The Tallow Eparchy
The Tallow Eparchy is an organization of formerly Witch Hunters and anointed purifiers, but have since evolved into highly skilled soldiers in the name of the Archdiocese of the Sacred Ash to defeat all forms of evil and ensure the safety of the populace, having grown very tolerant of magic and its use over the centuries of camaraderie with various mages in the face of the Red Winter's advance.
Its founder was The Black King Virik Vaeneroth, one of the elder Vaeneroths of Camreth, when an insurgency of corrupted witches known as the Witches of Wyrmwine plagued Isthalla before The Red Winter was known to be a threat. After the joint defeat between members of the Temple of Ash against the Wyrmwine, it grew sadly xenophobic and led an attack on the Kingdom of Nauvert, believing the source of demonic magic and evil to be the Tieflings of Nauvert, due to their heritage. Eventually after a century of bloody war, a truce was called between them, but forgiveness from either side never crossed the other's lips, despite the unwarranted attack from the Eparchy.
As the Corruption grew stronger and crept upward from the South, the purpose of the Eparchy changed as their ranks grew and were called by white doves to many capitals around Ishtalla to assist with 'otherworldly' threats. The Lord High Templar Xelian Goldaire (at the time) decreed that whatever creeping corruption was not within the purview of the Eparchy's goals, and issued a command that it be ignored and left to the Kingdoms in question who were having such issues with it, saying "Tis probably the fault of your own people and not the fault of an outside force. Therefore, taketh thine own counsel and leave be mine to matters where it is truly needed." This divided the Eparchy with a deep wound, and many brothers and sisters of the Eparchy left to form their own coalition, sharing the name of a secret organization known as The First Hunt which was formed by the original 7 Rulers of Ishtalla just after the first corruption, and was disbanded after the threat was deemed contained. The dissident in question was a High Templar, King Becke Darin Fayle cor Kanigsfjall I of Nordessen—-known thereafter as The First Hunter King.
Though the corruption was at an infantile stage, The First Hunt dedicated all their time and efforts into developing detective skills, combat skills, and examining the corruption in any way possible in order to attempt to understand how to combat it. They were branded traitors and heretics by The Tallow Eparchy, but the Grey Woman, the eponymous and anointed leader of the Archdiocese of Sacred Ash, did not allow the Eparchy to act against them and still considered The First Hunt to be a child organization of the Temple, always welcome at the Ashen altars. This allowed both organizations to work separately from one another, albeit with animosity between them, yet without overall hindrance.
Divided, the Eparchy and First Hunt were not as effective as they could have been together. The Eparchy was off chasing witches while the Hunt were attempting to address the real threat, becoming well known for their tricorns and strange apparatuses used to sniff out corruption and address it, as well as any corrupt beasts in the area, separating themselves from the sugar loaf hats and lit candles of the Eparchy.
As the corruption grew and The Red Winter began to surge upward, the Eparchy was forced into a rude awakening as they were repeatedly found on the losing end of battles against the Red Void. They were forced into an uneasy joint partnership with many kingdoms and even The First Hunt to defend against the void, but it was too little too late. They'd been too divided for too long, and their ranks were not prepared enough, despite putting up a good fight and saving a great deal of people.
In an act of reparation for the Kingdom of Nauvert during The Unending Siege, the Tallow Eparchy send whole detachments of men to defend the retreat of the Nauverti Tieflings, sacrificing themselves. Many Tieflings owe their lives to the memory of the 9th Legion, who fell to the Red Winter, buying them time to escape across the Foam Coast.
190 years ago, a uniting savior was born to the line of Vaeneroth, the fiery and stoic Vodareth Nilius Cor Tallen Vaniel Kennek Vaeneroth, 17th Duke of Fellcliffe and Steward of the First Hunt. When the safety of Nordessen was being threatened, he managed to unite the First Hunt and the Tallow Eparchy under one banner and one jurisdiction, forcing them to learn from one another and fight as one. He learned as a boy about the ways of The First Hunt, and was trained in increasingly strange magicks beneath the tutelage of the Grey Woman, where he decided to unite the Eparchy and Hunt, stating that they were 'Two arms of the same body, which must act with one soul, one mind, and one heart.' It is for this touching speech and unwavering determination that Vodareth is remembered as the 'Saint of Ash.' Though he was the elder of the two Vaeneroth bothers at the time, he was crowned for 17 minutes before he gave the crown to his little sister Valerna Vaeneroth, citing that his calling was with the Temple of Ash. As a show of promise to the Eparchy to fully unite them with the First Hunt, he married a direct descendant of Xelian Goldaire, Duchess Thalessanne Miara Goldaire, bearing three children.
Leading by example, Vodareth led detachments of Knight Templars and Hunters against pockets of the growing void, where it is said he grew more angrier and more distant from his family and engrossed himself entirely into the study of artifacts and magical objects that tied into the conditions of the Corruption from the time of the Three Siblings—-Regolithim, Thalenna, and Saprolitus. He would frequently leave the Arms of Ash in the hands of their joint leaders to travel with Prince Gavelard Dannig of Degerin, a Knight of Estin (an elite branch of Tallow Knight-Templars) and seek out dangerous artifacts that could not fall into the hands of the Red Winter. On their many journeys were a series of adventures that verged upon myth and legend, told and retold these past 100 years or more. As the years went on and the duo grew older, their joint journey came to a sharp end during an investigation of the Blood Lake, where Gavelard was ambushed by a Farhen and drowned in the lake. The last correspondence of Vodareth was sent by a Raven to both his family and Gavelard's family, reporting Gavelard's death and an ominous vow to 'Never rest until Summer once again graces the land.' He has never been seen again.
Now, the Arms of Ash reside in Camreth, in the capable and methodical hands of The Lord High Templar Ephalius Tallingbrooke, who was promoted several times as his superiors fell in battle, keeping his title as Lord High Templar and not promoting himself to Lord of Ashes as his predecessors did.