The Holy Agrikhan Flame
The Holy Guard of the Flame
The Maintenance of the Temple Holy Fire
The Holy Fire Outside the Temple
Death and the Holy Fire
The spirit of Agrik is in the Holy Fire. The Holy Fire must be kept alive, to certify the protection and powers of Agrik. All Agrikhan temples, without exception, have a central Holy Fire. When the temple is opened, or in the unlikely event that the Holy Fire has somehow been extinguished, Holy Fire must be fetched from another Agrikhan temple or summoned by the temple's high priest (or priestess). The preferred method varies from order to order.
All Holy Fires have their origin in Holy Fires, kept ever since the ancient founding times of Ilpylen. It originates in the holy volcano near Ilpylen's home village. These days the different Agrikhan orders usually make sure that Holy Fires are fetched from other temples within their own order.
According to conscript, every inhabited room of an Agrikhan temple must have its own Holy Fire. This is either in the form of a wood fire in a brazier, or a special oil lamp. There are special rituals for starting these holy fires. In a temple the fires in the rooms are all fetched from the central Holy Fire.
All open fires must be constantly guarded by Holy Guards of the Flame (or Fire Guards). Being a Fire Guard is an honour, and one must fulfill certain criteria to even qualify. Children of Agrikhans are brought into the church as babies in some kind of ritual. Eight years later, a second initiation rite is performed, and after this rite, the person is blessed with a personal Holy Fire which he will bring to his home and merge with the Holy Fire there (if there is one already). After this, he is allowed to be a Fire Guard, unless he fails in bringing his Holy Fire home.
Failure to safely deliver the Holy Fire is considered a very serious offence against Agrik. The proscribed punishment is usually excommunication from the church (death). Adherents that enter the church of Agrik as adults will have their second initiation much sooner than after eight years, usually after eight months.
It is not uncommon for the enemies of a Fire Guard (or hired mercenaries) to lie in wait to extinguish the Holy Fire, and thereby kill (by the churches hand) the potential Fire Guard. These actions are not condoned by the church, but are a fact of life nonetheless.
The Fire Guards of Agrik often use a flame in an octagon or the symbol of their order to identify themselves. On their first initiation their are given a medallion with the symbol on it, and on the second initiation this symbol is used to make a branding tattoo in the skin of the adherent. It is rumored (by non-Agrikhan) that Fire Guards can mentally maintain their flame from any distance, and furthermore, when (for any reason) that flame is snuffed out, so is the Fire Guards life force.
In for instance bedrooms of temple masters, it's not convenient to have open fires and guards all the time, thus the Holy Lamps. These are carefully attended and certain rituals are performed on them ensure they will not be extinguished or possibly exchanged and ritually renewed every day by acolytes under the supervision of the Aperhanar (Master of Low Discipline) or the Apervisha (Master of Maintenance). The Aperhanar or the is responsible for keeping the Holy Fire lit depending upon the order.
What happens if one of these fires happens to fade out? It is certainly to be considered a bad omen, but who will be blamed? The temple master in whose room the lamp stood, or the acolyte who handled the lamp, or someone else? What steps will be taken? Will someone lose face or even be forced to throw himself into the central holy fire in the temple to be consumed by his god, as popular in the Order of the Pillar of Fire? It largely depends upon the order and circumstances.
These Holy Fires must never be extinguished. If they are to be removed, for instance if a room will be uninhabited for some time, the Holy Fire must be brought back into the central Holy Fire of the temple.
All homes of Agrikhans have Holy Fires, constantly guarded. They use these fires to warm themselves, for rituals and to prepare food. Thus their food is somehow blessed by Agrik. Non-Agrikhans must not eat food prepared on a Holy Fire, so guests in an Agrikhan home, who are of another faith will either be served cold food, or food cooked on a different fire started for this purpose. Agrikhans will wear that food prepared by normal flame, tastes foul and spoiled.
In Agrikhan restaurants, there will be two different fires for food preparation. Strangers have to prove themselves as Agrikhans to be served Agrikhan food. Agrikhan food is normally much more spicy than food of other cultures, using special spices grown in the temple herbariums.
Some very pious Agrikhans might even make certain that the Holy Fire in an inn (or restaurant) derived from a temple of the right order before they eat there.
Agrikhans who travel in the wild or into non-Agrikhan territory for more than a day will always bring Holy Fire in the company. They use some manner of tinderbox containing glowing coals and embers from their order's Holy Fire. These boxes are used to start fires in camps, and in the morning, the Holy Fire is brought back into the box, which is then extinguished. Both the starting of the fire, the renewal of the box, and extinguishing of the fire, is performed under special ceremonies. The boxes vary greatly, from plain and nondescript to very ornate with scenes of Agrikhan triumphs, and most are either lined with or made entirely of brass.
Agrikhan warriors in action always bring Holy Fire with their unit. Needless to say, it is a favourite hobby of devout Laranians to extinguish Agrikhan Holy Fires whenever they are encountered.
Though those slain in combat are considered to be offered up to Agrik, just as are those given to the Holy Fire. All Agrikhan are incinerated upon death. Incineration by a flame from the Holy Fire is preferred, but in a pinch (such as in the field) a ceremonial pyre by the senior priest is adequate. Eternal damnation (afterlife outside of Balgashang) to those who do not die in glorious combat for Agrik or (at the very least) have their bodies burned upon death.