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#13438507 Sep 13, 2017 at 04:02 PM · Edited 4 years ago
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By the time that war and strife divided the last vestiges of the Arathorian Empire, the Three Virtues had taken root in all corners of the present-day Eastern Kingdoms. The Church solidified its grasp on the newly founded Kingdom of Azeroth, where several churches and chapels were constructed through the toil and donations of the faithful. In the lavender covered foothills of present day Clairmont rose Westridge Abbey, a humble monastery that stood as the center of faith for Westridge and its comprising counties.

The parish of Westridge Abbey initially faced scrutiny from the nobility of the land for championing commoners and the poor, but soon came into favor of the House of Montclair for its humanitarian work that eased the strain on the Duchy’s coffers. After quelling the peasant revolts that erupted during the War of the Three Hammers, Lord Philip De Vries put forward a chivalric code in effort to curb the wanton brutality of the knights of Westridge that sparked the conflict. This code of virtue and conduct included faith in the church and practice of the Three Virtues - forever cementing the Westridge parish as a fixture of the land.

The Age of Chaos
From the words of Father Edgar Richelieau

Growth and influence over the land no doubt emboldened the priests of Westridge’s parish, and through hubris did they eventually succumb to destruction at the hands of the Orcish Horde. While Westridge’s church contributed dozens of battle-clerics and healers to the war effort, it was not enough to turn the crushing tide that swept away the Azerothian countryside. Defying calls to evacuate with the rest of the population, High Priest Aron Nemisius convinced many of his parish to barricade themselves within Westridge Abbey with the promise that the Light would save them from the impending orcs – declaring those who fled unfaithful. Few of his clergy resisted this call; even with their faith, they were ultimately slain when the orcs conquered Westridge in the last months of the first war. The orcs desecrated Westridge Abbey; slaughtering its livestock, melting down its holy icons, and guzzling its great stores of mead and wine.

Those priests of Westridge who fled the land faced a crisis of faith. The Light did not save their brothers and sisters as their High Priest asserted it would. They were branded as unfaithful by those who died for their faith. Several of these scant priests abandoned their clerical titles and took up arms in service to the young Duke Maxen Montclair during the Second War. The numbered few who retained their faith were hardened to the fires of battle, wielding the Light to inspire their allies and smite their foes with a vengeance not seen before in the hearts of clergymen.

A divide began to crystalize amongst the wayward priests of Westridge as the Orcish Wars dragged on. The healers and proponents of scripture clung to the traditional structure of the church of Westridge, while those who took up arms increasingly wielded the light to invoke retribution upon the enemies of the Alliance. Following the establishment of the Order of the Silver Hand, several of the militant priesthood were granted membership as paladin knights. Brother Isaac Degaullier, formerly a monk of Westridge Abbey, was the first to take the oath.

Sir Isaac became a beacon of hope for the Westridgean church. Adhering to the virtues three in all aspects of his life, he led the priesthood and paladins alike to victory after victory against the orcs. Despite Sir Isaac’s tragic death during the final siege of Westridge Keep, those who remained saw through the liberation of Westridge and the rest of the Kingdom under the Duke’s command. In Sir Isaac’s honor and under blessing of both the Duke and Archbishop Alonsus Faol, the Order of Saint Isaac was founded to serve as a continuation of the knighthood of the church that Sir Isaac maintained during the Orcish Wars.

Despite the victory against the Orcish Horde, the Duchy of Westridge was left in shambles. Many of its surviving subjects elected to settle in the Kingdom of Lordaeron, believing the Kingdom of Azeroth beyond redemption for its failure to withstand the orcish invasion. The few who returned were greeted with nothing but razed buildings and burnt fields. Crime was rampant as opportunistic brigands looted the ruins and preyed upon returning settlers.

Duke Maxen drafted all able-bodied men and women into military service to bring order to the land. Many professions were stripped bare of their laborers as all were incorporated into the military complex - not even the priests of the church were immune to conscription. Reconstruction projects were completed in quick succession by the military with funding and supplies shipped in from the Alliance of Lordaeron. This trend continued for nearly a decade, with Westridge relying exclusively on the Alliance’s donations for its needs.

Disillusionment with the reconstruction process led many of the Alliance of Lordaeron to cease their donations to the Kingdom of Azeroth. Conscription requirements were lifted in Westridge and many returned to their occupations. The church, however, remained barren. Many had lost faith in the Light after decades of destruction and bloodshed. Without a devoted parish, the church of Westridge was a hollow shell of what it once was.

As life returned to relative normalcy in the Duchy of Westridge, word of rising death cults in the north prompted many in Stormwind to turn to the church in a crisis of faith. Refugees were taken in by the hundreds in the chapels of Westridge as the kingdoms of the north fell into disarray. When the noble houses of Lordaeron called for Stormwind’s aid after Arthas’s betrayal, Duke Maxen rallied the battle-hardened citizens of Westridge for war. Refugees from Lordaeron joined the march expecting to return to their homes. Many signed up freely as crusaders after the church blessed the effort as a righteous one.

The combined force of the royal army left Stormwind with great fanfare. Most expected the campaign to be a short one; that the “rebels” in Lordaeron would melt before the might of Stormwind’s army. The morale of the troops quickly soured as they realized the true nature of the enemies they faced. Although the regiments of Stormwind found initial success against the smaller packs of undead, the plague infected many of its soldiers. Those who did not go mad perished from the disease. Hundreds deserted before the young King Varian withdrew the Duke’s remaining troops from the north. Many of the army’s deserters joined the ranks of the Scarlet Crusade, believing the leadership of the old Alliance inept.

Defeat in Lordaeron humiliated Duke Maxen and dealt further damage to the message of the holy church. Many questioned how such evil could take root and so easily defeat the forces of the Light. The Duke re-implemented a military draft to replenish the numbers lost during the failed campaign, ultimately erasing what little progress the parish of Westridge had made in the course of a few years.

The priests of Westridge who were conscripted into the army vowed to keep the faith alive. As a new generation of soldiers was trained to take on the challenges that faced the Duchy, the chaplaincy spread the virtues three to those who would listen. They served especially well in the fortification efforts led by Duke Maxen, where they improved the lives of their fellow subjects with humanitarian public works.

When King Varian disappeared and Highlord Bolvar took the throne in regency, the church aggressively advanced its doctrine in what was perceived as a period fraught with corruption. Archbishop Benedictus regularly clashed with the House of Nobles over mismanagement of the kingdom’s coffers, demanding that more be spent on the hemorrhaging border provinces. The remnants of Westridge’s parish did what they could to help the people of Westfall in their time of need, but their efforts were ultimately too few to stop the land from falling apart.

Tensions came to a head when the Archbishop called for a vote of no confidence in the Highlord’s abilities as regent. Despite securing a narrow victory in the house that saw him retain his position, Bolvar lost the respect of his peers. Duke Maxen shut himself in his keep, languishing in the depression of the times.

Lady Katrana Prestor’s revelation as the Dragonqueen Onyxia jolted the politics of the realm. Highlord Bolvar was celebrated as a hero for his role in her demise. Free from the Dragonqueen’s sway, the House of Nobles begun to formulate plans for the kingdom’s recovery. Archbishop Benedictus reaffirmed the church’s dedication to righting the ills of the land.

A widespread outbreak of the undead plague in the Eastern Kingdoms prompted a mass mobilization of the Stormwind Army. The church was instrumental in healing the sick and sheltering the poor in these dark times. The Argent Dawn instructed the priests of the realm in revolutionary healing techniques that they learned in their fight against the scourge. Casualties were kept to a minimum in Westridge, where the afflicted were quarantined and tended to by the Argents.

When King Varian returned with a band of allies, he and the defenders of Stormwind stood their ground against the forces of darkness. Forging a tentative alliance with the New Horde, he led the kingdom into the War Against the Lich King. Many were inspired by this bold charge. As the Scarlet Crusade crumbled in the ruins of Lordaeron, several of those who deserted in the initial invasion returned to seek refuge within the Kingdom of Stormwind. Those who forswore their allegiance to the organization and pledged their fealty to the King were welcomed with open arms in the Duchy of Westridge.

The former crusaders who joined the ranks of Westridge’s parish brought with them a zeal for the Light that pushed the church out of obscurity and into the forefront of politics within the Duchy. Together with the battle clerics serving Westridge’s military, the priests of the parish scored several victories against the Scourge in Northrend; paving the way for the victory against the Lich King in 30 L.C.

Resurgence after the Cataclysm
From the words of Archbishop Caspius

An impetus for action following the Cataclysm prompted the Church to reform the parish of Westridge. Then-Episcopal Legate Erich Gottfried Manstein and Bishop Johannes Moorwhelp requested that Caspius Greenleaf take on the task, to which he duly obliged.

Caspius' service in Westridge was exemplary. As extraordinary minister to the parish, he began a series of parochial reforms designed to prevent a further recurrance of the circumstances that had led to the parish being deprived of its clergy. When Westridge had begun a process of conscription, many of the clergy were drawn into military. Caspius now firmly established the immunity of the clergy to conscription, and instituted a strong policy of dissuading clergy members from involving themselves in armed service, noting that Paladins already served that role. Then, Caspius created an engaging system for priestly formation, aware that the parish of Westridge was not a wealthy locale, and that the church would be, for many young men and women, a source of livelihood in addition to a centre of spiritual peace.

An abundance of young novices were soon being instructed in the basics of monastic life, with leaders selected from among the brightest. Amongst these was the young Shara Adelie, a woman who was the sole surviving member of her family in the wake of the conflicts which had befallen Westridge. Despite a surprising capacity for the teachings of the Light, Shara had long been prohibited joining the Church by her family. Now, Caspius convinced her to serve as extraordinary deacon. When Shara's appointment was confirmed by Bishop Moorwhelp, Caspius felt the matter one of the greatest triumphs of his life. The parish of Westridge, with its stripped-out abbey and leaderless population had been transformed, in the space of a month, to a bustling and lively centre of church life, headed by a deacon who knew the needs of the people better than anyone else. Sadly, Mother Shara passed in her sleep after only three months as the Deacon of Westridge.

Chapelry under Curate
From the words of Curate Maverith Telloran

The effort to separate the church from Westridge’s military was short lived. Following Mother Shara’s death, Mother Maverith Telloran was quickly called to serve as Curate of the Chapelry of Westridge by Duke Maxen Montclair after her service as a battle-cleric and chaplain within the first regiment of the Royal Army. She accepted the appointment while continuing her duties as a soldier. Her duties as curate extended to providing guidance and mentorship in the training of the aspirants of the Order of Saint Isaac, in collaboration with the paladin knights overseeing their trials.

The posting in Westridge was particularly meaningful to her. The parish had been blessed by the presence of Saint Caspius Greenleaf himself. During his pastoral service there, he rebuilt the parish and his extraordinary work laid the foundation for the Chapelry's rebirth. The connection to Westridge was deeply personal for Maverith also because this is where her late friend, Mother Shara Adelie Greenleaf, began her vocation within the Church. Maverith hoped that her work in Westridge would honor her memory. Her stay at the Chapelry was short however. She resigned her position when it became clear to her that the clergy of the Order of Saint Isaac and the medics of the Regiment’s medical corps could take care of the spiritual and healing needs of the Chapelry without her guidance. She felt she was no longer needed in Westridge and hoped that the Church would have use for her in another capacity. With one last prayer for the brave men and women of the Regiment, she left the serene abbey in the fields of lavender.

Maverith’s hasty departure from Westridge was the first truly impulsive act she had committed in a long while. It was born of frustration and she realized that her impatience would probably cause the authorities of the Church to be thoroughly annoyed with her. She could not wait for an answer to the plea to be recalled she had sent. She handed over her resignation from her post in Westridge and rode back to Stormwind. The priestess was ready to defend her decision to leave. Although her motives would most likely appear selfish to the Bishop and perhaps even childish, she was convinced that it was for the best. The Duke had expectations of the leader of the Chapelry that she knew she could not meet. She was not a soldier; she was not a battle cleric. Light knows she had tried. She was too small, too frail, untrained and ill-prepared to lead others. The shame of it was difficult to bear, so she ran. She ran back to the bosom of the Church to seek answers, a new purpose and the courage to rise above the crushing feeling of defeat to serve the Light as she was meant to do. The warning her strict mother gave her when she accepted the assignment came back to her as she rode her horse at a breakneck speed towards Stormwind. “To pretend to be something you are not in the name of Faith, will only cause you to fail in your service of the Church and disgrace you before the Light.” How prophetic these words turned out to be.

Controversy in the Parish
From the words of Lady Mairaed O’Callaghan

Following the resignation of Mother Maverith, Duke Maxen appointed his newly wedded wife as the Curate of Westridge by advowson. Like Maverith before her, Lady Mairaed had extensive military experience in the First Regiment as both a ranger and as a paladin knight in service to the Order of Saint Isaac. At the invitation of Archbishop Alonsus II, Mairaed was brought before the Council of Bishops as a potential prioress representing the Curate of Westridge. She was elected to the position by unanimous vote as is the standard process, and was ordained as a priestess in the service of the Church of the Holy Light.

Mother Mairaed’s leadership would be fraught with controversy stemming from the marital bond she shared with the Duke of Westridge. Following her ordination, the Duke stripped away Mairaed’s commission as a Knight-Lieutenant in the First Regiment, citing that her loyalty now belonged to the church by oath. The callous removal of her hard-earned rank was met with great protest. Some suggested that the Duke did so to keep his wife out of harm’s way, while others saw this as a means for the Duke to keep Mother Mairaed close to their newborn son, Robert Montclair. No matter the reasoning, Mother Mairaed would never return to the battlefields where she had fought and bled for the parish she now lead.

Despite being stripped of military rank, the Prioress worked to bring the same standard of excellence her regiment was known for on the battlefield to the organization at which she was at the helm. In part by her efforts within the Curate of Westridge, it was decreed by Archbishop Alonsus II that the Curate would become a Priory, the first in the Holy See of Stormwind since before the Orcish Wars. With aspirations to build a loyal church following amongst the men and women of the Regiment as well as to train and develop a new breed of elite battle clerics, the Priory of Westridge was on track to reestablish a strong partnership with the Holy Church. Mother Mairaed’s work kept her time split between the Cathedral of Stormwind and administering to the needs of the flock of believers in Westridge. She presented liturgy on multiple occasions in the Great Cathedral while the first regiment was absent, and garnered a reputation as a down-to-earth, woman-of-the-people preacher.

The first regiment triumphantly returned to Westridge after months abroad. Despite their victories, the regiment was reviled by the peasantry for the heavy taxes levied in order to fund the King’s campaigns. It was but a month after their return that a fight broke out between regiment soldiers and refugees fleeing Westfall across the Nazferiti River. Further conflict erupted along the Westfall border; each a battle that saw Westfallian men dragged away in chains – or worse. Mother Mairaed’s efforts to quell these conflicts peacefully were quashed by the commanders of the regiment who citing her lack of military rank as reason to ignore her. In the Prioress’s eyes, the soldiers of the regiment turned against the Light’s virtues and relished in the subjugation of their fellow men.

Not long after the initial skirmish at the river, an organized siege force of Westfallian rebels attacked Westbrook Garrison. While the Duke rallied militiamen from the north, Mother Mairaed took up arms to fight beside the Ducal Guard against the enemy. Upon ascending to the parapets to take aim at the intruders, she took horror at the manner in which the rebels were being dispatched. The men and women of the first regiment were killing with eagerness, almost joy, allowing the peasant rebels to suffer and die in a manner that she believed lacked the honor she had fought with in the past. She did what she could to put suffering rebels out of their misery, refusing to bless what she saw as unrighteous slaughter.

Even with the regiment’s concerted efforts to control the garrison, the Westfallian rebels were able to drive the forces of Westridge from their seat of military power. When it was clear that the fortress would be lost and her son‘s life was at risk, Mother Mairaed quit the field and evacuated Westridge with Robert to seek asylum in Stormwind City at Duke Maxen’s urging; first at the Cathedral, then within the residence of Tenevus and Kateryn Stromheart at Kateryn‘s insistence.
When the first regiment regrouped and began to plan the retaking of their fortress, tensions ran high between Duke Maxen’s officers and the Westfallian-born Prioress. Public accusations of traitorous activity were flung at Mother Mairaed by a group of Duke Maxen’s loyal officers - not only accusing her of being sympathetic to the cause of the Westfallians that sacked Westbrook, but accusing her of providing material assistance and intelligence to the rebels. The schism was so deep that it caused a great rift between the Lord-Marshal and his wife; a rift that eventually led to their divorce.

Finding no loyal voices amongst the regiment to defend her, Mairaed fled Stormwind for Draenor to escape the escalating threat to her personal safety. While she was absent, the Priory was left in the care of the few remaining clergy that had not retired from military service. The First Regiment’s seat at the Council of Bishops remained empty as none were able to fill the void left by the Prioress. Furious at what he perceived as her complete abandonment, Duke Maxen declared Mairaed’s title as Prioress forfeit in a fit of rage.

The New Light
From the words of Prioress Muriah Laldere

The priory stagnated in the months following Mairaed's departure, the conflict at its core unresolved as the Duke struggled with the loss. Mother Muriah Laldere, a battle-cleric of the priory, saw this tragedy and took it upon herself to promote the restoration of the religious organization. She began to hold group and private counseling sessions, medical training, and liturgies amongst the subjects of Westridge and the soldiers of the first regiment. Her trademark enthusiasm, most often noted mid-combat in the form of recited scripture, captured the attention of many within her unit as well as outsiders.

Having the credentials of her ordination and years of service to the Church, the good mother was elevated to the office of Prior by Lord-Marshal Maxen Montclair in July of 35 L.C. In this position, Mother Muriah sought out potential candidates for ordination while continuing her work with the unit on both broad and individualized levels in the fields of medicine, healing, and spiritual guidance. Drawing from her experience as an ordained priestess in the kingdom's capital, Mother Muriah devised a rigid process for ordination within the priory and established the current paths that priests may take once ordained. The priory has gained traction since then, actively recruiting new harbingers of the faith.
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