Under a Red Rust Sky
Wroth, the Ember-Keeper
“Judgment has been passed. The sentence is death. May Wroth grant you mercy.”
-The Guillotine Hymn of Wroth’s executioners
Wroth the Ember-Keeper is the god of justice, flame, and just punishment. At the world’s dawn, it was he who first brought the light and warmth of fire to mortals, and from then on he and his followers have dedicated themselves to preserving that fire of civilization and protecting it from the horrors lurking in the darkness. Wroth is often depicted as a shadowy figure wearing a charred suit of armor. smoldering embers glow in place of his eyes, and wreathed in flames bursting from all of the suit’s joints. His holy symbol is a circle with five thin, wavy lines pointing towards the center, resembling a cracked ember. Wroth’s domains are law, fire, protection, strength, and good, and his favored weapon is the greatsword.
The main body of Wroth’s church is dedicated to preserving justice and conducting prayers to Wroth in his temples and shrines. In many cases, particularly in isolated settlements on the fringes of civilization, Wroth’s churches serve as courthouses if either a state courthouse does not exist, or if the crime is deemed a matter which the church should pass judgement on. Furthermore, even in official state courthouses, priests of Wroth often act as aids and advisors to the judges. One role which is particularly associated with Wroth’s church is that of the executioner. In fact, in most cases where a sentence of death is issued, within lands where Wroth is worshiped, it will be a priest of Wroth who delivers the final blow – accompanied by the infamous Guillotine Hymn, which is recited before the condemned is executed.
Beyond the primary body of the Wroth’s church is a shadowy order known as The Apostates. The Apostates were originally created because of a realization on the part of Wroth’s church that, in some cases, the court system can be incapable of exacting true justice. The specific event which triggered the creation of The Apostates was the rule of King Rikelen of Yrpia, a man of vile cruelty who perpetrated countless atrocities against his own citizens, yet went unpunished for decades. However, it was not the priests of Wroth who first stood up against Rikelen’s injustices – they were too busy concerning themselves with what was and was not against the laws of a kingdom whose laws had already been corrupted from the core. Rather, it was a group of seven wanderers of vastly differing backgrounds and races who pledged themselves to uphold the ideals of Wroth, even if it meant that they must break the law to do so, calling themselves the seven apostates. After waging a long and arduous crusade against the king, the seven ultimately were successful in bringing the king to justice, and were made into national heroes by the newly created regime. Once the full extent of King Rikelen’s injustices came to light, those of Wroth’s church were ashamed that they had failed to act, and in doing so condemned countless innocents to unjust slaughter. In order to ensure that such a failure never again occurred, the Church of Wroth created an order of warriors dedicated to preserving justice beyond the restrictions of regional laws, naming the newly formed group after those who had brought Rikelen to justice: The Apostates.
Today, the role of The Apostates has changed somewhat. While their primary purpose has remained weeding out injustice which has gone unpunished by the law, they have expanded their areas of concern to include the hunting and purging of abominations hazardous to human life. Some Apostates choose to specialize in the hunting of one specific breed of monster, most often demons, devils, undead, or outsiders, although most choose to remain versatile in their choice of enemy. It should also be noted that, unlike other religious orders, and society in general, The Apostates are relatively quite welcoming of different species into their ranks – even accepting humanoids considered to be closely related to monsters themselves, such as Tieflings, Half-Orcs, Dhampirs, and Changelings, provided that they are judged to truly be seeking redemption for their “aberrations.” Once somebody becomes an Apostate, they remain an Apostate until death – each bearing a brand of Wroth’s ember on the back of their left hand. In practice, most Apostates either work alone or in small groups – and even then they very seldom work alongside other Apostates. The principle behind this strategy is that there are very few Apostates in total, so in order to discover the presence of hazardous abominations or cruel injustices they must spread themselves as far as possible to cover the most ground. If an obstacle proves too difficult for an Apostate to overcome, they will contact the church, which will then send additional nearby Apostates to assist in defeating the obstruction. Because they are effectively working solely based upon their own means, Apostates tend to favor quality over quantity. The first few years as an Apostate serve as, ironically, a trial by fire: the weak will be killed by the monsters they are hunting, while the strong will survive and continually develop their skills.