Where war marches to the song of death – I shall fly the pennant of Peace
When bitter pain haunts the fields of battle and wails rejoicing – I shall be steadfast and walk unafraid
Against all hurts, woes, and fears – against all who might take the gifts of mortal life – I raise my Ivory Shield.
The world is wounded. Our task is clear. Let your voice still all hurts. Let your shield defend all who suffer. We are the Healers, for what other name defines our task so well? Ours is the power of Evora, White Lady of the Eddar. The daughter of Athos, Evora has pledged herself to the eradication of pestilence and blight – vowing never to rest until all the hurts of the world are at long last soothed. Her symbol is the Shield, which she uses to defend the weak and oppressed.
In this age of so much darkness, it is little wonder that Evora’s Church has gained so many devout followers. Nor can it be doubted that the Goddess’ task has never been so great as it is today – or her Emissaries so desperately needed. Our way is a difficult one – not for the fearful or the brazen. We are taught to do no harm, and none may perish by our hand. We are the power of healing in a world that lingers in pain and grief. The Goddess offers her Bright Shield – have you the will to bear it…?
Emissaries of the Goddess Evora, Healers use their gifts to bestow miraculous powers of healing. No injury exists that a healer cannot mend. The healer also has prayers that help him to avoid injury altogether by preventing a fight before it breaks out. All healers use shields – but they may not use any weapon.
In all of Aeryn, no divinity is as widespread as the Goddess Evora. To the elves, she is Dianwen, Queen of Light. To the gargoyles she is the Stone Mother and the Khunari call her Morwyn, the White Hand. The Djinn know her as Ajadora, the Evening Star, and the Balladeer call her Lady Via, Lady of Life. But all peoples across all nations recognize her as Evora, shining daughter of Athos, Guardian of Hope and Bringer of Peace. While others may have fostered clergies before her, no divinity has ever been so successful in achieving such widespread renown. Evora’s message of hope and healing spread throughout the war torn world like an ocean over parched earth, and the peoples of Aeryn flocked to her banner in untold numbers. No village is without its Shrine to Evora and even in the darkest reaches of Ashendar one is apt to find even an obligatory altar. For the Goddess of Healing knows no distinction between race and culture. She hears the wounded cries of all who call upon her – be they of light or darkness.
Carrying the pennant of peace is not an easy task. In the face of so much war and oppression the Healers are often criticized as being foolish and self-deluding. The policies of peace are questioned with growing frequency. But healers endure the criticism as they do all things – with quiet dignity. By staying true to their ideals and dedicating themselves completely to their work of healing the hurts of the world, they have retained the respect of all other faiths and powers in the world.
The symbol of Evora is the Ivory Shield, which is carried by all of her Emissaries. Her colors are white and gold and purified water is her libation. She is said to carry a token of gargoyle design – a girdle named Elisendrelle, in who’s gleaming gems the goddess personally bear witness to all the hurts of a suffering world. Her holiest day occurs during the month of Eventide, when legend says the elf queen
Dianwen put down her shield at long last. Where the mortal avatar of Evora passed out of Aeryn and died under the flickering shade of Aisling, the name of her greatest love, Nevith Zytheryn, on her lips.
It is a strongly held belief of the Church that Dianwen, the last elven queen, was nothing less than the mortal born avatar of Evora. While many details of her life have been forgotten, what little has surfaced seems to confirm this long held cornerstone of the Evoran. As the sovereign of the sylvan elves during the time of the Scourge, Dianwen is responsible for leading her people to the Drow of Cirith Valledor in Artanna. There she is known to have wed Nevith Zytheryn, the king of the under-elves. Together these two great rulers led their people through the darkest era of their long, bright history. They founded the High Churches of the Eddar and Sh’ddar which preserve the worship of the pantheons as a whole. They also foresaw the Covenant of the Gods and established doctrine that advocated unity in the face of the Scourge. Though no one is sure exactly why, it is known that Dianwen chose to leave the elves at some point before the Final Retreat was called. She disappears from all records for another fifty years before reappearing in the Kaj’ra’koryn (Book of Koryn). There she is depicted as wielding a “great and marvelous Shield” that “shone white as alabaster against the reddening skies of the southern lord.” The tale continues to reveal how Dianwen raised her shield against the “storms of Erebus” standing alone against the onslaught of Ixiel’s attack on Artanna long for three days and nights. When Dianwen at last lowered her shield arm, the Obelisks of War, Truth, and Lies had been created on the shores of Artanna – the first cornerstones in the building of the Sanctuary.
The ordeal cost Dianwen her life and as she lay dying she is said to have passed her Ivory shield to a companion. The shield remains in the possession of the Church to this day. A slim, silver tree grew in the place where she died and a thousand flowering blossoms appeared along its branches. The tree was named Aisling, the Tree of Hope and it survives even today. The passing of Dianwen and the appearance of Aisling marked the Initial Retreat. The heralds of Evora carried word that the flowers of the tree would fall for many years. The Final Retreat would be called when at long last the final blossom fell to earth.
The Obelisk of Peace
Of all the Obelisks, the Obelisk of Peace is the least known. It appears somewhere on the Isle of Kerridas, long ruled by the dwindled nation of Imperia. Though its teeth are blunted in Artanna, the Sphinx of Imperia still retains absolute rule over its home island of Kerridas. The empire has closed all relations to the outside world and any attempt to reach the island has met with disaster. Unfortunately for the Healers, this ban extends to them as well and even the Emissaries of Evora are forbidden from visiting perhaps the most important spiritual site of their faith. While official protests have been declared by the Kingdom of Valan-Tir as well as the Sh’ddar Isle of Tharsis, as yet no significant move hasbeen made to reclaim the Obelisk of Hope. While this has very much to do with the might of Imperia, it is also a product of the Church of Evora itself. The Healers will not aggressively advance on Kerridas, nor will they endorse any move that seeks to “liberate” the Obelisk on their behalf. While the ban of Imperia is a wound to the Healers, it is a conflict that they intend to resolve in their own way – according to the tenants that are the very backbone of their faith.
The Scripture of Hope
Sometimes called by its Azerhym name, the Kaj’ra’koryn, the Scripture of Hope was written by a human companion of Dianwen. Koryn is said to have penned the work out of his own experiences during his time with the mortal born avatar of Evora. An as of yet incomplete version of the Scripture resides in the Shrine of Hope. Healers are charged with the task of tracking down the missing pages of this incredible account. The Scripture offers the following beliefs, which are dutifully upheld by the Healers.
You must not fear
For you must look unflinching into the heart of the greatest darkness
You must be strong
For others will call you weak
You must not balk
For you must aid all who suffer
You must have faith
For it is the foundation of Hope.
You must not falter
For the Vigil must endure
You must be steadfast
For the End of Strife is Peace
Shrines of the Goddess
Devotional shrines to Evora can be found all over Artanna. The greatest are the Shrines of Hope, Vigilance, and Peace. Each is guarded by a Herald, the greatest mortal figures in the Evoran faith.
The Shrine of Hope is perhaps the best known of all the Evoran holy sites. It is here were the withered tree Aisling still stands and the waters of the healing spring continue to flow. The Djinn princess Marcella Vasconcellos is the Herald of Hope. Called the Exile, Marcella long ago removed herself from the Djinn monarchy of Ashendar to take up service to the Goddess. Her powers of healing are rumored to be greater than any other, and it is believed that she speaks directly to the Goddess through the power of the Healing Spring. Marcella has remained in the Shrine of Hope for almost thirty years. It is said she never leaves its inner sanctum.
The Shrine of Peace is not a religious site in the traditional sense. The centerpiece of the Shrine is the Ivory Shield that was carried by Dianwen herself. The Shield has no permanent home and is carried by the Herald Eldjinn Grey. Despite his young age, the human Eldjinn is considered to be the best diplomat in Artanna. Many a dispute has been arbitrated and resolved by the neutral voice of the Shrine of Peace. As conflict is vast, so must the Shrine be free to go where it may – to offer solace where the threats of hostility are greatest. As such, the Shrine of Peace can be found at anyplace at any time.
The Shrine of Vigilance guards the Eastern wilderness of Artanna, overlooking the channel that connects the mainland to the Isle of Kerridas. Its Herald is the unpredictable Khunari Ishtarys. Ishtarys commands the most aggressive arm of the Evoran church – so much so that she is often chastised by the other Heralds for moving too far away from the tenants of the Goddess. Trained as a member of the Rada, Ishtarys is also an Armswoman of exceptional prowess and she maintains an arena of her own at the Shrine of Vigilance. It is believed that she launches missions into the Isle of Kerridas. Whether these missions are scouting expeditions or military raids is unclear, but Ishtarys is resolved that her actions are in the best interest of her church and the task of Vigilance. Ishtarys is one of the few healers to have seen the Obelisk of Peace.