Xhsae'lvenn - The Mantle of Dusk
Religious regalia worn by the Aulrethie Priests of Dusk.
One cannot simply deny the abyss mother, for Aulreth is fate itself. Your life is a mere spark, idly floating through the void of her realm. Should she so choose, that ember could be extinguished at her whim.
The very beating heart of Dral'azie society is their faith, The Temple of the Seven Signs, the theoretical institute that has consolidated belief in Aulreth and her pantheon the past eight centuries. At its forefront, guiding them as living symbols of the faith are it's the Priesthood. Renowned for their fervent zeal, piety and unwavering loyalty toward the Seven Signs, the outfits they adorn are the embodiment of this expression of veneration toward the divine. None more so than the Aulrethie Priesthood themselves, the very corner stone of the Temples Tenants and belief structure. invigilating the vast majority of the Temples religious activities, ceremonies and services throughout very echelon of society. As such, the priesthood of the Abyss mother are duty bound to always bear a particular vestment known as a Xhsae'lvenn or "Mantle of Dusk". The exalted Xhsae'lvenn mimics aspects of the old world, the priesthood of the Dral'azie have long evoked such bygone tradition from their Veilnakarii ancestors. Finding its origins deep in ancient deserts kingdoms of Amon'Isetti and Veilnakarii, where the first priests of Aulreth appeared before the dawn of the first age. Such is the prestige and affluence the vestment carries that only the highest members of the Temple are permitted to adorn it, including the High Priestess of Aulreth herself. An Xhsae'lvenn commands respect and reverence amongst the faithful.
Ordeal of the Seven.Wearers of the Xhsae'lvenn must be a fully-fledged members of the priesthood. Something that has been passed down in canon law, even before the founding of the Temple of the Seven Signs in 1497 ED. But one does not simply attain the rank and station of priestess and be handed the mantle, there are many priestesses who do not possess one, instead adorning the typical white garments of the order. Xhsae'lvenn is something that must be earnt. Therefore they partake in the Ordeal of the Seven. One must embark on pilgrimage to each of the Seven Alters, scattered across length and the breadth of the underworld. These alters represent one of the seven gods of the faith. Setting out on a long and arduous journey strictly on their own, and accepting no aid in the hopes to attaining a seal from each shrine. This in itself is a test, for the high priestesses who presides as custodian over each alters are seldom inclined to merely hand over such a token, without the supplicant performing a trail of her own devising. They must first prove that they are indeed worthy of her deities mark, and that their faith and resolution is true. Each one of these trails can, on their own be a daunting task. Many have been known to complete their first or second task and turn back. Perhaps resuming this spiritual crusade later in their life time, some spending entire lifetimes to gain the resolve to continue the pursuit of the mantle. The details of each trail the High Priestesses put those seeking a token through are a closely guarded secret. Disallowing any potential supplicants from preparing prior to the ordeal.
Vestments of the AbyssThose that endure the hardships of the Ordeal, are granted the Xhsae'lvenn, and are fully inducted into the Temples most senior and revered sect, the aptly named Priesthood of Dusk, through a series of sworn oaths and ceremonies. These are the direct priests of the Goddess herself, ascended beyond other clergy of the Temple, revered to be Aulreths chosen. The vestment comes in two distinct forms, the Priesthoods regalia and those of a High Priestess. The Dusk Priesthood adorn dark blue robes, these robes are painstakingly crafted by master seamstresses that the cults that predated the Temple, utilised before the founding of the Temple of Seven signs. These adept Arachne have been crafting these garments, generation after generation in the service of the goddess, each one spun from these Arachne's own silk, taking great pride in outfitting her chosen. Taken and dyed in a process that has been kept a closely guarded secret, what is known is that the process is far from conventional in order to achieve the midnight hue. Then the robes are built upon, adding the intricate patterning with silver and golden laced threading. Once the Mantle has been completed it is taken away for seven cycles where it goes through a series of invocations and rites, the details of which are only known to the Dusk Priest themselves. The final element is the emblem of the Dusk Priesthood itself, unique to the religious order, this eye of Aulreth can only be worn by a fully infuriated member, and is a symbol of the completion of their ordeal. Should anyone other than a Priest of Dusk be found wearing this symbol, or indeed the Xhsae'lvenn itself, the penalty is severe and swift. The Templar Order taking no moment to strike down such heretical actions of the highest order.
The High Priestess of Aulreth.The High Priestess of Aulreth is the primate of the Priesthood of Dusk and the Aulrethie faith, ranking amongst the highest positions within the Temple of the Seven Signs, only second to the Arch-Priestess of Dral'Grondii herself. Because of the strongly interwoven structure of Dral'azie society, males are forbidden from ascending to such prestigious positions within religious sects according to canon and secular law. As such, choosing the high priestess strictly can only be drawn from the Priestesses of Dusk, despite there being other sects of Aulrethie priestesses within the Temple of Seven signs. Like everything about the Dusk Priesthood, the religious rites and practices she invigilates are shrouded in mystery. This mystique surrounding the High Priestess only solidifies her position as a figure head within the Temple. Holding a seat on the synod, she is the guardian and caretaker of the Grand Alter to Aulreth, conducting important ceremonies and celebrations in the Abyss mothers name. In appearance, the High Priestess is far more grandiose in appearance than her subordinates. As befitting her rank, her attire exudes authority and status within the Temple. The regalia of the High Preistess has remained consistent throughout the history of the Cult of Aulreth since their decent into the underworld. Closely modelled on the robes worn by the first High Priestess of Aulreth, the venerated Archon Zelieth Itholren, of which now reside in the chapter house of the Dusk priesthood in Dral'grondii.
Shrouded in DarknessThe Aulrethie priesthood that adorn the Xhsae'lvenn, strictly cover their faces. Obscured by the low hanging cowl of the Mantle. This in itself is part of the Aulrethie priesthoods strict doctrine, and has led to much speculation and rumour about what lies under their cowl. The fundamental symbolism of the cowl, is one that resonates throughout much of the Temples clergy. That Aulreth is the all seeing eye in the darkness, and though her priesthood are veiled in darkness their enlightened status allows them to perceive more than most mortals will ever comprehend.
When one joins the Priesthood of Dusk, one does not merely just gain rank and prestige. The position comes with other responsibilities and rewards. One such difference between the normal priesthood of Aulreth, and her devout Dusk Priests is that each one is granted Aulreths most sacred of gifts. Abyss Magic. Abyss magic is the pinnacle of Dark Magic, one of the primary domains that the Goddess reigns over. Their uncanny ability to observe all around them whilst seemingly being blinded by their robes is attributed to the same perception the Seerhood possess, and their connection to the Abyss. How this has been achieved has undergone much speculation on the priesthoods methods. Many mages attempting to infiltrate the order, only resulting in failures and their inevitable execution by the Templar.
The consequences of wielding such a terrible power can lead to that persons downfall, slowly destroying them. The Dusk Priesthood however, do not suffer from the affliction from the fell magic, making them rightfully feared and respected. It is said, to stand in the presence of a priest is unnerving, for they exuding a foreboding sensation of what can only be described as immense pressure, causing headaches and even nosebleeds in some. Many of the Temples enemies over the centuries have been known to comment about how they would much prefer the brutality of the Templars, compared to the abhorrent nightmares a Dusk priest can unleash.
Once you touch that fell magic, it begins to corrupt the sprit and the mind. The more you're tempted to tap into that darkness, the more of yourself will be lost. Before long, all mortality and what you were will be lost to it.
The Eye of AulrethThe Eye of Aulreth is interwoven not only in the Temple, but throughout the entire of Dral'azie society. It symbolises the Abyss Mother are the prime got, not only of her churches pantheon, but over all of her children. Therefore goes without stating, the priesthood of Dusk, her most devout followers are emblazoned with the goddesses Iconography. However, over two millennia ago, the priesthood had very different icons adorning their mantles. Aulreth had once been the moon goddess, mistress of night and guardian of the afterlife, back in there ancient times, the Dusk Priesthood wore crescent moons and other symbols of the goddesses dominion over the eventide and night skies. Even after the Dral'azies banishment into the underworld, the priesthood still wore the crescent moons of their patrons. As Aulreth became bitter and twisted by her exile into the depths below, she and her clergy changed. The goddess took up a far more sinister visage, abandoning the moon and adopting her Abyssal eye, every watching from the darkness. As such so too did her priesthood, change to reflect this. Covering their faces and changing their religious symbols and clothing's colours to match the dour temperament of their mistress.
Clothing / Accessory