The Luukos Servant's Handbook (essay)
Title: The Luukos Servant's Handbook Author: Lord Nevrek Araknathalin
The Mandates of the Circle of Luukos and Other Pertinent Informations
Here one will find information relevant to service to His Lordship Luukos. The below is an extrapolation of official documentation, other documentation, and mostly my own experiences (and special touches where appropriate). My words are not Luukosian Law, but nothing I say is contrary to any official work I am aware of and, frankly, my material has merit, is factual, and is the best source I've seen available. These are an elder servant's views, presented to you...
On His Lordship Luukos and Servitude
Name: Luukos (Oft pronounced: LOO-kose, where 'kose' resembles 'dose')
Ancient Name: Klysus
Other Names: The Soul-Taker, The Devourer, The Eater of Souls, The Lord of Lies, and variations of this theme
Classification: Greater Arkati
Pantheon: Lornon, "Those from the Moon of Lornon"
Preferred Manifestation: a large green serpent
Humanoid Manifestation: a very tall, muscular man with faintly reptilian features (slit pupiled eyes, often with scaly, brazen skin) and a forked tongue. Wears a long white tunic, pleated, and otherwise plain.
Other Manifestations: Often goes unseen, only audible as a menacing hiss. Has been seen on rare occasions as a large, winged serpent with a frilled collar. Demeanor: Persuasive, Treacherous, Sadistic
Standard: a green serpent upon a field of brown
Symbol: (See section on Symbols below)
Metals Favored: Bronze, a reddish-brown metal; Black Ora, due to its unholy nature
Gems Favored: Emeralds, Soulstones
Notable Alliances: Amasalen, Sheru
Notable Adversaries: Lorminstra, Voln
Places of Worship: within the Underground Ruins near the Coastal Cliffs, Wehnimer's Landing; The Temple of Luukos north of Kharam Dzu, Teras Isle; Hall of The Holy Struggle, within the temple at Icemule Trace (Note: this Hall is shared with Voln, which is detestful)
Luukos, the Lord of Unending Death, shows no reverence for those who have left their mortal bodies. Departed souls have but two primary uses to Luukos: Animating one of His undead minions or other creations, or serving as His sustenance. His Lordship sips of the blood of the dead, He dines on the souls of the fallen, and is rumored to partake of their very flesh as it transcends living warmth to the stone chill of death. Survivors from The Undead Wars reported their witnessing of a green serpent ("...a green so deep it rivaled Kalaza emerald!") wending its way through abandoned fields of battle, from corpse to corpse, dipping its scaled head into the mouths of the recently deceased and coiling about their stiffened necks.
Luukos finds Himself frequently at odds with the goddess Lorminstra due to His tastes and uses for mortal souls. While it may be Lorminstra's duty to protect and guide the souls of the dead, it is Luukos' job to ignore her duties and do as He must, as He will. A balance of sorts is created between this mutual animosity and disdain, though it is doubful that He feels as strongly about their relationship.
Luukos' reach does not just begin where life ends, however. He is able and willing to take a soul by force. Those who have lived lives of reckless abandon, sullied themselves in corrupted morality and behavior, those who have spread mistruth and used lies as the coin of their lives; these souls He targets most frequently. His motives are anyone's guess, these souls may be more useful to Him, or His role may take on a secondary purpose as punisher to the unjust. Tainted souls may merely taste good to Him. Entire sects of the faith have been devoted to philosophizing that which will likely never be known.
It should be noted, however, that it is said that a tainted soul in Luukos' grasp can be saved by Lorminstra, should that tainted soul renounce the lie that stained his lips when death froze his muscles. Old Wives' Tales and childrens' stories tend to add hopeful gibberish to the goings-on of the world. Whether or not this path of escape is true, one can not be certain - the souls involved are not telling, having wandered into Oblivion, or been ingested.
Servants of Luukos are among the most varied in respect to racial and cultural origins. His faithful can be found in barbaristic tribes, elite cults in higher societies, even seemingly innocent villages where pies cool on windowsills. This diversity creates a serving body without discernable patterns, which has proven a useful tool to the faithful in times of Luukosian hunting by the Liabo self-righteous.
Ritual practices vary, as can be expected given the diversity of the servant population. The most common of rituals is the Bloodletting, a ceremonial blood offering. This ritual takes many shapes and is performed for many purposes. The Bloodletting ritual is mostly sect and society dependent, though most devout servitors create their own ceremonies as specific needs arise, or to suit certain personal, cultural or regional tastes. In all Bloodletting rituals, blood is shed from the participant. Arterial blood is preferred for sacrifice, as veins carry bodily impurities in the blood. In rituals where the blood is ingested, arterial blood is even more important as the impurities in veins can be tasted by a finely tuned palate. When one performs ritual, one performs it correctly.
The Bloodletting is the primary ritual for the modern servant of Luukos mostly because of stronger systems of law and order. Luukos' servants do not shy from sacrifice, quite the contrary, but they are wise enough to not arouse undue suspicion by ritualistic murder within a strict governing body. Bloodletting rituals are used almost exclusively within the Turamzzyrian Empire, where the governing body is surprisingly efficient and zealous, where disposal of a body would be most difficult within the reach of the Church of Koar. The Bloodletting is an important part of the servant's activities, as it is a ritual embodiment of personal devotion and can be performed in any region due to its being a more covert ceremony of sacrifice, atonement and spiritual guidance.
Sacrificial conduct varies in such drastic measures from culture to culture, it would be an exercise in futility to detail any normality amongst them. Needless to say, someone dies. Some sects insist a sacrifice must feel no pain and use poisons exclusively, others demand a painful death and will bring one about through any means necessary. Group rituals are most common in sacrificial rite, though this seems to be because of regional law and the governing body. In Lornon dominant societies, solitary sacrifice (meaning, one in service to His Lordship and one victim) is much more common, but solitary practice never overshadows group practice. Servants of Luukos, and most of Lornon for that matter, are not eager to miss a sacrifice and group to share the ceremony.
As a servant of Luukos, one seeks to guide souls to His Lordship Luukos, to spread misinformations among the masses, to bring others to His emerald light, to guide future generations and enhance the Luukosian glory. His Lordship Luukos' will is our command, His command is our law. May the emerald light guide.
On the Symbol of His Lordship Luukos
Official documentation notes Luukos' symbol as "a green serpent on a field of brown", however this format (something on a field of something) is repeated throughout all the religious followings. I suggest that the above is the material one would find on robes, banners et cetera and has, as such, been noted as the Standard above. Ornaments, talismans, medallions and such are often made of materials that would not work with the above theme. Perhaps one day official documentation will take this into consideration. Until then, I will offer up a measure of my insight and observation in hopes of instructing the prospective servant into more educated symbol design.
Symbols always depict a serpent in some pose, usually coiling in some manner. Symbols rarely depict the serpents in striking positions, His Lordship and His servitude do not operate in such a blatantly direct manner. The intent, goal and method is extremely obvious in a striking serpent and its positioning: it is attacking, and it is not doing so in the preferred covert manner. It should be noted that this variation of symbol has had use in the past, worn by temple guardsmen and a very rare few others whose roles were violent ones. Symbols also do not commonly depict the Ouroboros design, in which a serpent is positioned so that it is eating its own tail. This is a representation of something else, which is not a symbol of His Lordship Luukos. The Ouroboros design represents a cycling of creation from destruction, where this serpent is eating itself to create itself and exist. His Lordship does not eat Himself into balanced existance. Again, the Ouroboros is the Ouroboros, the symbol of Luukos is the symbol of Luukos.
Symbols are typically made of the metals noted above, most often bronze. Some followings utilize bone inlaid with bronze and emerald, and it is not uncommon for symbols to be made of stone, wood from trees and other objects His Lordship (or one of His messengers) touched during a visitation. Emeralds are usually worked into the shapes of serpents, or serve as the serpent's eyes. The use of Soulstones in relic and symbol craft is a relatively modern advent, where soulstones from fallen soul golems in Luukos' Temple on Teras are used for inlay. Occasionally, entire symbols may be crafted from a large soulstone. As this is a more recent occurrence, there is no known official view of this practice at the time, but it is not believed to be improper.
The most commonly available symbols for His Lordship are the following: an emerald Luukos symbol, a bronze Luukos symbol, a green Luukos symbol, a deep emerald winged serpent amulet, a fork-tongued emerald snake talisman For specially crafted symbols, it is recommended that prospective servants take the traditional route of crafting: a serpent in a coiling or slithering pose, where the symbol utilizes emerald and bronze.
The Servant's Handbook: Mandates of The Circle
These are the rules Servants of the Circle adhere to in daily life, and many servants take these mandates with them into the Order itself. This collection of rules of mortal service should be beneficial to those who seek proper service to His Lordship. As mortals and servants, those of the Circle do not pretend that these are rules commanded by Luukos Himself or any other authority. This is a collection of laws that has dictated and guided the behaviors of many servants of His Lordship into successful and admirable service.
Luukos' servants will not seek glory for self before that of His Lordship's.
Luukos' servants are not Luukosians until Luukos Himself accepts you. This can happen in many ways, such as acknowledgement of your service, the recieving of a task or mission, or the mark of the Order.
Luukos' servants do not claim any rank not directly awarded to them. This insults a servant's fellows and His Lordship Himself, in whose order the rank is being claimed.
Luukos' servants may exploit the powers the Order of Voln, as the Order foolishly squanders impressive powers on its slaves. One may use these powers to further Lord Luukos' goals, corrupt the Order of Voln from the inside, and otherwise reap the benefits ill spent on the opposition for the greater glory.
Luukos' servants should be knowledgeable in Religion to fully understand their place and the wishes of Luukos Himself. Know thy neighbor, know thy enemy.
Luukos' servants should be able to perform, conduct, participate in or create a ritual. Servants are expected to be responsible in ritual and not perform them without due preparations.
Luukos' servants should be capable of creating or exercising recitations, chants and prayers. Ceremony is important to the proper service of a servant of His Lordship Luukos.
Luukos' servants accept the fact that Luukos Himself rarely decides to grace a Communion with His presence, and will act accordingly. We know our place, we accept our worth to Him is decided only by Him.
Luukos' servants know their place in Luukos' eyes: we are His servants, His soldiers, His priests, His scouts. We do not make demands of Luukos, or claim Him in any way. He is our ultimate superior and is shown all due respect. We are not so bold as to demand anything of Him.
Luukos' servants know their place in the presence of His Lordship's representatives. They are His Voice, they make known His Will, and we are receptive and accommodating.
Luukos' servants understand that a measure of Balance must be maintained in the world. Though Death is part of Luukos' influence, too much death is a bad thing, and it may become feasible, or even required, that we raise arms against a power or being who would seek to cause too much death.
Luuko's servants must keep their ambitions in control. It is natural for servants to wish to be in good standing with their Lord, but this drive for favor must be recognized and realized before it corrupts. Be in His favor through favorable acts, not through misdeeds and subversive behavior.
Luukos' servants will not defame or otherwise slander other members of their Circle or the Order and present a poor reflection of the group. Internal strife must be minimized to maintain a cohesive and effective unit.
Luukos' servants will not withhold vital informations from their fellows. Communication is essential to a group's ability to make concentrated, cooperative efforts.
Luukos' servants will not exercise plans at the expense of other efforts of those in in service without proper discussion. When activities within a group are not in concert, problems arise, and strategies fail.
Those of Luukos' priesthood, should they elect to raise the dead, will never be seen doing so in popular resurrection and medical localities, such as: Wehnimer's North Gate, Wehnimer's Town Square, Ta'Illistim's Hanging Gardens, Icemule Trace Town Square, Icemule Trace's Ice Garden, River's Rest Sanctuary, and other similar places. Only a poor reflection of servitude to His Lordship can be gained by frequenting these locations.
Those of Luukos' priesthood, should they elect to raise the dead, will not do so indiscriminately. Bodies will be chosen carefully, and consistently. Luukos' servants do not raise the dead without great scrutiny and thought; we are not an Order based on wasting good deeds on the ingrate commoners of the world. Death is a blessing, it need not be removed from the masses so quickly, or irresponsibly. Raise the dead with due moderation; raise only those who walk Lornon's path and those who are of use to His Lordship. Those of Luukos' priesthood will not abuse the Prayer of Communion.
Until then, rest assured ... there is more to come.
~Lord Nevrek Araknathalin