The Copper Coast
The Church of Vexus is the primary religious institute in South Brixia. Worshippers of Vexus seek liberation of the mind, body, and soul. Vexus’ divine servants, The Ascended, are an integral part of worship, providing a source of hope and inspiration to the devoted. Most devotees will also pay homage to a patron ascendant whose teachings most closely match that devotee’s own beliefs and lifestyle. Vexus has a twin sister, Viva, who along with her brother, ascended to godhood, representing Law and Chaos, respectively. Their shared philosophy of self-ascension has prompted mortals to follow in their wake.
These Ascended, Vexus and Viva, are revered as patrons and worshiped in the divine hierarchy as such. Viva is primarily worshiped in the cold wastes of North Brixia, due to the fact that the brother and sister’s conflicting doctrines seem to incessantly pit their priests against one another. Some clerics fight Viva’s causes indirectly, inspiring lawful behavior and hope, preaching tolerance except when their followers threaten the well- being of Vexus’ flock, while other clerics hunt down and destroy followers of Viva. The Church is authorized to apprehend and sentence Viva clerics, but has very limited jurisdiction over her secular followers.
It is rumored by some that Vexus and Viva may be Adro and Adra of the Aksumite pantheon, but none know for certain. Of course, the Church considers this train of thought to be heresy and will hear nothing of it.
Vexus’ typical domains are Law, Healing, Knowledge, Protection, Strength, War, and the Warrior. His symbol is the ‘Sunburst of Vexus’.
The Sanctum is the holy center of South Brixian religion. Located deep in the capital city of Caelot, the Sanctum is a large, self-contained section composed of many shrines, living quarters, smithies, libraries, and other buildings. It is considered a sovereign kingdom in its own right, not subject to the commonwealth laws of South Brixia, although the Church is, of course, on good terms with the Crown.
The Sanctum is home to the Hierarch, who is the religious leader, and the Ordeum, which is the Church’s ruling council. The Hierarch resides in the Cathedral of the Sun within the Sanctum, and he is typically the most powerful and favored cleric of the faith, said to be appointed by Vexus himself.
Churches and shrines vary widely, depending on the time and money invested in their construction. Shrines may be nothing more than simple alcoves holding a small statue of Vexus, with more elaborate shrines having gold leaf or inlaid silver walls and floors. These shrines are nothing compared to the grand cathedrals found in many of the more ancient cities. Adorned with stained glass and vaulted ceilings, and statues of Vexus and the Ascended, the cathedrals are most impressive. Gold, silver and white are the dominant church colors.
Church of Vexus Hierarchy
The Church of Light clergy is organized in a strict, sometimes overlapping hierarchy. Men and women of the church are the vassals of Vexus; they cannot be taxed, cannot be drafted in wartime, and are only subject to the laws of the church (canon law), rather than those of the local lord or town. Clergy and the faithful take a proactive role in maintaining law and protecting the Empire from the chaos that constantly threatens to engulf it.
The Hierarch resides in the Cathedral of the Sun, located in the city of Caelot, and he is typically the most powerful and favored Cleric of the faith, said to be appointed by Vexus himself.
Appointed by the Hierarch, these powerful men make up the Ordeum, which is the Church’s ruling council. As a body, it advises the Hierarch and, on his death, serves the new Hierarch.
A bishop is the high priest of a large metropolitan temple. He is a teacher of church doctrine, a priest of sacred worship, and a minister of church government.
Priests administer most of the sacraments, such as burials, and marriage. He can be with a particular religious order or committed to serving a congregation. Priests are permitted to conduct services and are usually put in charge of temples of their own.
Priests tend to travel less than Brethren and Initiates, but for those who miss their freedom, to come and go as they please, there are other options. Priests often go on to become warrior priests or Paladins, taking up arms either spiritually or literally against the enemies of the faith. The nature of these priests varies, from the righteous battle-hungry warrior priests of Nora, to the hospitallers of Dran, who tend to the wounded on the bloody battlefields of the Empire.
These warrior-priests are ordained to this station. Inquisitors are also a type of Paladin. Paladins dedicated to Vexus see themselves as protectors and upholders of the law. They are the earthly agents of the deity’s grace, and roam the land seeking to help those in need. It is their sacred duty to protect the weak, and they have been known to target nobles using the law to oppress the common folk. Paladins see themselves as both guardians and judges, and they use their skills and knowledge to not only uphold order but to protect it from corruption.
If the Initiates prove sufficiently pious and dutiful, they will become full members of the clergy, although they will not yet be permitted to call themselves Priests. They are normally called Brothers or Sisters. Only after proving themselves at this rank will they earn the title of Priest.
At the bottom of the clergy ladder are the Initiates. These are usually those newest to the clergy, though in some cases they may remain Initiates for a very long time. Initiates are rarely considered to be true members of the clergy. Their training is a process of evaluation, where the church determines if they truly have the dedication and scholarship to enter the faith. Many fail and are cast back into general society.
- Vexus –Domains: Law, Fire, Glory, Healing and Sun
- Viva – Chaos, Death, Destruction, Magic, Trickery, War
The Ascended are the 7 divine entities that serve as intermediaries between Vexus and the faithful. In the Empire there is a major chapel in every one of the major cities. There are also wayshrines along the roads that are devoted to the seven Ascended, along with Vexus. These Aedra also appear in various combinations in the pantheons of other cultures. Priests who adopt an ascended must select from the Ascended’s domain of divine magic.
- Anellla – Ascended, Patron of Lore and Knowledge
- Nora – Ascended, Patron of Valor and Honor
- Dran – Ascended, Patron of War and Governance
- Areth – Ascended, Patron of Nature and Life (Birth and Death)
- Tanda – Ascended, Patron of Mercy and Justice
- Zann – Ascended, Patron of Work and Commerce
Many cities and town have a temple dedicated to Vexus and his Ascended. These temples serve not only as places of worship, but as centers for the study and practice of the law. Each temple is overseen by a high priest who answers directly to the justices. Those seeking legal help and aid come to the temples of Tanda the Ascended to speak with the priests there.
With a small donation, petitioners can seek advice as well as look for representation in legal matters. All are welcome in a temple, and its priests use a sliding scale for donations. No one is asked to pay more than they can afford, and all people regardless of status, race, or sex can gain Tanda’s protection.
Prior to the signing of contracts and agreements, a priest of Tanda is always present as a witness and to invoke Tanda’s name and blessing. In matters of law, all trials and courts have a cleric present to ensure that the truth is told and rule of law maintained. Any trial held without a priest present is considered invalid, and entering into agreements not witnessed by a priest is risky at best.
Prayers to Vexus and his Ascended are conducted at sunrise each morning. It is during this time that the faithful affirm their commitment to upholding law, protecting the weak, and maintaining justice. These three duties form the foundation of the faith. One need only ask for protection from the church in order to gain it, though the faithful of Vexus do not defend criminals or those with malice in their hearts.
The most important time for the church is Ascendance. During that three-day celebration, the temples are thrown open. Those who have previously been unable to obtain legal aid, or who feel that the law has treated them unjustly, will receive preferential treatment from the clergy. Ascendance is the time when the clergy of Vexus recommit themselves to the protection of the law, and they will often seek out cases where the unjustly accused have been punished.
Strength is important to Vexus, and he is prayed to before any battle, along with Dran. Duelists and knights see the god as the embodiment of all strength, and many seek to have
their blades blessed to ensure that they remain strong in a fight. Vexus’ faithful are required to be strong not only in body, but in mind.
The Church of Vexus is perhaps the wealthiest religion in the North and East, due in no small part to Vexus being favored by the nobility. Nobles seeking blessing and good fortune from their god are generous with contributions and donations. Lawyers also make up a large percentage of the faithful, and many of Vexus’ priests work as lawyers, with the fees they collect put back into the church.