Men of faith are those individuals whose faith in a particular god has been rewarded. Examples abound, each as mysterious and unique as the next. One example that you might be familiar with, if you’ve read Madness Ascendant, is Sidara. A priestess of Lillandra, the Lady of the Hearth, Sidara was a healer who lived in the hills. She came to Hali’s aid after he battled the Orc shaman in the pass cutting through the Dragonback Ridge. If you’ll recall, the Orc shaman infected Hali with shadow. He would have died if not for Sidara’s ministrations. She healed not only the shadow gripping Hali’s limbs, she also healed the shadow festering in his heart since the death of his wife, Cymara. The Lady of the Hearth blessed Sidara with proficiency in the healing arts as a reward for her prayer and faith. Sudnar was with Hali for him to stumble upon Hearthstone, the village not far from Sidara’s hillside home. His wounds were too deep and too dark for any physician to heal. The shadow had left his manhood limp and flaccid, leaving him less than a man. Lillandra was a goddess of life and fertility, the perfect remedy for the Hali’s wounds.
The gods rewarded some men of faith with sainthood, which I thought of as a godly mark of distinction. Saints differed from people like Sidara mostly by having broader fame and recognition. I mentioned Sidara in Madness Ascendant because of the role she played in Hali’s story, but she was not the only healer blessed by Lillandra. Across the breadth of the world and the span of time, many women, and a few men, earned Lillandra’s blessing. These individuals used the power she granted to work wonders upon the sick and wounded. Saints, in contrast, were singular people whose godly gifts stood the test of time and inspired generations that followed. Saint Abornis, a monk dedicated to Deridean the Councilor recovered the Crystal of the Ebon Flame, an artifact of great power, which he used to defeat a Bayorian uprising. So great were his deeds that the followers of Abornis worshipped him as an avatar of the Councilor. In the years following Abornis’s death, a knight order sprang into existence in the city of Renk comprised of warriors who embraced the ideals embodied by Abornis.
Dozens of people attained sainthood throughout the Age of Man. Saint Naugatuk, a mage devoted to Harnor and famous for his ability to transcend the world and enter the Firmament was first revered in Colcester. Over the course of time, mages as far away as Tyrnavalle came to know of Naugatuk. Tineas, a saint of Golden Finbardin, had the power to call upon the Heavenly Hosts in times of need and wielded a spiked chain reminiscent of Formythos, the weapon Finbardin used to take the Dark Lord’s eye. Cingar, a man of legendary strength, rose to sainthood in the service of Pugnar, the Lion of the Arena. Marauders captured Cingar when he was a child. He eventually landed in the realm of Jeheris where he became a gladiatorial slave. After swearing his life to the Lion, he became a legend in the arena, able to defeat all comers. These four are but a few of many who attained sainthood, four men who shared one trait, an uncommon and steadfast faith in a particular god.
Sainthood was not the only way the gods bestowed their favor. Men of faith could be rewarded in many ways. Some were blessed with the ability to portend coming storms. Some had power over aspects of nature, such as the ability to talk to animals, to bless the crops and the harvest, to divine water sources. Norath the Seeress granted some the second sight, giving them the ability to peer into the future and glimpse how it might unfold. Aeriel the Dawn Mistress lent her faithful great strength in the hour of dawn, strength that faded as the day progressed. Lillandra of the Hearth blessed women of faith with children.
Just as the gods of the Outermost Heavens blessed those of faith with power, so too did the Dark Lord. One example is the Ta’Erkul headman despicted in Madness Ascendant. The Ta’Erkul were the children of Erlik One-Eye, the Dark Lord. When the headman battled Hali in the subterranean caverns beneath the Whispering Hills, he possessed supernatural strength granted by no less than One-Eye himself, as did the Orc shaman that infected Hali with shadow.
By far the most terrifying example is the Shadow Lord, who ruled over the Shadowgrim and was known in The Tale of Ages by other names as well, The Traitor for one, that heinous person responsible for the One-Eye escaping the Darkhold, which led to the horrific Battle of Unending Night. He was known by another name too, that name given to him by his mother and father, a name that no one will dare utter out loud. His transformation into the Shadow Lord may be the greatest reward any of the gods have ever bestowed upon one of their followers. So great were the gifts lavished upon the Traitor by the Dark Lord that his power rivalled that of the Erlikarrin.