Rorn's Sword Saints are a form of ancestor worship with the average Rornian viewing the Sword Saints as an odd combination of single entity and collection of heroes. Most citizens identify with a number of individual Saints who are either their ancestors, from their home region, or who exemplify the virtues they hold dearest. Every Rornian soldier strives for greatness that they might one day be counted amongst the heavenly host, either as a sword saint themselves or in the divine retinue of one of these paragons.
Appearance and EmissariesEdit
There are dozens, perhaps hundreds of figures worshipped as Sword Saints. An exact count is impossible, because different regions worship similar beings by different names, and the legends surrounding each are still more scattered. Well-established orders of priests have official histories, but families and villages often tell their own stories. Below are a few of the more popular figures, with notes corresponding to their most widely-accepted histories.
After a distinguished career as a soldier, Andren Karev became the High Marshal's swordmaster, training two generations of officers in the martial arts. His skill was unsurpassed, and even when age took his eyesight it is said that he could continue to train his students by listening to the sound of their bodies move and feeling the breeze from their blades. He is associated with martial skill, though he is reported to have valued training in dance and music and so is revered by Rornish artists as well.
The woman who became known as Darya Firecast began from humble origins, though the details vary from legend to legend. By dint of a keen mind and tireless study, she rose to become Rorn's high magus and advisor to the high marshal. Legends of her battles with demons, necromancers, and other creatures of madness abound. She is associated with knowledge, the arcane arts, and discipline.
Durbin the Strong:Edit
A Dwarven blacksmith. Legend says that a dragon came to his village and demanded tribute, promising to return in three days to claim it. Durbin is said to have stood by his forge without rest for those three days, crafting armor and a hammer so heavy no other mortal could lift it. When the dragon returned, Durbin faced him, his magic armor resisting the creature's claws and fiery breath and his hammer crushing the beast's skull. Durbin is associated with strength and courage. He is a particular favorite of craftsmen.
An old woman, driven from her keep by brigands, she organized an army of local commoners and took back the keep. She is associated with community and the individual heroism of the commoner. She is most popular in rural Rorn, but some families in urban areas maintain a special reverence for her.
A general charged with defeating a horde of barbarians from Heth, Baron Kennan found himself outnumbered three to one by the lizardfolk. By dint of clever tactics, Kennan gained the advantage over the advancing lizardfolk, in the end cornering them in a small village. Confronted with threats that they would kill their 50 human hostages if they were not allowed to retreat, Kennan offered himself as a hostage in exchange for the 50. The lizardfolk agreed to the exchange. But when the exchange was complete, Kennan announced he would never allow himself to be used as a pawn against his homeland. He swallowed poison he had secreted on his person, dying at the feet of his captors, and his army took the village and slaughtered the lizardfolk to a man. Kennan is associated with leadership and self-sacrifice, in particular the obligations of the nobility.
Church of the Sword SaintsEdit
Worshipers and ClergyEdit
Temples, Shrines and Holy SitesEdit
The Temple of the Sword Saints in Venza
The Sword Saints have relatively few followers in Venza, and worship in a small temple in the Incudine. While large Rornish cities have temples dedicated to individual saints, Venza's temple -- like most of those in foreign lands -- is organized around a large circular space with alcoves dedicated to individual saints lining the edges. The alcoves generally have some form of sculpture or image of the saint, a small altar for offerings, and space for half a dozen worshippers to kneel and meditate. Most Rornish worshippers actively worship only a few of the deities, and so will "tread their path" between the appropriate alcoves when they come to worship. On the feast days of individual saints, images may be pulled from their alcoves and put on display in the center of the temple for a larger celebration.
The temple supports no full-time priests, and duties are shared by part-time clerics who make their living at other occupations in the city, often martial ones. The politics can be fractious, but the temple is sufficiently poor that there is little for them to fight over.
Rornish temples are usually designed with some form of practice ring; the high price of land in Venza forced the temple to put its on the roof. In keeping with Rornish tradition, the temple does have a small bath house attached to it, with separate, heated bathing areas for men and women. The temple's part-time handyman lights the fires to warm the baths several nights a week, though cold baths are always available to worshippers whose ablutions call for such cleansing.
The Order of KamaraEdit
Legend says that, at the age of 60, Lady Kamara was left in charge of her keep while her husband was called to war. A group of brigands entered the keep in disguise as wounded Rornish soldiers, then massacred the keep's remaining guard. Lady Kamara and a handful of her retainers fled to the hills while the bandits remained in the keep, believing themselves safe until the passes were clear of snow. Kamara rallied the people of the valley to her, building an army of shepherds and villagers. After a month of training, and under Kamara's inspired leadership, the army recaptured the keep and slew every one of the brigands.
Today, Lady Kamara is remembered as one of the Sword Saints, and the members of the Order of Kamara honor her memory by training and organizing citizens to defend themselves. Their doctrine is one that demands vigilance and commitment to the study of the martial arts, but emphasizes community rather than extreme self-reliance. Every citizen has in them the seed of the hero, and the Order seeks to make sure that when the need arises, it will bloom.
In its early days, the brothers and sisters of the order worked mostly in rural communities, helping to organize local militias and prepare the community's response to natural disasters. Their role kept them away from the barracks and the palace, Rorn's centers of power, and so the Order were regarded as a rustic and somewhat marginal group.
This might have remained the case, but fate intervened. Some 20 years ago, Rorn found itself in a protracted campaign against the latest charismatic leader of the horselords. The High Marshal was forced to pull his forces to the western border, leaving the border with Heth relatively unguarded. Brigands emerged from the lawless kingdom and began staging raids across the border. Their raids became alarmingly bold, but still the High Marshal could not dispatch troops.
At the request of the Grave, the Order of Kamara dispatched a contingent of its members to Heth. While the lizardfolk would never have tolerated an incursion by Rornish troops, they seemed willing to turn a blind eye to a handful of priests. The members of the Order situated themselves in Heth villages and towns along the border, organizing militias and creating a network of well-organized defenders with the strength to take on the bandits. The brigands withdrew to safer havens deeper within Heth, and the villagers' newfound security brought prosperity to both sides of the border.
The Grave were quick to realize there might be other roles for the Order, and formed an alliance. Gold from the Rornish treasury began to fill the Order's coffers, and its members were dispatched to troubled locations to work their magic. Most recently, members of the Order have been dispatched to the Landadel Baronies to counter the growing influence of Rhat'matanis in the region. This has met with a mixed reception; the leaders of some baronies have welcomed the development of a stronger militia, while others have feared it and banned the Order.
The paladins and clerics of the Order are known for their diplomatic skills as much as their strength of arms. They are trained in persuasion and oratory, and held to the highest standard of honor and good conduct. Failure to help a community find its strength is a failure that can be overcome, but a breach of honor disgraces the Order and undermines its mission everywhere.
Many members of the Order have mixed feelings about its relationship with the Grave. The Order's duty is to communities worldwide, not just those whose strength is of value to Rorn, and some feel that allowing the High Marshal so much control undermines their mission and their credibility. But the leadership seems to feel it is better to do some good with Rornish gold than to do less without it, and the uneasy alliance is tolerated.
The Order's symbol is a stylized, heavy-bladed sword stuck into the side of the mountain; the image symbolizes a sword (beaten from a plowshare) on the mountain where Lady Kamara trained her army. Members of the order tend to favor heavy-bladed greatswords, though these well-crafted weapons bear little resemblence to the crude implements of their founder's army.
 This view is that held by Rornish historians. The Horse clans refer to the period as one of renewed aggression by their Rornish neighbors.