Note that the Annalia is not the Holy Book (such as the Bible, Qur’an, Torah, Guru Granth Sahib, etc.) of a religion. Rather it should be compared to the works of St. Thomas Aquinas or St. Augustine of Hippo, with a tinge of Bede’s histories, Pepys’s diaries and Newton’s Principia thrown in for good measure.
The life work of Konelis Larach, 26th Abbot of Zarant, the Annalia was the first work to firmly establish and codify the doctrinal basis, scriptural support and philosophical underpinning of the Order of Silence.
Both comprehensive and brilliant, the contents of the seven volume work range from abstract theology to practical details of worship, from autobiography to parables and from from historical accounts to musings on natural philosophy.
Significance and Importance
The most immediate significance of the Annalia, was undoubtedly the recognition of the Order of Silence by the Canonical Church. Though utterly abstruse to the average layman, the chapters in Volume Two in which Larach precisely illustrated the exact nature of the Blessed Ruth’s divinity and the reasons why it did not threaten the supremacy of Andur were the primary cause of Patriarch Johan IV’s decision in 1052 to both canonise Larach and to formally recognise the Order of Silence as a non-heretical denomination of Andurism.
More broadly, the Annalia remains, even seven centuries later, the definitive work of Ruthine theology. From the guidance to worship, through the theology to the description of the roots, the contents of the Annalia are indispensible to any priest or monk of Silence. Any educated devotee of Silence would be almost sure to own a copy and many other scholars are also familiar with the work, valuing it for its detailed histories and philosophical insights.
The Books Themselves
A physical description is impossible - some copies of the Annalia are beautifully illustrated vellum manuscripts; others are the scrappy work of incompetent scribes on inferior parchment. The content is what defines the Annalia.
The primary contents of each of the seven volumes is as follows:
The first volume written contains, not unexpectedly, those points that Larach considered to be most fundamental.
- Fundamental doctrine and dogma of Silence.
- Historical basis of Silence; description of the Blessed Ruth’s early life.
- The early days of the Order.
- Basic principles of worship, including recommended prayers and orders of service.
The most abstruse intellectually of the volumes, only the most learned of scholars can fully comprehend it.
- The nature of the divinity of Ruth and its relationship to the divinity of Andur.
- The immortality of Ruth. Treatise on the nature and substance of time. Description of the Ritual of Idthian Eternity (slows time).
- The nature of good and evil.
- Treatise on mathematics and geometry.
- The history of the world from the birth of Andur (and Ruth) to the “present day” (9th century).
- Reflections on Larach’s early life.
- Moral teachings and guidance.
- The “other world” - spirits, ghosts, the art of ethereal travelling and a discourse upon the nature of the process involved. Includes basic techniques and prayers to achieve this, rituals of exorcism and banishment and the Ritual of Tathned Beresza (transforms a person permanently into a spirit).
- A primer on the art of Silence magic. Basic Silence prayers dealing with the simpler arts of silence, concealment and other simple arts (includes about 75%; does not include those included elsewhere).
- History of the world before the birth of Andur (and Ruth)- knowledge and speculations.
- A further exploration of the more difficult doctrines of Silence (written fifteen years after the sections on doctrine in volume one; Larach had evidently deepened his understanding)
- Geography and Politics of the world “today” (9th century).
- A treatise on the history and political structure of the Zechen-Rotliegendish Commonwealth. (By this time Larach had been serving for some years as chief adviser to Dominic the Great, 37th Sejm of the Zechen-Rotliegendish Commonwealth, then near the height of its power).
- Further reflections on Larach’s own life. Includes a description of his travels, including the tale of his visit to the Temple of Akhtanpet and details of the Ritual of the Larachian Refuge (conceals an area except under the dark of a solar eclipse).
- The nature of free will and determinism and the place of the Blessed Ruth’s gift of foresight in this.
- The art of divination. Contains advanced prayers and rituals by which Silence priests are are able to divine the deepest secrets of an object or person’s past and nature or to probe the murky depths of the future, albeit imperfectly.
- Rules for a Monastic Community of Silence.
- A bestiary and herbiary of all known (and a number of fictitious but then thought real) plants and animals and their theological significance.
Incomplete. Larach was martyred when he was only part way through.
- The future of the Order of Silence (how Larach considered the Order should progress in the future).
- The place of religion in the world.
This summary is only a guidance. In actuality, the books are considerably more jumbled than the above description would imply. Larach interspersed observations on morality, points of theology, parables, extracts from his own life and points of interest throughout the whole work. A piece of Silence magic may be found in a historical section near its creater, or an extract from Larach’s own life used to illustrate a theological point. This slightly jumbled nature gives the Annalia a warm, personal feeling - those who read it frequently say that they can almost feel Larach talking to them.
The remainder of the seventh volume was, from references elsewhere in the Annalia, intended to be a collection of prophesies, made either by Larach himself or else ones that he knew of. Whilst some prophesies are scattered throughout the rest of the Annalia (and many have come to pass), the absence of this final section is considered a great loss for the Order of Silence is most skilled in the art of divination.
First and foremost, the Annalia, even the sections on history or politics, are concerned with the Order of Silence. Historical events are considered in the context of their impact upon the Order of Silence, political systems evaluated in terms of Silence morality. In places, particularly where spells and rituals are described, Larach assumes the reader is familiar with Silence theology meaning that some study would be necessary in order to perform it (the more advanced, the more study). Lastly, Larach assumes throughout that the reader is familiar with the Book of Andur for Larach himself considred the Order of Silence to be a branch of mainstream Andurism.
Foibles of the Annalia
- The jumbled nature of the work has already been mentioned.
- Nothing is repeated. If Larach describes something in one volume he will not repeat himself even in a later volume, even if it should really be described there for completeness. This is something that someone owning an incomplete set frequently finds infuriating.
- Larach frequently refers to other volumes of the Annalia in the text, forwards and backwards. However the forwards references are frequently wrong - for example if he intended to include something in volume four but didn’t actually write about it until volume five.
- Larach frequently told parables in the first person. There is some dispute about what is autobiography and what are merely parables.
- Old Rotliegendish (Larach’s native language) only had one tense, the present. Although the Annalia is written in Dalradian, the language of scholars, Larach continued to eschew the use of more than one tense. This makes some sections (such as that on the nature of time) particularly hard to understand.
Uses in Game
- Firstly this is background to the world and underpins the Order of Silence. Any members of the Order of Silence would be likely to quote from it frequently.
- Many sections are actually very useful. For example, a PC who finds Volume Six will find it a useful reference book about creatures and herbs. Similarly, it would be the natural work to consult if planning to infiltrate (or just visit) a Silence monastery.
- Magic. One can potentially learn much useful from the Annalia, though one would have to firstly have the talent and secondly invest some time in studying Silence theology.
- A wealthy foreigner has recently moved into the area. The PCs are visiting (perhaps they are working for him) and notice a the Annalia in his bookcase. This could be a valuable clue to his past, given the fact that most thieves and assassins are devotees of Silence.
- One of the periodic persecutions of Silence has flared up again. One of the PCs is a devotee and does not wsh to give up his copy of the Annalia - yet the city guards are conducting spot searches.
- The oldest extant copy of the Annalia, a half-burned copy of volume two dating from Larach’s lifetime, has been stolen from the Library of Bajada. The thieves are demanding a high ransom - or else will burn it.
- On a distant continent, the Order of Silence is almost unknown. The PCs have desperate need of one of the rituals described in the Annalia and must track down a copy.
- In a quest for an ancient treasure or city (such as the Temple of Akhtanpet), long ruined, the PCs only hope of finding it lies in the histories and description of Larach’s travels in the Annalia. Unfortunately the directions are obscure and oblique - and scattered across more than one volume.