Sulfraginis

From: owner-glorantha@hops.wharton.upenn.edu
Date: Tue 14 May 1996 - 02:33:08 EEST


As the Cult of Silence has been in the news recently, I thought I'd post this:
another of the characters from "How the West was One", the man who turned that
Pamaltelan philosophy into a Western heresy. (The Perfecti were posted here a
while ago: check V1#154 in the archives, or Loren's "Splintered Sects" page, to
see what you missed).

- -----------
SULFRAGINIS
- -----------

Cardinal of Bregsburg, Perfectus

Age: 69 (apparent age 55)
Disposition: Frail, Harried, Soft-Spoken

Religious Affiliation: Hrestoli Perfectus
Political Affiliation: Kingdom of Loskalm

Council Votes: one

__________
BACKGROUND

You are Sulfraginis, Cardinal of Bregsburg in the Loskalmi Principality of Nevs.
You continue to hold this rank, even though it was awarded by the corrupt and
unrighteous State of Loskalm, because of the unparalleled opportunity it gives
you to promulgate your doctrines. Secretly, you are a Perfectus, follower of the
ancient and true path to mystical self-development which was bastardised by King
Siglat into the rigid and unethical "Church of Hrestoli Idealism." You
rediscovered the vital secrets of this path in the adventures of your younger
days, when you were instrumental in taking the word of Hrestol to the Dark
Continent, Pamaltela.

You were working as a wizard's apprentice in the city of Southpoint on that
long-gone day in 1582 when the strange vessels of Dormal the Mariner hove into
sight, emerging unscathed from their voyages through the previously impassable
Western Ocean. This miraculous advent demonstrated that Zzabur's Curse of the
Closing had been overcome: the nation of Loskalm, though still secured against
its troublesome land neighbours by the Syndics Ban, could now venture forth upon
the High Seas and take word of Hrestoli Idealism to every foreign clime.

Fired with enthusiasm, you strove to become a missionary for the Church, that
you might teach Hrestol's doctrines in distant lands. On completing your
studies, you took passage on a ship of friendly Brown Vadeli merchants, who
carried you on an epic voyage to the far Southern Continent and the distant land
of Umathela. They left you in the port city of Tortrica, one of the outposts of
their mercantile hegemony over the southern coast. This region of Pamaltela had
been settled in the Second Age by Seshnegi and Jrusteli colonists, and was
formerly a prosperous part of the Middle Sea Empire. However, no news of its
fate had come to the North since the Closing of the Oceans at the end of the
Second Age. You were the first man of Loskalm to set foot in their land for half
a millennium.

For four years you travelled through the inland regions of Umathela, bringing
Hrestol's message of hope to the dark-skinned natives of the interior. You
participated in all the tasks of their life, hunting and fishing, learning their
languages and customs. At length, in need of more supplies, you accompanied a
trading party to the coastal city of Nikosdros. Here a terrible scene of impiety
and blasphemy met your eyes. You were shocked to discover that, with the aid of
a local youth named Mituba, the Vadeli were passing themselves off as gods, and
demanding worship from the oppressed people. You railed against this publicly,
denouncing the leader of the Vadeli merchants as a fraud in the main square of
Nikosdros. For this insolence, you were imprisoned by Mituba.

This imprisonment was the start of your spiritual journey, for you were confined
in a pit with others who had incurred his displeasure. Among them were many
followers of the Path of Silence movement; through gesture and expression, and
the little you could glean of their teachings from other, more ignorant but
vocal, fellow prisoners, you learned of a religious insight that had until now
been entirely unknown to any man of the Old West.

Early in the Third Age, the Wordless Prophet had instituted a popular religion
in Umathela known as the Path of Silence. This was a contemplative sect whose
members sought inner peace and harmony, eschewing communication with the outer
world. Although some extremists inflicted bizarre mutilations upon themselves
and others, forcibly initiating them into Silence, the original followers of
Silence retained their blissful philosophy. The success of their happy doctrines
led to their exploitation at the hands of less fortunate, envious nations: a
destructive movement named the Clamourers arose, shouting aloud the doctrines
that should have been contemplated in the deepest recesses of the soul,
destroying their potency by this promulgation.

You were struck by the parallels between what had happened to Silence and the
doubts you sometimes felt about your own Hrestoli Idealist faith. For in
Loskalm, the state religion claims to embody mystical doctrines over which you
had pondered long and hard in your training for the Mission. Prince Hrestol
achieved his own personal salvation through vigil and introspection, yet the
modern Hrestoli claimed that nobody need do this themselves; you wondered if,
perhaps, a part of the message had been lost. By proclaiming their Idealism so
publicly, making such an outward show of Virtue, had the state lost whatever
inner Virtue it once possessed?

To test your theories, you adopted the Path of Silence. Your experience was more
fulfilling than the blissful state of torpor you saw in those around you: by
concentrating your mind on the Vigil of Hrestol, you were able to deepen and
focus your understanding of the Mystery. After three years' Silence, you had
achieved Hrestol's Liberation of the Heart. Your silent vigil was now completed:
unlike the ignorant Southern devotees, who made Silence an end in itself, you
realised that it was but a means to an end - Revelation, Liberation, Salvation!

The world reflected your insight: as you grew into your new powers, a party of
Seshnelan merchant venturers from the northern continent sailed to Nikosdros,
seeking to purchase slaves to work in their mining camps elsewhere in Pamaltela.
You and your fellows were sold to them. Over the next few weeks you recovered
the use of your voice, recalled the rudiments of the Western speech, and
finally, in a hoarse whisper, revealed your identity to your new masters.
Shocked at their inadvertent violation of Malkion's Law, they freed you at once,
and took pains to repatriate you to Genertela and Loskalm on the next ship to
the North.

You learned from your rescuers that the Vadeli, grown overweeningly proud, had
suffered a naval defeat at a place called Oenriko Rock in the previous year;
their hegemony was broken, and their control over the trade-routes to the South
was lost. Ships from the Seshnelan coastal duchies of Nolos and Pasos now
competed with them; your own deliverers came from the Capratis family of Pasos.
As a rescued slave, you could hardly repay them with anything other than words.
Disembarking at Southpoint, you swore eternal gratitude and returned to Loskalmi
life.

The Kingdom had changed out of all recognition in your absence: the seemingly
impenetrable barriers of the Syndics Ban were crumbling almost daily, and as
isolationist Loskalmi came face to face with the outside world, their nature
changed. The pride in their nation taught by Siglat became an ugly assertion of
racial supremacy, now less fortunate folk were dwelling on their borders.
Although you had been feted as a returning hero, you felt great distaste at the
tenor of life in the cities of your homeland, and retired to the highland
Principality of Nevs. You refused the many offers of formal induction into the
Lordly ruling class of the nation, knowing that any such rite would be an empty
sham: you had already mastered the spiritual attitudes of the four classes in
your Silent Vigil.

Recently, however, you recognised that Hrestol himself had mastered not merely
the spiritual nature of the Classes, but also their mundane skills. Was this
Liberation of the Body also necessary to your salvation? You needed to improve
your knowledge of technical wizardry, and the only way of doing this was to
study for admission into the class of Lords. Reluctantly, you entered the
thaumaturgical classes of the University of Sog City, where your aptitude was
quickly noted. You found a kindred spirit in one Guiomar, the Chaplain of the
University, who was greatly enlightened by your demonstration of the truths
behind the Knightly Vigil. He became a keen disciple of the Silent Vigil you
taught.

Qualifying as a Lord, you were offered the position of Cardinal in the
Principality of Nevs.

And now, there has come a summons to the Seventh Ecclesiastical Council of
Malkionism. This is the ideal platform for you to publicise your revelation,
fearlessly exposing the flaws and fallacies of Loskalm's state church and its
leaders. You are not afraid to die; but you would like to achieve as many of
your objectives as possible first.

On a personal note, you have a problem. You have in recent years become worried
about your old age. You are happy to die a martyr; but if this is not to be,
then you wish to survive long enough to spread the word of the Perfecti across
the whole of the West. To that end you have learnt an arcane immortality spell
which you have used to stave off ageing. If you fail to cast the spell before
the end of Windsday you will begin to noticeably age. To cast the spell you need
a special ingredient - Arktanian Oysters from the Mournsea. These are very rare
and your last consignment was used en route. You must find a new supply within
Sog City.

______________________
THEOLOGICAL OBJECTIVES

1. Win converts to your movement of the Perfecti. Defend your movement from
those who seek to destroy it.

2. Expose inconsistencies in the doctrines of the Idealist Church. What purpose
does the Knight's Vigil serve, in their flawed account of doctrine? Why do the
leaders of the Church encourage behaviour which Hrestol himself would have been
ashamed to witness? And, if mastery of mundane skills qualifies one for
Lordship, why do they try to denounce and silence you, when (by their standards)
you are as worthy a Lord as any of them?

3. If you must die, embrace Holy Martyrdom willingly. Those who see, will
remember.

________________
OTHER OBJECTIVES

1. Use your knowledge of their shameful past to expose and destroy your old
enemies, Mituba and Abdelcar.

2. Assist Guiomar, Chaplain of Sog City University, to shake off the shackles of
the class system by succeeding in his transformative Silent Vigil.

3. Seek out Guisidio Capratis, the Bishop of Neleoswal. Tell him the story of
how his cousins rescued you from Umathelan bondage, express your fulsome
gratitude, and offer him any assistance you may be able to provide.

4. Find some Arktanian oysters so that you can further stave off your old age.

____________
WHO YOU KNOW

Abdelcar, False God of the Vadeli: your proudest moment on your mission to the
South was the public denunciation of this fraudulent trickster, who demanded to
be worshipped as a God by the people of Umathela. Now you hear that he is in the
city.

Bersules, Cardinal of Valsburg: you once knew him well and could count him your
friend. But, like Loskalm, he had changed when you returned from Pamaltela.
Since then you have drifted apart.

Broderica the Black, Questioner of the Watchdog Council: a sadistic woman who
has twisted and broken many of your disciples with her unholy, sorcerous
tortures.

Gaiseron the Mystic, Cardinal of Southpoint and Ecclesiarch of the Malkioni
Faith: an old man, yet for all his worldly learning and white hairs he has
acquired no true Virtue. He knowingly presides over the sham that is so-called
"Hrestoli" so-called "Idealism," and his hypocritical pose of "mystical
detachment" is merely an excuse for ignoring the vile and distasteful acts of
his more active followers.

Galleron, Cardinal of Pomona: a cynical, barren-souled manipulator of the powers
wrongly given to him by the State. He is Vadalon's confessor and you wonder at
the lies he is feeding the Prince.

Guiomar, University Chaplain: one of your early disciples, Guiomar proved
himself to be a willing and able pupil. However, he is yet to achieve perfection
though he says he is close. You must supervise his final transformation.

Guisidio Capratis, Bishop of Neleoswal: a Rokari Bishop from the island duchy of
Pasos. Merchant venturers from this man's family were responsible for delivering
you from your dolorous slavery and imprisonment in the South. You were eternally
grateful, and have sworn to aid the house of Capratis in any way you can.

Guntram, Cardinal of Morain: a tinkering scientist, more interested in
discovering ways to achieve his ends than in questioning whether they are worth
attaining.

Gundreken, King of Loskalm: a deluded man, who believes the lies his corrupt
advisers have told him.

Jurgen Merriman, Head of the Watchdog Council: dangerous! This man is clever,
and you will have to be careful to avoid his snares. He is the Churchs seeker
after heresies.

Sir Meriatan, Grand Knight of the Order of the Swallow: a self-righteous prig
who only seeks Power and Glory. He is set on forcibly converting the rest of
Fronela to the Idealist Church. You suspect he is a racial supremacist.

Malgrin, Cardinal of Modrimouth: a rural Cardinal, not yet corrupted by the
system of which he forms a minor part. A Perfecti preacher told you that Malgrin
heard him out fairly and seemed impressed.

Mituba, Patriarch of Nikosdros: a scheming plotter who sold his own people to
the Vadeli, and imprisoned you for four long years. You would dearly love to
bring about his downfall.

Minadoras, Cardinal of Easval: a young man in a hurry, obsessed with further
developing the stranglehold of the State apparatus upon the people of Loskalm.

Sieglinde, Cardinal of Northpoint: the first woman Cardinal of Loskalm, her
wrong-headedness is manifest in the self-importance she displays: as if being
appointed to a role in the State revealed anything about the state of her soul!

Tumaru of Juborantanga, Sorcerer-Priest of Valkaro: a foreign visitor from the
distant Eastern Isles, an Oriental archipelago which lies as distant from
Loskalm as far-off Umathela. You wonder if he brings further enlightenments with
him from the Mystic East...

Vadalon, Prince of Tawars: a typical Loskalmi nobleman: his family connections
(he is the King's nephew, after all) will have ensured that the tests claimed
to mark his "passage through the classes" were spurious. Private meditation, not
public display, is the way to transcend class limits!

___________________
RELIGIOUS ATTITUDES

Mainstream Western Malkioni Churches (Rokari, Idealist Hrestoli, Chivalric
Hrestoli, Syanoran): Religion, you know, should be an individual matter. It
cannot be taught through structured organisations like the various Churches of
the West. Hrestol did not achieve his Liberation of the Heart by muttering
prayers when the wizards told him to, or obeying the laws set up by rulers to
keep them secure in their power: he did so by direct personal revelation. Only
those who have themselves achieved spiritual perfection can teach the secrets of
holiness to others, and redeem them from the burden of their sins.

All Other Churches: your experiences in Umathela have taught you that other
methods of worship may contain true secrets which can serve to liberate the
souls of the Malkioni faithful. They should be studied to determine if this is
the case, not dismissed and persecuted from ignorance. Why should we fear them,
if our faith in the Invisible God is strong?

Sedalpist Church: this Malkioni sect worshipped in Nikosdros perpetuates the
works of the Clamourers: by shouting out the secrets of Silence for all to hear,
they strove to make it impossible for any to complete the Silent Path to
revelation. You are unsurprised at this deceit, for the Patriarch of the
Orthodox Church is none other than that traitor and pawn of the Vadeli, Mituba
of Nikosdros.

Martyrdom: You are a Perfectus, the first of your kind in this Age. Having
attained your state of physical and spiritual harmony with the four social
classes of Malkionism, through Liberation of the Body and of the Heart, it is
impossible for you to lose the certainty of attaining Solace in Glory. You need
not fear torture, humiliation or death: Hrestol himself suffered all of these in
his martyrdom, and through it he redeemed all his followers.

_______________
OTHER ATTITUDES

1. Having lived among the southern tribesmen of Umathela, Vralos and Mondoro,
you have come to respect the ways of folk whose lifestyle is completely
different to your own. This enables you to see through the shallow racist
nationalism of many Loskalmi - have these blinkered fools forgotten that Prince
Hrestol himself was a foreigner?

_______
RUMOURS

1. You were amused to find that the Sog University Zoo holds a rare Titanothere
bull. This massive beast was shipped in from the Southern Continent, where you
first encountered in its natural habitat some forty years ago. Seeing it brings
back memories of the old days, when you lived among the primitive tribes of
Mondoro...

2. A group of bandits has recently grown up in the Forests of Loskalm called the
Knights o' the Wood. These bandits only rob the rich, and they often give some
of their money to the poor. You must meet them! Such anarchic acts which attack
the hide-bound structures of the state could only have been inspired by Perfecti
thought.

3. A priest said that Jurgen Merriman wishes to convene a Watchdog Council
enquiry into the Perfecti "movement". Interesting, he did not refer to it as a
heresy. Perhaps they are beginning to accept your ideas? Or is it a trap to make
you reveal yourself?

SPECIAL SKILLS/MAGIC

Blessing (spell: one-use). This allows you to bless a person or group.

Convert (Ability: one-use). This allows you to convert a cleric of another
religion who has had a crisis of faith.

Imitate Mating Call of Titanothere (Ability: one-use). A peculiar knack you
picked up in Umathela.

Immortality (Spell: one-use). You may cast this to stave off the effects of
ageing. This can only be cast in conjunction with some Arktanian Oysters and in
the presence of a referee.

Remain Silent (Ability: one-use). Your are experienced in contemplating the
Virtues of Silence.

Evangelise (Ability: one-use). This used to help you win Tests of Faith.

High Stakes (Ability: one-use). A big risks, big rewards card for Tests of
Faith.

Proselytise (Ability: one-use). Your strong faith allows you to win most
arguments.

_____
OTHER

THE HIGH COUNCIL OF LOSKALM

The King of Loskalm appoints five other Hrestoli Lords, both Secular and
Spiritual, to advise him as members of the High Council of Loskalm. This august
body determines matters of key importance to the State: it formulates foreign
policy, decides on matters of war and peace, and is also responsible for the
appointment and rotation of Princes and Cardinals to the eight Principalities
and Sees of the Kingdom.

The members of the High Council in 1625 are:

        Gundreken, King of Loskalm
        Bersules, Cardinal of Valsburg, Chancellor
        Gaiseron, Cardinal of Southpoint, Ecclesiarch
        Meriatan, Grand Knight, First Knight of the Order of the Swallow
        Vadalon, Prince of Tawars

There is one vacant place, which was created by the formal abdication of Perion
Rudd, former Head of the Watchdog Council, earlier this year. No successor has
yet been appointed.

GRADUATION

In Loskalm, upwards progress between the classes is attained by success at
various tests. These are conducted in more or less formal settings, from country
fairs and tournaments to interviews, quests and vigils. The final stage in a
Wizard's graduation into the Lordly class is formally examined in the
Universities of Loskalm. The candidate must present and demonstrate to the
examiners an original work of sorcery, be it a prayer, an enchantment, or an
unusual application of known principles. Every Prince and Cardinal of Loskalm
has passed this rigorous examination.

Your Graduation Piece was entitled Fidelitometry, and consisted of a series of
devices by which the sincerity and devotion of a subject could be measured.
Although you were granted a First Class pass for the insight this displayed,
your discovery has yet to make it into the common sorcerous corpus of Loskalmi
wizardry.

====
Nick
====

------------------------------

End of Glorantha Digest V2 #566
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