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.
— Archon Abraxus of the Seven Signs.
 
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 Abyss

Those 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 Arachne 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.
Priestess of Aulreth
Aulrethie Priestess by AstarothArcaine
High Priestess of Aulreth
High Priestess of Aulreth by AstarothArcaine

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 Darkness

  The 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.  

Abyssal Practitioners.

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.  
Abyssal Magic 2

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.
— Tyrran Grakkus, Wizard of Evalaw.

The Eye of Aulreth

  The 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.  
The Eye of the Seven Signs
by AstarothArcaine
  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.  
Item type
Clothing / Accessory
Owning Organization

Hearts bared to the Gods

  Much of the outfits appearance does much to offend the sensibilities of the more conservative races, much of which is deemed normal in Dral'azie culture and tradition. In ancient Veilnakarii tradition, priest would bare their chest to reveal their heart to the Gods as a sign of devotion. Wearing outfits that exposing the middle of their chest is something that spread throughout most religious grab in wider Aelfaune culture in one form or another. Some being far more pronounced than others, especially in the higher priesthood. It's something that spread throughout Dral'azie clothing styles amongst men and women, both secular and ecclesiastical.   But this goes back even deeper, the ancient Nemerians and Isettii whose desert kingdoms predate the records of the first age practiced blood sacrifice. That priests and supplicant had their chests bare to show their hearts so when they were called upon, their hearts were willingly exposed to be sacrificed. These traditions changed as the blood cults disappeared when the first age dawned, however this leftover of that grisly tradition endured in the culture of their decenatants.

Comments

Author's Notes

The design Priesthood of Dusk and their mantles are heavily inspired by Lineage 2, Record of Lodoss War and Elder Scrolls and various other elements. We are in the process of sketching up amendments to make them differ slightly, but for the purposes of getting it down for the challenge, they are what they are.   The Priests of Dusk will be given their own unique name (when we decide on it).   There is a male variant that is currently being worked upon, and hopefully will be uploaded soon with his female counterpart. Also hoping to give the priestess some shoes too.   The Article is still being worked on so, there will be some typos and inconsistencies. Please bear with us and have pity.


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4 Jun, 2021 22:30

Great article with some very nice looking art! I love the idea of the priests having to take an arduous journey with many trials to actually be allowed to wear the mantle of dusk. The abyss magic they use seems pretty interesting as well and not something I would want to mess with seeing that you could lose yourself to it!   Everything seems well thought out and it is also nice how you added a reason for their more exposed chests. Quite interesting take on that.   You seem to be repeating the same sentences in two paragraphs 'Those that endure all seven hardships of the Ordeal, are granted the Mantle of Dusk, and are fully inducted into". So that would be best to remove :) In all good read!

Feel free to check out summer camp overviewif you want to see what I am up to!
Grandmaster ChroniclesofEvalaw
Olarae & Astaroth Arcaine
4 Jun, 2021 23:16

Hey there! Thank you so much for your comments! Really fantastic feedback.   Yeah, abyss magic on the whole is pretty nasty, it can do some really impressive and powerful things, but ultimately you will regret using it. I've always like the idea that when a mage reaches into the Abyss to draw that power in, the Abyss reached back and pulls something away. Each time, a little more of your is stripped away.   Ah thank you for the heads up! I shall remove that, bit of a embarrassing mistake!

A & O Arcaine   Hey, please check out our Costume Challenge entry and tell us what you think! :)
4 Jun, 2021 23:22

No problem I have copied some parts on my articles as well. Can happen to anyone :)   Oh and that is a really nice but also scary idea! I always like the idea of powerful magic that has some bad side effects for the caster. :p

Feel free to check out summer camp overviewif you want to see what I am up to!
Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
4 Jun, 2021 22:31

Great article! I love the design of the outfits as well as the history behind its design and the goddess herself (having the chest exposed because of the blood sacrifice and to expose their heart to the goddess, the meaning behind the eye symbol...)   Is this order only filled with women? You were only using the term "priestesses" but then you have a section that use "priests", so that might be a mistake. If they are all women, using "priestesses" would be more consistent. If not, I think you need to explain somewhere about that and check your usage of priests and priestesses. Maybe using priesthood as a general term when both men and women are concern would make things clearer.   You have a paragraph that has been duplicated in "vestments of the abyss".   The trials sound very interesting. Can any priestess/priest choose to undertake them? Is there a risk for the people who take them if they fail? With how prestigious the position is when they managed to pass all of them, it would be very tempting for everyone to at least try one trial...

Grandmaster ChroniclesofEvalaw
Olarae & Astaroth Arcaine
4 Jun, 2021 23:06

Thank you for your comments :)   There ARE male priests, however due to the matriarchal society they live in, they are few and far between, and only permitted to ascend to a certain level. We will have some artwork for them too, it's just not been finished yet, and sadly doesn't look like it will be for the deadline of the challenge, but hopefully will be complete down the line. But, for the most part it is primarily women. So there is a bit of flip-flopping between the terms. I think that might be a good suggestion as a general rule, just to go with Priesthood.   Oh thank you for that! My other half apparently proof read the article, so I can tell she wasn't quite paying attention. :D   The Trials can be undertaken by any member of the Priesthood, but one must complete all seven trails to earn the Xhsae'lvenn. I think, after completing one, most have a hard look at themselves in the mirror and ask is it worth trying to complete six more of these? Each trial more or less represents the Deity that the seal represents. So are all varied and challenging in their own particular way. One deities trial in particular I imagine is wholly unpleasant to undertake.

A & O Arcaine   Hey, please check out our Costume Challenge entry and tell us what you think! :)
Sage samsaratg
George Sanders
5 Jun, 2021 18:30

Great background, artwork, and coloring to add to the ominous priesthood! I noticed two potential typos...it might be how you want to present it though too...in the quote at the top "Yours life" should it be your life? And in the last section "primate of the Priesthood of Dusk" is it primary or prime or primate?

Lavani started a trend with Fashion from a Fey during the Costume Challenge.   Keep up to date with my article tracker in my Summer Camp 2021 Pledge article.
Grandmaster ChroniclesofEvalaw
Olarae & Astaroth Arcaine
5 Jun, 2021 18:49

Thanks for your feedback! Glad you liked the content :)   Oh wow, I can't believe I missed that first one! Thanks for the heads up, I'll get that corrected.   Ah yes, the use of primate was a bit of a dubious one. It was intended to be primate as in; "the chief bishop or archbishop of a province." however, it does just make you think of monkey. I am sorely tempted to change it just to clear up any confusion.

A & O Arcaine   Hey, please check out our Costume Challenge entry and tell us what you think! :)
7 Jun, 2021 23:06

Interesting history of how the goddess changed and so did the outfits. The article fits the theme well, and raises several questions with its answers. I like it!

Too low they build who build beneath the stars - Edward Young