The faithful are informed of the latest doctrine and rites needed to remain true in the light of the Divine Assembly, so they may reach the eternal bliss of Afterworld, and bar the taint of the Dark Abyss from their hearts and minds.
The living embodiment of The Divine Assembly in this world, and the spiritual successor to the Magister.
The holiest of all the priesthood, Hierophants oversee the worship of a specific deity or department of The Theocracy.
A Hierophant may be removed from office by the Archimandrite or major vote in the Grand Circle. If this happens, the Hierophant is reduced in rank to priest but still accorded great respect.
Heirophant’s take roles from specific niches within the Theocracy, and they will be the most knowledgeable in those fields. Known Heirophants include; of the Father, of the Mother, of the Administratum, of Dark Lore, of Lore, and recently; of the Lady, and of the Chosen.
Those high-priests with particularly scholarly aptitudes or unique knowledge will be assigned to a teaching hall as Viziers, where they will educate and train civil officials, other priests and the Temple Guard in the ways of scripture, technology and the arts.
Viziers are Arch Priests which sit outside of the structure of the hierarchy, but are appointed directly by the Archimandrite. Unfortunately this has led to them often being shown as much respect as an Arch-Priest, despite what the Theocracy would teach.
Arch Priests are appointed by the Heirophants, and control the administration of a several towns or a Temple City, and are very powerful figures in Theocracy society, similar in stature to a Jarl of the Northlands (though they would not encourage such a comparison). They each have one vote in the Spiritual Conclave that elects a new Hierophant to the Grand Circle of Faith.
When a position of High Priest falls vacant, the Arch Priest of the city or region will send their chosen replacement to the Halls of the Teacher in Sarqand to be assessed by a panel of the faithful including an Hierophant.
This is largely a formality, but it is an important political step for the new High Priest in promoting themselves for future office. Upon being invested they are given new robes and a mask of office.
Initiates deemed to possess the talents necessary to become a Priest are sent to the nearest temple-city. This is usually Sarqand, but the teaching halls of Almitra and Tarnova train many priests due to their distance from the capital.
The training usually takes between one and three years, during which time the initiate is subject to intense physical, academic and spiritual conditioning to render them worthy of the responsibility and power a temple brings with it.
When a priest is ordained, they are awarded their priestly robes, prayer-flag, mask and mantle, along with the official dispensation to lead a congregation from their Hierophant that proves their station.
Initiates function as minor clergy, often acting for a Priest or High Priest in their absence.
To become initiated, one must spend a whole year assisting a Priest in their good works before being welcomed into the mysteries of the Priesthood as an Initiate.
They may lead a prayer service and perform other minor priestly skills, but cannot lead great ceremonies or holy rituals.
This rank is the highest level of service an elf is permitted to reach. Beastkin have been known to be initiated, though this is rare. Whilst they remain low in rank, they are still considered part of the priesthood – therefore, any crimes perpetrated by them fall under ‘Religious Offences’ as opposed to ‘Criminal Law’.
Adult attendants may take the Test of Entry, where they must state every one of the tenets of faith in order and without error. If they succeed, then they are taken in as a Novice and swear the three vows of service, chastity and devotion.
Novices can be recognised by the plain, undecorated robes they given to wear. Novices take a more active role in helping priests and initiates with ceremonies, rites and services.
Attendant is the name given to the lowest rank of religious assistant. Either recent converts, elves or children; Attendants perform basic, menial tasks around a temple or shrine. These include: cleaning the floors, tending animals, preparing and serving food and serving the needs of the priesthood and Temple Guard.
They are without official ranks and are dressed simple tabards in colour of their temple, wearing wooden a wooden pendant bearing the symbol of their deity. They eat communally with the rest of the temple and sleep together in one dormitory, where they are locked in every night.
Guardians of the Soul
Priests are also responsible for protecting the faithful against the demons. This protection takes several forms:
- Most importantly, they create and maintain the barrier which stops those who serve the demons from entering the Duke’s camp. A key element of this process is done by ensuring that all members of the expedition have been anointed in the faith.
- They set up and maintain the Fane to act as a focal point for the gods attention upon the faithful.
- They provide advice, guidance and comfort to the faithful when the demons attack their minds.
- They watch over the Mages Guild and to a lesser extent the other Guilds to prevent them falling into practices which will invite in the demons.
- Hold a position of respect in the community: People listen to them from the King and the Duchess down to the common men and women of the realm. This respect stems from the need to find protection in this life and the next and can easily be damaged if a priest is seen to be venal or self-serving.
The ultimate displays of supplication or servitude are the divine covenants that allow the physical embodiment’s of these divine beings to walk in the mortal realm.
Covenants are solemn vows of the most devoted of the consecrated followers of The Divine Assembly. They are written down using sacred inks and paper and are the most holy documents of the Assembly.
Chosen begin to exhibit certain physical aspects as they grow in power and strength. These attributes vary by type but become more obvious and flamboyant as the years go by.