Halls of the Valiant
Worship: The Halls of the Valiant keep temples and altars in many cities, towns or villages. Weekly worship includes a short sermon, usually centered on a heroic deed, and a ceremonial destruction of an orc double axe or other common weapon associated with evil. Clerics urge worshippers to act according to their abilities. They ask large, strong men to fight evil with sword and spear, but ask other folk to give aid in whatever capacity they best meet. The innkeeper who offers free bed and board to questing holy men is no less worthy of praise than the one who kills the dragon.
The faith has suffered a gradual decline in active members of the church over the last few years. While theories abound as to the cause, church leaders all over the world are encouraging the more energetic pursuit of new converts. Fortunately, the situation has not reached a crisis level as of yet, and there is still no lack of disciples willing to lay down their lives in the service of the Knight of the Gods – though the numbers of average followers in the worship services has been noticeably dropping.
Holy Symbol: The symbol of the Halls of the Valiant is a golden eye on a blue and white diamond pattern.
Holy Days: High Holy days occur on the spring and fall equinox, the latter during the new moon of Veshemo. Services on these days begin at dawn. They include sermons, hymns, and sacrifices. The church calls these events Marshalings. Vigilance Day falls on the 12th of Arid, and its celebration is quite festive. Worshippers usually make paper monsters and bash them to bits with sticks in grand public scenes.
Holy Colors: Blue, gold, and white.
Holy Animal: White stallions are revered by the Halls of the Valiant, and to own and care for such an animal is a worthy act indeed.
Raiment: The Servants of the Swift Sword wear simple robes, dyed in the holy colors according to their rank in the church. It is very common for Servants to wear either ceremonial or actual weapons at their belt, as well as their visible holy symbol.
|6||Guardian||white & blue|
|7||Champion||white & gold|
|8||Gallant||blue & gold|
|9||Hero||blue, white & gold|
|10||Valiant||white and blue checkered robe with a gold belt|
Advancement: Advancement within the Halls of the Valiant comes by confronting, combating and destroying evil. Specifically, there are three missions that a cleric of the Swift Sword must undertake during his lifetime. These include a mission from the Swift Sword, a mission for the Halls of the Valiant, and a mission of Searching. Missions from the Swift Sword or the church vary and clerics perform them as needed. Clerics on a mission of Searching spend at least four years traveling the lands. Without question, the clerics aid those in need, and combat evil whenever they find it. Glory in combat, gained by defeating powerful monsters, is of utmost importance.
At rank 3, the Defender gains a warrior follower instead of an adept. The warrior has medium armor, a shield, and at least two bludgeoning weapons. The Defender is required to provide him with all other equipment and arms.
Becoming a Protector requires that the Servant have completed his mission for the Halls of the Valiant. This quest is a mission directed by the senior clerics that benefits the faith somehow. The quest might involve escorting a senior cleric on a dangerous mission, slaying an evil monster, or recovering stolen treasure. Protectors and higher ranking clerics of the Swift Sword are required to project a knightly, noble image. A Protector who does not own a warhorse is given a light warhorse upon achieving that rank. He is responsible for acquiring a replacement mount if it dies or grows too old to ride.
In order to become a Guardian, the squire must have completed his mission from the Swift Sword. These missions are personal and frequently involve confronting the cleric’s greatest fear. The cleric usually receives these missions in a personal vision from a solar or a planetar serving the Knight of the Gods. The Guardian gains an increased stipend; the new amount is 100 gold pieces per month.
The cleric is free to perform his Searching at any time, but squires are usually encouraged to begin early, lest they fail to survive. At any rate, this four-year journey to combat all evil and render aid to those in need is mandatory before becoming a Gallant.
A Gallant’s second follower is a paladin. This paladin is usually a senior warrior who wishes to increase his knowledge of the divine or his diplomacy skills as he becomes more of a leader. The paladin might therefore have levels in a prestige class such as contemplative, divine oracle or hospitaler (see Complete Divine).
Sacrifices: Immediately after battle, Servants of the Swift Sword make sacrifices to their god by destroying the symbols or weapons of defeated foes.
Many temples of this faith are like miniature fortresses. The goal is to make even the meanest and most common worshipper feel like nobility. The temple’s windows are arrow slits. Temples usually have a gated wall and an area dedicated to a moat, which the followers might excavate in time of need. The temples always have a stable attached. If possible, their followers breed and train warhorses. Temples often have a kennel with a pack of hunting dogs.
Cathedrals often have a full moat with a drawbridge. Cathedrals sport a mews and several expensive trained raptors (peregrines are a favorite). A nearby tilting field serves for jousting tournaments, although the field might exist outside of the city that houses the cathedral.
The holy seat in Sobeteta boasts tested and secure fortifications. Its great hall is 300 feet long by 240 feet wide, with an upper balcony for up to 800 noble (and royal) worshippers. Its stable holds 30 pure white heavy warhorses. Its kennel holds only a few well-bred hunting dogs that rarely get a chance to hunt, since the island is entirely settled. One sign of prestige within the faith comes from its imperial gyrfalcon that rules its mews as certainly as Vanamir rules the faith.
Vanamir became the faith’s Valiant in 552 IR. His rise to power began when he was 10 and rushed to defend his home village of Sossin from a kobold attack, killing five before the villagers secured the area. He confessed to a wandering Servant of the Swift Sword that he was thinking only of his younger sister and not of the safety of the whole village.
Vanamir’s life has since been one heroic feat after another, although he still chastises himself for placing personal friendships and attachments over the safety of others. His friends say it makes him a hero, and even his rivals within the faith cannot deny his prowess in battle.
Winning fights is commonplace in the Halls of the Valiant. What makes Vanamir stand out is his Common Doctrine, an argument he made and defended in temple after temple for the last 20 years. Worship of the Knight of the Gods has increased from the lowest point in centuries to one of the most popular faiths on Tellene since he began his personal crusade.
|Friends and Allies:|
|The Courts of Justice: “A good group, but somewhat light on the punishment. They need to be more swift with their ‘swords of justice’.”|
|The Hall of Oaths: “Worthy people; their honesty makes them useful in the search for evil.”|
|The Temple of the Three Strengths: “Strength and power and purity of soul… If only they would fight more often.”|
|The Church of Everlasting Hope: “Everyone needs hope. Evil tries to take it from you, and they help bring it back.”|
|The Assembly of Light: “Anyone who makes it their business to fight and destroy undead is a friend of mine.”|
|Foes and Enemies:|
|The Impostors: “They are the very epitome of why evil still lurks in this world. If they can be found, they should be destroyed.”|
|The House of Knives: “Sneaky, conniving, and dangerous adversaries.”|
|The Temple of Sleepless Nights: “Spreading terror is not only evil, but foolish. Why, it is simple for us to undo their foul works – we merely arrive and the peoples’ confidence is restored.”|