A Brief Description of the Church of Ilvia

The Church of Ilvia was founded in the year 99, almost a century after the war that ended in the destruction of the Kingdom of Ilvia. It was based largely upon the religion of the One Hundred, the Elves who had come to Ilvia in the year 41 to help rebuild. The One Hundred did not intend to bring religion to Ilvia, and they did not make a point of teaching their faith to the humans. But they were devout followers of Arva, and they were wise and charismatic people. Many humans were attracted to what they saw of the Arvan faith.

The Elves had no part in the founding of the Church, and indeed they saw the Church as a curious idea, a uniquely human institution. For the Elves, faith in Arva was an individual matter, more a philosophy (though a shared philosophy) than truly a religion. They were surprised to see the humans adopt their faith at all, and amused to see the humans turning it into a structured and hierarchical organization.

Over the years that followed, the Church grew in size and influence, becoming a presence throughout virtually all human-inhabited areas of Ilvia. Because of its size and influence, and its role as the only unifying force in northern Ilvia, it also became politicized. This aspect resulted in the Church's early adoption of an anti-magic policy, which did not have any basis in the Arvan faith as the Elves practiced it. Rather, it was the Church's concession to the political reality of the times: because magic had resulted in the destruction of the Ilvian Kingdom, popular sentiment was already strongly against magic.

Today the Church plays a quasi-governmental role in many Ilvian communities, while also serving as the main institution of learning and scholarship. Its followers remain almost exclusively human; half-Elves who live among humans also frequently join, and there have even been a few Dwarves who have found themselves attracted to the Arvan faith and the Church's comforting structure. Elves, however, continue to worship Arva in their own way, and while there are friendly relations between the Church of Ilvia and the Elves, the human and Elven cultures remain separate.

The holy symbol of the Church is a triangle surrounding a stylized rune derived from the initial letter of the name "Arva" as it is written in Elvish script.

Church teachings. The Church of Ilvia has no "holy book" in the usual sense; there is no body of writings based on revelations or miraculous manifestations of Arva. Because the One Hundred were very private people, and because they did not have any role in the creation of the Church, the humans who built the Church had to write their own "bible" based upon the faith they observed and copied from the Elves.

The chief document governing the Church is a short book called Principles of the Arvan Faith, generally referred to by Church people just as Principles. The book consists of a number of chapters, and it has been added to periodically (though not frequently) during the centuries since the Church was founded. The chapters are as follows:

Church institutions. The Church operates a number of different kinds of establishments throughout Ilvia. In general, these fall into several categories:

In addition to the Darian Monastery, the city of Darian until recently also was the site of the Church's headquarters, where the First Prelate and the Council handed down decisions affecting the Church as a whole. In early 498, First Prelate Erul, who had served in that capacity for more than thirty years, passed away. After several months of deliberation, the Council elected a little-known Elder named Eulius to the post. In April of that year, Eulius issued a set of decrees that, among other things, relocated the Church headquarters to Alvera Island, located in Heyraud's Bay to the east of Darian. Since then, little has been heard from the Church's leadership.