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Mason Lennox
12-16-2010, 12:33 PM
In order to control the number of people joining the Ursai religion, there is an extensive application process. The girl must go to her local temple and express her desire to join. She is then set up with a priestess who sits down with her and interviews her. The main purpose of this interview is to weed out people who simply wish to avoid an unpleasant situation: an undesirable marriage or parents that are a bit too strict. However, even if the elder priestess deems the girl’s reasons to be superficial, she still moves on with the next step.

Once the applicant has been interviewed, she will, conditions willing, begin to shadow a priestess as much as possible. She is acquainted with the conditions they live in and the level of work that is expected of even the lowest priestess. It is made clear to the applicant in this stage that there is no shirking of duties; the life of a priestess is not an easy one without toil. Also during this process, the interview continues, albeit less formally. The priestess begins to get a feel for how the girl functions and what sort of a person she is. If at any point during this stage the girl decides to back out on her decision, she is allowed to do so without any repercussion.

If, for some reason, the girl is unallowed to spend an adequate amount of time with the priestess assigned to them, then the application process simply takes longer. And if the girl comes to the church in fear for her life, then that is treated differently; it is then considered a legal matter and not one of the church, and the proper authorities go to take care of the situation. No application is considered at the time of such a great stress in someone’s life. Under such circumstances, the girl is accepted as a ward of the church, for as much time as either the situation abates or the girl is old enough to earn her own living.

Step three in this process, if the applicant goes through one more interview. This is their last chance to step away cleanly. This interview is conducted by a number of priestesses, with one of a higher rank presiding. The information gathered about the applicant is openly shared, and at that time the higher priestess makes her decision. If she decides in the applicant’s favor, then she becomes an Initiate and begins her life with the temple. If she does not, however, then the applicant is told why and excused or taken in as a ward, whichever is more appropriate. There is no animosity or punishment for an unsuccessful application, and no retaliation will be tolerated on either side.

At this point the applicant is now an initiate. She has passed the preliminary tests, but as yet is still considered separate from the church. All initiates live on the church grounds; they have their own dormitory that is in a separate building, for security reasons.

===== Above Credit to Amy =====

Mason Lennox
12-16-2010, 01:11 PM
To become a priestess is difficult for a reason, no one wants a lazy chick who just wants to stay out of reach of their families or arranged marriages. With that being said, during the application process yes a woman can fake being sincere, but they’re tossed knee deep in manure and mud. Honest work will make you an honest person, or so the theory is. Though we keep only mentioning priestesses, and we’re sorry. We mean the men too are tossed knee deep in rubble and garbage, occasionally clung to by orphaned children.

That’s right don’t forget the orphans! There’s a process to become a ward of the church too, it’s a bit easier, but you don’t have the full protection and benefits like actual church employees do. You are kept safe, but if you’re causing trouble you will get into more trouble if the guards catch you. Neither ward or orphan ever sees more of the Urson and Alasa Ursa then in their daily ceremonies and holiday worship.

First, it goes without saying that a child who’s parents die before they are old enough to work will be warded with the church in a special school built for them. There they will work, learn trades, and learn of the Ursai religion. They are fed on campus and live in the dormitories built there as well, they never have any reason to leave, nor are they allowed. When they turn nine years old, the priest/priestess in charge of their trade class will find them an apprenticeship which they will be required to attend every single day without excuse. They are provided with transportation and meals, and if the individual they are shadowing wishes, they may take them on as their own ward, receiving a paycheck from the church until the child is old enough to work for their own wages or they are deemed unfit to work. Laziness is not tolerated, and any mischief is severely punished.

As for men and women who come to the church for sanctuary, or attempting to simply hide from their worries, they are housed and dealt with in a similar fashion. When they first arrive on the church premises they are given a room for their first night without question, as most of these individuals are under stress and would be dramatic in any interview they would be given. After their first night, they meet with a priest and a priestess so that they may be spoken to about their situation and what had happened to them to drive them into the arms of the church. Again, the team provided to them will attempt to figure out if this is a situation of an unhappy child who dislikes their living conditions or a real life or death situation. This process is only allowed to take a few days, no more then a week will be allowed, and if there is no probable cause to be worried for this individual they are fed and sent home. They may return to have their situation reviewed but they only have one more chance to prove their case, they will be assigned a different team, and the previous team’s information will be provided to them to aid in their research.

When a ward is accepted, male or female, they are given a few changes of clothing, their own rooms, and jobs. If they are still young, they will be taught professions, just like the orphans and then given apprenticeships. If they are older, they will be put to work doing whatever they can. Assuming that the adults have skills their main purpose will be to utilize them, but they will also be put to work on the farms when needed. Adult wards are not given money, they simply get their housing, food, and clothing in exchange for their labor and once warded, they stay with the church for the rest of their lives, unmarried.

Marriage and relationships are not allowed to exist while a ward or orphan of the church. Orphans do move on and can, once on their own, start families, but wards are not allowed to start families under the churches care. If a woman is not already pregnant when warded, that is acceptable, however the child and it’s origins will be researched. Once the child is able, it will be sent to school along with the others, they may visit their mother, but only stay in the rooms they have been assigned.

If, by some rare chance, a whole family comes to beg sanctuary from the church, they will follow the same application process, and if they pass the results are also the same. The children will be sent to school and the parents put to work. Anyone caught in the act of expanding a family while in the care of the church is promptly removed, as abuse of the Urson’s kindness will not be tolerated.

Mason Lennox
12-16-2010, 07:17 PM
Job Descriptions:

Urson
To be the Urson one has to be a male of noble birth or of a high house, relinquishing all rights to the lands and money of one’s family. Starting at Initiate, one has to work their way up the ladder and earn the title the hard way. The Urson alone will name his successor and when he passes on, whichever priest he has chosen is then sworn into the service of the gods.

Once named Urson he leads each day’s ceremonies along with his Alasa Ursa. His days are usually spent visiting temples to make sure that everything is in order financially, but his main concern is that the conduct of the temple is being upheld to the standard expected of the Ursai Order. He is able to send priests and priestesses to other temples to help coordinate events, to raise funds or even for anything else that could be needed. If he feels a temple is not being managed properly it is his right to send in a team of men and women to take it over, remove the problem and initiate the repair of the temples operations. All are done in his name, which the temples will know not to oppose.

He is also empowered to send out teams to speak to commoners, to make sure that they know their church is there for them, to ask them to join in ceremonies and most importantly to collect donations in the name of the Ursai Order.

Alasa Ursa
To be chosen, a woman has to impress the Urson and show him that she is fully capable of running the church in his absence, for she holds the honoured position as his second in command. When the Urson passes away, it is her job to prepare the new Urson. She is to teach him all there is to know about the role, until she feels he is ready. It is then her duty to step aside for the Alasa Ursa of the new Urson’s own choosing, however she does continue in an advisory role to the new Alasa Ursa until her death. If she dies before the Urson, he is able to pick a second Alasa Ursa, but she can never serve more than one Urson directly.

As Alasa Ursa, her responsibilities mirror the Urson’s. She may visit the orphans, wards, priests and priestesses more often, but may never do such without protection. She may also accompany any teams that the Urson sends to visit towns, as seeing the Alasa Ursa tends to make them feel more appreciated and in touch with the Ursai Order. She must, however, ask permission of the Urson on any such visit, for he must know where she is at all times.

Guards
The temple guards are, arguably, the best guards in Forsilvra. Rivalling even the King’s personal guards. The Urson and Alasa Ursa even get their own personal guards, which tend to be the most promising temple guards they can find. There are shifts for each temple and time of day, which usually reflects the guards abilities. The more experienced tend to get the night shifts and more dangerous areas, while the day shifts tend to be covered by newer recruits. They are personally trained by the Urson and Alasa Ursa’s guards in their downtime, to ensure that they are always at their best.

There is a rigorous application process for this job. Knight’s sons tend to be preferred, as they are often more capable of handling what is asked of them, but the few commoners that have managed to prove themselves have also been granted the honour of joining. There are several ranks and an excruciating trial to pass before they can even make it into the general guards to watch over the orphans and wards.

Priest/Priestess
As the majority of the temple’s population, they are constantly busy. They start their day bathing and heading to worship. They are then assigned duties to fulfill, which must be completed by certain points each day. Mealtimes are allowed, but their duties must be completed before they can partake of them. The heads of each group, the High Priest and his counterpart the High Priestess tend to be the ones to organise the teams that the Urson sends out. It is also within their ability to send whomever they need on whatever duty they need fulfilled, but it is not often used unless something urgent is passed down from either the Urson or Alasa Ursa.

The priests and priestesses help teach the children and adults alike, often being sent out into the streets to speak to the poor and hand out bread to those in need. They are paid a small amount of money each week as their bursary, but any excess funds they have are expected to either go towards helping the needy or be paid straight back to the church. Due to their high profile work in public and the sheer abundance of them in comparison with the other roles, the priests and priestesses are rightfully the face of the Ursai Order. Being the representation of the church to the populace, if any were to lay one toenail out of line it would risk the displeasure of the Urson or Alasa Ursa, which would mean serious trouble.

Initiate
As the smallest population of the church, Initiates are hardly relied on. They are the smallest group not because it is an easy stage to get past or that they are rushed through. On the contrary, they are so few because they must be watched so closely and for so long that to have a large number of them would cause many of the above castes to abandon their other duties to watch over them. To prevent this, there are strict rules as to how many initiates can be in any temple at any given time. The strict conditions that Initiates must live in, so closely monitored, coupled with the scarcity of free Initiate positions tends to ensure that only the most serious and capable applicants make it that far, so as not to waste the time of whichever priest or priestess must watch them.

The work they do, is entirely based upon whomever is watching over them. Whatever it is they wish them to do, they must do it. It tends to be the more menial or boring jobs as yet another test to see just how willing their candidate truly is. It could be shoveling manure in the stables, planting saplings, mopping floors, cutting vegetables, or even something to the nature of taking part in a prayer. After all, every priest or priestess got to where they are by doing each and every one of those things. It was never meant to be an easy life.

Wards/Orphans
Wards and orphans make up the second biggest group of the temples, despite being the lowest rank in the Ursai Order. They are in effect the auxiliaries for the churches, for at this point they tend to the more menial jobs that only the Initiates would otherwise do. It is common that an entire team of wards may be found in the kitchens, tending stables or cleaning floors. They are an eclectic mix of long term and short term occupants of the temple grounds, varying in backgrounds and reasons for being there. Each ward or orphan is only accepted in after completing the application process. It is not too gruelling a process at this point, but if any wish to climb the ranks in the church, they must face the particularly demanding lifestyle of the Initiate to go any further.

Children that are taken in are expected to learn trades and then eventually strike out on their own, while adults are put to work in whatever area is seen fit. Some serve directly under the priests and priestesses, as personal aides for whatever they wish, but these tend to be only those that express an interest in becoming an initiate, to get a better idea of whether they will see the process through.

===== Credit Luke - Editor to the stars =====

Victor Castell
12-18-2010, 04:50 PM
this has been edited into section 9.1 (or 10.1? i can't remember)

Kiera
12-22-2010, 06:39 PM
Thank you!