De Summus Cultus
Here begins the work in which the full extent of the Cultic Temple known as the High Worship is discussed, beginning with the history of Porphyran worship and culminating in the modern structure of the Temple of the High Worship.
I. PORPHYROS BENEATH THE SASSARIANS
The worship of Porphyros first began in Echeon when it was the capital of the Assuran kingdom known as Benassar. The truth was first revealed amongst the Magnoi of Sassaria but they refused it. They became blind to the truth, and they sought to hide it. One amongst their number, a Magnoi who was called Ustaz, attempted to prevent the truth from being concealed. He spoke aloud to the assembly of the high Magnoi and they mocked him with hateful words. “Look,” they said to Ustaz, “upon the mighty works the Lazim has bestowed upon us. Gaze upon the might of his miracles.” And thus the Magnoi made display of their prowess. Through the lores they had learned they performed many false miracles to remind Ustaz of their station; they transmuted the very waters to blazing fire and said they “See, how it blazes! The Lazim has given us this power, for he is the true lord and master.”
But Ustaz saw only Porphyros in the flames and he fled then from the false priests. The worship of the Lazim was the law in in Sassaria, but Ustaz came to know that the Lazim was a fiction perpetrated by the false-spirits that seek always to undermine the power of the Good King. In his flight, Ustaz made use of the black lores of the Lazim to escape his pursuers. He was received in Benassar by their king and there began to preach.
He gained many followers in Echeon, and converted the Ashurite princes to the worship of Porphyros. It was there, in Echeon, that his temples were first established to keep the holy light.
II. THE SONS OF JUDANN
King Judann’s sons numbered four, the Princes of Benassar, and they followed the teachings of Ustaz the Prophet. The god of the Benassar, a singular god not unlike the Lazim and Porphyros, was called Eloeh. The holy place of the Benassar was in the city of Echeon where there stands a black stone that fell from the dome of the heavens to the earth, a celestial sign. When the princes showed this stone to Ustaz he knew at once that it was filled with the sacred Porphyran fire.
He had built over the black stone a great temple, which was called the Ish Sachar and is known today as the sanctuary of Dawn. It was there, first, that the light of dawn fell on Echeon each morning. And it was there in the temple of Ish Sachar that Ustaz became the leader of the Porphyran faith; he trained new initiates in the halls of Ish Sachar and taught the sons of kings from near and far. Even the Magnoi feared him now, and they sent men to slay him armed with sorceries of the Lazim but they could not destroy him for Porphyros watched his chosen prophet and warded him.
The sons of King Judann were called Zacher, Avirhem, Caler, and Yitro. Zacher was first among them; he and Avirhem supported Ustaz unconditionally. They had the true love of the Good King in their hearts. But Caler and Yitro were less beatific for they stood to inherit the lesser portions of their father’s kingdom and they saw in the Prophet a way to grow in strength. Yitro asked for the blessings of Porphyros before every battle, and in the esteem of the armies he grew mighty. But Caler secretly worked against Ustaz, hoping to make compact with the Sassarian king and his Magnoi. It was Caler who instructed the assassins on how to enter the sacred places of the temple; it was Caler the Dog who killed the Prophet of the Good King.
III. THE APOTHEOSIS OF NEOS NIKITIS
Neos Nikitis, or Neos the Victorious, was known as Neos of Néro before his many victories against the Guzrian threat. During the time of Neos of Néro the Alíthean empire was fractured between three warring candidates for Tyrant. The clerics of Naftikos and the combined might of the temples were thrown behind a man named Kefalan of Skavos, a nobleman who the cults felt was pliable to their aims. The third contender for the Scepter was a strategos of the Assarian provinces named Evraikos who was the central figure in a small cult in Echeon which rivaled the native Porphyran worship.
The Guzar were pressing upon the Assarian provinces and Evraikos could not hold the border without aid. He abandoned his pursuit of the Scepter, acknowledging Neos of Néro as the rightful Tyrant. Before Neos’ armies could arrive in the east, Evraikos was destroyed along with the body of his worshipers at the Battle of Kreopoles where the Iqtadir of Cyros marched in victory. The Assarian provinces fell, and Neos withdrew to the border provinces, waiting for his chance to strike.
Cyros and his armies marched into the Synóron where they confronted the Alíthean Columns under the leadership of Kefalan of Skavos. Neos Néronensis gave him aid by closing the mouths of the Synóron and trapping the Guzrian armies on the headlands between Kefalan and the passes. But the Antikan Columns were defeated, and Kefalan abandoned his bid to the Scepter and fled for the south to keep his life. Neos entered the Synoron and, after several brutal engagements, killed Cyros and several of his Iqtadir commanders. He presided, triumphant, over the return of the Antikan Columns to captured Echeon where he then moved the imperial capital and residence.
He was granted the Naftikan blessing and the Scepter of Tyrant, and declared himself an open supporter of Porphyros in the following months. Porphyran worship was granted a place on Naftikos, and a great secondary temple was there constructed.
In the later years of his life, Neos Nikitis became known as a great boon to the Porphyrans and promoted many of the Faithful to high positions within the empire. Such was his devotion that the keepers of the Ish Sachar named Neos a new Prophet and upon his death he ascended directly into the heavens to join the Good King.
IV. THE CULTIC WARS
After the death of Neos Nikitis, the Porphyran clerics on Naftikos were assaulted. The other cults believed that the newcomer-priests had no protectors when the Tyrant died. They gravely underestimated the potency of those the Tyrant had placed before his death, for the Echean cult of Porphyrus had great influence amongst the senior advisers of state.
This was in the year eight hundred and sixty three of the Chronia Naftikos; the great historians refer to the period of violent bloodshed as the Cultic Wars. Once the priests of Porphyros were ejected from the holy city, the other cults who long been kept from each others throats by the power of the Tyrant were given free reign. Violence erupted on Naftikos, and all the supporters of each of the great cults in every city turned on one another.
For nearly one hundred years the Tyrants failed to gain control of the violence that wracked the empire. In the year nine hundred and seventy three the Tyrant Eleoros called a general Synod of all the great cults on Naftikos. His order was enforced by the stationing of the border garrisons in the great cities and the arrest of many of the great cult-leaders; they were given freedom on the grounds that they would attend the Synod.
V. THE FAITH
The Faith is based upon the worship of the Great Cults, recognizing that of Porphyros the Good King at its head. We of the Faith follow the Liturgies of the Synod, passed down from the priests at Naftikos and the Ish Sachar at Echeon.
The Articles of the Faith are best summed up by the Book of Sages, which states Lo that he who comes to Porphyros shall see that the God is a Good God who seeks only to make of each man a torch against the darkness. The other spirits that attend him are like the reflections of a man distorted in a pond; they may guide and instruct, but when the day is out they shall depend only on he who is the Light. And lo, there too is the Deceiver; like the God he exists of his own form, but is a shadow thrown by the burning flame of Porphyros. For wherever there is Light there must also be Darkness. Wherever there is Being there must also be Unbeing, and it is against the Deceiver that we must always strive.
The Faith accepts these things as true: That Porphyros is the True Light, without whom there would be neither Light nor Darkness; that the other Gods are but that Light given shape and form and though they may not always be in accord, they are of the Generative Principle as the God himself; lastly, that the presence of a Light necessitates the presence of a Darkness and thus that the Deceiver is active in the world and seeks to undermine what Is and make of it what Is Not.
The gods of the High Worship are those who’s clerics attended the First and Second Synod; namely, they are Porphyros the Good King, Dasia the World-Mother, Martius Lord of Battle, Giatros the Healer, Amoria the Lover, Gnosea of the Mirror, Lucernus the Bright One, Nyx the Night, Formax the Smith, Skáfos the Poet, and Priaspor the Wagerer. Though we do not use his titles if it can be avoided, it should also be known that the High Worship recognizes the existence of Apatheon Ecthros the Deceiver.
There are many canon writings that have been incorporated into the Holy Scriptures; the primary source is the Book of Sages, the Ashurite holy text. The wealth of Porphyran worship and devotion comes from the Book of Sages though it has been tempered by the inclusion of the Book of Faith, which is composed of the works that were accepted by the Synod of Naftikos.
The Synodal Scriptures were composed and accepted at the Council of Thyra. The last of the great scriptures to be added to the canon was the book called Contra Adversarius which details the ways in which the Deceiver can influence man and cause the very world to turn us against Porphyros.
There are, in this world, two opposing forces; there is the generative force from which all things spiritual spring. Souls, the organizing principle of bodies human, plant, and animal, are made by this generative force. There is the deceiving or degenerative force, that of gross matter; this force seeks only to degrade all that is good and mire it in the dross of material.