It is written the All-Father wrought the World, and all its peoples are His children. Through all the long history of the World the Prelates of the Church of the All-Father have sung His praises and served as the keepers of the Holy Word. Their Faith has brought the Church through four Ages of war and cataclysm, and they have stood fast even in the wake of the Turning, and now offer the last hope for peace in a darkening World. The Prelates still hold true to the Book of Staves, the All-Father's great book, and believe that all of the His children must stand together against the forces of Chaos and Darkness, or all will surely be lost. Aided by the stalwart Crusaders, the clergy of the Holy Church strives to bring unity and healing to a World rent by strife.
Many Prelates serve as functionaries within the Church hierarchy, running cathedrals and monasteries, preaching to their flocks, and helping the poor and sick. Dismayed by the Turning and the great schism that led to the foundation of the Temple of the Cleansing Flame, the higher ranks of the Clergy have been paralyzed. As the Cardinals debate endlessly over the fate of the All-Father and what role the Church should play in the Age of Strife, some Prelates have decided to that the time for action has come. These missionary Prelates wander the World, spreading the All-Father's gospel while combating the forces of evil. Many lend their spiritual aid to virtuous heroes, hoping that their efforts can bring Order out of Chaos, and restore the Harmony lost so long ago.
Though the All-Father no longer answers their prayers, every Prelate can call upon the blessings of the Saints and Archons, and through them they heal the sick, protect the innocent, and confound the wicked. Successful Prelates draw new worshippers into the fold by providing a shining example of virtue and doing good deeds. Alas, the uncertain fate of the All-Father has undermined the Church's message, and these Prelate missionaries must work harder than ever before. Strong in their faith, the Prelates are certain that the All-Father will return, but realize that until that glorious day the peoples of the World must fend for themselves, and will be destroyed without the Church to guide and protect them.
Soon, young Novices, you shall take your final vows, and pledge yourself to the service of the Word and the Light. At moonrise, under the All-Father's watchful Eye, you shall take up the vestments of a Prelate, and go forth to do the All-Father's work in the World. You have learned much: the Litanies of Faith, the invocations of the Saints and Archons, and the deeper mysteries of the Book of Staves. Remember well what you have learned, for the peoples of the World hunger for grace and enlightenment. The blessings of the Saints will keep you safe from harm, and through the will of the Archons you shall cure the sick, heal the inured, and feed the poor. Until the All-Father returns, it is for us to care for the peoples of the World, His children. Ours is a heavy burden, but we take it gladly.
Reflect, then, on the responsibility that lies before you. For years uncounted the Holy Church has endured, unwavering in its mission. Kingdoms and Empires have waxed and crumbled into dust, but still the Church stands united, a beacon in the face of Darkness. Though the Sons of Man are the most favored of our Clergy, as the All-Father Himself ordained, all not born of Chaos are welcome within the body of our Mother Church. Herein lies our greatest mission, for as Saint Anselm wrote, one branch from a tree may be broken, but a dozen bundled tight will resist the strength of a Giant. So must it be with all the Children of the All-Father: with the hideous forces of Darkness and Chaos arrayed against us, how can the His children endure if they fight ever amongst themselves? We of the Holy Church have always sought to unite the children of the World, and our efforts are needed now more than ever.
Many are the enemies you shall face in your blessed work: hideous creatures, dark magicians, and men whose hearts and souls have been lost to hate. These shall be the easiest to overcome: the blessings of the Saints will give you proof from harm, or silence the tongues of Wizards. Yea, the virtuous shall ever fight beside you if your Faith be strong and your heart be pure. The darkest enemy you shall face has no face to recognize and no flesh that can be broken, yet it casts a shadow that can envelop all the World. I speak of doubt. Many will ask you, Why do you serve? Why bother with the Prelate's life when the All-Father is, if not dead, then surely gone? Each of you must find your own answer to his question, born of Faith tempered by experience. Contemplate this in your final vigil, and see if an answer comes. To help you begin your search, I shall tell you how I answer these questions, and how my Faith has endured since that terrible day when I witnessed the Turning firsthand.
Why do I bother? The answer is simple: for me there is no choice. As a boy I was Called to the glory of the All-Father, and without the priesthood my spirit would surely wither. The glory and power of the All-Father cannot be denied: they are recorded in the Book of Staves and the Holy Litanies, and are evident in the cycle of Sun and Moon and in the ordering of the stars in the firmament. Who can deny the wonders of creation, or turn their back on He who created all?
What then of the Turning? It is true that since that black day no one, not even the Blessed Patriarch in the Holy City, has heard His voice, or received a sign from the All-Father in answer to our prayers. Many argue that the Creator of our World has died. Perhaps. Neither you, nor I, nor any other creature that walks the World knows for sure. Even the Archons refuse to tell. Perhaps the All-Father is dead, and all Hope is broken. But what if He is not? There have been long Ages in the past where His guidance was infrequent, or absent altogether. There is no evidence either way - in the end, we must chose to believe what we will. My faith leads me to believe that He yet lives, and that He shall return.
No matter what the truth may be, my Faith gives me but one option. If the All-Father is testing our faith, then I shall pass that test by living a pious and righteous life. If the All-Father has turned away from the World, then I shall draw his love back by living a pious and righteous life. Even if He is dead, I shall honor his memory and the life he gave me by living a pious and righteous life. How can I do otherwise? The Saints and Archons still answer the prayers of the Prelates, and the power of our faith has not diminished, even since the Turning. It is true, these are dark days, but as Saint Kellast proclaimed, "this must not endure." The World changed once, and it will change again. Will you be ready for that reckoning?
Here endeth the lesson.