Fire Fantasy Tactics Ogre IV: The Fenwyn Chronicles
The Holy Pyrean Church
The Holy Pyrean Church has always existed. As the oldest standing organization in the world, its influence is vast, touching the furthest reaches of the globe. Old as it is, the details of its founding are murky at best; but as the keeper of some of the world’s oldest written documents, the Pyrean creation myth is generally accepted as true:
Over a thousand years ago, it was said that the first priest of the faith, Ithias, was bathed in a holy fire from the heavens, and imbued with divine knowledge. He set out to evangelize the rest of the world in the way of what he described as “The Holy Fire,” and his teachings still remain the base of Pyrean canon today.
However, besides moralistic teachings, the first recorded uses of healing magic, as well as the first truly effective mundane healing, arose with the Pyrean Church.
As it spread among the faithful, Pyrean teachings became more cohesive, establishing central power in the birthplace of the legendary first priest. Though his name was lost to time, his legacy remains.
Officially, the Church never claimed any territory. Instead, they were granted lands and military might by those feudal lords and vassals who swore fealty as holy knights, who gave their resources and their loyalty to the Holy Pyrean Church. The Pyrean-affiliated lands grew large this way, though its current borders are not comparable to the Confederation or Ostia.
In these first knights and warriors lay the beginnings of what would become the militant arm of the Pyrean Church and its peacekeepers: The Paladins. Later generations of these first knights would embrace wholeheartedly the role of their forefathers, protecting the destitute and the weak. Gradually this altruism faded. Now, present-day Paladins prefer to keep to their own lands, forsaking action for the comfortable status quo of political neutrality.
The modern Pyrean Church still holds its lands, famed as a bastion of learning for those interested in healing arts, be it through magic or medicine. Its hospitals are unsurpassed by any other medical establishment, though it charges dearly for its services in cash and in other goods. The poor and the wounded are always welcome, though. Pyrean missions set up to tend the oft-overlooked casualties of war are a common sight.
The Pyrean Church administrates its own land, and as such, is governed by the current head of the clergy; the Patriarch, or Matriarch. Second to the Patriarch is the Apothecary-General, in whose dominion lies every medical institution operated by the Church. Beneath the Apothecary-General is the Master of Justicars, head of the Paladins. According to the Pyrean scriptures, those bearing arms must always be answerable to those without, yet the Master of Justicars is generally given little oversight; often, the Church’s other figures of authority have their hands full with their own matters to attend to.
Public policy is handled by a mix of clergy, lay clerks, and Paladins. The exact composition of a local government varies; but the clergy set the policy, the clerks handle the paperwork and currency, and the Paladins serve as peacekeepers and judges under priestly guidance.
The Church does not want for money. While its revenue comes in the form of tithes from those who live in its lands, its primary service is that of superior healing, and such secrets are guarded closely. Graduates from Pyrean universities and hospitals find that their fortunes may wane elsewhere, being incapable of passing on perfectly the same advanced techniques that they strove so hard to learn.
In special cases, for a price, the Church may lend out their own healers to those who need them. Such clients are usually nobility or royalty who can afford to bring private service to their own territories, though Pyrean healers never turn away the poor at their hospitals.
For the most part, though, those living beneath the Pyrean Church live simple, humble lives. Subsistance farming is widespread. While the echoes of industry can be felt here and there through tools like gas lamps, hunters’ firearms, or plumbing systems, most modern conveniences aren’t available beyond the Pyrean capital.
The Justicars: Brotherhood of the Holy Flame
The Justicars are a class of Paladins deemed to be exemplary military members of the Church. The trials held to judge them are not entirely clear, though. According to the Brotherhood, one should possess certain qualities: Martial prowess, compassion, mercy, and a quick mind. They wield considerable power, and while technically subservient to the clergy, they hold respect such that most wouldn’t doubt the word of an individual Justicar. All other Paladins are subject to their authority, and also watch their own for signs of corruption. A Justicar’s presence is always obvious. They wear a distinct style of heavy plate mail, a sort of badge of office, although they rarely venture beyond Pyrean borders.
The Paladins are the main body of the Holy Pyrean Church’s armed forces. Paladins are trained to much higher standards than any common soldier, well-versed in tactics suited to heavy infantry and heavy cavalry, but they possess neither the adaptability of a Confederate force nor the overwhelming firepower of an Ostian detachment. Justicars serve as an even more powerful force, but their numbers are too few and far-flung to support an offensive strategy of any real significance. The Church has not kept abreast of battlefield science; as such, many might consider their tactics “quaint” in an age of firearms and magic.
In the extremely unlikely event of an attack on Pyrean lands, militias would be raised to support the local Paladin; if the situation were severe enough, a regiment of Justicars would even be summoned, though the Church is reluctant to risk such a strategy. Despite their devastating efficiency, Justicars are a precious resource, and easily undone by their lack of numbers. To lose such a regiment would be a crushing blow to the Church’s morale.
Alster is the heart of the Pyrean religion. The birthplace of the First Priest has grown from a farming village to a metropolis that rivals any found within Confederation or Ostian borders. While there are many shrines and places of worship, the grandest is Alster Cathedral, where the Patriarch preaches every week. In the town square lies the Grand Flame, said to have come from a lit torch the First Priest used. A Justicar is stationed to guard this monument at all times, and a plain awning offers shelter from any inclement weather that may threaten the flame.
The Paladin barracks are also found in Alster. Here, the Church trains its recruits, putting them through grueling physical training and classical education. Most recruits are in their adolescence, but it isn’t uncommon to see those older who have come to make a new life (or flee an older one). The trainers ask no questions, and are confident that those not fully dedicated to the cause will wash out sooner or later.
Beside the barracks lies the Medicine Quarter. These facilities are the largest in the world, sprawling across a literal quarter of Alster. At any given time, diseases and wounds are tended to, studies of disease and poison are conducted in its laboratories, classes on healing magic are given, and practical training abounds. Magical and mundane healers are encouraged to work together, complementing one another’s strengths and compensating for their weaknesses; allowing them far greater efficiency than they might have alone.
Johnathan, Master of Justicars
The head of the Justicars is an imposing figure. Standing fully seven feet tall and never bereft of his plate armor or his greathelm, one may be forgiven for being intimidated by this giant of a man. Although usually silent, those who claim to have spoken to him describe him as surprisingly jovial, and those who have seen him fight claim there is no finer warrior in all the world.
No man in such a station is without rumor, though, and whispers surround the Master of Justicars. Some say that he chooses never to reveal his face because he sustained a terrible injury in protecting the faith. Others claim that “Jonathan” is a name all Masters of Justicars take, and that the mantle has passed from individual to individual.
In any case, he is a constant element within Alster, standing at the Patriarch’s side or inspecting the latest batch of recruits.
The man known as “Hothesby” spends most of his time dashing from ward to ward in the Medicine Quarter, examining cases and working with the healers. Some may question the wisdom of dirtying his hands with individual cases, rather than delegating, but Hothesby himself maintains that he learns best with his own two hands.
Unusually, and unlike his past several predecessors, Hothesby is not a mage. Most unusual of all, he entered the order relatively recently, fifteen years ago. At times, the Apothecary-General may vanish without a trace, only to reappear a week or a month later. For the time being, though, none doubt that his knowledge of medicine and healing techniques have been a boon to the Pyrean Church.