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Temple of Bozdogan

by Marco Dalmonte English translation by Gary Davies

Worshipped in: Hule

Bozdogan (Loki) - Deceit, guile, cleverness

The Temple of Bozdogan represents the official religion of Hule and its emblem is a puzzle-cube, the holy symbol of the Immortal guardian Bozdogan, representing the different levels of truth that exist in reality. The clergymen of the Temple take the name of Holymen and all unconditionally worship Bozdogan (the Hulean alias of Loki) who bases his doctrine on deceit and guile, inviting all his priests to deceive the believers in order to protect them from the evils of the unfaithful and govern them according to the divine will. Lies became sacred in Hule, but only the priests of Bozdogan can use them as such: lying to them indeed is equivalent to betraying the Immortal, and this is considered the most abject act and the gravest sin that a true follower could commit.

History of the Temple
The doctrine of the Temple was founded by Hosadus, the first holyman and prophet, who was able with only his guile and the revelations of Bozdogan to free the Hulean lands from the horde of goblinoids that had raided and invaded it more than two millennia ago. He convinced the leaders of the horde to leave Hule, guiding them eastwards in search of a, for them holy, artefact, and afterwards began to preach the word of Bozdogan to the more deserving and attentive among the Huleans, thus constituting the Temple of Bozdogan. After having left to his successors their own religious and political legacy, giving an appearance of unity to the region, Hosadus disappeared called by Bozdogan among the Celestial Spheres in order to serve him in other ways and times. Unfortunately the successors of Hosadus didnít follow his advice, and even began to compete among themselves generating a rift in the church and formed diverse autonomous territories and rivals between them. Thus instead of uniting their forces against the common enemies, they were weakened in turn, until the point in which Hule was once more attacked from outside and brought to its knees by the northern barbarians.
Also this time nevertheless Bozdogan came to the aid of his people, announced that Hosadus had been resurrected in order to help the Huleans to reconquer their land. The return of Hosadus in 600 AC gave new strength to the resistance of the Huleans and, thanks to his efforts and charisma, the first rival territories allied themselves in order to face the barbarian threat. Hule was able to drive away the invaders, thanks especially to the strategy decided by Hosadus and to his alliance with creatures of the Elsewhere and with the humanoids settled in the wild areas of Hule, and this is what ordained his position as undisputed head of the nation. He started again from where he had paused, unifying all the territories of the alliance and founded the Sanctified Land of Hule, later dividing it into provinces each administered by one of his trusted humans. Spreading the doctrine of Bozdogan among all the Huleans, and created the Test of Hosadus, a ritual which all must undertake in order to determine their degree of loyalty to Bozdogan, of the guile and charisma of the subject, which forms the basis for class divisions of the Hulean society. As a final deed he was able to obligate some demonic beings to serve him and to build the capital of the kingdom, Greatrealm, an impregnable fortress city situated in the heart of the Dark Wood, on the banks of Lake Tros, hidden from the eyes of the population and protected by powerful magic and creatures enslaved to Hosadus. Once he completed the Greatrealm, Hosadus chose the most faithful and worthy among his followers and appointed him Master of Hule, his successor and principle representative of the Temple.
All would have to bow down before him, since he would be the new embodiment of Bozdogan in this land until the moment in which the Immortal would select a new successor. After which Hosadus disappeared (in reality killing the Master taking his place, without saying anything to the other priests, demonstrating the true nature of the doctrine of Loki) and the Master reigned until the moment in which, warned by a vision, chose his successor and disappeared in turn, giving rise to the dynasty of the Master (in practice, this stratagem has allowed Hosadus to reign over Hule from the moment of his return until the present, without anybody finding out). During the four centuries of the Masterís reign, he has also used for his own ends the other religions present in the theocracy, approving those cults that have shown themselves more malleable and less interested in the governing of the country, and banning all those religious orders considered dangerous. In this way he has consolidated the power of Bozdogan over Hule, gaining at the same time the protection and the consent of other Immortals like Hel (Ecel), Harrow (Aravjuk), Faunus (Inuus), Iliric, Tyche (Bath), and of the humanoid Immortals (Karaash, Ranivorus, Jammudaru, Maglubiyet and Bartziluth). In fact, according to the doctrine of the Temple of Bozdogan, these Immortals are now at the side of the Master since Hosadus was able with guile to gain their aid and their alliance during his second return, and they are now obliged to protect the Huleans and to serve the cause of Bozdogan together with their ministers and followers. In particular, the legend told that Hosadus was able to persuade Ecel to not reclaim his spirit while he was still unifying the Hulean states, getting her promise who in exchange would have revealed the secrets of the necromancy for use against his enemies. Thereafter, Hosadus went to Iliric and asked his help to escape his pact with Ecel. Thus Iliric crafted an amulet to hold Hosadus' soul. In return for the amulet, he asked to obtain knowledge of Ecel's secrets. Hosadus promised that he would reveal them to him only once that all the enemies had been driven from Hule.
Afterwards he evoked the divinities of the humanoids, and clinched an alliance promising that he would respect them and feed and house their faithful in the Holy Land if they would follow him in the battles. The lords of the humanoids responded that they would tell their followers to obey Hosadus, but only until they had had fought a war. Hosadus then departed for the Dark Wood and here evoked Inuus, lord of the wild beasts, and Aravjuk, Lord of Illusion, who challenged him to a duel of cleverness. With Bozdogan by his side, Hosadus won and gained the perennial alliance of Aravjuk and Inuus to the Hulean cause, who placed at their disposal diverse forest and illusionary creatures in order to help them. Hosadus then convinced many elves who lived in the Dark Wood to swear fidelity to the Holy Land in exchange for the secrets of Aravjuk. Finally gaining the blessing and the favour of Bath (Immortal of good luck), who promised to always help Hosadus and his descendents, until his temple is respected and full of gold. Hosadus had his victory against the invaders of the north, first intoxicated by the followers of Inuus, later joined by those of Aravjuk and finally destroyed and dispersed by the rest of the Hulean troops and humanoids, then he vanished, rescued by Bozdogan, mocking Ecel and Iliric who demanded his spirit. From that moment Hule has always waged war, in order to keep the humanoids under control and keep them in its service, and the Master continues to govern as his embodiment, in this way Bath supports him and the elves of Aravjuk are forced to serve him.
The only Immortal that continues to strongly oppose the Temple of Bozdogan is Eiryndul, patron of a small elven kingdom hidden in the forest to the north of Rockwater. He has entered into conflict with Hule from when Loki and Harrow (Aravjuk) have corrupted a large part of his followers that lived in the Dark Wood, inducing them to leave the Masterís side. All those that didnít accept it were killed or driven away, and the few survivors have settled in the forest to the north of Rockwater, where they now plot against the Master. Eiryndul seeks to incite insurrection in the Holy Land using false visions and spies, but his is long and difficult battle, playing with the same weapons as its enemies: cleverness, deceit and perseverance.

Social Orders and Castes
Hule is theocratic nation founded on the religious fanaticism advocated by the Temple of Bozdogan, whose society is divided into classes. However these castes arenít closed and determined by birth, but are open to all based on their skills and abilities, with particular attention to the guile and charisma of the person, as behoves a philosophy like that of Bozdogan. At the top of the theocracy are the Holymen, the most worthy of the Templeís priests. They have had access to the dominant class after having passed the Test of Hosadus in an exemplary manner: only the most capable and loyal among the clerics able to achieve this rank, and that makes the Holymen the most elite caste of the theocracy, above every law and defendant only by the Master in person (as the earthly embodiment of Bozdogan). The Holymen have the power of administering the provinces of the nation (satraps) and the most important and richest cities, impose and collect the taxes, checking matters of commercial and legislative politics, as well as directing the military operations and training the army. They dress in long white tunics of cotton and wool, wearing at their neck a silver holy symbol of the Temple and wear a pointed golden metal headdress, covered with a white turban.
The Diviners instead cover the role of judges and guardians of the Hulean nation, as well as of spies. Unlike that of the Holymen, the position of diviner is open to any class, even if the majority are fighters, thieves and clerics. They answer for their own actions only to the Holymen and the Master, who personally select them for this task based on the outcome of the Test of Hosadus. The Diviners freely circulate through the various provinces frequently disguised, in order to pass unobserved and better watch the movements of the population and foreigners. When instead they want to be noticed and respected for their position, they wear a red tunic, a black leather mask (that thus hampers the clear seeing of the features of the diviner, making them capable of going wherever also to face uncovered without fear of being recognised), a mace and a crystal amulet with the symbol of the Temple. They have a dual role: discover and capture the Ďfaultyí thinkers (or the dissidents), and find enlightened persons worthy of serving the Temple (as Holymen, Diviners or Clerics).
In fact in Hule the criminals are not only the thieves and assassins, but the most dangerous are all those who hide their ďwrongĒ or deviant thoughts, or those that doubt the goodness of the state religion or of the miracles of the Holymen, who make alliances with the enemies of the nation or are devoted to cults not approved by the Master. Those that are accused or suspected of heresy and thought deviant are captured by the Diviners and conducted to secret places (the most terrible of these is truly the Temple of Death in the Greatrealm, abode of the Master, which houses the most dangerous criminals), where they are interrogated and tortured by the Diviners and by the Holymen while they havenít confessed their crimes. If they collaborate and abjure their guilt, the criminals are pardoned and can enter the process of Instruction. In practice the individual is entrusted to a Holyman so that he is again educated according to the right way of thinking. This trial demands time and great will, given that everyday the criminal is indoctrinated with lessons of pure religious morals, accompanied by very painful physical stimulations in order to burn into his mind and spirit the dictates of Bozdogan. Thanks to this method the criminals leave indoctrinated by the Instruction, becoming fanatics to the orders of the Holymen, loyal to the cause of Bozdogan and ready to be used as spies in order to capture other traitors and unmasking conspiracies.
If instead the criminal doesnít collaborate, he usually disappears from circulation and nobody can find him any longer. It is whispered that these derelicts are sent to Greatrealm, where they become little more than vegetables in the service of the Master and of the Holymen that live there. According to others instead, they are given to the humanoid tribes as slaves or as food, ending in every case their miserable existence in terrible ways. The only way for them to avoid being condemned, is to demonstrate of having in a certain way behind the order of Bozdogan (in which case the action is assuredly advantageous to the Hulean cause) or of one of the Immortals whose cult is allowed within the theocracy (even if in this case the judge must evaluate if the order has or hasnít threatened Hule).
The second task of the Diviners is instead seeking individuals worthy of serving the government. If they find themselves in front of a particularly ďholyĒ person (that is astute, loyal to the Temple and without scruples), they bring him before a council of Holymen so that he can be subjected to the Test of Hosadus. Based on the result of the test, the candidate can aspire to become a Cleric (if before he was a Commoner or a Prophet), a Diviner or a Holyman, thus entering the highest levels of the ecclesiastic hierarchy and Hulean government. Given that the Diviners are as dangerous as they are rewarding, the people fear and respect them at the same time.
The Hermits are individuals that declare of having had a vision sent by the gods according to which their new mission is living at the margins of the society, in the wildest areas, in expectation of a revelation. The Hermits live in conditions of extreme poverty, covered in rags, with uncultivated beards and long hair, in complete filth, only taking the few fruits of the land or hunting wild animals as their only sustenance, and depend on the handouts of their neighbours or of wayfarers. Frequently the villagers consider the Hermits enlightened individuals, and because of this they go to them in search of answers and omens, bringing in exchange food and clothes. In the majority of cases these Hermits are clerics of Bozdogan that he sent into the desolate areas as punishment for their sins, or in order to use them as spies and keep an eye on the humanoid communities, the more distant villages or the border routes. Other times instead they are simply of hopeless visionaries, solitary druids or priests faithful to Inuus (Faunus) or Aravjuk (Harrow) fall prey to mystical ecstasies, or enemies of the nation reduced to madness by the governors and abandoned in the wildest areas of the country. In any case, usually the Hermits are ignored by the Holymen and by the Diviners while they donít create too much disorder, or held in high consideration by the latter, as if they had been possessed by the same spirit of Bozdogan; in each case this position gives them a great freedom of action.
The Prophets instead are individuals who are respected for their learning and wisdom, who wander the various regions in search of knowledge and ancient mysteries, usually accompanied by a dog and a disciple who bears a lamp. The majority of the Prophets are students and mages, and many of them are devoted to Iliric, patron of magic and power and Bozdoganís ally. They arenít government officials, but given their intelligence they are often consulted by the governors when these arenít able to work out a problem or come to grips with a mystery to resolve, especially those of a magical nature. Furthermore it often happens that the Diviners make use of their abilities for their own aims, without that these can refuse. They are indeed subject to the judgement and authority of the Holymen and Diviners like any other, and donít enjoy any special immunity.
The Clerics carry out their service with the temples of the cities and villages, and their duty is instructing the population on the history of Hule and the doctrine of the Temple, shaping the conscience of the common folk on the way dictated by Bozdogan. The majority of the Clerics lead a tranquil life and prefer seeking to stimulate the holiness of their faithful, avoiding entering into the games of power of the higher classes. Others instead are constantly attempting to proclaim their own ďholyĒ qualities, in a way to gain the attention of the Diviners and have a new possibility of passing the Test of Hosadus in order to ascend the hierarchal ladder. The Clerics always dress in long sallow coloured tunics, with a brooch pinned on the chest and modelled in the form of the symbol of the Temple.
The majority of the inhabitants of Hule belong to the Common Folk, who are those individuals without schooling that work daily in order to live, following the dictates of the church and attempting to refine their own holy qualities. Labourers, farmers, growers, craftsmen, merchants, servants, artists and even soldiers belong to this class, as well as any foreigners. They are watched with disdain by the dominant classes, but are tolerated since the Temple acknowledges their indispensable contributions to the cause of the Sanctified Land. The non humans that live in Hule instead (elves, gnomes, lupin, rakasta, giants and goblinoids) do not belong to any caste. Each tribe or clan is considered a group apart, which acts according to its own racial laws and has several favoured leaders of the existing communities, even if they must all account for their actions to the Holymen and Diviners who are emissaries of the Master, who rules over all of them.

Ceremonies and Beliefs
The religious ceremonies are celebrated every night, and the faithful are called to participate at least twice a week. Furthermore, once a week the clerics of the country lead a procession through the city or village, in search of miraculous signs to the, or unusual events that can reveal a sign sent by Bozdogan. These processions are always accompanied by music, dances and libations, which serves to attract the attention of Bozdogan, asking for his blessing, and opening the minds of those present to the word of the Immortal. In particular in these processions the priests of Inuus and Aravjuk join those of the Temple in order to enhance the rapturous effect of the dances and of the ceremonies. If they uncover a miracle, they convene a court composed of local Holymen who judge the authenticity of such portents and might give an interpretation of the event.
Finally, traditionally all animals must be treated with respect in Hule, since according to the religious beliefs, once dead the Holymen are called back to the world; once more reincarnated as any living creature. Given that the Holymen must always be honoured and respected, and no one can know for sure if the spirit of one of them is within a common animal, the religious belief imposes that everyone should always treat animals with maximum respect (although this doesnít mean that they should leave a fierce wolf to kill a follower).