Level 5 Cleric
The worship of the Twin Gods is an old practice, dating from before the first Kingdoms, when the nations of men were little more than savage tribes fighting for survival, when elves were immortal and the dwarves lived deep within the warm crust of the earth.
Brother and sister, two of the oldest gods of men.
Aena, the God of Change, Collapse and Renewal. He who lives between night and day, in the silence between words, neither in the moment that was or the moment that will be.
Aphrea, the Goddess of Being, of Life and Death. She whose face is the four seasons, whose voice is the child’s and the crone’s.
One cannot exist without the other. The worship of one is the worship of the other.
The rituals of old were meaningful. Holy dances for Aphrea at the Harvest, every year, and an empty chair at the table for Aena. The cycles were there, easy for all to see, easy for all to understand the concept of one, and the other.
Now, with great cities sprawling all over the kingdoms of men, the cycles are less clear. Worship of the Twins has become a quaint practice of those rural areas still under the yoke of religious superstition.
The few churches that still stand in honor of the Twins tend to be involved with their communities out of a misplaced sense of habit. Donations are handed in every year to preserve the church, to receive the Twins’ blessing, and the priests pocket the offerings half-heartedly, with the lazy wave of a hand and a half-muttered prayer.
Octavian was born in Ashenbound, the largest of the cities that still worships the Twins. Consequently, though there is no official Council or ultimate authority for the worship of the Twins, the Church in Ashenbound has become the unofficial leader of the faith.
A street urchin, Octavian was taken in by a local priest, Gaius, an eminent scholar and philosopher. For years he studied the mythos of the Twins, the stories and fables. He was trained in the ways of the quarterstaff, the weapon of the Twins. A simple weapon, the quarterstaff can be wielded as if it was two weapons when wielded with skill. Octavian took quickly to this practice.
During these years of training, Gaius was busy developing a theory on the nature of faith. He researched all of the gods, trying to find a pattern between them. This brought the disapproval of the rest of the clergy, who found his ideas distasteful and borderline heretical.
Gaius died of a lung sickness before he could complete his studies, but Octavian swore that he would complete his mentor’s work. He wrote an impressive thesis using his master’s research, developing Gaius’ original ideas into something that went beyond theories of faith.
Octavian’s thesis postulated that all type of magical power in the world is a different side of the same coin, all based on the notion of willpower. Druids, mages and sorcerors use their will to shape the OUTSIDE world, the forces of nature and the elements, while divine power is merely the application of willpower from WITHIN. His theory decreed that gods were merely a metaphor that allowed men the necessary tools to unlock this power.
Needless to say, the clergy was outraged. They burned Octavian’s book and any trace of his master’s research. Their reaction deeply affected Octavian. For months he stayed in his room and took to drinking heavily. He became increasingly cynical and felt he had reached an impasse.
He turned to Aena and Aphrea for help. The Twins were a symbol, but still a part of him needed to speak to them. His powers had all but vanished in the past months. He could no longer touch the divine within himself. He stumbled through his old master’s office, desperate, and in a drunken rage he destroyed everything he could find. He ripped books apart, throwing the meaningless pages into the fireplace, cursing himself and everything else.
After a while he slumped down against a wall, beaten… and picked up a book that had fallen next to him. It was a treatise entitled “The Living Gods”, something he had read in the past, about the gods actually physically existing in the world, walking amongst men.
As he moved to throw it aside, a piece of paper fell out from between the pages. His master’s handwriting… the Cardinal’s name… and mysterious references to another book. Out of curiosity he fished out the mentioned book and discovered more references, more leads. With renewed vigor, he pieced together his master’s clues, something that pointed to the Church’s corruption, to the Cardinal’s hypocrisy. Bribes, coercion, and things that Octavian could scarce believe.
He didn’t know what to make of this information. The Cardinal had ordered his book burnt. Now it would be his turn to pay.
When Harvest came and the whole populace was assembled near the Church to ask the Cardinal for the Twins’ blessing, Octavian showed up drunk, shouting accusations and vague threats. Nobody listened. He hadn’t been prepared. He’d half-assed it.
“But that was years ago anyway,” he says with a grin, leaning on his quarterstaff. “Could have gone worse.” He grabs the bottle of wine and takes a swig. “Maybe one day I’ll tell you what happened after that. For now though, if you want to read my book, I’ve got a copy right here…”