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Religion in Belcadiz

by Jennifer Guerra

When Los Viajeros came to the Savage Coast (see my timeline), they brought with them a firmly-established religious tradition. This religion centred around a goddess of passion, emotion, beauty (and lust), who governed the fickle fertility of Nature as well as the chaotic whims of the heart. Also important in that faith was the Goddess's consort, the Horned One, represented by a charging bull. Both the Goddess and the Horned One were venerated at bacchanalia-like rites involving ceremonies, feasting, and even orgies. The Belcadiz love of bullfighting proceeds from the religion of Los Viajeros.

After fleeing the remains of their home world, Los Viajeros came to Mystara and intermarried with the elves of what is modern Torreón. Cut off from the graces of their Goddess and her consort, they were "adopted" by Valerias, who took upon herself the portfolio of the Goddess and her many aspects. The native Mystaran elves of this clan were offshoots of Ilsundal's Sylvan emigration. They were familiar with the faith of Ordana (Ilsundal was not yet an Immortal when they broke with him, citing his "arrogance," and they would never in the future adopt his faith.), though largely not devout. Eventually, all of Clan Destreza worshipped Valerias.

The Destrezans retained their religion despite human contact until the coming of the foreign elven cleric Tydwal in the third century BC. Not wanting to fight a religious conflict (and, indeed, on the brink of civil war), the devout of Valerias (over a third of Clan Destreza) fled the Coast, and eventually settled in what is modern Belcadiz, becoming Clan Alhambra. In their journeys, they learned of "new" elven patrons, such as Calitha and Mealiden. Mealiden was already badly viewed (as a follower of Ilsundal the Arrogant), and the fact that the Alfheim, his people, treated the refugee Destrezans badly didn't help matters. A small minority of the elves took to Calitha as an elven water Immortal; she is worshipped today as the Lady of the (fill in the appropriate body of water).

The elves continued their long religious tradition in the north, until the Light of Rad ratified and extended the old Flaemish Council of Lords' decree against clerical magic, extending the privilege of spellcasting only to mages, on pain of death. Unwilling to set off another lengthy civil war (the Forty Years' War was still a vivid memory), Prince Ralondo bowed to the wishes of the Council of Princes and decreed clerical magic and the proselytisation of religion illegal in Belcadiz. This ban was never fully enforced, at least until foreign adventurers, agitators, and bounty hunters took it upon themselves to persecute priests not only for spellcasting, but for celebrating their faiths at all. Except for veneration of Rad (the only tolerated state religion in Glantri, which enjoyed a subsequent popularity in Belcadiz), religion went underground in Belcadiz.

However, religious worship was never outlawed. And so the elves of Belcadiz, albeit in drastically smaller numbers than before, still gathered in their Temples for services. And today, since the ban was partially lifted after the Wrath of the Immortals war, religion is regaining lost ground. Ancient rites are still observed on holy days. Assaults against clerics in Belcadiz are not tolerated; they are punished as any other assault against a commoner (priests, by law, cannot be nobles). Princess Carnelia is a devoutly religious woman; although she makes a show of attending the local Temple of Rad, priests of Valerias advise her privately on matters of faith.