"Verdis Elementum is devoted to the worship and study of the five core elemental domains of life and the gods that rule over and reside within those domains. It is through study and worship that we may better understand the elements that make up the world around us and the gods that reign over them."
Origins and History
Sir Atwin, while exploring vast tracts of what then was wilderness in western Dwilight, discovered many tomes and scrolls in a foreign hand, later reputed to be one of the original native languages of Dwilight, and among them were the teachings and history of Verdis Elementum, and of ancient Dwilight. Though translation is slow going, many accounts of the gods and elemental domains of this ancient faith have been unearthed, and the religion itself has been revived.
Curiously enough, this faith almost lost its teneous hold on western Dwilight again after a serious of mysterious events: Ak'tari Verdi Atwin was last seen leaving a temple in Farrowfield, and then never seen again, though at times rumors of his appearance crop up in outlying provinces on the western coast. Following him, the Ak'tari of Spirit Delia disappeared into the void, and Ak'tari of Earth, Duke Borreas, vanished in as short an order - leaving both the faith, and city of Golden Farrow, in disarray. Without direction, the reborn religion floundered and the last elder, Ak'tari of Wind Marcus Antonus, abandoned the faith to join an offshoot religion, the Church of Elyon. It was only through an emergency meeting of several Verdi that Feawen, lady of Dunnbrook, was promoted to Ak'tari Verdi and order was restored - several Ak'tari of the various sects were promoted afterwhich, and confidence was restored to the faithful. General rebuilding, however, did not begin in earnest for several weeks afterwards.
Some weeks after stabilizing the faith, Ak'tari Verdi Feawen, looking to affairs closer to her heart and home, promoted Khephera Stormwind, newly elected Archon of Caerwyn, to Ak'tari Verdi in her stead, and retired to her estates at Dunnbrook. It was during this time that, with the ill-fated conversion of the city of Itau, that the faith began to grow again, firstly expanding its temples and rebuilding those that had fallen into disrepair, and later growing in numbers by leaps and bounds. More Verdi rose from the ranks of Maester and began to spread the word, even after the revolt of Itau and collapse of rule there, and the temples in Golden Farrow, Mech Derris, Dunnbrook and others were hastily enlarged to account for the renewed membership. In time even the misguided Church of Elyon, long seen by the elders as a perversion of Verdis Elementum, returned to the fold, and its High Prophet, Manfred Altenhar, rejoined Verdis Elementum as Maester.
Some time later, an ambassador of D'Hara came to Caerwyn, to gather news on the land his kin had helped to forge and to learn of the faith that had sprung there. His name was Machiavel Chénier, and he was convinced immediately upon discussing with a local priest. He shortly thereafter became a priest himself, and was the leading figure that brought Verdis Elementum to be an influential faith in the South and dominant faith of the Dragon Isles.
After many years, Caerwyn, the home of Verdis Elementum, was destroyed in a war against the Astromancies. The oldest temples were lost, though not the largest, and the Caerwynian followers scattered, bringing their faith along with them.
There are five core elemental domains that make up the existence of both our world and our lives. These elements are Spirit, Fire, Wind, Water, and Earth. Through the study of these elements we can gain insight into the workings of the world around us and how to use the elements to benefit our everyday lives. Through the worship of the gods who reign over and reside within these elemental domains, we gain insight into our own strengths, weaknesses, and desires thus gaining a better understanding of ourselves and how to improve our lives.
Most followers of Verdis Elementum focus their studies and worship to one god or gods from one elemental domain. This is mainly due to the amount of time and knowledge required to understand the basics of just one domain or god, let alone multiple gods and domains. There are those, however, who choose more than one, or all five domains to study and worship. Advancement through the ranks are made as one comes to a better understanding of an element and/or god. The deeper one studies and strives to understand the nature of elements and their gods the higher they will rise within the Verdis Elementum hierarchy.
The hierarchy of Verdis Elementum is fairly straightforward. The Ak'tari Verdi is the highest ranked member of the religion, and has final say and full authority in all matters, though may choose not to wield this power, depending on their leadership style and personality type. Below the Ak'tari Verdi is a council of Ak'tari, representing each of the five elemental domains, and leading them is a High Ak'tari. While an Ak'tari of an element is most often well-versed in their own particular area of study, and few others, and is promoted up from the ranks of Maester and Verdi within their own domain, a High Ak'tari must be capable of understanding, at least basically, all elemental domains and must have a broad spectrum of knowledge in all matters. This council, with the Ak'tari Verdi, make up the most senior members of the organization, and decide much of the policy of the faith.
Below this council of Ak'tari sits another loose council of peers - the Verdi - led by a High Verdi. While it functions in much the same way as the council of Ak'tari does, there are notable differences. While Ak'tari decide much of the policy and direction of the religion, they do not execute these policies and do not often themselves preach among the masses, or tend to the needs of the laity. This is left to the Verdi, the priests and priestesses. The Verdi are tasked with spreading the faith, educating the Maester and Adept of Verdis Elementum, and maintaining order. They are supervised loosely by a High Verdi. They do not, however, answer always to this High Verdi - they would more appropriately answer to the Ak'tari of their elemental order, unless that Ak'tari is otherwise engaged, in all matters of faith. A High Verdi forgoes loyalty to one particular element of study; they must be, like the High Ak'tari, well-rounded. High Verdi record and coordinate the movements of the Verdi, are tasked with training new Verdi, and report to the council of Ak'tari when asked to.
Beneath this council of Verdi are Maesters - they are the laity of the religion, the common followers, are not priests or priestesses themselves. The bulk of the membership of Verdis Elementum is made up of Maesters. Grand Maesters may be appointed among them to ensure order, but there is no real organizational benefit to them; the rank is a honorific, nothing more. A Maester is often devoted to the study of often one, though sometimes more, of the elemental domains. They are full members of the religion.
Adept, those who have yet to pick an elemental domain of study, are not. They are the most basic, and the lowest, rank in the religion.
Gods and Elemental Domains
Each elemental domain has one god that resides over it, and many others that represent that domain. These five gods make up the Ak'tar. The Ak'tar is the ruling council of the gods, and they are responsible for overseeing both the actions of fellow gods as well as the actions of mortals. While it is possible for a god to directly interact with a mortal, so far no interaction has been heard of or recorded.
The gods of the spirit domain watch over our souls after we have passed away, as well as deal with anything outside the mortal realm. The gift of life itself, and he who watches over death are just two of the gods that reside within this domain. One of the harder domains to study and understand, as it can be difficult for men to grasp things that are unfamiliar or foreign in concept to them.
- Elyon the Life-Giver: Elyon represents the aspect of spiritual life, or more accurately our soul. Like most aspects of the Spirit domain, the concept of the soul and all it entails is mostly a mystery. However, it is known that Elyon was the one who gave and watches over the souls of the living.
Fire is used by mortals to burn away the impurities from ore and other materials. The gods within the domain of fire represent both the purifying, living flame as well as those emotions that cause a flame of passion or desire to burn within someone. That flame can either be smoldering embers slowly heating up or it can be a raging wildfire catching anything it comes in contact with on fire as well.
- Revartos, God of Red Flame: Twin brother to the blue flame, controls the red flames on the planet surface, commonly seen around the world with most fires.
- Levartos, God of Blue Flame: Twin brother to the red flame, controls the stronger blue flames on the planet surface though is rarely seen unlike the twin brother.
- ---, God of the White Flame: Comes from the clouds above, controls the power of the white flames above the world.
The ever changing wind can be both refreshing and painful. Almost all the gods in the wind domain are spontaneous or fickle in nature and represent the unpredictable and random nature of life. Our ability to act at random, spring a surprise, or rely on luck are all represented within this domain.
- Zephyr, God of the West Wind: The kindest of the four Winds, and bringer of spring and new growth. He tends to be flirty, handsome, and happy in most accounts, thus bringing further understanding to the nature of what he controls.
- Boreas, God of the North Wind: The cold hearted bringer of the north winds who chills what he touches and leaves barren the earth during the winter, which is when he is allowed to roam free by the other Gods.
- Eulus, God of the East Wind: The harbinger of fate and fortune, Eulus is the one whom sailors and travellers would pray to before each journey. Eulus is the most fickle of the four winds, and can rarely be counted on for anything, though if he turns against you, all travel if fruitless.
- Notus, God of the South Wind: The bringer of the hot southern winds. Notus is an angry God, and usually doesn't favor those with good intentions as he often scorches of even the most pious farmers. Notus is strong and steadfast, a rare quality amongst Wind Gods.
- Aeolus, God of the Storms: The bringer of storms, Aelous is tempermental and prone to angry outburst that come just as quickly as they go. Trying to appease this God is almost pointless.
A calm, refreshing yet sometimes cruel presence, that is the gods of the water domain. Those that appear to be calm and peaceful, yet underneath can be a torrent of malice waiting to rise to the top. Rain is needed for refreshment and regrowth, yet too much rain can cause damaging floods. The ability to bring a calming presence and peace, yet make a heartless decision is the essence of these gods.
There are many fields of study in the water domain, and the research of the island people tends to differ greatly from the research of the continental people. From the study of rain and the weather to the research on bogs and wells, it is clear that the gods have long tutored humanity into harnessing and getting more in tune with the elements. Shrines dedicated to the study of the water elements tend to be in proximity to rivers and creeks, symbols of the ever moving nature of the element.
The Earth is a part of nature that supports humanity. The gods that reside within the earth domain focus on aspects that support as well as create a framework or foundation for all other concepts and ideas to fit within or rest upon. The support can give one a sense of security or help them obtain an unbreakable will.
- Radenem, God of Courage: He is associated with Granite. Strong and tall, carrying a tower shield and a large spiked axe. Gives courage to the people at crucial moments by sounding a horn made out of dragon bone. He is always in the midst of battles, wearing mithrill armor that shines bright under sunlight, further giving hope and courage to the men.
What the Elements Mean to Nobles
Just as all people are a part of the world and the Elements, so too are the Elements reflected in a person's nature. The following are descriptions of these natures, as written by the Priest Marcus Antonus Barthalemus, and subsequently approved as a good account.
The Element of passion, heat, and force. A noble who follows this path is most likely somebody who loves the thrill of battle, often being the first to charge headlong into the enemy ranks. Students of Fire usually are very independent and quick to anger, though noble and chivalrous.
The Element of thought, tranquility, and strategy. A noble who follows this path is likely somebody who would rather ambush their enemies and take them by surprise or to overwhelm the opposing forces with floods of men and arrows. Cavalry are generally the favourite troop type of this Element. Students of Water are usually cool tempered and intelligent, though desire for revenge is often the downfall of such nobles.
The Element of speed, fate, and fickleness. A noble who follows this path is likely somebody who uses deadly accuracy to take down enemies in a single strike, whether by bow or sword. Small, elite units are often the favourite soldiers of these adepts. Followers of Wind are often fickle and prone to rapid changes in plans and allegiance, though luck and a sharp wit always seem to be readily available.
The Element of strength, defense, and loyalty. A noble who follows this path is likely somebody who stays on the defensive in battle, preferring to lead well armored soldiers behind strong stone walls. Followers of Earth are steadfast and loyal to their cause, though sometimes loyalty is a fault that clouds the better judgment of these adepts.
The Element of life, light, and peace. A noble who follows this path is likely not to be in the battle at all, but in the backfield attending the wounded or maintaining the bureaucracy. These are usually diplomats, traders, priests, and buros. Followers of Spirit are peaceful and full of wisdom and sound judgment, though sometimes they are a bit pretentious and even reclusive.
What the mortals mean to the gods
Mortals are small and puny, and generally of little interest to the gods. In a way, we are like ants to them: if we massively go into places they do not want us, into their houses, then they will punish us. If we only go on their porches, then if they are in a bad mood, they may punish us. But if we stay out of their way, they will not notice us. The gods are generally uncaring, but they are also fickle and hard to predict, so it is always wisest to pay them respects in order to keep out of trouble. Indeed, this is one of the two great goals of our research on the elements: to gain greater understanding of the gods wills (the other being to gain greater understanding of oneself).