The Tragedy of Leledi
Once upon a time, there was a prosperous mining town in the Hosquerre Highlands. Its economy boomed both from the diamond mine on the slopes of Mount Chola, and its people were well fed by the rich, fertile soil. Everything was perfect... until Mount Chola exploded.
Leledi was wiped off the map that day, with casualties in the tens of thousands. The pyroclastic cloud struck before the populace could evacuate. Leledi was a well-know town throughout Hosquerre and its loss was met nationwide with shock and grief. How could so many people be killed so fast? Who is to blame for such a tragedy?
It didn't take long before an explanation was put forth by the church. The god Suvot was responsible for volcanoes, and they worshipped him to gain his favour and encourage him to show them mercy and keep the mountains silent. If such a huge eruption, so close to a major population centre, could happen, the only explanation was that Suvot was unsatisfied with their worship. Too many people participated in festivals without giving regular offerings or prayer. Too many people were worshipping foreign gods and disrupting the proper pantheon's authority. They were to blame for the tragedy of Leledi.
Something had to be done about this.
Formation of the Inquisition
The high priests of each of the 7 gods sat down in a meeting with the queen and discussed the issue. For the safety of all, they could no longer tolerate blasphemy and lapse worship. They formed a new organization, and appointed a priest of Kusat as the leader.
The Inquisition is based out of the national capital, Churanu but has small outposts scattered across the country, generally attached to temples. The leaders of the Inquisition are all priests, but a lot of the grunt work is done by hired laymen. Some members lead active investigations into heresy, while others are just informants who go about their lives and report suspicions to the higher ups.
The symbol of the Inquisition strikes fear in hearts across Hosquerre. Receiving a letter with it stamped at the bottom is many people's greatest fear and when a person shifts their cloak to reveal it embroidered on their robe, answers and overt politeness are sure to follow.
It takes the form of an eye made out of the words "Inquiry", "Truth", and "Protection", which are the official goals and purpose of the organization. Shown below are the words written in ordinary script.
The Inquisition answers only to the high priests and the queen. Standard city guards are not allowed to interfere with them.
The most frequent form of intervention is against people who passively believe in the Hosque gods but don't give offerings at the temples or pray enough (as reported by acquaintances or family members). The first contact they get from the Inquisition is a formal letter informing them that their worship practices are unsatisfactory and that they need to make more effort. In most cases, this is sufficient, because nobody wants a second visit from the Inquisition.
If someone fails to conform to their religious requirements, members of the Inquisition will come to their home and drag them to the town's square for a public flogging. After, they will have the Inquisition's symbol branded on the back of their right hand to serve as a permanent reminder to be pious and that they are being watched. It also means that a person can't move to another town and go back to getting just a letter from the local Inquisition; everyone will now they have already had two offences.
The third offence is the last one. If someone still fails to properly worship the gods after the second warning, they will be executed by beheading (done via a device that drops a blade from a height to produce a quicker, cleaner death).
People convicted for the third count of lapse practice are granted a merciful death, as their crime is one of laziness and inaction rather than actively malevolent. But, they must still die because their continued inaction is a slight against the gods. It is considered a sad thing, but it must be done. You don't want another Leledi, do you?
A pagan is anyone who worships the incorrect gods or practices a foreign religion. While those whose crime is inaction and insufficient piety are give three chances and a merciful death, those who actively worship gods other than the Hosque gods are more harshly persecuted. There are no second chances if you are caught worshipping a foreign god.
A pagan will be taken to the nearest Inquisition outpost and asked for a list of everyone who participates in their worship with them. If they do not provide any names, or provide too few names, they will be tortured until either they provide a longer list or the questioners are satisfied that they have nothing else to tell.
Then, they are executed. The preferred method is to take the condemned person to the main road leading into town, bend two trees down and tie each leg to opposite tree tops. Then, cut the rope holding the trees down and they will spring back up, ripping the person in half. The dismembered remains are left hanging from the trees to serve as a reminder to everyone entering town of what happens to pagans.
The only thing worse than worshipping the wrong gods is actively spreading heretical beliefs. A heretic is defined as someone who not only does not worship the Hosque gods properly, but who speaks out and spreads heretical material. They are pagans who try to convert others to their religion, they are scholars who publish writings questioning the hegemony of the gods, they are true believers in the Hosque gods who claim the Inquisition is wrong and the priesthood doesn't serve the gods properly.
While lapse practitioners and pagans are handled by local Inquisition branches, the main headquarters in Churanu is dedicated to seeking out heretics and silencing them. When caught, a heretic is also transported to the main headquarters in Churanu and tortured for information about their fellows. They then have their tongues cut out, ears and noses cut off, and then hung in a small cage by the entrance to the temple of Kusat in Churanu. They are left to rot there, and to endure the mocking, jeers, and thrown rocks of anyone who passes by.
Currently, their greatest target is the writer known as Lāzhā-yé, who distributes atheistic writings and challenges the idea that gods have any impact on the world at all.
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