Chronicles of Neverael
Rise of the Church
The Church of the One initially arose as the result of the teachings and sermons of the Prophet Gaean – a young woman living sometime in the turbulent last decades of the Atlaneian Empire, just prior to it’s total collapse in the wake of the Blackgate War. Formerly a priestess of one of the Atlaneian Gods commonly worshiped at the time, Gaean is said to have received a series of portentous visions predicting all sorts of events to come. Gaean believed that these visions were bestowed upon her by an entity which she came to call The One – the one true architect and creator of the cosmos – and that this One had chosen her to be his mouthpiece on Neverael. Gaean began to preach the messages she derived from these visions and, in time, began to develop quite the following of lost souls who had lost everything in those trying times.
Naturally, the established priestly orders considered such teachings to be blasphemous and probably would have done something about them – had they any real authority or power left. At this point, however, the old religion of the Empire was on it’s way out already and the times had made people turn away from the old teachings and toward what they thought of as being newer and better. Gaean herself wrote down her visions in what came to be known as the Book of Gaean – a testament of the great Codex. Her teachings began to spread like wildfire – passed along by those fleeing trouble throughout the Empire. In due time, she gathered to her a number of faithful acolytes whom embodied the principles which were held in highest esteem by the One. There were seven acolytes in those days – Asher, Chiskus, Falo, Luchente, Neran, Tetheus, and Ulrik.
Things soon turned sour, as they are wont to do, and – in a last ditch effort to hang on to what little power they had left – the high priests of the various Atlaneian orders gathered together in a convocation and called a meeting with Gaean and these Children of the One to discuss a “peaceful” manner in which to conduct matters – as strife between the old ways and the new was becoming a greater and greater problem. Under the guise of friendship and diplomacy, the High Priests murdered Gaean – each stabbing the Prophet several times with daggers made of silver (a symbol of office bestowed upon the priests by the old Atlaneian state). Five of her seven acolytes made it out alive – Tetheus was murdered alongside his mistress and Asher (being a former warrior and veteran of the Blackgate War) remained behind to serve as a distraction so that the others could flee. The remaining acolytes fled into the hinterlands.
Gaean’s followers were rightly outraged by this turn of events – riots swept what was left of the Empire and all fell into ruin and chaos. Gaean had, according to later testaments, foreseen her own death and had shown her acolytes the process by which they would be able to locate and confirm the identity of her successor. Even with this knowledge in hand, however, the Church of the One did not become a major force for several more decades
The Church of the One remained a fringe element in the anarchy after the war and riots right up until, about 40 years after the death of the first Prophet – Gaean’s remaining acolytes finally managed to locate the long-awaited second Prophet – a young boy named Maez. Maez was the son of a powerful warlord at the time – a warlord who had designs on the remnants of the province that later became Leorans. His son began having visions at a young age and, upon being found by the Church of the One, converted to the new religion. The warlord – named Karsk Lorns by history – made a promise to his son saying, “If your One grants me victory in the siege of Leoransetti [city], I shall gladly bend knee to him.” The warlord went on to completely overwhelm his enemies in the province and to capture the whole thing with little difficulty. He converted without a backwards glance and began to enforce the religion as the state religion in the lands that he ruled over. This establishment of a secular power base gave the Church of the One the foothold that it needed to achieve greater power in the years to come. It was all downhill after that.
The Church of the One established itself, in coming centuries, as a sort of meta-authority. It’s influences could be felt and seen throughout all of Antegaea – even in the savage northlands ruled over by the brutal Izhendarcs. While the Church rarely interceded in matters in a direct fashion, threat of censure made defying the Church’s will openly a risky proposition. The Church had destroyed an Empire, albeit a weakened one, with an angry mob – what might it do with an organized force? The thought terrified many a ruler. The Church made something of a blunder in it’s one real attempt at shaping events more directly – the creation of the Concordant Council.
The Church’s machinations in this business were what brought everything to the point where such a body could be established – however, power was not given over to representatives of the Church but, rather, to a new secular authority beholden to none. While the Church remained a powerful entity in the wake of the establishment of the Council, it’s influence has been curbed in a noticeable manner.