TEMPLE

With such devotion it is no wonder that a vast ecclesiarchy has developed within society. The cults of the Halodyne Gods are major political powers in themselves, vying with each other for influence and worshippers within each of the Halodyne city states. Each temple is led by an Oracle, and supported by priests and priestesses. Most sacred of their duties is the fostering of the faith-bond between Mortals and gods, for worship is the source of the Asrae’s power. This spiritual adulation forms a pool of energy, known as the Logos, which can be tapped to perform miracles by priestesses who are initiated into the mystic rites. During the greatest of holy wars, when fervor grips the populace, the priesthood is able to channel this worship to empower avatars of the gods or draw down Holy Hosts of angelic warriors.

In addition to their ecclesiastical duties, the temple cults also take to the field in religious wars against the enemies of the Asrae. One should not infer that the priestesses and Oracles are maidens to be protected, for they can unleash devastating powers of their gods with their prayers. Guarding the temples and forming standing armies are the Temple Warriors, each embodying the unique skills and panoply of their respective deity. When numbers are required, they may call upon zealous rabbles of paupers. Accompanying temple forces are huge animated statues, energized by the essence of the gods. The most elite temple warriors ride to battle astride the backs of Pegasi, and larger temples may have Acolyte champions or even an Theonarch – a Priest-lord hero of awesome might.

Beyond their martial and ecclesiastical duties, the Temples are also charged with guarding the weak points upon the Material Plane through which demons and undead spirits may crawl. In these locations they place anointed Cerberoi whose magical nature makes them the nemesis of the unhallowed.

Upon the Island of Theonitis are located the high temples of each cult and the Ecclesiarch high council – the Amphiktyonia. The peak of Mount Brathys on Theonitis is connected directly to Asraedia (the world of the gods) by a sacrosanct portal. Here the Halodyne Godquesters come to undergo apotheosis – the mystical rite which expands their souls into the multi-dimensional consciousness of a god. The greater gods number 12, while a second rank of half-mortal demigods and recently inducted godquesters make up several score more.

To the east, in exotic Volturna, sit the nine Holy Sees – vast lands carved from the remains of the Threxian Empire after the death of Jendor, which are now ruled directly by priesthoods. Theoretically the Holy Sees are under the auspices of the high temples of Theonitis, but in practical terms they are so distant and so powerful that they often go their own way. Although the descendents of Halodyne settlers in these lands have assumed some local customs and dress, their culture is essentially still Halodyne in nature.

Oracle