Project Sunset (tentative title)
The Royal Church of Aidrice
The Royal Church of Aidrice is a religious order established and recognized within the city of Aidrice. It does not represent any single deity, but rather a pantheon of deities they deem to either follow the will of Lady Adla or, at the very least, not oppose it. They are responsible for maintaining order in Aidrice in regards to matters of religion, primarily defining acceptable religious practices and the persecution of heretics. While Aidrice is known to have relatively lax religious laws in the sense that relatively few religious customs exist that are unique to the region, it is far more strict than any other nation in how the customs that do exist are enforced. Religion is considered by most citizens to be Aidrice’s founding principle, and it is widely believed that adhering to specific principles established by the royal family’s pact with Lady Adla and the blessing that resulted is the sole reason for the nation’s prosperity. As a result, setting and enforcing strict standards for the nation’s religious practices has been seen as a matter of national security since the city was first founded. The Royal Church was established to ensure the future prosperity of Aidrice by guaranteeing the sanctity of its pact with Lady Adla, and was given the authority to do so by nearly any means necessary.
According to legend, the settlement that would come to be known as Aidrice was founded when Lady Adla, for reasons unknown, carved the great crater into the center of the continent that would later come to be known as Adla, a harsh land with a relatively mild climate but with little in the way of natural resources. As the crater filled with the water from the rivers to the north, the resulting lake created ideal conditions for establishing a permanent settlement, providing the region with vast quantities of fresh water, marine life and fertile soil. It is said that Lady Adla gave Calend Aidrice, patriarch of the Aidrice clan, divine right to settle the land and claim it as his own. She offered her blessing to him and his clan, assuring their efforts would bear fruit in return for tending to the land and keeping it cleansed of those who would serve her enemies and work against her desires. While this would become the subject of much speculation in years following the founding of the settlement as very few specifics were ever given regarding these instructions, historical documents confirm that a bargain was struck and a pact was formed, later referred to by the royal church as Adla’s Covenant. The small village prospered, quickly blossoming into a city and gaining influence and wealth from others living on the continent. The city’s good fortune would be credited to Lady Adla’s blessing, and ensuring that the city continued to receive it would become the throne’s first priority.
As Lady Adla was not recognized as a deity and Adla’s Covenant was not a religion, the specifics of the arrangement were left open to interpretation, and as a result, those on both sides of what became a new conflict within the city tended to interpret the covenant in a way that was in line with their own goals. As new settlers, gold and resources flowed into the city, conflict began to arise as opinions regarding the vague agreement made in Adla’s Covenant differed, with many beliefs held by the royal family beginning to stand in the way of the profit being made by Aidrice’s new denizens. Trade with people from every corner of Adla brought Aidrice unimaginable wealth, but in time it brought those that the city’s nobility found undesirable. While Aidrice was well known for welcoming people from all walks of life under the sole condition that they contributed to society and the city’s growth, it also attracted a criminal element and cultists that served deities that were believed to oppose Lady Adla. The city’s nobility attempted to put trade and immigration restrictions in place to limit their inclusion and persecute those they considered to be enemies of the state, but were met by opposition from the city’s rapidly growing merchant class, who were not willing to give up any amount of wealth after their families had given up their lives in other parts of the continent to settle in Aidrice in the pursuit of profit and, by extension, better lives. As time progressed, these tensions grew to the point of creating civil unrest, and on several occasions threatened to explode into armed conflict. In the third generation of the Aidrice family’s reign, The Royal Church of Aidrice was established to both settle these disputes as well as ensure that Lady Adla’s will was being done.
The Royal Church was given unlimited authority to carry out their business, and were free to employ any means they saw necessary, in many cases independent of the throne’s immediate approval. While the royal family’s word was final in all matters within Aidrice, to be given permission to act independently until informed otherwise was unheard of, and speaks to the throne’s desperation to keep both the peace as well as their part of their agreement with Lady Adla. It employed two basic means to this end. The first was to establish a clergy that would be responsible for determining the specifics of Lady Adla’s will. With the support of the royal family, their word swiftly became law. The second was to establish an order of knights dedicated to the persecution of those that would violate these new laws. Functioning independently of the city guard, they were able to quickly determine threats to the sanctity of Adla’s Covenant and punish them as they deemed necessary. To this day, The Royal Church works to this end by both interacting directly with the public through the clergy as well as working in the shadows through their knights, known as The Narthex, often eliminating religious threats to the city before they have the opportunity to take root.
Distribution of Power
The Royal Church’s clergy is divided into two basic classes known as The Lady’s Voice and The Lady’s Will. They act in the interest of preventing conflict with Adla’s Covenant by both determining the will of Lady Adla and communicating that will to the people of Aidrice.
The Lady’s Voice is an order of cloistered priests that spend their days in prayer and meditation in preparation to receive and interpret the will of Lady Adla. They are chosen at a young age, most often before adolescence, and taken to live in the church’s monastery to begin a life of training themselves to block out the influences of the outside world and better interpret Lady Adla’s desires. Once they enter the monastery, they have no further contact with anyone outside of the church for the rest of their lives, which is deemed necessary to ensure that their minds and hearts remain pure lest they risk succumbing to earthly desires that would influence their interpretations.
The Lady’s Will is an order of priestesses who act as the force through which the will of Lady Adla is realized. They communicate with the monastery’s chosen elder to receive their instructions and convey them to the citizens of Aidrice. They also act as the public face of the church, directly addressing the concerns of the people and conveying them to the monastery when a ruling is required regarding specific matters, most often requests for the establishment of new temples from the citizens and requests for guidance in political matters from the city’s government. They also act as a filter that stands between the monastery and the outside world, limiting the risk of tainting the minds and hearts of priests of The Lady’s Voice through direct exposure to the outside world.
The Narthex are also divided into two basic classes, known as justiciars and templars. Their duties are to address imminent threats to Adla’s Covenant by determining the sources of these threats and neutralizing them.
Justiciars act as an intelligence agency, employing human resources ranging from representatives that investigate claims of heresy and issue orders to desist from an unauthorized activity to a network of spies that gather intelligence or interrogate suspects and report directly to the church with news of potential acts of heresy. They are also tasked with communicating with government officials in matters of drafting or enforcing laws that pertain to Adla’s Covenant, most often in matters regarding immigration in the years since the reconstruction.
The templars are an order of knights that act as a means of last resort when dealing with heretics. They are a militia entirely separate from the city guard that deal specifically with conflicts with those that oppose Adla’s Covenant. They fight on the front lines in the event of open armed conflict with heretics, both acting offensively when attacking their enemies and defensively when protecting other members of the church. These events are rare, however, and far more often they are tasked with executing arrests and seizing artifacts that are deemed unholy. They are also responsible for guarding the church’s prisons and seized property.