NEPA Known World
The Church of The Eternal Truth
The Church of the Eternal Truth is one the most important elements in the Emirates of Ylaruam. The faith, founded by al-Kalim, enforces the continued bond between the many people of the Emirates and emphasizes sevral shared “dreams”: a dream of justice and honor, a dream of a garden in the desert and a dream of trust among men and Immortals.
Despite the faith’s importance, there is no ecclesiastical hierarchy, no body of ritual (other than that required of lay followers), no specific requirements to join and no specific responsibilities for clergy to perform. However, the clergy is considered to be following “The Way of the Scholar.” There are three types of Scholars, generally:
Learned and devote True Believers who lead the daily prayers in the sanctuaries and other church buildings. They deliver sermons, instruct the people in proper observances of the articles of faith and judge questions of religious law. Prayers Leaders are chosen by other Prayer Leaders from amongst those who have come to study at that church or temple.
Itinerants are standard cleric-adventurers who have vowed to devote themselves to the study of the Nahmeh and to the spreading of the faith through righteous action and devout teaching.
Dervishes are holy hermits who dedicate themselves to observing the natural world around them and to contemplating the Eternal Truth. Fleeing the distractions of normal society, they withdraw into the wilderness where they live simple, solitary lives of worship and reflection.
The essential teachings are recorded in The Nahmeh, the holy book of true believers as written by al-Kalim and his closest advisers. It details al-Kalim’s life and also establishes the following articles of faith:
Reverencing the Immortal Guardians
While al-Kalim is the chief Immortal worshipped by True Believers, all Immortals are honored because of their power (unless they are directly opposed to al-Kalim). In honoring these Immortals, adherents of the Eternal Truth must observe two rituals to prove reverence of the Immortals:
- All True Believers must devote themselves to prayer and meditation at sunrise and sunset. Violation of the sanctity of these observances is in very bad form in a city like Ylaruam but may be a capital offense in the camp of a desert nomad.
- All True Believers must fast for 24 hours from sunset to sunset on the day of a full moon. At the end of the fast, they are required to feast, dedicating a part to either the Immortal Guardians or the poor or both.
Reverencing One’s Fellow Man
The Nahmeh lists three rituals that must be made in observance of man’s faith and trust in his fellow man:
- Whenever a True Believer meets with another True Believer, the Water Ritual should be observed which is a symbolic or literal sharing of a drink of one another’s water. Observance varies from a perfunctory offering of wetted fingers to polite and elaborate ceremonies where coffee or tea is shared in special ornamental cups to the accompaniment of recited and improvised verses.
- The second ritual is the ritual of Truthtelling. To speak an untruth to another True Believer is a grave sin. This ritual may be observed informally with the oath, “By al-Kalim and the Eternal Truth, I swear . . .” or more formally by swearing before a cleric, paladin or other holy person. A man who breaks his word after such a vow may be cursed by the Immortal Guardians and scorned by his fellows.
- The third ritual is Attendance to the Security of Your Fellow Man. This ritual takes many forms. In its least manifestation, it is the obligation to give alms to the poor and wretched. It also includes answering a chief’s summons to war against Unbelievers (The True Believer is not supposed to attack another True Believer, unless of course the foe is a sinner or unrighteous man).
Reverencing Wisdom and Scholarship
The Dream of Justice and Honor
This article of faith severely enjoins True Believers against taking up arms against one another and condemns the traditional practices of feud and herb raiding popular among the desert nomads. Some interpret this to not include camel raids and feuds as sacred rituals which are exempt from this edict.
The Dream of the Garden in the Desert
Staging the Nahmeh
Peoples of the Emirates like to quote from the Nahmeh when supporting moral arguments or philosophical observations, or when making polite conversations. Offering apt quotations is a sin of piety, scholarship, wisdom, and judgment. Since the Nahmeh doesn’t really exist, it is hard for players and DM to quote from it as player and non-player characters. Instead, here is a strategy for presenting quotes as though they were from the Nahmeh.
Make a list of your own favorite quotations. Check reference books like Bartlett’s Quotations and use familiar sayings from your own reading and speech. Consider topics like nature, justice, honor, faith, trust, service to your fellow man, warfare, and family. Now review your list of quotes and adapt them to the Ylari culture. For example, instead of “Observe the lilies of the field, they neither spin or weave… ,” choose a hardy desert plant such as the acacia, and adapt the quote to “Observe the flowering acacia…”
Keep this list handy. Select a few favorite quotes for each player character and non-player character to become familiar dialogue tags for each personality.
Here are some examples of quotes from the Nahmeh created in this fashion:
- “We must be the candles that burn so that others might have light.” (From Al-Kalim commentary on soldiers defending the Faith on the battlefield.)
- “If friendship is a diamond, then troubles are a diamond mine.” (An admonishment to consider misfortune a confirming test of friendship. )
- “The enemies of our enemies are not necessarily our friends.” (A diplomatic saying.)
- “If such may befall the mighty efreeti, then our own misfortunes are light.” (From the Parable of the Cuckolded Efreet.)
- “There is no power but in the Immortals.”
- “Before the Dark Minister of the Graveyard, all joy seems fleeting, and the day is a tedious prelude to a dark and restless night.”
- “Do not rail against the condition of man. Would you rather be a dog or a donkey? Accept what is given, and cease your grumbling.”
- “Al-Kalim has said, ‘The stranger must be succored in times of need.”
- “Wealth does not avail before the Terminator of Earthly Delights.”
- “If it were engraved upon the corner of the eye with a needle, it would serve as a lesson to those who would be wise.”