Gazetteer of Aerrunn
The Church of Alarond
There is widely regarded to be only one God of mankind. He is generally referred to as Alarond by most of the civilized peoples of the land. The Church of Alarond is a powerful and widespread institution. The heads of the Church wield immense power throughout the settled world.
The Worship of Alarond originated in the River Delta of the Zion River, in what is now The Azrac Empire, during the time of The Ancient Verundian Empire. It grew rapidly and was a major contributing factor to the demise of The Verundian Empire. The Emperors neglected to acknowledge the unifying power of The Church until it was too late, and many nations had already broken away.
As the Church of Alarond spread North and West, the Azrac Elves emerged from The Burning Desert in numbers more vast than anyone could have guessed they possessed, conquering the land around the Zion River Delta as well as all of the Holy sites and cities of The Church of Alarond.
Once The Church grew powerful enough in Aquilia, the Pontiff’s launched widespread campaigns to retake The Holy Land from The Azrac Empire. Many Crusades have been sent by the Nations and Nobles of Aquilia. Most have been disastrously unsuccessful. The largest Crusade was able to take a small area of land around the city of Bastion. The Nations of Aquilia call this The Kingdom of Outremer, and are engaged in a constant battle there to hold on to this all-important beachhead into The Azrac Empire.
The Church of Alarond is centered in modern Verundia. The governing body of The Church, known as The Curia, occupies the center of the ancient ruins of The Eternal City of Verun. Shut off from the normal peoples of Aquilia, The Curia has grown rigid and dogmatic in their approach to their faith. Through threats of Excommunication they can enforce their will upon the Kings of Aquilia when they desire. It is a delicate game of cat and mouse that The Curia plays with the Monarchs. The Church often lets the threat of Excommunication hang unsaid when they make requests of Kings, knowing that if they ever used it they may cause disaster in that Nation, but if the King somehow survived, The Church would forever lose the power of that threat, not only in the affected Nation, but in all other Nations as well.
The head of The Church is known as The Pontiff, and resides with the rest of The Curia in The Holy City. He is often completely isolated, not only from the normal world, but all but the most senior and inside members of The Curia.
The different aspects of divinity are represented by the Saints of The Church of Alarond. The Saints preside over the day-to-day workings of Alarond’s will and are prayed to for their intervention in specific circumstances. Almost every person reveres a particular Saint as their Patron and has a charm or small shrine that they revere daily. Through this prayer to the Saints, the people of the world hope that their Saint will intervene on their behalf and sway the will of Alarond. It is not common, and widely regarded as presumptuous to implore Alarond directly. It is also widely believed that the Saints are the only conduit to receive Divine Magic from Alarond, a fact largely supported by the fact that few members of The Curia have ever demonstrated Divine Magical abilities.
Outside of The Curia and the religious orders devoted to the Saints are a few other organizations within the church. The most ominous and widely feared is The Inquisition. It is the job of The Inquisition to seek out and convert or destroy all non-believers and heretics. In contrast to the Crusades, The Inquisition turns their attention to the people of Aquilia, travelling from city to town, setting up their tribunals. The power of The Inquisition is absolute. They answer directly to The Pontiff officially. Although unofficially, many Pontiffs are as afraid of The Inquisition as the normal populace.
Chief among the forces of The Church responsible for retaking The Holy Land from the Azrac Elves are the Crusades. Each crusade is usually devoted to a specific goal, and once that fails, is technically dissolved. Some members of those failed crusades form religious orders afterward, however, and many of those remain in some fashion or another. Some are dedicated to retaking a specific city or town, some to helping crusaders reach the battle or some other very specific activity or goal. The largest of these orders are The Knights of Saint Gregor, otherwise known as The Knights of the Temple of Alarond, or Templars for short. The Templars are the remnants of the noble sons who conquered Bastion and established The Kingdom of Outremer. The Templars have grown into a large and well financed organization. The Pontiff granted them the island of Acre in the center of The Inner Sea. The Templars still participate in every crusade, although their primary purpose today is to facilitate crusaders to reach their destinations. They do this by attempting to escort and protect ships against The Corsairs.