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Dominus

Story Emits


It's a beautiful spring afternoon; bright, cheerful, without a cloud to be seen anywhere, though there's a lingering chill in the air. A fine day to be alive.

Which is why the screams that erupt from the Queensrest, followed by the clash of steel and angry shouting that can be heard well into the street, are not just alarming, but nigh on offensive. Patrons and staff alike spill out the door, though not all who try to escape make it. Several are dragged back inside before they can get over the threshold, followed by the door being slammed shut and something heavy pushed up against it from the inside. Sounds of fighting continue. And continue.

And then stop.

"THE FALSE DOMINUS HAS FALLEN! DEATH TO ALL HERETICS!"

It happens all at once. The keen-eyed may notice runners moving through the usual crowds of Crimson Square, heading to certain groups. Groups which are remarkable only for being composed almost entirely of men - but even as the reforms have stretched across the Isles, that's not terribly uncommon. What is uncommon, however, is when those groups - at least ten of them, distributed outside the estates of known progressive sympathizers, shrug their spring cloaks aside, flipping the shoulders back to reveal the colors of Helianthus stitched into the interiors of the fabric, and baring their weapons. There is a roar, rehearsed, from at least two hundred throats, "FREE THE ISLES! KILL THE USURPER! DEFEND OUR TRADITIONS!"

The riot begins with the men flinging themselves at the surprised guards outside several estates. Some guards manage to call out before having to fight for their lives. Others are struck down by cudgel and steel in that one bewildered moment.

A cool, clear afternoon without a cloud in the sky is soon interrupted by shouts ringing through the streets near where the Shrines are located as smoke begins to fill the air, creating billowing clouds of smoke where none had been before.

The Great Cathedral of the Pantheon in on fire and surrounded by white-robed figures, screaming for the resignation of the current Dominus and the recognition of the Compact's true King: Alaric III.

There's word of combat raging in the Queensrest, as a large number of citizens and guards storm the inn, but it doesn't last long. Rumors are far more interested in what the group found, and they spread like horrified wildfire throughout the city. Assassins have struck at the very heart of the Faith, and while cut down to a man, their mission appears to have been accomplished before any help could reach them. Despite the valiant efforts of the templars, and the final bravery of the man they were guarding, the assassins have succeeded. .

Dominus Orazio is dead.

The riot in Crimson Square is quelled, through blood and steel. Rioters are rounded up, what few still proudly wear the Helianthus colors, and many more, who claim innocence of all wrongdoing. And, most curiously, there is an armed arrangement of soldiers taking up post around House Grimkin's Arx estate. There seems to be some dispute over the guilt or innocence of a few guests within its walls. But those are a distinct minority of the dozens that the defenders round up for trial. Lord Victus has promised to respect tradition when it comes to traitors: they will go to the crosses.
Word comes of a significant battle down in the new Ward of House Pravus, at the South Docks on the south side of the Gray River. Forces loyal to Helianthus attempted to set the ward ablaze and to steal ships, to both sabotage some of the coming war effort and to obtain an easy way to escape the city. The forces of House Pravus, Inverno and Leporidae took losses but managed to crush the mix of Helianthus soldiers and their sellsword allies.
The Cathedral of Arx is home to a grisly scene. Bodies of templars, of white-robed 'zealots', and guards litter the grounds along enough blood that, if it weren't for the rain, would paint the steps of the Cathedral scarlet. Rumors quickly spread that some of the white-robed arsonists were executing Templars on the Cathedral steps. Said rain has assisted with fighting the fire, but the inside of the Cathedral is a smoking ruin. The roof is caved in, everything within is blackened char, yet, somehow, the outer walls and the structure of the Cathedral still stand. There might be hope to be found there yet.
Nearly lost among the chaos following the attack on Arx is an odd case of one of the highborn growing extremely ill. Prince Tyrus Thrax was seen collapsing outside of the Great Archive of Vellichor, right after turning in a white journal. The prince was in a coma for at least a day before Mercies and the Physicians of Arx managed to revive him, his body is badly emaciated and ravaged from a sudden, strange ailment.
The days since the assassination of Dominus Orazio, and the terrible, bloody attacks that accompanied it, have been chaotic to say the least. Faith leadership, from acting Dominus to archlector, have done their best to assess and mitigate the damage, while showing a united front to an angry and frightened populace. Still, there's a lot to sort through, a lot of pieces to attempt to put together, and a lot of dead to account for. That's why it takes a little while to notice one particular name that remains on the list of the missing.

It only takes a little longer for word to spread like wildfire throughout the city of Arx, carried by thousands of distributed copies of a written proclamation, much as the words of Ivan Helianthus so many months before. But this proclamation does not come from Ivan Helianthus, or his foreign allies.

"Faithful of Arvum,

We stand upon the precipice of a great and terrible conflict, one which threatens to tear our mighty Compact asunder. For years, our devotion has been challenged again and again by those who have been granted power undeserved, who have introduced imaginary gods and insisted their virtues were as equals to those we have known and loved for as long as our worship has existed. Now, in the wake of Dominus Orazio's tragic death, one of these selfsame pretenders has been granted the temporary authority to act in his place by the same butcher that attacked the Mourning Isles at Sungreet, and there are murmurs among the faithful that this heretic might be granted the position of Dominus of the Faith in truth. We must take lessons from the well-meaning mistakes of blessed Orazio, and no longer remain silent and accepting of the corruption in our midst, of attempts by deceitful men and women who seek to sunder the Church. No Convocation called for by faithless schemers can possibly be legitimate; for, after all, was it not their charge to protect the very Dominus whose death will now almost certainly lift one of them up into his stead?

Faithful, you must join with us in condemning these men and women who have and would continue to lead you astray. We declare Aureth Grayhope to be guilty of heresy, unfit for his position, or any position, and hereby excommunicate him from the Faith. We declare Astrid Ulbran to be guilty of heresy, unfit for her position, and hereby excommunicate her from the Faith. We declare Hamish Farmer to be guilty of heresy, unfit for his position, and hereby excommunicate him from the Faith. We declare Sir Preston Godsworn to be stripped of his position as Grandmaster of the Templars, and his powers as Carnifex to be illegitmately granted, and hereby revoked. We declare the shav who calls herself Symonesse Grayson to be guilty of heresy, and hereby excommunicate her from the Faith. We formerly dissolve the 'discipleships' known as the Harlequins of the Queen of Endings and the Liberators, and we officially censure their members until they approach us, humble and penitent, to beg forgiveness and provide the identities of those who helped forment rebellion amongst the thralls of Sungreet. In the honor of our fallen Dominus, we call upon every legate, archlector, seraph, and disciple to denounce the corruption that has grown and festered within the highest levels of our institution, to condemn the heresies that have been allowed to run rampant, and we warn against allying with those who so cruelly misled and betrayed him.

Join with us, devoted and unwavering servants of the Gods, join with the righteous, and together we will return the Faith of the Pantheon to the foundations upon which it has always held firm, never again to falter in the face of conmen and the power mad.

By my hand and authority, by the power granted to me by the gods,

Most Holy Waldo Bellerive, Dominus of the Faith, Closest to the Gods"

self-proclaimed Dominus Waldo's proclamation is shouted in towns and cities throughout the Compact, reactions are varied.

By and large, the Northlands and Crownlands clergy are vocal in their support for the Arx Church, although the reasons appear to be political rather than out of great support for the new doctrines or those who champion them. Neither domains particularly want a holy war, and the Northlands particularly doesn't want the Faith - any faction - getting too invested in proving its legitimacy by war, since that tends to end with a Crusade in the Northlands. Somehow.

Clergy in the Lyceum and Pravus territories are notably irritated at yet another Lycene Dominus getting assassinated, but publicly suggest that some critique of Church trends may be overdue. Sales of popping corn might also have risen notably across both domains.

Slightly over half of the clergy in the Isles, primarily those in conservative territories, vocally support Dominus Waldo, and even clergy in less conservative parishes speak about fine people on both sides. Very few of them are mad about the central Arx Faith getting a bit of mud slung on them.

Many eyes turn to the Oathlands, birthplace of the Faith, for their reaction. Orthodox clergy find themselves divided between a distaste for a Lycene Dominus (who engineered the fall of an Oathlands Dominus before him) and his 'reforms' which seem to have contributed to a spread of shamanism and other unorthodox philosophies, and equal distaste for a self-declared Anti-Dominus who has attached himself to those who champion thralldom and dubious claims of a 'True King' on the other side of the world. No official statements are issued by the Seraph of Sanctum, and it seems likely that the Oathlands Orthodox are still considering which faction to throw their considerable weight behind.

As self-proclaimed Dominus Waldo's proclamation is shouted in towns and cities throughout the Compact, reactions are varied.

By and large, the Northlands and Crownlands clergy are vocal in their support for the Arx Church, although the reasons appear to be political rather than out of great support for the new doctrines or those who champion them. Neither domains particularly want a holy war, and the Northlands particularly doesn't want the Faith - any faction - getting too invested in proving its legitimacy by war, since that tends to end with a Crusade in the Northlands. Somehow.

Clergy in the Lyceum and Pravus territories are notably irritated at yet another Lycene Dominus getting assassinated, but publicly suggest that some critique of Church trends may be overdue. Sales of popping corn might also have risen notably across both domains.

Slightly over half of the clergy in the Isles, primarily those in conservative territories, vocally support Dominus Waldo, and even clergy in less conservative parishes speak about fine people on both sides. Very few of them are mad about the central Arx Faith getting a bit of mud slung on them.

Many eyes turn to the Oathlands, birthplace of the Faith, for their reaction. Orthodox clergy find themselves divided between a distaste for a Lycene Dominus (who engineered the fall of an Oathlands Dominus before him) and his 'reforms' which seem to have contributed to a spread of shamanism and other unorthodox philosophies, and equal distaste for a self-declared Anti-Dominus who has attached himself to those who champion thralldom and dubious claims of a 'True King' on the other side of the world. No official statements are issued by the Seraph of Sanctum, and it seems likely that the Oathlands Orthodox are still considering which faction to throw their considerable weight behind.

The doors to the Rectory are sealed. A Convocation of the Faith meets to select the new Dominus to replace the assassinated Dominus Orazio. A few scattered individuals, mostly in the Ward of House Thrax, remark there already is a dominus, some fellow named Waldo.
Thirteen unlit candles sit outside the Rectory, guarded by a single templar and attended to by a single Silent Reflection. For hours, they stand there silently, until a godsworn representative of each Archlector leaves the Rectory, each lighting a candle in turn. All but one burns, the priests all kneel and pray, and then the Silent Reflection steps forward to light the thirteen candle.

A new Dominus has been chosen.

The announcement then follows, Aureth Grayhope, first Archlector of the Queen of Endings, then Legate of the Lost, has been appointed the Dominus to replace the fallen Orazio Saik.

It is a direct, pointed challenge to the former Seraph Waldo who has declared himself Dominus as well, presumed to be hiding away in the Mourning Isles. For the first time in hundreds of years, there is a Dominus in Arx, and an anti-Dominus in Arvum. Every godsworn in Arx is well aware of the implications, and what it likely means for bloodshed, but sometimes, it's time to take a stand. A letter is opened at the Rectory, prepared in case of the appointment. A Knight of Solace reads it aloud outside.

"To Most Holy Aureth Grayhope, Dominus of the Faith, and Closest to the Gods,

The Oathlands Orthodox stands with you.
The Seraph of Sanctum"