Lelani, Half-Ælven Priestess of the Golden Temple
The First Pentatra
Ages ago, it is written, the gods decided to give unto mortals the knowledge of the elements and divine magic, so that they might work wonders and protect themselves from the horrors of the Beneath. To this end, the gods created five temples, one for each of the paired gods and goddesses, and entrusted the knowledge of the elements to them.
The gods would choose those who would carry their favor and blessing. Those who were called became the first clerics.
Thus it is written in the texts of the Pentatra, the title by which the five temples are collectively referred to, since their creation in the dim past. The Pentatra is also the name used when referring to the Five Elements as a whole, often in a religious sense (people often swear oaths by the Pentatra). Originally a religious institution, the only temple of the Pentatra that still takes its religious duties seriously is the Golden Temple, the temple of Life; often this temple is referred to as the Church of Life, to differentiate it from the other temples. The Temples of Fire, Air, Water, and Earth have lost some of their religious trappings, and have turned their attention to more secular concerns, mainly the control and dispersal of arcane magical knowledge, and the garnering of power amongst the governments of the shards. The wizards of the Pentatra were robes of office indistinguishable from their clerical counterparts and receive the same reverence as clerics due to their station as members of the Pentatra.
This was not always have been the case. The Pentatra of old was destroyed during the First Rising, giving their lives to channel divine energy that beat back the Beneath. This left the Pentatra with few clerics. The Gold Temple lost many clerics, but as they were also the largest temple at the time, they survive somewhat intact.
Only some time after the Beneath once again receded did a small group of human adepts begin to rebuild the shattered organization. Unfortunately, the records and scriptures of the Pentatra were all but totally destroyed, and the new Pentatra worked off of reconstructed religious writings and memories of books committed to paper. Many say that the resurrected Pentatra is a sham with almost nothing in common with the Pentatra of old. Of course, such statements can are hard to prove, and many still accept the current incarnation of the Pentatra.
The Pentatra Today
In all but the Gold Temple, the religious teachings of the Pentatra have degraded. Following the Rising that shattered the Pentatra, divine magic and knowledge of the elements led to the unlocking of arcane secrets. Those less faithful adepts who survived the Rising filled the vacuum of power left by the loss of so many great people of faith. The adepts who were formerly servants of the gods became students of arcane theory. Over the centuries, these arcane students have hedged out the more traditional clerics. The thirst for knowledge is common, it seems, but true faith is rare.
The Blue, Grey, Red and White Temples are now made up for the most part by wizards, with true servants of the gods making up a small and relatively powerless minority within the debased Temples.
Though nominally united as one organization, the five temples are subject to a large amount of infighting, and each has their own approach to their respective political agendas; the temples are often vying for power and influence in the same realms and kingdoms. Even the Church of Life at times asserts influence with those who rule the shards, though most often this is to assure its survival in the face of the more active intrigues of the other temples.
Many kingdoms find that the Pentatra offers a variety of useful services. They provide magical advisors to those who rule, put together registries of known magi and sorcerors, manufacture magical items, and most importantly they are needed to create the Legend Armors that are the mainstay of the military might of most realms.
Anyone who desires to study magic usually has to learn at one of the temples. In training, loyalty to the temple is stressed, and upon completing training under the temple, they become part of its hierarchy. They then become Initiates, working to further the interests of the temple and learn more of the ways of magic. If an Initiate shows particular promise and initiative, as well as loyalty, they may become Adepts, trusted agents of their temple. Adepts are the skilled agents of their temple, and are trusted to represent their temple well regardless of what obstacles befall them.
Though the Pentatra are not evil, they have established a place of importance for themselves amongst many of the kingdoms of the shards, and jealously guard it. The temples all oppose the Beneath, and provide a solid magical training for those who enter the temples. Though an Initiate or Adept may leave active duty with the Pentatra after four years of service, the phrase ‘Once Pentatra, always Pentatra’ was not coined without reason; the Pentatra have a habit of keeping an eye on those previously in the service of the temples, and often call upon them for favors and information. Those who leave are forbidden to teach magic without Templar supervision.
Each temple has a different philosophy and approach with regards their affairs, representative of the Temple’s patron element. As arcane study has continued, some wizards have began to specialize in one field of magic, and some temples lead the field in research of this type.
The Red Temple (Fire): The temple of Chaltis and Eimag Solær, the Red Adepts are now sought after as battle magi. Their reactions, as a temple, are typified by direct and often overwhelming initiative. The Red Temple does not react, but rather it strikes preemptively. This often earns them the reputation as hotheads, both in battle and politics. As a group, they lack the finesse and subtlety of other temples. The Red Temple’s mages are most commonly Evokers or Enchanters.
The White Temple (Air): Tieruval and Ilifinsata’s temple, the White Adepts are great observers, and believe that the only good decision is an informed one. To this end, they send forth a great number of adepts as observers at courts and places of import. Their network of spies and informers surpasses that of the other temples. The more powerful White Adepts can control winds and weather, using this power in battle to hurt a foe indirectly; this also typifies the White Temple in politics and other endeavors: they act indirectly and with discretion. The White Temple’s mages often specialize as Illusionists, Conjurers or Diviners.
The Blue Temple (Water): More in keeping with their connection to Gulmé than Thyrang, the Blue Adepts are versatile and patient. Rather than act, like the Red Temple, they seek to react, often turning a foe’s strengths against themselves. When the Blue Temple or its Adepts commit to a course, however, they do so wholeheartedly and with everything at their disposal. Many of the Blue Temple develop talents at trade and commerce, and for this as well as their magical skill, they are often found among merchants and near ports. The mages of the Blue Temple commonly specialize as Diviners or Transmuters, or occasionally Illusionists.
The Grey Temple (Earth): The Grey Adepts favor focus and defense. They are enduring and tough as a Temple, having great stores of resources and great foresight. They often anticipate a hardship and make provisions to outlive it. Grey Adepts are slow to anger, but once aroused they are very thorough in taking care of any problems or obstacles that are present. The Grey Temple’s mages are most commonly Abjurers or Transmuters.
The Gold Temple (Life): The Church of Life, as it is regularly known, is the only temple that still regards it religious duties as sacred rather than political and secular. Golden Adepts most often follow the goddess Avasha, and are sworn to aid those in need and are sometimes completely pacifistic. While the other temples are content to have the common man come to them for aid, the Church of Life sends priests into the field, wandering the shards dispensing aid and practicing their healing arts.
The Golden Templar Knights are a sect of paladins of the Gold Temple, trained in the arts of war and healing, either magical or mundane, and often both. They believe that in the face of the Beneath, Golden Adepts must put aside their pacifistic beliefs and take up the sword to protect life. The Golden Templar Knights also possess a troop of mighty Legend Armors; these Templar Armors are of the finest workmanship, and are deployed to oversee the Church’s interests and defend the weak. Many of the Golden Templar knights are disillusioned veteran warriors who have decided to change their life’s course. The Templars favor the worship of Avashek, the Lord of Swords.
Organization of the Pentatra
The Pentatra is spread out amongst all of the shards. Most major cities house the five temples, each temple having its own separate housing, usually a large cathedral or temple-building, which is the organizational headquarters for the order in that area, as well as a place of instruction for young magi and a place of worship for those who are faithful to the elemental gods. The Church of Life can be found maintaining small churches in the countryside, and for this they gain an increased support from the rural folk.
Within each temple there is an Adept Primus, who is the head of the temple as a whole; the Adept Primus assigns responsibilities to all of the Adepts below him, and guides the activities of his temple as a whole. Within each city, the Adepts Primus of the five temples form a Council of the Pentatra, which oversees magical affairs for the entire area. The Adepts Primus are responsible to a Prefect Magnus, who oversees affairs in an entire nation or large shard. They in turn are beholden to the Grand Council of Cardinals, located in the intrigue-ridden Grand Tabernacle of the Pentatra, in the temple city of Ozaan. This one vast building is the true headquarters of the Pentatra, and within it the five temples exist together, and vie for power against one another. Ozaan is also home to the largest cathedrals of the separate Temples, each of which are placed at one corner of the five-sided city’s walls. The Grand Tabernacle itself rests, symbolically, at the city’s center.
It is usually hard for a true cleric to find a high rank within their Temple. More of the god’s Chosen join the ranks, however, and perhaps one day in future the Pentatra will need to address their duties to the divine.
Other Races and The Pentatra
Not all the races of the shards are on good terms with the mages of the Pentatra.
The Ælven of the Empire prefer to worship their House Spirits, the magical essence of their dead ancestors. They learned magic, it is said, from this semi-divine source, much as the Pentatra distilled arcane magic from divine teaching.
The Ælven of Velsephay have turned to worship of nature following the destruction of their House Spirits in the Kinstrife War. The mixed population of Velsephay allows for worship of the Pentatric gods, but worship of nature and Õemag is the main force in Velsephay.
The drakken usually have nothing to do with the Pentatra, and typically avoid the magi. A few talented drakken may upon rare occasion leave their lairs and seek out the Pentatra to further their magical knowledge, but often these drakken acquire a social stigma by educating themselves in this way. Those drakken who worship Pentatric gods typically worship Thyrang, the Storm Dragon or Chaltis the Warbringer. Most drakken clerics not of the Pentatra worship ancestral spirits.
The manx are not usually welcomed by the Pentatra, due to their religious tendencies and unsavory reputation. The manx seem not to care. Marthayn is usually worshipped by the manx.
The merren have no great problem with the Pentatra, though only occasionally does a merren want to stay still long enough to train as a wizard or a cleric. Still, due to the biases of the Pentatra, merren are not usually welcomed. Only in out of the way shards does Pentatric training find its way to merren.
The dwarves train their magi in cooperation with the Pentatra, which gives the dwarves a larger body of information to learn from, and gives the Pentatra some pull in dwarven politics, though perhaps not as much as they would like.