Lamentians, The Temple of Rue
|Symbols||Common symbols of the Temple of Rue are a cracked chalice, adornment of the hands and feet with ashes (some also mark under the eyes so as to resemble the tracks of tears), thorns, and the calla lily.|
In order to enter the Prayer state an adherent to the Lamentians may do one of the following:
“To feel your heart free of the weight of sin is to know god loves you. To feel the ache of healing wounds, the scratchy bite of rough wool, the film of sweat and grime upon your skin, is to know that you love god, as well.”
~ ~Brother Tallinus, Lamentian Preacher
The world is currently in darkness, and it is there because we made it so. Mankind is the original root of all evil in the world – a root that has cracked the mortar holding reality together. Perhaps it was one single, momentous act of sin that shattered the path to ascension to a rewarding afterlife as it used to be. Or perhaps all of mankind’s sin simply became too much for even god to bear, and he placed his head in his hands, waiting for humanity to understand how truly evil they’d become. What is known is that the echoes of all that sin that has been committed still ripple through the world today, every time the dead open their eyes, or are cursed to walk the earth in twisted Malefic form. Until this great weight of sin is recognized and atoned for by all, there is no hope of return to the world as it was meant to be. Even though there are indeed many good people in the world, their good deeds are even now outpaced by the acts of the wicked a thousandfold; for it is the nature of the world that good deeds are often more difficult and less rewarding in the short term, whereas evil deeds are far too easy to commit.
And so the Lamentians believe that if they cannot convince the wicked people of the world to stop committing evil, let alone convince them to atone and turn their hearts to the light of god, then others must atone in excess to balance them out. Or, even better, one day outpace them and balance the scales in such a way that even the greatest of evils that have been committed throughout history are washed clean. As such, they are constantly seeking new ways to atone for the acts of evil they know go on every day around them, even if they did not commit the acts themselves, and they are among the most zealous in keeping their own souls free of sin. When repentant sinners come to a Lamentian cultist for atonement, they are known to beg or even insist that those atoning should submit to harsher punishments than normal, so as to not only absolve themselves of sin, but to place a few grains of sand on the scales for the cause of good. For some Benalians, this is obviously unappealing, and often turns them against the Temple of Rue. Few are those willing to accept torment on behalf of those they’ve never known and will never know, particularly if such agony feels unearned. So if a petitioner actually takes up the Lamentian’s charge of greater atonement, they are often evangelized by the priest until they join the order.
The ideas of the Lamentians are not woven entirely of new cloth. Some of their beliefs go back to the time when the world seemed more whole and united, many generations ago. In that time, there was a priest so humble he refused even to give others his name, though his acts and his teachings are remembered to this day. He was among the very first to die and be reborn in ash, and so walked the world heralding the darkness that was to come. He preached an immediate halt to sinful behavior, and pleaded for the masses to atone while there was still time. When, finally, the world shattered in earnest, and waves of humanity woke up in their graves, he was lifted up as a prophet and revered holyman. Yet he resented the honors his followers bestowed upon him and cast them off, fearing the corruptions of pride they tempted him with, and disappointed that his words were only heeded too late. He disappeared into the Gothic wilderness, never to be heard from again. Though his identity is lost to time, and many sermons were not officially written down, existing only in fragments and stories, the legacy of this unknown priest lives on in the Lamentians that work to this day to redeem the world and deliver it from the ashes and filth.
Perhaps what the Lamentians are most well-known for by the general populace, is the self-imposed atonements they act upon whenever opportunities arise. Often, they try to commit these acts in public. They teach that this is not for some vainglorious desire to be seen as holier than others, but instead to inspire similar acts in the few goodhearted people they believe are out there. While the acts are intended to be a spectacle in that they draw attention, the focus is intended to be upon the act rather than the practitioner. The self-inflicted punishments range from the simple: such as giving away food and goods while the worshipper goes hungry for a short time, periods of abstinence, dressing in burlap or coarse cloth; to more extreme self-mortification such as walking across hot coals and self flagellation. Lamentian faithful also tend to perform humbling tasks such as the washing of stranger’s feet, performing menial labor for others, and loud public confessions of their own shortcomings, sins, and weaknesses.
Perhaps as evidence to the sheer darkness of the world in which they find themselves, the Lamentians are constantly on the hunt for good deeds to do, no matter how small. So sparing are the opportunities to act well, and so tempting is sin, that they must take every opportunity and act upon it. Many are the tales in crowded Gothic cities of vagabonds forcing the last crumbs of bread and cheese from their packs into the hands of random passersby, with such urgent desperation that they feared what the wanderer might do to themself should the gift be refused. The Lamentians treat the state of the world as an urgent, ever-present issue which every person should and must recognize as an abomination. To this end, they treat opportunities to atone as a man dying of thirst in the Outlands might treat a serendipitous abandoned waterskin. Even should it contain naught but dust, he will open it and upturn it into his mouth.
By almost constantly existing in a state of penance, the Temple of Rue hopes to both lead by example, and to someday soon outstrip the rate of wrongdoing within the world. It is for this reason that they are also eager to recruit – for the more number they have, the more the world can be healed, and the greater chance they have of putting a dent in the vileness that humanity is capable of. Some even wonder if they can showcase enough genuine sorrow and suffering, perhaps the angels themselves may see fit to intervene in the fate of mankind like in the days of old. Thus, Lamentians are not shy about advertising themselves, and so their symbols are not meant to be part of a secret exchange or signal to each other. Rather, they provide the worshippers a means of self-advertisement and reflection. They value punishment of the self, abasement, humility, shame, suffering, and torment. Indeed many Lamentians meet their many ends throwing themselves between the Triumverati and their prey, martyring themselves for the sake of the act. If only they can suffer enough, offering apology through their bodies, the world perhaps may be made whole again.
The Temple of Rue accepts any offerings that demonstrate the abasement and humility of the follower, or that involve taking suffering and torment upon themselves.
Lamentians swear that before they sleep each night, they will abase themselves in some way in order to work towards the forgiveness of the world. If they do not, they may not benefit from Rest. This lasts for three event days or until they atone for their broken vow and provide an appropriately impressive 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 Temple of Rue, and will be unable gain a benefit from offerings until they have made amends through atonement and a precious offering.
Make an Offering
The Shrine of the Lash promises the following gifts to those who leave the prescribed offering at a shrine. Anyone can trigger the shrine, once they have sworn an oath to the Temple of Rue to follow their vow by presenting the proper offering and using the prayer ability.
“God will prevail. Through our works and our deeds, god shines through us and will conquer evil forever. We suffer, willingly and gladly, for it is an honor to feel the pain of the world. God, in your boundless power and wisdom, I beseech you! May you look upon my wretchedness, my bloody flesh, and find it pleasing. I ask for your grace. I ask that you see me and find me worthy.”
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 – By presenting an offering of pain in the form of Flagellation, giving away a meal that the Lamentian was going to eat while Miserable to another, or providing a sanguine essence from their own body gathered through receiving a self-inflicted wound to a Shrine of the Lash, the devotee immediately suffers a Battered Torso. If they did not have a Battered Torso prior to the performance of this offering, they lose 1 Depravity.
Rare Offering: Feeding – By preparing a meal and serving it to at least two others at a Shrine of the Lash, giving up an armor or weapon tag to one who is going without, or by sacrificing a symbol of comfort (such as pouring out wine or destroying alchemical concoctions that stop pain), a Lamentian is able to gain Hope the next time they receive pain or an injury from an enemy.
Precious Offering: Cilice – Before the Shrine, a follower may take three chains, three iron nails, and three herbs with the irritant effect and form a Cilice that can be attached to a single unarmored area of the body of the person who made the offering. This Cilice causes the Battered condition in the area it is attached to for as long as it remains in place. It also grants Faith +1 for as long as it is attached. If it is unattached for any reason the Cilice breaks and cannot be reattached, although the Battered state is removed.
The Cilice expires at dawn. If an area the Cilice is attached to would take on the Battered state by some other means, such as Stabilizing an injury, they lose the effect of the Cilice and the Battered state is not removed when the Cilice is unequipped.
Requirements of an Altar
In addition to offerings at a Shrine, a Lamentian may make a common offering at an Altar dedicated to penance and pain. The Altar must contain a Scourge with which they might lash themselves, a fresh herb with the irritant effect, a small container of charcoal or ashes to adorn their hands and feet, and a representation of either Benalus or the broken and scarred body of the unknown prophet.
Dedicate Shrine of the Lash
Dedicate a Lamentian shrine so that it may be used for offerings.
“We exist in a state of sin, reflected on the scarred flesh of god’s creation. If we scar our flesh in return, mirror the shattered world in which we live, perhaps our shared agony will allow us to sympathize with the Lord, and help repair Creation.”
Offering – Three Benalians, at least one of which is a cultist of the Temple of Rue, gather in a location where the Shrine is to be dedicated, and each wraps themselves in one of three sheets of clean white linen.
Offering – Four chains are laid out upon the ground.
Offering – Four leather straps are next laid beside the chains on the ground.
Offering – Two chains and two straps are then fastened to each of two handles to form two Scourges of Lament.
Act – Each Benalian present takes a turn kneeling before the location where the shrine is to be placed, loudly confessing their own shortcomings and sins while the other two flagellate them. As a result, the linen will be stained with their blood and the devotee will be Downed from a torso wound. This process is repeated until all three sheets of linen have been stained with the blood of their respective wearer.
Act – The cultist then stacks at least three stones into a cairn with two of the stained linen sheets placed between the rows and the last bloody linen covering the stones. The two Scourges are placed in front of the stones, for anyone to use.
Creates a Shrine of the Lash that may be used to make offerings. Anyone can trigger the shrine by expending their daily Prayer ability, provided they have sworn an oath to the Temple of Rue to follow their vow.