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Church of the Lawgiver pt IV
Modern Times and Worship

The rise of Højplads, broadly recorded in the history of Nova Vaasa, restored the Church of the Lawgiver to a position of power and prominence on Faldverden. It was a position the Church enjoyed for centuries, until the day of the Second Judgment when, according to Church authorities, the Lawgiver wrenched Nova Vaasa from Faldverden and cast it into Falskverden, the False World,Ž better known as Ravenloft. Exactly what crime prompted the Second Judgment has never been determined the Church simply points to a general descent into license and liberality. Why Nova Vaasa, alone of the nations of Faldverden, was chosen to suffer this fate also remains unexplained, but most within the Church believe that Nova Vaasa was the only nation worth saving. The other countries, they believe, were cast into the Hell of Slaves, a netherworld of ceaseless toil for those who flout their rightful position in life. The faithful of the Church live in fear of the Lawgivers next Judgments. According to the Churchs holy texts, there will be a Third and then a Final Judgment, when the world will be destroyed and all unworthy souls will be doomed to an eternity of torture in the Hell of Slaves. Some within the Church believe that the Grand Conjunction was the Third Judgment. For this faction, only the Final Judgment awaits. This is not the official view of the Church, which claims instead that the Lawgiver intervened to save the world from Mytteri’s attempt to destroy it.

Worship
Clerics of the Lawgiver pray daily at noon, when the light of day leaves them most fully exposed to the Lawgiver’s scrutiny. Worship services are held every evening at the Lawgiver’s fanes, after the working day is ended. Attendance at least twice a week is mandatory for the faithful. The church observes many holy days. One of the most important is the Day of Penance, held on New Year’s Day, in which the faithful lament their failings of the previous year and resolve to do better the next. The second is the Celebration of the Reemergence, observed on the first full moon in August. This holiday marks the end of the Grand Conjunction in 740 BC and, more importantly, the end of the Lawgiver’s period of silence and withdrawal during that disaster. Official church dogma credits the Lawgiver with the end of the Great Upheaval, and the holiday is one spent in praise, thanks, and feasting.

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Church of the Lawgiver pt III
The Divine Judgements

After Førstregels death at the ripe age of 500, the Lawgivers Code, as set down in The Truth of Iron, dictated that his eldest son Tilbyde ascend to the vacated throne. Unfortunately, 36 of Førstregels other sons rebelled against this holy law. Because of their wicked selfishness, Torverden was torn by war and bloodshed, and the First People became deaf and blind to the Lawgivers Will. As is recorded in the third holy text of the Faith, The Black Trials, the people polluted their minds with teachings of rebellion and disobedience. They polluted their souls with offerings to servile spirits and imaginary gods. They polluted their bodies with men, women and the beasts of the field. Thus was purity forever forsaken. The First People descended into degeneracy and iniquity, culminating in Tilbydes murder and sacrifice to the false god Mytteri. With this tragic crime, the Lawgiver passed the First Judgment, separating lands and nations, confounding speech, and cursing the First People with fallen forms to match their fallen souls. In doing so, He proclaimed, I have passed Judgment for the first time. It shall happen twice more. Afterward shall come an end.Ž

After the First Judgment, the First People were a people no more. They had been divided into numerous nations, cultures, and races. According to the Church, each race was given a form to match its crimes. Those who reached above themselvesŽ were cursed with stunted forms and became dwarves, gnomes and halflings. Those who lent a ready ear to false doctrines and lacked the strength to resistŽ were cursed with pointed ears and delicate frames, becoming elves. The truly wicked were given the hideous forms of goblinkind. Those who became humans as we know them today were considered the closest to righteousness. They lost some of the beauty and strength of the First People, but were not cursed with obvious disfigurements. The transformed world was henceforth known as Faldverden, the Fallen World.Ž Faldverden persisted in strife for thousands of years, with the scattered pockets of the Church trying desperately to restore order, stability and adherence to the Lawgivers doctrines to the many nations. With the Church weakened and disunited, this struggle proved impossible. Save for a few isolated pockets, the world remained faithless and chaotic.

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Church of the Lawgiver pt II
Iconography and Origin Myth

Church iconography depicts the Lawgiver as a powerful warrior fully clad in intimidating plate armor, revealing no hint of the being within. He wields an iron spear in one hand and a bronze whip in the other. Images that deviate from this standard are deemed heretical and destroyed. At the heart of the Church’s beliefs is an unswerving dedication to order and law and to the rightness of the established order. The Church holds that all evil comes from Mytteri, or Rebellion,Ž a malevolent force that is often personified as an evil anti-god. Mytteri is a seen as a nihilistic, solipsistic malignancy that drives individuals to destroy the natural order in the name of self-interest and self-gratification. The Church considers rebellion against established authority a deadly sin. Only if the Lawgivers Mandate is formerly withdrawn can a regime be lawfully toppled. Of course, the Church claims the sole capacity to recognize when the Mandate is withdrawn. From the Church’s perspective, a good government is one of absolute centralized authority, for it is government’s duty to punish the wicked and encourage right behavior. The ideal government would be a theocracy controlled by the Church, but the Church’s own doctrine forbids the clergy from overthrowing existing regimes to place themselves in power.

Origin Myth
The Church claims that it was the first faith and remains the only true faith. It traces its origins to a land known as Torverden (Fair WorldŽ), the world from which Nova Vaasans claim their land originally came. According to the Church, Torverden was created by the Lawgiver over the course of three days. On the first day, the Lawgiver created the earth itself; on the second, He created the life upon it, including the first men and women; on the third, He created the Heavens, to provide Him a throne from which to oversee his creation. From this throne, the Lawgiver selected one man, who stood apart from the rest for his strength of purpose and sense of justice, to be His intermediary and the executor of His Divine Will. He named this man Førstregel (First RulerŽ), then whispered His own Holy Name into Førstregels ear. Upon hearing the Lawgivers Name, Førstregel became enlightened. Førstregel recorded his new understanding of the Lawgiver and His Will into two holy texts called The Truth of Iron and The Fetters of Bronze. The Lawgiver made Førstregel king over the First People and head of the Church, and Torverden was a paradise of unity and law.

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Church of the Lawgiver pt I
Overview

The doctrine of the Lawgiver is explained in five holy texts: The Truth of Iron, The Fetters of Bronze, The Black Trials, Crimson Faith and The Book of Stone. The Truth of Iron lays out principles of government and moral behavior, while the complementary Fetters of Bronze details laws and punishments. The Black Trials delivers a mythicpseudo-history relating the creation and fall of humanity, while Crimson Faith discusses theology and cosmology. The Book of Stone is a collection of prophecies, proverbs and allegories. The Lawgiver himself has many titles, including the Iron Tyrant and the Divine Emperor, but he is never named; it is held that since the First Judgment mortals have been too impure to withstand the full might and glory of the Lawgiver’s true name.

His religion rewards blind obedience and asserts the divine providence of kings. Those born to wealth and power deserve to rule; those born into poverty deserve only what they earn through dutiful service to their masters. The state of all things is mandated from above and is not to be questioned. The Lawgiver gives rulers their station; disobediance is a sin against divine will. The will of the Lawgiver is expressed through the laws of the land. Failing to uphold any law, no matter how minor, is sinful. Those who properly observe their station and follow the laws in this life will be rewarded in the next. Labor hard in service to your master, and you may receive temporal rewards. Those who live as rebels or lawbreakers will be damned to an eternity of torment. Consorting with those outside your station is discourage; marriage outside your station is prohibited. Rulers are expected to keep order and enforce the laws. Anarchy is blasphemy. It is right and natural to use force to maintain order and spread the will of the Lawgiver.

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The Company of the Pale Rose

The Company of the Pale Rose is a mercenary outfit currently operating in Ravenloft and the surrounding county, though it has seen campaigns in many a varied realm in it's history. From Mordent; where the company was first formed by errant chevaliers pursuing the remnants of Vlad Drakov's defeated army- to the barren wastes of Forlorn and as far as the scorching mountains of Hazlan. With a reputation for discipline, workman-like professionalism and seeing their job through, the 'Thorns' as they are nicknamed are now a far cry from their romanticised origin but are able to compete quite well against larger or cheaper mercenary groups for clients. Clients that vary from the traditional aristocrat supplementing their levies and include wealthy merchants seeking reliable guards and escorts as well as civil authorities that need a helping hand to deal with monstrous threats.

The Thorns' ranks are mostly made up of humans from Mordent, Falkovnia and Lamordia but they do include an eclectic smattering of peoples from across Demiplane of Dread and sizable minority of Dwarves. The Commanders of the Pale Rose tend to care more about a recruit's ability and discipline than their origin or race. After all, it's much less frightening to stand next to a well-trained foreigner in a fight than it is to be next to someone who might charge off on their own or run at the first sign of danger. They also tend to be of commoner stock or from plutocratic families, the latter especially so among the officers and though little of the ways of it's knightly founders remains the company does strive to maintain it's image as an honorable and fair one.

 

Mercenary Ranks:

(0) Recruit: A newly minted member of a company fresh out of their training, provided they could hack it.
(1) Sergeant: Recruits that have seen action a few times and proven their ability not just to keep a level head in the thick of things but to watch out for their fellows as well are promoted to Sergeants and given a squad to boss around and keep in line.
(2) Captain: Captains are the officers, usually through merit but also on occasion by heritage or paid commission, that are in charge of most of a company's operations, whether that's heading up the book-keeping department or commanding a contingent in the field.
(3) Colonel: The Colonel is the one in overall command of the whole company. They decide where to go, what clients to take on, what to charge, who to fight, how to fight and so on.

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Book of Ezra
The Fourth

Such is my role in the grand scheme,” spoke Ezra. “So must it be.”
With those words did Ezra sacrifice her mortal life to become our guardian in the mists. From her place in the mists of death, Ezra looked down upon the mortals she had forsaken all else to protect.
Only then did she see the wickedness in the mortals’ hearts. Only then did she that the mortals she sought to protect and the legions of the night were one and the same. Only then could she see the foulness of their hidden sins.
Ezra saw that those who had been true to her were but few. A scattering of dim stars in a sky of deepest black. In her new role, Ezra saw that the sinfulness of the mortals was so loathsome that the mists of death would soon wipe the hollow clean of their blackened souls.
Ezra’s heart sank, but she would not abandon hope. She knew that she could not save the souls of the wicked, but she could offer salvation to those who repented their evil ways and allowed her guidance into their hearts.
Ezra did gather her faithful few, naming them her anchorites. It would be their role in the grand scheme to guide the corrupted back into the light.
As Ezra would guide and protect her anchorites, her anchorites would stand vigil over those of good faith.
Ezra’s servants must show the corrupted their paths of doom, and must guard the faith from those lost souls who would not be saved. Her anchorites must redeem the fallen and destroy the legions of the night who would corrupt the pure.
When the mists of death sweep down, when the darkness devours the land and consumes the wicked, Ezra shall stand vigil over those who have been true to her.
The time of ultimate darkness is fast falling upon the land. We live in the days of dying light. signs and portents surround us, and only those who admit Ezra’s light shall be spared.
-The Book of Ezra, IV, xix–xxix.uch is my role in the grand scheme,” spoke Ezra. “So must it be.”
With those words did Ezra sacrifice her mortal life to become our guardian in the mists. From her place in the mists of death, Ezra looked down upon the mortals she had forsaken all else to protect.
Only then did she see the wickedness in the mortals’ hearts. Only then did she that the mortals she sought to protect and the legions of the night were one and the same. Only then could she see the foulness of their hidden sins.
Ezra saw that those who had been true to her were but few. A scattering of dim stars in a sky of deepest black. In her new role, Ezra saw that the sinfulness of the mortals was so loathsome that the mists of death would soon wipe the hollow clean of their blackened souls.
Ezra’s heart sank, but she would not abandon hope. She knew that she could not save the souls of the wicked, but she could offer salvation to those who repented their evil ways and allowed her guidance into their hearts.
Ezra did gather her faithful few, naming them her anchorites. It would be their role in the grand scheme to guide the corrupted back into the light.
As Ezra would guide and protect her anchorites, her anchorites would stand vigil over those of good faith.
Ezra’s servants must show the corrupted their paths of doom, and must guard the faith from those lost souls who would not be saved. Her anchorites must redeem the fallen and destroy the legions of the night who would corrupt the pure.
When the mists of death sweep down, when the darkness devours the land and consumes the wicked, Ezra shall stand vigil over those who have been true to her.
The time of ultimate darkness is fast falling upon the land. We live in the days of dying light. signs and portents surround us, and only those who admit Ezra’s light shall be spared.
-The Book of Ezra, IV, xix–xxix.

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Book of Ezra
The Third

In the time before, there was a goddess, and she was Erza. Erza looked down upon the world of mortals, and she saw that the world was well-tended by the gods.
But then Erza’s eyes fell upon the hollow. She looked deep into the hollow, and saw a place abandoned by the gods, its people left to suffer alone.
Erza asked her divine brethren, “Why has this place been forgotten? Why have you for¬saken its people?” But the gods did not answer.
Again Erza spoke, saying, “We are the guides and guardians of mortals. Such is our role in the grand scheme. It is not right that these mortals be abandoned so.” Again the gods gave no reply.
Erza spoke for a third time. “It is not right that these mortals be left to suffer. If you will not watch over your people, then must I.”
Thus Erza left the realm of the gods. Her divine brethren watched her leave in silence. Erza descended to the hollow, but before she could enter, the Mists of Death rose up to block her path.
From the Mists came a voice, and the voice spoke, saying, “Turn back, goddess. This place is not for you. This place is for the Mists alone.”
Yet Erza held fast, saying, “I cannot allow your people to suffer alone. It is my place to protect them.”
Again the voice spoke, warning, “Take heed, goddess. Your kind have no place in the hollow. Enter and you shall find only your destruction, nothing more.”
Yet Erza stood firm against the Mists, say¬ing, “You cannot bid me enter, yet i cannot turn away. I cannot allow your people to suffer alone. If i must be destroyed, then that is what must be.”
Upon her fifth entreaty the voice spoke once more. “Enter the Mists if you must, goddess, but not as you are. To enter the Mists, you must become as one with the Mists. You must cease to be, your name forgotten in all other places. You shall never return to your brethren. Will you sacrifice all this for these few mortals?’
Spoke Erza, “Such is my role in the grand scheme. So must it be.”
And with those words Erza joined the Mists. Her name became known to those in the hollow, and lost to all others.
-The Books of Ezra, III, i–xiv.

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Book of Ezra 2
The Second

Spoke Ezra, “Such is the role I have chosen in the grand scheme. Such is what I must I do.”
And with those words did Ezra become our guardian in the Mists.
From her place in the Mists of Death, Ezra looked down upon the mortals of the world, and she extended her hand to fill the hollow.
But the Mists would not part. Again a voice came from the Mist, saying, “foolish one, you still know nothing of the grand scheme. The hollow belongs to the Mist alone. It is their creation. You shall not spoil what they have wrought.”
Ezra spoke, saying, “the Mist have wrought nothing but sorrow. It is my role to succor the suffering of my people. What is to become of my place in the grand scheme if the Mist cannot bid me act? what shall become of the pure of heart, if they have no guardian in the Mist?”
Answered the voice, “You may have those who choose to have you, and those only. If they be pure of heart, then so shall it be.”
Ezra spoke again, asking, “And what of the legions of the night? What of the drinker of blood, and the stealer of breath, and the beast that rends? What of the horrors who would steal the pure of heart and add them to their legions?”
The voice replied, “The legions of the night belong to the Mist, not to you. Should mortals join the legions of the night, then that is the role they have chosen in the grand scheme. They were never among your pure of heart.”
Ezra accepted this, saying, “So shall it be. But if the legions of the night can be brought out of the darkness, then that is the role they have chosen in the grand scheme, and they shall stand in your legions no more.”
The Mists of Death were silent.
Ezra then gathered up the pure of heart, naming them her anchorites. It would be their role in the grand scheme to guide the legions of the night back into the light.
As Ezra shall give succor to her anchorites, her anchorites shall give succor to the faithful. The faithful shall spread Ezra’s love to all the world, pushing back the darkness. When the legions of the night stand empty, the hollow shall be filled. Such is the grand scheme.
-The Books of Ezra, II, xx.–xxxi.

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Book of Ezra
The First

In the time before, in a land cloaked in Mists, there was a woman, and She was Ezra.
Ezra was a healer of the sick and protector of the weak. Such was Her lot in life. Such was Her role in the grand scheme. Ezra took pride in the role Fate had given Her. Her duty was Her joy.
For many years, Ezra healed the lame and watched over Her people. Yet as time went on, Ezra began to see the Hollow. From the Mists of Death came horrors of the night. They were the drinker of blood and the stealer of breath and the beast that rends. Many were their legions. Many were the roles played by darkness in the Grand Scheme.
Ezra knew that Death would come for Her, as it comes to all in time. When Ezra entered the Gray Land, there would be no guardian to fill Her role. There would be no one to stand between Her people and the Legions of the Night.
Ezra set forth on a quest to find a guardian for Her people. She sought the One Pure Heart who would assume Her role. Ezra sought for the One Pure Heart in many lands, but ever did She seek in vain.
In time, Her quest brought Ezra to the end of all things. Behind Ezra stretched all the lands of the world. Before Ezra rose only the Mists of Death.
Ezra spoke to the Mists. Asked She, “The world is yours. You set its shape. Why do you allow its people to wander, lost and afraid?” But the Mists did not answer.
Again Ezra spoke. “Why have you filled your world with the Legions of the Night?” Yet the Mists would not answer.
A third time did Ezra speak. “All things have their role in the Grand Scheme. The Legions of the Night have their place, but Guardians and Guides have their roles in turn.” Still the Mists offered no reply.
Ezra spoke once more. “I have searched all the vastness of your lands, but I have found no Guardians for My people. I have found no Guides for the lost.” Again the Mists were silent.
For the last time did Ezra speak. “You have failed the Grand Scheme. You have created a Hollow that must be filled. If you will not watch over your people, then that task falls to me.” Upon the fifth entreaty did the Mists of Death reply.
From the Mists came a Voice, and the Voice spoke, saying, “Turn back, Mortal. You know nothing of the Grand Scheme. You know nothing of the Mists. You have reached the end of Your world. Continue and You shall find only Your destruction, nothing more.”
Yet Ezra held fast against the Mists, saying, “You cannot bid Me enter, yet I cannot turn away. I offer Myself to you so that you may know the suffering of My People. If I must be destroyed for them, then that is what must be.” The Mists of Death fell silent.
Then the Voice spoke once more. “Enter the Mists if You must, Mortal, but not as You are. Your kind has no place here. To enter the Mists, You must become as one with the Mists. Never again shall You leave them. Will You forever sacrifice Yourself to watch over these few mortals?”
Spoke Ezra, “Such is My role in the Grand Scheme. So must it be.” And with these words did Ezra become Our Guardian in the Mists.
-The Book of Ezra, I:i-xv.

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Hymns and Prayers to the Morninglord
Part VI: Healing Prayers & In Your Name

Healing
Glorious Lord of the Morn, Bringer of the Dawn, you shine brightly for your gifts of warmth and sunlight. Please give of your warmth to aid this body and renew its health. I humbly ask for you to cure the ills that afflict this body.

Ritual Of Smearing
In the name of the Lord of Dawn, the Fountain of Hope, the Giver of Joy, the Master of Mercy…..
And by the power of the aqua vitae donated by all those present, faithful servants of thy Glory….
O glorious Morninglord, Giver of Dawn and Hope….
We humbly ask you, release your healing energies on this young woman, so that her Hope may not be lost….
For even after the darkest of Nights, the Dawn shall come….
Thy Lips be Cleansed!
[touch the blood smeared statuette on the afflicted's wound]
Blessed be the DAWN!


For such is is thy Glory, to allow our meager sacrifice to infuse Hope anew!
Let the blood of the Corrupt, the Taint of Lycanthropy, the Scourge of Humanity begone!

In Your Name…
We stretch our hands towards you and pray that you may grant us your goodness, your love and your warmth. Lead us, your people, towards harmony, beauty and progress as you have always done. Let bloom in us love and creativity, hope and harmony – and let us not be corrupted by your abundance but take delight in giving. Give us the ability to see good in evil as clearly as we now look upon your holy dawn. Help us to help our like minded and all who believe in you.
'In this day i give to you my mind, my heart, my thought and body and pray that through me you will bring goodness love and and warmth to all good creatures.

Morninglord. With my eyes I see your holy sunrise.
Morninglord. With my hands I sense your merciful warmth.
Morninglord. With my heart I feel your eternal love.

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