|Symbols||Common symbols of the Cordelians, or ways they identify each other, are the Angelic Sigil of Duraniel, the mace held in a fist or alone( as the mace is the preferred weapon of a Duranihim Judge), a pitchfork crossed with a torch, a tilted crown on a pitchfork, and secret tattoos or scars of the number 49 or one of the Laws the devout holds dear.|
In order to enter the Prayer state an adherent to the Cordelians may do one of the following:
“Through right, might.”
~ Common Cordelian Proverb
The Cordelians, followers of the angel Duraniel and thus sometimes called the Duranihim, are many things to many people. To the Sepharihim, and those who are in favor of traditional interpretations of the Benalian faith and Testimonium, they are an abomination; heretics unfit to wear the cloth and make the claim of sharing a philosophical lineage with Benalus. To the Benalians who believe that their religion is in need of an updated perspective or unification, the Duranihim are potentially the architects of a long-awaited reformation of the Benalian faith. The Cordelians claim that they are shaping the word of Benalus into a more fair and inclusive religion, of which all can be proud to claim membership. None can argue that the Benalian faith has fragmented substantially over the years, with different sects interpreting the teachings of the Testimonium through their particular lens. However, the Cordelians are something else. Recognized as the leaders of a burgeoning social movement growing more powerful by the day, they are spoken of as harbingers of a schism the likes of which the Benalian faith has not yet known.
Centuries ago, in the mountains of Seravia, a band of holy warriors marched on a quest, the purpose of which is long forgotten. Set upon by vampire spawn in the middle of the night, many fell, torn to pieces, with only one of the warriors and her squire remaining alive- though only barely. She was Cordelia. Beaten and bleeding, on the edge of death, she looked up to find starlight revealing to her a hidden cave in which they could heal and take refuge. Within, she found seven stone tablets, each bearing seven laws, and though she was exhausted and bleeding, she remained awake until dawn reading and re-reading them. By the dawn’s light, the angel Duraniel revealed herself, bestowing great wisdom upon the hero and saddling her with great purpose. When she was released from the vision, she found the words from the tablets scarred into her skin, though she felt no pain. She knew then what the purpose of her life was to be, why she had been spared, and what she must do.
Her squire, Leon Fletcher, traveled with her for the next decade and scribed her teachings as she applied the 49 Laws to the injustices and tribulations they discovered on their journey. Many times along their travels they came in direct conflict with the movements of the Benalian Inquisition: the Sepharihim. Cordelia claimed that they followed a demon pretending under an Archangel’s skin, for no angelic being could tolerate such acts of viciousness as she saw. She helped innocents flee the fires of the Sepharihim whenever she could, and often slew the Inquisitors she held responsible while reciting their crimes against god and man alike. Wherever she went, she dispensed justice and spread the revelations of Duraniel, preaching the virtues of egalitarianism, integrity, and fair treatment under the law. When finally she was captured by the Inquisition and burned as a heretic, Leon fled with his completed tome and declared it the Gospel of St. Cordelia, the Inheritor, for he claimed none had better claim to be the successor of Benalus and his message than she. The Gospel is commonly referred to as “The 49 Higher Laws” by its adherents, or simply “The 49” when discretion is necessary.
The advent of the Duranihim forces Benalians to examine the roles and actions of even those Benalian sects that are held in high esteem and power. The Sepharihim, for example, will state that they are willing to place any sin upon their souls if it means that they are able to protect humanity as a whole. But the Duranihim argue that to be a priest of the Benalian faith is to hold oneself to the highest standard first so as to serve as an example to others. No immorality should be tolerated, whatever the end goal. The Duranihim label themselves and those that accept them as Cordelian Benalians, in an effort to distance themselves from traditional sects, and tend to label other types of Benalian worshippers as Orthodox. Thus, they set themselves apart as something new and yet closer to the traditional truths of the religion. They believe that other Benalians have allowed themselves to become lax in what the religion actually teaches, and have allowed the concerns of the modern day to give them license to make exceptions in doing what is right. They also believe that rather than truly take the lessons of the Benalian faith to heart, many Orthodox Benalians are hypocritically more concerned with pomp and ceremony than with actually daring to preach to those that need it, or to truly incorporate the teachings of Benalus in their everyday life.
The Duranihim are easily the smallest Benalian order that claims patronage of an Archangel, and given that their greatest numbers are in Seravia, they experience oppression as a way of life. Unable to practice their faith openly for fear of persecution or outright execution, many turn to vigilantism, particularly against the wealthy, political, or mystically powerful who might otherwise consider themselves untouchable. They never assassinate their targets, but announce themselves with the crash of their maces on doors or walls before announcing the litany of their victims’ sins and the punishment they will level against the unrepentant. Killing these priests does little good for long, as upon their return they simply add their own murder to the crimes for which they must punish the accused. They dream of a day when it will not need to be this way – when they can operate openly as judges, counselors, and advisors to governors chosen by the communities they live in. Until that day they settle for the dark work of correcting wicked acts, by iron and flame.
The nature of sin is at the core of Cordelian ideology, and the source of much of the tension between them and the other sects. They maintain that sin is bound to specific actions, be that assaulting your neighbor or stealing from him, and does not extend to states of being, such as being a follower of the Triumverate. Of course, actions that a Triumverati cultist performs must be judged if they violate other sins, such as the murder of innocent people. However, they declare that these actions are wrong on their own terms and not because they are done by a follower of the Triumverate or in the working of a Triumverati ritual. As such they tend to be lenient about the sin of Blasphemy, and are among the most tolerant of other religions and cults of all Benalians, though they do certainly recognize that some cults and religions are more prone to wicked action than others. Instead, they say that a greater sin than Blasphemy (and what the sin was intended to represent), is the sin of Inaction: that of standing aside as others violate the will of god without staying their hand or, failing that, bringing them to justice. In this they are entirely puritanical, and have a tiered system of castes within their ranks based on how closely they adhere to their philosophy. The Justified represent an aspirational state in which one does no wrong, the Conflicted is the most common state wherein one might do bad things for good reasons, and the Wretched which is an unacceptable state wherein one sins for their own benefit.
The Cordelians value speaking of their faith with others with the intent of converting them to their ideals, especially when it comes to arguing philosophical issues around doing the right thing for the wrong reason or whether the ends really justify the means – for to the Cordelians, there is no justifiable reason for wrong actions. They value actions which work against sinners who consider themselves untouchable, bringing justice to the innocent, and standing in the way of those who would act against the will of god.
Cordelians swear to: Never allow a Mortal or Deadly sin to occur in their presence without intervening and attempting to stop it.
If this vow is broken, regardless of what their devotion is, the adherent is in a state of personal failure for three event days or until they atone and make an appropriate sacrificial offering.
Should a follower accept their punishment and last three event days without rectifying their broken vow, they are no longer considered a follower of the Duranihim, and will be unable to gain a benefit from offerings until they have made amends through atonement and a precious offering. It should be noted that even if the adherent dies while so cursed, the effects of the broken vow remain upon their return from the dead.
Make an Offering
Certain benefits are available to the Cordelians who swear the following oath before a Shrine of Duraniel with an accompanying offering and using their daily prayer ability:
Duraniel, Lawkeeper, Speaker of the Final Word! Carve upon my heart the words of the Higher Law, and take my hand to make it manifest true. I swear to live as a beacon of righteousness, and I give to you that which might please you, so you might see me, and in turn guide my eyes to see the wrongs which must be righted to make this a more just and truthful world.
The following must be written into the dedications book as if it was a prayer. The use of an Altar or Shrine spends the user’s daily prayer ability:
Common Offering: Placing an offering of a written testimony of a wrong that was witnessed (written on a sheaf of paper with ink), an herb with the Focus Aid quality, or Hard Iron on the Shrine, the adherent is granted the ability to sense wickedness. For an hour after making the offering, they may touch or grapple a single individual and learn whether or not they have any Depravity upon their soul. This does not give any information about how much Depravity is present or the source of the Sin, and this ability is expended after a single use. This expires at the end of the hour if unused.
Rare Offering: Pass Judgement – Placing a written testimony of a substantial wrong the Cordelian has righted (requires a sheaf of paper, ink, and a witness testimony), a masterwork mace, or a diamond on the Shrine allows the adherent to act decisively against the wicked. Until the end of the event, the follower may confront a single individual and accuse them of a specific sinful action or series of sinful actions they have witnessed, or have had a first-hand account of relayed to them.
If the action or actions are worth no less than 3 Depravity and the target still has the Depravity upon them, the follower can issue a proportionate punishment without gaining Depravity. For example, they might rip out the tongue of an oathbreaker, kill someone who sacrificed others in their place, or steal the worldly possessions of a greedy hoarder. So long as the punishments fit the crimes, and are administered in the same scene as the accusation, they do not cause the Cordelian to gain Depravity. The details of the scene must be described to a Staff member to confirm the punishment was proportional and appropriate.
Precious Offering: For the People – By placing the head of an organization’s leader that deserved to die, a Rosarius, or the Blood of Kings on the Shrine, the Cordelian can make an organization that they’re a member of more powerful. Each time they make this offering, their organization may choose a specific Prestige goal of a different organization type for the day in order to try to earn a Prestige Point in this way. This expires at dawn whether or not it has been achieved, and may only be achieved one time per event.
Requirements of an Altar
In addition to offerings at a Shrine, a Cordelian may make a common offering at an Altar dedicated to justice and equality. The Altar must contain a Journal in which the follower writes all the sins they commit, witness in their fellows, and mete out punishment for. It must not be encoded, contain any lies, and must be written in the adherent’s native language.
Dedicate Shrine of Judgement
Dedicate a Shrine to Duraniel
“The Lord provides us with infinite choice, restricted only by our ability to reason good from evil. That does not make every choice equal to another, and should you err into injustice, my choice will be to correct you.”
Act – A counsel of six Benalians is gathered together, with the Cultist as the seventh member, at the site the Shrine is to be built.
Liturgy – “By the power vested in me by our lady, St. Cordelia, and with Duraniel guiding my hand to just action, I call a counsel of the faithful to form a decision on the construction of a shrine to the Archangel. Let all here know they’ve permission to speak their mind, and will not be judged for their support or lack thereof regarding the motion on the floor.”
Act – The Cultist calls upon all the assembled by name to voice their support or opposition. Once all have made their own arguments or have held their silence, a vote of the assembly is called. The motion must pass with a majority vote, with the Cultist only using their vote to break ties.
Offering – A Masterwork Statue of Duraniel is erected on the site.
Offering – A rope is tied around the neck of the statue.
Offering – The handle of a Masterwork Mace is tied to the rope end of the noose, such that it hangs around the statue’s neck like a pendant. Words of praise to Duraniel and encouragement to those assembled are offered in conclusion of the ceremony.
Creates a Shrine of Judgement that may be used to give offerings for effects. Anyone can trigger the shrine, as long as they swear the Oath and use their daily prayer ability.