The Holy Scriptures of Larani.
By Aaron Kavli
As with most religions, that of Larani has gone to great lengths to codify the official beliefs of the church. After Saint Ambrathas established the first Laranian church at Alamire, and died there after, the priests scattered to spread the word and lore of Lady Larani. As new churches and worshippers sprang up from the seeds of these pilgrims, it was only natural that the teachings of these mendicant priests would diverge in varying degrees as time and geography separated them.
It was not until 227 TR that the Laranian church was organized into a true central authority with the establishment of the office of Sebrath, first held by Saint Perelyne of Tengela. A large portion of her, and her immediate successors', time was taken up establishing an official and universal church doctrine. Among these were the Guardian Decree issued by the second pontiff, Saint Janasyn, and the establishment of the Ethelanca by the the third pontiff, Egenis. These were among many, however.
Perelyne was immediately faced with representatives from many regions presenting their teachings as those handed down from Larani. Many traced their scriptures back to the priests of Alamire. It soon became apparent that the prolific priests of the early faith had indeed spread far and wide. It also became apparent that despite each claim of divine inspiration, that many texts contradicted each other. The sheer volume of demanded inclusions into official church doctrine also made compiling it all into a cohesive codex a practical impossibility.
In 228 TR Sebrath Perelyne set her wisest of clergy, with representatives from each major region, the task of deciding exactly what was to be included in the official church texts. To ensure they were not unduly influenced by the competing factions, they were sent to a remote abby near Areshomes to complete their task in peace.
Unfortunately the Congress of Areshomes, as the project became known as, soon became a floundering, hopeless body of squabbling partisans. After some years, all work effectively stopped and it became a position assigned to the unpopular and incompetent. Due to the highly controversial nature of the deliberations and the many other changes the church was going through, this condition was allowed to continue for many years.
It wasn't until Sebrath Egenis set forth efforts to prevent corruption in the church that the Congress of Areshomes was forced to fulfill its mission. In 268 TR, Egenis sent a delegation of the newly established Ethelanca to ensure the congress did just that. By the end of the year, the book titled Codices of Dolithor had been completed. There were some conflicts when the Codices was introduced to the authority, but Egenis would brook no discussion on the long overdue text. It was adopted and ratified by the Tirnatha in 269 TR.
The Codices was written with the acceptance that not all of Larani's lore had been imparted on her mortal church. As such, procedures were included in the book that allowed for additions and addendum when such new lore was gained. The Codices of Dolithor has undergone some major changes and many minor ones since its creation. Each change must be approved by the Tirnatha and is always a battle of political and theological wills. Such changes are cautiously enacted however, as it flies in the face of ecclesiastical infallibility. The last change was made in 703 TR, and despite being a minor grammatical change, was quite a deliberation.
Most Codices are written in the Khruni script, using the language of the Laranian church, Emela. There are Codices in various regional languages, but they are rare as ceremonies are performed in Emelan and most of the laity is illiterate, no matter the language.
The church holds all rights to copy and sell the Codices. Using their wealth and political influence, in most areas it is considered a crime to even reproduce, let alone sell, the church texts. The Lexigraphers' Guild, and most scribes, recognize this right. Those who do not, are likely to feel just how influential the church can be. It is not unheard of however, for the church to hire the aid of secular craftsmen to make their books. Such contracts are usually lucrative and highly sought after.
Copying such an extensive work is time consuming and expensive, and most acolytes spend many grueling hours in the scriptorium, under the whip of the Valaran, reproducing them for various temples and nobles. Contrary to common belief, many priests are illiterate and do their scribing simply by copying it without necessarily understanding it. They draw the script instead of writing it. Illiterate priests performing simple reproduction has led to various misspellings and grammatical errors to remain even after hundreds of reproductions. Some indeed view these errors not as mistakes, but as part of divine inspiration or as subtle hints to some secret code held within the texts.
The quality of the texts and illumination varies
from very simple to amazing, depending on who the book is meant for. Even
simple texts are usually illuminated, and all are bound with decorated
wooden or leather covers. These covers are usually embossed with a relief
of Larani's shield, Hyvrik, though other church regalia is just as common.
A high quality Codices will have gold leaf and trim worked into
the cover and pages. Prices range from 50d for simple or partial copies,
up to several pounds for more exquisite works. Few common adherents own
a copy, and if they do it is a highly treasured heirloom. Amongst noble
adherents, an expensive Codices is a sign of power and wealth. As
one can easily imagine, the church makes quite a profit from its sales.
Parts of the Whole.
The Codices of Dolithor, often referred to simply as the Codices, is divided into seven tomes (these were initially known as 'scrolls', but as the text has grown, the term tome was considered more appropriate). Each tome is then divided into 'passages' written by various prophets. Each passage is further divided into 'teachings', which usually consists of a single story of various lengths. For example: Saint Martynae's tale of the "Lords of Avarice" would be found in the Tome of Shields; passages of St. Martynae; the teaching of the 'Lords of Avarice'. Current trends have taken to numbering paragraphs, but this has not become common outside the scriptoriums of Trierzon. All church texts are the responsibility of the temple Suloran.
The Songs of Alamire.
This tome is the first and most commonly referenced section of the Codices. It contains the history to be taught to the laity, discussion of the creation of the universe, basics of the Laranian beliefs, daily prayers, and contains the hymns included in the original draft. Many more hymns have been created and are kept in separate song books. It also contains the church's views on the other gods and their adherents. Poorer laity and shrines may only have The Songs of Alamire available to them. This tome contains 23 passages.
The Tome of Shields.
This tome was initially known as the Tome of Swords, but was changed late in the sixth century to fit the Laranian description as a defender instead of an attacker. It contains many parables of Laranian champions, rife with tales of the strong defending the weak or innocent against all odds. The basics of the founding of Alamire can be found in the Songs of Alamire, but a more in-depth tale is found in this tome. The passages of Korbren, one of the original priests of Alamire, are quite well known, with many teachings involving Saint Abrathas of Alamire and Saint Drakyn the Virtuous Shield. This tome contains 11 passages.
The Tome of Commons.
This section of the Codices deals with many stories of bravery and faith. Many of the heroes of these teachings are of common or low birth and relate tales of unlikely heroes. While Laranism is often seen as a noble's religion, it has many common adherents and this tome teaches the common how the writs of Larani can be lived by them. This tome contains 8 passages.
The Tome of Orders.
This tome has many stories that explain the concept of chivalry, loyalty, and proper social order. The later half also contains church doctrine concerning canon law, the establishment of the clerical and fighting orders, and the rights and responsibilities of lay worshippers, priests, and temple officers. It also holds the Laranian calendar, the Guardian Decree, and the charter of the Ethelanca. Within this tome is the list of church recognized sins and heresies, known as the Vigils of Cowardice. Much of this tome is not often read at mass or sermons, as it mostly discusses church law and policy. It contains 18 passages.
The Tome of Foretellings.
This tome contains a long list of various, ambiguous prophecies containing predictions of everything from minor flooding to celestial disasters. It also contains a convoluted discussion of what is thought to be known of the Concordat by mortals, and why at times Larani seems to not intervene on the behalf of justice. Those familiar with the teachings within, are often able to join mundane events to the divine warnings presented. The teachings of this tome are usually reserved for admonishing sermons, warning of the path the laity is taking when the clergy disapproves. It is a fine political hammer to be swung, when the right people are listening. This tome contains 8 passages.
The Tome of Vigils.
This tome is strictly for use by the clergy, but it is included in all full copies of the Codices. It contains the prayers, sermons, and procedures for all Soratir (lay masses), Tirannon, other vigils and ceremonies, and holy days. It often refers to passages in other tomes to be read during such proceedings. This tome contains 14 passages.
The Tome of Graces.
This tome was initially included in the Codices, and is still considered a part of it, but has since been separated by command of the Ethelanca in the 4th century TR. This is due to the fact that it contains the higher holy rituals and the clerical high masses (Alamirata), and it was wisely decided that these should be kept secret by the higher circles of the clergy. This is generally not available to any outside of the church, and is never included in a scribed Codices. Those priests and bishops allowed to know the secrets of this tome receive a separate book. The Ethelanca will go to great lengths to recover a Tome of Grace. This tome contains 15 passages.
The Areshomes Scripts.
This book is not part of the Codices, and is in fact the collection of materials that were not included in the official church texts by the Congress of Areshomes. These scripts were not simply discarded however. There were many who felt that wisdom was contained here, even if not officially adopted by the pontificate.
Put simply, the collection of the Areshomes Scripts is huge. It has not been organized as the Codices have been. The bishops of Trierzon have been slowly working to do so, but the daunting task is not considered overly important and is mostly used as an exercise for student scribes.
The few copies of the Areshomes Scripts are not
readily accessible, and generally only found in larger abbeys of Trierzon
and Emelrene. As some of the information, despite its wisdom, contradicts
what was included in the Codices of Dolithor it was considered best
to not teach it to prevent confusing young priests. The Ethelanca however
uses it from time to time as the scripts contain passages dealing with
evils and spirits not included in the Codices. Occasionally church
loremasters will try to glean any overlooked rituals from forgotten pages
of the Areshomes Scripts.