Kirva the Flame, also known as the Purifier, is the God(ess) of The Church of Kirva and a dominant member of the Great Pantheon. She is commonly associated with cleansing fire, and her followers traditionally emphasize a form of asceticism. Whether by dint of innate power or the particular success of her religious message, Kirva is generally considered the most powerful of the individual gods.
Kirva teaches her followers a dogma of absolute loyalty to her and of absolute physical and mental purity to protect their minds from the insidious influence of other divinities; the vision she sells to new converts is of an egalitarian society in life and a beautiful oneness in the afterlife. The weak are to be shielded, and the strong who did not get there by Kirva's will cast down to feed the hungry. Of course, all other gods are cast as insidious, dangerous liars who would lead mortals to ruin (not necessarily an unfair characterization). Of the gods, Kirva is perhaps the most totalitarian -- Valdos cares not what his servants think as long as they fulfill their contract: Kirva wants true believers. Her angels are great and terrible to behold: they will throw themselves into ending tyranny, but some will just as readily immolate any who had the misfortune of serving the tyrant too closely. Naturally, Kirvan angels hold a special contempt for their erstwhile brethren who rebelled with Thalran. Kirva's powerful mortal servants are most often zealots and idealists, but many would sooner protect than punish -- for others the distinction is nonexistent.
Relation to Other Gods Edit
Although not a God in the truest sense of the word, Adarnum is Kirva's archangel and right hand. During the events of The Pantheon War, he became powerful and revered enough that many consider him a minor god.
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Kirva is often at odds with the Automation God Baradun, having participated in several campaigns against him.
Kirva's "portfolio" of divine works emphasizes ritual purification of the corrupted (usually in a metaphorical sense but sometimes involving literal demonic influence), closely aligning her with the God Idolmar, whose works emphasize healing and restoration. Together, they are commonly known by their worshipers are the "Benevolents," although such an appellation would doubtless be disputed by untold millions of charred corpses and tortured heretics.
Kirva is also associated in a less destructive vein with justice and truth, an element of her portfolio that is frequently disputed with the Lord of Contracts, Valdos. It is possible that the respective emphases of these two divinities on law and codification led to their begrudging cooperation in forming and enforcing The Partition.
The Pantheon War Edit
- Main article: The Pantheon War
Despite being considered the most powerful of the Great Pantheon, Kirva's alliance with Idolmar was ultimately insufficient to overwhelm the Lords of the Pentacle during the Pantheon War. The bloc of five deities exploited Kirva's costly campaigns against the Automaton God Baradun, using Kirva's momentary exhaustion (and Idolmar's disillusionment over the possibility of restoring worlds devastated by the War) to force the Benevolents to the bargaining table in what would become The Partition (a masterwork of Elder Magic in which Kirva ultimately had a significant hand).
Kirva's relative power during the Pantheon War was such that her great angelic commanders became revered as minor gods in their own right. The most famous of these by far was the prophet-king Adarnum, who served Kirva as a mortal driven by divine visions of unifying his entire world under her banner before launching a crusade across the Cosmos in her name. Adarnum's decades of service were rewarded with ascension to angelhood, and his unparalleled success in the costly war against Baradun (a conflict that claimed many of Kirva's best generals, including the angel Zarael) saw him named as her Archangel. Subsequently, Adarnum became an object of worship for crusaders and inquisitors within the post-Partition Kirvan Church. Adarnum's association with monarchy and martial nobility allowed the Kirvan Church to attract the membership of feudal aristocrats and to justify the economic and social distinctions of feudalism and caste systems common on many worlds. In this sense, while Kirva remained the object of prime devotion within the Church, its most powerful secular supporters often paid greater attention to the creed of Adarnum, and the Knights of Adarnum became a political entity unto themselves, controlling small statelets of their own across dozens or even hundreds of worlds at different times in history.
The Restoration Edit
At the twilight of the Mage Imperium (whose ruling Oracular Council worshiped the goddess Adalna), the Protectorate of Adarnum was one of the few power blocs to pose any threat to the Mage Princes (and its rulers carefully avoided the direct confrontation that saw the dwarven empire of Episur reduced to ashes and scattered refugees by the Mages's dreaded Imperial Navy). It was in fact so significant, and the dominance of the Knights of Adarnum (who in that time took to calling themselves the Princes of Adarnum in an effort to make themselves peers of the haughty Mage Princes) over their protectorate so absolute that some theologians and occult scholars questioned whether Kirva was in fact being subsumed by her servant. With the collapse of the Mage Imperium into warring states and the complete devastation of Adalna's followers by civil war and the terrorism of the Mage Ascensionists, the threat of war from a rival religious faction diminished significantly and, with it, the influence of the Knights of Adarnum.
A period known as The Restoration went into effect, often leading to bloody strings of assassinations and other atrocities in the cloisters and cathedrals of the Kirvan Church. Violent uprisings led by self-proclaimed prophets of Kirva tore down many of the edifices of Adarnum's power and millions perished as the embattled Knights declared heresy wherever they saw dissent. Though the Church Fathers and Mothers ultimately reasserted the traditional Kirvan Hierarchy and reintegrated large segments of the Knights of Adarnum (often in elaborate ceremonies of penance and with frequent sentences of "missionary exile" that would define a new tradition of violent frontier evangelism within the Order), historians suggest that the roughly two centuries of conflict squandered a unique opportunity for Kirva, always a strong figure in cosmic politics but never its superpower, to seize much of the cosmos in the power vacuum left by Adalna's rapid recession from dominance.
With the raging conquests of Korbog's followers in the post-Imperial period and the eventual, short-lived Fialta Imperium, the reconciled Knights of Adarnum and the Kirvan Church did not have the power to do more than shield a few core worlds (including Bishant) before the cosmos sank into violence and darkness for millennia. In the new, modern age of mortal Etheric Empires, the Kirvan Church is a major power but ultimately constrained by its secular patron, the Shantine Emperor and his long power struggle with the fiercely anti-theistic Republic of Aeldrum.