The Inquisition

History:

Despite not having been founded until after the One Faith was adopted as the official faith of the Vir Sidus Empire, the Holy Inquisition has risen to become one of the most powerful and certainly the most feared of the One Faith's many branches. After the great conversion, the Emperor Marius Firandaire saw fit to make certain that the last vestiges of other faiths within his borders were stamped out, and so he found the ambitious Cardinal Alric Teleko, and together they created what would become the Holy Inquisition.

In the centuries that have followed, the Holy Inquisition has worked tirelessly to stamp out any trace of the faith of the Many or the Tuskanuld within the borders of Aequor, Rikton, Kentaire and Navali. Their efforts have been frightfully successful, though a few small, isolated pockets of worshippers of the Many are still sprinkled throughout these countries. The Inquisition is unique in the Civilized West as it is the only body that can levy judgements outside the nobility and their appointed representatives. It is a responsibility they do not take lightly.

The situations in Galenthia and Four Corners, however, are slightly different. Galenthia has an unwritten toleration of pagans within their borders, as long as they keep to themselves, do not seek converts and remain loyal servants of the realm. The lands of House Kaedon are most notable, an openly Many worshipping County that walks a fine line in order to maintain its high position. The Duchy of Sokar is full of other Many worshipping houses; despite the former Robar Dukes of Riverwatch's religious fervour, they often overlooked these houses' religion in return for higher taxes. A few other fiefs are Many worshippers in Galenthia - in the Sokar lands, House Charwin, just south of County Kaedon, House Rosendal and House Thalesia. In Tarris lands, House Ulsen worship the Many while the old ways are observed in Romante lands north of Firen by House Thrace. Inquisitors are ever waiting for some slip up by the pagans in the Kingdom so that they will be given an reason to pounce. Many Galenthians feel the same way.

In Four Corners, the power of the Inquisition waxes and wanes depending on where in the state they are. In the merchant family controlled countryside and the wealthier parts of the city itself, the Church is well represented and so is its Inquisition. In the slums, on the docks and the lower canals, however, Church power fades; people worship whatever they want here. As usual in Four Corners, money can buy immunity from some corrupt Churchmen, although the current High Priest has been trying to stamp out such practices.

Also, contrary to popular belief, some people do in fact expect them. Not quite as much as they expect jokes of no one expecting them, though.

Organization:

Apprentice Inquisitors are Priests that have been selected to work with the Holy Inquisition and are considered good prospects to become full Inquisitors. They do a great deal of the "leg work" for full Inquisitors and are often responsible for managing the Inquisitor's entourage. The relationship betwen an Inquisitor and his Apprentice is very much like that of a Knight and a Squire. While it is often grueling and emotionally draining work, those that thrive in this role often become some of the youngest Bishops of the One Faith. Obviously one's faith must be above reproach to serve in this capacity at all, though otherwise the skills of apprentice Inquisitors vary significantly beyond their religious education, depending on what other areas they might have specialized in.

Players may freely apply for Apprentice Inquisitors, though it helps if you have a PC Inquisitor to work for!

Recruitment:

Recruitment for prospective Inquisitors starts rather early in their education at Rikton. Priests-in-training are constantly evaluated for the necessary combination of zeal, piety, and moderation required to be a good Inquisitor. Such individuals often have their education subtly tailored towards the work, and upon being ordained as a Priest are usually assigned as an apprentice to an Inquisitor. There usually isn't much choice in the matter, but generally the Church is quite good at determining who has the proper temperament for the work and who doesn't. Being assigned to the Inquisition is seen as a "fast track" to the rank of Bishop, but most Inquisitors never ascend beyond that rank.

After several years of working alongside a full Inquisitor, an Apprentice Inquisitor will usually be raised to the rank of Bishop and made a full Inquisitor themself. They then form their own retinues and usually select an apprentice before heading out into the world to continue their work.

Missions:

There are basically three types of missions that Inquisitors engage in: Inquests, Hunts, and Purges.

Inquests are the most common work of the Inquisitor and their retinue. This is the "information gathering" phase of any given investigation (though it can lead to judgment, as well). The methods used here vary wildly between Inquisitors, but run the gamut from polite and subtle questioning, to more pointed interrogations, to having ones' retinue investigate matters incognito, or any combination of all of the above. If enough evidence is gathered, a formal hearing is called, and the accused permitted to speak their case, witnesses called, and evidence presented. If the evidence is sufficient in the mind of the Inquisitor, they will levy a temporary judgment and the accused is usually imprisoned via house arrest if noble, or held by a Church-friendly noble in a dungeon if common. The temporary judgment and evidence presented is sent to the nearest High Inquisitor for official validation (which is usually granted unless the evidence is flimsy). Once official validation is received, judgment is carried out, and can range from official censure from the church (often accompanied by a stiff penance), to excommunication (with the consent of the High Priest), to simply execution.

Hunts are undertaken when someone whose guilt is either not in doubt (for whatever reason) or who has had a temporary judgment levied against them attempts to flee before any sentences can be carried out. An accused fleeing after temporary judgment is seen as a sign of sure guilt. Likewise, if an Inquisitor or their retinue has witnessed heresy or witchcraft being performed firsthand and the perpetrator(s) somehow fled before facing judgment, then the Inquisitor and their retinue are tasked with tracking them down so that justice may be properly enacted. Often Inquisitors might take on additional forces for a Hunt, whether local trackers or men-at-arms to bolster their retinue all the way up to formally requesting aid from one of the Orders Militant.

Purges are the heaviest task an Inquisitor may be called upon to carry out, and the order to do so never comes from anyone below the rank of High Inquisitor (though an Inquisitor can suggest the course to a High Inquisitor, who then responds with permission or refusal). Purges are enacted when it has been reasonably proven that an entire community is rife with heresy or witchcraft (usually the former), and must be stamped out. This usually results in entire communities (albeit normally small ones) being wiped out with fire and sword. Purges often require aid from outside the Inquisitors' retinue to carry out, usually in the form of detachments from one or more of the Orders Militant, and sometimes members of the local Nobleman's own soldiers if said Nobleman is particularly devout (or wanting to curry favor with the Church).

The Responsibility of Power:

Despite their sinister reputation and considerable political power, Inquisitors are expected to wield their power with mercy and good judgment. Heretics who show a seemingly-genuine willingness to repent and convert are usually granted mercy (especially children and adolescents) and the opportunity to redeem themselves in the eyes of the One (though penance may still be extracted by floggings or other punishments). "Witches" who are fearful of their own abilities and remorseful for any harm they may have caused are usually given a swift and relatively painless death rather than a burning at the stake. Nobles suspected of heresy or witchcraft are always presumed innocent until proven guilty. Even most commoners are given the benefit of the doubt, though it is not mandatory as it is with nobility. While certainly there are Inquisitors that are more zealous, dogged, and ruthless than others, they must be careful and thorough in their work, because should it be proven that an Inquisitor wrongly levied judgment on an innocent soul (whether common or noble), not only do they face being stripped of their position and rank, but if the victim was of noble blood or among the clergy, the former Inquisitor is expected to face the same execution their victim did, and their retinue is likely to be heavily punished by the Church as well (though usually not killed unless it's shown they were particularly instrumental in the incorrect judgment). This may be a rare occurrence, but it has happened enough times to keep Inquisitors mindful of not abusing or misusing their authority.

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