Order of Calhad
|Order of Calhad|
|Headquarters||Regalia, Imperial Palace|
The Order of Calhad is an organization very similar to the Order of Batius, but less oriented towards slaves and commoners and far more towards nobility and clergy. The Order of Calhad descends from the days of Emperor Theomar, where Emperor Theomar created a holy arena in a wing of the Imperial Palace and attached special blessings and sanctifications to it, elevating it to something akin to religious ritualism. Many gladiators in the Order of Batius, but also private soldiers and bodyguards, often aspire to become gladiators in the Arena of Calhad, as it is called. Here, they fight to the death for benedictions of the Spirit. When they are blessed with the touch of the Imperial line, it activates the religious spectacle of eternal battle, a ritual where both Gladiators may die, but will rise again in the future to continue their fight for the Spirit.
The Order of Calhad has a long history spanning back to the beginning of the Empire, when Theomar, the first Emperor of the Regalian Empire, spoke of the need for Ailorkind to remain strong and to give displays of combat for the Spirit’s blessings. However, he also believed that mindlessly killing gladiators in the arena would only serve to create a glorified sacrificial pit and, as such, constructed the Primal Wards with his Spirit-given powers to bless the arena. Since then, the Arena (when used for official Calhad affairs) resurrects the fallen in good order to prevent any wasting of lives and souls, while still maintaining the excitement and the highest honors of the blood sports with a religious bent.
The first Calhad Custodian was a man by the name of Mirvel Calhad who would later come to define the entire Order and entrench all the necessary rules to create the rigid structures of this bloodsport. Calhad a Dragenthal native who had just recently escaped from the west, where his family was enslaved by the Altalar, and zealously appealed to the strongest of early Unionist believers when near to the Emperor. Under Calhad’s guidance, the process for fights as well as the Custodians was established, as he was originally the only one meant to become a custodian. He believed that multiple Custodians would increase the funds given by the Noble Houses and would also encourage higher quality fighting in the ring for the Spirit’s homage, guiding the Custodians to always seek better training and better fighters for their ring.
Over the centuries, some Emperors have shut down the Arena of Calhad, believing it to be a barbaric bloodsport. The Ithanian Emperors in particular heavily disliked the Arena and shut it down, though it was re-opened by Emperor Justinian II. Under Emperor Cedromar, the Arena was hugely popularized as it was one of the few things in the Palace that he did not cut funds from; in fact, he quintupled the funds assigned to the Arena of Calhad for restoration and better equipment. Town criers were also instructed to glorify the arena combat, thus setting the stage for a true revival. This revival has slowed down under Emperor Alexander, who has never shown any interest in the Arena of Calhad, but Emperor Cedromar is still fondly remembered by the gladiators as the first Emperor who even dared to enter the ring himself. He strongly encouraged the gladiators to be seen less as tools and pawns of the Custodians and the Nobility, but as truly respectable warriors of the Spirit (not necessarily Unionism) in and of themselves.
Calhad Gladiators are those who carry the Seal of Calhad, a seal that identifies them as being part of the Order of Calhad. This seal allows them to move freely between the Palace Courtyard and the Arena, but not the upper or inner levels of the Palace. Calhad Gladiators have very peculiar insights into religious mechanics - while roughly half of them are Unionist, a large portion of them are also part of many other religions and have somehow merged some key elements of the Unionist faith into their own religions. At face value, the Arena of Calhad is religiously charged. It has special Primal Essence wards that deny entry to anyone who does not believe in some abstract concept of the Spirit. Obviously, this means that if any atheist or non-believer would try to enter the ring, the magical ward would simply refuse them entry and force them back. This has led to a number of very curious religious fusions:
- For those following the Faith of Estel, they have created a belief there a 9th god of the Altalar Pantheon exists, called Sera’llei. Sera’llei is the divine Lord of Preeminence, the god of domination and overlordship. They acknowledge the Spirit as a physical manifestation in a mortal vessel of the Emperors of Regalia, but do not directly tie this to the Ailor race alone. They simply believe that this god will manifest in whatever race is dominant in Aloria at the time (which may also result in them believing it will eventually pass to the Altalar should they recapture their glory). Under this premise, Sera’llei does not exist to guide the Ailor in particular, but rather to guide any one race or people who are dominant over others, for dominance and preeminence among others is their main tool of worship. They still also worship Estel and all other Altalar Gods at the same time. Because the Faith of Estel is a protected faith, this denomination is commonly accepted by Unionists as legally safe, though it is also somewhat looked down upon by the conservative Estel worshipers.
- For those following the Oldt Fayth, they acknowledge the Imperial Spirit as it manifests in the Emperors as Staur, the male god of domination and overlordship, prayed to to gain strong leadership qualities and success in politics. Since the Old Gods is such a flexible faith as well as protected, this denomination or variant of Oldt Fayth is commonly accepted among both Unionists and Old Gods believers. That being said, for those following this denomination, they view the descendants of the Imperial line with some form of acknowledged demi-god-ism, if they have the strength to back it up. Simply said, those who follow this faith acknowledge that all descendants of the Emperors have a spark of half-divinity in them, but also believe that this spark can be squandered and wasted. As such, not all Calhad Gladiators who believe in this form of Oldt Fayth see all sons or siblings of the Emperor as demigods, only the deserving ones, and whether one is deserving is often left entirely up to one’s own interpretation.
- For those following the Old Gods, similarly to the Faith of Estel, a 9th divine being is acknowledged, though they are not specifically a god. Instead of acknowledging the Spirit as a god in itself, the Old Gods worshipers who are also Calhad Gladiators believe that the Spirit is akin to a glue that holds all the gods like Mershell and Bashturr together. They believe that the Imperial Spirit as it resides in the Emperors is like the anchor to the ships that the gods sail among the stars, and that as long as the Emperor is the vessel of the Spirit then the gods can see and hear among the mortals on Aloria. This creates a curious dynamic where they believe that instead of absolutely revering the Emperor, they must protect the Emperor from being murdered to ensure that the succession transfers peacefully and according to the rules set out by the first vessel of the Spirit.
- For those following Baskarr, Esrah Alwattah, Nessrassian, or the Allar faith, the Spirit is manifested as some sort of divine constant in existence, much like a gatekeeper to divinity or the realm of the gods. To Baskarr, this gatekeeper is the one holding the keys to the slumbering of Baskarr, their goddess. To the Qadir, this gatekeeper is the one who dwells in the realm of the gods after they died. To the Slizzar, this Spirit is a subversive element of lingering power of the Deep Sea Serpents, while to the Allar, the Spirit is like a religious constance, a variable that expresses providence in religion. Similar variants also exist for faiths not mentioned here, where the Spirit is acknowledged as a divine aspect of the physical presence of their deity on the physical realm of Aloria.
- In any and all cases, these religious fusions and denominations have a couple of traits in common. They acknowledge the existence of the Spirit in one form or another (who is not always god-like or all-powerful, but still present). Secondly, they acknowledge the descendants of the Emperors as a form of respect and deference (though not outright worship or obedience). Lastly, they acknowledge that (some) part of the Spirit’s divinity is invested in the Emperors of Regalia, and that they act as the physical anchor to the Spirit’s essence to the world of Aloria.
- These faiths aren’t simply concepts that any person will just adopt after hearing it, but usually requires a certain mindset to adopt. If someone isn’t already Unionist, they might belong to any other faith, or even be atheist. For most who follow these denominations, they do not want to abandon their old faiths and still believe in the core tenets of them. However, in life, they saw too many things they could not explain all in light of the Ailor and Unionism, between the purple magic dome that protected Regalia from the Bone horrors, to the Ascension of Unionism and the existence of Dragons. Somewhere in their life, they concluded that there was an kernel of truth in the gospels of Unionism, and as such came into contact with other like-minded and flexible believers, creating common belief systems through these minor “fusion faiths”. Those becoming Calhad Gladiators should believe some of the finer points of these faiths or should at least already be open to the idea before they become Calhad Gladiators. If they do not, the Arena of Calhad will deny them entry. These Primal wards cannot be fooled, as they look deep into someone’s soul when they try to enter the ring.
Calhad gladiators fight with any armor or weapon they please; however, they do build a specific Proficiency for every year spent as a Calhad Gladiator. Calhad Gladiators build the so-called Unionist Calhad Skill, which is a semi-ritualistic common combat geared specifically for techniques used to maximize effectiveness inside the Arena of Calhad. This proficiency cannot be used outside the Arena, but does strongly dictate the battle effectiveness of the gladiators inside the Arena, obviously favoring those who have spent more years dedicated to the Arena of Calhad than others. Calhad Gladiators can be of any race, though obviously anti-Unionist elements like Vampires, Mages and other Aberrants are denied (though there is, strangely enough, an exception for Silven, who are not denied by the ring). Calhad Gladiatorship is not mutually exclusive with other orders or organizations, but one must participate in a gladiatorial fight in the Arena of Calhad at least once a month or risk expulsion from the Order.
Note: In order to make use of this Proficiency in your backstory, your character must have already been signed up with a Calhad Custodian, and then also possess the Calhad Proficiency Permission, which is applied for on the Forums. Without this Permission, whenever your character was signed up to a Custodian doesn’t matter and they will always be treated as if they were just recruited rather than if they were recruited in the past.
Calhad Custodians are the managers of the Calhad Gladiators and organize fights between them. For the Calhad Custodians, the more religious element comes into play as the fights they organize have a religious attachment to the faith of Unionism. It is believed among Unionists that the Calhad Custodians attribute their fights to the Spirit to prove that Ailorkind is still capable of dominating the other races and still deserving of the fighting spirit to support the Great Way. Calhad Custodians are, as such, exclusively Unionists. They are often Noble (because of their long heritage in the Empire) but may also be commoners who simply have a strong religious history in their family. Calhad Custodians are hired by the noble family heads to choose Calhad Gladiators to carry their name forward in the Arena of Calhad and to bring fame to their name in the eyes of the Spirit in exchange for funding. Successful Calhad Custodians who have many winning gladiators live lavish lives in the city of Regalia, though they always keep an eye on their pious nature, as is demanded by their faith.
Note: In order to play a Calhad Custodian, you need to apply for a Calhad Custodian Special Permission on the Forums.
Arena fights in the Arena of Calhad can be done one of two ways. They are either a common fight, which is usually a more friendly duel between Nobles, a fight between entertainers to entertain the nobility for pure leisure, or they are the more religious Calhad Duels. The former is simple to organize and do; one simply needs to enter the arena and complete the duel with no strings attached. The latter, however, takes a bit more work. In order to activate the wards of the Arena of Calhad, a descendant of the Emperors must enter the arena and put their hand at the center of the golden eye in the middle of the ring. Then, they speak the Proto-Regalian prayer to the will of Calhad, an old Unionist rite, after which the arena wards are activated and will light up. As long as they are active, two or more combatants may enter the ring, after which the ring “closes”, and the wards refuse entry to anyone else. After this point, the fight inside the ring is essentially a fight to the death, where the wards will only break if only one person is left alive (or none; some mutual-kill scenarios have happened). When blood is spilled in the arena in good quality combat, the arena’s wards light up brighter, while anyone who has Sanktist tattoos and is near to the Arena while it is active will also have their Sanktist tattoos light up. Those who die are then collected by the Palace servants and laid to the rest in the mausoleum of Calhad, which in itself has walls adorned with prayers in Sanktist writing. After exactly 24 hours, those who have died and been laid to rest in the Mausoleum are resurrected with all their wounds undone and their memory and everything else intact, though with a sense of fatigue and exhaustion that lasts for two days. Those who win receive a so-called Laureate, which is a golden branch of olive leaves that can be collected, while all of their wounds are also purified after 24 hours. This does mean that if they lost an arm during the duel that it will remain lost for 24 hours after which their form is consumed with holy light, and the arm re-appears. Some champion Gladiators have as many as 50 laureates, some 20, and some very few at all. These Laureates are often an indicator of their success and are sometimes used as a form of currency to buy favor among court (even for gladiators who are commoners).
Note: Because laureate acquisition is based entirely on IC proceedings, every gladiator starts at 0 laureates, regardless of whether they were approved to have been a gladiator for some years already or were only just recruited.