Roads to the North
Solism is the dominant religious belief in Frey, especially in the Shrinelands. Solism in its modern form began after the Phoenix appeared in Caer Sól and the beginning of the First Crusade. Many of the modern kingdoms of the Shrinelands were founded by crusader kings settling down with their spoils after the collapse of the Shadowmaker’s regime. Solism teaches a system of five virtues to guard off the influence of the hollow, the false, and the sinful, who indulge in the seven sins. Solist priests are almost always male, and are taught in rudimentary healing magic and basic combat in abbeys across the realms. The monolithic Solist church has many different branches, including its clergy, its knightly orders, and its inquisition; however, the church mainly follows a hierarchy of regional bishops and archbishops, anointed knight-commanders and a council of seven cardinals who rarely leave the depths of ancient Caer Sól. In spite of the church’s good intentions, Solism in its organized form is often corrupt and repressive.
In addition to the male Brotherhood, whose members fill the cold stone walls of monasteries and church halls, there is also the Sisterhood, the Church’s female clergy members who perform birthing rites and act as wet nurses. Sisters past their fortieth year in age are allowed to become Reverend Mothers, who serve as abbesses to the Sisterhood’s convents and perform cremation rites. This mirrors the White Lady, who belongs to birth and death. Male priests are allowed to perform cremation rites in extreme circumstances, including the prevention of necromantic reanimation, and time-sensitive instances where an abbess is not available and the bodies cannot be transported. In spite of this, male priests often perform cremation rites simply out of convenience, although it is frowned upon by the Sisterhood.
The Church of Sól
Type: Religious group
Leadership: The Cardinals (First Cardinal Iorwerth the Divine); the Phoenix
Headquarters: Caer Sól
Goal: Convert others to the Book of Sól; further the cause of Solism in society; shepherd disciples so that they keep to the five virtues and do not fall to empty sin
The Book of Sól is split up into thirty cantos, the first eighteen dealing with creation and the dawn war while the latter twelve deal with the Shadowmaker. It tells the story of Sól as the Allfather and the King who sits in the Throne of the Sky. Before Frey, there was only the Everblack, and the twisted, primordial elemental plane. Sól bound the bestial elemental lords – Ixen, Naia, Irisi, and Korth – to his will, and they helped Sól to create Frey. Sól created nature and life from a great white tree and his holy light burned so vibrant that it engendered three sons – the Prophet, the Priest, and the Prince. They helped the Allfather to create the five races; he appeared to them as Sól, and Corellon, and Moradin, and Garl, and Yondalla. The Allfather let the Prophet, the Priest, and the Prince reign free, and they created their own creatures, and took their own guises, but succumbed to the threat of power, and took dominion over the evil things that they had borne. Wickedly, they believed they could challenge Sól, who did not ask for dominion over his peoples, and choose seven evil creatures to be their heralds, those who exemplified their own Pride, Envy, Lust, Wrath, Greed, Sloth, and Gluttony, and challenged their Allfather for the Throne in the Sky. A great war occurred, and the Allfather summoned great angels and archons of holy light to stem the tides. At the war’s end, he struck down his own sons to Frey, devastating the earth and creating the Underdark. Then he imprisoned them in the Everblack, and declared dominion over Frey. Sól feared that people would again fall to pride and the other sins, so he cast his sons into eternal night, and visited night upon Frey, so the false sons could shine hollow moonlight over the Everblack, and warn all of the wages of sin. Sól gave knowledge of the five true virtues that would keep man from falling to empty sin – friendship, generosity, courtesy, chastity, and piety – to his faithful. They built the ancient citadel Caer Sól to hold his ancient, divine knowledge – a sacred stronghold to always serve as sanctuary to followers of the Allfather. It has stood for thousands of years, until the Shadowmaker, or the Empty Shadow, channeled the Prophet, the Priest, and the Prince, and covered Frey in eternal night. The Shadowmaker, one of the most powerful agents of the Hollow, betrayed his masters and instead declared himself ruler of the new night; his hubris caused his end when Sól summoned the Phoenix, an eternal beast of fire, that consumed the Shadowmaker in holy light.
The Thirty Cantos
- The EVERBLACK is all there is. Sól, the ALLFATHER, is born; his light is born from the darkness as the darkness is born from his lightness. Sól constructs the THRONE IN THE SKY at the very center of the EVERBLACK.
- The heat of the ALLFATHER thaws the cold darkness of the EVERBLACK; his light gives it shape and bounds it, while at the center around him forms the PRIMAL ELEMENTS: incarnated into beings as IXEN, FIRE; NAIA, WATER; IRISI, AIR; KORTH; EARTH. These four ELEMENTAL LORDS are bound to the will of the ALLFATHER.
- His TOOLS OF CREATION at hand, he sets to fill the HOLLOW. The ALLFATHER creates Frey with the help of the ELEMENTAL LORDS and places it on a GREAT RING that encircles his THRONE IN THE SKY so that he may watch over his grand creation. He seeds his LIGHT on Frey in the form of a massive white tree, so that NATURE and LIFE are created on Frey. The ALLFATHER maintains control of LIFE yet is unable to rule over wild NATURE. About his THRONE he builds the HEAVENS, reflected below in the darkness of the UNDERWORLD. Thus satisfied with the cosmos, he sets to perfecting his grand work.
- The ALLFATHER creates two races, the first and elder utterly devoted to ART, the feminine ELVES, who call him CORELLON; the second and younger utterly devoted to CRAFT, the masculine DWARVES, and he appears to them as MORADIN.
- The ancient ELVES and DWARVES realize they could perfect their works if they had true potential like the ALLFATHER and plead with him for true power; the ALLFATHER assents only to giving them potential, and imbues LIFE and NATURE with the TOOLS OF CREATION, granting magic to the ancients.
- Sól meets the WHITE LADY, a primordial elven queen; Sól falls in love with the queen and invites her to the HEAVENS, giving her a THRONE to match his own, but she refuses; the ALLFATHER’s wrath invoked, he steals the WHITE LADY to the cosmos to profess his love, but his burning light eviscerates the WHITE LADY, simultaneously engendering their three children: the PRIEST, the PROPHET, and the PRINCE. Mournfully, Sól creates their own thrones beside his, and deigns to never violate the will of his creations as the creator.
- What remains of the WHITE LADY, the first to die and the mother to the PRIEST, the PROPHET, and the PRINCE, is absorbed by the HOLLOW; she becomes DEATH, reunited briefly every time a soul is risen back to the HEAVENS.
- The ALLFATHER cedes control of NATURE to the FAIR FOLK, born of wild and uncontrolled LIFE.
- The ALLFATHER and the PRIEST, the PROPHET, and the PRINCE create humans, gnomes, and halflings, all blessed with longing and inconstancy; and their empires spread about the realms.
- The PRINCE wanders to the UNDERWORLD and feels the pull of darkness; the PRINCE follows the call to the edge of the UNDERWORLD, the HOLLOWNESS on the outside of SPACE, and is tainted.
- The PROPHET learns of DEATH and is stricken with visions of ENTROPY and eternal HOLLOW; opposed to the WHITE LADY and corrupted by prophecies of the end, he becomes its agent.
- The PRINCE and the PROPHET corrupt those of the five races most consumed by desire into their servants, twisting their souls into HOLLOW fiends.
- The PRIEST, seeing the dark armies his brothers are beginning to create, calls a host of ANGELS from the HEAVENS, the armies of the ALLFATHER; the ANGELS and the HOLLOW go to war.
- The PRINCE raises seven heralds of darkness from among his HOLLOW called PRIDE, ENVY, LUST, WRATH, GREED, SLOTH, and GLUTTONY; these corruptors attack the PRIEST as he flees to the HEAVENS, causing him to fall down to the UNDERWORLD, his greatest angels with him.
- The HOLLOW corrupts the FAIR FOLK, creating the SEELIE and UNSEELIE COURTS and the seasons of summer and winter.
- The HOLLOW corrupts the UNDERWORLD entirely, becoming a realm of darkness and evil. The PRINCE, plotting to control DEATH herself, ensnares the WHITE LADY, who takes the form of a raven to escape to the HEAVENS.
- The ALLFATHER battles and defeats his three fallen sons; he smites them down to FREY, creating the UNDERDARK. The ALLFATHER closes the WHITE GATES of HEAVEN, forcing the WHITE LADY to take the twisted souls of the HOLLOW to the UNDERWORLD, where the PRINCE, the PRIEST, and the PROPHET had made their citadels of torment, while FREY is covered in the EVERBLACK. As the souls are brought to the UNDERWORLD, Sól takes the dull THRONES of his children and binds them to the FIRMAMENT, imprisoning them in the EVERBLACK to shine their false light over the EVERBLACK, to warn his faithful of the HOLLOW.
- Sól creates NIGHT and DAY, closing his GATES each and every NIGHT so that FREY is left in the EVERBLACK. The ALLFATHER deigns that only those who are virtuous may have access to the HEAVENS, while those who fall from virtue shall be cast into the UNDERWORLD. He casts his greatest servants, his angels, into the STARS so that they may watch over the prisons of the HOLLOW and his children both, and so that the WHITE LADY might reach the THRONE IN THE SKY again.
- The FIRST EMPIRE is founded by humans.
- The ALLFATHER chooses not to appear to his children again, fearing to interfere with their free will, and instead whispers into the ear of the seer BRENDANUS his five virtues, which become the moral basis of SOLISM. BRENDANUS builds Caer Sól in the heartlands of the FIRST EMPIRE and founds SOLISM. The ALLFATHER grants a measure of his power and light to BRENDANUS and those who agree to spread his message.
- BRENDANUS becomes a SAINT after his death.
- The FIRST EMPIRE falls; in its wake, the warlock called the SHADOWMAKER ascends to unlimited arcane potential and closes the WHITE GATES of HEAVEN. Now cloaked in the EVERBLACK, the HOLLOW runs rampant across Frey as the SHADES of the empire of SHADOWTHRONE exile SOLISM. The heartland cities of the FIRST EMPIRE become the CHAINED CITIES.
- UTHER escapes the CHAINED CITIES and begins leading other slaves out of SHADOWTHRONE; UTHER finds a copy of the first BOOK OF SOL and begins translating it, divvying out its lessons to his nascent rebel army.
- UTHER dies and becomes a SAINT.
- MERRION, an escaped slave descended from UTHER’S men, foretells the defeat of the SHADOWMAKER by the ALLFATHER.
- Sól, still deigning to only act by proxy, summons the PHOENIX into being, an eternal servant of undying fire; the PHOENIX destroys the SHADOWMAKER, allowing the WHITE GATES to open again. The FIRST CRUSADE begins; Sól deigns that the SHADOWMAKER has transgressed worse than his children, chaining him to the UNDERWORLD and forcing him to become the STEWARD OF THE DAMNED.
- The PHOENIX returns to Caer Sól to serve evermore as the ALLFATHER’S eternal warrior.
- The seer MERRION, along with four other priests – THEODOR, MARCUS, JAIRUS, and EZRA – compile UTHER’S translations and MERRION’S additions into the modern BOOK OF SOL. They found the SOLIST church as the first FIVE CARDINALS.
- The greatest heroes of the FIRST CRUSADE become the kings of divine right, carving out kingdoms as their reward for warring against the HOLLOW.
- After MERRION’S death, he becomes a SAINT.
Solism informs much of the culture of the Shrinelands. The five virtues of friendship, generosity, courtesy, chastity, and piety are instilled in the norms of Shrinelands society, while folk tales reflect a deep fear of the seven deadly sins. Key Solist rituals include extensive morning prayers, the burning of great bonfires on the night of solar eclipses, cremation and the internment of ashes in great catacombs or cemeteries, and extravagant ceremonies and festivals of death and rebirth come each solstice.
Solism is heavily informed by the calendar, which has twelve months with thirty days each; priests must study lunar and solar phases, which often contain omens of things to come. The lunar week begins with a night of no full moons, after which for two days the Prince is full and dominant, representing omens of birth, expansion, youth, beginnings, and the hunt; another night of darkness follows, then the Prophet becomes full and dominant for two nights, representing omens of death, endings, wisdom, and magic; two nights of darkness then follow, after which the Priest is full for the final two days, carrying omens of fulfillment, stability, power, and love. On nights with no full moon, Solist churches leave all their torches lit and doors open, while a knight and attendant are expected to keep vigil for the night in full. Lunar eclipses are particularly dreaded nights, carrying omens of the end-times and representing one of the three brothers attempting to break free from the Everblack, and often mean lengthy ceremonies by priests to ward off evil spirits.