The Cardinal Clerics are the oldest-known religious order and are responsible for training a type of Cleric by the same name. The order has its roots in the early-to-mid First Chaotic Period but the religion is far older.
Officially called The Order of the Cardinal Clerics. Clerics of the order are called simply Clerics or Cardinal Clerics. Non-cleric practitioners are called Cardinals. The religion is sometimes refered to as Cardinalism. The head of the religion is known as the Doseu (pronounced "doci") which means "He who speaks with no mouth". The Doseu was created shortly after the Mage Wars when the Cardinal Clerics swore fealty to the Pendragon of Slayer Dragons. Though never written as law, the Doseu is expected to act as the voice of the Pendragon to the Order of the Cardinal Clerics, making the Pendragon effectively the leader. During the Long Night with no Pendragon, it became customary for the the Doseu to take a vow of silence, effectively leaving the organization leaderless.
The Cardinal Clerics (whose practitioners are called Cardinals) have followers all throughout the known worlds and held significant influence both during the first two Ages of the the Alliance and during the Long Night and New Day.
For much of the Order's history, it was divided into four distinct sects, aligned with the cardinal directions. Each sect worshiped a different king of the Last Dynasty. The sects were not rivals among themselves, but their division served as a safeguard against the order's destruction. According to legend, each sect held a different piece of the order's holy book, so the entire book could not be lost. In order to truly know the ways of the One King (said their doctrine), a Cleric had to study with each sect in turn.
In truth, all four sects held complete copies of the volume, typically many copies widely distributed. But each sect was also devoted to a different divine king. To truly know the One King, it was still important to study the other three.
The Cardinals use a book entitled The Book of Law as their main holy book: every other volume associated with the order is a commentary, a treatise, or a book of magic. According to legend, the Book of Law used by the clerics is the same one listed as part of The Circle of Seven, and dates all the way to the Mythical Age.
The clerics' archives, held in a vault in the Library of Arindell, contains among its collection thousands of copies of the Book of Law, including one said to be the oldest, dating from the Age of Darkness. This volume was once brought out for study, but historians quickly discounted the claim, citing that the book had been electronically printed (in an era when the printing press did not exist), and the Clerics quickly returned the book to the archives.
Though not proven, certain archaeological finds from early Greater Antiquity bear a very strong resemblance to the Clerics, including well-established religious symbols and ceremonial layouts. Very few sites (of any sort) date from Classic Antiquity, so the lack of sites from that era is not difficult to explain. The Clerics say their beliefs were handed down by God at the dawn of time; if so, this would point to the existence of the clerics in pre-history.
The religion practiced by the Cardinal Clerics dates back to the early Age of Darkness and may have roots in Antiquity. It is known to have been practiced by several of the old Clans, and many draw their names from portions of it. Cardinal Clerics worship the One King, and were originally called the Westpoint Clerics or the Clerics of the Setting Sun.
During the First Chaotic Period, the Westpoint Clerics solidified into a cohesive group, and began training Clerics to fight the rise of wizard kings. The order was, at the time, closely aligned with the Wizard Breakers and may still hold many of their secrets (including the technique to create Mobiru weapons and armor). It was during this time that the warrior clerics, using the religion as a front, created the Templars, a clandestine intelligence network later used by Eieber.
By the Dynastic Period the Westpoint Clerics held significant political and millitary power, but found themselves at war with the Marcon Alliance. The clerics fought them on many fronts and lent their warriors to whatever armies would have them. They shared technological and magical knowledge with any of the Marcons' enemies, and were even responsible for copying and distributing stolen dark-magic spell-books (as the order had many scribes). The Westpoint Clerics felt they existed in a state of "total war" with the Marcon Alliance.
Eventually, the order became severely fractured as their power bases and various headquarters were destroyed. Many factions carried on, often fighting 'hit-and-run' wars for generations.
Near the end of the Dynastic Period, a cleric by the name of Shahol Dreamstrife reformed the order, bringing together several desperate bands into the Order of the Cardinal Clerics, or simply the Cardinal Clerics. Shahol would be recognized as the first Doseu (lit. He who speaks with no mouth), the religious leader of the Cardinal Clerics.
Ages of the Alliance
The Cardinal Clerics backed Eieber and became closely aligned with the Order of the Cardinal Star, Clerics and paladins being so closely related as to be nearly indistinguishable (indeed, in many cases the difference is in name only). Following the end of the Mage Wars, the Cardinal Clerics swore fealty to the Pendragon, and used their vast political and economic power to serve the new Alliance. The Alliance even modeled its Rangers on the Cardinal's Templar network.
While the order continued to train clerics, mostly to fight in the First File, the religion spread heavily during the Golden Age. While the Alliance recognized no official religion, Cardinalism was by far the most popular, and grew to heavy prominence during the Second Age, but suffered terribly during the Necromanic Wars. By the end of the Third Age, it had lost many followers and much of its political and economic power. At the dawn of the Fourth Age, the Cardinals were viewed as "no different from the multitude of other religions", although still the most widely-practiced faith, and still maintained the secretive Templar network.
The Cardinal Clerics continued throughout the Ages of the Alliance, presenting themselves more and more as a simple religious order, while continuing to train Clerics as warrior mages for the First File and to back the Templar network.
With the death of Hunter Jusenkyou (the final Pendragon of Slayer Dragons) and the end of the Alliance itself, and the beginning of the Long Night, the Cardinal Clerics truly emerged as a force for good. Because they appeared on the surface as a religious order, the armies of Samuel Fate left them untouched (while ostensibly the Emperor required that everyone worship him, freedom of religion kept the peoples in line). In this way, the Cardinal Clerics absorbed the Order of the Cardinal Star and protected many paladins from execution for serving the old Alliance.
Meanwhile, the Templars worked in secret. With now thousands of years of experience and a highly segmented network, they operated almost unchecked throughout the multi-verse. Working with the order on the surface, their primary function was to spread the religion of the Cardinal Clerics, ostensibly in preparation for the return of the Pendragon.
While the Pendragon's return was originally a deep secret, it eventually worked its way into the basic tenets of the religion. While the One King was still the supreme deity, the Pendragon was essentially worshipped alongside It. In particular, the beliefs of the Cardinals focused on the authority of the Pendragon. While during the Ages of the Alliance they listened to the Pendragon, only God could command them. By the end of the Long Night, the Pendragon was considered the only mortal with the authority of God.
During the Long Night the Doseu took his vow of silence, to respond only to the true Pendragon. Since the Doseu was the symbolic mouthpiece of the Pendragon, and there was no Pendragon, it was considered reasonable that the Doseu should not speak. This began perhaps as the Doseu's way of declaring that the end of the Long Night was near, and that the peoples should be ready to support the Pendragon. However, it very quickly became traditional.
The major problem with the Cardinal Clerics began during the Long Night. They emerged from that period with very significant military and political power, having many devout followers and great nations who practiced Cardinalism as their state religion. Many nations that had no official religion still had many followers, and those with democratically elected governments often had a voting majority of cardinals.
During the Long Night it was customary for the Doseu to take a vow of silence as soon as he accepted the leadership. This vow forbade him from writing orders as well, and essentially made the entire order leaderless. A high council of clerics and religious officials was allowed to make day-to-day decisions regarding customs and practices, but only the Doseu could command the entire Order. Because the Doseu was the symbolic mouthpiece of the Pendragon of Slayer Dragons (which did not yet exist), the Doseu could not speak.
When Conri Jason Jusenkyou rëstablished the Order of Slayer Dragons, the Doseu broke his vow of silence and used the resources of the Cardinal Clerics to start rebuilding the Alliance. Because Conri did not possess the true sword of the Pendragon, many within the order did not fully respect his authority. Further, Naomi Jusenkyou began gathering many worlds into an alliance of her own.
Following Conri's death, the Slayer Dragons abolished the position of Pendragon, and the Doseu went silent once more.
The Doseu would only speak again to Scarlet Jusenkyou.