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Open Query (Keeper Trial)


Draiden
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Open Query to the Hearth Council

A Keeper Trial

Written 18th of Snow’s Maiden, 2A46

 

 

Spoiler

 

 

 

Foreword

In my experience with the Order of the Purifiers and the clergy proper, I find myself grasping for reason to pursue the career of my forebears other than my sense of obligation to the Father and my personal beliefs of the Three Tenets. The current ranks and recognition for both the Purifiers and the clergy proper, the doctrine by which both operate, and the perceived differences between the two orders imply a few precedents that I hope to address and to have clarified by the end of this missive.

Spoiler

For the purposes of this missive, my sources will be detailed by The Order of the Purifiers written by an anonymous source (most likely Thorfinn Kursin, though he is mentioned in the third person), The Edict of Hierarchical Reform written by High Keeper Alisa Camian, and the Norlandic Code of Law, as distributed by the King’s Council under King Halvar I and High Keeper Alisa Camian. These sources are the current running dogma to the best of my knowledge at the time of writing this. I will also be adding in dogma from the Book of The Keeper by High Keeper Tyr Faretto II as well as personal commentary made by High Keeper Alisa Camian that I had gathered in an interview concerning the role of a Keeper in Norlandic society, of which I had previously intended to submit as my Keeper Trial in lieu of this one.

 

Observations of the Clergy

Spoiler

To start, we must establish the Priest, the Castellan and the Scholar as they currently stand - separate entities that uphold the Purifiers and the clergy proper. The Castellan is charged first and foremost with throwing themselves headlong into danger against abominations and abject horrors of the Void, as well as those descendants who perpetrate such creations. The Castellan is also charged with study of the Red Faith’s doctrine, though the Order’s verbage fails to specify any further. The purpose of the Scholar is to study and document these horrors as well as to translate older texts of the Red Faith to present to the Hearth Council. They are also charged with fighting against agents of the Long Dark, though that capacity is implied to be lesser to that of the Castellan by the Order. It is also stated that the Scholar may become a part of the clergy proper through the Order, jump-started to the rank of Keeper. In this, the Purifiers, as a whole, brand themselves as an order dedicated to the third tenet, while still upholding the first two to some extent.

 

The Priest, by extension, has little to no defined purpose until they reach the rank of Keeper. Even the Hearth Brother has very little official tasking besides tending the Hearthfire and completing their trials to become a Keeper. The empty spaces betwixt are filled with the vague statements of “assisting with clerical duties” or “minor administrative work” with no further elaboration. It is only through interpretation of our doctrine that the Hearth Brother and the Initiate find additional purpose, which is to fight agents of the Long Dark and to preserve/transcribe religious texts, as well as an implication of studying ways to improve the art of both. Once a Priest becomes a Keeper, however, their work becomes much more defined with purpose. The roles now include teaching, conducting rituals, mentoring lesser Priests, judging trials, and enforcing the Nordlaw and Redlaw.

 

Now that these three are established as representatives of their respective services, let us take a closer look at their advancement structures. The order of the Purifiers have a system in which one rises through their ranks via purity seals that they clamp to their armor to denote rank, given out on merit by the Lord Purifier. The clergy, however, does not have a clearly-defined system of advancement. It is implied that the Priest rises in rank via merit by their mentoring Keepers until they complete Keeper Trials, where they are then formally made into a Keeper themselves. From there, they answer only to the High Keeper and their career plateaus until a new High Keeper needs to be selected via majority vote by the Hearth Council.

 

Let us talk for a moment about their similarities and differences. In purpose, it seems that they all have the same basic duties and responsibilities as members of the Red Faith. The only difference one can glean from it is the varying priorities by which they pursue one duty over another. Obviously, the Castellan is more combat-based and the Scholar is more study-based, and the Priest has no clear-cut devotion to either apart from what their mentors assign them. In advancement, although the Purifiers have a more visible form of advancement, their advancement is still based on merit via the Lord Purifier. The Priest, like their Purifier counterpart, also advances based on merit via their Keeper. After that, however, the Priest then has the opportunity to advance further and to mentor Priests themselves, whereas there can only be one Lord Purifier at a time. In appearance, the Castellan fashions themselves after a knight in arms and armaments, whereas the Scholar and the Priest will forgo some armor in favor of robes and utilities. It is, however, worth noting that regardless of what they are clad in, all three of them are not bound to a uniform standard, wear a mix of armor and clothing, and their core colors are always red and black.

 

Queries

Spoiler

Now that all of these things are established, here are the questions that I have posed:

-If all three entities have the duty to train and study to fight the Long Dark, what exactly makes the Castellan any different than the Scholar or the Priest? 

-If all three entities have the duty to study and gain knowledge of the Red Faith’s doctrine, what bars the Castellan from becoming a Keeper like the Scholar?

-If their duties and responsibilities mirror the purposes of one another, what separates a Scholar from the Priest?

-If a Scholar can become a Keeper, do they require a mentor as a lesser Priest does?

-Who exactly does the Order of the Purifiers answer to? If your answer is the Lord Purifier, then who does the Lord Purifier answer to? If your answer is the High Keeper, then does that not make him on par with a Keeper?

-If the only real differences one can find in the three entities are the different degrees of which they pursue their goals, do they really have to be separate entities at all?

 

Recommendation to the Hearth

Spoiler

Now, contrary to some of my forebears, I absolutely am not suggesting that the Order of the Purifiers disappear. The fervor of which they work shows a passion and perseverance that reflects the best values any member of the Red Faith can have, be they Purifier, Priest or even a layman. What I’m suggesting is an integration of the two systems to form a singular unified body. The Hearth Council of the Inferi War is arguably the best Hearth Council rotation we’ve had in the past few centuries. High Keeper Alisa Camian, the leader of that council, credits its success to the sheer diversity it had in its members and the mutual respect they paid one another in their fields of expertise. Edward Kursin and Chryssa Stormbringer were previous Purifiers who joined the clergy proper and they were excellent in their consistent scouting, studying, and informing the Council of the Long Dark’s movements outside of the city. Jager Faretto proved to be an efficient, albeit ruthless leader in promoting the Faith’s interests domestically. Alisa herself proved to be an effective diplomat, as well as Chadmyr Ruric who also gathered information in other realms.

 

    Ultimately, based on this information and given my own personal viewpoint of being both a Purifier and a Hearth Brother, I propose that the Hearth Council adopts the Order of the Purifiers into their ranks with the following changes to be made.

 

-The Lord Purifier is added to the Hearth Council as an additional specialized rank to be put in charge of the former Purifiers, answering to the High Keeper, the Luminary if the High Keeper is indisposed, or a majority rule of the Hearth Council if neither are available.

 

-The Lord Purifier may mentor the previous Purifiers him/herself, or assign members of the Hearth Council as mentors for Initiates the same as the High Keeper and the Luminary

 

-The Lord Purifier will operate alongside the Luminary with the High Keeper’s authority if the High Keeper is indisposed, and will operate with the High Keeper’s authority absolutely if both the Luminary and High Keeper are not present, making him another second-in-command within the Hearth Council.

 

-Purifier Initiates will integrate with the clergy’s Initiates. Since the clergy lacks a formal uniform, the Purifier Initiate uniform may be adopted for all ranked Initiate or higher.

 

-Castellans and Scholars will be elevated to the rank of Hearth Brother/Sister within the clergy, and will still be allowed to keep Castellan and Scholar as their title to show pride in their dedication to executing the Third Tenet. In addition, if an Initiate is mentored under a Castellan, Scholar or Lord Purifier, they may also call themselves a Castellan or Scholar upon reaching the rank of Hearth Brother/Sister to maintain the tradition of pride in dedication.

 

-Castellans and Scholars ranked Hearth Brother/Sister or higher will be the only members of the clergy allowed to wear the uniforms of their respective professions to show pride in their dedication to executing the Third Tenet

 

-The Purity Seal system will be adopted by the entire clergy wholesale, the criteria for distribution being based on merit to be petitioned by the priest’s mentor and awarded by either the Luminary, Lord Purifier, or the High Keeper.

 

-All Initiates, Castellans, and Scholars will retain their Purity Seal count. All previous Purifiers awarded the rank of Hearth Brother via grandfathered Purity Seals will automatically have succeeded their Gauntlet of Steel Keeper Trial

 

-The kits utilized by the Purifiers will be adopted for use by the clergy wholesale, with alterations being made to accommodate individual preference.

 

Afterword

    Ultimately, a fire burns brighter and burns longer if it is concentrated into one spot. Similarly, in my opinion, we must stand as a united front instead of a fractured religious body operating independently of one another. What I have posed are simply a few questions for clarity and a suggestion for a more unified front. If you have any questions, I will most likely be drunk in Varhelm’s tavern.

 

Writ av

Hearth Brother Aedan Faretto

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33 minutes ago, Draiden said:

Now that all of these things are established, here are the questions that I have posed:

-If all three entities have the duty to train and study to fight the Long Dark, what exactly makes the Castellan any different than the Scholar or the Priest? 

-If all three entities have the duty to study and gain knowledge of the Red Faith’s doctrine, what bars the Castellan from becoming a Keeper like the Scholar?

-If their duties and responsibilities mirror the purposes of one another, what separates a Scholar from the Priest?

-If a Scholar can become a Keeper, do they require a mentor as a lesser Priest does?

-Who exactly does the Order of the Purifiers answer to? If your answer is the Lord Purifier, then who does the Lord Purifier answer to? If your answer is the High Keeper, then does that not make him on par with a Keeper?

-If the only real differences one can find in the three entities are the different degrees of which they pursue their goals, do they really have to be separate entities at all?

Mera Camian seated herself as her desk, and after reading over the missive, set to the task of penning a response.

 


TO AEDAN,

     To begin, I will address your questions each succinctly, and in the order in which they were stated. Firstly, a Keeper is distinct from a Purifier in that they have the responsibility to fulfill the clerical duties of the office; they perform ceremonies, oversee conversions, and handle general administration. And the separation between Scholar and Castellan is not in rank but in assigned tasks. While both are charged with militaristic duties, they are specialized differently. The Scholar's focus is on research, archiving and studying, and the Castellan's is directly on combat. Though both are expected to be proficient fighter, one is not a soldier in a conventional sense. For your second inquiry, there is no prevention in place. It is quite common for Purifiers to choose to become Keepers later on in their careers with the clergy. To answer your third question, the responsibility of the Keeper and the Hearth Brother is to guide the Faithful in matters of piety, and the responsibility of the Scholar is to act as a supplement to the knowledge of their fellow Purifiers- in a conventional military, you would think of them as intelligence specialists. However, I have also heard, the assertion that the position of Hearth Brother and Scholar are similar. Having held the position of Hearth Sister for nearly thirty years, though, I can safely say that this is an untruth; we act as a supplementary rank to the Keepers, teaching and fulfilling tasks where they are unable to. The Scholars, again, focus their efforts on specifically matters being handled by the Purifiers. And as for mentoring, it is longstanding practice to allow Purifiers who choose to pursue a clerical path a greater degree of intellectual freedom.

     Now I will answer your last two questions as one. The Order answers to the Lord Purifier who, in turn answers to the High Keeper. On that, you are correct. However, you seem to have forgotten recent history, and failed to connect that since the Order's first reformation on Arcas- prior to its frankly idiotic dissolution right at the start of the Inferi War- the Lord Purifier has always been a Keeper, with the exception of the current Lord Purifier Viktor. Edward and Thorfinn Kursin both were Keepers, and Lord Purifier Viktor has been granted the privilege of being permitted to conduct a number of rites necessary for his duties. This is all to say, I believe you are seeing separate entities where, in fact, there are simply two strata of the same entity. The Purifiers serve the Faith as its sword and shield, while the Keepers serve as the maintainers of its works and structure.

     It seems to me that what you actually want is to raise the barrier of entry into the Faith's service so that all who wish to serve the Father's Mission are held to the same standard as a prospective Keeper. For your talk of wanting to strengthen the Faith by removing divisions, it seems you also wish to weaken it by depriving it of manpower. The simple fact is, any organization which must defend itself requires men willing to take up arms to serve that defense, and reducing that pool to those with the capabilities to serve as Keepers would leave us with, at most, a dozen or so men out of every thousand. However, because there are those who may wish to serve and my not have the ability- or the desire, even- to pursue clerical duties, there must needs be a separate hierarchy for them to exist within. This is the Order's purpose as an organization. That is not to say, of course, that I find the Order's current structure to be without its flaws. I simply believe you're seeing flaws that are based either on misunderstanding, or a personal bias towards a certain image of what a Purifier ought to be. Nonetheless, I commend your passion and willingness to commit your thoughts to paper.

Signed,

Hearth Sister Mera Camian

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Dearest Cousin,

 

It appears as though you are operating under a few misconceptions that I feel need to be clarified in order to better the discourse. Firstly, I noticed this as a common problem with the contemporary faith, viewed both from inside and from the laity - a Keeper and a Purifier are not equivalent things. A Keeper ought to be considered a capstone rank within the clergy, since they are always most likely one of if not the most senior person in the room and hold the highest authority. Even you said afterwards in your reply that Purifiers of old go on to become Keepers. To compare and contrast a lesser rank to a senior rank as if their duties and responsibilities equate one another is unfounded at best, and a gross error in concept at worst. You also seem to be operating under the assumption that I believe Castellan and Scholars are separate ranks instead of equivalent ranks of separate specialization. I am not - and I understand the latter to be true.

 

There is also a matter worth addressing when you say that my goal is to try and destroy the Faith from the inside-out by somehow turning entry into an administrative nightmare. That is simply not true. For the Purifier and for the Priest alike, the criteria for joining is roughly the same, albeit that, like you said, a Purifier wishes to fight. To say that placing clerical and administrative duties onto the Purifier as their would-be mentor (The Lord Purifier) deemed necessary speaks volumes concerning your own personal opinions regarding the duties and responsibilities of your station, because I personally do not feel that clerical duties are in any way, shape or form a burden as you seem to think. Though here is also an incongruity that I feel important to point out - that your perspective is slightly off because of the special nature of your station in particular. It is not rare knowledge to know that you are mentored by the High Keeper, and have to perform all of the administrative tasking for the High Keeper in her late age. This arguably puts you head and shoulders above someone like me, who is mentored by someone who is still capable of performing his clerical duties. This is in no way meant to offend you, but to point out that if you made a Flamebrand right now, you would probably succeed the role of Luminary, because you are performing well above the station of Hearth Sister.

 

To us regular Hearth Brothers and Sisters, however, the task of performing any sort of clerical or administrative duties does not exist beyond assisting the Keeper performing them as they see fit. This brings up an interesting dynamic that I would like to point out - This means that a Hearth Brother/Sister has the distinct chance that they never perform any clerical duties whatsoever before undergoing their Keeper Trials. You also say that the Purifiers are not meant to uphold the standards that a Keeper does, yet this is also demonstrably false upon reading the duties and responsibilities of the Scholar - which explicitly says they should become Keepers. Not to mention that you have also written that Castellans may become Keepers as well. I am curious as to what you think the standard is for a prospective Keeper, because that is something that has yet to be defined. From your own words and from the words of those more senior to our station, Priests and Purifiers alike have the potential to become Keepers. I would argue that if any of them want to become a Keeper, then they must learn at least some of the duties and responsibilities of every station, as per the station of the Keeper, and do not necessarily need to specialize in any field but their own. After all, we need Keepers that are capable of a varied and diverse amount of studies - a Jack of all Trades, master of one.

 

Of the changes suggested, nothing actually changes for a Purifier or for a Priest in their day-to-day lives unless dictated by the Keepers and the Lord Purifier. They will continuetheir respective studies in their respective fields as 'specialists' as you so aptly put it. It is only when they wish to take the next step - Keeper Trials - that they will actually need to learn the responsibilities of the other stations at all. Since you like to compare the clergy to a military; think of it as a high-ranking footsoldier or archer beginning to try and command multiple forces in battle. They need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the other soldiers in order to effectively command, becoming a dabbler in all fields of combat; not just their own
 

Again, this is all merely a suggestion. Your passion and dedication is likewise commended, and I look forward to seeing how the correspondence develops.

Hearth Brother Aedan Faretto

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