The temple is perfectly round, with a huge domed roof of clear glass. As the light streams in from above, it is reflected off of countless small mirrors set cleverly into the walls so that no shadow may find a home here. In keeping with the ethos of the Golden King and Silver Queen, who seek to shed light in all areas and all pursuits, the sanctuary is lined with tomes and scrolls of knowledge in which every word is the truth.
As one enters the temple, they notice that the quality of the light here is unlike any they have ever experienced – a rich silver-gold that warms the heart and restores vigor to the limbs. And as the eyes are drawn upwards, they will find a huge, clear orb floating in the exact center of the room, shining with a light of its own. It is one of the twin orbs gifted to the church by Lytharian, Sorcerer of Light in his final days.
As the sunlight streams in from the domed roof during the day, Mõna, the moon orb, releases its cache of stored moonlight. At night Mõna is replaced by Sunne, the sun orb. On the nights when there is no moon, both orbs are removed and the temple is lit by starlight alone. At all times, light from the orbs and from outside is mixed and amplified with clever magics so that the inside of the temple is brilliant, but not blindingly so. And through the subtle manipulations of clerics the sunlight and moonlight are kept in perfect balance.
Eons ago, the Golden King and Silver Queen walked the sky together. The days of their combined reign were glorious, filled with a silver-gold radiance that the creatures of dark could not withstand. Those were banished to the nighttime entirely, as walking under the twin lights of the good King and Queen was intolerable to them. And so all things good paid homage to the divine pair, and all things dark and evil hated them with an ferocity that grew stronger with each passing age.
Years passed and the followers of the divine pair grew afraid, as they had no protection during the deep, light-less night that grew ever more wild and dangerous. The good peoples and creatures of the world begged their god and goddess to grant them a light during the second half of the day and the Golden King and Silver Queen, who loved their devotees as their children, agreed. Though it caused them much sorrow, the two decided to part company so that each might shed light on one half of the day. And so it came to pass that for twelve hours the King would travel the sky alone while the Queen, who burned as brightly as he in those days, would trail after him. Darkness was overthrown entirely, and all creatures dim and evil were driven underground for good.
But that is not the end of their story.
While the parting was hard on them both, the Silver Queen grew steadily more depressed. Her aching loneliness drove her to sometimes lose her place in the procession, rushing forward to be with her husband when it became too much to bear. In this way she waxed and waned, and darkness crept back into the land as she abandoned her post. Finally, when even these stolen moments did little to ease her sorrow the Silver Queen gathered half of her silvery light and flung it across the sky, scattering it into the void. And so the glittering children of the Golden King and Silver Queen were born into the world.
Now the Queen, though greatly diminished, walks the sky with her children, free of bitterness at last. And when she does occasionally fall forward to walk at her husband's side, the world is not abandoned to the darkness, for her children remain to light the world below.
In recognition of the sacrifice that the Golden King and Silver Queen have made for them, the followers of the holy ones erected this temple in their honor. It was intended to be a place where the King and Queen could reside together in worship & memory, if not in fact. The intermingling of sun and moonlight brings great joy to the divine pair, who will listen with special favor to the prayers made within.
Although the Divine-King and His Queen are worshipped under the same roof, each has a priestly and a knightly order dedicated to His or Her service.
The Silver Queen is served by the Priestesses of the Eventime, headed by a matron known as the Illuminatress. They wear loose, flowing robes of pearly white cloth trimmed with silver, and gird their waists with silver sashes set with moon-shaped buckles. The Priests of the Dawnbringer serve the Golden King. Headed by the Illuminator, the priests don simple, bright white robes trimmed with gold, and hang modest sun-shaped pendants around their necks.
Except for a few ex-paladins, the clerics of the Temple are unskilled in combat; most were either compassionate healers of mind and body or talented scholars before they felt the divine touch of their Lord or Lady’s grace. Defense of the Temple must therefore be entrusted to the twin orders of paladins that have dedicated themselves to the protection of the church.
During the daytime, the Knights of the Golden Hand stand watch or practice maneuvers in the temple courtyard. They are all male, wear golden-hued steel armor, and carry both simple longswords and perfectly round shields, set in the center with a large sun device. Their bold, decisive, fighting style will often involve blinding their enemies with reflected sunlight from their shields, then smiting them with a daunting frontal attack.
Their sister order, the Knights of the Silver Hand, guard the Temple during the night. They are all female and their silvery steel armaments have a slight pearly quality to them. They bear sickle-shaped swords and round shields set with a crescent moon device. With sure strikes at an enemy’s weak spots, the Silver Hand make good use of their curving blades in a quicker, more subtle fighting style.
Unlike the clerics of most faiths, many of the priests and priestesses of the Divine Pair are married and will indicate this by embroidering a small sun or moon over the left breast of their robes. It is not uncommon to see one of the priestesses in the late stages of pregnancy. The paladins, however, are not allowed to marry while they serve in either of the knightly orders, for their deaths would leave their spouse and potential children devastated. If they choose to marry, however, they are usually welcomed into the priesthood.
Regardless of their earthly marital status, the Illuminator and Illuminatress are symbolically wed, and will often perform prayers and temple functions together. They are the spiritual mother and father of all within the church.
A Sample Scene: the Changing of the Guard
It is sunrise, and the all activity within the Temple ceases as the procession approaches from the East. The Illuminator, head priest of the Divine-King, slowly mounts the steps with an honor guard of Knights of the Golden Hand. The rising sun is at his back, and the first rays dance across the mirrors within the temple and warm the crystal bells of the dawn which chime out joyfully to herald the King's return. But for the bells, all is silent as the Illuminator enters the Temple.
The priest strides into the temple and raises his hand to summon Sunne, the sun orb, from its place in the heart of the room. It is given into the keeping of several younger priests, who remove it to its post outside. Without a word, the Priestesses of Eventime file slowly from the room, followed by the Knights of the Silver Hand who had kept guard throughout the night. The Illuminatress is the last to turn, and file slowly towards the entrance.
But as she reaches the archway, the Illuminator raises his hand and calls to her in the words of the morning prayer – his voice ringing with divine power as the Golden King speaks through him:
Illuminator: Wither dost thou go, My Queen, lady of the night?
Illuminatress: Alas, I go to sleep, My King, and take my waning light.
But, pray, reserve a place for me within thy faithful heart
Keep my light within thy breast and we’ll never truly part.
Both: And so it shall be, until the ending of days.
The Illuminatress takes Mõna, the moon orb, from her attendants and with a gesture raises it into the center of the Temple where it begins to softly shine. The Illuminator and Illuminatress face each other across the room and raise one hand in a token of farewell, before she turns and makes her stately exit.
This ritual is also performed at sunset, with the head priest and priestess switching places. A silver gong will herald herald the beginning of the moon’s reign, and the Knights of the Golden Hand will be relieved from duty. Here are the words of the evening prayer:
Illuminatress: Wither dost thou go, My King, herald of the day?
Illuminator: I go to sleep beyond the hills, and take my light away.
Pine for me not, my faithful Queen, and keep your lonely post
For though I cannot walk with you, I still love you the most
Both: And so it shall be, until the ending of days
Function in Society
Marital discord is extremely uncommon in the Kingdom of Light, largely due to the services of this church. Couples can visit the Temple at any time of the day or night to seek guidance, counseling or arbitration, and in rare cases will be allowed to drink from the Chalice of the Silver Queen.
Trials of criminals are sometimes held within the Temple, as it becomes difficult to lie when bathed within the silver-gold light of the twin orbs. Most will feel it as a pressure to tell the truth, one that either stills the tongue or twists it into knots if they attempt to utter a falsehood. The exceptionally strong-willed may still be able to lie, but their unease will be apparent to the trained eyes of the temple clerics.
The Divine-King is closely tied to the Temple, as his coronation, marriage and funeral are all held within its walls. The wisest of the Kings will come often to seek new truths -- to peruse the tomes of the temple library, speak with the Illuminator and Illuminatress, or gaze within the Mirror of the Star Children.
An unmarried Priestess of Eventime has recently become pregnant, and is claiming that the Golden King himself is the father of her child. This is deeply offensive to most of the church, who would never accuse the faithful god of such sordid behavior. However, the priestesses are chosen by the Silver Queen herself for their honesty and purity of heart; it would be extremely odd for one to lie.
Fearing an attempt on her life, the priestess has gone into hiding and the church wants her found. It is up to the PCs to sort the whole mess out -- did she fool around outside of marriage (a grave moral transgression in this land) and is lying to save face? Or does she truly believe that the Golden King visited her? If so, did He truly behave in this uncharacteristically unfaithful way, or is some other dark power responsible for the conception?
The Truth Will Out
The priests and priestesses of the Temple often double as scholars. As new texts and scrolls are donated to the great temple library, they must work diligently to ensure that every word within them is truthful before placing the volumes on the shelves. Their tolerance for nothing less than 100% accuracy means that often paladins will often be sent out on quests for information, returning only when they have proved or disproved a book’s claim.
Over the last several years, the backlog of unverified books has become almost unmanageable. For whatever reason, the paladins are unable to meet the recent demand for verification quests -- perhaps the church received a donation of hundreds of new volumes, or perhaps the knights are busy fending off the minions of darkness elsewhere. The PCs may have arrived at the Temple seeking answers of their own, when a harried priest approaches them with a request: would they be willing to travel to the Land of Faraway to see if the fabled tower of Mintarel is really over 1000 feet tall? (silly example)
This could be an ongoing source of quests. If you want to send the PCs somewhere in particular, you could ask them to go find out X about the kingdom/land/dungeon/wizard/people etc of Y. Perhaps several of the church’s paladins have already attempted the same quest but did not return. Will the PCs discover their fate, and discover the secret that the church is seeking?