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Celestial Court

by Marco Dalmonte English translation by Gary Davies

Worshipped in: Ochalea
The Ochalese belong to an ethnic group conquered by the Alphatians many centuries before the destruction of Old Alphatia. A people extremely faithful to duty and given of a strong sense of respect of the law, once introduced into the chaotic Alphatian empire they have become progressively isolated adopting a mystic philosophy that allowed them to keep intact their own traditions and give an order to the universe, a scheme in which their strongly marked to the balance mentality can be recognised. In the course of centuries other Ochalese tried the path of the arcane magic mixing the Alphatian knowledge with their own traditions, but remained entangled in the philosophic debate that brought about the destruction of Old Alphatia, and from that moment their condemnation to the arcane magic by the Ochalese majority was unanimous.
When the Alphatian survivors landed on Mystara, the ethnic Ochalese until then submissive took advantage of the rivalry that was unleashed among the mages during the colonisation of the Alphatian continent and in the period of maximum political and military confusion decided to emigrate in order to remove the yoke of the mages. It was thus that the majority of the Ochalese built its own fleet and sailed beyond the southern sea disembarking finally on the island of Ochalea around 700 BC. Here they managed to found an independent kingdom after having agreed pacts with the natives of the island (lupin and rakasta clans), and maintain peaceful relationships with the neighbouring Alphatian Empire, even seeking to remain outside of the expansionistic aims of their ancient oppressors.
In the following centuries, following contact with the Immortals and the predications of the priests of Koryis, the first to reveal himself as a protector of the Ochalese, the philosophy of balance of the opposites became a religion, when the philosophies attributed a place, to the revealed divinity, in what became their personal pantheon; an ordered cosmology that reflects the eternal universal balance on three cardinal axes:

Masculine/Feminine
Law/Chaos
Good/Evil

The Immortals with which the Ochalese had contact because of the influence of the neighbouring states (in particular Alphatia, Thyatis and Thothia) and of the epic deeds of some candidates who later in effect became Immortals contributed in time to form a real organic pantheon, called the Celestial Court. This extremely Lawful religion was formalised around the II century AC, after the annexation of the Kingdom of Ochalea (then a Grand Duchy) to the Empire of Thyatis, and it became the national cult to which almost all the Ochalese belonged. Nevertheless there isnít any bureaucratically structured or institutionalised church that preaches the cult of the Celestial Court. It is a philosophic religion on which the beliefs of the Ochalese are focused, and although there are diverse priests who serve the Celestial Court in it together, by officiating at rituals and creating ways to keep the balance between its members thanks to their prayers and to the offerings of the faithful, it has never created a religious institution that unites them under only one organisation or under a common leader.
All the priests of the Celestial Court (called bonzi) are philosopher clerics (there are also some specialist clerics all devoted to Koryis) and recognise the supreme authority of the Teng (King) of Ochalea, as the direct representative of the Celestial Emperor (seeing that he must be obligatorily one of his priests). They give their fidelity and respect to him, but every bonzo acts autonomously or together with a small community of brothers, without anybody seeking a synergy between the various monasteries (the places where these philosopher-clerics live and study the sacred texts pertaining to the Celestial Court, the mysteries of the universe and the legendary Ochalese figures). The bonzi always dress in extremely simple yellow coloured clothing, always shave their face and head, carrying with themselves the holy symbol of the church (a circle divided in two halves, one black and the other white, with two points of the same colours placed symmetrically within the opposite half) and frequently travel through the rural areas of Ochalea in order to celebrate the traditional rites in the smaller villages where there are no representatives of the cult present. They are very learned characters and are prepared for any philosophic debate, which however embraces for the majority the ideas of balance and wisdom that weave through the Ochalese religion, and because of this rarely travel armed or show aggressive intentions, entrusting themselves to the martial arts without weapons that they learn in the monasteries in order to defend them. Naturally in Ochalea there also exist other temples that venerate single Immortals (frequently the same members of the Celestial Court), and the bonzi are usually in agreement with these priests and frequently request asylum within their temples, never however forgetting to confirm their superiority regarding the servants of all the Court and not only of one of its representatives.
Here therefore is presented the Celestial Court, a divine domain led by an Emperor and by an Empress who embody the complete opposites. Emperor of Peace: Koryis (LG) Empress of Discord: Talitha (CE) They govern the creation led by the council of the Four Sages (all Neutral Immortals), beings that embody the four elements that make up the universe and the human beings:

Great One (Matter)
Khoronus (Time)
Noumena (Thought)
Idraote (Energy)

Under their authority there are the 14 Ministers of the Court, each of which presides over given ministry and occupies himself with certain interests set against those of his twin. The 14 ministers are the following:

Alphatia [creation] LG (f) vs CE (m) Alphaks [destruction]
Ixion [light] NG (m) vs NE (f) Nyx [darkness]
Arnelee [sincerity] NG (f) vs NE (m) Brissard [deceit]
Korotiku [freedom] CG (m) vs LE (f) Aracne Prime [oppression]
Valerias [love] CG (f) vs LE (m) Loup [ferocity]
Ssu-Ma [order] LN (m) vs CN (f) Tyche [chance]
Tarastia [laws] LN (f) vs CN (m) Faunus [instincts]

The Ochalese use appellations in their own language in order to refer to the Immortals of the Celestial Court, each one which is a function of the role that each divinity carries out in the universe:

Kor Yis (Koryis) - The One who Rules Equally
Ta Liu Ai-Tan (Talitha) - The One who spreads painful suffering
Wei Long (Great One) - Great Dragon
Fu Shi Liu (Khoronus) - Father of the Flow of Time
Nian-Mai Si-Xiang (Noumena) - Ancient Thinker
Hen-Hao Ten (Idraote) - Source of Good Health
Yao-Lan Zi (Alphatia) - Cradle of Beauty
Hui Da-Zhi (Alphaks) - Furnace of Destruction
Xi-Yang (Ixion) - Source of Sunlight
Nu-Shi Hei-An (Nyx) - Lady of Darkness
Han Li (Arnelee) - Keeper of Sincerity
Ba Pian-Shu (Brissard) - Master of Deceit
Guan Zi-You (Korotiku) - Protector of Freedom
An-Ying Zhu Hou (Aracne Prime) - Spider Queen of the Shadows
Biao Hun Xi-Ai (Valerias) - Shining Spirit who Loves
Chai Shi Hui (Loup) - Beast that Devours with Ferocity
Ssu-Ma - Venerable Sage
Ta Qi Ming (Tyche) - The One who Weaves Fate
Ta Lai Si-Fa (Tarastia) - The One who Grants Justice
Fu Han Qing (Faunus) - Father who Stirs the Passions

traditional ancestor cult, deceased characters of great moral sense who are revered, remembered and prayed to so that they can give inspiration and protection to the affiliated family.