Hands of the Gods
If you ever encounter a Hand you have to decide between two courses of action. If you are on their side, then rejoice. If you are not, then your decisions no longer matter.
A Hand of a God is their god's directly-chosen representative upon Calcerun, imparted with great power and a direct line of communication to their deity. Hands carry out of their god's will and represent their god's interests. They are chosen by their god, and in most cases only those who are already highly-accomplished are selected. Most, though not all, Hands are skilled fighters already when they are called, and upon becoming Hands they receive a variety of blessings from their god, and typically undergo intense training to further hone their skills. Even the more pacifistic Hands acknowledge the occasional need for fighting in this world, and are capable of handling themselves in combat should the need arise.
All Hands are able to easily commune with their god, and it is said that their god frequently watches over them. Gods typically allow the Hand to work without interference but it is not unknown for a god to more directly aid a Hand when needed, or indeed to avenge their death. It appears that the Hands of lesser gods are less powerful than those of greater gods, but no Hand should be underestimated.
At any one time a god has no more than one Hand. The habits of appointing Hands varies from god to god. Some gods always have a Hand, appointing a new one straight away when the previous one falls. Others call a Hand only occasionally, based on criteria that are unknown but presumably unique to each god. And some gods are not known to have ever called a Hand. The gods are famously reticent on the subject of Hands, and almost never answer questions about their nature or their appointment.
As the direct representative of a god on Calcerun, Hands hold a lot of influence among their god's worshippers. Common worshippers idolise them and hang on their every word, and many priests will hold their messages in high regard. There is, however, sometimes dissent between a Hand and the upper echelons of a church's leadership. A Hand is an individual who embodies the ideals of their god, but those ideals may not always gel particularly well with the daily realities of running a large religious organisation. The more politically-focused church leaders thus often clash with the Hands over the best direction for the church (and indeed on who should have the most authority). Fortunately for the various church leaders, Hands are rarely heavily involved in church affairs, for they have bigger concerns to attend to.
It is worth noting that many gods from across the Pantheon call Hands - and this includes some of those gods called evil. A Hand of an evil god is a ferocious foe and a tremendous force of destruction who can bring ruin upon entire cities. When Hands of good and evil gods meet on the field of battle it is certain to be a legendary duel.
DawnThey huddled together in the darkness. Thirty-seven men, women and children, cowering together in a small temple. Shadows obscured the windows, letting barely any light in. Awful howls sounded outside and claws scraped on the barred door. Death had come to the village, death with sharp teeth and rending claws, and now these thirty-seven souls were all that remained. They had fled to the temple for safety, with its stone walls and thick door, and the notion that maybe here the gods would protect them. As death roamed outside, their faith wavered.
Abruptly the howling rose in pitch and intensity. Roars sounded for the first time, deep horrible noises that promised pain and death. Inside the temple a child screamed, and the villagers shook. Surely, they thought, their end was finally here.
Instead, there was Light.
With a sound akin to a hundred trumpets blasting in unison, indescribably bright light burst outside the temple. White and pure and intense, it seared the shadows away and sent the villagers ducking to protect their eyes. It shone through every window, every crack in the door, with brilliant purity. The howls and roars of anger turned for one brief instant to howls and roars of pain, and then there was silence, and the light faded.
For twenty long heartbeats, silence ruled. Then the bar on the temple door slid itself aside, landing on the stone floor with a boom. The doors swung open, revealing a single figure standing there, surrounded by the rays of dawn's first light. A single figure, tall and strong, clad in armour of gold. An orc, wielding the greataxe traditional to his people, his brow surmounted by a circlet with a golden sunburst symbol. He stepped forward into the church, still haloed in a sunbeam. If the villagers were paying attention to such things they might have noticed that the temple's entrance faced west, and so it was flatly impossible that the sunrise could be illuminating the orc like this, but they were not paying attention and the sunlight didn't seem to care.
The orc came to a stop three paces past the threshold, his axe resting head-down on the ground. He looked around at the cowering villagers and smiled down upon them. "I am Carguk Dawnbringer," he said calmly into the silence, his diction hardly affected at all by his fangs. "I am the Hand of Pelor. You are safe now."