Cardinal Wrenn – and the Cult of the Night Fishermen
The relationship between religion and magic is strained. Many believe that gods created Magic, and gave it to the people of the world, so therefore are deserving of worship. Others believe that gods are usurpers of magic and interlopers in the heart of man. They believe that gods are either powerful and charismatic mortals casting themselves as deserving of worship, or complete figments in the imaginations of the followers.
Somewhere in between, there are Sorcery Cults and their loyal Cultists. A Sorcery Cult is a belief system that sees magic itself as deserving of worship. These cultists usually practice magic, but only out of reverence or ritual, and only according to the rules established by each individual cult. The leaders are usually quite powerful mages; the rules generally do not apply to them since they likely are the ones setting the rules. In effect, many of these cults simply have become sorcery factories headed by wizards who are really good at starting new religions and getting people hooked.
“Cardinal” Edbert Wrenn’s little outfit, the Cult of the Night Fisherman, is a group devoted entirely to a single goal – the capture of the elusive and powerful “Sacred Birdfish of Arcania,” which supposedly swims the length of the Arcanian River and has unimaginable magical powers because it is, according to legend, Credaxius Noor (Arden’s messenger).
But Edbert’s cult is not interested in capturing the Birdfish in order to worship its power and majesty, or to commune with its spirit for purposes of enlightenment. The cardinal and his devotees desire to eat the sacred messenger in order to absorb its immense arcaenic power and thereby become the most powerful wizards on the planet. Of course, most people believe the cardinal is tragically mistaken and hunting a ghost. The Great Fish K’ai Xend’Ikar claims Edbert has misinterpreted several ancient texts on the subject of Credaxius, mostly because of his poor grasp of the Mendatherian language (only about 12 people in the Known World can read Mendatherian). However, it is also generally felt that Edbert’s group is completely harmless, and, in fact, has done quite a service for the city of Gateway.
You see, over the many decades that Edbert had been pursuing the elusive Birdfish, he had perfected many new methods of magic-based fishing, which he was able to train others to use for a price. And the returns that fishermen saw in their own commercial hauls far outweighed the fee that the cardinal charged. In fact, Edbert’s efforts to draw the Birdfish to the surface of the Arcanian River helped to draw millions and millions of other fish into Gateway’s harbor from distant oceans, many of which were previously unknown, but many of which were quite delicious. The fishing industry boomed and the fish markets of Gateway burst at the seams with thousands of varieties of fish and shellfish.
As expected, the use of arcaenic magic to catch fish has been subject to strict limitations of late, and Edbert’s business has been stagnant, but his legacy remains … as does his quest. The cardinal can still be seen, usually at night these days, bobbing around in the Arcanian with a handful of cohorts, still searching for that legendary Birdfish.