When inducting new initiates into the clergy, it is necessary to ensure the prospective initiate’s readiness for the position. This has, historically, been accomplished through a variety of methods. In the early days, there was little need for a priesthood, as those who joined the Faith were joining to fight with the Red Brothers in the All Father’s name. In other times, prospective initiates have been asked to put pen to paper and take oaths to prove their knowledge and piety. In more recent times, under High Keepers Tyr and Sølvi, the would-be initiates were put through a gauntlet that tested the depths of their dedication and commitment. These gauntlets included such things as brandings, bloodletting, and drowning; Ordeals that pushed the limits of mortal tolerance. Upon completion of the gauntlet, be it in the manner of Tyr or the manner of Arthas, the prospective would be granted the rank of Initiate, at which point they would embark upon the path to becoming a fully-ordained Keeper.
The varying methods of the past were meant for the same purpose; They proved the prospective’s ability to serve the faith, either by knowledge or by dedication. However, there comes a time when the practices of the past must be looked upon, and the question asked, what may be done to improve them? In this particular case, the answer is to combine the methods of old in the hopes that the new method more thoroughly sorts the fit from the unfit.
Upon making known their desire to serve the Faith, the would-be initiate shall be informed of the tasks they must complete in order to be inducted into the ranks of the clergy. There shall be three Gauntlets of Initiation: The Gauntlet of the Flame, The Gauntlet of Steel, and the Gauntlet of Mind. Of these, two must be completed, and of the two completed, one must be the Gauntlet of Mind.
Gauntlet of the Flame
The Gauntlet of the Flame is designed to test the initiate’s strength of will and dedication to their faith. Completion of this gauntlet reveals the endurance of the initiate’s spirit. By proving their soul’s endurance, the initiate shows that he is dedicated enough to face the Abyss, unafraid of what lies within. Upon choosing this gauntlet, the prospective initiate shall be given the following options:
- Marking: Whether by branding, tattooing, scarring, or a combination thereof, the initiate shall be marked with the symbol of his Paragon, along with the text of a prayer of hymn of their choice.
- Drowning: The initiate shall, at the supervising Keeper’s discretion, have their head submerged in either bull’s blood or water, and will be held there until they fall unconscious. Should they awaken after being pulled out, the gauntlet will be considered complete.
- Ritual of Fire: A small, wooden stage shall be erected around a stone center, and a fire lit below it. The initiate will perform a ritual prayer from atop the platform as it burns. The initiate may not descend from the platform until the ritual has finished, otherwise the gauntlet will be considered a failure and may not be attempted in this way again. The objective of this trial is not to burn the initiate alive, but rather to test his willpower; his willingness to remain composed in even the most trying situation.
The prospective initiate may also suggest their own ordeal, to be approved by the supervising Keeper.
Gauntlet of Steel
Quite simply, the Gauntlet of Steel is a test of the initiate’s physical strength. Our culture, our history, is built on the strength of warriors. The earliest members of our faith, the Red Brothers, were warriors through and through. The strength of a warrior is, and will always be, among the most admirable of mortal traits. By proving his mettle and skill at arms, the initiate shows his readiness to stand against the agents of the Long Dark. To complete this gauntlet, two trials must be completed:
- Trial of Beasts: The initiate shall first be tasked with hunting a particular beast of the supervising Keeper’s choosing. The beast of choice should be a predator, but not one so dangerous as to make the trial impossible to complete. Upon completion of the hunt, the initiate will make an offering of the beast’s remains. This trial will ensure the initiate’s ability to stand against feral beasts.
- Trial of Men: For this trial, the initiate shall prove his mettle in three rounds of combat. The first round will consist of the initiate facing his opponent unarmored and armed with only wooden rods. Both contenders in this round may be initiates, if two initiates are present. The second round will consist of a similar fight, with the changes of leather armor being permitted along with wooden training weapons. The final round shall consist of the initiate facing an opponent chosen by the supervising Keeper. All armor is permitted, and all fighters may use the weapon of their choice. Intentional killing will be prohibited in all rounds. All rounds will continue until the initiate either claims victory or can no longer stand. This trial will serve as proof of the initiate’s ability to stand against the mortal, intelligent enemies of the faith.
The prospective is judged in these trials based on performance, not necessarily success. Should he fall and continue to stand until physically incapable of doing so again, then he has shown the strength of a warrior’s spirit just as much as if he had defeated his opponents with ease.
Gauntlet of Mind
The Gauntlet of Mind is both the most important and least complex of the three gauntlets. Designed to test and prove the initiate’s understanding of the Faith as well as his piety, it will consist of three proofs; proof of knowledge, proof of understanding, and proof of piety. This will be a matter of simple determination on the part of the Keepers. When a prospective initiate shows, either with spoken or written word, one of these traits, a Keeper may make the determination that the initiate has shown his proof. By completing this gauntlet, the prospective has proven his worth to those he would call his peers, and gained their trust in his ability to conduct the duties of an Initiate.
Once the Gauntlets of Initiation have been completed, the prospective becomes an initiate proper, and his path to becoming a fully ordained Keeper begins in earnest. The advancement through the ranks of the clergy from this point on shall, as it has always been, be based on merit and ability rather than tests and trials. Once the initiate has proven his understanding and ability, his fitness for the role of Keeper, he shall then be tasked with the creation of his Flamebrand. Then, once the Flamebrand has been crafted and the time is deemed right, the Lighting Ceremony shall be held, wherein the Flamebrand is lit from flames of the Hearthfire. Following this ceremony, the Initiate will become a fully-fledged Keeper.
Alisa Camian, 1754