The Society of Harmony
The Society of Harmony (or just “The Society” to most) is the religious and social organisation that over-arcs much of Accitainian culture, and has done for the last 500 years. It was formed in the early calamitous years following the Cataclysm when Korvaio removed Accitaine from the world to keep it safe, and since then it has grown into being the organisation it is today.
Much exact and accurate knowledge of the early years following the Cataclysm has been lost (some might say suppressed, if they felt brave enough and trusted their company enough), and the first 120 years of post Cataclysmic Accitainian history have become uncertain and hazy, though by about 121 AC official records and book keeping stabilised and became more reliable. By this point, there were no openly practising Arcane spell users, very few non humans (a handful of dwarves, supposedly the odd halfling or gnome too) and dissenting religious voices mostly stamped out. Since then, the Society has gained immense power and control over Accitaine over the centuries, with the only areas showing any resistance being Amarkacha (complete violent denial), Schwereinn (own approach and denomination to Korvaio worship) and Cantabrius (culturally and socially resistant to the Society and its views).
Currently, the Society is based in a great Cathedral-Fortress known as Greyguard, located in the Kerese Mountains between Serroya and Varrunna, though it also has a secondary presence in the Serroyan capital Tonnalta at the Great Cathedral, and a tertiary presence at the Toralden city of Dijnjuk; the Great Cathedral is the centre of the Heart of the Society, and the Citadel at Dijnjuk is a massive training and barrack area for the Hand of the Society.
The Society is organised into 3 Orders, being in order of Seniority the Eye, the Heart and the Hand of the Society. The Eye is the arm that roots out threats, heresies and dissenting voices, and has a dedicated group of Inquisitors and other agents who specialise in the unearthing (and suppressing) of secrets. It is directly controlled and organised by the Grand Inquisitor, currently one Inquisitor Barnabi Dretti, a Varrunnan with many years of experience in his field. It is Headquartered at a large wing of Greyguard, and of all the Orders of the Society, the most feared.
The Order of the Heart of the Society is based at the Great Cathedral in Tonnalta, and is currently headed by Archimander Vessardad the Third; it is he and this order who deal with matters of faith and dogma, overseeing the training of clergyfolk at the various Schools of Divinity throughout Accitaine. His friendship with the current King of Serroya further adds to his prestige and influence, with some wondering if he shall become the next Lord High Protector. The usual form is that Male and female Reverends are named Reverend-Brother and Reverend-Sister respectively, with the next tier in the hierarchy being Bishop-Father and Bishop-Mother, and finally Cardinal titles being genderless (there are only ever 11 Cardinals, with 2 being in Heidelgard and 3 in each of Serroya, Toralden and Varrunna.
The third Order of the Society is the Hand, and it is the powerful military arm of the Society, based in the Citadel at Dijnjuk within Toralden. Its location there is no accident, making it as close to Amarkachan territory as possible whilst still remaining within helpful and friendly lands. The forces of the Hand are many and varied, with entire regiments of well equipped and fanatical Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery, Naval and Air ships parcelled out throughout the continent, providing muscle and strength to fight the enemies of the Society (and Korvaio). Their head at present is Lord Commander Lady Isbet Koryull, a Paladin of great seniority and forthrightness.
Each of the three orders provides 4 of their most senior and trustworthy number to serve as The Harmonious Lords, the Synod that rules and directs the Society’s direction and goals. From these 12 (3 are the Heads of the 3 Orders) is chosen the Lord High Protector, the overall ruler and commander of the Society of Harmony. Currently this position is held by Tomis Sigessur, the Former Archimander before Vessardad took that role. He is regarded as a strict follower and believer in classic doctrine, and is considered by most to be a hardliner in matters of faith.
Matters are further complicated by the existence of different factions amongst the Orders, all going about their duties in different ways. Some factions are completely in line with orthodox dogma and never waiver, some are even more hardlined and aggressive, and others are quite moderate in how the enforce and carry out their duties. These factions constantly vie for control, and whilst being colleagues and comrades, are also rivals in a political tangle of loyalties and ties of patronage.
The Society actively seeks out threats to humanity, and lists them under the broad headings of Heresy, Arcanism and Inhumanity.
This is the following of faiths other than Korvaio this takes in such diverse creeds and faiths as Druidism/Animism (like what the Amarkachans follow for example), Diabolism (the treating with Devilish, Daemonic or Demonic Powers), following other gods now long forgotten to almost all, and lastly the sad and slow rise of the belief that Korvaio is dead, perhaps the greatest sin. There is no mercy for any found to be guilty of these crimes, and if an Inquisitor or other Society member finds any evidence of proof (and in some cases the evidence can be circumstantial and threadbare at best), then summary execution without delay is expected.
The practise or study of Arcanism is forbidden, and covers 2 broad types; Innate and Studied. Innate is like that which is practised by Bards, Sorcerors and Summoners, and there are some factions within the Society who regard such as afflicted and so out of mercy, try to capture them alive and imprison them, perhaps with an eye to rehabilitation or a “cure”. Many of the Society paint these casters as just as bad as others, and execute where and when they can. The Studied Arcanists are viewed by almost all the Society as the worst, for they have elected to learn and study Arcane magic despite warnings of it and prohibitions against it. Wizards, Magus’, Witches and the like are sure of one thing, they will be slain by the Society if discovered.
That which is Inhuman, namely the Planetouched. Aasimar, Tieflings, Oreads and other such beings are the vast majority of their number, and they have been hunted by the Society for as long as people can remember; certainly their work has become busier in this area over the last 100 years as there has been a definite increase in the birth of such children, but parents being what they often are, many such children are hidden and raised in secret, resulting in the sad need to hunt them down before they can make more unnatural mischief. Some factions view them as afflicted, like the Innate Arcanists and seek to capture them out of mercy, though more do as the Society wills and slays them when found.
The Society is above and beyond the laws of the lands, and what the Harmonious Lords decide comes to pass, and subsequent enormous temporal latitude and power lies in the hands of even minor and fledgling Society members. This has sadly led to the occasional moment when a Society member causes a scandal or outrage that even the most driven Inquisitor must take notice of, and in the interest of being seen to be just or fair (and to avoid avoidable political difficulties), discipline of varying levels exists for wayward or overzealous members.