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The Cults and the Immortals of Glantriby Kit Navarro
Religion and clericism is forbidden in the Principalities of Glantri. Most clerics are within Glantri illegally, and their clerical orders are nothing more than disorganised sects and underground cults. Only recently during the Wrath of the Immortals were clerics officially allowed to enter Glantrian borders and practice their priestly magic, albeit under very restricted conditions. Nevertheless, the attitudes of Glantrians towards clerics and organised worship remain negative and hostile.
It is important to note that this persecution of clerics and religion does not however reflect the outlook of Glantrians towards the Immortals. Many Glantrians know of these divine beings from mythology and their fantastic legends, and they acknowledge their powers and workings in this plane of existence. Many even revere the Immortals privately and are guided by their examples and teachings, though rarely through dogma or doctrine. The Glantrian attitude towards Immortals is not one of mortal adoration or subservient devotion, rather an impassionate admiration, the way one would respect a superior whom one will someday equal or even surpass. Glantrian wizards in particular have a calculating, and often patronising, interest in Immortal matters, as most of them believe they will one day be on the Path to Immortality.
Following the events La Milagro de Los Amantes (allegedly a miraculous apparition of the Immortal Valerias) and the Alexander Day Massacre in AC 1017, the Principalities have been under increasing pressure to reassess its prevailing policies and attitudes towards clerics and religious orders. In AC 1018, Glantri came under the threat of a crusade or jihad from the temples and churches of Valerias and its allies from several nations of the Known World, and for the first time in modern history, the Principalities allowed the establishment of a foreign religious order within its borders.
It is thus increasingly relevant to investigate the nature and the workings of these religious groups in Glantri, and perhaps discover the secret schemes and divine machinations of the Immortal for the Principalities.
-Excerpt from "The Dangers of Religions and Clericism in the Aftermath of the Wrath of Immortals"
Written by Sire Guillaime d'Ambreville, Cultural Censor of Nouvelle Averoigne
The Immortal Rad is acknowledged as the Patron of Glantri and the Temple of Rad promotes the Official Glantrian Philosophy. This is not a true religion, in the same sense as most Known World religion, but a spiritual philosophy that promotes the ways of wizardry, enhances intelligence and the pursuit of knowledge and magic above all else. Likewise, Shepherds of Rad are not true clerics, but rather wizards with mystical skills and powers, and adept at mediation techniques, chants, and other practices for enlightenment.
Temples of Rad are found throughout the Principalities. Many Glantrian wizards go to the Temples to meditate, believing that "Rad shines upon his faithful the magic-enhancing Radiance," or to seek guidance and solace from the Shepherds. Many mundaners also attend the Temple rites, if not to see and be seen and improve their status, then to amuse themselves with the bizarre, esoteric ceremonies of the Shepherds of Rad.
There are rumours that the Shepherds of Rad are actually under the mental influence of a mysterious Brotherhood of the Radiance, a secret cabal of the most powerful ruling wizards in Glantri, but most Glantrians cannot even fathom such a grand conspiracy, let alone try to prove it.
The Immortal Razud was a Patron of the Cypri people of Old Alphatia, the ancestors of the Flaemish race, but his worship has spread throughout the other cultures of the Glantrian highlands and known in the rest of Mystara. Razud is second only to the Immortal Rad in popularity among Glantrians, and two distinct cults of Razud are in existence in Glantri.
The Cult of the Flame (sometimes called "The Cult of the Flaem") is an ancient Flaemish cult dedicated to "The Blazing One" and committed to "keeping aflame the blazing spirit of the Flaemish people." The cult has no true organisation and its objectives are often intertwined with the political agendas of the Flaemish nobles, particularly if it involves the preservation and propagation of Flaemish traditions. There are no true clerics of Razud in the cult, but occasionally, some of the cultists display mystical powers, much like the Shepherds of Rad. Many of the Flaemish nobles, including the late Lady Wilhelmine Vlaardoen and the former Countess Sinaria Verlien of High Sonden, abide by the Cult of the Flaem, albeit privately and discreetly.
The Cult of Razud celebrates their Immortal as the Patron of Self-Sufficiency and Resourcefulness, and has its first following among the earliest settlers of the Highlands, and later among the poor, the powerless, the mundaners and the minorities. The Cult of Razud is most active in Nouvelle Averoigne, Klantyre, and Fenswick, and the most famous of the clerics of Razud is Père Simon d'Ambreville, who has long campaigned for the rights and lawful treatment of clerics in Glantri.
There are however more radical cultists who have allied with the Followers of the Claymore, who continuously crusade against the Glantrian magocracy. Sir Bruce McGregor of Klantyre was one such cleric, who lead the Followers of the Claymore, until his capture and imprisonment in the Tower of Crownguard.
The two cults have little contact with each other, but are aware of the existence of each other.
Since destroying the Old World of Alphatia, Alphaks the Destroyer has continued to torment the Flaems and the Alphatians even on Mystara. The Flaemish people believe that the cult of Alphaks was born from the corruption of Razud's faithful, or as suggested by an ancient Flaemish saying, "Those who are not purified by the flames of the Blazing One will forever burn with the raging fire of the Destroyer." Some historians believe that the first clerics executed by the Flaems in The Great Burning of AC 750 were actually clerics of Alphaks, while others contend that it was the cult of Alphaks who connived to have rival clerics eliminated by burning at the stake; whatever the truth, the cult of Alphaks is often associated with burnings at the stake and the clerical persecution in Glantri.
The Flaemish Cult of Alphaks hides among the ranks of the Followers of the Fire, the extremist Flaemish Fire Wizards who not only believe in their racial supremacy but also in the ascendancy of their Fire Magic. Clerics of Alphaks tend to be more powerful than their Razudian counterparts that they often pass as pyromancers.
A second cult of Alphaks originated from the traitorous Alphatians of Blackhill. The cult was a bane of the Alphatian nobles of Glantri, yet there were persistent rumours the cult was secretly supported by the sinister House Silverston, the ruling family of Blackhill. A disturbing tale has been circulating since the Wrath of the Immortals, that before the Great Meteor crash in AC 1006, the Alphatian Cult of Alphaks had known that their Immortal would destroy Blackhill with great fire from the sky, and commemorated the wrath of the Destroyer with a ritual of mass suicide. Some versions of this horrifying story go as far as saying that the cultists themselves called upon Alphaks to send the Great Meteor, offering up their own lives as an ultimate sacrifice for Alphaks. Whatever the truth of the tale, it only reflects the loathing and fear of Glantrians towards clerics, evil or otherwise.
Recently however, there are rumours are the cult of Alphaks has not completely died out, and they have hidden in Boldavia, where the cultists believe (rightly) that Prince Morphail Gorevitch-Woszlany is a servant of the Roaring Demon. In fact, Morphail and his High Mastery of the Secret Craft of Necromancy is part of Alphaks' grand, though rather haphazard, Immortal plot to usurp the Thanatos' utter control over death and necromancy.
In no other living nation in the Known World is necromancy and death magic practiced to such extent of depravity and at such reckless frequency as in Glantri. It is no wonder that Thanatos, the Hierarch of the Sphere of Entropy and the Patron of Death, would have followers and minions throughout the Principalities. Most clerics of Thanatos are too distrusting and misanthropic to organise into groups, but they often work with specialist wizards of the necromancy school or Death Masters from the Secret Craft of Necromancy, their relationships based on mutual suspicion, mistrust, and threats of power.
There is a cult of Thanatos originating from Sind (where thugees worship him as Tanathasa and offer each ritually killing in his name) that works behind the scenes of the Unseen Hand. There is also a small cult of Thanatos secretly working within the Followers of Claymore, inciting the Followers to bloodier, more murderous methods in their crusade against Glantrian wizards. Thanatos also has humanoid worshippers in New Kolland.
The mysterious Hierarch of Entropy Nyx has a small cult of followers intent on seizing power from the Secret Craft of Necromancy in Glantri. As such, the Cult of Nyx exploits the deadly rivalry within the Secret Craft between the Death Masters of Klantyre and the Necromancers of Boldavia, covertly working with the former faction. At the same time, the cleric of Nyx secretly lends support to the Boldavian Liberation Front against the Boldavian vampire lords, knowing that their actions will undermine the power of the High Master of Necromancy, Prince Morphail Gorevitch-Woszlany of Boldavia.
An old Kaelic legend hints that the ancient Immortal Nyx has her origins in the mysterious Oriental Realms of Laterre, and that this dark Immortal guided the exodus of the first McGregor necromancers from their Laterran homelands to the Highlands of Klantyre on the world of Mystara.
Of all the major faiths in the Known World, the clerics of the Immortal Ixion are the most persecuted in Glantri and the most openly despised by the Temple of Rad. It is no secret to mortals that the Immortal Sun-Prince was an enemy of the Principalities, and it is whispered that at the very heart of the Wrath of the Immortals was a feud between Rad and Ixion.
The only clerics of Ixion who dare set foot in Glantri belong to the Ethengarian cult, who worship Ixion as Tubak the Lawgiver and the Golden Khan of the Sun. They belong to the belligerent underground sect, The Thousand Fists of the Khan, who once plagued the Principality of Krondahar, and now can only be found in the frontiers of Bramyra. In the most distant Boldavian fief of Mariksen, the nosferatu Baron Sergei Wutyla houses one such priestess of Tubak, known only as Erega, who uses her clerical magic in an attempt to counter his vampire nature.
Valerias, Patroness of Beauty, Romance, and Passion has a universal influence in the mortal world, much like her Immortal lover Ixion. But unlike the brilliant and incorrigibly grandiose Sun-Prince, the Immortal Valerias has managed to suit her subtle plots into the complex schemes and intrigues of the Principalities of Glantri.
For centuries, the Secret Craft of Witchcraft has long been trying to quell rumours that a cult of all-women worshippers of Valerias exists in Belcadiz, not only because it would expose the existence of their Craft, but it would also link unfavourably link the Witches to clericism and religion. The truth is that Witchcraft does have its ancient roots in the Old Religion, before the elves came to Belcadiz. The Old Religion worshipped a mysterious Immortal called Matera, who is believed to be a primitive, lusty and earthy aspect of Valerias. Only the High Mistress of Witchcraft, Princesa Carnelia de Belcadiz y Fedorias, is privy to this secret.
In recent years, the Immortal Valerias has been expanding her sway throughout the Known World, Glantri included. In AC 1017, La Milagro de Los Amantes ("The Miracle of the Lovers") was believed to have been a manifestation of Valerias and Ixion dancing at the Midsummer Night's Ball of Princess Carnelia, which incidentally fell on the Day of Valerias holiday of other Known World nations. Later that year, her clerics and pilgrims were persecuted and killed at the Alexander Day Massacre, sparking religious upheavals in Glantri and its neighbours. As a result, in AC 1018, the Principalities allowed the construction of The Abbey of the Bleeding Rose, the first religious structure in Glantri consecrated to an Immortal other than Rad.
The Forest Mother Ordana has found followers amongst the reclusive elves of Erewan, who have successfully kept the existence of her worship secret from the rest of Glantri. With the arrival of the refugee elves from Alfheim, the cult has gained more following but is still too small to be influential. The Erewan elves remain resistant to the teachings of the Forest Way, and the younger Erewan elves have the Glantrian disinterest of religious matters that they cannot distinguish Ordana from Terra or other Immortals of nature.
The Immortal Terra, known as the Earth Mother, has followers among the nature-loving Erewan elves, and her nature cult works closely and secretly with the cult of Ordana. Among the clerics of Terra is Lady Tariana d'Ambreville, a refugee from Alfheim and the wife of Sire Jean-Louis d'Ambreville, a staunch supporter and protector of clerics within the Principalities.
Terra has a more obtrusive cult among the Ethengar, who know her as Yamuga the Yurt Dweller. Her more zealous priests proselytise her teachings in Glantri through the Thousand Fists of the Khan, together with the other Ethengarian cults of Tubak the Lawgiver (Ixion) and Cretia the Mischief Maker.
The mischievous Immortal Cretia is the Patron of the Ethengar and the Lord of Chaos. While he protects the Khanates of Ethengar from the godless Glantrian wizards, he also has no qualms in causing trouble from those same Glantrians enemies. And it is the heedless cult of Cretia that is the leading force for the belligerent Thousand Fists of the Khan and their chaotic and reckless schemes.
The Supreme Judge of the Council Prince Jherek Virayana IV of Krondahar was a staunch foe of the Thousand Fists of the Khan, and he intensified his efforts to eradicate the group, especially with the looming threat of the Ethengar invasion in AC 1016. When Prince Jherek died in that war, his campaign was continued by his fanatical son Rejladan Virayana, who has discovered that just as Cretia has kept the Ethengar race resilient and strong through the years, the Immortal has kept his cult and the Thousand Fists hardy and alive in the frontier Principality of Bramyra.
Jammudaru, The Patron of Nightmares and Revenge, has a small cult among the ogres and larger humanoids living in the Great Crater (originally from the Broken Lands.) And like most things from New Kolland, most Glantrians ignore them and know nothing about them.
More importantly, a number of clerics of Jammudaru from all over Mystara have been guided by their Immortal through dreams and nightmares to travel to Glantri, and learn the secrets of the Nightmare Dimension from certain powerful Illusionists from Krondahar. The most powerful of such Illusionists, the former High Master of Dream Magic, Prince Jherek Virayana IV was also the Supreme Judge of the Council, and he effectively eliminated such illegal clerics without knowing the danger they posed to the Secret Craft of Dream Magic. The present High Mistress of Dream Magic, his widow Lady Lan-Syn Virayana, has now learned of the true mission of these cleric of nightmares, and come across disturbing connections with the Immortal Jammudaru and the legendary Walker of Dreams, Jherek Virayana I, the founder of the Secret Craft and the discoverer of the Demiplane of Nightmares.
Before the Great Meteor Crash of AC 1006, a cult of the Alphatian Patron of Magic and Wizardry successfully made the Alphatian Principality of Blackhill its base of operations. Its agenda was scholarly and philanthropic (to promote wizardry and assist mundaners magically), as well as political and subversive (to spy for Alphatia and undermine the Glantrian magocracy). The secret of its success was Palartarkan's clerics can cast magic-user spells and could well pass as wizards. They also gained the support of Sir Uthar Aendyr, the Constable of Volnay and brother of Prince Volospin Aendyr of Blackhill. Sir Uthar was a mundaner who traded magical favours from the Cult in exchange for their protection.
The clerics of Palartarkan were opposed to the cult of Alphaks, but all their efforts came to naught when they were all decimated with the destruction of Blackhill, ironically because of the Great Meteor sent down from the heavens by the Immortal Alphaks.
The worship of the Immortal Asterius, Patron of Travel and Trade, is widespread throughout the Known World, as the clerics of Asterius are probably just as active in the Principalities of Glantri as elsewhere in the world. This is because the well-travelled, silver-tongued clerics of Asterius are very diplomatic and considerate of local laws and traditions. In Glantri, the Asterians know not to flaunt their religion or clericism, and they do not organise officially and proselytise publicly. Of course, Asterius is also the Patron of Thieves and Money, and his clerics are well versed in discretion and suavity, and not above bribery or duplicity to get around.
Almost all clerics of Asterius come to Glantri by way of the Republic of Darokin, where they are discreetly supported by the Church of Darokin and the Darokinian Diplomatic Corps. Within the Principalities, they work as travellers, tourists, merchants, diplomats, and of course, thieves, spies, and smugglers. Their network in Glantri is extensive and they often deal with the Merchant's Consortium and the Ambassadors and Ministers Solidarity. Their underground contacts also include the Fellowship of the Pouch, the local Glantrian thieves' guild.
As said in an Alphatian adage, "Where Thyatians are, Vanya will be." The Immortal Vanya was introduced to the Highlands by the Thyatian settlers, most of who were soldiers on expansionist campaigns. The worship of Vanya, Patroness of Warfare and Conquest, is common in the southern regions of Caurenze and the harsh frontier lands of Sablestone, where hardy pioneering warriors are more suited than fanciful wizards.
The Glantrian cult of Vanya preaches that the warrior is not inferior to the wizard, the sword should not bend to sorcery, and might cannot be overpowered by magic. The warrior-priests of Vanya have found a following in the Followers of the Claymore, crusaders against the oppressive rule of wizards, although the cult has been criticised of secretly promoting Thyatian imperialist agendas of expansion and colonisation.
Britomart (Joan Moorkroft)
In the unremarkable countryside of Fenswick, the common folk hide a small cult dedicated to a legendary hero of their past. Three centuries ago, Joan Moorkroft was zealous protector of her people who had just settled in the Highlands around the Fen River. She battled the Flaems valiantly, but was eventually captured and burned at the stake. The Fen folk believe she achieved Immortality, and now worship her as Saimpt Joan.
The Church of Saimpt Joan is virtually unknown outside of Fenswick, and the few Glantrians who have heard of it have generally dismissed it as "a superstitious cult of uneducated country bumpkins suffering from delusions induced by dabbling in hedge magic and engaging primitive rituals of witchcraft." There are those who warn that this Saimpt Joan Moorkroft, sometimes associated with a new Immortal named Britomart, may actually be a different Immortal in disguise, possibly from the Sphere of Entropy or even a Fiend, taking advantage on the simple folk of the Fen. Nevertheless, the Fenswick disciples of the Church remain stalwart in their faith. The most prominent member of their clergy is Sir Jonathan Beaumarys-Moorkroft, the weak and gullible son of Archduke John Beaumarys-Moorkroft of Westheath and a descendant of Joan Moorkroft.
The Patron of Hunters and Forest Creatures has also become a protector of werewolves and other were-creatures in Glantri, particularly in the regions of Morlay-Malinbois and Nouvelle Averoigne. Prince Malachie du Marais, The White Wolf of Morlay, is fully aware of the sizeable cult of Zirchev secretly operating within his dominion, but tolerates their presence, so long as the clerics perform no illegal acts (or are not caught!) and the cult does not cross his own agendas of promoting the rights and respectability of lycanthropes. In return, the clerics of Zirchev have been very generously with their healing magic and other clerical assistance. Officially, of course, Prince Malachie will deny the existence of any such cult in his realm, but unofficially, the Prince wisely understands that the religious presence of the cult of Zirchev will deter the other clerics (possibly worshipper of more sinister Immortals) in Morlay-Malinbois.