Ilsare: Hierarchy

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Most often called simply Inspiration, the church that follows Ilsare has very little structure. The only official temple is the Breath of the Muse overlooking the River of Reflection on Mistone. Only at the Breath of the Muse can one be guaranteed to find a Nave, a follower of the Heartsong who wears all six bands of Ilsare. What exists as structure is found here in poetry, song, and novels dedicated to the ideals of Lady Muse. There is no one book that defines the faith, because there are too many writers to narrow down the ideas. There is no single song of Ilsare, because any song sung from the heart will do. There are only halls, rooms, sculptures, plays, songs and dances, jewelry, woodworking, and a dedication to the ideals of the six bands. The closest to doctrine is the Six Bands of the Heart, an epic poem by Nave Missier El'dominae, the second Nave of Ilsare and one of the faith's greatest poets. While the entire epic is too large to reproduce here, the highlights define five of the six bands: moment, creation, reflection, passion, and inspiration. The sixth band is faith and is rarely attained.

The moment is the first band. This can come from anywhere but most often it is art or love. Impossible to define, it is known through the individual descriptions of it such as an epiphany or a sudden and complete knowing of what must happen next. This comes from opening up to emotions and allowing one's self to see the world on the level of the heart as well as mind. Contrary to popular belief, the moment does not have to be joyous. Any situation that creates in the worshipper the clarity of that second, the insight and inspiration of the emotions felt, is good. Rapture is only one of many emotions and insight is stirred by pain as well as joy.

Second is creation. If the moment leads to this, if the feeling as the means brings beauty or evokes emotion as its end, then everything was worth it. When one is ready to accept a second band, it is when one feels the same depth of emotion at the creation as one did at the moment.

The next stanza of the epic deals with reflection. Looking at the creation and the moment that inspired it, appreciating, remembering, understanding. Accepting, then, that the highs and lows most mortals avoid are the fuel of Ilsare. Passion is the core of her being and of her followers. The third band is given when one can demonstrate understanding of both the art and the events preceding its making.

The fourth band is passion. Passion of the art, of another, the step that takes one beyond seconds in time and into a lifetime. Ilsare is often understood to be flighty; this is not so. Those who wear the fourth band understand this. Passion is not the desire of flesh, which falls into the realm of Xeen, or an overwhelming need for things and collections which is a Branderbackian trait, but the passion for action, the desire to be in the moment of creation, whether that creation be a necklace, a dance, a book, an expression of love, or another life to the world.

Ilsare smiles on those who see something beautiful in their work, their art, or their spouse every day. She is the goddess of beauty in the eyes of the beholder and beauty from within. Passion is the wellspring her followers tap to overcome troubles. Excerpted from a common sonnet at Ilsarian weddings:

"Patient as grandmother's lap
Subtle on a summer breeze
Dancing under Ausir's light
Loving you is all of these Age's heart is weathering
Youth fades in lover's eyes
Time can't take what my heart knows
Innate passion of the wise"

Inspiration is the fifth band and it is one of many years. Inspiration is simply bringing out the best in others. Not only does one understand the path of Ilsare but also helps others understand it. Many of those who wear the fifth band are spellprayers of Lady Muse.

The sixth band is a slender strip of adamantium mixed with gold to create a blush colored metal that is wrapped around the other five bands. This band represents faith, pulling the moment, the creation, the reflection, the passion, and the inspiration into the heart of the follower and goddess. The sixth band connects the first and fifth bands, creating and completing a circle that flows through the ideas represented in precious metal. Although they don't have to be obtained in any order, except the sixth, each slender, grooved gold ring fits together sequentially. The bands are worn on the first finger. Although it would seem bulky on the knuckle, the rings do not hamper one's dexterity. Once the first five are joined and the sixth band is wrapped around them, the entire set fuses together. The resulting ring appears as a single large gold band wrapped by a red ribbon . The Naves say only Ilsare may then separate them.

Obtaining all six bands is a life-long pursuit for many Ilsarians though it comes about naturally through experience rather than through ambition or drive. While the first through fifth bands can be recommended or given by any follower of Lady Muse who has already earned that band, the sixth is decided by a meeting of all of the Naves; this is not taken lightly. A potential Nave does not have to apply for the position, because anyone at this level of faith will eventually catch the eyes and ears of the other Naves. They are also not required to accept the position. Most never achieve both the required level of enlightenment and the desire to inspire others. As this can take more than a lifetime, the vast share have been worn by elves. Only two have been worn by humans. It should also be noted that those artists who do not follow Ilsare may also be gifted with one of the bands, although this is uncommon. No one, despite their talent or gifts, will wear more than two bands if they do not follow the Heartsong. It should also be said that depending on the viewer, the art does not necessarily have to be good. Passion and a love of doing can suffice as inspiration to the practice which will improve skills.

There are nine known Naves currently alive: five elves, two halflings, one gnome, and one human. While most are clerics with the powers of their goddess, it is not required to be a Nave. Inspiration, passion, faith, wisdom is measured in many ways, and the grace of Ilsare's spells are but one. Meetings of the Naves happen three times a year at the Gathering of the Red, Gathering of the Pink, and Gathering of the White.

Elections and Organizations

As noted above, Ilsare's only temple contains her only true organization, the Naves. However, Naves are not limited to the Breath of the Muse and can be found anywhere on Layonara, practicing their arts, admiring other works, spreading the inspiration of their goddess, and finding beauty in everything. The Naves are those who have embodied the very essence of Ilsare. As of 1424, nine exist: Euchloe Summerleaf, Bianca Longbelly, Tanyl, Felaern Telloltol, Talia Hycinth, Sheba Glimmering, Unae Yeramin, Abber Longbelly, and the master ring crafter Janice of Bands.

Euchloe Summerleaf is a platinum-haired elf woman of advanced years. Still beautiful, she is the oldest Nave and has become the most permissive, granting rings as she's moved by a situation or piece. She travels continuously, only attending Gatherings at the Breath of the Muse. Euchloe's gift is unique. She is a cleric of the Heartsong and acts to marry others, writing and officiating beautiful ceremonies that touch the hearts of every attendee. She is one of two Naves who gives rings when she is moved by a couple or loving moment as most Naves focus on the arts. She is widowed but has three daughters and five grandchildren.

Bianca Longbelly laughs. She laughs and makes others laugh. This golden-haired halfling's gift is in finding humor in everyday situations, and her ability to bring chuckles and belly laughs from even the most stoic set her apart. She uses humor to help others find their passions and better their skills. She worships Prunilla along with Ilsare and is considered almost a saint in her hometown. She spends the bulk of her time teaching at the Breath of the Muse and bringing laughter to the war-torn island of Corsain along with healing. Her husband as of 1402 is Nave Abber Sandlesson.

Tanyl is a younger male elf, barely 200, the strongest wizard known to worship Ilsare exclusively. His unruly shock of dark hair and pale turquoise eyes match his almost cocky smile. He's one of the wilder Naves, running with the Love and Magic sect and performing his sardonic plays that hit the irony right where it hurts. He uses his magic to both inspire his plays and enhance them, and he starts troupes wherever he stays long enough to learn names. He's said to be one of the wizards who helped raise the Transcendent Symphony's unique building. Tanyl is also known to spend personal time with Marie Hartley 'he's not an elf that looks down on humans as inferior. He is not a cleric of Ilsare and is unmarried.

Felaern Telloltol is the most controversial Nave, having a cloud over his sixth band related to hints and rumors of extortion to get it. Anyone who would have known, except Euchloe, has now passed on however, as he is the second oldest Nave. Euchloe will openly state that she did not vote for him. He is middle aged for an elf with straw-colored hair and eyes and writes impatient, nihilistic poetry that while it does evoke happy emotions, definitely leaves an impression. While he has clerical powers, what he does to inspire others is in question by some of the other Naves. He is unmarried and has been so his entire life.

Talia Hycinth is the second most controversial member, being a dark elf. She is treated with respectful distance by all her peers except Tanyl. She is typical of her race: short and slender, white haired with dark eyes that flash red at night. Although a dark elf Nave is unusual, a first in fact, her vote was unanimous as her talents are unmistakable and her prowess as a dancer goes far beyond most mortals. She acts to aid those of her kind on the surface who wish to know Ilsare and has given several bands to other dark elves. She also seems above race when appraising creativity. Her nature is shy, but she overcomes it to teach others dance and the ways of a cleric of Ilsare. She is romantically involved with one of the other rare dark elves who follow Ilsare and can be found around the Breath of the Muse more often than not.

Sheba Glimmering began life in the Mistone Academy of Innovation, working to meld magic and metal. Her true passion kept popping up in everything she created such as her etchings, filigrees, and iron scrollwork. It was Janice of Bands that found her talents and gave her the first band, and from that day forward Sheba was so touched she left the Mistone Academy of Innovation and learned the ways of Ilsare. She is a sorceress but does not pursue her power now, preferring to spend her time teaching and traveling with her husband, an inventor, when she's not creating things of beauty. She is not a cleric of Ilsare.

Unae Yeramin is a young, fair elf, a painter, and a sculptor that is known for immortalizing moments of love and compassion on his canvases. Many of his works hang in the Breath of the Muse, but he also does commissions worldwide and donates every True from them to the temple to help support and better other artists. His signature work hangs in the room he shares with his wife, an elf from Voltrex. He painted her on their wedding day, and those who have seen the work say the liquid love in her eyes moves the viewer to tears and the warmth from the sun in her golden hair can be felt on one's skin.

Abber Longbelly is a devout cleric of Lady Muse, a singer who has turned his rich alto into a means of prayer. He writes and sings devotionals, both solo and choral arrangements. Abber often travels to gather groups together, infusing them with a passion for choral works. He claims when a choir reaches the apex of a note, his breath is stolen away and his soul lifted. He is deeply in love with Bianca and has written several songs to her. Bianca jokes that the only way she can return the loving expression is to poke fun at how he arranges his sock drawer.

Janice of Bands is the sole human of the known Naves. Not a cleric, she is instead a jewelry crafter who is now the source of most of the golden bands. She apprenticed to her father, one of the premier jewelers in Port Hempstead, just as Port Hempstead experienced a population boom. His years of experience and her natural talent and skills set her apart immediately with her second ever commission being to Queen Allurial. Janice came to the Inspiration in her teens when a cleric of the fifth band commissioned several gold bands for some followers he felt deserving and saw the quality and artistry of her work. He encouraged her to travel to the Breath of the Muse, which she did, and she has never left. The only Nave to remain stationary, she has spent decades honing her art and training others to make both delicate ornamentations and also the slim, grooved bands that are the mark of Ilsare's favor. She married a gem crafter native to Port Hempstead. She often calls herself and her husband a matched set. They have raised six children, one for each of her bands.