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Ayairda's Cleansing Home






Capital:
None

Government:
Secret organization




GB Income:
5
RP Income:
8
Expenses:
1 (court)
Treasury:
3/20 (see below)





[top]Introduction


Born from the ashes of the Singing flame of Laerme, The Ayairdan Vierklevven, or Ayairda’s Cleansing Home, is an underground order devoted to Laerme, or Ayairda, as the Vos call the goddess of love and music. Since its founding it has been devoted to preserving any history and piece of art left in Rzhlev, but now, under the guide of Brigitta Jarlsbane, is rapidly becoming an underground socio-political movement.

[top]History

[top]The fall of the church of Laerme (~1140 HC)


When Richard Roslöw and Alisse Ulfer found love on the battlefield an founded the Roslöw-Ulfer dinasty around 990 HC, all saw Laerme as the patron of the roschlöwenian people, second only to Sera. The Singing Flame was the state religion and encouraged adventures of conquest harsh places like the north or the east.

Michael Lödwen was the head of the church when the horde invaded Roschlöwen in 1140 HC. The week before the vos would enter the southern woods, he had a vision: a fire burning a temple full of beautiful paintings to the ground. He saw this as a bad omen and went first to advice Katherine Röslow-Ulfer, the sole survivor of the dynasty, but the next three days he cast a domain spell, which issued all priests of the flame to salvage and hide any kind of historical or meaningful piece of art they could lay their hand on, as quick as possible, then hide.

In time, the church become more of a monastic order, keeping themselves only in their mission of preservation. As time passed, the Vos influence on the order and name increased, and the name of Ayairda was preferred to Laerme, as more and more now-resident Vos joined the order.

[top]The new precept of the Order (~500 MR)


In 502 MR Brother Luther, an acolyte with no more than 19 years of age, suddenly become the First Sage during one night. It is speculated that either Laerme herself chose him, or he was chosen by the land, as his predecessor had no rite of inheritance. Luther, now First Sage, chose to keep his rank as Brother as he felt he didn’t really deserved the highest rank of the Order.

He, however, reformed the Order much more than his predecessors. Luther proclaimed that the collection of relics and history was over - what was to be collected had been collected. It was time for the Order to spread what Ayairda taught them, the strength of love, unity and peace as the only rightful mean to survive in such an harsh environment. During his regency, the brothers of the Order of the Singing Flame started spreading the gospel of the goddess to the lower class, regardless of their Vos or Brecht descendency. They sought the friendship of the dwarves of the northern mountains and the elves of the southern forest and created a secret network in all the realm to help the slaves escape to Grevensmhül or Berhagen. When the lower class started asking for advice from the brothers of the Order instead of the priests of Belinik, Tsar Rodel started to see how they could become a problem. The Singing Flame of Laerme had became the Cleansing Home of Ayairda , or Ayairdan Vierklevven.

[top]The conversion of Brigitta and the new deal (~540 MR)


Rodel died before taking any real action. the new tsarina Marisha had her hands full with the unavoidable internal turmoil following the change of the tsar. Once the Order had been restored, she declared the Cleansing Home as an enemy, and declared that any open follower or practitioner would be immediately put to death, with the exception of bards and the rare, foreign, adventurer cleric.

Unhappy with the results, she decided to unleash her best weapon against the brothers of the Home: her personal warrior assassin, Brigitta Jarlsbane. Brigitta spent five years looking for the First Sage, the prodigious Brother Luther, by any mean necessary - bribery, torture, kidnapping, threats, even posing as a faithful slave trying to escape. In the end, she found him in a secret lair in a cove on the Dwarfhame.

The assassin confronted Luther alone, and the fight was fierce - Brother Luther wasn’t a fighter but he was well prepared in the divine spellcasting arts. He set Brigitta on fire with a spell, but when the assassin tried to reach for a tapestry near the wall to cover her, he removed to spell to prevent the tapestry from being destroyed. That was his last, fatal mistake, as Brigitta stabbed him in the guts, finishing him.

Then, Brigitta took a moment to watch the tapestry and something happened. The tapestry depicted the moment Alisse Ulfer and Richard Roslöw felt in love on the battlefield. Such was the magnificence and the passion the artwork arised in her that Brigitta started to cry. How could someone hate something so beautiful? Suddenly she felt a deep regret of her actions, and tried to heal Brother Luther. But Luther reassured her and helped her finish himself by a stab in the heart; thus Brigitta inherited - instead of usurping - both Luther’s blood and the lead of the brotherhood. From that moment, she became the de facto leader of the order.

Under her command, the brotherhood has moved further from helping slaves escape and started to gather rebels, adventurers, escaped slaves, to form small bandit-like groups and often organizes black operations to retrieve ancient artifacts or eliminate a Zhupan too cruel or too barbaric, as they offend the heart of the goddess. She renewed the alliances with the demihumans and started smuggling weapons from the Berhangian mountains’s brigands.

[top]Doctrine and faith


The doctrine is based on three “pillars”, each one representing the prominent leader of their time:
  • All form of art and human talent must be saved and preserved;
  • Love is the strongest weapon of mankind against the cruelty of nature and the environment;
  • Freedom is mankind’s highest value and thus the most close to the goddess.

The first pillar was sanctioned by Micahel Lödwen, the second by Brother Luther and the third by Brigitta Jarlsbane.

There is no real hierarchy between these pillars. The young members are attracted more to a life of adventure, glory and rebellion rather than “being secret bookworms”, whereas the older members value spreading the knowledge of an ancient tale or a witty philosophical phrase more important than active action against the tsarina and her nobles.

There is however, one truth that binds everyone: Evil must not put its hands on art. Everyone is ready to do the utmost sacrifice to ensure a book escapes some zhupan’s private collection, or to restore a statue of a goddess before the raiders use it as target practice. This has often created a conflict among the faithful when it comes to choosing between art and someone’s life. A member of the Order should always prefer seeing a book burned instead of a commoner killed, however he or she will be accountable for his actions later and eventually must seek atonement.

Secrecy is of the utmost importance, but not as value per se - like the priests of Elyal - but as a necessity. The Home survives thanks to secret hideouts spread along the realm, and treason is considered a great danger. However, as Brother Luther taught, there is no such thing as a death sentence. Traitors are pushed away from the community and the brotherhood immediately start to relocate in another hideout, another province if necessary.

The Cleansing Home values freedom, but its goal is not really to usurp the tsarina’s right or to overthrown the invaders. They see themselves rather as an opposing political force, and their battle is not for the throne, but for the heart of the people. When the people will renounce Belinik’s ways, they will overthrown the invaders themselves.

[top]Ranks


The brotherhood is divided in cells, each one independent in purpose and existence unless a command by a superior in rank requires action. They are free to accept or decline the Order, as long as they can provide they believe it’s for the greater good.

The lowest rank is the Brother or Sister, although many just prefer the term Broer (/Brǝr/). The Storyteller is in charge of connecting the work of all the members of the same cell, and to speak on behalf of the cell. The Storyteller is also in charge of recruiting adventurers or bards to share the news, so it is not uncommon that he’s often a bard.

When a cell reaches enough people (at least a level 2 holding) the cell may become a full brotherhood. The storytellers keep their role as messengers however one or more Sages are in charge of the decisions.

The First Sage is the highest rank and is the direct intermediate between the goddess and her faithful. As such, he is considered a piece of art , in the sense that her safety comes first and foremost. Brigitta Jarlsbane, the current First Sage, wanders along the realm, giving Order and directions directly and often getting her hands on adventures and missions crucial to the safety and the mission of the Cleansing Home.

[top]The faithful among the people


Priests perform most of “fairest” trials in Rzhlev, as the higher class almost never emits a judgment in favor of the Brecht population or the lower class. The Cleansing Home has got a reputation of being the “fair trial” - people is judged by their actions, not their origin or social status. Judgments by priests of Ayairda are actually pretty simple - they evaluate the action looking to the three pillars, so if an action was done in the name of love, or provided some kind of freedom, is almost always righteous, unless it involves cruelty or - worse - the destruction of some form of intellectual creation. Anyone is accepted (with caution), regardless of their faith or their origin. Since Brigitta has introduced more “direct” ways to fight the injustice of the Vos lords, more people of Vos origin has come close to the faith.

Each member of the brotherhood is required to know how to write at least two languages - High and Low Brecht. High Brecht is used as a mean of “simple encryption”, as it is pretty rare in the realm for someone to read, let alone an ancient language. Often, their messengers are bards who proposes a riddle - if you answer correctly, the riddle’s solution is the key to decrypt or understand a message.

The love for beauty and art has found a natural ally among the elves of the southern forest of Rzhlev, and in the mountains of the north. Although they don’t care for the religious aspect of the Home’s way, the demihumans have become natural allies of the Order and often helps them hide from the tsarina’s patrols.

[top]Tactics


The Order always create secret holdings, and stay secret, then immediately start to create a “plan B” to find out where to hide any piece of art or book found and then where to hide themselves.

Brother Luther taught the Broers the value of propaganda. Of all the tales, the story of the founding of Roschlöwen (how Rzhlev was called by the Brecht before the invasion) is the one most told, as it renews the idea of a national identity without the Vos overlords. To improve unity, sometimes Richard Roslöw becomes Rykaard Rzhlov, of Vos origin. Tales of unity and love are always followed by tales of violent men punished for their hubrys.

Brigitta has turned the fight for Rzhlev's soul to another level: the Molevof rebellion of 550 MR is an example of how far she is willing to go. Brigitta knows well the hatred and disgust that flows between the guild, the zhupans and she knows that the Belinites will approve anything as long as it's violence, and that the zhupans will probably be soft and slow in response when it's about helping the guild. At the same time, the guild is easily used in agitation against the Belinik Tsarevic: they allowed something that's considered abominable even to Belikin, after all.

[top]Special considerations


The Cleansing Home functions pretty much as a secret organization. DM may want to raise DC for the Create Holding action, or require the Espionage action mechanics to create a holding of the Order. Even if the other domains are aware of the presence of the Cleansing Home in a province, an Espionage action may be required to locate their hideouts before a contest action or a military conquest.

The Order has a huge treasury, representing the value of everything salvaged and preserved from destruction, which nets to about 20 GB; However, such treasure is considered sacred to the goddess, so an anathema to sell it inside the realm was placed by Brother Luther himself. Foreign sales may happen only if the buyer has proved to be respectful of Laerme's teachings and respects art in general.

[top]Important Figures

[top]Plots and rumours

  • They say that Brigitta’s resemblance to the legendary Alisse Ulfer is no coincidence. Some say she is a direct descendant of Katherine Roslöw-Ulfer, the lost regent, and thus may exercise a birthright on the realm. Others whisper she may be a reincarnation of the heroine herself.
  • Not everyone is happy with the new direction of the Order. Some say such lack of attention to art and knowledge is an affront to the goddess. Others fears Brigitta is just an usurper and that she may be using the Order for her own purposes. A dangerous crack in the order’s faith that the Tsarina may use to eradicate a thorn in her side.
  • Could it be true that Brigitta and Markov Evuarr are actually in love? That would mean that Brigitta may be incautious in her journeys, or that Markus himself may be used as leverage.

[top]Brigitta’s Agenda

  • After Molevof, Evuarr could be next. but how? A rebellion there may even grant the region indipendence but that would not last, unless the dwarves or Grevesmühl helps. A silent death of the zhupan, just like the old days, would put Markov in charge and then the province could become an excellent hideout… but would the goddess approve?
  • Feyulf], the Red Wolf of Feyulfsky, lives in a way that is an affront to the goddess. He must be dealt with. And the elves would appreciate a friendly presence in the southern part of the woods.
  • The Great Bazaar is a never ending supply of relics and knowledge. Perhaps it is time to enlist adventurers to help Yusuf’s smuggling of the ancient dwarven magic items
  • The tsarina will not tolerate the cult much longer. Her arcane ways are more dangerous than her army. Someone must infiltrate her sunken tower in Duarlavka and find out what are her plans.

[top]Domain Holding table


Note: All holdings of the order must be considered secret holdings.


Domain Table: Ayairda's Cleansing Home
ProvinceLawTempleGuildSource
Edarlaskyy, Rzhlev (4/3)Ts (3)BT (2)GS (1)Ts (1)
Ay (1)
Evuarr, Rzhlev (4/3)Ts (1)Ay (2)GS (1)-
Molevof, Rzhlev (4/3)Ts (3)BT (2)GS (0)Ts (1)
Ay (2)
Nyurehv, Rzhlev (3/4)Ts (1)Ay (1)--
Nyurskyy, Rzhlev (3/4)Ts (1)Ay (2)--
Abbreviations: Ts = Tsarina of Rzhlev; BT = Belinik Tsarevic (Nikoli Brokeslav); Ay = Brigitta Jarlsbane (Ayairdan Vierklevven); GS = Grovnikken Stohlevvskyy (Grovnikk Glössevik);

[top]Behind the curtain: who rules the Cleansing Home?


The Official expansion manual states that "No known high priest exists in Ayairda's Cleansing Home" (p.74), immediately contradicting itself when referencing Brigitta's Role: "Some say she may be the wife or lover of the high priest [...]" (p.75). This hints that Brigitta's refusal of the title of First Sage may be more than just modesty. The exact nature of the Ayairdan Vierklevven, just like Brigitta's real stats are left to DMs to be decided, depending if the church is a foe, a friend, or a npc in their own campaigns.
  • Even if Brigitta did not usurp the church and is just the most prominent member of the Vierklevven, she doesn't fulfill her role as regent, so the church is disorganized and doesn't act as a "real domain" (no regency, no real domain actions), at least until someone (i.e, a PC) takes the mantle; this makes the order act only as random events.
  • Brigitta is just a famous lieutenant of the order, protecting the true leader's identity. Maybe Markov Evuarr is the leader, and that would explain the rumours about the love affair, however there is also a chance that Brother Luther himself is still alive, and all the fuss about him being killed is just a way to avoid the tsarina looking further for him.

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