THE ARKHAEON GUILD

STRUCTURE AND ROLE - THEORIES AND BELIEFS

The Arkhaeon Guild is a mysterious organization that gained a lot of adepts among Murmillions, a human tribe of Nybelmar, and eventually became very influential in their political life. In the more recent history it is rumoured that different branches of this guild are, more or less, secretely active far beyond the Shadow Realm, reaching even other continents as well.

The Arkhaeon Guild appeared first as a new Cult of the Goddess Mari and gained very quickly enough adepts (due to an intense propaganda and preachings of the first Guild Leader, later known as Teor Kunran) so to be officially recognized by the other Cults. In time though, it became clear that they were no ordinary Cult of Mari, as their teachings and research interests were reaching beyond the common dogma. Thus issues appeared but they were solved by changing Arkhaeon's status: they became a moderator guild, an organization independent of the Cults but with the given task of organizing the Council of the Cults, and arbiters of theological disputes. Still many question marks float around their true intentions and origins, despite their established official status.

Structure and Role. Murmillion Cults have a pyramidal structure, the top spot being occupied by the most respected person in that Cult. The rank is similar to that of a high-priest (he is entitled to keep special sermons, has judicial duties and also a reserved place - in principle - in the Council that elects the King) and is called "Kunran" - a title that is added to the name of the respective person. The Arkhaeon Leader is also called Kunran but that would be the only resemblance with the structure of the Cults.

The Arkhaeon Guild is organized in circles of power, each Circle having its own agenda. The control is issued from the center to the outer Circles, the closer to the center a Circle is the more power it has. An outer Circle is never aware of the goals or research of an inner one, but the inner Circles have the means for controlling each of the outer ones by issuing general directives. Each Circle has a level of initiation, so one can climb up in rank by passing these initiations. Each initiation makes new knowledges available or it can even bring a whole different world-view as in the previous one. To pass such an initiation, the neofit must prove in various tests the fact that he/she is capable of comprehending the knowledge that awaits in the next Circle.

Since it has gained the official recognition, the members of the Arkhaeon Guild are the ones that organize and moderate the Council although they do not have the right to vote on the election of a King. But they do have the right to arbitrate the theological disputes of the
Cults and also they are the official librarians of the Kingdom. That means they are the only ones responsible for keeping and editing the official sacred Murmillion Books. Therefore, also with the help of their extended knowledge, most of the time they have a real power for influencing the dogma - a power which they used in every ocasion.

Outsiders know little about the Arkhaeon's true goals, as actually inside the Guild itself, these are relative to the level of a respective Circle. The common view about them though, is that they are gatherers of knowledge in any forms, even if that means to stray from the path of Mari (and not once they were accused of blasphemies for that). However, this harnessing of knowledge is anything but chaotically. If everybody agrees that they are knowledge-seekers also everybody agrees as easily that they always seem to follow a certain pattern, a precise goal to achieve in a far future. Many speculations have been made about what this goal would be exactly. It was said that this "goal" has actually changed over time, as now their actions and theories seem to point to a very different direction than that which was initially set by Teor Kunran. But most of the interpretations are stating that, despite the appearances, their precise purpose (whatever that might be) have always been the same, the changes being no more than failures in achieving it. As even the Arkhaeon's "centrals" claim: "it is not the path the one that matters, but always the destination; and that goal was ever the same, for we are all as one when guided by the Spirit".
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Theories and Beliefs. It is very hard for an outsider to gather in a single coherent text all the Arkhaeon theories. And without access to their private archives this task is nearly impossible. Obviously there is no mention about them in "The Sermons of Mari" so the only official book that contains information about Arkhaeon would be the "Book of Dreams" (and there mostly in the second volume, "Theological Directions"). But still, even so, one can realize that Arkhaeon is no ordinary Cult of Mari.

Initially they pretended that "Mari is the one that walks" and thus they were seen as just another
Cult, even if they didn't like to keep sermons. Very soon though, their concepts began to be challenged in the Council until it was decided that they should use their hunger for knowledge in mediating the various theological disputes among the Cults. There are voices, even today, who claim that it was a wrong thing to do, to grant Arkhaeon with such an important role within Murmillion society. Nevertheless, looking back in history, I would say that it is obvious that if it wasn't for them, Murmillion religion would be a polytheistic one now, and not this vague monotheism (under the disguise of a rather weird dualism) which practically endured over the millenia.

The form of their beliefs and also the direction in which their interpretations were heading has always changed during time, but there is one essence that appears constantly throughout their works. That thing is a concept which they call "Spirit". As far as this can be judged by an outsider, the Arkhaeon Guild never wrote down a clear definition of what this Spirit would exactly mean, but they are always using it for naming a specific attribute of a sentient being. Thus this Spirit can be thought of as synonimous with "conscience" or "life" (as Arkhaeon pays "tribute" to
Murmillions here: non-sentient beings are nothing more than objects destined to serve), or even "soul" (as other tribes in Caelereth have expressed it). For Murmillions, the Arkhaeon "spirit" concept was synonimous with Mari, and this is particulary interesting. As Mari is not an attribute, but a presence, Mari is not the dream, nor the dreamer, but "in our dreams, Mari is the one that walks" (as all the Cults have aknowledged this formula). Also the Guild have never dismissed this interpretation, as they often did with other cases. The Spirit is an active element (essence) present in every sentient being, one can say. The Spirit is that which makes us, sentient beings, to be sentient, another one can also say. The Spirit is that which one aknowledges just before illumination, thus the ultimate initiation is only about the Spirit, as the Guild often said.

Murmillions do not have a common defined cosmology, as they have little interest in finding out the origin of things. They are always asking "why?" and not "from where?". Therefore, Arkhaeon itself, doesn't have a defined cosmology. This doesn't mean that none of the
Cults, nor Arkhaeon, never deal with this matter. They do, but this is more of an endless opened enterprise, a game of wits, an endeavour that one is unlikely to complete in a lifetime (be that 200 years, as Murmillions are known to be able to live that long if they manage to avoid being killed).

Looking back in history, I can say now, that Arkhaeon - not very surprisingly - has always seemed to be drawn towards the elven cosmology. Unlike the common
Murmillions, they didn't have so many problems in opening themselves towards other races or human nations. It was not always like this, of course, but this attitude is nevertheless the one that founded both their "spreadings" (see history for more details). Also some historians give this as a reason for their strange experiments on the dragons that live in the volcanic caves of Epheran'yphero. For Murmillions, they came with the weird thought that dragons are actually sentient beings, and for this, Arkhaeon was for a long time a subject of mockery and laughter. And as they never managed to tame a dragon (but rather killed them in the process), this chapter in the Guild's history tends to be "forgotten" (even by the lower Guild Circles themselves).

However, an overview of their beliefs cannot be accomplished without tracing back their history.
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History. The history of the Arkhaeon Guild needs to be split up in various different periodes:

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