Endless Blue – Week 81 – Olyhydra: The Mistress of Law   8 comments

Theology

Olyhydra: The Mistress of Law

Life is toil.  You must work to survive, and even then you are not guaranteed a respite from your labors.  But following the Law is the only path to salvation.  Strict adherence to the dictates of Olyhydra ensures that however brief the anguish in this world, by doing Her bidding secures your reward in the next.  Eschew temptations that steal you away from your work, and dedicate your life to doing Her will.

Unlike most other Elquan religions that foster morality through promises granted in this lifetime, Olyhydra promises eternal salvation after death.  The un-saved are buoyed up to the surface world, where they suffer unending torture and anguish among the aberrations there.  This is why the dead float upward.  It is how things work; it is the natural law.

Olyhydra, The Stern Goddess, Mistress of Law, Mother of Suffering, Matron of the Waters,  Judge-of-All, the Path to Salvation.

Alignment: Lawful neutral
Symbol: Elquan scales and the melusine tail
Domains: Force, Law, Protection, Strength, Water
Preferred unguis (weapon): Bident, a two-tined trident
Clerical Weapon of Choice: Tridents at lower levels (priest through deacon), bidents for upper echelons (bishops on up).
Cleric Alignment: Lawful neutral, neutral, neutral evil, lawful evil.

Divine Visage

Olyhydra, expectantly, appears as an idealized Mer, except that Her tail is split down the center.  Images of Law Mistress show each of these calved halves curved upward on either side of Her, both supporting the pan of a balance scale.  The scales represent Olyhydra as the ultimate arbiter of worth, and that judgement is Hers to decide with but a shift of either tail-half.  In one hand She carries a trident, a symbol of Her power; in the other is a net, illustrating the all-encompassing reach of that power.

Church of Olyhydra

The organized religion of the Stern Mistress is officially referred to as the Holy Church of Olyhydra, or the Olyhydran Church.  In following Her teachings, the role of the church is to maintain control over her congregation, spread Her word to new believers, and usher new souls to the afterlife.  The church does this by keeping the level of education amongst the piscean populace low, by keeping literacy at a minimum save for those in its own clergy.  Without the ability to read, write, or do math, the church keeps its school dependent on their service.

Pastor — the lowest grade in the Olyhydran hierarchy save that of generic priest, a Pastor serves as the ordained head of  a congregation.  Called a parish, it is the small, local area of influence of the Olyhydran Church, and is the deepest into the operations of the Church that most pisceans are privy.

Deacon — watches over multiple Pastors and their congregations.  More bureaucrat than priest, they are in charge of the operations of the church, physically and monetarily.  Deacons are the “tithe collectors” of the organization

Bishop — a step above deacon, and operates in much the same way.  Their duties are more political in nature.

Cardinal — the inner circle of the Olyhydran hierarchy.  They interact with the Pearl Pontiff personally.  There can be only one Cardinal per aquapolitical organization (i.e., there is one cardinal for each of the eight Mer Currents, as well as one for each of the other Fluid Nations).  Additional cardinals exist, such as the one that oversees the Adjudicators.  The cardinals are the “faces” of the Church in their area, and serve as proxies to the head of the Church.

At the top of the Church hierarchy sits the Pearl Pontiff.  The Pontiff is the head of the Church, the chosen representative of the Judge-of-All.  She charges her pontiff to carry out Her will in the homeseas of Elqua, to spread Her influence across the Known World.

Adjudicators are the judicial/retributive arm of the Olyhydran Church.  Membership to the Adjudicators is through appointment only by the Bishop Adjudicator, who in turn is hand-picked by the Pontiff herself.  They use the same rank system as the rest of the Church, but operate independently of the main church and are not in charge of congregations.  They meter our punishment from the church hierarchy upon those that threaten its sovereignty from within or without.  The severity of the Law Mistress’ punishment makes Adjudicators a feared sight, and usually the mere presence of an Adjudicator is enough to change piscean’s behavior significantly.  One of the most infamous of the Adjudicator’s crusades was the Culling Purge, the near-mob mentality slaughter of thousands of pisceans for little more than being accused of holding Resurrectionist beliefs.

Shrines and Ceremonies

The Cathedral of Olyhydra is often referred to as a “wonder of the modern world”.  Hews out of a single immense slap of basalt, the cathedral is located at the junction of three Mer Currents.  It is a stark, imposing monolith of a structure, and its design make it clear that the edifice is nothing but a mer-made monument to the most demanding of Goddesses.

As the popularity of the Olyhydran belief has grown, so to has the settlement around it.  What was once just the dwellings of the Church’s faculty has since bloomed into a great metropolis.  It has the distinction of almost being treated as its own Current, and is not considered to be part of the surrounding currents.

Smaller churches are scattered across the sea floor — some impressive works of architecture in their own right, others simply adapted dwellings for the local faithful to join together in worship.

Services are held frequently and repeatedly, like clockwork.  Multiple services each day give those practitioners opportunity to bask in Her magnificence while still completing their daily labors.  Precise regularity in services shows the Stern Mistress reverence.  Attendance of as many as possible is expected, though only the most devout go more than once or twice in Elqua’s five-day week.

Allied Organizations

There are few organizations outside of the Olyhydran Church that would qualify as true allies.  It is more accurate to say that most of the Olyhydran Church’s influence comes from the devotion of members in key positions in the local society.  Olyhydrans have ingratiated themselves into Mer Currents government, and show a significant influence over Mer policy making.  Having the fealty of pisceans in high places has made the Holy Church plenty of powerful allies.

One organization that could perhaps be considered an “ally” is the Liberty Tide.  The Liberty Tide stands against the slavery of other pisceans, and the Church has seen this as an opportunity to spread it’s faith.  The Church offers aid and solace to Liberty Tide operatives, even political and religious protection if needed.  The Mistress of Law’s writings prohibit the owning of others as property, seeing instead that all are in truth Her property.  This thin thread of commonality has provided succor for many Liberty Tide cells in Olyhydran parishes.

Opposed Organizations

The Godless — Flat out defying the Holy Church, the “Godless” (a label given to their cause, not chosen) teach literacy and arithmetic to the masses as an effort to break the Church’s domination through education.  Outliers — pilgrims of the Godless that travel across the Known World teaching any willing to learn — have been targeted by more zealous Olyhydrans (both civilian and clergy) for persecution.  Most claim it is done as retaliation against what their religion views as heresy, but the truth leans more towards reinforcing their grip on piscean population.

Paragon CynosureResurrectionists that aim to resurrect a dead species — namely the Icht — are seen as heretics in the eyes of the Stern Mistress.  However there exists an uneasy truce between the two, as the use of homunculi in the Mer Currents is common, if not prevalent.  Even the Church itself will use lower level homunculi for its more physically demanding work.  The line is drawn at independent thought, that no homunculi should be able to think for itself.  There are no more than tools, hoes and scythes used for toil.  They serve the greater cause, and nothing else.  Independently willful homunculi are seen as an affront to Olyhydra, as only She has the sole purview over what may live.

Synesthete Synod — While the two seldom come to conflict directly, emissaries of both will manipulate their agents into carrying out the less savory actions needed to advance their cause.  Only the inadequate agents let things grow to the point of violence, but it has happened more than once.  Adjudicators have a reputation for expunging Prospectors among the Sahaguin, for example.  While the Church has only an inkling of the Synod‘s divinations into the living Acumen Cipher, they have no concept of how far the synesthete’s plans have advanced.

Relations with other Religions

The Holy Church’s relation with other theologies is at best considered poor to outright hostile.  A core tenet of Olyhydranism is the claim that the Law Mistress is the one, true divine being.  This clashes with similar assertions by other religions, but is an unwavering belief of those that worship the Stern Mistress.

There is particular enmity towards Pantheon worship, as it not only contravenes the Church’s claim of one true Goddess, but the domain of each of the Yaun-Teel gods is portrayed as sinful in Olyhydran dogma.  Despite this, the congregation has found a common ground with the Yaun-Til concept of “The Principles of Service“, and as a result have had an influx of Yaun-Teel conversions.

Pity is the best way to describe the Church’s view of belief in the Source.  It is seen more as primitive superstition than any serious contender for dominant religion.  Those that honor the Source are said to be backward fools, and it is the Church’s duty to enlighten them to the glory of Olyhydra.

A step above Source belief in the eyes of the Church is ancestor worship.  There are tinges of ancestor worship in the Holy Church in the form of venerating saints.  With this common ground , conversion to Olyhydranism is helped by drawing a parallel between their practice and the Church’s own saints, with Olyhydra being “the Saint of saints”.

Sectarianism exists in the Church, without a doubt.  The brunt of this prejudice is levelled against the Godless and Maelstrom cultists (also known as Elsewhere servants).  The official stance of the Holy Church is that atheists as un-savable by choice, and Maelstrom cultists un-savable by corruption.  Historically, the Church of Olyhydra excommunicates those who spout extremist ideas such as these, as they notably excommunicated Seamus Lorwynn (the father of evolution).  Others, such as Endira Mundi, have been censured long after her death, despite the Church’s monopolization of her creation, math.

Schisms

The Holy Church has not existed long enough for a true schism to have formed in its followers.  There are those, however, that view Olyhydra in a less stern light.  This apocryphal sect calls her Melusine, and portrays Her as the Mother of Suffering, a divine being that suffers in their stead.  The Goddess still expects devotion and hard work from her school, but is more understanding when the flawed piscean does not measure up to Her expectations.

” She is the law, she is the water,
she gives life, she expects toil
she is the Judge-of-All…”
— a short Olyhydran prayer

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