The Soldarion faith dates back many years, and it is said to have originated on the eastern continent of Kalendros. There are many accounts of the religion's growth, and many derivatives thereof, as Soldarion's following is easily the largest in the known world. Due to this simple fact, it can sometimes be difficult to separate fact from fiction. Despite the underwhelming amount of transparency, the general commonwealth ply their days of prayer and service to speak his name, and to pray for his light to shine upon their heads.
In the days before Kalendros was a uniform continent under the watchful gaze of God, the entire landmass was carved up and split among men and women who followed pagan idols, living in pathetic squalor most miserable and most disgusting. It was here that the words of God were said to be whispered to the unenlightened for the first time in generations, to a small family who’s livelihood had been washed away in a great flood. Their prayers pierced the Heavens and broke the clouds which had obfuscated and denied them of the light of God. In that moment, mother clutching their youngest daughter, a single, radiant beam of light descended down from on high and struck the girl’s forehead.
From the early years, the girl had demonstrated an incredible aptitude for swaying and compelling those of her tribe to action. Her mind was a radiant and clear as the light that broke the flood to shine upon her. She lead those unenlightened from their idolatry, told them to cast aside their ancestral beliefs like the plague blankets they were, and told them that all they need do for worship was to look heavenward, toward the light.
She was no older than twelve when she and hers took to the steppe and wandered to the villages near, pleading with them to similarly cast aside their idols and worship that from which all life and glory flowed. When it was shown to them in such a light, many fell to their knees and wept as the cowl of ignorance was torn from their eyes. They wept, as only God can move people to tears, as they heard tell of their salvation.
The Steppe was, in this way, converted. The Word of the Lord fed their horses, kept their sheep healthy, and kept the floods from once again destroying that which they held dear. It was only when they ventured over the mountains to the war-torn, rocky crags of their southern neighbors that they found their first struggle. The barbaric men and women were unwilling to accept that the pagan idols of their fathers and their forefathers before them were false, and many of them believed it so ardently they were willing to fight and bleed to prove their superiority.
The men and women of the Steppe, unwilling to turn back now that the path of God had been made so clear to them, endeavored to stay their ground. The girl who had lead them thus far told them that their strategy was simple: they were creatures of baser instincts. Many of them lived in mud huts or in animal-skin hovels, and would drink themselves into a stupor or fornicate with one another until sleep came for them. By slipping into their filthy camps in the dead of night when the Lord’s light would not be there to save them, they would be slaughtered almost to a man.
A half dozen were spared: the last tent at the furthest edge of the camp, for as day broke . They awoke to find the most mighty and powerful men and women they had ever known gathered into a pyre and burned to honor the Lord that had defeated them. They awoke to find the war band of the girl, unmounted, and three mounted archers with bows trained upon them, and they threw themselves before her to plead mercy. In this plea, the woman spoke so loudly that the entire camp could hear it.
“Hear my words, one and all, and hear them well! When you fight and struggle against GOD, when you kick against the thorns, you are subjected to fire and death, in accordance with HIS will, as we have all witnessed here today. When you kneel and accept that you are defeated, HE WILL NOT ALLOW you to die. Amen, I say to you, rise! Rise and be born again in the light of the holy and true covenant into which you are welcomed with open arms! Arise and look into the light of GOD, and carry it into your lives. Carry it to your friends, for it is only through your word that GOD can be spread throughout the lands. Go, now, and welcome your rivals and enemies into the fold. Show them what became of those that resisted and struggled against the will of the LORD.”
And so it was that the spared, enlightened men and women went about the region on horses, a sign of greatest affluence among their tribes, and proclaimed the word of the Lord, bringing the second largest geographic region into the fold. It was through His divine elucidation that the idea of turning the ground to seek metal instead of using what could be harvested from animals. Between the Steppe and the Mountains, soldiers were recruited. Weapons and armor were forged from metal out of the mountains. Spears, swords, pole-arms.. All prepared over the next two years as the faithful prepared their descent south and east.
Most of the tribes that they encountered had never seen and could not imagine such a force: thousands of men and women carrying dyed sheepskin banners and wearing plate mail which gleamed in the broad daylight that they marched in. The choice was always the same: surrender peacefully and accept the word and teaching of God, or be utterly destroyed. Few and far between were the tribes who chose destruction, and the banners of the true and venerated God was established.
As the conversion swept the land, many were the pilgrims who wished to see where God’s chosen people made their start, and to venerate that which had started them on the path to true and holy righteousness. In the honor of these first of pilgrims, the Basilica was built. The girl who had started the movement had since grown into a woman, and as a showing of the piety and humility that had endeared her to God to begin with, she relinquished her name, family and given alike and ordered that neither be spoken of again. In doing so, she set the precedent for all who came after her to do likewise.
She herself took the name Eloi, and the first basilica was built in her honor, on her family’s land. Around the basilica rose the city of Solantis, which has since become the capital of Kalendros: the city wherein all the most significant government and religious officials reside.
See also: Saint Eloi's Account on Magic
After the crusade had reached its completion and the banners of the one true holy LORD stretched from coast to coast of the Mainland, the church was split into three pieces: Spiritus, Crusaders, and Venerators. This was done, according to the gospel, in order to ensure that the church could check itself, and because it enabled specialization within the church according to each man’s talents.
Spiritus were the most common and made up roughly sixty-two percent of the church: priests, monks, and other spiritual guides fell into this category. Almost all were male without exception, as women were expected to make the home and raise the children. None of these men are under expectation to forsake marriage and reproduction: The Lord sees not the practicality in His most faithful not being fruitful and multiplying.
Crusaders were the second most common, and composed roughly thirty-five percent of the church. These were generally men, though women burdened to never bear the gift of motherhood were also considered if they showed aptitude. Typically, a half-dozen of these men were stationed in a diocese, and were trusted to listen to the clergy on all matters. They could be sent to interrogate heretics or see to civil disputes in place of guards, at the discretion of their superiors. The Crusaders, in times of peace, were almost invariably subservient to the other two branches.
Venerators were the least common, and made up perhaps three percent. Nobody was really certain what their duties entailed, but their presence anywhere was almost always a dire omen. These were the most elite soldiers that the Church had at its disposal: trained in both spiritual matters and the arts of war.
The hierarchy of the church and her followers includes the following:
- Acolyte: Servers, Liturgists, Choir Singers
- Deacon: Oversees ACOLYTES: Enters SEMINARY
- Disciple: SEMINARY completed, awaiting placement. Assists PRIEST in ways deemed fit
- Priest: Placed, Tenured Disciple. Ministration to the Poor, Delivers Ceremonies, Sermons. Collects donations from local industries. Oversees DEACONS. FORMAL TITLES: Ser, (your) Holiness
- High Priest: Oversees parish and church, responsible for funds collected therein. All rights of PRIEST otherwise. FORMAL TITLES: (your) High Holiness
- Bishop: Oversees Diocese, Spreads the Glory and Honor of HIS name. In remote areas, this may be combined with the High Priest, at the discretion of the CHURCH. FORMAL TITLES: (your) Excellency
- Archbishop/High Bishop: Oversees multiple Dioceses, and for the intents and purposes of most people, is as close to the word of GOD as many would ever need to hear. FORMAL TITLE: (your) Grace.
- Eminence: Direct lineage to the MASTER from a geographical area. Hand appointed ARCHBISHOPS. FORMAL TITLE: (your) HOLY EMINENCE
- Master: Overseer of all matters in the church.
- Recruit: Untrained, Inexperienced warriors. Often recruited under the age of reason.
- Squire: Survivors of RECRUIT rank. Given to a company of CRUSADERS or above to learn.
- Soldier: Survivors of SQUIRE rank. Sworn into the ranks of the order formally, and await their placement.
- Crusader: Placed Soldiers. Traditionally around 22 years of age. FORMAL TITLE: Ser, Crusader (Surname)
- Commander: CRUSADER risen in rank to command a small team of three or four CRUSADERS. FORMAL TITLE: Ser, Commander (Surname)
- Corporal: COMMANDER who has demonstrated a tactical aptitude for combat. Rarely field-mobile. FORMAL TITLE: Corporal (Surname)
- General: Strategists with a mastery of the field, often responsible for the movement of the church’s armed forces. Many of these have close ties to an EMINENCE or, in rare cases, to the MASTER. FORMAL TITLE: Ser, General (Surname), Master Tactician (Surname).
- Aspirant: SOLDIER, CRUSADER, COMMANDER, OR CORPORAL seeking to follow the path of INQUISITOR through training. They have the same authority as their rank offers normally. Rarely are any below the rank of COMMANDER considered.
- Accepted: An ASPIRANT who has been granted clearance to enter into training on the path toward INQUISITOR. 60% of the ACCEPTED die during training.
- Inquisitor: A small, elite branch of God’s chosen soldiers. They are often hand-chosen to restore peace, enforce the word of the lord, and ensure that the church’s interests are respected and taken seriously. Uniquely amongst these ranks, anything below the rank of BISHOP is unable to give orders to an Inquisitor. Formal Titles: Inquisitor, (your) Honor, any formal titles earned from past roles.
- High Inquisitor: There is a very thin line between the Inquisitors and the High Inquisitors: generally they are called upon to fulfill the same purpose and do the same tasks, however a High Inquisitor is oft permitted to go to dramatic lengths to preserve and protect the interests of the Church. They are almost never seen in times of stability, and only Archbishops and above may give orders. FORMAL TITLES: Your Excellency, High Inquisitor, Ser (Surname).
- Chosen of Eloi: The Chosen is almost invariably a GENERAL or a HIGH INQUISITOR, who assumes the duty of assigning INQUISITORS to maintain the interests of GOD. There are seven of them at any given time. These are unique in that they are not beholden to the MASTER directly in the same way as all the other branches. They and they alone possess the power to re-locate Inquisitors, though they do take recommendations from the highest church authority present in a given area. Many are believed to convene with GOD as the MASTER does.
The symbols used among Soldarion's faithful are varied based on purpose. Some of the examples include:
- Hammer, Gauntlet, and Mace used interchangably to represent God's justice and the strength of his flock.
- Crosses are significant of the crusaders. Wearing them shows respect and honor of their order and mission.
- The symbol of the Venerators is an open eye.
- Swords are used exclusively to indicate those who have shed blood in God's name. Wearing them if you have not is considered extremely disrespectful (with the exceptions being for widows/children of crusaders). Generally speaking, the material of the sword correlates to the number of enemies of the church killed. Iron is generally for the first kill, steel for the second, bronze for the tenth, silver at 50, and gold at 100. "Earning one's irons" tends to be a common saying on the mainland.
- The most common symbol of Soldarion is a golden circle inlaid with an eight-pointed star, or a celtic-style knot.
- The story of Eloi is inspired in part by Joan of Arc.
- Soldarion was the primary deity originally created by Valiant, one of the original builders for Darkmist, a dark fantasy adaptation on the Sinfar Neverwinter Nights server. His original incarnation seemed to be a spinoff of Lathander from Forgotten Realms. Soldarion, however, is known to be marginally darker, as the setting he was created for is designed to be very grim.
- Soldarion is assumed to be similar to our real world God, and seems to be designed that way. Perhaps for familiarity purposes?
- Credit largely belongs to Prestige for writing much of this page for the Last Light / Darkmist setting.