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Our Church Below the Sea

Our Church Below the Sea is a religious cult dedicated to the The Queen of All Seas operating from Kraljica Island. The church operates within a subterranean building sporting the same name. With the Grand Temple of The Queen of All Seas in the Archonate being derelict, and worship of the goddess having dwindled over the last couple of millennia, this church is currently the the largest temple to the goddess still in operation.

Worship of the goddess is now on its way back into fashion again, much due to Scab Grimsaw establishing a chapel to her in Rover Bay on Lowe Island. With Rover Bay in the last decade becoming an important stop on trade routes going between northern Aso and Lao-Hua, and between The Golden Isles and Gardemoor, Our Church Below the Sea can spread its influence across the world.

A major current project of the cult is restoring the Grand Temple in the Archonate to it's former glory.

Teachings and practices

Our Church Below the Sea first and foremost teaches their followers that the oceans are naturally chaotic, whether influenced by the Queen of All Seas or by nature, and to embody, respect, and understand this chaos. This is done through the teachings of the high priest, who both demonstrates how the goddess' powers work, and how the oceans work as a whole through lectures of a wide array of subjects. These subjects include the dynamics of ocean ecosystems, navigation, weather, waves and ocean currents, fluid dynamics, the geology of the ocean floor, and how different chemical and magical substances affect the ocean. These lessons of astronomy, hydrology, meteorology, and oceanography along with knowledge of the divine workings of the ocean goddess gives the members of the church a supreme understanding of the ocean's workings.

The church sees it as their ethical responsibility to teach those who brave the seas about its dangers and how to avoid them. To them, instilling a bit of fear of waves and storms in those who would defy them for the sake of greed is always morally correct, citing Zalgaldar's words "The sea gives, and the sea takes."

A central practice in the church is meditation whilst sitting, or standing on one's knees, still in ocean water. Though seemingly spiritual, this meditation is an exercise in being mindful of the local ecosystem by expanding their senses to feel and get to know every detail about their surroundings. In the church on Kraljica the floor is magically connected to the ocean floor to accommodate this practice. It is covered in a foot of sea water, and is teeming with fish and ocean critters, as well as aquatic plants and corals.

Clergy

The only proper leader within the church, Zalgaldar, a bronze dragon of immense power, holds the title of high priest. He has a number of female disciples whom he teaches to become priestesses. Judging by these females' body proportions they are likely human, elf, and/or half-elf. When the high priest is contacted by someone who wants to establish a church on their lands, he sends one of his disciples to set up an operation, and she then gets promoted to priestess.

Garments

The high priest wears no special garment or uniform symbolizing his position within the organization. A red headband decorated with pearls gathered by his own hands, red breeches, and some simple jewelry. His personal holy symbol is tattooed to his chest, and gives off a faint glow.

The disciples follow a strict dress code. Their thighs, upper body, and head, with an exception of a small opening for their nostrils, is tightly wrapped with continuous, light gray cloth. Over their wrappings they wear a black robe that reaches another foot after touching the floor, decorated with crushed pearls to reflect light, creating the image of the night sky. Over their robe they wear a dark gray, hooded dress ending just above their knees. On the chest part of the dress is a depiction of the great southern star. Underneath their dress they wear an amulet of the same star as a holy symbol, and as long as the amulet is being worn, the symbol on the dress gives off a faint glow, similar to that of Zalgaldar's tattoo. A simple gray sash belt is often used to hold their clothing in place, but is optional. They presumably wear some kind of footwear that remains hidden underneath their robe.

A fully fledged priestess would wear the same garments as she would as a disciple, but with a few personalized elements, signifying her ascension to a more independent rank. These customizations could for example be adding a splash of color to give the grays a break, changing out their sash with a belt, or adding accessories such as feathers or furs into their attire.

Daily life

The clergy on Kraljica live within the church itself. The high priest his own study, bedroom, and treasury on one side of the structure, and the disciples have their living quarters on the opposite side. The disciple bedrooms are shared by two people, and they all share a common kitchen area. On the high priest's side of the structure there is also a library, one of few rooms within that is kept dry.

Life within the church follows a daily pattern, with a short morning sermon led by Zalgaldar, followed by individual prayer or meditation. The high priest then usually leaves to scour the ocean floor for food, useful items, or loot for his hoard, taking one or two of the disciples with the longest training with him. Upon returning, they all share dinner in the common kitchen, before going on with individual studies or meditations. In the evening there is another sermon. This one is usually started by the high priest, before one of the elder disciples takes over. During this sermon it is not uncommon for some, if not all of the few people of the island to join in, both as listeners and as preachers sharing their experiences of the sea. Afterwards, in the late evening, they all go about doing their individual duties, which for the elder disciples usually means receiving private tutoring from Zalgaldar on becoming priestesses.

Locations

Kraljica Island

The headquarters of Our Church Below the Sea is located under the central island. This is where disciples are trained to become priestesses by the high priest. The structure is magically connected to the ocean floor, leaving the floors flooded with about a foot of water teeming with life in the form of both aquatic creatures and plants. The circumstances of the church's construction are unknown, but according to the high priest, the building is ancient, and one of very few temples to survive the decline of The Queen of All Seas' worship.

Rover Bay, Lowe

The castle chapel in Rover Bay is dedicated to the Queen of All Seas by decree of governor Scab Grimsaw, who assisted the Church and Zalgaldar in 2120 PGE. The chapel was previously a temple to the Church of Harmony, but fell into disrepair after the sacking of the city by The Golden Empire. Later on the building served as a place of worship to Arbas for the then abandoned city's only inhabitant, Warden Favne, before finally becoming a branch of Our Church Below the Sea in the Month of Myrmylne, 2120 PGE.

Head governor of Lowe, Harvard Preston, had originally contacted Zal about sending a cleric to establish a chapel in the country's capital city of Port Wastrel, the plans were moved to Rover Bay after naming Grimsaw governor, who figured the blessings of an ocean goddess would benefit the town greatly.

Blessed Island of the Queen - district, The Archonate

The Grand Temple of the Queen of All Seas fell into disrepair only a few centuries after its construction. With the goddess' worship declining severely, sufficient funds to repair and maintain the temple could not be procured. In 2125 PGE, the the Archon had heard of the chapel in Rover Bay being popular among sailors, and would eventually get in touch with Zalgaldar in order to rebuild the temple.

The Grand Temple today is undergoing a massive overhaul, not only rebuilding that which was, but also making new constructions to better suit the vision of Our Church Below the Sea. The project is lead by three priestesses sent from Kraljica, and is funded by both Gardelinden's treasury and Zalgaldar's personal hoard.

Marûagir, Cadenar

Worship of the ocean goddess on the eastern continent of Cadenar has never been a huge thing, but neither has it experienced the decline that happened on Akroasia and Gardemoor. There are several temples dedicated to the Queen of All Seas in the city state of Marûagir, the oldest and biggest established by Zalgaldar early in the PGE-era.

The sea gives,
and the sea takes.

Type
Religious, Cult
Demonym
Disciple of the Seas
Leader

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