Population: 2500 (wealthy town)
Source of Wealth: Wine, Beer, Tourism (Rich +10)
Province: Reikland, County of Eilhart
Liege: Graf Johann von Hardenburg
If there was ever a tourist town in the Empire, Eilhart is it. Known and celebrated by wine drinkers throughout the Old World, the vineyards around Eilhart produce the succulent grapes, from which the succulent wine, eilwein, is produced. Eilwein is widely considered one of the Reikland's best white wines, valued not just for its crisp, light flavour, but also for its famously mild hangovers that grow no worse no matter how much of it was quaffed the night before, or so Eilharters claim.
Recently, Eilhart has also become famed in the Reikland, and as far afield as Marienburg, for its sharp, acidic, almost vinergary beers called duchess de breton making use of fragrant hops and local grain.
Given the excellent quality of its alcoholic beverages, Eilhart has become a popular destination for riverboat cruises, wherein epicures travel to the town to sample its wares from the many drinking houses, breweries, and vineyards on offer. Some claim the high number of visiting Bretonnians — drawn by the excellent wine — may account for the locals' recent enthusiasm for beer.
Eilhart is also famous for a dish called kartofelkase, a heady mixture of pureed potatoes and pungent cheese.
But Eilhart is also famous for something more impressive than fine wine and food.
Looming over the town is the massive and ancient Allergötter, the Temple of All Gods. Half-university, half-museum, the Allergötter was originally a simple temple of Verena that took upon itself to study and catalog the worship and practices of all the gods, old and new, in the Old World. It is said that within the walls of the Allergötter, one may find a shrine to any and every god ever worshipped. This probably isn't true, but only by matter of degree. Indeed, it seems every inch of the temple has some relic or statue to some minor or forgotten god. At the center of the temple is one of the largest statues of Verena in the Empire. as well as a very slightly smaller statue to Sigmar (installed at great expense by the temple to placate the Grand Theogonist).
The history of the Temple of All Gods dates back to the earliest days of the Empire. An original, much older shrine dedicated to Rhya and other local small gods existed at this location long before the time of Sigmar. During the early days of the Empire, the shrine was converted to a temple and rededicated to the worship of Verena. However, the priests did so in a very pragmatic way: rather than ranking the worship of the new god higher or lower than Rhya, the temple priests declared that all gods were equally deserving of veneration, that no one god was more or less important than the other. Over time, this doctrine lead them to become a museum of sorts, dedicated to preserving the worship and traditions of all gods so that no god would ever be forgotten. However, even here there are firsts amoung equals. Verena is clearly the most important god at the temple (based on the size of her statue), followed in a close second by Sigmar. And Rhya's shrine, an ancient grove which forms a dense garden at the center of the temple grounds, is one of the largest and most elaborate in the Empire.
Today, within the sprawling structure of the temple grounds, it is said that a person can find a shrine to every good god worshippped in the Old World. Some of the shrines might be quite small, but none are forgotten. Though it may take months or years to find and visit all the shrines, the priests make the rounds to all the shrines, tending to the shrines by cleaning them and making offerings and small prayers to the represented god according to the temple's masterpiece, Die Enzyklopädie aller Götter, a massive oak- and bronze-bound manuscript that describes the rituals and practices of all gods the temple has discovered. The tome is so large that it is carried by a priest in a special harness on his back while another priest opens it and turns the pages and while a third reads from it.
The temple's collection of gods and shrines is called the Panoply. Novices at the temple are tasked to see that every shrine within the Panoply are properly maintained and that the represented god receives appropriate propitiation at leasy once a year. As there are hundreds, if not thousands, of these shrines within the Allergötter, the temple literally never sleeps: it is always abuzz with chanting, dancing, the banging of gongs, and other worship almost every hour of every day.
As a repository of knowledge, at least knowledge derived from the practices and myths of forgotten gods, there is nothing else like the Allergötter in the Old World and hundreds of religious scholars from every corner of the world visit the temple yearly. A portion of the temple's income comes from fees paid by these scholars to study at the temple's library.
The Order of Memory (Ordo Memoriae) is the Verenan sect charged with protecting and overseeing the Panoply. They are divided into two branches, the Canon and the Seekers. The Canon are the scholarly priests im charge of the temple proper and the propitiation of the gods within the Panoply. They rarely leave the walls of the Allergötter. The Seekers, on the other hand, travel far and wide, collecting stories and myths of old and small gods throughout the Old World, bringing that knowledge (and whatever relics they can obtain) back to add to the Panoply.
Rumor says that deep within the walls of the Allergötter is a locked and guarded room that contains the Prudentia Vetitia, or the Forbidden Collection. Contained within, it is said, are the rites, relics, and secrets of the Ruinous Powers and other vile gods best forgotten and never spoken of. If such a collection exists, it is both well-hidden and well-protected and never, ever visited, let alone spoken of or acknowledged.
Each year, on the first day of summer, when the rest of the Empire is celebrating Sigmarsfest, Eilhart goes one step further and holds the Festival of All Gods. While the priests are dutifully careful to honor Sigmar first and foremost (and Verena a close second), they hold a great costumed parade around the walls of the Allergötter and through the streets of Eilhart. Thirty-three different gods are chosen (in addition to ever-present Sigmar and Verena) from the Panoply to be honored at each festival. Each god is represented by a costumed member of the Ordo Memoriae, who will, if possible, carry the relic or shrine of that god in the streets so that the crowds may worship it. The townsfolk also take part, forming into thirty-three krews who temporarily dedicate themselves to one of the Honored Gods and follow the god through the streets during the parade. They dress appropriately for the god, in elaborate costumes representing the god's tradition and performing appropriate rites, dances, songs, or prayers as they parade through the town. Krews will spend an entire year preparing their members and at the end of the parade the most authentic and enthusiastic krew is honored with a pennant. The festival itself begins a week before Sigmarsfest, with symposiums and discussions of the ancient and forgotten rites of the gods chosen that year for the parade. At the conclusion of the parade, tables are set up through the streets of Eilhart and a great open-air feast is enjoyed by everyone.
Of course, there are some within the Empire who think the Temple of All Gods is complete heresy and believe whole-heartedly in the existence of the Prudentia Vetitia. Among those most opposed to the Temple of All Gods, the temple's mission is referred to as the All Gods Heresy, or derisively the Small Gods Heresy.
Three Grand Theogonists and Emperors have believed so strongly that the Allergötter should be torn down that three crusading armies have been sent to do so in the past. Yet no stone of the Allergötter has ever been scratched. Each army sent was beset by ill omens, foul weather, disease, unexpected enemies, and a hundred other small misfortunes that decimated them. Only one army ever came within sight of the walls of EIlhart, and by the time it did, it begged the temple for food and medicine rather than sack it. The priests and historians of the Empire have concluded that apparently the gods are content to let the temple exist despite the discomfort it might engender in their worshippers. The Grand Theogonist has a permanent embassy at the temple to keep a watchful eye on "those small god heretics".
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