Faith of Children of The Dancer
Chosen of the Mori'tarna
The faith of Children of The Dancer is a sect of Church of Eilistraee centering most of its operations at Underdark tunnel network called Mori'tarna under the Silver Shore Island.
Sect has spread through the Silver Shore Island, and is recognized by the rest of the United Councils of Silver Shore. While the sect has several inner conflicts with itself, it has become one of the most recognized religion of the Island, spreading it's roots to the shared culture of all Islanders of Silver Shore.
Faith of Children of The Dancer is deeply entangled and almost inseparable from Great Matron Council of Silver Shore, that rules the Mori'tarna. Both the church and the Councils operate under The Great Mothers, Mother of Moonlight and Mother of Shadows.
For the Faith, Mother of Moonlight is considered as the prophet and head of the church. She is aided by the headpristesses known as Light Singers , most profilic of the teachers and dervant of the Eilistraee. The Singers are followed by the middle tier clergy, the Bright Songs of different classifications, and the training acolites know collectively as Song Maids.
Clergy also divides roughly to militaristic division, working more closely to Yanta Menohtar and more spiritual division.
Eilistraeen believes have been speculated to have existed in the area of the Faith's birth even before The Cracking. These believes have been estimated to have been most prominent among the poor of the drow of Mori'tarna, and among the Wood Elves from groups that now form Druidic Tribes of Silver Shore. Possibly also slaves that were held by the local drow during their time as Llothian society had afflictiations to the Dark Dancer. The real change would happen after The Cracking, during the rise of G'eldefryn Moondancer and The Moondancers & the Shadowblades.
Exact time frame of conversion from the Llothian culture to one of The Children is under heavy debate due to limited and often contradicting historical accounts, but the popularity of the church grew, and it had a strong, positive change towards co-operation with the neighbouring factions. The social changes by religion made trade possible with neighbors, ended slavery and permanetly chenged the power structures of the cities in Mori'tarna. This started in form of a clerical council taking theocratic power over the area, but later taking influences from the local dwarfs and the Stone Hall Council, creating the first iterations of Great Matron Council of Silver Shore. Great Matron Council as has never truly seperated from the church, and the area has kept element of theocracy.
Faith became more organized, and would get great influence not only on Mori'tarna, but also more prominently among the Druidic Tribes of Silver Shore, spreading slowly into public conciousness of the Islanders of Silver Shore. Travel and relations between the drow from Mori'tarna were warm, and in the best of times, 1/4th of Silver Shore's drow population was living on the surface, and they were almost exclusively followers of the Faith, and kept spreading it to public consiousness.
After Silver Shore Island was taken under the jurisdiction of Empire of Islenor in 3550 AoS, Empire's hostile attitude and suspicion combined with uncompromising nature of Great Matron Council started to spark conflict. Out of zero tolerance for drow practices, Emperor Alathar Thelirme banned the Faith of the Children in 3565. This caused the represetatives of both Matron councils and the Empire have negotiations in 3568 which ended up for a blood path that killed among others Drisintralin Shadowblade, who was Mother of Shadows at the time.
Incident during negotiation made the Great Matron Council of Silver Shore close themselves out of most of the island to prevent more murders of their people. This was grim time for any follower of the faith, specially on the Surface, as praticing one's religion could be penalised with death. This sprung out a rebellion movement the Moonstalkers that had uneasy alliance with the Faith, as it promoted some more unsavory ideals on the church's point of view.
After War of Scale and Arrow, Aradace Tharur would lift the ban of the Faith, and since 4026 AoS the church has slowly started to find its new place in the Island's culture. Assasinations of Mother of Moonlight Nathafayna Moondancer in 4045 AoS has complicated this greatly.
Mythology & Lore
Believers of the Faith consider themselves the chosen people of Eilistraee, and the prophets of the Moondancer House as prove of their importance and speciality to the goddess. According the Faith of the Dancer, Eilistraee chose G'eldefryn Moondancer specificly save The Children from Llothian foulness, and the further rise and power of the drow of Mori'tarna has been contributed to her blessings.
After The Cracking, Mori'tarna got disconnected from larger Tunnelweb of Szith Draethoz, leaving the two remaining drow cities, Netehdrez and Zaetron Derraz seperated from rest of their kind. During this time of desperation, the Drow of Mori'tarna went through spiritual revolution, G'eldefryn Moondancer and Vaslinithra Shadowblade on the center of this change.
Myths tell about the rise of the Moondancers & the Shadowblades, and how G'eldefryn Moondancer became the prophet of Eilistraee by hearing her call, and Vaslinithra Shadowblade her defender and loyal bodyguard. The sect has since formed between these families, the Moondancer line holding position as the faith's prophets.
The Faith has played important part in uniting the drow of Mori'tarna first under one banner, then making peace with their neighbors and it has since spread in different forms around the whole Island.
Tenets of Faith
While the Faith has many of the core values of the Church of Eilistraee intact, unique circumstances of this particular sect have greatly influenced the interpertations of Eilistraee's word. One of the more distinct ones is the military bent of the church, which got further emphasised during the rule of Empire of Islenor.
The most important elements of Eilistraee's teachings to the Faith are the elements emphasising protection and saving of Drow. The pratitioners of the faith have been known to respect connections to other races and promoting peaceful relationships, but take their mission as protectors of the weaker and protection of themselves very seriously.
While never promoted on any Eilistraeen text, The Faith of The Dancer takes the interpretation that women are naturally more capable as priestesses as well as running the society. In their point of view, the goddess's lack of comments in the matter might just as well mean that she is satisfied with the status quo, and as such, no action is taken to react to the matter.
All clergy is mandated to train in the city of Zaetron Derraz to be seen valid on the eyes of the church. Males are never truly considered as priests, as much as assistants and protectors to female priestesses.
Political Influence & Intrigue
In the eyes of both The Children and rest of the Silver Shore Island, Mother of Moonlight has been regocnized as an actual prophet and religious figure head. This has many political implications as no party in the United Councils of Silver Shore is particularly keen on getting on them the wrath of an actual goddess, or her voice on the Prime Material plane.
While their differences on believes and practices are obvious to anyone to see, The Children and Great Matron Council of Silver Shore have had enough common ground to stand on with the Scarborn dwarfs of the Stone Halls, single most powerful faction in the area. Their people have formed a lasting and profitable alliance through trade and other common interests, which even lasted the almost 500 year rule of the Empire of Islenor. This alliance is not only important on financial respect, but has also been very important to the survival and spread of the sect.
Matters of Great Matron Council of Silver Shore and the church are constantly mixing with one another, making it very difficult to differenciate matter of the church from the matters of the politics. For this reason both clerical councils of Zaetron Derraz and Netehdrez have a lot of influence over the decisions regarding the everyday life.
While the Faith of The Dancer has a strong, centralized power structure, it branches to a few different schools of thought. The main church is very caught on to its roots and quarrel of the matrons and has become particularly hostile towards other drow deities of Dark Seldarine. However, the population among commoners and the believers on the surface have extended the belief into different forms.
Most priestesses and believers of the surface are more liberal on their views and find the rigidity of the Great Matron Council as well as their rule over the church oppressive. They tend to fall closer to the teachings of the primary church.
The more concerning development on the Matron council's view is constantly fluctuating connection the fringe of the Faith have to Eilistraee's divine twin Vhaeraun. Cult of Vhaeraun washed to the shores much later than Eilistraeen one. Vhaeraun's emphasis on the equality of the sexes has become popular among some of the believers.
The "Vhaeraun" school of thought sees Eilistraee and Vhaeraun as complementary forces that support one another, and have a more positive view on the relationship between the two deities. The Faith often considers this group to be dangerous separatists, where the Vhaeraun school sees the Faith merely trying to secure the existing power structure on the price of the others.
I'm always a fan of Eilistraee interpretations. Nice work!