The Sacred Church of Sartan
The Sacred Church of Sartan
Its founder, the Imperial Baron Lucius Scarlett, split from the traditional Church of Sartan in favor of an ascetic, non- or semi-political institution, though with aspirations toward one day being something greater.
The Sacred Church is still in its infancy, and so little of its status, beliefs, or future is known with great certainty. The same fundamental canons of the The Church of Sartan - namely the brief Book of Prayers and the Moral Code of Conduct - may be found in the Monastery of Sasat, alongside the Lucian Prophecy:
The Lucian Prophecy
There shall come a day whereupon a State shall grow and prosper in Sartan's name; Beware the lure and lust of ascension toward that day in vainglory rather than in readiness. Whatever shall prosper and be of good report today must not stand tomorrow unless it be worthy; Worth shall be purchas'd only through deeds and trials.
Man must look to himself and his Church e'er he raise the banner of God in State; Whosoever should rule in His name must embrace the threefold path of righteousness, victory, and defeat-- He who is immune to the lessons of these things shall never find Salvation. In Battle it is the loser who is shown the path to Grace; though the victor be rewarded, let him be also humble, lest the Grace of God spill from his pride to the loser's designs.
Surrender not thy freedom, for the Lord our God favors not bondage save those who in bravery escape it. Surrender not thy judgment, for it is in thy judgment that thou knowest fear and conquer it. Surrender not thy honor, for only by honor and chivalry is man separated from beast; Surrender not thy virtue, for naught but virtue shall keep man from the authorship of his own end; Surrender not thy valor, for what is begun must be carried to its end, even unto the end of all things; for all things are born again, and thus shall the blood of the son know the lessons of the grandsire.
Defeat is the mirror of victory; cast it not away and thou blindest thy House to the future.
The Letter of Schism
An unofficial but nevertheless revealing text, the Baron Sasat first referenced the Lucian Prophecy in his final letter to the Church of Sartan:
My lords, brothers and sisters of the faith,
Pray indulge a bit of background before I reach the meat of a matter that shall no doubt concern many of you.
Some years ago, I was appointed an Inquisitor of the faith - somewhat ironically at the behest of Caspius Arundel, whom as it happened turned out to be the first heretic in the nobility ever arrested by the inquisitors.
I accepetd this task willingly, for it seemed uniquely suited to me: I have lived a soldier's life and not a politician's. Those who have not fought alongside me on the field likely recognize my family name but have probably heard little or nothing of me. This is as it should be.
I have served the Empire for most of my life and Sartan for only a little less time than that. Again, an easy fit: a God whose concern is the proper and correct prosecution of war, both in the particulars - how war should be fought - and in the motives: why war should be fought. As our Second Estate of civilization is charged foremost with the protection of our subjects, there seems to me no greater question than when and how to go to battle.
Sartan has never disappointed me. One of his fundamental canons has been the engine of my life since before I even heard it and Sartan in the same breath: 'No one makes a greater mistake than he who does nothing because he can do only a little.'
It is no secret that this Church has been embroiled in politics for some time. This has been both a blessing and a curse: a blessing because it has made us relevant and spurred our growth, and a curse because we have been embarrassed on several occasions.
Embarrassment might bother me were I a politician, but as I am not, it is of only little note. Rather, I have been long troubled by a crack in this institution that appeared not long ago: one that immediately raised the hackles of my attention to heresy but one which by its very nature seemed almost impossible to characterize as such.
I refer to the capitulation of the Holy State of Sorraine to the Arcaean Empire at the conclusion of its failed war with Ohnar West. Specifically, I refer to the admission by Sorraine's leadership that the loss of one of its three cities would destroy the entire realm; meanwhile they were fighting and losing to a realm with only one city. I have no doubt that Her Grace Queen Arianne of Sorraine did not raise this concern without reason, and I have no reason to doubt that it is true. Where I differ is in my appraisal of the consequences of that collapse -- specifically, the theological consequences.
One cannot serve the God of War without making the acquaintance of defeat. It is curious to me that the subject is rarely addressed in the present literature of the Church, and if it is heard mentioned, it is usually with apprehension or fear, as with the Queen of Sorraine's concern that her realm would not survive the loss of a city. So great was her apprehension of this possibility that she surrendered her sovereignty to avoid it. Never addressed was what might befall the Church were Sorraine to face the consequences that it had purchased, and I believe that fear - not cowardice, but fear - was the reason. No-one knew what might happen, and the certainty of surrender to the Empire - a fact that as an Imperial Lord I am happy of, I might add - was preferable to the uncertainty of defeat.
But did not Sartan brave such uncertainty when He walked among us? Is not the very basis of the Path of the Warrior uncertainty? Does not the Code say 'Do not allow yourself to be overcome by fear, or deceived by it, and you shall feel upon the field of battle that you face unconquerable odds and are outnumbered; but you must overcome it or it will cripple you?'
Is not Sartania itself is a lesson in defeat? One often hears the question, half jokingly: 'why is it that those who follow the War God seem to lose more wars than those who do not?' What message is our Lord imparting through our fortunes?
He is telling us that defeat the engine of evolution and of creation: the necessary ingredient in the stew of the cosmos that tells us where we have failed and where we must look when we examine ourselves to make such improvements and adjustments to achieve victory. He is saying, critically, that defeat has but two outcomes: one, to cure you of your fear, for you have survived it and yet breathe; or two, to die in service of and veneration to our Lord Sartan, and in life these are the only two paths that concern us.
I do not mean to single out the Queen of Sorraine or doubt her commitment to Sartan. Rather, I doubt our Church's commitment to Sartan. When crisis last split this body, Selene Octavius bore the brunt of it for remarks she had made regarding torture - remarks worthy of censure, to be sure, but even though I hold little love for the Lady Selene I cannot satisfy myself that she is or was wholly responsible for what ails the Church; she also deserves no small credit for the advancement and growth of the Church and was clearly hindered by pride in her own not insignificant achievements.
The elders of the Church convened and have advanced an agenda of non-confrontation: if Selene ruffled too many feathers, then they would commit to a stance of non-ruffling as the antidote. But this may be taken too far as well: for inasmuch as our High Priest Aeneas Quintus Ennius is a wise and scholarly man, one cannot solve injustices or model one's faith as a guide for others if one is unwilling to actually advance what Sartan teaches. I refer now both to Sorraine, which now by treaty cannot advance any interest save what the Empire permits, and to the High Priest, who watched and said nothing as another elder, Martin Octavius, lambasted those of us in the Church who rightly called out the Lady Selene and even went so far as to, I quote, 'spit upon' myself and others for our criticisms.
I am surely not the most humble of men, but I did not feel amiss in asking that such behavior by an elder be corrected, particularly when the Church endorsed the very view that had elicited such vitriol from Brother Martin in dismissing Lady Selene. But the High Priest does not care for confrontation and so demured - he neither corrected Cardinal Martin nor chastised me for making the request. He simply ignored the matter, as he seems to have ignored most every matter since, for what have we heard in these halls since Lady Selene's departure? Nothing. During the fracas with Lady Selene, other members of the Church openly spoke out against the Code of Sartan, identifying a clear theological rift in this body that has also been ignored.
All of these things are related in one key respect: they seem to be wise and necessary because we in the Church have grown accustomed to worldly influence and power rather than spiritual guidance. It matters not if the Holy State is subject to a heathen Empire so long as it exists; it matters not what is said or done against the Church so long as we are not earning anyone's ire.
The Book of Prayers even venerates our God's 'Sovereignty' - a very strong and specific term - while we who follow it grow so attached to having a banner that glorifies God that we would rather keep that banner unchanged and give up the sovereignty of the Holy State than walk with courage into the unknown.
For months I have sat upon these thoughts until I overheard one of the local priests here in Sasat reminding us that Sartan speaks through Man, that 'every priest is a prophet.' I therefore set aside customary modesty and prophecy thus: (The Lucian Prophecy followed)
In service and dedication to Our God I therefore cleave myself from the bosom of this body and create the Sacred Church of Sartan; I renounce the pursuit of worldly influence and henceforth dedicate my life to the people and mountain temple of Sasat, which I this day re-dedicate to Our God in the name of the Sacred Church.
In this Name I endeavor not to divide myself from even the misguided among my brethren, who in their labors may serve Our God far more in their little fingers than do infidels and heathens; but rather to venerate Him as above and outside of worldly affairs, for Sartan is the Lord of the Soldier and the Patron of the Fighting Knight, not of queens or emperors; I declare that those in His Service may advance that service far more through their word and deed in their mundane daily lives than through a State which rises only to elect fear and surrender over the catharsis of defeat and change.
There shall come a day when a great banner of state is raised to Sartan; I am not worthy of such a day and have no pretension to it. But through the Path of the Warrior-Monk I foresee that One shall come who shall be worthy of that standard, and unto that end I set myself to the humble task of laying out the pebbles upon the path to guide the One who shall be Sartan reborn.
The bureaucrats shall no doubt bemoan the 'closing' of the temple in Sasat; I assure you that it stands unmolested. I am, however, changing the tapestries.
I remain, my lords, the obedient servant,
Lucius Scarlett Baron of Sasat