The strangest event in the entire history of Rhutalath is the invention and spread of an entirely new religion: Khanusan. Before this time, the Rhutalathians worshipped Vinwe, God of The Heavens, and King of the Toltoni. Descendants of the Spartans, and friends of the Elves, the Rhutalathians had an entire legacy of worship involving the Tolton gods, as well as claiming ancestory from them. Yet, within less than a century, this entire belief system was shattered, and the advent of a new religion, dominated solely by one God and his Son, took over, at the same time shattering the strong alliance the Rhutalathians shared with the Elves. The original Tolton Gods were retained as simple Angels, and Vinwe reclassified as a Saint.
The Khanusan religion is somber and strict, yet its appeal is universal- the religion promises that all Earthly suffering will be more than made up for at death, when the devout Khanusani will be admitted into Menela (Heaven), to enjoy every pleasure and happiness Khanus can give. The price paid for this honour is to live the mortal life within the restraints of the Holy Scriptures, and under the guidance of the Church. As these scriptures are dedicated to creating a peaceful and safe life, this is no major burden. The three main Commandments of the religion are:
1) Worship only Khanus, for He is the one true God.
2) Do no harm to others, and treat them with the love worthy of all Men.
3) Dabble not in the dark arts, nor spend time with those who do, for they are contrary to His Scheme.
If a follower spends his life doing his best to adhere to the simple rules, he will be rewarded by going to Menela. Those who break the rules slightly, can confess their sins to the Inquisition Priests, who will absolve them, if they are worthy. Minor, forgivable since include, theft (especially if it is necessary), non-lethal violence, and greed and lustful yearnings. Greed and lust are not necessarily sins amongst the Rhutalathians, but they are contrary to their belief that life should be lived humbly and subservient to God, coveting only what you need. Lust is considered by the Priests to be the opposite of Love (love being Khanusans Highest Ideal), and so is frowned down on. For this reason, whilst sex before marriage is not a sin, it is considered improper to over-indulge, and the Priests discourage extra-marital sex. To look on another with lust and desire is to treat them with a lack of respect, and so breaks the second commandment.
The Greatest sins, which include murder, rape, worshipping of other Gods, and convorting with Demons and Sorcery, are considered generally unforgivable. Whilst some can be amended by repenting and striving to make reparations, the sinner will probably always carry the disdain of the general populace. A magician who repents, and gives up magic, will always be regarded with suspicion, even if he does much good in his later life. Murder is never forgiven. The punishment for most of these crimes is death by burning- but a greater fear is that the perpetrator will spend his eternal after-life riving in Balzot's fiery Utuma!!
"And Lo, Khanus smiled on the world He had created, balanced as it was between fair Menela and foul Utuma.
And He delighted in its beauty, and its fairness, and was pleased with all that He had wrought.
Yet something stirred, upon the Gaiana, unwrought by Him, and unnatural to creation.
And the Elves appeared, sown on the Earth by forces unseen, unwanted and unwelcome.
He Khanus was angry."
Extract from The Creation 2,
The Khanusani Biblo
"And the Elves, who for so long Khanus had abided, became greedy and impudent,
And they began to claim the Gaiana as their own, and made claims to the lands.
Yes worse, they began to manipulate the Divine Force, the Magic by which Gaiana was wrought,
Which was His alone to use.
So Khanus forbid its use, and damned the Elves,and began to prepare for his own creation,
Men, the Children of the Sun."
Extract from the Birth of Man,
The Khanusani Biblio
Kalnus, the Prophet, first appeared in the year 905, at the Holy Temple of Vinwe, in Ost-Firir. Kalnus was a young man, with dark skin, and wearing little but rags. He was half-starved and no more than twenty-summers old, yet his eyes shone with wisdom and strength. He was a a Laradoran man, and had long been in exile from his homeland. At first the priests took him in, feeding him, thinking him little more than a beggar. Yet Kalnus had come with a message- he was a prophet from the God Khanus, and he had come to turn Rhutalath into the Kingdom of Faith.
The priests of Vinwe, were naturally unconvinced, having studied the true lore of the Toltoni for centuries. Convinced that Kalnus was mad and delirious, they continued to look after him. Despite his illusions of grandeur, he showed a great interest in reading and lore, and was eager to learn all. The Priests sent him to the Great Library of Vinwe, on the Isle of Eagles (now Tol Goroth), where he learned many great things, and was taught in the ways of the Gods. Yet throughout he presisted in his claims of being a Mesenger from God, and complained of prophetic dreams.
A young Acolyte, by the name of Angabor, began to take an interest in these prophecies. Angabor had great interest in prophecies, believing that he himself was pre-ordained for great things. Kalnuss accuracy impressed him, especially when the young man predicted the death of the kings son, by the exact means and the exact time. Convinced of Kalnus claims of being the messenger of Khanus, Angabor quickly pledged allegiance to him, and vowed to help him.
Over the next few years, Kalnus and Angabor gathered many followers. Kalnus promised a place in heaven to those who followed, and hell to those who didnt. At first, the message was slow to spread, yet slowly his words began to gather strength. A cult was founded, based on the Isle of Eagles. The cults founders were eight men, who quickly became the disciples of Kalnus: Angabor, Merrius, Garali, Ginnius, Aldrin, Juanos, Derfin and Gura. The cult of Kalnus had their headquarters in the first church to be built on Rhutalathian soil- The Great Church of Garali, built by the apostle. The Cult began to spread, eventually numbering in its thousands. The cult was forced to split into seven splinter groups (each led by an apostle, apart from Angabor, who ruled)- the practice of cults was disallowed in Rhutalath, and so in order to remain hidden, they had to keep their groups small. These cults slowly took on their own rules and believes, though all followed Kalnus in one way or another.
Eventually the time came for the worshippers to seize power. Their vast numbers swept across the Isle of Eagles, capturing the priests of Vinwe, and chasing out the Sacred Eagles. The temples altars were other-thrown, and instead became dedicated to the one god, Khanus. The Islanders were converted, either willingly or by force, and the Isle was renamed the Blessed Isle.
At first the King of Rhutalath ignored this new threat; he sent in soldiers to test the Cults resolve, but when the Cult accepted them on the Island, he decided their threat could wait, and turned his attention to the newly-discovered Holy-Lands. The soldiers he had sent quickly fell under the Kalnus spell, and joined his teachings. Others also fell, captivated by his simple teachings, and of a God who promised so much. By the time the king and his men had returned from the Holy-Lands, most of the Southern and Eastern realms had fallen under the spell of Kalnus, and Khanusans worshippers nearly rivalled those of Vinwe. Unwanting to create a international incident, and showing sympathy for this new religion, King Vanhir gave the Isle of Eagles to them, officially, as well as allowing them to build a few churches on the mainland. Vanhir was a kindly and tolerant king, and was unwilling to alienate his people.
It was during this period that the eight apostles were given tasks to perform. Kalnus himself was to travel by himself, throughout all the known lands, and learn wisdom. He commanded his apostles to do the same, all eight of them performing miracles to prove their dedication to Khanus. The apostles did so, travelling throughout the known world, learning wisdom and performing great feats; the Slaying of Dragons, the healing of wounded, the banishing of Demons. Derfin made his name by bringing a man back from the dead. Angabor made his by raising an island from the sea, far in the west. Ginnius destroyed the great evil Dragon god, in the lands beyond Antillia, and learned the power of invisibility. But perhaps the greatest deed was Gura, who carved a vast Golden Barge out of wood, and used it to take Kalnus to Heaven. Kalnus and Gura only returned a year later.
When Kalnus returned, he had more messages from Khanus. Above all there were the three Commandments, which were Khanuss laws for living, and second there was Khanuss Mandate- that all Elves were to be considered evil, and were to be driven, once and for all, out of the Rhutalath. Tales of Kalnus ascension to heaven spread quickly, converting even more members to his religion, and with it spread a sudden fear and hatred of Elves. The Elves were quickly attacked, or murdered, or forced out, and the alliance between Edhelnore and Rhutalath quickly broke down. Within one night, over 3,000 elves were killed, and the Elven Embassy had departed. The few remaining followers of Vinwe, including the kings regent, were powerless to stop the events, and so the king was brought back from the Holy Wars to intervene.
The Kings men tried to force order on the populace, yet nothing could be done- a religious frenzy had gripped the Khanusani. Plus, the massacre of the Elves has resulted in the similar deaths of hundreds of Rhutalathians, and so resentment had grown. As Queen Melwen threatened to end the Alliance, King Vanhir became desperate. He suddenly outlawed all worship of Khanusan, as well the persecution of Elves. He even said that Kalnus and his disciples were to be arrested on crimes of Treason.
The East and south regions of Rhutalath, completely under the control and influence of Kalnus, rebelled against this order, declaring themselves a neutral state. The Vorandor, led by the King, attempted to surpress this uprising, resulting in a Civil War. This Civil war lasted twenty years, with heavy casualties on either side. The southern regions continued their persecution of the Elves, culminating in the slaughter at the Elven Town of Ainn, as well as the advent of the Elf-Death.
In 927, after a year-long siege, the followers of Kalnus, led by Angabor, managed to capture the Royal Palace. The outnumbered Vorandor fought valiantly, but in the end the King was killed by Angabor. Angabor established himself as the new king, and ruler of a united Kingdom of Faith. The king' son was smuggled out of the palace by Borath, but it did not matter- Rhutalath was now in the hands of Angabor and his followers of Kalnus.
The Civil war lasted another 13 years, though it was mainly a few small skirmishes trying to rebel against the usurper, or establish their own petty-states. The rebellions were finally quashed, and the nation of Rhutalath emerged, whole and at peace, and dedicated to Khanus.
Kalnus himself continued to enforce the faith, establishing the Inquisition, and setting Gura as the first Pope. His miracles continued, and became wide-spread, until finally, in 946, he was assassinated by the Elves. However, they made a martyr out of him, ensuring his legend lived on forever.
Upon his death, he was buried in Sha-mo. His scriptures and teachings were written down by Gura and the other apostles, and became the Khanusani, the holy book of Rhutalath.
THE FACTSAlthough the account above is generally considered to be fact, the spread of the religion and the identity of Kalnus are disputed amongst scholars of other nations. The religion is generally considered to have spread so fast due the inherent truth in Kalnus teachings. The Toltoni religions have always known that Khanus was a real God, the all-father. Khanus is the husband of Danu, the great Goddess, and is the father of the Gods. Also, the existence of both Utuma and Menela in the Toltoni mythos would have also helped gain credence. Menela is a common term for the tower of Vinwe, who was once the Rhutalathians patron God. The Rhutalathians had adopted Vinwe, god of the air and weather, and Lord of the sun, due to the hot climes of Rhutalath, and their reliance on sea-travel. As Vinwe was the King of the Gods, a fact the Rhutalathians took great pride in, perhaps they were seduced at the prospect of an even greater God to call their own. Whilst the mythos is credible, and could be true, the majority of Parzifans and Toltoni believers refuse to credit it, instead thinking the Rhutalathians have damned themselves by turning their backs on the Gods who held them dear. Whatever the truth, the spread of Kanusan is one of the quickest revolutions ever to occur in Gaiana.
As for whom Kalnus was, scholars have yet to agree. Most do not think he was the Prophet and Son of Khanus. The School of Galen, in Ardadain, has strung together a story they think may be true- they equate Kalnus with a powerful shaman from Larador, named Kaliz. Kaliz power was unrivalled, yet he was half-mad, and so was banished from the land he called home. The figure is contemporary with Kalnus, and matches his description. More credence is added in the fact that the Laradorans detest their Elven neighbours, who for so long restricted them passage, and oppressed them. This could indeed account for Kalnus preaching against the Elves. If he was half-maddened, as some scholars believe, that would throw light on why he though he was the son of a God. Another point is that if he was a powerful sorcerer, such as Kaliz, that would account for his so-called miracles- a strange irony in religion that holds magic-users in such contempt.
What is not yet known though, is why Kaliz would go to such effort to change the beliefs of an entire nation. Also, as Khanus is an alien god to Larador, where did he learn the name? It is conceivable that he learnt of Khanus through a Toltoni book, yet why did he not choose to be an emissary of Vinwe, instead, to better sway the Rhutalathians? And why preach against magic, if he was a magician himself? Amelia, a Seeress of the Order of Dral, believes that he may have been expelled from Larador by other mages, jealous of his power. If so, that may explain his contempt of them.
Until these questions can be answered, there is no knowing exactly who Kalnus was. One suggestion, however, put forward by Lyron of Cymuria, is more simple- Maybe Kalnus was not Kaliz, and really is the son of a great God named Khanus. Perhaps, despite all this research, everyone else is wrong, and the Rhutalathians have got it right! The Gods alone know the truth....................