Priestly Hierarchy in the Temple of Baal–Part 2

Part one of the priestly hierarchy in the Temple of Baal presented an overview of the priestly hierarchy in the Temple of Baal. This post focuses on the conjurors, shogols and aryfs who follow the same path to apprenticeship.  The last post in this series gives more details on the Kerta and the Adorant.

Conjurors, Shogols and Aryfs

Men and women who wish to become a conjuror, shogol or aryf (alternate spelling is Arif) undergo an initial evaluation to determine if they are fit to spend the next four to five years of their lives as an apprentice to a first priest. An apprentice undergoes a rigorous physical formation and training in the martial arts. Furthermore, he must memorize the long history of the Temple and become thoroughly familiar with the local customs, politics, and economy of the known kingdoms, for the priests of Baal can be deployed anywhere in the known world.  Lastly, he receives a basic training in the art of healing.

When the high priest deems that they are ready, the apprentices are sent to Babylon and are cross-examined by the Council of Baal, which meets twice a year. If rejected, they can choose to join the High Riders or  the diplomatic corps. If accepted, they become an aspirant to a high priest and spend at least two years studying the style of magic practiced by their order and must pass two stringent examinations in Babylon. The majority fail. The few chosen ones are elevated to the dignity of a minor priest. The others become servants for life.

When an aspirant is elevated to the dignity of a minor priest, he is allowed to perform the simplest of spells. After years of training, talented aspirants spend a week in the Temple of Babylon, sitting at the edge of the Arayat, the mysterious Spell World. Those who survive and are deemed sane by a council of priests receive the title of Confirmed Priest-- or simply priest -- of Baal with the right to perform any magical act the Temple permits.

Many of the priests are assigned to minor temples and enjoy a comfortable and respectful existence away from the deadly ambitions that rule Babylon. Those who aspire to be high priests must train relentlessly to master the secret art of Baal.

But the magic of Baal is deadly.

Mandrake is the main ingredient in shont.

Mandrake is the main ingredient in shont.

A minute mistake can result in massive destruction or the spill-over of magic spells into the natural world with irreparable consequences.  Thus, these ambitious priests want to find a high priest to train under. Since there are far fewer high priests than priests, competition is fierce and deadly.  A priest who does not have the support and protection of several high priests in the Temple will have to be patient and extremely prudent to avoid dying by the undetectable shont poison, or assassinated, or sold into slavery by powerful competitors.

The lucky candidates are assigned to a major temple and receive the dubious title of priest-in-training until the high priest deems the progress of his protege sufficient to warrant the title of second priest. A Second Priest can then advance to the position of first priest, who is allowed to assist the high priest in all but the most demanding spells.

This progression is deliberately slow, and, save a few exceptions such as Bahiya, can take up to twenty years.