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001 Note from the Translator

Kireca, a small farming commune, represented only a minor theological movement within the northern Actran Valley. However, its numerous surviving writings are an unparalleled source of knowledge into that region during Kelmar’s later ante-imperial period and especially about the county of Naithan during the lifetime of Renent (317-256 AF), Kireca’s primary author and an exiled royal scribe.
 
While Renent’s own biographical details are not necessary for a new student of his works when reading the Correspondence, a brief sketch is helpful. Born into the aristocracy, Renent became the childhood companion of the prince, Philion son of King Grelesten, and then served as the apprentice to the king’s archivist within the capital city of Arnrian, an elite role in a largely illiterate society.
 
During Renent’s youth, mounting tension erupted between two geo-religious groups in Naithanthe Qualiaites and the Jaipnitestriggering the so-called First Jaipnic War (297-296 AF) when Renent was twenty-one years old. As the King, who was a Qualiaite like Renent, saw his reign collapse, he ordered Renent to take stewardship of the Princess Raitrialla, her handmaidens, and the royal library and flee with them into the Velian Plains, a rural area in northern Naithan. This command probably spared Renent’s life because Grelesten and many in his court were killed in battle or executed upon capture, including Prince Philion, who was hanged. The Jaipnites then quickly seized the throne and ruled Naithan for the remainder of Renent’s life.
 
Renent spent those years as an exile in the Velian Plains’ agricultural communities trying to avoid attention. He watched over Raitrialla and her only surviving younger brother until she married a local farmer. Renent himself married Illya, one of Raitrialla’s handmaidens. At some point, he came into contact with Kireca and converted to its teachings. As a literate man, he quickly became a prominent member, serving as its scribe and lead apologist. However, Raitrialla and Illya remained Qualiaites, and in the final few years of Illya’s life, she and Renent separated because she wanted to retire among her coreligionists. They had no children.
 
The reader should also begin with a general sketch of Kireca itself: a fairly remote community of probably one hundred to two hundred during Renent’s lifetime, it had various smaller affiliate groups throughout the Velian Plains and elsewhere. Many of these groups were not communities themselves but associations of neighbors who shared Kireca’s teaching. Based largely on the cover letter in the Correspondence, we know that this network at one point stretched as far south as ante-imperial Kelmar. A number of Renent’s letters were communications from Kireca to its affiliates.
 
Kireca appears to have consisted of mostly men although some families resided there too. Members primarily harvested orchards and made pottery for sale or barter. Kireca’s exact location is unknown but appears to have been in the Velian Plains’ northwestern foothills. It was likely unique among contemporaneous groups because its members did not believe in any god or heavenly being. It wished to move beyond the several factious religions around it and embrace what it taught as a deeper truth that humanity is at least largely incapable of discerning divine knowledge.
 

A new student of this time period should also note that during Renent’s lifetime, Naithan consisted of three geographically distinct population areas, and he refers to them constantly throughout his writings. A brief introduction to each will be helpful:

 

The Valley (Umanite Qualiaites). This area lay in Naithan’s center and was where Renent grew up. During his early years, the Valley dwellers were overwhelming monotheistic, referring to their god as Qualiae, the designer and master of the earth, sea, and sky. The Umanon (or Book of Uman) was their scripture, and it was said to be written by the Prophet Uman some seven hundred years before. The text chronicled Qualiae’s actions throughout Naithan’s history and laid out his teaching and law. The Valley Qualiaites, because of their dedication to Uman, were called Umanites, and they believed that Qualiae judged everyone upon their death and either accepted them into his presence or rejected them. Umanites shunned the use of any imagery in their worship and generally recognized a priesthood. Renent himself spent much of his life as a Umanite. The Valley’s main city of Arnrian served as Naithan’s capital, and throughout Renent’s lifetime military control of the Valley was tantamount to kingship over Naithan. Thus, Umanite Qualiaites comprised the country’s governing class prior to the First Jaipnic War but afterwards became subjugated to the Jaipnites, who colonized the Valley.
 
The Coast (Fricolic Qualiaites). Because this region lay along the Evenic Ocean, shipping was a major part of the Coast’s economy. Its main port was very valuable, and the Coastal cities disputed access to it throughout Renent’s lifetime. These disputes, and a king’s method of handling them, appear to have largely dictated how each Coastal city set its political alliances. Like the Valley, the Coast largely worshiped Qualiae but did so through a different belief system, the adherents of which were called Fricolics. While accepting the Umanon, they believed in a subsequent prophet named Brial and a body of scripture attributed to him called the Brialon (Book of Brial). Based on events described in the Brialon, Fricolics believed in reincarnation: Qualiae would sometimes return a person back to the living and delay his or her judgment. Fricolics did not recognize the Umanites’ priesthood but had various local spiritual leaders.
 

The South (Jaipnites). The people of this region were primarily Jaipnites, polytheists who mostly recognized the religion’s namesake, Jaipni, the lord of the sea, as the chief god. However, some were primarily devoted to a different god, and many revered an additional local deity. Jaipnites were highly iconic, and families frequently kept in their homes images of the gods. Communal shrines were also common, and designated shrine keepers typically served as a community’s spiritual leaders. There was no firm scriptural tradition although several epic poems appear to have encapsulated its central tradition. Only fragments, however, survive. The First Jaipnic War was essentially an uprising of the Jaipnites as they gained control of Naithan and expanded their influence beyond the South.

 

Renent likely wrote the letters comprising the Correspondence during 264-256 AF as an old man with his days in the royal court a distant but apparently still vivid memory. About ten to twenty years after Renent’s death, a man named Clarifes, potentially Renent’s successor as Kireca’s scribe and an otherwise historically unknown individual, sent eighteen of Renent’s writings to a similarly-minded community in Kelmar. Clarifes’s cover letter opens the collection. Then come sixteen of Renent’s letters, and, as is traditional, we have numbered them in the order in which they appear in surviving manuscripts. They are mostly grouped by addressee, and their chronological order is sometimes impossible to determine. The seventeenth and eighteenth documents are known today as the Tributes, texts that Renent wrote in memory of Philion and Illya after their deaths.
 
Although for the modern reader many of these texts come stripped of their context, one nonetheless gets a flavor of Renent’s emphasis, tone, and theology. These letters capture the sense of turmoil that followed the Second Jaipnic War (279-271 AF), a conflict among the ruling Jaipnites and various allies. The Kirecans had maintained rigid neutrality throughout the conflict and narrowly avoided being swept into it. A perpetual backdrop to the letters is a fear of political instability and a return to violence. However, by the time of the Correspondence, tension was subsiding and an accommodating Jaipnite king was defusing a generation of strife.
 

Overall, Renentine writings survive in five parts, but the Correspondence is the best starting point for a beginning student. This is largely because it presents the most applied and direct examples of Kirecan life and belief. After completing the Correspondence, the reader may wish to proceed to Renent’s other four surviving works. The Chronicle is a general history of Naithan in three volumes although only the first and third are extant. They provide a multitude of otherwise-unavailable historical information. Renent probably started this work while still in Grelesten’s service or shortly thereafter and completed it in exile. The Log is a detailed record of Grelesten’s court and an inventory of the royal possessions. Renent likely compiled it while in the castle, and it is probably a synopsis of preexisting records. Concerning Kireca is a detailed theological work that lays out the community’s teaching systematically and was probably the Kirecans’ most official statement of belief. Finally, the Anthology is a collection of miscellaneous and sometimes fragmentary other writings and letters, some of which overlap with the Correspondence.

 
We have provided a timeline and maps at the back that the reader may find useful.