The Basics

The Order of Silence follow the Blessed Ruth, Our Lady of Silence, twin sister to Our Lord Andur Astartes, Saviour and Redeemer. They believe that she is both divine and immortal, though of a less divinity than that of Andur, Lord of Order and his incarnation on earth, Andur Astartes. As such they consider themselves to be part of the Anduran faith. How they are viewed by conventional Andurans varies according to the denomination. The Canonical Church tolerates them and has officially recognised the denomination as part of mainstream Andurism; however, Scriptualists and other non-conformists view them with at best grudging tolerance and at worst as heretics.

Scriptural Basis

The Book of Andur tells of how, when Our Lord Andur Astartes was born, his mother also bore a twin sister to him. Deaf and blind from birth, the baby girl was named Ruth, meaning pity, or compassion.

From later chapters it is clear that Ruth not only survived childhood but was able to, in some way, communicate with others, something that would seem to be most unusual for one so handicapped. However, the Book of Andur gives no indication that Ruth in any way shared the divinity of her Brother.

In the early days of Andurism, many sects and factions abounded, most utterly heretical, before the enlightened won out and truth prevailed over heresy. Historical documents indicate that from the very earliest days, a cult of Silence existed, worshipping Ruth, Our Lady of Silence. However, the earliest extant documents that testify to this belief are the Ruthine Scrolls, a set of apocryphal gospels dating from the early third century. Adherents of Silence claim that St. Gregory's Second Epistle to the Aesthenians (II Aesthenians 14:23) implies that St. Gregory was aware and approved of an earlier version of these texts but both the translation and interpretation of the verse in question are hotly disputed by scholars.

So, for the first few centuries, the Order of Silence had little firm foundation, relying on a number of disjointed, often corrupted or incomplete, texts and the anecdotal tales of Ruth's intercessions that were passed on by word of mouth and only occasionally written down.

It was not until the ninth century that Silence worship was put on a firm theological basis with the publication of the Annalia by Konelis Larach, 26th Abbot of Zarant. This seven-volume masterpiece firmly established and codified the doctrinal basis, scriptural support and philosophical underpinning of Silence worship, essentially codifying for the first time Ruthine theology.

The Annalia led directly to 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.

Historical and Geographical Spread

Despite its shaky underpinnings, the Order of Silence nevertheless spread widely in the first millenium. Though by no means mainstream, typically around 5-10% of the population of an Andur worshipping region might venerate Ruth. Only in the Zechen-Rotliegendish Commonwealth was this not true. There, thanks largely to strong state support, the denomination became firmly rooted, at its peak becoming the norm rather than the exception.

However, Silence's fortunes waned with the Commonwealth and, when it fell in the 14th century, Ruthine worship likewise declined. Though stronger in the areas once ruled by the Commonwealth it still only commands the allegiance of around a fifth of the population. Elsewhere, the figure is more like a tenth (in Canonical countries) and far lower in Scriptural and nonconformist countries due to suppression and persecution.

Beliefs and Values

Due to the Blessed Ruth's deafness, her adherents venerate silence. Ruth lived permanently in a holy silence, and so do they aim to. Though blind, Ruth could still perceive the world and, perhaps due to this, the Order of Silence venerates knowledge and scholarship. Furthermore, many are mystics, pursuing the arts of prophesy and divination - it is not unknown for a particularly devout monk or priest of Silence to blind themselves to devote himself more fully to the 'other sight'.

The Blessed Ruth herself is considered to be both immortal and divine. Unlike Andur Astartes, she was not assumed into heaven for her divinity is of a lesser kind; instead, she wanders the world, ageless and undying. Her appearance is that of a woman in her fifties, yet one who carries her years lightly and who is still beautiful. Her hair is as black as night; her skin pale as moonlight, her carriage and figure stately and elegant.

Though blind and deaf she has no difficulty finding her way; however, she is not omnipresent and can travel from one place to another no faster than a normal human could. However, by foresight she knows where she will be needed. Ruth is said to often test mortals; those who aid her - a blind and deaf woman - freely and unstintingly (particularly if they do so despite having some other pressing purpose driving them) will receive her aid, either by wise council or by direct blessing or intervention.

Worship and Buildings

Silence worship consists of an honour of stillness and silence - religious services involve large amounts of silent prayer and meditation, occasionally broken by rhythmic chanting - and there is little in this to attract the majority of people. There is a very strong monastic element to Silence worship (over half of Silence priests live in monasteries) and many of these monks take a vow of partial or total silence. All refrain from any unnecessary noise.

The veneration of knowledge is another reason why Silence worship attracts scholars and many Silence priests work to preserve knowledge. They are frequently in the forefront of establishing and running the great libraries of the world

Churches of Silence are designed to be unobtrusive and to blend in with the surroundings. The architecture is cunningly designed to cut off the noise of the outside world and to muffle any sounds made within. Most Silence churches are found in cities or large towns - the denomination is not large enough to have churches in small villages. The majority of people drawn to silence worship fall in to three categories: reclusive and solitary individuals who are at home with silence; certain people, often wealthy or scholars, who are slightly withdrawn from the world and who have come to find great spiritual meaning in Silence and the underclasses: thieves and assassins who live by stealth and silence and who thus see it as the natural power to worship. Naturally, the priests of Silence do not condone such actions; however, the ability to move with true silence is greatly admired and, as such, many great assassins believe that Ruth is served by their work. Maybe she is.

Misconceptions of Silence

The above mentioned association with undesirables is perhaps one reason why there is frequently suspicion of the Order of Silence. More seriously, some of the uneducated confuse the worship of Silence with the worship of the silence of the grave. This misunderstanding is not helped by the fact that in areas where Silence worship has historically been strong, the order has adopted Longest Night as a night of meditation in honour of Ruth, whereas elsewhere in the world this night is feared as a time when the forces of evil are strongest. It is also sometimes alleged that the Order of Silence will use evil methods - such as necromancy - in pursuit of its aims. Whilst it is true that Silence priests have been known to use such methods, they have a strong antipathy towards and doing so and the Order does not advocate there use except if their is no other alternative.

It should be remembered that much hostility towards the Order of Silence does not result from misunderstanding but rather comes about because their opponents understand them all too well - and consider them to be heretics of the true Anduran faith.

Powers and Rituals Please ignore this section if your world/system does not involve clerical magic.

The clergy of Silence, with its devotion to knowledge and scholarship, have many powers, almost all concerned with the arts of silence and concealment. Devotees of Silence are able to deaden noise, to become nondescript or invisible and even to feign death itself. They may indusce drowsiness or sleep in others and, at times, have been known to communicate telepathically even in a noise-deadened area. It is said that some Silence priests have even been known to take on the form of an owl, sailing ghostly through the night.

Regarding rituals, amongst their most powerful is the Ritual of the Larachian Refuge, devised by Konelis Larach himself, that can conceal an entire region save under the dark of a total solar eclipse. They have also been known to bind a person to silence upon a subject, to transform a person into spirit form and even to slow time. However, many of their rituals centre upon the arts of divination and the most devoted, those whom have blinded themselves in service of Ruth, 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.

Note that although presented here as an adjunct to a monotheistic religion, it could potentially be adapted to a polytheistic religion, with Ruth the twin of a more major deity.

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