The Church of Toran is a church once divided. Now working to adjust to changes that amputated an entire arm of the organization, the church has moved from a message of harsh justice back to one of caring for others. As recently as six years after the fall of Sinthar Bloodstone, there were clergy, paladins, and justicers. The justicers were men and women who were a law unto themselves, able to supersede local judges and make determinations of wrongdoing. The justicers attempted to cement their control by bringing to trial some of the most influential members of the church. This resulted in the execution of Navarre, the first paladin, and nearly that of the Champion of Toran. After this blatant attempt to seize authority by removing dissenters, the justicers were excised from the church by the Heart of Toran. Now the church is finalizing a reorganization that takes it back to the original message, where honorable combat and valor are only a part of a whole that has balance in empathy, humility, conviction, sacrifice, and restraint. A reassessment of relationships with other churches, particularly that of Rofirein, is also underway. The organizations have panned out as follows. The high priest is still part of the clergy but no longer a public figure. Rather, he is now the Auscultare, the advisor to the church, as he is considered closest to the Great Leader and therefore will spend most of his or her time in prayer and writing doctrine. This first Auscultare was chosen by Toran himself. The mark of an ankh appeared upon his right hand when the previous priest was put to death. The very next day he felt guided to search for the Quartos Toranis. From this, it was deduced that Toran wanted to prevent the mistakes of the past and have a more direct conduit for his teachings, and the new high priest has taken to praying in seclusion and reviewing what has been found of the Quartos; except for meetings with the heads of the Orders. This post has traditionally been assumed for life. Whether Toran will continue to choose his spiritual head directly is unknown.
The Heart of Toran is now the face of the church to its members, the person that people will remember when they think of Toran. The Heart traditionally was selected by the high priest, but now is chosen by popular vote among every group and sect in the church. The appointment is for life or until they choose to retire.
Below the Heart and Auscultare are the clergy, with one brother or sister in charge of day-to-day schedules and one who works with the Auscultare in reviewing matters of the faith. Included in this is the new office of Missions and the Exchequer, to keep track of funds, donations, mission work, and appropriate supplies and manpower where they are needed. These offices are again filled by popular vote. Limits on the amount of time the brothers or sisters and Exchequer serve were recently instituted: ten years--to stave off corruption and keep fresh blood moving through the church.
The paladins elect their leaders with the Order of the Shining Hand and the Order of the Longsword included, but not with the participation of the clergy, Learning and Lore, or the Missions and the Exchequer. These leaders currently have no limit to the amount of time in office; although, physical prowess is often the indicator of a need for change. Aged paladins who have served in office and have stepped down are called reverend knights and often have great influence within their order.
The Order of the Shining Hand formerly allowed the hand, the leader of the organization, to choose a successor. However, events surrounding the selection of Quantum Windword have changed this to a general election within the order. This position is for life, or until retirement. Retired Hands are unofficially called Fists.
The Order of the Longsword still allows their leader, called the Blade of Toran, to choose who will replace him or her. The position is held for as long as the blade chooses to occupy it.
Learning and Lore handles the lore and history of the church, and now the tenets, canon, and codes (inherited from the justicers). The head of this small but vital organization is called simply the Teacher, and all others are students. The Teacher is never called by his or her name after taking office, and is a volunteer. If there is more than one volunteer, a secret ballot is used to determine who will be the next Teacher.
Elections and Organizations
Auscultare Loran Kor -- The position of high priest, until recently, has been one of speeches, diplomacy, and travel. With events being what they are, this has changed. Since the death of the previous high priest and the selection of the most recent, the entire focus has shifted. The position previously called the high priest is now the Auscultare, and he acts as a conduit between Toran and his church. As the spiritual head of the church, Loran Kor was chosen just after the church resettled in Fort Llast. He is a quiet and kind man, tonsured and stooped at the shoulders. In his 70's, he lacks the stamina and strength of his youth but more than makes up for that with his tremendous wisdom drawn on his lifetime as a soldier, statesman, father, general, and cleric. Loran Kor found the Quartos Toranis, lost for centuries, and is working to revise church canon to account for situations that might resemble Navarre's. He is the first high priest handpicked by Toran himself.
The Heart of Toran is a position that now brings to the public all that Toran is: wise, compassionate, upstanding, and loyal, as well as a speaker, teacher, and a diplomat. There are clerics in every temple and shrine of Toran's but only one Heart. The position has been in existence since very near the start of the church. One who is chosen as Heart focuses on just that; being a friend to all that need him, a public beacon of Toran's Conducts and an example to all of Toran's faithful. Previously, the Heart was the assistant to the high priest.
The Heart of Toran was centered in the massive temple in Prantz. But with Lord Rael's taking of the city, the Citadel in Huangjin has become the hub of the Toranite faith. The current Heart, Ortheus, was a cleric in Prantz and has become beloved in the church as the voice. He travels between Fort Llast and the new Citadel in Huangjin. Ortheus is a man whose faith is deeper than any previous Heart, a man who had both the foresight to hide the Ankh from Lord Rael's armies and to remove the justicers from the church after the trial of Navarre.
He is in his mid-50's, bald, strong-bodied but lined with the strain of his office. He is married but, like his god, only adopted children, never having any of his own.
Clergy: Toran's Ordained
The base of the church and the first order to exist, these are the clerics who attend to caring for the sick, dispensing wisdom and advice on request, and maintaining the good works that define Toran as a god of both compassion and righteousness. Led by Waltier Mac Dunnelson who interacts with the Auscultare on matters of doctrine, the Ordained are trying to expand again after the schism that shook the faithful and brought distrust to the eyes of laypeople.
Brother Waltier MacDunnelson is an energetic man in his 40's with auburn hair and brown eyes that seem to glow. When you meet him, it is immediately clear that he loves his god, his faith, and his brethren, and those with more lethargic personalities are pressed to keep up with him. He has been actively searching for and training new clerics, and he is the inspiration that the church needed to help move past recent events.
Order of the Longsword
Many paladins do not enter one of the sects, serving instead the larger Order of the Longsword. The second order to exist in the church, they have a history of codes and ethics that go back centuries. They focus on aiding and protecting others and travel the continents of Layonara. Rebound to the Conducts of Virtue, they will be kept in check from the excesses of the justicers by careful scrutiny by Toran's Ordained and the Champion of Toran. Both the commander of the order and his second died in the defense of Prantz, and since then, a young but level-headed paladin named Ava Merinday has led the order as lieutenant elect.
Lieutenant Elect Ava Merinday of the Longsword is a lovely young woman with curly brown hair and a calm demeanor. She has been Lieutenant Elect for several years but does not expect to become head of the order; rather, she focuses on strengthening the faith of the paladins, not worrying about her personal ambitions. She is well-liked and has fought hard to inspire the others.
Second Lieutenant Shadre Maharket of the Longsword is currently fingered to become the next commander of the paladins. A darkeyed, dark-skinned man from the Great Desert with a powerful personality, he has come late to the order and is training under Ava to lead, with her blessing. He has a sharp mind and wit and a good head for people.
Missions and Exchequer
Formerly the donations office, the Missions and the Exchequer now handle the money coming into the church and funds relief efforts. This new office has existed only since the year after Bloodstone's fall. With the Prantz temple destroyed and expansion needed in Fort Llast, the office was created to allot funds for construction and new building, equipment, relief work, and ministering. Previously all the orders and sects handled their own funds. Now the Exchequer has consolidated all of those monies and donations under one banner. The first Exchequer is Sherinde with Irithel assisting her.
"The way to destroy evil is different for us all. Our paladin brothers deal with the source. Others deal with leaders and broker arrangements. We choose to walk with the poorest, giving of ourselves, offering aid to the ones most in need. Remember, the ultimate goodness is giving. The way to defeat evil is to stamp out the need. It is the gift we bring, that which we offer freely: food, clothing, first aid, shelters. Be with the people. Listen to them. Teach them. Learn from them. You will see Toran's heart in each one. Encourage this. We are all watched by him." -Gallie Rindal, in charge of aid to the displaced of Prantz
Missions, while overseen by Sherinde, is spearheaded by three people: Adren Brichold, Gallie Rindal, and Henri Jameson. They coordinate the distribution of aid, raise and organize volunteers, and spend a great deal of time teaching and promoting ways to survive the darkening of the skies. They are currently working with the temple of Prunilla at Castle Mask to produce crops that can survive low-light conditions.
Sherinde was the donations woman in Prantz. The dark-haired beauty showed a backbone most would not have expected from a humble cleric when she assisted in facilitating the escape of many of the fleeing citizens of Prantz during the siege. Her kidnapping by the justicars and subsequent release have strengthened her further, and it was her wish to see a new temple to Toran built. A wish now fulfilled in Huangjin.
Irithel is a young woman of chocolate brown skin and black hair who came to the temple as a young child. With little knowledge of her parents, she has grown up serving Toran. She currently assists Sherinde and has a good head for numbers as well as an obvious crush on Michaelis Draego.
Adren Brichold is a young father of three, currently the coordinator of relief efforts after Hurm's assault by Black Plague. The ginger-haired cleric can be found in the darkest streets of that damaged city, ministering and helping. He is said to be an incomparable cook. The nights he assists in feeding the poor are usually mobbed.
Gallie Rindal has been working to assist those who fled Lord Rael's armies in Prantz from her base in Audiria. Her silvery hair and grandmotherly warmth have made her a trusted figure; even hardened thieves leave her be as she travels refugee camps and small shanty towns with the other missionaries.
Henri Jameson assists Gallie in her wanderings. He is short with the potbelly of middle age beginning to show. This solemn but caring man lost his entire family to starvation after the initial fall of Prantz and the darkness that followed. Despite or perhaps due to the horrific experience he had, he is known to hand out his last piece of food to the hungry, rather than eat it himself.
Office of the Register
With the size of the church and the number of people and events that happen, large and small, the Office of the Register exists to keep everyone documented. Manned primarily by clergy, this office was moved to Fort Llast just a few months before the fall of Prantz to make room at the Prantz temple for more justicer training rooms. This stroke of luck saved the Office, and it is staffed by seven people currently. The head registrar is assigned by the Teacher of Toran and the Office acts very closely with this group. There has been a Registry Office for almost 2,000 years; however, most of the earliest records have been lost or destroyed due to wars, natural occurrences, and the lifespan of parchment. Accuracy can only be confirmed for the last 500 years.
Head Registrar Le'st Soon-Zu came from Huangjin and even there had practiced the ways of Toran. He alone of his family has education, and he has used it to help the church in his current capacity and to bring his family out of poverty. He is a slender older man who has put aside his progression as a cleric in favor of civil servitude. He was heavily involved in the construction of the new temple.