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Torch of Wisdom

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UNSC WARNING: This document, Torch of Wisdom, is property of the UNSC and is Classified [NOVEMBER BLACK], protected under Office of Naval Intelligence Security Protocol 1A. Disclosure of its contents to, or access or alteration by, personnel with a clearance level lower than GAMMA THREE is an offense punishable by court(s) martial and imprisonment or execution for treasonous acts. Failure to disclose confirmed or suspected breaches of security will be treated as complicity, and is punishable by dishonourable discharge and/or imprisonment.
Lieutenant Commander Michael Pomare, Office of Naval Intelligence, UNSCDF Navy
ONI Seal 1
"And the Faithful looked up, and beheld an angel glorious, a halo wreathed about his head as a flame. And in his hands he held a torch, and in that torch burned the light of the Gods wisdom, truch, knowledge and righteousness."
"The Exodus of The Faithful" by Seer Thoth Keltam
Vesta

While most Kaaranese religious orders and cults have had their own variant, this is the most commonly used version of the Torch of Wisdom.

Like much of modern Kaaranese culture, the Akht Eraqa (literally Torch/Illuminator/Beacon of Truth/Wisdom/Knowledge etc.) is a relic of the much earlier Keltash Empire of the northern continent, Daaran, although its usage in various forms predates even the rise of Keltash by hundreds of years. Cities abandoned and buried by the desert have been uncovered, with the symbol being found among recovered texts, and even grafitti'd on walls. The earliest recognisable use of the symbol in its modern form dates back to the Farenwan Empire in 9000 B.C.E., part of the Ultanaq Archives.

Exactly where and when the symbol came into usage is unknown. Some historians claim that it must have been derived from a Forerunner glyph, though if this is so the original Forerunner symbol has remained undiscovered even by the Prophets. Others maintain that it is evidence that the First Exodus is a historically accurate, if garbled, account of the settlement of Ketesh, believing it to represent the torch carried by the Sangheili's guide to the planet, a position adopted by many modern believers. According to the legend, the Sangheili were guided from their original home by a "bringer of holy light," carrying a holy torch. The torch has since become a significant religious symbol on Ketesh, and is commonplace in most civilisations, though the Akht Eraqa is distinctive from others in its design. The original use of the symbol seems to have been more mundane, simply being a glyph representing the gods - whatever gods were being worshipped at the time. Since then, the symbol has been adopted by the modern Cult of Quenyathar as a representation of all the beliefs and customs of the compatarively recent Forerunner-worshipping faith.

Though common, and indeed popular, the symbol has fallen out of common usage after the 22nd Century C.E., when the Kaaranese Sangheili entered the Covenant. Soon after, the then-current Hierarchs decried that the Covenant faith was to be the standard on all planets, unofficially declaring the Cult of Quenyathar and its followers to be heretics. Local Prophet governors began to enforce the decree, and drove the organisation underground, in what is unofficially known to the Cult itself as the Third Exodus. For four hundred years, the symbol would be regarded as a symbol of opposition to Prophet rule, and those caught bearing it were declared heretics and punished for their crimes. After the Great Schism, the Cult would return to prominence across the planet, even attracting offworld Sangheili to the faith, and the symbol would flourish once more.


Quotes

  • "I once stumbled upon a necklace my mother wore when I was a child. She was scared, and quickly hid it out of sight, and I never saw it again. I never realised that, had I told anyone else, she could have been executed for heresy."
  • "Looks familiar, doesn't it? I wonder if its a coincidence that Kaaranese Sangheili and Earth alchemists both created the same identical symbol separately? I doubt it."
  • "I studied pre-Covenant religious symbology at the Voltakran University, and I found only two scrolls that possessed this symbol - and even then, the first was a list of symbols outlawed by the Prophets, and the second was a heretical text by the Seer Thoth 'Keltam."
  • ""Torch" isn't really the correct translation. Its certainly appropriate for the context, but the original Keltashan word translates literally as "provider of illumination" - an even better word might be "beacon"."

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