Apparthon and the Church
The Cult of Apparthon
In ancient times the world lay in darkness. The people of the world wandered in small bands, fighting to survive against the terrors of the eternal night, plagued by wolves, demons and worse.
One such band had dwindled, and were on the verge of annihilation, when Apparthon came to them with light, and said, “Do not despair, I have come to lead you home. The creator has abandoned you in his ire, but I see that within you which is redeemable. Follow me now, and be free of the darkness”. The people cowered before the bright light, but saw that the wolves and demons shrank from it too. Humbled, they crept to Apparthon’s side.
Apparthon led the tribe across the lands, drawing other bands to him as he went. They passed through the great primordial forests of that time, over hills and through valleys lush with plants and animals not seen today, and finally to the banks of the great frozen river Lev. There, he pointed across the ice to the silhouette of a rocky crag, and said, “Build me there a city, and I will light your way always.”
So Levenge was built, a small town that none could imagine growing into the great city of today. And when it was built, and the last stone of the High Temple sealed in place, Apparthon gathered all his folk to the plains below the city. There, a great feast was held, and many fires blazed in celebration. Apparthon chose from among the people some of the wisest men and women, and bade all heed their words as they were his chosen priesthood.
Then he walked to each of the fires in turn, and the flames leapt from each of the blazes to burn on his flesh, but he was unharmed. When all of the fires the people had made burned upon him, he turned to them and declared, “Thus is my promise fulfilled.”
With that, he hurled the fire into the sky above the city, where it burns silently and steadily to this day. Apparthon himself was gone. The priesthood retreated to their temple to think upon this, while the others stood in awe under the Lord’s great beacon, until food and needs drove them to return to the city.
Lords Holy Light; Origins; I-VI
The cult of Apparthon is the dominant religion in the world. As Levenge stands directly beneath the unmoving sun, its position at the heart of the religion is secure.
While the priesthood wields immense power in Levenge and the wider world, it is not permitted to rule alone. Church doctrine holds that the priesthood must advise and educate secular rulers, but cannot wield authority directly except in matters of holy law.
In the case of Levenge, this ruler is the Emperor of the Sunlit Lands. The current emperor is Merian VIII. While he nominally rules the Sunlit Lands, many of the outer provinces enjoy considerable autonomy. Sometimes this is abused, and this may lead to war. Like the factions among the priesthood, the various provinces vie against each other over status, resources, and petty jealousies. They are, for the most part, independent states.
The priesthood is not a single body. Within the temple, the seething rivalry between factions plays out in a vast array of conflicts, from naught but slights upon honour through the full spectrum of contention up to and including armed violence. It is rare, however, that such extreme acts are carried out in the open.
Faction Houses cluster about the Temple district, but factions typically establish outposts in strategic parts of the city and surrounds and in foreign cities too. The strongest factions may actually control foreign states.
The leader of the church is the Archon, who in theory rules impartially and neutrally. Once elected, an Archon takes the mantle of divinity from his or her fallen predecessor, and ascends to the Bright Throne, never to rise from it again until death. This hallowed seat sits in the centre of the ampitheatre at the heart of the High Temple, and this is believed to be the position geometrically perfect beneath the sun.
An Archon typically lives for a couple of centuries after assuming the post. Replacement is arranged through a series of complicated elections and conventions, where the truly devious factional players have a chance to really shine.
There have been hundreds of factions over the millennia since the city was founded. They come and go, ascendant one year, declared heretic the next. Many minor factions bide their time, awaiting their chance to reclaim former glory, or stalking the faction that brought them low.
Major factions play different games – wealth and dominance are their goals, and these can be achieved through alliances or betrayals. Many bind lesser factions to their schemes, seeking to use them as scapegoats or pawns in the larger drama.
The current major factions are: Lightbearers, Manifold Rays, The Splendid, Illuminated Ones, and the Path of the Beam.
Some minor factions on the fringe are: The Temple of Forty Fires, Hands of Brilliance, Shadowbane League, Fingers of Fate, Shadow Rays and Ascendants.
While each faction maintains its own soldiery in direct contradiction to the church’s own laws, the Holy Guard and its Marshall reports to the Archon, and is scrupulously neutral in regard to the factions. Exceptions have been rare, and only arise during times of great turmoil.