"We will select Exarchs from among you, people of faith and wisdom, who will guide you and advocate for both you and us. Trust in these Exarchs, for they are our chosen.Exarchs are the highest ranking priests in the faith. There are five Exarchs, each of whom leads a particular Templar and faithful of their respective Elemental God;
-The Words of the Elements
- The Exarch of the thunder god Shokai, leading the Shokai Templar
- The Exarch of the fire god Balaros, leading the Balaran Templar
- The Exarch of the wind goddess Shiereleya, leading the Shiereleyan Templar
- The Exarch of the earth goddess Delthur, leading the Delthine Templar
- The Exarch of the water goddess Essena, leading the Essene Templar
There are no specific qualifications or requirements that one need to have reached to be chosen as an Exarch. With that having been said, as a general rule, candidates have usually been a part of their specific Templar for many years and have the support of a large portion of their priesthood. It is extremely rare for an Exarch to be chosen who has not attained the office of Kolotor.
After the passing or resignation of a previous Exarch, all high-ranking priests are summoned to their deity's First Temple. Once all have arrived, nominations for the position of Exarch are taken from the College of Kolotors. From here, the process varies depending on their particular god;
- Priests of the Balaran Templar do not waste any time and go straight to voting, trusting in Balaros to give them the insight needed for a correct choice.
- The Shiereleyan Templar priests immediately retreat into quiet contemplation for a number of days before making their decision.
- The Shokai Templar require that each prospect make an extensive case for why they should be Exarch, with each candidate eliminated by lowest vote until only one remains.
- The Essene and Delthine Templars opt for a mix of the Shiereleyan and Shokai approach, having each candidate make a case, then opting for a 48 hour deliberation period before casting one vote for their preferred candidate.
As the leader of a god's entire Templar, the Exarch's duty is to interpret the will of their god and implement this through policy that the Kolotors and senior priesthood carry out. They are also sought as mediators in conflicts between states, and anoint the Archons, kings and queens of their faithful. They also conduct the largest rituals and ceremonies in their respective holy city. They also regularly correspond with and sometimes meet the other Exarchs in order to co-ordinate and co-operate their approaches in accordance with the will of the gods. Many other responsibilities are carried out by Exarchs depending on their specific deity; for example, Essene Exarchs have a long history of leading medical initiatives and even curing the sick and wounded, while Delthine Exarchs may make visits to lands struck by famine or bad crops to restore morale, and Shokai Exarchs have presided over high-profile legal cases beyond the skill of a city-state's courts.
Exarchs are powerful individuals who have considerable sway in many city-states and kingdoms that follow Elementalism. The scope of that sway depends on the kingdom; some will follow an Exarch's word to the letter, whereas others consider the Exarch's words in a larger context with many other factors in play. Exarchs can also unilaterally implement policy in their Templar, can appoint or dismiss Kolotors, and is able to make proclamations and edicts that many believe to have the full weight of the gods behind them. Simply put, an Exarch's word can sway large swathes of Arikanda, stop or start wars, and undermine or prop up Archons.
Accoutrements & Equipment
The precise vestments that an Exarch wears depends on their particular Exarch and their attributes. Generally speaking;
- The Shiereleyan Exarch will opt for a light silk garb, usually white or silver in colour.
- The Delthine Exarch will wear a linen tunic or robe of a green or brown colour.
- The Balaran Exarch wears red and orange clothing, the style and cut of which may be at their discretion.
- The Shokai Exarch wears silver and navy blue robes.
- The Essene Exarch wears royal blue and white robes.
Grounds for Removal/Dismissal
Officially, an Exarch cannot be dismissed, as their mandate is said to be from their god. In practice, an Exarch may resign their position. Generally if an Exarch has managed to anger enough of their faithful or bring enough disrepute on the Templar, they are very strongly encouraged to resign. Such an encouragement usually comes with the hidden implication that an unfortunate accident may have to happen if they do not. There have been cases of Exarchs who defy this, but at that point they either need to instigate a reign of terror or tragically pass away.