Ash Elves first came through the Gate four generations ago – about 120 years – and brought The Church of Ash and their strange, white-powder bishops with them. Broadly speaking, second and third generation migrants families tended towards secular living, but over the past decade, there has been a sudden upsurge of orthodox worship in the young, following the four-year winning streak of an Ash Elf gladiator named Voda
Voda was the perfect combination – she was ruthless in the arena, charismatic when performing for the crowd and politically savvy enough to know when to fold. Five years ago, Voda was offered a seat on the Council of Pontifices – a position that she held for just twelve months, before handing over to her successor – a Bishop known as Borodev, who was far less charismatic, but far steadier – he has held the seat since. Voda has lived a life of luxurious celebrity ever since, a testament to success that Patrons have cited to rookie gladiators ever since.
The Church of Ash teacher that all things end, and everything tends to entropy, so we must make the most of every breath. The teachings hold dancing and song sacred – as well as quiet contemplation of the natural world. It doesn’t believe in a deity in the same way as some other faiths do – it holds that all things are divine; and can be celebrated as being a part of a grand, chaotic morass, none no greater than the other – merely at higher or lower states of consciousness.
Bishops of the Church of Ash are often seen as meddlesome – the doctrine teaches change – for better or worse; and that nothing is so abhorrent as stangnant living.
A number of particularly evangelistic bishops in the Halfast district have adopted an open-arms policy for their churches, leading to a swathes of new conversions in other cultures – it is not unusual to see Folk, salamanders and other citizens bearing the ashen smear on their forehead (or forehead-analogue) that marks a devotee.
The church has feast-days on the full-moon; and a week-long festival at the end of May, where great wagon-loads of white ash are brought through the Gate, to line the approach to the Temple of Burnt Offerings – the most prominent of the centers of worship for the Church of Ash.
Some second-wave followers of the Church of Ash tend to proselytise the freedoms of the faith with fewer of the responsibilities, celebrating with grand parties in the park and enthusiastic revelry.
The Halfast churches have been engaging in community projects – education, soup kitchens and hostels for the homeless, while Borodev regularly brings funding proposals to the Council of Pontifices.