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History of the Fuming Gate

A Clerical Order of the Hierarchy of Eternal Flame

by Rebecca Downey

with editioral revisions and additional contributions by James Chokey

Ancient Legends: Proto-History of the Fuming Gate


Like all Agrikan orders, the Order of the Fuming Gate claims an ancient and heroic history. While the name 'Fuming Gate' does not appear to have been used until the fourth century TR, the order traces its history back to the first nomadic bands of Agrikans who arrived on Hârn during the Atani Wars.

The ancient history of the Order of the Fuming Gate comes mainly from oral tradition: legends, tales, poetry, etc. There is little in the way of documentary evidence to either confirm or deny the truth of these traditions, although a handful of old manuscript fragments offer tantalizing clues and hints. It is possible that older documents were more numerous before the destruction of the order's temples during the Balshan Jihad. Since the order's re-establishment in the early seventh century, a concerted effort has been made to put existing oral traditions onto parchment.

The Arrival (approx. 900-700 BT)

Worshippers of Agrik came early to Harn. Bands of 'holy wanderers' began arriving on the island towards the beginning of the Atani Wars. Many of the island's current orders trace their origins back to these bands. The Fuming Gate takes particular pride in asserting an ancient origin for its order. This origin is known mostly through oral tradition, although the Golotha temple is in possession of document in a quite ancient form of Surikal that purports to describe an ancient raid on the island by a band of these wanderers and a group of Atani:

“We landed upon the foreign shore and, with the brave souls from the mainland, accosted the locals as they worked in their fields. Upon seeing the sun upon our maces and darkened skins, they dropped their tools and ran. We gave chase and ran them down like the dogs they were. That night we enjoyed a feast upon the spoils of our victory.”

Raiding the Misty Isle, approx. 8th c. BT,
(from a 5th c. TR manuscript fragment)

Of particular note in this fragment is the reference to 'our darkened skins', which suggests that these Agrikans were not themselves Atani (who were typically fair-skinned), but of some other ethnicity. Another curious feature is the reference to the Atani as 'brave souls from the mainland'. This detail has caused some to speculate that these Agrikans may have come to Hârn from Hepekeria or Anzeloria rather than northwest Lythia.

The Conquest and the Dark Age (approx. 700 BT - 100 TR)

Up until the Battle of Sorrows (683 BT), the bands of Agrikans rarely remained on the island, but instead returned with their Atani allies after each raid to coastal Lythia with their plunder. But when the barbarians began to settle permanently in the realm of King Daelda, the Agrikans also came to stay, discovering a realm that was heretofore untouched by their faith. While the Atani invaders drove the remaining Jarin into exile to the north, the Holy Wanderers began to explore the island. Legends recount that they erected two of the 888 cairns on the isle.

The years between the Agrikan arrival on Hârn and the Age of Lothrim consist of a 'Dark Age' about which little is known. Only a few tales of great battles and wandering heroes have survived the Dark Age. From these tales we know that the priests went from village to village to fight the strongest and the best warriors they found. The battle was fought to the death within a circle of stones. If the Holy Wanderers won, the village was expected to pay tribute through money and worship of their god. If the Holy Wanderers lost, they would often offer the winner a place within their ranks and pay the village for the loss of their champion.

The Age of Lothrim (95-120 TR)

When the empire of Lothrim was born, many Holy Wanderers joined his forces, seeing the Foulspawner's wars as an opportunity not only to engage in battle, but also to spread the true faith at a time when the island was coming out of its Dark Age. There is known to have been a small temple to Agrik located at Elkall-Anuz.

Tales dating from this era present an ambiguous attitude towards Lothrim's Gargun. Some Agrikans, including those whom the Fuming Gate regards as their predecessors, seemed to have admired the Foulspawn as warlike creatures of pure violence, cruelty, and devastation. A few tales even claim that they these creatures must be related to the V'hir. Other tales describe them as 'Creatures so foul even the Craven One would not touch them.'

There seems to be some evidence that, as Lothrim gradually came to rely upon on the Gargun, the Agrikans serving under him became increasingly discontent. Inspirational tales told by the order speak of Agrikan warriors under Lothrim who had '"dreams of flames and battle lust'that called them to desert their garrison posts in search of glorious battle. These tales speak no ill of such deserters but instead praise them for returning to their religion's wandering roots.

Wandering and Settlement (approx. 120-300 TR)

The Agrikans who returned to the practice of wandering and traveled north, west, and into the mountains. Tales recount the rediscovery of two of the original 888 cairns in northern Hârn, but the locations of these holy sites have since become lost. After the collapse of Lothrim's Empire, the Holy Wanderers encountered many Gargun in the mountains, whom they took great pleasure in destroying.

Some historians believe that the spread of the Gargun made the wilderness too dangerous for even these fierce warriors to continue wandering. Priests of the Fuming Gate quickly dismiss such claims as pure nonsense, although they do concede that, for theological reasons (the Foulspawn were deemed as less worthy battle-sacrifices than human warriors), the wandering bands began to leave the wilderness and dwell among the tribes in the southwest regions of the island.

Corani Expansion and Agrikan Resistance (approx. 300-377 TR)

After the Holy Wanderers settled among the southwestern tribes, Adjak, the barbarian leader of the Hefiosa tribesmen is said to have challenged their champion and won. In return for such a great sacrifice to the Warlord of Balgashang, several Holy Wanderers joined forces with his to trap, attack, rout and destroy the Corani armies who were invading his people's territory.

Unfortunately for Adjak, the tribal forces and the associated bandits that joined in spent more time gathering loot than protecting their flank, and by 369, after a bloody series of campaigns, the the tribesmen were almost entirely wiped out. The Holy Wanderers who had sided with Adjak fled west, across the Gomisen River into Merdi tribal territory. The defeat of the Merdi by Corani armies, led by Arosta the Conqueror, in 377 left the Holy Wanderers weak, demoralized, and uncertain of their future.

Modern History: The Fuming Gate since 377 TR

Under The Corani Empire ( 377-436 TR)

In this desperate time, some warriors called for a return to wandering, others pressed for a last, glorious, suicidal fight again the conquering Corani. The leader of the largest band of Holy Wanderers, named Hodael of the Bloodied Mace, is said to have stared into the flames for a full day before making his decision. Leading his band onward to a Corani camp, he met with by Arosta's successor, Malian, and challenged him to either grant the wanderers a place within the Empire in exchange for their future loyalty or to face 'certain destruction' at their hands. Malian, impressed by the indomitable spirit (and foolhardy confidence) of this small band of warriors in challenging his entire army, accepted their service.

When Merethos (now Golotha) was founded in 388, Hodael and his followers constructed a small wooden temple which they called the Temple of the Fuming Gate— the first recorded use of that name by a particular group of Agrikans. Some speculate that the temple's name may have derived from its location near the town's gate, but priests know that Hodael saw the temple as an earthly representation of Balgashang itself. Rather than a door, the temple's entrance had a great iron gate representing the entrance through which all great warriors of Agrik would pass after their deaths. The temple in Merethos grew in popularity as it was joined by other groups of Holy Wanderers.

Emperor Kobar, Melian's successor, is known to have to have looked favorably upon the priests of the Fuming Gate. He invited them to establish a second temple in the Empire's capital at Coranan, and used them as defenders and watchmen for the capital and as soldiers in the subjugation of Peran.

During the war with Aleathia in the middle of the fifth century, members of the Fuming Gate fought amidst the first ranks. Small temples were founded in the south, including one in Aleath itself.

The Hierarchy of Eternal Flame (436-526 TR)

As a result of the Empire's expansion and growth of overseas trade, the priests of the Fuming Gate came into contact with the Hierarchy of Eternal Flame. In 436, priests from the Fuming Gate attended the Tenth Ukhila at Lysara, and in 439, they submitted a formal petition to join the Hierarchy as a clerical order named the Order of the Fuming Gate.

There seems to have been some reservations among the Hierarchy about admitting the Fuming Gate. A pontifical Ulankh sent from Lysara to prepare a report on the would-be order, noted critically:

“[The priests of the Fuming Gate are] More militant than a priestly order, yet more concerned with the religious aspects of life than Terahni should be.”

Shandor of Anahdav, pontifical Ulahnkh, 442 TR

In spite of the Ulankh's reservations, the order was formally accepted in 446 TR. The Viriahn of the Merethos temple became the official Senesharil of the order. When the Hierarchy's ecclesiastical structure came to be applied within the Corani Empire, the Fuming Gate Senesharil frequently came to hold the office of either Apalankh of Hârn or Kemelras of Rethem Province.

The Fuming Gate flourished and remained the dominant order in the Corani Empire until the destruction of the Imperium by the Balshans in the late sixth century.

The Balshan Jihad and the End of the Empire (526-562 TR)

When the Balshan Morgathians captured Merethos in 562 TR, the Temple of the the Fuming Gate was taken in the first few moments of the attack. Overwhelmed by the sheer numbers and fanatacism of the Jihadists, the temple's defenders were routed and the temple was destroyed. The only success was that the Morgathians were held off long enough at the temple's gate to allow the Viriahn and a handful of priests to escape with the most valuable artifacts and treasures:

“The screams of the dead, and the dying, in the fire filled my ears. My duty carried me, and the few sacred objects I could gather, away from the fray. I took with me three brave souls who gave up their right to an honorable death so that our treasures could survive. We head east to regroup, and plot our revenge for this unforgivable attack.”

Valsar, Viriahn of Golotha, TR 562

These survivors headed to Coranan, where they joined up with their brethren there., When that city fell to the Balshans in 565, bringing the Empire to an end, the priests repeated their flight, this time heading north into the wildlands of Hefiosa and northern Rethem, where the Balshans would be unlikely to find them.

Most scholars agree that it was from this Jihad and the Theocracy that followed that the Order of the Fuming Gate developed its intense hatred of Morgathians. None of its temples remained undestroyed by the Morgathians. The only temple records that survive from the days before the Jihad were either hidden away before the temples were burned or stolen or carried away by fleeing priests.

Brigandage during the Reign of the Dead (562-615 TR)

The years following the sack of Coranan have no written history. A few tales tell of members of the Order of the Fuming Gate acting as bandits and brigands along the northern roadways, their faces streaked with red to represent the gates of Balgashang. Others tell of heroic raids against Morgathian troops and settlements.

The loss of their temples was clearly a terrible blow, but rather than become demoralized, the priests of the Fuming Gate recalled the tradition of the old Holy Wanderers and saw the loss as a sign of Agrik's providence rather than as a source of despair. As one Viriahn would describe it several decades later:

“After so many years in the city, we had grown weak— so weak that we were unable to beat the Dead-worshippers. It was not they who razed our temple and drove us into exile, but Agrik himelf. He wished us to return to the crucible of wandering to rediscover the true source of strength and recover the violent mettle that we had lost during so many years of safe living…”

Caeh Jeckamosy, Viriahn of Tormau TR 616

With the death of Tekhos in 588 a second theocracy reigned in Golotha until Arlun's Conquest in 635. During this time the priests of the Fuming Gate acted increasingly like a 'guerrilla' army, attacking roadways and slowing shipments of and other goods into the city. The paint-streaked bandits became a recognized problem which the Theocrats' troops were sent out to dispatch, but a half-century of outlawry had indeed strengthened these new Holy Wanderers. Their hit-and-run tactics made them difficult to beat, and nearly impossible to find.

In the 610s, the priests of the Fuming Gate felt confident enough to found a new temple at Tormau, in northwest Rethem. From here, they were able to continue their raids and harrass the armed forces of Golotha in relative safety, as well as to re-establish some of their older temple-based traditions, many of which had been abandoned (and some of which had been lost) during the years of wandering.

The Copper Hook (615-635 TR)

Once the Tormau temple was built, the priests re-established contact with the Hierarchy of Eternal Flame, which had long since assumed they were extinct. Much to their chagrin, however, the Fuming Gate learned that Lysara was not quite as welcoming as they had hoped. Indeed, since the order had officially been declared extinct several decades before, the priests of the Fuming Gate had to re-apply for formal membership in the Hierarchy. The Amanasurif during that time, Nikolabra II, was much less accomodating with regards to the order's peculiar nature. In particular, the pontiff and his advisors insisted that the Fuming Gate needed to establish a clear distinction between priests and Terahni, with separate clerical and fighting orders, before it could again receive recognition and support from Lysara.

In response, the Fuming Gate sought out warriors from northern Rethem, whom it hoped to mold into something resembling a fighting order. It attracted the attention of a few rag-tag bands of brigands (some of whom had already professed a loose allegiance to Agrik) to whom it gave some religious and martial training, thus creating the Company of the Copper Hook. Knowing that Lysara would be skeptical about the devotion of its new-found Terhani, the Viriahn made an impassioned appeal for them in the order's petition:

“These men embody the enlightened view that the Reasonless Reaper is always at war. They have lived the life of the wanderer, and even their leader is emblazoned with the symbol of war itself. How can we not accept such an honorable group of warriors into our martial midst?”

Petition to the Hierarchy of the Eternal Flame, TR 620

Lysara accepted the petition in 621 TR. Together, the priests of the Fuming Gate and the warriors of the Copper Hook would come to find a new focus in each other. As the Copper Hook pillaged the countryside, the Fuming Gate once again began to preach, pray and sacrifice to laity as well as its new Terahni. The whole episode, however, left many priests of the Fuming Gate feeling disgruntled with Lysara and the Hierarchy of the Eternal Flame.

The Founding of Rethem (635-650 TR)

In 635, Arlun the Barbarian conquered Golotha and founded the Kingdom of Rethem, bringing an end to the Reign of the Dead (the name by which the order refers to both the Theocracy of Tekhos and the Golothan Theocracy).

Impressed by Arlun's attempts to exterminate Morgathianism in his new kingdom, the Order of the Fuming Gate offered their support to Arlun and Rethem in his southern campaigns in the early 640's, promising the full support of their troops in the Company of the Copper Hook. In return they were given land in Golotha that once belonged to a Morgathian temple. It is the site of the current temple in Golotha:

“Each stone was purified, each tunnel expunged. The remains of the dead were burnt and offered up to the Reasonless Reaper. The prayers and the screams of the dead were stretched carefully over eight weeks until all agreed that the feeling of the Dead One was gone from the place.”

Abasidin, Senesharil of the Fuming Gate, 641 TR

During the next decade, the Fuming Gate showed itself to be a stauch supporter of Arlun, although it was bitterly disappointed when, in 650 TR, the king restored religious freedom to the Morgathians.

Loyalty to Rethem (650-681 TR)

Following Arlun's death in 656 TR, revolts spread throughout the country as his Kuboran allies, scornful of Arlun's mixed-blood son Obras, returned to Peran. The Order of the Gate and the Company of the Copper Hook kept its promises to the Rethemi throne, however, and were instrumental in quelling several revolts. The Order of the Copper Hook took over the martial tradition of guarding the gates of the cities in which the order had temples (excepting Golotha, which was basically turned over to the Morgathian church). A bloody peace surrounded such gates.

When King Nemiran, Obras' successor, feudalized the kingdom, parcelling out lands to his most loyal vassals, the Order of the Fuming Gate and the Copper Hook together went to 'bless' these new fiefs, ensuring that the previous tenants had left. To thank the Fuming Gate and the Copper Hook of the Copper Hook for their help during period of transition (and to help guard the southern border with Kanday), Nemiran granted the Copper Hook keeps in Hyen, Dunir, Selvos and Menekod in 681 TR.

Ezar's War (687-697 TR)

Just one year after receiving its lands, the Copper Hook, under the direction of its grandmaster, Ezar of Zhirdoka, attacked Imiden keep in Kanday. The Kanday-based Laranian order of the Checkered Shield came to defend against the Agrikans, and what came to be known as 'Ezar's War' was begun.

The next several years witnessed back-and-forth skirmishing between the two orders. Priests of the Fuming Gate took up maces and whips to join their Terhani on the field.

Eventually Puril, the new King of Rethem, offered his 'aid'. Ignoring Ezar's battle plans, the King and his army, sailed south in 688 and took Sarkum and Hebon, independent allies of Kanday in a surprise comapaign. Against Ezar's wishes, over half of the Fuming Gate priests and their Copper Hook Terahni joined the king in this southern expedition.

King Puril's plan had been to use Sarkum and Hebon as bases from which to drive eastward towards Aleath, thus surrounding Kanday on both the north and the south. Unfortunately, during a retaliatory assault on Sarkum early in 689, Puril suffered a grievous wound and died.

Puril's son Kabe succeeded him and continued the battle, but the tide had turned. In 690 Kandian troops, led by King Andasin III recaptured Hebon. One of the proudest claims of the Fuming Gate is that one of their members was responsible for slaying Andasin at this battle, although there is no proof of this.

The armies of Kanday, now led by Queen Eriel, laid siege to Sarkum. The town had been the last refuge of the Rethem forces in the south and the long siege proved unbreakable. King Kabe died along with the majority of the forces of the Order of the Fuming Gate. In 692, the a fire broke out in Sarkum, resulting in the death of King Kabe and the surrender of the town to the Kandayans. Several priests of the Fuming Gate, chose to remain in the burning castle, preferring to die by holy fire rather than give themselves up to the Laranians. It is said that the conquering Kandayans had to replace the cobblestones to remove the shadow of the immolated warriors from the courtyard.

The Rethemi crown then passed to Chafin I. With the southern campaign brought to a disastrous end, the border conflicts escalated. In 693, Queen Eriel led her country's troops north to Dunir, a keep held by the Copper Hook. The clerical and fighting orders both made a valiant stand on the battlefield, but failed to prevail. Insult was added to injury, when it was learned that a troop of Laranian 'spies' had avoided the battlefield altogether to strike and struck at the Fuming Gate's temple itself, desecrating it and slaughtering the Agnichari ('acolytes') like cattle. Rethemi and orderial forces went to regroup in Selvos and Menekod.

The next year, King Chafin I ordered Terhan of the Crimson Dancer to assassinate Queen Eriel of Kanday. When the assassin was caught and confessed, implicating Chafin, Kandayan troops were outraged. Now led by Mirelael, Eriel's sister, they seized Selvos and Menekod— both Copper Hook keeps— early in 695. Mordekai, then Senesharil of the Order of the Fuming Gate, died defending the temple at Menekod.

Fearful of continued Kandayan advance, Chafin I sued for peace in 697, and the Peace of Selvos was signed by the two crowns. Ezar, forced to remain in the north with his honor guard, survived the war. Angered by 'Chafin's Peace', as he called it, ignored the treaty and directed Copper Hook forces to raid across the Kanday border with increasing ferocity. Tradios, Mordekai's successor as Senesharil of the Fuming Gate, relied heavily on Ezar for support and guidance during this time of crisis and finger-pointing.

The Order since Ezar's War (697-720 TR)

In 698 Chafin I, hoping to make Ezar a a scapegoat, had the Copper Hook grandmaster assassinated. Unfortunately for Chafin, this did nothing but anger both the Fuming Gate and Copper Hook. Many priests and Terahni like to believe that one of their own was responsible for the king's own assassination in 703, but Chafin had many other enemies who were equally as likely to have struck the blow.

When Chafin II came to power in 703, he found his kingdom in disarray. His vassals were quarrelsome, fighting among themselves, and the Agrikan orders guarding his borders continued to make forays into neighboring lands. In spite of Chafin's wishes, the Copper Hook's raids into Kanday increased rather than stopped. Some believe that Chafin II was behind the assassination of Tradios, the Senesharil of the Fuming Gate, just as his father had assassinated Ezar of the Copper Hook, but the fact that Chafin II spent most of his reign hidden away in Shostim castle with a large bodyguard suggests that he was far too timorous for such a bold action.

In 715, after a bloody power struggle that killed off most of the royal family, Chafin III ascended the throne. Under his rule, the Order of the Fuming Gate and the Order of the Copper Hook have continued to raid south into Kanday. Their harrasment of caravans and border patrols is slowly increasing in ferocity and frequency. Both the Fuming Gate and the Copper Hook are lukewarm supportersof Chafin III, whom they see as a leader who might have the will necessary to lauch another war with hated Kanday. At the same time, however, they are on friendly terms with the Earl of Tormau, the king's bitter enemy.

The current Senesharil of the Fuming Gate, Julah Of Gathin, is trying hard to rebuild the order and to regain support that was lost during the disasters of Ezar's War, but spends most of his time acting as an apologist for the Copper Hook's raids against Kanday. His main goals are (1) to keep his order afloat during the inevitable civil war that is building between Tormau and the king and (2) to regain some measure of control over the Copper Hook, but he has no clear idea as to how to accomplish either.

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Page last updated on July 29, 2002 by Jim Chokey