The Order of Mamaka, The Master of Steel
by James Chokey
IntroductionThe Order of Mamaka, the Master of Steel is a clerical order of the Hierarchy of the Eternal Flame. The order is open to both sexes, although a sizable majority of its clergy are male. It sponsors the fighting order of the Warriors of Mameka.
Mamaka, the Master of Steel is a small but powerful order that operates only in the kingdom of Rethem. It has only one major temple, located in Golotha. Smaller temples stand at Bedenes keep in northwestern Rethem and at Hengel manor, a few leagues east of Golotha. The order also maintains several chapels and shrines near Bedenes and Hengel.
The Senesharil of the order is Klyrdes of Bisidril, who is also Viriahn of the order's Golotha temple. He is also chairman of the Golotha's governing Heptarchial Council and Apalankh of Hârn. The order has no Markithrai.
History of Mamaka, the Master of Steel
Note: The history provided below is a brief overview. To see an expanded history of the Order of Mamaka, the Master of Steel and its fighting order, the Warriors of Mameka, click here.
The origins of the Order of Mamaka, the Master of Steel are shrouded in secrecy. The order appears to have founded in Golotha during the early years of the Theocracy of Tekhos (c. 575 TR). Out of necessity, the order was covert; stealth, secrecy, and subtlety were necessary for survival under Morgathian rule. From such circumstances, its priests became masters of intrigue and espionage.
Following the collapse of the Theocracy of Tekhos, the order of Mamaka remained covert, choosing to stay in Golotha under the rule of the so-called 'Second Theocracy'. Over the years, it successfully infiltrated the Morgathian church and there is some evidence that a few high-ranking theocrats were actually Mamaka priests.
After Arlun's conquest of Rethem in 635 TR, the order emerged from hiding, eventually joining the Hierarchy of Eternal Flame and erecting a temple in Golotha. Mamaka priests, curiously, seem to have refrained from joining in the persecution of the Morgathians under the early years of Arlun's reign. Indeed, there seems to be some evidence that the order may actually have helped to protect the theocrats from extermination.
In the half-century following Arlun's Conquest, the Order appears to have maintained an extremely low profile, making few attempts to proselytize or to curry political favor. Surface appearances, however, can be deceptive and it seems likely that these years were spent building up a sophisticated network of spies, informants, and agents in other Agrikan orders.
In 689 TR, the Order of Mamaka, the Master of Steel effected an ecclesiastical 'coup' following the death of Garyn of Elkras, the reigning Apalankh of Hârn (of the order of the Fuming Gate). A series of assassinations and mysterious disappearances eliminated most other candidates for the office and Mamaka's Sensharil became the new Apalankh. Although other Agrikan orders were irked by Mamaka's actions, most were too embroiled in Ezar's War to violently object.
Since Ezar's War, the Order of Mamaka has fought off a handful of challenges to its authority. Most recently, it launched a pre-emptive strike against the Pillar of Fire in 717 TR, which was believed to developing its own plans to seize the primacy back from Mamaka.
The Order's Name, Theology, & Ritual Practice
The order takes its name from a curious figure from Agrikan mythology:
Mamaka was the first mortal to discover the art of working metal. He used this newfound knowledge to make weapons of such strength that none could stand against his tribe. With Mamaka's weapons, his people became masters of the lands surrounding them, mercilessly crushing all who refused to pay them tribute.
One day, members of an enemy tribe kidnapped Mamaka, seeking to extract the secret of working metal by force. Though he was subjected to the most brutal and painful tortures, Mamaka remained silent. After weeks of agony, Mamaka died, cursing his captors and prophesying that they would die like dirty animals at the hands of his people.
Agrik, impressed not only with the usefulness of Mamaka's invention, but also with his indomitable spirit, claimed the smith's soul and brought him to Balgashang to serve as his weaponcrafter.
Though once mortal, Mamaka is now regarded as a kind of demon or demigod. Mamaka bears a variety of epithets, of which "Master of Steel" is the most common. He is also known as: Keeper of the Forges of Balgashang, The Infernal Artificer, and Guardian of Divine Secrets. He is sometimes represented in art in the form of a spike-covered tortoise or lizard.
Orderial ritual and theology are shaped by several features of the Mamaka tale, of which the three most important are Craft, Secrecy, and Trial. These are often called the 'Three Pillars' of the Order.
First and foremost, the order sees this tale of their namesake as an illustration of the worldly usefulness and the divine valuation of craft particularly of metal-working. The forging of metals and the making of weapons are sacred activities and many rituals are oriented around both. The order, however, believes that Agrik wishes them to discover new tools and techniques that will be useful to furthering his goals. Consequently, they also seek to explore other crafts and find ways to apply them to war. The order is particularly knowledgeable in the ways of alchemy and pyrotechnics. There are some who believe that the mysterious blaze that destroyed the Pillar of Fire temple in 717 TR was caused by a secret alchemical substance known only to the the priests of Mamaka the Master of Steel.
The second pillar of the Order of Mamaka, the Master of Steel is secrecy. Just as Mamaka gave the art of only to his tribe, so the priests of Mamaka, the Master of Steel keep their knowledge secret from all but themselves hoarding it until such a time as it may be useful in the service of Agrik. One of the foulest of impieties is to give knowledge away to non-Agrikan or to a priest of another order. The punishment for such blasphemy is an extremely painful death typically by immersion in molten lead. As part of its emphasis on secrecy, priests of the order speak as little as possible. If one is silent,the adage goes, there is nothing that outsiders might overhear. Frivolous or unguarded speech by any priest, regardless of rank, is punished by whipping. The order's clergy, furthermore, have developed an elaborate system of hand-signs and gesturals signals whereby they can communicate with each other on almost any topic without actually speaking aloud. This hand-language, called Ashekal, is never taught to outsiders.
The third pillar of the Order of Mamaka is Trial. The order contends that all souls who profess to worship Agrik must have their loyalty tested to prove their devotion and their refusal to betray his holy secrets. One of the standard ceremonies performed on an Agnichar about to be raised to priesthood is to have several priests (typically dressed as followers of another religion or Agrikans of another order) 'kidnap' him. The Agnichar is then subjected to painful but non-lethal tortures for eight days in an attempt to get him to reveal orderial secrets. If the Agnichar tells his captors nothing, he has successfully passed the test and is considered a candidate for elevation. Otherwise, he is put to death. Older priests and lay members are subjected to comparable ceremonial tests from time to time to ensure that their loyalty does not waver.
Though it is neither the largest nor the wealthiest of Hârnic Agrikan orders, Mamaka, the Master of Steel has been the dominant Agrikan order in Hârn since 690 TR. It acquired and maintains its dominance through a combination of a superior intelligence-gathering network, strict internal discipline (a rarity among Agrikan orders), and the ruthless elimination of all those who seek to displace it. It has also been aided by firm support from Lysara and a tacit alliance with the Morgathian church.
Though the order's Senesharil is also the Agrikan primate of Harn, he only truly commands loyalty from his own order and its fighting order, the Warriors of Mameka. The other Agrikan orders are largely independent and most covet the primacy for themselves. The near-obliteration of the Order of the Pillar of Fire at the hands of Mamaka priests three years ago, however, has done much to keep the other orders in line.
Among the other clerical orders, Mamaka's only two 'allies' (if they can even be called that) are the Order of the Octagonal Pit and the Order of the Eight Demons. The former, Azeryani in origin, has a greater respect for the authority of the Apalankh's office than is typical among Hârnic Agrikans. The latter is somewhat indebted to the order and the Aplalankh for having acknowledged the legitimacy of its 714 separation from the Order of Herpa the Mace.
The other orders pay lip service to Mamaka's power and authority, but nurse grudges of one sort or another against the order. Herpa the Mace resents Mamaka's recognition of the Eight Demons. The Fuming Gate remembers that it had possessed the office of Apalankh prior to 690 and dreams of reclaiming it from the 'usurpers'. The order of Kukshin believes that Mamaka was responsible for its exile from Rethem to Orbaal. And, of course, the remaining priests of the Order of the Pillar of Fire fervently desire vengeance for Mamaka's destruction of its temple.
The Order of Mamaka, the Master of Steel and its fighting order profess loyalty to King Chafin III and will probably support him should civil war break out. Although the order's grandmaster is the chair of Golotha's heptarchial council, he generally follows the lead of the body's Morgathian members on matters of civic governance. The order has no obvious political ties in Tharda or Kanday, but it is probable that orderial spies operate in both realms.
Land and Wealth
The Order of Mamaka, the Master of Steel does not hold any land other than that upon which its temples are built. Its wealth comes instead from tithes given by its fighting order and tribute paid by other clerical orders. The order also maintains a few 'side' sources of income, including the sale of ritual ceremonial objects, blessed weapons, for-hire thuggery and assassination, etc.
This page is part of the Hârn Religion Team
Page last updated on July 29, 2002 by Jim Chokey