The kandar worship the enigmatic and ancient entities known as the Guardians. A kandar will usually have one ‘patron’ guardian, but will usually revere all or most of the others. It is not at all unusual for a highly religious kandar to strongly dislike one or more of the Guardians. The basic beliefs of kandar vary between followers of different guardians, although there are many things in common
The basic purpose of life is for the kandar people (some Guardians extend this to other races as well) to survive and prosper. The Guardians have their best interests at heart, and are much more wise and knowledgeable than mortals. The fate of the people as a whole is more important than the fate of individuals.
All disasters, both man-made and natural, are consequences of the kandar’s disobedience of the Guardians. They are either the direct consequences of disobedient acts, or caused by the guardians to punish wrongdoing.
For most, there is no life after death. There are two exceptions. Firstly there are the “chosen”, a select few whose service to the Guardians is exemplary. These people will be carried up to join and serve the guardians in their star after their mortal bodies die. Then there are those who die unjustly. They are reincarnated, to take revenge on those who caused their unjust death, or their descendants. The ambition of all religious kandar is to become one of The Chosen.
The natural world, although it existed before the guardians came, can be controlled by them. The Guardians have some influence over such things as weather and earthquakes, but their power is limited.
The holy book of the kandar is the Paranthur, a collection of eight books, one written by each guardian. All eight books are incomplete, and new chapters are added from time to time after priests have been enlightened. Sometime sections are also removed, in which case the priests are instructed to destroy all existing copies of the books to be replaced by the new amended editions.
There are ten guardians in all, of whom eight are still worshipped by the kandar.
Esala the Artist is typically portrayed as a kandar woman with waist-length hair, always holding something connected with an artistic endeavour in her right hand, be it a paintbrush, chisel, pen or musical instrument.
She is worshipped not only by artists, singers and musicians, but also craftsmen and builders, both kandar and human. Most of her priests are female, although male priests are not unknown. Compared to some of the guardians she has relatively few temples, which are to be found only in the of largest kandar cities. More common is a shrine to Esala in the city temple of Karlandra.
Esala praises beauty in all forms, her mission is to make the world a more aesthetically-pleasing place. She doesn’t have much to say when it comes to moral teaching; that’s left to other Guardians such as Karlandra, Lakenthar and Ulseth. Not that she’s against the use of art for moral purposes, provided it’s artistically-done. She dislikes ugly ‘art’ that’s intended to shock; A Kalyran equivalent of Damiem Hirst will not expect any support from her or her followers.
Kardak the Defender is portrayed as a armoured figure with a sword; sometimes he’s depicted with a shield, sometimes with a two-handed sword. His face is always hidden by his helm.
As the patron of martial values, he is especially worshipped by kandar knights and soldiers. His priests are exclusively male, and are not supposed to marry, so as not to leave lots of widows! Temples of Kardak resemble fortresses, and can be found in all larger kandar cities. There are also some Kardak fortresses in remote locations in the countryside, often in border areas.
Kardak and his followers are dedicated to the defence of the kandar people against any external threat, the greatest of which they believe to be humanity. This doesn’t mean that they immediately plan to start a ‘holy war’ to wipe out humanity; other Guardians would not allow it. But it does make them considerable racial chauvinists, enthusiastic supporters of any pogrom they can get away with. They have for instance embarked on some particularly brutal campaigns against outlaw human settlements.
Karlandra, Mother of the Kandar is portrayed as a middle-aged kandar woman, typically surrounded by countless kandar children.
She is the patron Guardian of the kandar race, Guardian of the family. She is the most widely worshipped of all the Guardians, especially by nobles, but has no human worshippers. A temple of Karlandra can be found in every single kandar city. In some smaller cities, it may be the only temple in town. These temples often contain shrines to other Guardians, typically those that do not have their own temple in that particular city. Priests must be kandar, and are mostly female. Priests and priestesses of Karlandra may only ever marry other priests, who may be priests of other guardians.
Karlandra is characterised as a conservative; she’s even more a racial chauvinist than Kardak. She’s aware that the humans are out-breeding the kandar, and recognises that humanity will be in position to overthrow their kandar overlords within the space of the next few generations. At the moment she keeps her options open; and all-out racial war is only one option. Whatever happens, the long-term survival of the kandar race is her one and only concern.
Lakentyr the Lawmaker is portrayed as a stern man with grey hair and piercing eyes, usually holding the Rod of Law. No image ever shows him smiling.
Lakentyr is the patron guardian of many soldiers, guild or city administrators and of bigots in general. Almost all worshippers are kandar. His priests must be male, and like those of Kardak are not allowed to marry. A temple of Lakentyr can be found in most larger cities.
Lakentyr represents the ‘Moral Minority’ of Kalyr. Only by enforcing rigid rules covering every aspect of life can civilisation be maintained. The kandar caste system is the ultimate preserve of order, and all castes must know their duties and obligations. Those that step out of line must be punished. He’s less of a kandar chauvinist that Karlandar, but not by much; humans must be kept in their place.
Rulana, Guardian of the Planet, is portrayed as a kandar woman of varying age (young, old and everything in between), dressed simply in green or brown.
She is worshipped by farmers, sailors and anyone else whose living depends on the elements. Her priests are mostly female. Despite her having a large number of worshippers, there are very few temples of Rulana. Instead, many small shrines are scattered about the countryside, at which worship of Rulana takes place in the open air.
Rulana is more concerned with the natural world than with the cities of kandar, zughru and humans. She’s the only guardian to have made serious attempts to seek worshippers from amongst the growing human population outside kandar lands. One teaching of hers that is markedly different from that of other guardians that the ancient first empire was evil, and was destroyed for it’s wickedness, and all artefacts dating from that time are still tainted with that evil.
Ulseth the Just is portrayed a marked similarity to Lathenthar, with one crucial difference; he is usually smiling.
His worshippers are largely drawn from the ranks of ordinary working people, many of them human. Priests may be either male or female, and some are even human. Temples of Ulseth exist in most larger cities.
His teaching is a complete mirror-image to that of Lakenthar. He deplores the rigid caste system and cruelty of kandar society, especially their enslavement of humans. He recognises that the present situation cannot last, but would like to see a ‘soft landing’ to leave a culture where humans and kandar live together as equals. A race war of the type sometimes advocated by more belligerent supporters of Kardak or Karlandra would be lost, his priests say, leaving the kandar survivors hunted outcasts no better than the vordral.
Valarna the Healer is portrayed as a ageless woman dressed in brown robes, just like her priests.
She is the patron guardian of physicians and healers, and is also popular amongst ordinary people. Her priests are exclusively female; some of the many different orders allow their priestesses to marry, others do not. Most larger kandar cities contain a temple of Valarna, which usually doubles up as the city’s hospital. Her brown-clad healers are universally respected everywhere they go; anyone that harms one is in big, big trouble.
Valarna’s mission is to heal the sick in mind and body. Her priests are strictly instructed to keep out of politics, lest it compromises her neutrality. They often perform the role of mediator between opposing forces, which is seen as a extension of healing, repairing damaged communities as well as minds and bodies.
Vandrak the Renegade is portrayed as handsome but sinister, as befits the fallen one. He was originally the leader of the Guardians, but fell out with the others at the time of the doomwar than brought the ancient first empire down in flames and destruction. He is said to be responsible for the destruction of the city of Kavarnak, destroyed by fire from the skies. It is commonly believed that he now resides somewhere beneath the sea. A few twisted individuals still worship him, and t’s rumoured that his cultists are researching a ritual or seeking an artefact that will raise him from the sea and restore him to his ‘rightful’ position of power. Whether there’s anything in these rumours is not known, but his cult is totally illegal and heavily suppressed.
Zardor, Guardian of Knowledge, is typically portrayed surrounded by books, scrolls and strange artefacts who’s nature is unclear.
He tends to draw worshippers from the professional classes, mostly but not exclusively kandar. Priests may be male or female of any race, although the majority are kandar. Temples of Zardor exist in most larger cities. A distinguishing feature of all temples is the “flame of knowledge”, which must never be allowed to go out. Temples always contain a large library. Very often, a school is attached to the temple.
Zardor would love to see the golden ages of the past return, the lost knowledge of the recovered and the shining cities rebuilt. The kandar today are but barbarians eking out a miserable existence in the ruins of their past. Knowledge, and the wisdom not to misuse power, is the key to recovery.
Zughru is the patron guardian of the zughru race. His worshippers are only found amongst the zughru. Little is known about the beliefs and practices of his followers outside their underground realms.
Kandar Religious Organisation
There are temples to the Guardians in every kandar city. The larger cities will have at least one separate temple dedicated to each of the eight worshipped Guardians. Smaller cities have fewer temples, with some Guardians represented merely by shrines within another Guardian’s temple. Even those shrines usually have a full-time priest or priestess in attendance. A full temple typically has a minimum of two or three priests, and a bigger temple can have as many as two dozen or more, along with a retinue of knights. Smaller towns and villages have just a single temple, served by two or three priests representing different Guardians.
At the heart of every temple is the oracle chamber, where the priests communicate directly with their Guardian. He or she places his hands upon the oracle, which appears as a featureless twelve-sided polyhedron, and goes into a trance. His mind moves to the Guardian’s realm, and the priest speaks with the Guardian face to face. Most often the Guardian will give instructions, sometimes for the individual priest to follow, other times to be preached to the congregation.
In larger temples the Guardians occasionally manifest directly, appearing in the public worship chamber before the assembled congregation. This is a rare occurrence, which normally only happens during times of great crisis.
Priests tend to be recruited from the temple congregations. In theory the Guardian chooses new priests, but in practice the existing priesthood has a lot of influence. A great many priests and priestesses are either the sons and daughters of priests, or children of the kandar nobility. It’s often suspected that the few devout worshippers who join the priesthood without any family connections are the only ones that really are selected by the Guardians themselves.
The duties of a priest don’t just include preaching and spiritual guidance. A priest is not just the Guardian’s voice, but the eyes and ears as well. Guardians frequently send their priests on all kinds of missions that further the Guardian’s agenda, many of which are quite secret, and sometimes dangerous as well.
A priest is also expected to be the living embodiment of the Guardian. A priest of Zardor must be a scholar; one serving Valarna must be a healer, an Esalan an artist, and so on.
All priests, not just those serving Lakenthar or Ulseth, have some role in law enforcement and justice when any crime is committed by or against one of their worshippers.
The saying goes that if the priests are the Guardian’s voice, eyes and ears, then the knights are their arms and legs..A temple knight is essentially a holy warrior in the service of a Guardian. Less martially orientated Guardians like Esala and Zardor have very few knights, whose role is merely to serve as temple guards. Valarna the healer is unique for having no knights of her own at all; her temples are traditionally defended by Knights of Ulseth the Just. In contrast, the Knights of Kardak typically number enough to form a small army in many cities, more knights than all the other Guardians put together. Temples of Ulseth and Karlandra also tend to have significant numbers of knights, although nowhere near the numbers of the Kardakists.
The duty of a knight is to protect the Guardians and their worshippers from external threat, and to smite any enemies of the Guardian when the need arises. This puts knights in the front line of law enforcement in those cities where guilds and temples are responsible for law and order, and knights find themselves arresting suspects and in some cases enforcing punishments. They also have a military role, expected to serve alongside clan knights and the legions in wartime when needed, provided the ’cause’ furthers their Guardian’s agenda. The Knights of Kardak alone are a large enough force to embark on military expeditions in their own right, the nature of which sometimes bring them into conflict with other military organisations in Kalyr.