Excerpt from “A History of the Zechen-Rotliegendish Commonwealth” by Henryk Kaszarjd (1656-1732)
Of all the great and holy men who held the sacred office of abbot of the Monastery of Zarant, none can equal Konelis Larach, 26th Abbot of Zarant.
Konelis Larach, or St. Cornelius of Zarant as he is better kown amongst the nations of the south, was born a lowly serf in the Lech of Olfensee in the Zechen-Rotliegendish Commonwealth. His parents’ fifth child, the exact condition of his family is unknown, but there is no reason to believe that it was any better than that of a typical serf’s.
Virtual slaves to their masters, a serf family was expected to eke out a living from a plot of land that would have been hard pressed to support a single man - that is when they were not labouring in the fields of their master. In such circumstances, it is not surprising that many young men took holy vows - not only did the monastery at least offer food and shelter, there can be no doubt that the devoutness of many of the serfs of this era was utterly genuine.
Konelis Larach was one of these. In 843, when he was fourteen he entered his novitiate at the great Monastery of Zarant, a monastery dedicated to the worship of the Blessed Ruth, Our Lady of Silence.
At that time the Monastery of Zarant was nearing the zenith of its existence. Founded in 449, several centuries after the Act of Secession and at a time when the civil wars that followed had largely dissipated, the Monastery was founded as a result of a large gift to the Order of Silence from the Szlachta (parliament) of the Zechen-Rotliegendish Commonwealth. The gift is generally believed by historians to have been a successful result of the Szlachta’s attempt to weaken the dominance of the pagan Order of Earth, strongly loyal to the Sejm (ruler), within the Commonwealth. The donation provided for the establishment of a large Monastery of Silence within the Forest of Zarant in the heart of the Commonwealth, the Monastery “to provide a perpetual and living monument to the Blessed Ruth, Our Lady of Silence and to aid the growth of Silence throughout our dominion.”
For the next few centuries the Monastery of Zarant prospered; under the patronage of the Zechen-Rotliegendish Commonwealth it quickly became the leading centre of Silence worship in north-eastern Laurentia and one of the largest in Laurentia. At its height, the Monastery housed over 700 monks, priests, scholars and acolytes and possessed considerably influence.
It is little wonder that in such an atmosphere young Konelis prospered. Freed of the grinding poverty of his youth, his keen mind blossomed in the enquiring atmosphere of the monastery. Intelligent and devout, he soon rose to the office of prior, an almost unheard of event in a time when noble birth was almost as much a prerequisite to high office in the church as it was in secular life.
Prior and Abbot
It was in this period that Larach achieved his most lasting achievements. A great scholar, he developed the complex Silence prayers Invisibility Sphere, Blanket of Silence and Vow of Silence amongst others. It was during this era (7th –9th centuries SS) that the Forest of Zarant began to be known as the Forest of Silence due to the frequent deadening of all sound in large regions of the forest in the course of research. Nor were his efforts limited to such earthy matters. Between 870 and 880 Larach wrote the first three volumes of the Annalia, his masterpiece of the doctrine, scriptural interpretation and philosophical underpinning of Silence worship that has done more than any other work to shape the development of Ruthine theology.
In 882, upon the death of the 25th Abbot, Piotr Rachza, Larach assumed the position of Abbot. Under his astute leadership, the Monastery of Zarant gained even greater prominence and, as chief adviser and eminence grise to Dominic the Great, 37th Sejm of the Zechen-Rotliegendish Commonwealth, Larach could in truth be said to have been guiding the affairs of half a continent.
Alas, this golden period was not to last. In 894, a Drogkhar uprising flared up in the region and the Monastery of Zarant, famed for its power and wealth, was an obvious target. Konelis Larach was cut down before the doors, defending the monastery against the unclean hordes. He left the seventh and final volume of the Anlalia unfinished and a gap that could not be filled.
After his death, the Monastery of Zarant declined. Though preserved from destruction in 894 by Larach’s martyrdom, the monastery was razed to the ground in both the first and third Drogkhar uprisings of the 10th century, with many monks and priests being slain. The troubled times led to the people turning from Silence to Order and War and though the monastery was rebuilt, it was on a much smaller scale than before. In 1083 the monastery was once again attacked, this time in the Rokosz (legal rebellion) of the Duke of Toarcia. Large sections of the monastery were burnt. With the decline of the Commonwealth and the steady withdrawal of Zechen-Rotliegendish influence from the region, the funds and political will were lacking to once again rebuild the monastery and it was finally abandoned in 1125.
Despite the fall of the monastery, and of the Zechen-Rotliegendish Commonwealth itself three centuries later, Larach’s influence has only grown with the years. The Annalia remain the most quoted theological tract throughout Laurentia and in 1052, Konelis Larach was canonised by Patriach Johan IV.
Of the Monastery itself, little remains. The buildings themselves have long since gone, either eroded by the elements or the stone carted away by peasants for buildings elsewhere. Though some relics from the Monastery can still be seen in the region (items may be found in the Ducal palace in Bajada, in the city of Zechstein and in various places in Rotliegendes), by far the greatest number, including the famed statue of Ruth, were removed in 1137SS by an expedition from the University of Linnarson. The expedition also removed Larach’s bones from the ossuary for preservation. His grave can now be found in the chapel of Cornelius College - the college that he endowed - in Linnarson, where they are watched over by the great statue of Ruth.
Legends of Larach
As with any saint, the legends of Konelis Larach are innumberable. It is said that as a babe he never cried, clothed even then in the sacred mantle of silence. His intervention is credited with permitting the passage of the messenger, Szczepan of Toarcia, through the invading army of Siluria, unseen and unheard and for the lifting of the curse of deafness from Dianantes III of Aesthen.
One of the more intriguing legends concerns the ill-reputed Temple of Akhtanpet. Built by the Atavines, the Temple is thought to have stood in the midst of the Great Western Desert, though its exact location is unknown. In the Annalia, Larach writes of an expedition that he made to locate it. Unusually reticent, he refuses to describe what he found inside, only saying that it was for this reason that he derived the Ritual of the Larachian Refuge, one of the most powerful Silence rituals known, “in order that no others may find the Temple and discover its vile secrets.”
The fact that the Ritual effectively renders all further searches futile has done nothing to deter thousands of treasure seekers through the centuries from seeking to locate it. Their bones are no doubt whitening in the desert.
Ritual of the Larachian Refuge
The ritual - which may only be performed on the night of a full moon - conceals an area, essentially removing it from the map. People walking up to it will simply appear on the other side, no scrying spells can see in, the countryside (or buildings around) subtly change so as to make it seem as if nothing is wrong.The area might be detected by careful use of, e.g. sextants. There must be a way to get in – one tiny area where the illusion is imperfect that will be known to the creator - but this would be almost impossible to find unless you knew where it was. The only flaw in the Ritual is that the concealed area will become seen (in a ghostly, ethereal way) under the dark of a total solar eclipse.