint Barnabas and had to plow his lands for a week; Uriel's sealed try not to think about that, though. When war came upon the land, his wife, Irene, was slain, and he was enraged. He became the stoutest defense against Chaos and still is. Favored by Soldiers and a handful of Makers. (Beast, Eternal Battle)
- Feat: Wrath Against Chaos: You can slaughter Chaos with anything that comes to hand, from a stylus to a noodle to a piece of grass, though actual weapons are more effective, inflicting hideous damage. Your wrath cannot be turned aside until all Chaos creatures *die*.
- Saint Ursula: If you can believe her claims, Saint Ursula is the daughter of the Fertility Rune and a human. (Certain texts also claim variously that she is the sister or aunt of the Wicked Emperor, that she is actually a keet who somehow achieved Sainthood, that she is the mother of Orlando, Esmerelda, or Xylania, that she is a *troll* who achieved Sainthood, or that she *is* the Fertility Rune, masquerading as a Saint for some reason. Possibly to have fun.) She is the patron of love, fertility, and life itself; she is a friend to Saint Xylania. Birthing itself is in the hands of Saints Hrestol and Charlotte, but she ensures you get pregnant when you want and don't when you don't. She can even enable a human and a krjalki to have a child! She also presides over marriages. She seals people of every Caste. (Fertility, Man)
- Feat: Ursula Heals The Womb: With a gentle touch, you can restore anyone's lost fertility and ensure (if they can bear children normally) that they give birth without complications or injury to themself.
- Saint Victoria: In the Second Age, she rose up from the ranks of the Makers to become a Woman-Of-All, leading our forces against the EWF to regain our independence. She is especially the patron of Women-of-All; only women hear her call, but may come of any caste. (War, Mastery)
- Feat: Craft Dragonhide Armor: You know the secret of making armor out of the hide of draconic beings; while the draconic being will come back for revenge, your magic weakens his ability to retaliate.
- Saint Xylania: A member of the Evil Emperor's harem, rescued by Saint Charlotte and Saint Gerlant and brought back to Danmalstan; she was one of the Trolls. Many disliked her, but she had too many secrets to share and did too much good to be driven out, though not all appreciated her gifts. Too much order can be as bad as too much disorder and her sealed ensure that the community does not stagnate and opens contacts with the creatures of Darkness. Her sealed do not become Trolls, but those who have undergone the second initiation can use her power to become trolls for a time. She is a friend to Saint Ursula. She calls those of every caste, but more Priests and Makers. Extremely ironically, she is a Lightbringer. (Darkness, Disorder)
- Feat: Unravel the Excessively Serious: Wherever you go, things happen as if by chance to the overly serious and full of themselves to deflate their swelled heads without you even having to intervene directly; if you *do* take direct action to this goal, this feat makes your efforts stronger.
There are no schools of wizardry outside the church, but the Church practices wizardry through the orders.
Notable Stories / Heroquests
- Esmerelda Sets The Household In Order: It was a quiet day in Storm Season and Esmerelda decided it was time to get things organized before Sacred Time came. The first thing she found was her daughters were busy flirting with boys instead of ensuring the work of the house was done. If the leaders didn't set an example for the people, who would? So she chased off the boys and sent her daughters to organize everything. Then she went to see their Priest, but he was busy trying to help pull a wagon out of a ditch, which was not his job. So she found Saint Uriel and got him to pull the wagon out of the ditch, while the Priest went to go make preparations for Sacred Time and to pray for the people. Then she found her husband, Saint Orlando, and his friends busy getting drunk and partying in the Great Hall instead of patrolling the borders to watch for trouble, for Danmalstan was facing increasing, strange attacks. Once she rousted them to their duties, she turned to see if the costumes had been prepared for Sacred Time, but the costume makers had turned to doing the rites themselves while their Priest was off doing other people's jobs. So she assured them the Priest had returned to his duties, so they could return to theirs. But then a great rainstorm came down because the Makers had bungled the rite. She got the Priest, her Husband Saint Orlando, and one of the Costume Makers. The Costume Maker garbed Saint Orlando as the Great Wind, the Rune of Air, and the Priest prayed to aid the illusion and then he ordered the storm to leave, empowered by her magics, and the storm departed. The sky was clear and blue and beautiful and all things now were in their proper place and playing their proper roles. And so she went to take a well-earned nap. This is used to initiate Priestesses sealed to Esmerelda, to bring order when the community is in chaos, and to aid people in performing their roles in society well. It can also be used to control the Weather.
- Gerlant's Honorable War: Assigned to defend the borders of Danmalstan during the Lightbringers Quest, he fought honorably, letting nothing turn him aside from his duty. From the North, an army of Ice Trolls tried to break into Danmalstan, but he led the defense against them in the Great Northern Pass, for his honor was shown by his valor. From the South, the Dragon-Boaters tried to bribe him to open the way for them, but he refused, for his honor could not be bought with money. The Beast-Riders invaded, burning and pillaging; he defeated them and accepted their surrender without killing them or enslaving them, for he fought with honor. The Green Amazons tried to bribe him with beautiful women, but his honor could not be overturned by lust. During the Long Night, he needed sleep so badly, but his honor kept him awake. Vadel tempted him to make himself King, but his honor sustained him. And when his strength finally failed him; he fought to the end, buying time for Danmalstan's people to escape. His wife had gone with the Lightbringers, so he could not be healed and he died, but the Invisible God took him up into Solace at that moment, for he had always fought honorably. Now he defends Solace, ensuring nothing can ever taint it. This is used to initiate Priests sealed to Gerlant, to seal honorable deals, and to strengthen Soldiers to fight on in defense of the community.
- Saint Irene Discovers the Secret of Animal Speech: In the Third Movement, animals instinctively knew their place, as the Great Beast, the Beast Run, directed them to do their jobs in the world. But in the Fourth Action, there were too many beasts and many rebelled and ran wild. They became Monsters. But Saint Irene knew that once they had been something more. She studied the words of the Great Beast and took on the form of beasts, living among them, learning that some ate meat, but others were *eaten* by their fellows. Living as one of them, she learned their speech and negotiated with the plant-eaters; some of them accepted her offer of protection and care, in return for service and the consumption of some of them, in limited, honored ways. She led those back to Danmalstan and they became part of the community; she taught the people how to speak to them and guide them, and these animals excepted rulership by men. This rite is used to initiate her sealed to become Priests and used to tame wild animals and to deal with unruly domesticated animals. It can also be used to learn beast-speech.
- Isaac Feeds the People: With the death of the Sun, darkness had come upon the land, ruining the crops of Danmalstan; everyone would starve if Isaac could not secure food. But they had more bronze than they knew what to do with; Saint Esmerelda tried to apply the Secret of Cooking Anything to it, but even Saint Uriel couldn't chew it. They could have eaten Saint Irene's herds, but then they would just starve when those ran out. So Isaac loaded his wagon with bronze and Saint Uriel and Saint Barnabas teamed up to pull it, for they were the very strongest of the Saints. Together, they headed out into the rest of the world. They went to the North and everyone was living on ice, but humans can't live by ice alone. But he traded them some of his bronze for ice, as they needed weapons to better cut the ice and fight off Chaos. Then he realized the people of the South craved ice, because it was so hot. So he found a Secret Way and they traveled to the South, where they had endless timber and stone and a strange kind of ground cover that cows could not eat. The people of the South had no food to spare, for they were starving too and eating all the wild animals to survive, but they happily traded him timber, which they had in abundance. Barnabas reminded him that the Mostali *always* needed timber and they had to eat something, right? (The Mostali had once tried to steal his house for its wood!) They followed another Secret Way and reached the great fortress of the Mostali, who happily traded them many cannisters of food for the timber. They rushed home and discovered... it made humans sick and they hallucinated. For a short time, Isaac despaired, until Langston told him that the Dragon People of the East liked to hallucinate, for they saw it as wisdom. So Isaac and Uriel and Barnabas *rushed* to the East by a Secret Way and they easily sold the remaining Dwarf Food for Eastern Food, though it was strange to them - what looked like tiny white noodles shorter than a single joint of your finger, vegetables inside bread, and strange seafood. Vadel offered to trade them better food on the way back, for he had a wagonload of good grains, beef, and vegetables done right. But Uriel punched him in the face and drove him off, for Vadel had hornswoggled him in the past. Then they delivered the food; it was strange but good and Isaac instructed the Makers on the routes to use to ensure the people were fed. This quest can be used to secure food, to open new trade routes, or to learn the Secret Ways. It's also used to initiate Priests sealed to Issac.
- Hubert Parts the Living and the Dead: When Chaos first came upon Danmalstan, it was repelled, but it cast doubt and confusion; the souls of the dead were left unsure where to go or what to do. The Judge of the Dead, the Death Rune, gave Hubert the job of restoring order in this area. So Hubert went to each soul and forced it relive its death, so it knew it was dead, then guided it to its final fate. Some of the dead had made or stolen new bodies, and he slew them, forcing them to go on to their blessing or doom. But then he had to confront Esmerelda's daughters, who insisted she was alive when she *looked* dead. Their argument disturbed Langston, who came down from his tower and studied Esmerelda. Her soul was still within her body, he pronounced, and thus she was alive. He called this state the Life-Sleep. Hubert accepted his judgement, for Langston was favored of the Rune of Truth, which they shared. Thus, order was restored, and henceforth, the dead died and the living lived and those on the cusp slept until they became one or the other. This is used to protect against or destroy the Undead, but also to put the gravely injured into a healing sleep until they can recover.
- Langston Discovers the Secret of Writing: An Acolyte of Langston who wishes to become a Priest must complete this quest. But a Priest of Langston can escort others through this quest and bestow literacy upon them by doing so. It can also be used to learn foreign writing systems for a Priest of Langston or people escorted by such. And it can be used to create a physical translation into the Malkioni Runes of a text. Langston came to realize he could not teach everyone everything all the time; there simply wasn't time for it. He needed a way to make his words available in his absence. He traveled to the north and studied the song-trails of the Ice Trolls, which encoded knowledge of geography in music. He sailed East and studied the memory potions of the keets of Vithela, which let you extract a memory and store it in a drinkable form. He sailed south and studied the great Mushroom Sculptures of the Red Elves, who created them to memorialize things worth remembering. He sailed to the center of the world and studied the great machines of the Mostali, which used a pattern of holes in paper to instruct their machines on what to do. After a disastrous attempt to combine all these things, he finally prayed to the Invisible God for guidance and the Secret of the Runes was opened to him. In gratitude, he taught Isaac the secret, so Isaac could trade it to all the peoples of the world who had helped him to understand. And thus all the folk of the world came to learn the Runes.
- The Lightbringer Quest: When Saint Charlotte and her mother Saint Esmerelda escaped the Palace of the Wicked Emperor, aided by Saint Gerlant and Saint Orlando, the Wicked Emperor blocked their escape, so Saint Orlando stabbed him to death. They fled as the palace collapsed around them, falling into a huge hole in the Earth. Unfortunately, Chaos soon burst up through the hole and pulled down the Sun, casting it into the Underworld and 'killing' it. At first, no one knew what to do, but Saint Langston figured out a solution, and so Saint Hrestol gathered the Lightbringers when Saint Langston brought him the news. Saints Hrestol and Langston, who knew what must be done. Saint Orlando, because it was his fault. Saint Isaac, who could guide them into the North to the Great Hole. Saint Charlotte, who wanted to heal the world and blamed herself for not being able to stop Orlando from slaying the Wicked Emperor, wicked as he was. For all life is sacred to her. Saint Arachne, who came with them to learn the stories of the Underworld. Finally, Saint Xylania, who could guide them through the Underworld. Many adventures they had in the Underworld, and many secrets they learned. Finally, they secured the Secret of Joy and returned, even as Saint Malkion died; their efforts together redeemed the world. This is performed every Sacred Time; it can also be used to try to raise the dead, but that is *much* harder.
- Mara Carves a Path: During the Lightbringer Quest, Chaos assailed Danmalstan and brought about its downfall. In the process, Saint Esmerelda was mortally wounded and the best her daughters could do was to put her into a healing sleep. But from her wounds sprang forth, fully-grown, Saint Mara the Avenger. Mara it was who carved a path for the people to escape their enemies, howling out her wrath and bringing death to all the enemies of Danmalstan. Mara it was who confronted the Seven-Headed King and forced him to eat his own genitals. Mara it was who tore the Earth open under the Army of Illusion, causing it to fall into the Earth and be crushed. Mara it was who destroyed the plunder-machines of the Mostali and slew the entire Eleventh Caste of Mostali who made it. Mara it was who slew the mounts of an army of mer-folk and fed the people with the flesh of those mounts. Mara it was who drive the Tiger Clan into a volcano to die, then used their burning bodies to roast the aforementioned mounts. And Mara it was who collapsed in tears of joy when Esmerelda rose from her bed as the new Sun rose in the sky. This rite is used to initiate her Priestesses and to strengthen Soldiers who must protect and escort non-Soldiers on whatever task. It also makes journeys easier.
- Nomia's Descent Into Hell and Return: The Chaos Demon Than cut off Nomia's head during the Great Darkness and stole it, trying to replace his own with hers, only to find it burned him when he mounted her head on his. So he placed her head in a jar to find a later use for it; she observed him stealing many heads and putting some in jars and simply mounting others on the heads of other creatures, thus creating Jackobears and Bugbears and many things now thankfully extinct. His constant ravings gave away many secrets of Chaos, which she stored in her mind to use against them. While trapped, she prayed and learned to send her spirit out of her head and explore the Underworld, where she found the Judge of the Dead, who rescued her head and reunited it with her body. He taught her many secrets and she guided him in his work. But when the Lightbringers released her and many others from Hell by finding the Secret of Joy, she had to spend half her time with the Judge of the Dead. But she accepted that as her fate. This is used to initiate Priestesses sealed to Nomia, to bring back secrets of the Dead, to find secrets of Chaos, or to strengthen you to do battle with Than, his minions, or any creature whose head does not fit their body.
- Orlando's Victorious Charge: When the decision to attack has been made, this rite is performed in wartime if there is time. It requires one person of each Caste minimum, but a group of warriors plus one of each of the others can do it. Danmalstan was threatened by the coming of the Dark Horde. The Saints were deadlocked on how to deal with it. So Saint Orlando gathered his sworn warrior brothers and they rode out to find the enemy. He found them at night and infiltrated their camp by cunning, for while he is impulsive, he is not stupid. Then they found the Flesh-Ripping King of the Dark Horde, who had learned to eat flesh for power. All the Dark Horde had eaten up everything in their homeland and now wanted to ravage the rich fields and flesh of Danmalstan. Orlando and his companions slew the King and his guard, then threw them into the camp; the army turned on itself, fighting to devour the wonderful smelling flesh; by the time the rest of the Saints arrived, Orlando and his men had put the surviving Dark Horde to the blade. But he shared the loot with them anyway, because he is also generous. In war, some may appear to do less than others, but it is all part of the plan! They also serve who only stand and wait. (But he kept the best for himself and his shield-brothers, of course.)
- The Rite of Adulthood: During Sacred Time, this rite is performed. All youth who are now fourteen or who somehow missed this rite the previous year are brought together. They come to a table with four kinds of items. A hoe, a sword, a book, and a crown. The youth is drawn to the appropriate item for their caste, but can choose something else; if they do so, the quest will become much harder for them. A Sealed of Hrestol gathers them into groups of four, one of each caste; if there are gaps, they are made up by slightly older people who have passed the test, but ideally, this doesn't have to happen. But as Saint Nomia teaches, The World is Rarely Ideal. They then face a series of challenges which each can solve with the methods of their caste. If all the tests are passed, then everyone becomes part of their new caste. If any of them fail, they *all* fail, because society cannot survive unless everyone does their part and everyone's part is equally important. The test culminates in the I Fought, We Won Battle, in which the new Soldier must do battle against Chaos, aided by the other three with their arts. If they succeed, they are now adults. They can choose to go on into a set of secret tests, but this is risky and there is no shame in turning aside. Those who pass those gain special wisdom; those who fail come back damaged or maybe not at all. Indeed, there are rumors of secret tests beyond the secret tests, but you've probably never met anyone who has gone that far.
- Uriel Pulls the Plow: Uriel came to trade meat for St. Barnabas' grains. This somehow turned into a discussion of who had a better wife, which turned into a wrestling match; Uriel, not yet a Saint, lost, for he did not yet have his battle-rage. So Uriel was compelled to pull St. Barnabas' plow for a week. Irene resolved their differences by inventing a new form of alcohol made from the milk of cows and rye grain together and getting them to celebrate the success of their labors together. This alcohol is known as the Milk of Brotherhood and is drunk at times when new bonds are formed and old ones renewed. Performance of this rite during Sea Season enables faster, better plowing and blesses the creation of the Milk of Brotherhood by the women who participate in it. It is performed on the first Restday of Sea Season.
- Victoria Battles the Dragon-Worshippers: Victoria was an ordinary farmer until the Waltzing and Raping bands, the half-missionary / half murderhobo bands of the EWF, came to raid her farm; she invited them to dine with her, then poisoned them all. This violated hospitality, but they broke it first by beginning to steal everything as they ate. Fearing for the safety of her home, she became a Soldier and then the Sea-Dragon-Folk, who cruised around in ships made out of dead dragons, tried to raid her homeland and she led the defense against them, driving them off. Then the Dragon-people came and defeated her, and she prayed and Saint Hrestol tested her and made her a Priest. She took on their Priest, and exposed his lies and falsehood; he degenerated into a horned monster which then fled off to go eat her crops. After that victory, they asked her to rule the town, so she became a Governor and organized many villages to fight back together, defeating the retaliatory army of the EWF and forcing the Dragon they brought with them to obey her authority. Depending on how this is staged, it can bolster the people to fight things draconic, summon a dragon to fight for you (super-hard), or serve for a woman to become a Man-of-All or initiate a Priestess of Victoria.
- The Warsong of Saint Hubert: When the Second Council broke, families were divided. The Hero Vastifast had kin who stuck with the Second Council's plan to create Nysalor and thus he faced his own kin at the Battle of Night and Day. The night before, he felt discontent at his role as a Soldier. What use was a sword if he had to thrust it into his own kin's flesh? He prayed and Saint Hubert appeared to him. He showed Vastifast the Seven Great Battles of Saint Hubert, from his discovery of war to the I Fought, We Won, in which he protected the people of Danmalstan from their foes, especially his battle with Vadel, his own kin. Then he Sealed Vastifast to himself, releasing him from the bonds of kinship and giving him new oaths. Vastifast went on to great honor in the battle, though he lost. But honor is not in victory but in giving it your all, and one day, he would ride with Arkat to the final battle in Dorastor, where he slew the Broo Lord Brazkastikor. This is used to initiate Priests sealed to Hubert and to strengthen Soldiers for battle.
What is Sinful?
Vadel introduced the ten corruptions:
- Disobedience to the Laws of Malkion: Only Makan deserves your worship, but if you have to fake worshiping other gods to avoid being slaughtered, he will understand. Devotion is more important than specific laws. Survival trumps clinging to past ideas, for the dead have no ideas.
- Deceit: Never lie to fellow believers; never violate a contract or cheat on a mercantile deal. Anyone who threatens your survival does not deserve honesty; tell them what they want to hear.
- Greed: The accumulation of wealth is fine as long as it is done honestly. Wealth by theft, fraud, violence, and the like is greed and condemned. You must give generously to those in need.
- Gluttony: Avoid gluttony, so that in rich times you can save up for the lean times. Holy feasts, however, honor the Saints and Invisible God, but should be open to all believers.
- Theft: Do not steal from any believer or any non-believer who is not at war with you; taking the property of those trying to kill you is only your due.
- Arrogance: Never hesitate to stoop in order to conquer. Pride only gets you in trouble.
- Hatred: You have a right of vengeance, yet those who are consumed by anger become monsters. Think carefully and avoid letting it consume your life. In some circumstances, the Officials may authorize you to carry out vengeance and then you should show them the wrath of the Invisible God.
- Incest: Sex with anyone more closely related to you than second cousin is absolutely forbidden. Those who are married are forbidden to have sex without anyone who is not their spouse; you must be at least sixteen to marry. Unmarried adults are not forbidden to have sex, but must take responsibility for all children produced.
- Murder: Violence is always an option, but not necessarily the best one. As Esmerelda teaches, If you surrender to your impulses and anger, you will not find the best solution. Murder of members of the community is a deadly sin; killing outsiders is not necessarily a sin, but it's often unwise and shouldn't be the first choice. Especially if it brings trouble on the community.
- Service to the Devil, Wakboth, who is also known as Nysalor or Gbaji: Pagans claim they dropped a rock on Wakboth, trapping him. You can't pin Wakboth under a rock any more than you could trap a wind or sunlight under a rock. He is an Essence; flesh is a mere garment. He returned as Nysalor, known also as Gbaji, to try to destroy the world in the First Age. In the second age, he tempted the wizards with power and nearly destroyed the world. In the third age, he has come as Shepelkirt the Red Goddess to lead the Pelorians to their doom. Because of him, no mysticism can EVER be trusted.
The archetypes of all sin are Wakboth the Devil and his son, Vadel the Fool Who Gazed Into the Abyss. Wakboth is the inner voice of sin within all, the desire to rebel and the lust for power. Vadel is the master of the ways we turn desire into action. Chaos is sin and sin is Chaos; they are one and they have the same fruit: Destruction.
By joining the Church and persevering in your faith, you experience the Joy of the Heart which will lead you to Solace on your death. If you stray, you should go to a holy person who will guide you back to the light, assigning you a penance to make up for it. Any sin can be forgiven if you are sincere and do penance (or die in the process of atoning; the Creator knows if you would have finished it in life.)
Anyone can be brought to the light of Malkion and should be! But it is rather hard. That being said, do not needlessly provoke them, for they are powerful and you owe it to your community to not get everyone else killed because you saw a chance to get some silver or some Elf killed your grandfather.
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