Worship in the Turamzzyrian Empire
Worship in the Turamzzyrian Empire is an Official GemStone IV Document, and it is protected from editing.
Worship in the Turamzzyrian Empire
"What is the arrogance of man to question the blessing of Koar?" – Paltrach, Patriarch of Koar
The Empire is one, but it is also many. Many peoples in many different provinces. As there are many gods, there are also many ways to worship. I have sought to detach myself from my own beliefs to present a neutral survey of worship throughout our Empire. I make no promise to cover all cities and regions, but will do my best to present a representation of what there is and what may be found. Naturally, we shall have to begin at the heart; we begin in Tamzyrr.
The capital of our Empire is dominated by the Church of Koar. The Imperial palace is rivaled only in size and extravagance by the Temple of Steps. It sits on the opposite end of Chaston’s Way from the palace, down the grand boulevard, and on the east side of Grand Imperial Plaza. From the plaza rises one of many steps that the penitent must climb to reach the temple and common altar area of the Temple of Steps. Every section of steps is decorated with statues of all the children of Liabo and Lornon; they kneel in supplication to their king. The more devout followers kneel at these sections as well and offer prayer. It is on these steps that the ruler of our empire is proclaimed Koar's and crowned with the Three Sun Crown. One might spend a treatise describing the Temple of Steps, so I will conclude that it is from the top of this man-made Koargard that the Patriarch watches the palace. His humble chair is seated at the end of the Whispers Hall, and at the other, a great circular window that views upon the home of our emperors and empresses.
Behind the Temple of the Steps you will find much smaller temples to the Gods of Liabo and none to those of Lornon. For the mayhem and mischief such gods have wrought, their priests are no longer welcome within the Imperial capital. It is very much the same throughout the Empire. Rarely will one find open and visible places of worship to Lornon. They are the dark gods and their worship is not done in daylight, nor often in conspicuous places. More often, should such temples or shrines exist, they are hidden away and sought only by those desperate or deluded enough to consider attracting the attention of Lornon. Should a citizen of the Empire have need to pray to the Gods of Lornon, they can pray to Koar, and he will command them to act.
Beyond Tamzyrr and for many leagues, the Church's power of influence remains strong. Our churches and temples rank among the finest in every major city. It is by the order of the Imperial Throne, since the time of Emperor Rallick Anodheles, that every provisional capital possess such a home for the Church and her priests. It is at these temples that law is given and justice sought. It is true that the power of justice does rest with the rulers, the barons, the earls, and the counts, and so their laws often have their own courts. However, it is a law of the Church, which provides the last refuge for those who cannot find justice elsewhere. They are judgments made by the Prelates, those chosen by the Patriarch to be his extension beyond the center of the Empire. Because the Patriarch grants them his power, they can rule with his wisdom. It is true, one must lament, that the farther away from Tamzyrr one travels, the less power of the Prelate, but it is a momentary concern. The power of the Church grows ever and always. Beneath the Prelates are the First and Second Watchers, who govern the smaller churches, and who at times travel to spread Koar's justice and his will.
Along the Coasts
It is of no surprise that along the coasts of the Empire there are many great temples to Charl and his daughter. I cannot neglect to mention the Temple of Green Waters in Idolone. Built upon a large reef just off the coast, accessible by boat only after high tide, the temple is carved from the same reef in part, and built of white salt-encrusted stone. It is more squat than tall and it is within the center of the temple in which the shrine to Charl is found. In a room of coral there is a pool of green sea water, free of the effects of the wind and waves, and at its bottom is rumored a mirror that belonged to Niima. About the pool sit the priests and priestesses, watching the surface of the water for any ripple or disturbance. By its condition, the people of Idolone know the Sea Lord's temperament when they set off onto the ocean’s waves. Should the pool go from clear to cloudy and ripples mar its surface, then a tempest stirs and lives are saved by such a warning.
Tales speaks of one such disturbance back in the time before the civility of the Empire came to Idolone, when men and women were sacrificed through the green waters on an annual basis. It was believed then that the Sea Lord would be satisfied with that offering of blood and would not seek to drown any more of man. Some rumors go so far as to claim that the practice happens still from time to time, and if not at the Temple of Green Waters, then in the rural ports and villages. Regardless, the old ways of the empire have mostly faded away.
To the north, Niima is honored in Ubl, as well in Fairport. In those ports, they shout folly for those of Idolone, who spend too much time garnering the attention of Niima’s father. For these fishermen, sailors, and merchants of the northern waters, Charl is to be feared, treated with respect, and his attention sought only as much as needed to placate his tempers. One knows they are in the presence of people from these regions when they frown at idle mention of the Sea Lord’s name and are quick to offer a prayer for Niima’s blessing on the foolish speaker.
In the South
While devoutness varies from individual to individual, those lands that still recall the Kannalan tongue are considered more sincere than most. Much of the old language is steeped in the words and phrases of worship. Of particular note are the people of Aldora and Trauntor, those provinces that directly border the Southron Wastes. In these lands, much prayer has been offered for protection from the unknown and the known that inhabit those terrible neighboring lands. Commonly worn are prayer bands woven of the abundant wool in the region and worn on the arm. Prayer bands may be unique to the wearer or generic and sold by merchants at festivals or before temples and shrines. Upon them are woven prayers to the wearer’s chosen god or goddess, and these bands are touched when making a prayer, be it a quick or lengthy one.
As suppressed as worship of the dark gods is in the capital of the empire, for particular gods of Lornon, it has been driven underground if not quenched completely in Aldora. The decades long assault by the Horned Cabal has resulted in any Lornon god associated with the undead as unwelcome in the land overseen by the Chandrennin dukes. Vocal supporters of Luukos are expelled, if not executed. For those followers of the gods of the Lornon moon who are not associated with the undead, they are relegated to the alleyways and dark places of Elstreth. The same is true for most of the great cities of the empire. Beyond that city’s massive walls, Lornon worship is virtually unknown and remains underground.
The presence of the Imperial garrisons along the southern mountain lands has resulted in a boost to Kai worship alongside the more native faiths of the provinces. Many a garrison will have a shrine to the Liabo god adjacent to the dedicated Koar shrine. Not present are those shrines to V’tull. Among the soldiers of the Empire, that Lornon god is not welcomed and any compatriot found to prayer or worship him are immediately cast out of their respective company. There is no place for a soldier who might be overcome by that god’s bloodlust, and thus, becomes an unpredictable and dangerous. Some veterans have confided that in those rare instances where troops are at the point of defeat, there have been plenty of battlefield pleas to the dark god regardless of feelings elsewhere.
In the provinces with the lower population density, where rural communities are prevalent, the gods of field and fertility have increased importance. From Highmount up through the upper half of the Kannalan Crescent, Imaera and Oleani have increased importance, as do Eonak and Phoen, courtesy of being their spouses. Some claim of the strength of Imaera worship in Highmount that it is a legacy of sylvan migration thousands of years ago which resulted in the goddess taking a special attention to the region. Of particular note are the surviving groves of the old forests that still play setting for old rituals despite the insistence by the Church to eliminate them.
From Mestanir to Jantalar stretches a devout band of faith for the God King Koar. While all in view of the Everwatch Tower provide the strongest support of the Church outside of Tamzyrr, the forces of Jantalar have done much to spread faith. It is not to say that the Jantalarian expansion was without controversy. Rumors have spread that the Prelate of Jantalar, who had accompanied the Baron Hochstibb in his conquests, had turned to darker arts to assist the baron. Needless to say, it was Koar’s hand, or fist rather, which played a role in the defeat of that province’s forces in Mestanir. Koar’s Fist has since been restored to its position of prominence in that city. Of Koar’s Crown, located not far from Everwatch Tower, the Jantalarian occupation did not affect it. Pilgrims continue to flock to its base, to walk its circumference three times, and to light prayer lanterns that float away into the night.
In the far northwest, the so-called Griffin Sword Wars have led the majority of the populace to condemn any worship of the four gods, Luukos, Sheru, V’tull, and Mularos. For it was their followers who raised armies that scoured the countryside and brought about much death and destruction. Vornavis, in particular, offers no quarter to their worshippers and the baronial guard is active in seeking out and destroying any formation of such sects. It has been a repeated problem that Lornon worshppers are suffered in the district of Solhaven. The district’s lack of regulation has left it a mess in the disapproving eyes of the Empire, and particularly in the eyes of the Church of Koar. Such was the necessity of Vornavis to earn favor with our Church for the failures of the district that its lord of oversight, one certain Paidreg, had to decree the clearing of unused swathes of property out so the Fane of the God-King could be built.
Nay, perhaps the city most lenient to Lornon is that of Nydds. An incorrigible place, where the followers of such dark gods are allowed to participate in the so-called marketplace of faith. As such, it creates a certain friction with the followers of Koar’s son, Voln, when those who submit to Luukos are given allowance to recruit. For Lumnis, Nydds possesses one of the greatest temples in all of Elanthia.
It is called The Rings, and it is something of a mixture of hanging garden and library. It is a strange structure, built of four wide towers about one taller tower. Through clever engineering, streams of water are guided along the exterior walls, convenient to eradicate any danger of fire, as well cast over the sides in splendid waterfalls. The gardens, meanwhile, true to Nydds’ reputation as the city of flowers, are planted with such flora as to blossom in colors corresponding to the sphere of knowledge of which the library within reflects. When the central tower is in full white blossom, it appears to float upon a cloud of white held up by arcs of falling water.
Such open permission pales only to the views of some in the province of Bourth, which has suffered the influence of sylvan thought upon religious matters. There are some who risk blasphemy to proclaim that neither the gods of Liabo or Lornon are divine, but merely powerful beings. That sentiment has managed to infect some within the city of Nydds, as well. But for the protection given that city for the freedom of knowledge, the Church of Koar would have long ago prosecuted and brought such foolish thought to an end.
Thus ends this survey, by no means complete, of the worship practices of the Empire. Praise be to the God King Koar and his Church.
An Addendum on the Matters of Death
While the question of death and funeral rites would seem a simple answer, this survey discovered that there existed some differences in the funeral rites amongst the provinces. First, let us touch upon what awaits us all beyond the Ebon Gate. Beyond the charge of Lorminstra there lies a land of perpetual night and winter. It is a place of cold, for there is no warmth in death, not least for those who have sworn their souls or sought the services of Lornon. These are fallow fields and barren deserts that are shone upon by the light of Koargard. Those who are cursed to wander these forsaken lands must toil always under the light offered by the God King to guide those who worshiped him accordingly.
For those who did not bend knee to the Dark Ones, the light they may follow and make way from the frozen lands to the bridges over the river that encircles the realm of Koargard. For the kingdom of the God King extends over the living and over the dead and the lands of each. It exists simultaneously here and there, but for the bravest and worthiest heroes, can only be reached by passage through the Ebon Gate. The dead must then follow Koar’s Light to the Bridge Over the River and then, and only then, may they enter these lands so long as they have the coin to pay for such crossing. Those of royal blood need not offer payment for they, by their station and birth, have already been proven worthy of entry by the Gods.
In this land of Koar’s Light, before the peak of Koargard, are all the realms of Elanthia. There is food aplenty and many starred skies. There are homes and grassy fields, and along the slopes of Koargard, itself, are palaces for the Emperors and the Empresses who have led our land. Chosen by Koar himself, they are next to Gods, and such are offered the favored status of dwelling at their sides.
For to dwell in these lands beneath Koar’s Light, it is important to arrive with what is needed, and this is done at the time of death. What one is given at death, one can take with them. However, it was once believed that to avoid the burdens of such gifts in the life beyond the Ebon Gate these things must be reduced to air by flame. Great were the funeral pyres of the Emperors and Empresses that burned like mountains of fire which transported they and those befitting luxuries to the Ebon Gate, and then to the Bridge Across the River.
This is no longer the practice. Today, instead, after such investigation and answer from the Gods, it was learned that so long as the dead are buried with those things necessary, they are rewarded with the same in the lands beneath Koar’s Light. Instead of pyres, there are now mausoleums that are built in the city beyond the walls of Tamzyrr, reserved only for the dead. Those of lesser fortune may subsist with lesser tombs, or if such paucity of fortune be with the dead, silver coins in an unmarked grave will do. By this means, every marching soldier of the Empire is gifted with two silver pieces to keep close and protected in case of death in service.
The old ways are still followed in the fringes of the Empire, particularly in those of great forests and mountains. Some by the sea believe that Charl’s Daughter will usher the dead to the safety of the Ebon Gate and ceremonially deposit the deceased into the waves far from shore. For those who must journey through the winter lands, they may be at risk of those cursed and such should either be given some form of weaponry to carry with them as they follow the Koar’s Light, or a protective totem blessed by the clerics of the Light.
By this means does the Empire follow the ways of funeral.