- Yvel the Fireheart, "The Acts of the Seven"
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Organization
- 3 Major Beliefs
- 4 Major Figures
- 5 Major Rituals
- 6 Distribution/Cultural Influence
- 7 TL;DR
- 8 Trivia
Radiant Crystallis, often referred to as the Crystallis faith or the Church of Crystalline Radiance, is the dominant religion of the Amyrian Empire. The name of the faith comes from the Heart of the Lady. It was a crystal discovered several centuries ago that is believed to house the powers of the Lady, a goddess of great power who guides the Faithful to eternal bliss in the next life. Radiant Crystallis was originally established by seven prophets: Tollius, Amerius, Editas, Luprus, Dovinus, Savillus, and Yvel, who discovered the crystal originally. It was the actions of these seven guides that discovered the Heart of the Lady, and began to change the world for the better. At the core of the faith is the Church of the Holy and Divine Lady of Crystalline and Celestial Radiance; a massive organization that conducts and dictates daily life for the Faithful, often referred to as Radiants, across the Empire. It is a faith of self-improvement and development that follows a belief that after death, only those who have lived a pure life will be guided by the Lady to Certainty and eternal bliss. Those who fall to their corruption and impurity are left to wander the shrouded fields of Uncertainty, forever lost in the all enveloping darkness. It is a faith of conviction, dogmatic belief, prismatic light, and bloody executions. Above all, it is the faith that has led the humans of the Amyrian Empire to their dominance in the world today.
The Church of the Holy and Divine Lady of Crystalline and Celestial Radiance, or The Church of Crystalline Radiance for short, is the central structure of both the Amyrian Empire and the Radiant Crystallis faith. It is divided into seven primary “Ordos” (or orders) within the church who preside over different aspects of life, as well as seven regions across the world, each with a Pontifex at it’s lead. Radiant Crystallis considers the number Seven to be a holy number, and so many parts of the church’s organization are broken into seven parts. Each Ordo has a specific color robe they wear, as well as an animal symbol that represents them. At the head of each Ordo is a Sacrorum, who wears a golden laurel branch and an official seal upon a chain of office to signify their rank.
The Seven Orders
The Ordo Rubrum (Ruby Order in the Common Parlance) is the highest order that most clergy can attain. It is also the smallest of the three Ordos of clergy as a result, and consists of the Priors and the Augeres. Their robes are ruby red, and the official symbol of the Ordo Rubrum is a red bull with both horns upright. Augeres almost always wear bull themed masks when practicing their arts of divination and portent reading. It is common belief that if a prediction is made by an Auger who is not wearing a mask, the truth shall remain hidden behind uncertainty. Hence it is considered taboo for anyone else to ever even touch an Auger’s mask. Priors, meanwhile, often in place of wearing masks, will wear heptagonal shaped mitres on their heads which are decorated to resemble stained glass windows. At this level, Priors rarely, if ever, interact with Radiants, instead acting more as government officials. They are known to oversee services only on certain holidays, though that does not mean they are free from duty. They are responsible for overseeing several Vicars/Abbesses in the region, whom they guide and instruct. Priors also make up a bulk of the provincial government across the Empire, often handling day-to-day issues and calling upon various local noble families should the need arise. Priors then report directly to one of seven Pontiffs that make up the Pontifical Collegia. The current seat of the Sacrorum Rubrum is presently split between two individuals, which has occurred on several other occasions with this branch of the church. One is Prior Artorius Lactucinus, a giant of a man. He oversees twice as many Ordo Aurantium members as other Rubrum members, solely because he enjoys having an excuse to travel around more often. The other Sacrorum Rubrum is Mother Seraphina Asellus, who is also acting Oracle Rex to the Lady High Pontiff. It is claimed that over her life, she has made more than 1,000 predictions, and all but a single one came true.
The Ordo Aurantium (Orange Order in the Common Parlance) is the second of the three Ordos of clergy within the Church. At this rank, you will find the Vicars and the Abbesses, as well as the Divine Echelon of the Flamines Most Holy, which were priests tasked with the preparation and running of holiday celebrations throughout the Empire. Their robes are tangerine orange in color, and the official symbol of the Ordo Aurantium is an orange lion, which oftentimes works a sun motif into its design. Lion masks are rare among the Vicars and Abbesses, usually only for those who spend little time amongst the populace. However, every brother and sister of the Divine Echelon of the Flamines Most Holy (individuals referred to as a Flamen), are expected to wear a mask that they decorate themselves. It is often seen as an initiation into the order to complete one’s mask and display it proudly to their fellow members. The Vicars (male title) and the Abbesses (female title) are mid-tier priests, often overseeing several smaller churches and offering private service to upper class families. Once a month, they give a public sermon for all, and often are fairly well known in the region they are in charge of. The remainder of their time is spent acting as bureaucratic agents for their domain; completing tasks assigned them by their Prior. The other side of this Ordo is the Divine Echelon of the Flamines Most Holy, or Flamines for short. The Flamines are more lax in their recruitment than other priestly orders, and often recruit from artists, performers, and musicians to help fill their ranks. They are responsible for managing the plethora of holidays and celebrations that occur throughout the year. It is from the Flamines that the present Sacrorum Aurantium originates. Sacrorum Aurantium Elianna Dorso is an artist first, priest second. She has overseen the majority of major festivals around the Cathedral of a Thousand Lights in Pallomaire. Though she rarely takes the stage these days, she is often given credit for the direction of some of the most visually stunning performances.
The Ordo Flavum (Yellow Order in the Common Parlance) is both the largest and lowest ranking of the three Ordos of Clergy (the other two being the Ordo Rubrum and Ordo Aurantium). At this rank, you will find the priesthood of the Ecclesiastics, the portent reading order of the Salines, and the caretaking order of the Vestals. Their robes are goldenrod yellow, and the official symbol of the Ordo Flavum is the Horse, though the Sacrorum Flavum is known to wear a mask resembling a Unicorn. Horse masks are never worn among the Ecclesiastics, who are often seen as the ‘face’ of the Church to the average Radiant. The Ecclesiastics (often shortened to “Cleesies” by most Radiants when not speaking directly to one) are the bread and butter of the clergy within the Church. They are the lowest rung of the ladder, and the most numerous. Oftentimes a single church will have a pair of Ecclesiastics assigned to it, who will spend their days offering guidance and leading devotionals for the Radiant. They lead a service one a week, though it is typically a relatively short affair, often featuring a reading from "The Acts of the Seven" or other religious texts to serve as a base point for a sermon of sorts, followed by a quick prayer for guidance from the Lady. The other major order that makes up the Ordo Flavum are the Salines. They are omen readers who often cast bones or practice ritual sacrifices of offered animals (the more impressive the animal, the more accurate the prediction of course) to predict the future. They offer their services for a small donation from the Radiant who seeks their aid, often a single trade gold or similar offering in more rural regions of the world. The Salines, in a similar fashion to the Augeres of the Ordo Rubrum, can only accurately predict the future when wearing their masks, though it is not a crime for others to touch the mask. The final part of the Ordo Flavum is the Serene Order of Divine Vestals. While sounding very impressive in nature, Vestals often are looked down on by other members of the clergy as simple custodians. Nonetheless, the Vestals are charged with an incredibly important role within the Church; maintaining and overseeing all Church properties. The Vestals often take apprentices from outside the Church to train in the various trades needed to repair and maintain the countless churches, abbeys, and cathedrals that the Church owns. They also are responsible for taking care of the dead and maintaining the necropolis where they are buried. The current Sacrorum Flavum is a Ecclesiastic named Father Emericus Inregillensis. He was chosen for the role due to his sincere nature and warm heart; or at the very least being related to a wealthy noble and making several extraordinary donations to the church right around the death of the previous Sacrorum Flavum.
The Ordo Viridis (Verdant Order in the Common parlance) is considered one of the most active among the seven orders. This branch consists of the healers, charity organizations, disaster relief, almshouse workers, donation collectors, and any other role that falls under outreach designed to take care of citizens. Their robes are emerald green, and the official symbol of the Ordo Viridis is a green crane with head pointed up, its wings outstretched, and its legs splayed to form a star shape. Higher Ranking members of the medical staff of the are known to don crane themed masks that they wear when dealing with the sick and infirm. The long beak is intended to keep the infirmed a safe distance from the doctor’s face. Beyond medical services, Viridis is responsible for running the Empire’s almshouses and soup kitchens. It is also Viridis members who are often found on street corners asking for donations for just and noble causes, or visiting door to door to raise money for the local orphanage. Further, a Green Crane cuddling a newborn is often hung over the door of Church run orphanages. This Ordo however is not only responsible for the charitable deeds of the Church, as it is also their duties to act as body collectors and grave diggers. At present, Prisca Helenus serves as Sacrorum Viridis. She is a well renowned doctor, and has been serving the Ordo for over four decades.
The Ordo Caeruleum (Cerulean Order in the Common parlance) is composed of the military forces of the Church, and thereby the Empire. It is by far the most complex of the seven Ordos, as it has several branches beneath it that are composed of different groups. Their robes are cerulean blue, and the official symbol of the Ordo Caeruleum is an eagle, wings spread and talons sharp. This is often seen in the helmets and symbols used by high ranking members of the Ordo Caeruleum, including aristocratic knightly orders and the members of the Sacred Order of the Eidolons Most Holy, who are the Lady High Pontiff’s elite guard. The leadership of the Ordo Caeruleum is composed of the Sacrorum Caeruleum and the four Maximii, who each lead a branch of the military. The first branch is Exercitus Crystallis, or Army of the Crystal, and is overseen by the current Palatine Maximus, Frigidian Capitolinus. Beneath the Palatine Maximus are two other officials; the Praefectus Fraeternitus (in command of knights) and the Praefectus Centuria (in command of infantry). This branch of the military is the knightly orders of the Church and the Cohorts of infantry that are often formed to wage Holy War against the threats of the Church. Praefectus Fraeternitus Ferox Vestalis oversees the knightly orders of the Church. The knightly orders, referred to as "Fraeternitus" consist of nobles and aristocrats who can afford the gear and mounts necessary to be a knight. There are cases, however, where a Fraeternitus will recruit from among the common folk. Those chosen are often of high moral standing, excellent combat skills, and uphold knightly virtues. When they are elevated, they also receive all of the perks of becoming a knight, often uplifting entire generations of a family out of poverty. It has often been a motivator for common folk who are struggling to send their children off to join the Cohorts of the infantry to try and "stand out" and be recruited. Also, both males and females can be knights, though it is considered a male dominated field. While any major aristocratic family can establish an order of knights if they have enough prestige and money, there are six primary Fraternitus that are considered the core orders of knights. They are larger in scale and often receive sizable donations from the Church in order to maintain themselves. Often the six also host tournaments and competitions to compete against one another to both train and entertain the masses. It is also common for these tournaments to be open for anyone to enter, which is one of the paths that a commoner may potentially achieve knighthood. The six primary orders are the:
- Fraternitus Palatine - The Fraternal Order of the Paladins
- Fraternitus Draconarius - The Fraternal Order of the Dragoons
- Fraternitus Sagittarii - The Fraternal Order of the Sagittarius
- Fraternitus Sepulcrum - The Fraternal Order of the Sepulcher
- Fraternitus Juramentum - The Fraternal Order of the Oathkeepers
- Fraternitus Venator - The Fraternal Order of the Venerators
The other side of the Exercitus Crystallis is the cohorts of infantry that are the primary weapon used by the Church in their Holy Wars against the unfaithful. At the head of the cohorts of the Church is the Praefectus Centuria, who acts as a field marshall to help organize all the infantry. The acting Prafectus Centuria is Euclid Getha, who has served in nearly every military campaign that has occured during his life. There are three distinct classes of cohorts. The first is the Cohors Devotus, often referred to as the Lady’s Devoted, which is composed of willing Radiants who arm themselves with whatever they have available to them and go to war in the name of the Lady and the Crystal. While this may seem absurd to go to war in the clothes on your back and a simple cudgel, it is considered an honorable death to die in battle for the Lady. The second category is the Cohors Amyria. These are the cohorts that are properly armed and trained by the Church to defend the Amyrian Empire. While fewer in number than the Lady’s Devoted, they are better armed and better trained. The final category of cohorts is the Cohors Urbanae, which serve as a National Guard of sorts. It is much smaller in scale than the other two categories, but is often composed of infantry from the other two who have survived enough campaigns to effectively retire, yet still want to help protect their homeland. The second branch of the Ordo Caeruleum is the Navalum Crystallis, or the Navy of the Crystal. It is overseen by the office of the Navales Maximus, which is presently helmed by Cadmus Iunianus. Oftentimes, the Navalum is overshadowed by the Exercitus, largely due to the number of land -based military campaigns that the Church takes part in. Overall, the Navalum is respectable both in size and power. Officers train at the Savillus Scholasticate, a university dating back to the early days of the Empire, and are overwhelmingly from the aristocracy of the Empire. That does not mean that a commoner may not one day find themselves as captain of a ship, but the odds of them overseeing an entire fleet is astronomically small. The Savillus Scholasticate also trains the navigators of the Navalum, who are skilled at deciphering star charts. However, an Orcish navigator is still considered as good as the top graduates of the Scholasticate. The third branch of the Ordo Caeruleum is the Architectus Crystallis, or the Engineers of the Crystal. It is considered the least militaristic among the four branches, and is often deployed to oversee important constructions by the church. At the head of this branch is the Architecti Maximus, who is considered to have one of the most stressful jobs in the Church. Presently the office is held by Veronica Soranus. She has held the position for only a year and a half, though most who see her claim she has aged well over ten years since she took the position. The stress comes primarily from the fact that the Architecti are splintered to focus on so many projects at once that each require proper approval and observations by the Architecti Maximus that it often causes burnout from long hours. Maximus Soranus is the first to try having her own division of Ordo Purpureum bureaucrats working for her in an attempt to ease the stress, which has met moderate success. This branch is effectively in charge of logistics and building across all the land controlled by the Church. If timber is needed across Pallomaire in a day, it is the Architectus Crystallis that are responsible for hauling it (though often only after enough bureaucratic red tape has been cut by the Ordo Purpureum). The final branch of the Ordo Caeruleum are the Praetor Crystallis, or the Guards of the Crystal. Praetor Maximus Archelaus Calussa commands the four main chapters of guards and law enforcement within Church lands. He makes decisions that impact the entirety of the Church, and is the only Maximus to personally interact with the Lady High Pontiff on a daily basis. The first chapter is the Sacred Order of the Eidolons Most Holy, often referred to as the Eidolons, who are the Lady High Pontiff’s personal guard. The Eidolons are considered the most elite fighting force within the Empire, often wearing special crystalline badges to denote their position. Each member of the order is given full permission to kill any who they deem a threat to the Lady High Pontiff without any consequences. There are also rumors circulating that behind their visors, they never express any emotions, and that they almost seem inhuman in the way they act. Of course the Church waves off any notion that their minds are no longer theirs as simple rumor mongering, though that hasn’t stopped anyone from avoiding being near an Eidolon for too long. The second chapter of the Praetor is the Eternal Order of the Principes, often referred to as "Prins" by commoners. The Principes are the official guard and law enforcement agency of the Church. They arrest criminals, they maintain jails, anything that a standard guard would handle, they handle. This order houses several Chapter Precincts that serve as stations where Principes can be found and criminals can be brought in for charges. The third chapter of the Praetor is the Eternal Order of the Principes Terminus. They act as border guards for the Empire, maintaining watch posts and small barracks along the more aggressive borders. They also act as a guard for the walls of Pallomaire. The final chapter of the Praetor is the Eternal Order of the Principes Inquiro. They are in charge of extracting every possible piece of evidence from a particular crime scene. Effectively, they are the detectives and crime scene investigators of the guard force.
The Ordo Purpureum (Purple Order in the Common parlance) is the largest, yet least publicly seen among the Ordos. That does not mean, however, that their work is not important. Without the members of the Purpureum, the Empire would collapse under its own weight. The Ordo Purpureum comprises all the bureaucrats behind the scenes. Their robes are indigo in color, and the official symbol of the Ordo Purpureum is a purple ram with a laurel of grape leaves resting above its horns. Unlike other Ordos, all members of the Ordo Purpureum wear ram themed masks while attending work. This was a tradition started in the early days of the Empire to create a sense of place within the greater working machine of the Church. Each ram is but another member of the great flock that moves the Empire forwards. Of course, this has not prevented the higher ranking bureaucrats from decorating their masks in attempts to "stand out" from the lower masses. Every district and subdistrict houses members of the Purpureum. Their daily work varies greatly, of course, but the vast majority of work goes into ensuring that their region continues to function at peak efficiency. Whether that be by acting upon an order from a member of the Ordo Rubrum or simply mailing invitations to a large public gathering to important individuals in town, it takes all sorts. The current Sacrorum Purpureum is Viggo Damasippus, who unlike most of his fellow high ranking bureaucrats, continues to wear the simple mask he received when he began his job with the Ordo nearly sixty years ago. It is said that he is responsible for the creation of the Damasippus Stationary Code; a brilliantly simple method by which all government paperwork is organized.
The Ordo Prismaticum (Prismatic Order in the Common parlance) is the smallest of the Ordos. However, it is also the most powerful amongst them all. The Ordo Prismaticum is composed of the divine offices of the Lady High Pontiff Celeria of Concordance XVIII, as well as her loyal handmaidens, and the Pontifical Collegia. Their robes are allowed to be multicolored, often including designs that replicate the beautiful stained glass that dominate the Cathedral of a Thousand Lights, and their symbol is the Heart of the Lady, the very crystal at the core of the faith. While the Lady High Pontiff does not wear a mask, the members of the Pontifical Collegia each wear a plain black mask decorated to appear like the starry night sky. No two Pontiff masks have ever bore the same pattern, and there is a hall within the Cathedral of a Thousand Lights where their masks line the walls. The Pontifical Collegia is officially comprised of seven individuals:
- Nephele Pulcher
- Ajax Nasica
- Bernardus Augustus
- Rosalia Russus
- Regina Calussa
- Damocles Crassus
- Amadeus Crus
Each Pontiff is in charge of overseeing one of seven large Benefices of the Empire. The Pontiff manage each Benefice in the name of the Lady High Pontiff, as well as they provide council for her in matters of statecraft. This branch also presides over the court system of the Empire. Each court is led by an Arbiter of Truth and Righteousness (often shortened to Arbiter), with the highest court in the land being the Sacred Judicature of Holy Doctrine. Note, these are criminal courts; and as such, private citizens cannot take up court cases against each other within the Ordo Prismaticum court system.
The Ordo Haereticus, known also as the Sacred Judicature of Holy Doctrine, the High Court of Her Inquisition Most Divine, Her Most Divine Seekers of Corruption, or simply the Inquisition, is the unofficial eighth Ordo of the church. It is often considered its own branch due to the nature of its work not fully fitting beneath any other Ordo, though by all Holy Records, it serves under the Ordo Prismaticum directly. They serve as inquisitors, investigators, and Arbiters of Truth and Righteousness. Their robes are pure white in color, a color often reserved for times of mourning among Radiants, and the official symbol of the Ordo Haereticus is a bearded vulture, capable of shifting from snow white in coloration to blood red, and often members wear necklaces bearing a feather from the bird. Rumors on the street claim the feather is capable of detecting magic by changing from white to red, though this has never been confirmed. However, their choice of symbol has earned them the name “Vultures by those who often are targeted. However, the Ordo Haereticus has for generations helped preserve the cultural unity of the Church and Empire. Their primary targets include Amyrians who turn against the will of the Church, users of dark and forbidden magics, followers of "false" idols, and any other target the High Pontiff desires. They are currently led by Leona Centumalus, who serves as Prima Lugere (a title that translates roughly to Chief Mourner in common). A scared individual, she has devoted her life and her actions to the Lady High Pontiff, and is often found near her side. Other high ranking officials often call her Celeria’s Bloodhound as a result.
Radiant Crystallis is the faith of the Lady, who serves as the guide to life everlasting after death. She is the Way and the Light in the Darkness. She is further known as the Enlightened One, and it is the desire of all Radiants to see the people of the world united in her Truth. It is believed that if a Radiant is faithful to the path and lives a pious and good life, when they die, the Lady will appear to them and bring them to the True Light of Certainty. For those who are unfaithful or who are not a part of the Radiant, their souls will be damned to forever wander the darkness of Uncertainty. This has led Radiant Crystallis to be a very dogmatic faith, holding their traditions as the most important aspect of their lives.Also, this has caused individuals who have undertaken the sacraments of the faith to receive their Crystal Mark upon their forehead to have die hard fanatical tendencies. Rumors abound that those with the Mark actually offer up part of their being to the Church, and that the Church has ways to control and subvert the will of the Radiants. One often told story is that of a young Radiant who willingly turns in his parents for their heresy, went to the local Ecclesiastic to turn them in, and led a mob back to his childhood home to burn it down, his parents still inside. Then, after all of this, the regret of having his faith blemished by his parent’s actions causes the young Radiant to jump into the fire and burn himself. Of course, you will also often find these rumors circulating among those who reject the Church entirely, so whether they have any truth is up for debate. Finally, the faith has a handful of central holy texts, with the predominant one being "The Acts of the Seven", a collection of stories that tell the tales of the Seven Prophets as they establish what would become the Amyrian Empire. Other religious texts came afterwards, but are more supplemental in nature, such as "The Crystal’s Melodia", a collection of hymns and "Crystallis Historia", which is composed of famous lessons taught by the clergy throughout the years.
Origin of the Faith
However you may view the faith, the origins behind the religion are one of the most told stories across the world. Before the rise of the Amyrian Empire and the Crystallis faith, seven humans had gathered together to find an supposed ancient treasure that was lost to the ages. Having reached the end of their journey and finding nothing of value, these seven individuals began to fight, kicking up dirt and spilling blood. In the middle of their fight, a sudden calm overcame the group. Their attention was drawn to a glimmering piece of stone jutting out of the ground. They began to dig, unearthing a crystal bigger than any of them in size, which gleamed with all the colors of the rainbow. "`The Acts of the Seven"`, one of the primary religious texts for the Radiants, say that the stone spoke to the hearts of the seven sinners and showed them the light of Truth. The seven sinners had uncovered the Heart of the Lady, which is the physical embodiment of Lady. From then on, the seven sinners were known as the Seven Prophets, and set about strengthening and teaching the early human civilization.
The Crystallis faith holds that the world was created out of Uncertainty. The Church often uses the following poem to help explain it: ""`At first there was Uncertainty.""` ""`Then from the void, came Existence, and within the world the continents rose from the waves.""` ""`And from the soil came the trees and the grass, and the forests and the prairies, and the hills and mountains old rising up to touch the sky.""` ""`And the clouds gathered together in the sky, and rain began to fall, giving birth to the rivers and the streams.""` ""`And as the rivers carved their paths, and brought good water to the soil, the wild animals grew and multiplied.""` ""`As they filled the forests and the valleys, the mountains and the seas, thus came the children of the Lady.""` ""`Who sowed the soil, and reaped the bounties of the oceans, and dug deep for the wealth of the stone.""` ""`Then the Lady fell into slumber, for there remained nothing more but to wait, and to hope.""` ""`Hope for the day her children would find her, and awaken her, and that she may once more lead them to her side.""` When asked what the poem means, most clergy will simply state that the world came into existence from Uncertainty, but it was not until the Lady graced the world with her presence that meaningful life appeared. Thus, we are all children of the Lady, but humans are her chosen ones, for they were always intended to recover her Heart.
Virtues and Sins
The Seven Sinners, later Seven Prophets, each personified one of the seven sins, and later seven virtues, of Radiant Crystallis. Those who stick to their sins are doomed to be forever lost in Uncertainty, and Crystallis art often depicts the seven sins as the greatest monsters that may befall a man. This has also led to artwork depicting other races as exhibiting these sins. The Seven Sins are:
- Ignorance. It is a sin for a Radiant to not know of the Truths of the world. It is a far greater sin to acknowledge your ignorance and continue down that path.
- Doubt. It is a sin to doubt the Lady’s power and grace. Many who fall to this sin also doubt their own convictions and abilities to serve the Lady.
- Conceit. Opposite of Doubt, it is a sin to be overly confident in one’s own ability to a point where needless mistakes are made. Conceit comes before the fall. Never overestimate your own abilities, or underestimate the abilities of your foes.
- Deceit. The Lady represents Truth, and as such lying to other Radiants is considered a terrible sin. The Truth will set you free.
- Apathy. It is considered a sin to take no interest in the world around you. The beauties of the world are many, but simply drifting through the world is an insult to all artisans and creators. It is also a sin to have no care towards the wellbeing of your fellow Radiants.
- Enmity. It is a sin to hate your fellow Radiants. Such hatred will cloud your judgement, and only bring about your own downfall.
- Avarice. It is a sin to claim far more than you need and rob your fellow Radiants of what they may need. Hoarding too much corrupts the soul, and leads to coveting that which you cannot possess.
After achieving Enlightenment by the Lady, the Seven Prophets turned their lifestyles around. This was the creation of the Seven Virtues which guide the lives of Radiants across the world. The stories on how exactly the Prophets came to represent the virtues are told within "The Acts of the Seven". The Seven Virtues are:
- Enlightenment, which opposes Ignorance. Radiants should constantly be improving themselves as they seek the Truth of the Lady.
- Confidence, which opposes Doubt. Radiants should live their lives, knowing they are strong in their faith. Confidence can also be considered the virtuous side of Conceit.
- Humility, which opposes Conceit. Radiants should know where the limits of their abilities lie, and that even after mastering a craft, there is still more to learn. Humility can also be considered the virtuous side of Doubt.
- Honesty, which opposes Deceit. Radiants should express themselves honestly and goodly.
- Passion, which opposes Apathy. Radiants should commit to finding what brings them joy in this life, and doing good in the name of the Lady.
- Goodwill, which opposes Enmity. Radiants should offer aid and good tidings to their fellow believers.
- Generosity, which opposes Avarice. Radiants should openly provide for their community. A joyous soul is one that is generous to those in need.
Symbols of the Faith
Radiant Crystallis’ central symbol is the Crystal, which represents the Heart of the Lady. Adult Radiants often wear a pendant that includes a crystal throughout their daily lives. It is also common for followers to denote their faith using a six pointed star, with each arm a different color of the rainbow. There is no singular animal that represents the faith, as each Ordo is often associated with a different animal. Finally, due to the prismatic nature of the faith, it is often associated with the entire spectrum of colors.
The Lady is the central God within Radiant Crystallis. She is claimed to be the progenitor god of intelligent life on Alm by the Radiants. This claim has also tasked those who follow the Crystallis faith with the sacred tasks of uniting the world beneath her multicolored banner. Within the faith, the Lady acts as the guide to the next life. When a life ends, the soul will appear within Uncertainty. A good and virtuous soul will be shown a path of shimmering light, and the Lady will appear to them to guide them home to eternal bliss. Hers is a calming presence to the Radiant, who in turn revere her as the most Holy Mother and keeper of the Sacred Truth, which is claimed to be paradise in the next life. However, she is also a demanding mother, expecting the very best from all her children. This has made a dogmatic faith that demands the very best from its followers, and praises those who live a Pious and Just lifestyle in her name. Lady High Pontiff Celeria of Concordance XVIII is the acting head of the Church of the Holy and Divine Lady of Crystalline and Celestial Radiance. She is universally liked by members of the Crystallis faith, and has been considered one of the most successful High Pontiffs since the founding of the Amyrian Empire. In public, she is a warm and generous woman who exhibits the seven virtues with an air of dignity and grace. Those who have completed pilgrimages during her tenure often claim her mere presence inspires confidence. Those who know her more claim she is all that one would expect from the head of the church: benevolent, kind, and compassionate. Others remark that her smile sometimes is a mask, and that she seems lonely. It is true that she has never taken a lover, and that she rarely interacts with individuals outside her close circle. However, there are a few who also make mention that she can be one of the most terrifying individuals they know should someone who opposes the church present themselves. Behind closed doors, rumors whisper (for fear that they may attract her ire) that she is among the most terrifying individuals in the world: cold, calculating, and determined to achieve her goals. She has been the driving force behind the Empire’s recent declarations of war. Whether she intends to unite the world beneath her banner in the name of the Lady or for herself is yet to be confirmed.
The Seven Prophets
Each Prophet teaches Radiants about how they overcame one of the cardinal sins to achieve the Truth of the Lady. Their tales and deeds are recounted in a bound collection of stories known as "The Acts of the Seven" which was written by Tollius during the early days of the Church. The book is divided into seven main stories, with each reflecting on one of the seven prophets. Their trials and tribulations are reflected upon as lessons in improving oneself in the face of adversity. Some critics claim the story is ‘altered’ to include elements which would delight children such as the Demon Lion that Amerius faced down to defend a town, but the overwhelming majority who read the stories see the true lessons being taught at its core. Each Prophet is renowned for their own tasks, but collectively they are the guides that lead the Radiants down their own paths to Truth in the Lady.
- Prophet Tollius the Illuminator teaches us lessons in Enlightenment. Tollius’ story began as a backwater simpleton. He was originally the most foolish of the seven, though he knew his letters well enough. His trials feature overcoming the riddles of a demon in sheep’s clothing, and showing how through learning, we can achieve more. It actively encourages Radiants to improve themselves, so that they too may learn the Truth of the Lady. Tollius is also known as the original author of "The Acts of the Seven", as it was his enlightenment that chose to record the events for future generations.
- Prophet Amerius the Lionhearted teaches us lessons in Confidence. Amerius’ story is that of an individual who was beset by doubt. He was afraid that he would never amount to anything, and struggled to see most tasks through to their end. It wasn’t until a Demonic Lion appeared outside a small town that he rose to the occasion to slay the beast. His story speaks to Radiants that if they are confident in their abilities, they will always succeed.
- Prophet Editas the Peacemaker teaches us lessons in Humility. Editas’ story is that of an individual overly proud of their actions, wagering life and limb for needless want. Her key story revolves around negotiations of two proud clans over a parcel of land. At first, she forces her way into talks because she believes she’ll easily convince the two parties to stop their arguing, but after being rebuked time and again, she realizes that she has been too arrogant in her approach. Her story is that of accepting one’s place and living a humble life.
- Prophet Luprus the Judge teaches us lessons in Honesty. Luprus’ story is that of one who lied as easily as he breathed air. It was almost second nature for him to tell extravagant lies in order to appease and persuade individuals. His lifestyle came to bite him when he was confronted by the Terror Bird of Beshenmar, who could see through his lies. The beast had captured Luprus, and would only allow him to leave he if told a story that no one would believe. After spending seven days and nights telling the most extravagant lie, the bird looked at him as if ready to eat him. In the last moments of his life, the Lady spoke Truth to him, and he finished the story saying it was all a lie he had concocted. Admiring Luprus’ honesty, the bird released him. His story speaks of the value of being honest with oneself, for the Truth will set you free.
- Prophet Dovinus the Meticulous teaches us lessons in Passion. Dovinus’ story is that of a weary wanderer who took no joy in their actions. Until the day he found himself lost in the dark. He had managed to stumble over a cliff, where he was trapped. The Lady appeared to him in his dreams, telling him to look for the first light of day to reveal how to free himself. With dawn, he finally looked out at the world around him, and realized the beauty of it all. Inspired by his sudden drive to live, he freed himself, and vowed to never ignore the beauties of this life. His story is that of finding value in the world around and within oneself.
- Prophet Savillus the Magnanimous teaches us lessons in Goodwill. Savillus’ story is one of family strife, being broken by the birth of a new child. Savillus had grown up in a family that had a long standing rivalry with another family. Yet her daughter fell for a son of the other. She felt great enmity for her daughter, for turning her back on her family, until Savillus saw the true love that had grown between them. Her story is that of forgiveness, and of Radiants treating their brothers and sisters in faith not as enemies, but as their friend.
- Prophet Yvel the Fireheart teaches us lessons in Generosity. Yvel’s story is considered the first story written among the Acts, largely due to it featuring more history into the original discovery of the crystal, as well as potential ideas in how the world may end one day. Her story is that of a greedy portent reader who offered up predictions only in exchange for the most valuable treasures individuals had. Her predictions were among the most accurate in the known world, and so she could charge for them as she pleased. This continued until one day she predicted a great famine would strike the area, and she saw that her greed would turn all against her. Realizing she must do right by her neighbors, she began to stockpile food in exchange for visions. The day the famine arrived, she had stocked up enough for all her town to survive. Her story is that of generosity and kindness, and that greed will only lead to one’s downfall.
There are eight major holidays for Radiant Crystallis, and numerous local festivals that vary entirely by location. The eight major holidays are celebrated by Radiants in similar fashions across the Amyrian Empire and overseas, with one being considered more sacred than the other seven. Starting on the Summer Solstice "`(6/21)"` at dawn and lasting until dawn four days later, the Festival of Light celebrates the discovery of the Heart of the Lady by the seven Prophets. The actual date of discovery is uncertain, so in the early days of the Church, they chose the Summer Solstice as the day for celebration. During the three days, festivities include all sorts of tasks. From knightly tournaments, to mass sermons, to theatre reenactments of the trials of the seven Prophets, to even a sausage eating competition on the third day. At sundown of the third day, families and loved ones gather in the streets and on the rooftops to light sky lanterns of all sorts of colors and patterns and make wishes for the year to come. It is said that in the denser parts of the city, the sky is almost brightened again after the sun goes down. Throughout the rest of the year, there are seven other major holidays, referred to collectively as the “Prophet Holidays. Each day celebration is based on one of the seven Prophets. They take place throughout the year, but feature similar events. Prophet days begin with a morning prayer, followed by a reading of "The Acts of the Seven" that pertain to the specific Prophet. The rest of the day varies by the prophet that is being celebrated.
Tollius’ Day "`(1/8)"` features public speeches and lessons on new innovations and techniques. It’s often a day of learning, with libraries and schools holding large celebrations if possible.
Amerius’ Day "`(10/14)"` often sees individuals facing their fears in whatever fashion it may entail. Some regions of Pallomaire feature exhibitions of ‘exotic and dangerous’ animals and other delights and frights, while others see young children dressing up as fearful creatures to scare passersby in exchange for candy.
Editas’ Day "`(2/11)"` is a day of pranks and merrimaking. Editas taught lessons in humility, so it is customary for individuals to pull pranks on each other to help remind the Radiant of what it truly means to be humble. Of course the pranks are intended to be harmless jokes, but that has not stopped some individuals from taking things too far, of course.
Luprus’ Day "`(5/20)"` welcomes in the summer season in style. Children and adults alike gather in the streets to throw brightly colored powder over each other. It’s sanctioned anarchy, and often ground level buildings are left dyed bright colors for weeks to come. Luprus’ Day technically begins the night before, with large bonfires being lit at major crossroads around which families gather and celebrate by burning dolls designed to look like demons in the fire, representing the triumph of good over evil.
Dovinus’ Day "`(7/22)"` is a day celebrating the passion one feels for their actions. It is a celebration of sports, featuring archery, wrestling, foot and horse racing, and unofficially downing shots of potent alcohol. It is tradition during the archery contests for contestants to sing to their arrows to implore them to travel straight, while judges sing their commentary.
Savillus’ Day "`(9/24)"` is a holiday of forgiveness and goodwill. It is a tradition among bankers, merchants, and brokers to often ‘forgive’ debts that have built over the year in hopes of allowing individuals to rebuild themselves financially. Meanwhile, old grudges are often written onto sheets of paper, and buried alongside a hatchet by those who wish for a fresh start for the year to come.
Finally Yvel’s Day "`(11/22)"` is widely used as a gift giving holiday. Families gather together to exchange presents and enjoy the company of each other before the winter season sets in. In addition to the eight Holy Days, there are numerous local festivals that have risen to celebrate events and people who have impacted a region more than the entire church. These festivals are too many in number to recount, though most feature some sort of celebration and games.
Coming of Age
When a Radiant turns 15, they hold a special ceremony called an "Inaequo", in which a child is considered to have grown into an adult. While the overall pomp and circumstance of an Inaequo varies by socioeconomic status, there are a few deep seated traditions that occur during the ceremony. First, the child kneels, receiving a splashing of water onto the forehead by a trusted mentor figure (typically a parent or relative). They then would receive a crystal pendant, which would be placed around their neck. These pendants vary in quality and design, and have led to a small market for jewelers to peddle their craft in areas with high birthrates. The child then offers a prayer to the Lady for guidance into the next chapter of life. There is no set prayer, though often it is something closely related to the individual’s heart. Finally the adult stands, being recognized officially as an adult by their peers and fellow Radiants. At this point, it is typical for a party to be thrown for the individual, the louder and more boisterous the better. It is considered good luck for an individual’s Inaequo party to begin at sundown and last until the sun comes up in the morning, where those who have managed to stay awake the entire night make wishes on the rising sun for a bright future.
Funerary traditions for Radiant Crystallis are quite a lively affair, and have three main stages. First, those who were close to the deceased gather together in dressier attire. The color of mourning for the faith is White, reflecting the skin of the dead and bones, and so to show their respects to the dead, Radiants wear outfits of complete white. With the body on display in a casket, the funeral party parades through town from the house of the departed to the local church, often accompanied with musicians, dancers, and performers. Depending on the wealth of the family, this may range from a family member playing a simple lyre and singing, all the way to a full theatre troupe who act out the deceased life story accompanied with a full marching band. The goal is to celebrate the life of the dead as you send them off to join the Lady in the next life. It is common belief that the louder and more energetic the funeral parade, the more holy and blessed the individual was in life, since more people gathered to witness their death. Once the parade has reached the church, it is time for eulogies from those close to the deceased. It is common for the Ecclesastic who is leading the procession to turn and ask those in attendance “Who would speak words of remembrance for our fallen brother/sister?”, to which any who wish to speak reply “This one remembers the dead!” Following in a similar vein to the parade, those who have more individuals who give eulogies must have been better people, since more people wish to speak for them. However, it is considered a grievous sin to give an ingenuine eulogy for the dead, and those who pay for eulogies are often thought to have damned the dead to eternal wandering. As the last eulogy is delivered, the Vestals come and take the body, while everyone in the funeral party returns to the home of the deceased to have a feast. It is customary for those attending to toast the deceased and drink in their honor.
Engagement begins when one side presents the other with a silver ring. There is no set tradition for whether it is the male or the female who present the ring. Instead, it often is whoever is the more courageous one of the pair. It should also be noted that the Crystallis faith has no qualms about homosexual relationships or marriages. This is due to there being no issues with children being born outside of wedlock, and thus having a "Bastard" is not considered a grievous sin. This has caused marriages to be undertaken more out of love for one another than out of producing lawful children, which leads to families often having more than five children. The Church also provides special assistance in certain situations to help families who have more children. It should be noted that this has not stopped aristocratic families from still arranging marriages in order to unite family businesses. As well, while a bastard child may not be frowned upon among commoners, among aristocracy, the idea is still considered shameful, as bloodline purity is ideal among the noble families. During the engagement period, the couple often are expected to affirm their affection for one another by holding hands in public (as most public signs of affection between unmarried individuals are greatly frowned upon). After preparations have been completed, the day of the ceremony arrives. The day starts with the groom leading a procession of merrymakers across the city to the house of the bride. From there, the two of them lead the procession to the church, where they exchange vows and are blessed by the clergy. During the ceremony, the couple light a torch together, and offer up a sacrifice to the Lady for good fortune in their marriage. Typical offerings include gold, fine wine, or an animal sacrifice. The wedding party then returns to the couple’s new home. Among commoners, it is considered bad luck for a marriage should the bride trip over the threshold, which has led to a tradition of the groom carrying the bride through the doorway. The wedding party then throws a feast, and celebrates until the early hours of the morning.
It is expected that at least once within a Radiant life, they make a pilgrimage across Pallomaire to the Cathedral of the Thousand Lights, which is the seat of the Lady High Pontiff. Typically this is completed before the age of fifteen by most within Pallomaire, though so long as it is completed by the age of twenty five, it is considered good. Converts later in life are expected to complete their pilgrimage as part of their conversion. The pilgrimage consists of several stops before reaching the Cathedral. There are seven stops along the "Penitant’s Path", where the individual must complete a small ceremony for each of the seven Prophets. At each, Radiants take part in a small ceremony led by an Ecclesiastic about the sin each Prophet held in their hearts, and then show that their conviction is strong enough by demonstrating the virtue each Prophet came to represent. (See Major Beliefs for list of Sins and Virtues). The final stop of Penitant’s Path is at the Cathedral of the Thousand Lights, where they are blessed by the Lady High Pontiff and receive their Crystal Mark on the forehead. This is completed in one of the most elaborate ceremonies, where the Lady High Pontiff touches the Scepter of Truth, which is said to be made of a shard of the Heart of the Lady, to the forehead of the Radiant, burning the mark into place upon their very soul. There is one other site within the Amyrian Empire that some individuals choose to take a side pilgrimage to. The Chapel of the First Light is now a humble chapel (though once it was the most church in the Empire) built upon the spot where the Heart of the Lady was first unearthed. It is a simple building, with seven sides and a stained glass mosaic for a roof that casts prismatic light over the very spot where the Lady once slumbered. However, it is a lesser location to the Cathedral of a Thousand Lights, and is often more a private pilgrimage that one makes in the later days of their life. Due to it being more out of the way within Pallomaire as well as being older than a majority of the other Church structures, it is often in a constant state of repair.
Conversion rites for non-believers are tedious at best for the Radiant Crystallis. It involves a seven day fast, during which the only food and drink that a convert may have is dandelion greens and boiled water. This is to prove their devotion to their new faith, by suffering as the Prophets once did before finding the Heart of the Lady. This fast takes place within any church, where the individual must spend their waking hours kneeling by the door and reciting from "The Acts of the Seven". They are allowed to have a physical copy of the Acts, should they need it. Once they have completed their seventh day, they are allowed seven pieces of a dry, unleavened bread to sustain themselves. They then go on their Pilgrimage to the Cathedral of the Thousand Lights and complete the Penitent's Path before being fully accepted into the Radiants.
Omens and Portents
Taking root in early proto-Crystallis traditions of the Prophets, Portent and Omen reading has grown into a fully fledged aspect of Radiant Crystallis. With the Lady representing Truth, it is deemed a necessity to identify and follow the one true path towards enlightenment. Because of this, several ranks within the Church have developed the art of divination to help predict if actions have a favorable outlook from the Lady. Common methods of divination include Haruspex, which is the reading animal entrails, Astrology, which is reading the star and movements of the planets, Sortilege, which is the casting of lots to predict the future, and range all the way to looking for Bird Signs and some Augers claiming to receive visions from the Lady herself. It should also be noted there is a great deal of superstition that surrounds those who can predict the future, which is reflected greatly in the population. If one were to disrupt a diviner, it is said to bring fourteen years of bad luck. It is also commonly held between all who read portents that there is one thing that should never be predicted; the cause of death of any soul. The Church has expressed that any sort of divination, so long as it comes from a Church approved Saline or Auger, is a reliable portent for predicting which path to undertake. Salines are often consulted for minor decisions by commoners among the Radiant; such as what the weather may be for the coming year’s harvest, or whether their child will be a boy or a girl. Augers are favored for more important decisions, such as which direction an army should move, or if a business venture should be undertaken. Critics do say that this places an abnormal amount of power into the hands of a select few, but the Church promises that it is working in the best interests of the people.
Radiant Crystallis favors smaller church services over large communal prayers for daily worship. Once a week, on Friday evenings at sunset, the local clergy will hold a larger service where they read from "The Acts of the Seven" and give a sermon, but most daily prayers are done one-on-one between a clergy and a Radiant. In this way, oftentimes a church builds a community within itself as the local priest is well known among the congregation. Clergy also fill a role as guides in this fashion, by remembering the trials that the Seven Prophets overcame, and how through their lessons, we may learn to truly arrive at the Truth of the Lady through our faith and our actions. It is also typical for Radiants to offer up quick prayers before undertaking any action that may require a bit of luck. One of the more common prayers is Amerius’ Prayer: "O Lady, the Light and the Truth, I ask you in this trial to lend me your strength," "Grant me the courage and the skill to overcome all obstacles. Fides" Fides (pronounced Fee-dess) is the traditional close to any prayer within the Crystallis faith, translating into common from High Amyrian as “Faith” or “Truth”. Other prayers can be used for other specific tasks, and a fair number will simply offer up prayers to the Lady that follow no particular pattern. Some individuals may also find chanting the prayer as they work to bolster their strength, leading to a great number of ‘work hymns’ that have been created by the working class of the Empire. In more destitute regions of Pallomaire, you’ll often find a call-and-response style prayer being sung as the laborers attend to their work. A Radiant’s faith is a personal one, often without massive ceremony, that they strengthen and improve throughout their life.
Radiant Crystallis is the official state religion of the Amyrian Empire. While it has some footholds outside the Empire, the vast majority of Radiants belong to the Empire. This also is due to the Church holding political power within the Empire. It is rare to find a non-human outside the Empire who practices Radiant Crystallis, though certainly not unheard of.
- The Faith is called Radiant Crystallis, the adherents (those who follow the faith) are called Radiants. They follow the will of the Lady, who acts as a guide in the afterlife.
- Those that follow the faith hold dogmatic beliefs that they are the Lady’s Chosen, and must align the rest of the world together, by force if necessary. This idea is also seeded in the notion that all races were created by the Lady, but Humanity was chosen to be her Champions in uniting the lost children.
- The Faith is run by The Church of the Holy and Divine Lady of Crystalline and Celestial Radiance.
- The Heart of the Lady is a massive crystal, roughly the size of an adult orc, that is the physical embodiment of the Lady.
- The Church is divided into Seven Orders that each have a color assigned to them. Certain priests wear animal masks.
- The Red, Orange, and Yellow Orders are made up of priests and diviners.
- The Green Order is charity work and medics.
- The Blue Order is the military.
- The Purple Order consists of all bureaucrats.
- The Prismatic Order is the head of the Church.
- The Church is led by Lady High Pontiff Celeria of Concordance XVIII.
- "The Acts of the Seven" are the main religious text. There are supplemental texts as well, but none as important as "The Acts of the Seven".
- The Seven Prophets were the original founders of the Faith, and each represent both a cardinal sin and virtue. Their tales help teach lessons for followers to follow.
- There are eight major holidays throughout the year, focusing on the Seven Prophets and the anniversary of when the Seven Prophets discovered the Heart of the Lady.
- Funerals are more happy events in memory of the lost than sad events mourning their death. The color of mourning is White.
- Weddings are large celebrations with parades across town. Homosexual relationships are allowed.
- Children born outside of wedlock are not considered sinful to commoners. Certain members of the nobility however view it as a shameful act.
- Radiants go on a pilgrimage to the Cathedral of a Thousand Lights to receive their Crystal Mark, typically before the age of 15.
- At age 15, children partake in a coming of age ceremony, called an Inaequo, where they “become” adults.
- Priests focus less on large ceremonial services, and instead often are there as mentors and guides, meeting with individuals to help them maintain their faith and spirituality.
- Radiants offer prayers before undertaking any difficult act. They can be any length, though typically end with Fides (pronounced Fee-dess).
- Radiants often use divination to help predict which route is best in life. There is a lot of superstition around those who can accurately predict the future.
- Radiants use terms such as “Lady Guide”, “Lady Preserve”, or “Lady Bless” when saying goodbye to each other.
- The longest funeral feast on record lasted two whole weeks, and used up over five hundred casks of wine and fifty cows were butchered.
- It is considered a high crime to impersonate a member of any Ordo, with punishments ranging from public beatings all the way up to double death penalty (in which they execute criminals by hanging, then proceed to remove the criminal’s head, hands, and feet before parading the corpse around the church seven times.) depending on which Ordo is impersonated.
- One of the two Sacrorum Rubrums, Mother Seraphina Asellus, is a master of divination. The only prediction she has ever gotten wrong was when she did the unthinkable and predicted her own death, which was meant to occur several decades ago to an assassination attempt. Legends say that the Lady intervened that day by breaking the knife of the assassin, and has blessed Mother Asellus with visions of the Truth.
- Rumor has it that the Lady High Pontiff would rather stop the funding going to the costly maintenance of the Chapel of First Light and simply build a new temple in its place, but she is prevented from doing so by the older members of the bureaucracy who ‘lose’ the paperwork.
- Within the Cathedral of a Thousand Lights is a room where all the previous Pontiff’s masks are displayed. It’s claimed that if one looks at it from just the right spot, they will begin to see patterns that almost seem to predict what will happen. Almost.
- Horoscopes are a popular method that commoners use to predict how their day will go. An individual’s "Sign" is based on which moon was in prominence on the day of their birth; Luvyr, Alluvyr, or Vyrri.