The Malkioni Churches
All of the Malkioni churches trace their origins back to a figure of the Pre-Dawn Era, the Prophet Malkion. Different churches have taught different things about him, but they all agree that the world was created by a single true God, that he in some way became or choose Malkion as his prophet, that Malkion saved the world from destruction during the Great Darkness (or maybe it was Zzabur. Or both!) and brought back the Sun and that he was betrayed and murdered, but his message lived on.
There are two dominant forms of the faith in the modern world. Fronela is dominated by the Modern Hrestoli Church, sometimes called the Idealist Hrestoli Church. Seshnela is ruled in accordance with the teaching of the Rokari Church. But many splinter churches exist as well.
- [Aeolian Church]?: The branch of Herestolianism practiced by the Esruvli in Heortland. Strongly influenced by the Hendriki, it adapted Orlanthi religious beliefs into myths of Saints empowered by the Invisible God. Caste mobility is possible, but rare, as most people end up the same as their parents. They do maintain the distinction that nobles lead, rather than fight. Everyone has a 'Patron Saint' who teaches them magics, though most can only use Common Magic. Currently, however, the Rokari have largely forced them to adopt Rokarism... for now.
- Arkatic Malkionism / Stygian Heresy: The former name is used by those who like Arkat's church; the Stygian Heresy is the name used by those who hate it. The following presents the case the Arkatics would make for their religion. It is generally found in the Safelester City States, having been largely stamped out elsewhere. The Invisible God cannot be directly known by believers, or he would not be an Invisible God. Rather, he must be approached through the Saints who have the wisdom to look into the face of the Creator and through the Essences created by him and sometimes worshiped as 'gods' or 'spirits' by the less knowledgeable. They will aid the faithful in their endeavors in this life, open them to the Joy of the Heart in this life, and guide them into Solace in the next. Those who seek a higher spirituality can apply to be admitted into the Mysteries. What they teach is secret but it's clear that those initiated into the mysteries begin to approach the Invisible God more closely, have visions and begin learning sorcery. There are a series of levels of initiation; at the highest levels, you see the Divine face to face without dying. It is well known that the Arkati believe that the ends justify the means; those who serve Chaos must be destroyed without mercy or pity at whatever cost.
- Henotheism: For a long time, the lands which are now the Archbishopric of Otkorion groaned under the oppression of the powerful Autocracy of Sentanos; many of its Orlanthi folk were Tapped by the Sentaros folk for personal gain, which outraged the faithful Malkioni. Further, said faithful were oppressed with labor and money and goods taxes. The two groups drew closer together, and then Archbishop Surantyr went on a Heroquest with a priest of Orlanth, a priestess of Ernalda, a Paladin of Arkat and a Paladin of Saint Geriant. Their epic quest proved the unity of their peoples and brought back the Five-Fold Revelations, which laid out the foundation of the Henotheist Church of Otkorion. The Creator made the Gods to rule the world as his agents, having created the world and stepped back. But the Emperor of the Gods went bad and invited in Chaos; he was thus struck down by a group of gods led by Orlanth. But this plunged the world into darkness, so he and the Lightbringers had to find where the Invisible God dwelled and convince him to intervene. He made Orlanth King of the Gods, rebuilt the world and raised the Sun. And so we worship the divine governors of the world, put in place as intermediaries by the Invisible God, but we must always give worship to the Creator as well and remember that in the end, Orlanth answers to him and to the Council which advises him; he is first among the gods, not an absolute tyrant. Pagans and Spiritualists must be made to understand the truth for their own good, or they will be stuck in the City of Twilight if good, or destroyed in the fires of the hells if wicked. But it is not our job to decide their fate, merely to encourage them to the truth.
- [The Idealist Hrestoli Church:]? The dominant church of Loksalm and the Fronela region, it is just now re-emerging into the world with the end of the Syndic's Ban. It treats the caste system as stages of life to the ideal state of the Man-of-All, the Knight, who combines the virtues of hard work, courage, piety, and leadership to defend the faithful and solve the hardest problems. It emphasizes a personal relationship with Irensavel, the Hidden Mover, the creator of the world. Though it condemns paganism and spiritism as false religions, it hopes to eventually convert them.
- Orthodox Hrestoli Church: In the beginning, the Creator laid out laws for men; those who held perfectly to them became immortal. But the Dark age made this impossible to do, and men despaired. Malkion the Prophet discovered the existence of Solace, which offered hope for the survival of the soul, and his martyrdom at the hands of Zzazabur the Sorceror opened the way for men (and women). Yet, it remained unclear what you must do in order to experience Solace after death. It was Hrestol, whose teachings we preserve in the <u>Book of Hrestol</u>, who showed the way for men to achieve the virtues which bring solace after death: hard work, courage, wisdom, and leadership. The best men master all four virtues and become the Men-of-All, whose wisdom lights the way for the rest of us. When we come together, the Creator reaches out to us as we reach to Him and we experience the Joy of the Heart, a foretaste of Solace here on Earth, to strengthen us for our work. Priests channel the holy power of the community and wizards pursue the secrets of the universe placed there by the Creator for us to discover; both must cling to the Creator's laws to deserve the power they hold.
- Perfectism: The Perfects are more movement than formal church, in part because they reject the caste system and the idea of clergy. Every believer must seek to become a Man-of-All by combining the virtues of perseverance, courage, faith, and service to others. Perfecti tend to be wandering holy men who condemn the powerful for abuse of power and call on all to greater holiness. They believe the pagan gods should not be worshiped, nor spirits, but that purity of heart and perfect behavior is the key to salvation, not who you think you are worshiping. A worshiper of Ernalda who is a faithful wife, hard-working, honest, modest, and kind is better than a Malkioni Priest who says one thing on RestDay? and acts the opposite the other six. The Rokari Church really hates them; otherwise they are generally only persecuted when they anger someone powerful. Admittedly, this is most of the time.
- [The Rokari Church:]? The collapse of the True Malkioni Church and the smiting of the God-Learners and the destruction of Jrusteli, the sinking of half of Seshnela and the general death, destruction and doom rained down on Malkionists in the final years of the Second Age convinced many that the Church had become corrupted and had to be cleansed. The prophet Rokar challenged the easy-going believers of the mainland and was killed as a result. But he inspired the faithful and soon they built a new, purified church using the Sharp Abiding Book, purged of the sinful accretions, corrections, and annotations of the disgustingly wicked, paganized, spiritualist God Learners. The true Caste laws put down by Malkion would now be followed *to the letter*. Out of control wizards would be put in their place. And this lunatic idea of the caste-crossing knight would be cut down to size. In the lands of the Rokari Church, pagans and spiritualists are burned as they should be and all follow the rules of the caste into which the Creator chose them to be born. Wizards must be celibate, so they will not found lunatic dynasties of heretics. And all the false saints will be stamped out; too many gods, spirits, and heretics have been sainted by fools. The sword of the state and the faith of the Church will cleanse this world of evil. Rokar has shown us the way; come to the light, or we must cleanse you in fire. Will you defy us and die or join us and finally live?
- [The Ship of Life Church:]? The arrvial of Saint Dormal and the Opening led to cultural and religious change in Pasos and a wave of revival which created this church. Saint Yingar, patron of communications and mesengers had alwasy been important here, helping to keep them in touch and keeping the sea routes between the islands open, though you could not sail to the mainland. Saint Dromal was also popular with the many farmers. But now they have added Saint Dormal as well, the Opener of the Ways, and formed a new church. The Ship of Life Church has abandoned the caste system in favor of what they call 'offices'. These are stations through which you are promoted and those who advance in the church gain more magical power as they do so, powers inherent in the offices they hold. These are based on naval titles. The head of the national church is known as the Blessed Admiral, the major cities have the Commodores watching over them, local churches are run by a Captain and so on. Believers advance through various specialized hierarchies to gain the church's blessings; most will stay in secular life but the most devout become Captains and so on up the scale. These powers resemble those of theistic churches (though sorcery can be learned from the Infinite Sea Wisdom scripture), while the sorcery schools teach actual wizardry. The Ship of Life Church is male-dominated but has orders for women for all three major saints with similar powers. The Ship of Life Church holds weekly services which include the Joy of the Heart and use a scripture known as Infinite Sea Wisdom. It can be studied by the devout as a grimoire to gain Water, Mastery, and Truth magics (each as its own skill). It teaches that life is a journey and is riddled with sea metaphors, as you'd expect. Solace is also known as 'the final harbor'. Members are urged to be generous to those in need, to be honest, to learn to speak well and clearly, to obey those in authority and to constantly seek to improve themselves -- to achieve excellence.
- Zzaburism: The Creator made this world with understandable rules, rules which if followed create the perfect society and unlock magical power for the worthy. Wizards are higher than the cast of Agents, who others call 'Nobles', and should rule through their superior wisdom. There is no life after death, you dissolve away into the runes from which you came; this is why you must live well in this life according to the rules. For all who obey the rules perfectly will be immortal in this world, the only one where men can safely exist. This is mainly the religion of the Brithni but also of sorcerors who defy the other churches and seek power for themselves by scholarly study, adventure, exploration, etc. The gods are real but only a fool bows to them or a spirit; pity them, don't hate them. They sell their power for a reward which will never happen. Fools.
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