Population: Fluctuates depending on the proximity to certain festivals, but usually no more than one billion.
Tithe Grade: Exactus Majoris.
Geography: An almost even distribution of land and ocean has resulted in a fairly temperate climate. Frequent rains mean lush plant growth, while volcanic activity has resulted in extreme mountain ranges and the frequent appearances of new islands. One small moon.
Government Type: Oligarchy consisting of Ministorum clergy and merchant magnates.
Planetary Governor: Cardinal Praetus Catullas Halaby.
Adept Presence: Extensive. Great numbers of Adeptus Ministorum clergy live and work among the regular population. The Adepta Sororitas inhabit the Abbey of Saint Elena’s Mount outside of Port Calling. Within are Commanderies of the Orders Dialogous, Famulous, and Hospitaller.
Military: Planetary defense forces, militant cults.
Trade: The Piety of Seth was an agri-world before becoming a shrine world, and still exports immense amounts of foodstuffs, including assorted fruits, vegetables, and seafood.
Piety of Seth is one of a number of shrine worlds in the Calixis Sector. While it is primarily still an agri-world, its endless expanses of fields and orchards are interrupted by two major settlements---Port Hadley and Port Calling. The former is where Chartist and Imperial spacecraft come calling to load their holds with the massive quantities of crops the Piety of Seth produces. The latter is the site of the Chapel of Seth’s Calling, where the Arbitrator Seth died after a day and night of prayer in honor of the Emperor. It has become the destination of pilgrims from across the sector and beyond, who come to pray as Seth did and purify their minds and bodies.
Nearly two millennia ago, when Piety of Seth was known as Vantau, it was home to the Chantry of Drusus, a heretical cult that wished to replace the worship of the God-Emperor with a church dedicated to Saint Drusus. Naturally, heresy such as this couldn’t be allowed to stand, and Judge Seth was quick to raise a militia to oppose them. After several fierce battles, Seth’s forces were broken and scattered and Seth himself was captured. Brought before the self-proclaimed ‘Son of Drusus,’ the leader of the Chantry cult, Seth was given a simple choice---renounce the God-Emperor or face eternal torment.
Seth, who both feared and loved his Emperor, refused (legend says he literally spat his defiance in the Son’s face), and as a result was subjected to unending tortures. Wishing to make an example of the obstinate Judge, the Son of Drusus paraded Seth at the vanguard of his renegade army. His desire was to use Seth’s sufferings to break the will of the people and force them to acknowledge the Son as the Second Coming of the God-Emperor. However, Seth was able to stoically resist the tortures of the Second Coming cultists, his only words ones of praise for the Emperor. Inspired by his resistance (and the leadership of Seth’s Arbitrators), the loyal citizens of Vantau rallied and not only turned back the army of the Second Coming, but took their camp, killing the supposedly immortal Son of Drusus in the process.
At the center of the cultist’s camp, the victorious army found Seth alive, albeit barely. To everyone’s amazement, Seth was able to stand under his own power, and announced through broken teeth and cracked and bloodied lips his desire to give thanks to the God-Emperor for providing him with the strength to resist the seemingly endless days of torture. Trailed by an assortment of PDF captains, Adeptus Arbites, and regular citizens, Seth made his way, step by painful step, to a local chapel, where he knelt in silent prayer. He remained there for a full day, giving thanks to the Emperor for guiding him through his ordeal. Finally rising, he turned as if to leave the chapel, only to die on his feet.
A Shrine is BornEdit
Honored as the face of the resistance to the Chantry cultists, Seth was placed in an ornate tomb outside the chapel. Almost immediately the place gained religious significance in the eyes those who had witnessed Seth’s long walk. Many claimed his death wasn’t due to his battered body finally giving out, but because the Emperor had summoned Seth to his side. On the first anniversary of their victory, numerous Vantauians re-enacted Seth’s last walk, and the event quickly became a religious holiday.
Over the years, the holiday (named Seth’s Calling in the belief the Emperor had called Seth to him) expanded in scope. Aside from the tradition of retracing Seth’s Progress from the Chantry camp to the chapel, there came re-enactments of his rescue, the slaying of the Son of Drusus, and the torments Seth suffered. In time, these observations grew into a cult, one dedicated to presenting the life of Seth as an example of how faith and loyalty can allow one to overcome all obstacles. In order to spread their message, the cultists (calling themselves the “Sons of Seth” as a counter to the heretical “Son of Drusus”) started to stage elaborate mystery and passion plays, each illustrating an aspect (probably apocryphal) of Seth’s life. The Sons of Seth are led by Plex Orla, a former Arbitrator.
As word of Seth’s exploits spread, pilgrims began to arrive on Vantau, known now as the Site of Seth’s Piety (and eventually shortened simply to Piety of Seth), seeking to pray at the chapel, follow his Progress, and attend the various plays. This resulted in a circular cycle of expanding the scope of the plays, resulting in a greater number of pilgrims, which required further expansions, and so on.
Today, Piety of Seth is a fully recognized Shrine World, to which countless pilgrims travel in hopes of reaffirming their faith and purging their souls of heretical thoughts, mostly through programs of Ministorum-approved corporal mortification. While the Sons of Seth have yet to prove successful in making him a saint, they continue to produce ever more elaborate performances of his life, as well as the lives of other Saints and notable figures of the Imperium. They also loudly denounce Seth the Voice, the so-called Prophet of the Emperor on Iocanthos, as an upstart who seeks to capitalize on the fame of Seth the Arbitrator. To this end they’ve petitioned the Ministorum to have Vai (“prince”) Seth declared heretic, so far to no avail.
Piety of Seth SocietyEdit
For the most part, life on Piety of Seth is as it always has been---simple and pious, with the bulk of the population tending to the vast fields of grain and vegetables, the orchards of fruit trees, and the aquaculture stations. For them, if the daily toil of growing food for the rest of the sector was good enough for their fathers and grandfathers, then it’s certainly good enough for them. However, in the city of Port Calling, things are far different. There life is tumultuous, with Ministorum clerics preaching from seemingly every corner, processions of pilgrims (many engaged in acts of corporal mortification) in the streets, the Sons of Seth loudly announcing the next passion play, and uncountable vendors peddling pilgrim’s badges, pilgrim’s staffs, and assorted holy relics of dubious origin.
The conjunction of agricultural need and religious fervor has resulted in a curious system of government. Unlike the great hive worlds, there are no noble houses on Piety of Seth (although a few maintain retreats on some of the more isolated islands). The scattered farming communities (each of which looks after immense areas of crop land and/or aquaculture), are left to look after their own. As long the regular tithes of foodstuffs arrive at Port Hadley, they’re free to govern themselves as they see fit. Within Port Calling, however, a consortium of powerful merchant princes combined with the upper echelon of Ministorum clergy look after affairs. While not the most friendly of arrangements, it works well enough. The priests handle anything having to do with Seth, his cult, the activities of other approved cultists, the Ministorum-sponsored programs of corporal mortification, and the presentation of mystery and passion plays. The merchants control the shipments of foodstuffs from (and to) the Piety of Seth, the sale of approved badges, symbols, and ‘relics,’ housing for pilgrims, and just about anything else that doesn’t have a direct connection to the Ecclesiarchy.