(Inspired by Maya, Em's Cult of Uriel, and a pair of compasses that bit me when I was tidying up)
Disclaimer: No offence intended to any individuals or groupings -- this is just a game depiction. ---
"We pray to the East. We pray to the West.
We pray to the Lords of the New Church."
'Lords of the New Church', Tasmin Archer --- Level 1.
~ Brother, if you are reading this document it is because a good friend
~ has given it to you. He may be the best friend you will ever have, and
~ be encouraged in that the proof of his regard for you is that you hold
~ this paper in your hands. You are invited to read further and to begin
~ an understanding of the nature of our group, of which you may have
~ heard a variety of rumours. The truth is that we comprise a dedicated
~ fraternity who seek to understand the world in which we live, and to
~ promote charity, good works and mutual support in order to aid the
~ communities around us. We have been pursuing these goals for a very
~ long time.
Some theologians hold that each archangel personifies an aspect of the divine, so dedicating oneself to any single one of them is not only serving God's will but actually and literally serving the divinity directly. Services rendered to one of His lietenants are services rendered directly to Him. How can it be said that God is hiding His face when divine glory blazes from thirteen facets for anyone with an eye to see?
Should it be any surprise that amongst angelic servitors, there are some who are so dedicated and devoted that the lines can become blurred and service becomes worship?
In what has become a time-honoured way to recruit soldiers and servants, a celestial begins a a quiet movement to attract mortals who have a natural interest and inclination for the word he serves. He can help them to organise, to be more effective, to perceive the glory of dutiful service to his superior -- to spread the word. Is it the angel who gets caught up in the mortals' resolve and forgets which power he really serves? Or is it the mortals who hear the message and venerate the messenger they can see, who consoles them with miracles and shines with the light of heaven?
All archangels expect loyalty from their minions. Some expect more than that. Sometimes their most devoted servitors go too far... but how far is too far? When does adoration become obsession?
--- Level 2.
In a quiet stone chamber, a group of men in ceremonial costume gather to repeat the ritual words of meditation which are written in locked books and take solemn vows of secrecy. Raptly they dedicate themselves to a master who will protect them and give them the strength and knowledge to protect each other. They swear binding blood oaths, dedicating essence and service and faith.
And their god answers.
In general there are two varieties of angelic cult. Those which spring up amongst groups of celestials, and those which involve mortals. It is difficult to say which is more pernicious.
Celestials most likely to be involved are the most utterly dedicated and intense. Cults can spring up from innocent and earnest groupings who sincerely want nothing more than to serve their superior's word. What is unknown is how many superiors are prepared to turn a blind eye to overenthusiastic service, as long as their orders are being carried out competently.
--- Level 3.
From the annals of the inquisition.
Inquisitio transcript -- C-623-76 26-1-98
YEHEZKIEL: Explain to me again the nature of the meeting which my colleague attended.
ARRAM: I and my servants gathered together to praise my mistress and to offer thanks for our recent successes.
Y: You offer thanks and kneel to an eternal fire, and dedicate essence to it in the form of blood.
A: Yes. That is correct. Y: Do you understand why that is wrong?
A: I serve the word of fire. We punish the cruel. My mistress is pleased with the things I have done.
Y: You have incited mortals to worship falsely in this way then? Has Gabriel encouraged this?
A: How can you hope to understand? You miserable scavengers, who take no glory in your own work but have to destroy that of others -- you are unfit to even speak Her name.
Y: Answer the question.
A: *pause* I have begged Her to honour us with Her presence.
Y: Does she know?
A: Of course She knows. She knows everything! She sees the secret corners of all hearts and seraph, She will strike YOU down in Her own time. Your kind are a blemish and a hindrance to Her work and you will all pay.
One of the angels discovers that their servant is quietly worshipping their own superior and recruiting friends and acquaintances to share in the experience. Do they nip it in the bud, or encourage it?
An angel is invited by a more senior mentor to join a celestial cabal. Only after they are already involved does it become clear that there is something involved which might be described as heretical? Do they go along with it?
Some angels are sent to infiltrate a suspected cult by their superior. Is the cult doing more good than it is harm? Does the superior really want the cult closed down, or are they just scapegoats? What will they do when the inquisition turn up and find proof that they have been involved?
The most ubiquitous cult is David's Freemasons. Shrouded in secret rituals and centuries of tradition, they protect their secrets rabidly, claiming to be simply an organisation which tries to build society up. They honour masonic rites, and wear the tools and clothes of stonemasons, recognising a 'supreme architect' as a source of power. How much temporal power David controls this way may never truly be known -- he plays building blocks with society in the same way as he does with stone buildings. As a malakite and a pillar of heaven, David has never aroused the ire of the inquisition.
Maybe he should.
He hasn't forgotten the insult of being overlooked to lead God's armies. He has an oath which prevents him from forgiving a slight. As long as Dominic is more concerned about Michael and Eli, his own operations continue unblemished. David is determined that Dominic WILL continue to be more concerned about Michael and Eli -- after all, Michael could have supported his bid. Eli could have armed his followers. He has an entire cult of mortals at his disposal .. will PCs find out why Eli really became so discredited. And what is that interesting looking statue that has been in the park for the last 70 years?
--- jo (the word is butter -- spread the word) ---------- "I like getting into hot water, it keeps me clean." G. K. Chesterton
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