The Voice is the main belief system of Dain. It stems from an ancient figure of queen Alfhild, often called the Mother of Civilization. Those listening to the Voice do not believe in a defined god, but rather in the idea of the sound itself as a force which is able to alter physical world in a supernatural way.
It is still unknown how queen Alfhild was able to perform miracles. Her time was before the discovery of sefia’s effect on materials and her legend is localized to the other side of the continent than the current sefia mines. While Edmon Kur recreated the effect through alchemy, the queen either possessed a natural miraculous talent, had knowledge and access to sefia decades before anyone else, or was a historical figure with fictional supernatural features added by historians. Fortunately, only thirteen people in the world are conscious of this conundrum.
The Voice is a huge organization encompassing the Dain continent, but it doesn’t mean there is no animosity between it and some nobles, companies, and settlements. There is a rumor, that the faith uses its members in secret to prevent conflict and to get what they want, and that many famous courtesans and court musicians are members of the Middle and High Choirs.
OriginsQueen Alfhild was a semi-mythical ruler of the western Dain around 10th century BU, long before Erres, or later Erwy, became countries. She was responsible for uniting enough settlements to form the first historically recorded organized political entity in the land. The queen’s success was largely dependent on the power of her voice. According to preserved texts, she could not only involuntarily manipulate emotions of the listener, but also move physical objects at will just by singing. Tales of several more specific miracles were preserved, including summoning rain and putting an army to sleep through song. She often gave public speeches and invited people to join her in singing, hoping to elevate effects of her magic. It is said that her ultimate goal was to find the Sound of Creation and to be able to create matter, which remains one of the Voice’s pursuits to this day. Alfhild’s children bore the same gift and used it to further expand the kingdom. If historians are to believe, all of the queen’s progeny unfortunately died young, and the miraculous voice was lost to humanity. The legacy, however, lived on. People gathered the songs of their queen and performed them routinely in her honor. This slowly evolved into a religious following and spread throughout the continent. What followed was called a Quiet Period, when the religion was cultivated in small communities and slowly dying, as the queen and her children failed to answer to prayers from beyond grave. Then, in 303 BU, a miracle occurred. Edmon Kur, a Voice preacher in one of the early Wyeh mining communities, climbed onto a makeshift podium in the town square and sang. When he finished, he was surrounded by few dozens of citizens weeping uncontrollably with joy. His listeners described visions of absolute serenity and euphoria, and demanded he continue. After several hours, the crowd grew to hundreds. Crowning himself a successor of queen Alfhild, Edmon marched west with his followers. His pilgrimage, which took several months, gathered more and more forces as he continued. When he reached the ruins of an old castle in northern Erres, where the queen of legend was supposed to live, he settled a new town and called it Queenshome. The new settlement had no qualms to sovereignty and was given protection by the king of Erres, hovewer, future of the Voice was still uncertain. Edmon Kur was an old man and had no plans to continue his family line. As it turns out, unlike Alfhild, he was able to bestow his gift onto others. He chose three of his most loyal followers and gave them titles of the First Voice and The Duet. Together, they were to lead the faithful in his absence. At this point the main goal of the church was to give the listeners a sense of purpose and alleviation of doubt and guilt. The new leadership established what is the current hierarchy of the Voice and codified the songs and rites. Edmon Kur himself passed away in his sleep in 274 BU and was entombed in the Queenshome Cathedral.
Current operationKur and creation of Queenshome reignited the belief in the Voice, which grew into a powerful and far-reaching organization. The focal points of worship are the four Cathedrals, located in Queenshome, the city of Erwy, Wyental (old Wyeth capital) and Sand Creek (Kur’s hometown), but many smaller churches are spread throughout the continent. The Voice holds many public rites, which people are invited to attend as needed. They mostly concern emotional support and are directed against negative feelings of sadness, loss, anger, doubt and similar. The believers are welcome to join in song but listening to the choir is usually enough to temporarily improve mental status. More complicated rites can be requested and tailored to the specification, such as the rite of calmness and sincerity, sometimes performed before serious political, territorial, or judicial debates. For the rite to be successful, at least one Middle Choir singer must be present. In rites sang by Higher Choir members, shared hallucinatory effects can occur.
HierarchyThe hierarchy, as of now, includes four choirs: The Highest, High, Middle and Low. While the Highest Choir has thirteen members, the others are not limited. The Highest Choir: the organization’s brain, includes the First Voice – the absolute leader of the faith, the Duet – an advisory organ to the First Voice, and the Soloists – ten men and women holding leadership positions in cathedrals outside Queenshome and in larger churches. The High Choir: independent preachers either having their own congregations or serving as missionaries to the communities with low Voice presence. Several missionaries were recently sent to Zea to build anchor points for spread on the new continent. The Middle Choir: advanced students of the Voice, not allowed independent practice, but often assisting Erwy Peace Halls The Low Choir: initiates and candidates for future Middle Choir members, the most numerous category.
BeliefsThe Voice does not have a strongly codified belief system. The rites are motivated mostly by the need to help people, and while short sermons of humanist nature often accompany them, no direct threat of damnation or promise of heaven follows. The Voice is devoted to furthering and unifying the human civilization, as the legendary queen Alfhild did. The faith significantly contributed to the Erres-Wyeh peace talks at the end of the Unification War. One of the core goals of the hierarchy is to recover or reinvent songs which allowed Alfhild to perform the miracles more complex than mood altering. While some believe that they are close to achieve telekinesis, matter creation through sound alone still seems very unlikely.
The BlessingOnly members of the High and the Highest Choirs can reliably perform the miraculous songs. Upon advancement to the Middle Choir, the new recruits undergo the Rite of the Blessing. Notably, between the songs, sung by their elders, they are made to drink from a chalice, which is unique for the religion based on sound alone. The wine inside is prepared and delivered by trusted sentries of the Highest Choir. Many suspect its secret, but only thirteen people at a time know its exact composition. Several weeks after the Rite, the new Middle Choir members are asked to perform a mood-altering song. If they succeed the evaluation by eliciting a response in the audience, they are put on a track to becoming a High Choir priest and start to take part in a series of the Rites of the Blessing in regular intervals. Those who fail either quit the church career of stay on as custodians, scribes, cooks, or another of the myriad professions needed to maintain the congregation. The secret of the Blessing is that it is a sefia-infused wine, permanently altering one’s biology after ingestion. Its preparation was first described by Edmon Kur himself and passed on and improved through generations. While a single Blessing can have a small effect on one’s voice or has no effect, repeated use can either amplify the result or cause irreparable damage to digestive tract. Sefia ingestion is widely known to be harmful, and it is knowledge that the Voice is happy to spread. About ten percent of the Middle Choir respond to the Blessing, and half of them will be denied the entry to the High Choir or resign because of the Blessing turning into a curse. Additionally, throughout history, several children were born with a condition called the Preacher’s Voice. It bears all signs of a Change, though the faith vehemently denies there is any connection. The children are usually taken in by the nearest church and the Choirs in the region are reminded of the celibacy requirement for the Middle and upper Choirs.
Religious, Organised Religion
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