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A Corruption in the Church of Avacyn


In the year that has passed since the Helvault was shattered, a foulness has crept into the highest levels of the Church of Avacyn, and tensions grow with each murderous decree. This conflict within the church may exist as merely another thread in the shroud of mystery over Innistrad, but it won't be cut off in the chaos of Eldritch Moon. To understand the coming division of one of the largest unifying forces on the plane is no easy task, so let’s start at the beginning.

The Church, Lunarch, and Council

The faith that grew to become the Church of Avacyn was an important element of the balance sought by Planeswalker Sorin Markov. An additional measure of protection for humans, powered by Avacyn’s presence, the wards and blessed magic held for a thousand years until Avacyn was speared by Griselbrand and dragged into the Helvault. Fortunately, the waning defenses were largely restored with Avacyn’s return, but not every component of the church survived her absence.

Mikaeus, the Lunarch
Mikaeus, the Unhallowed

Lunarch was an elected position for leader of the church, and during the events of the original Innistrad block, it was held by Mikaeus Cecani. Mikaeus, the Lunarch reassured devotees that their symbol of hope hadn’t abandoned them, even when he secretly knew Avacyn was imprisoned inside the Helvault and doubted his own hope for return.

Unfortunately, Mikaeus was murdered by his own cousin Geralf during Gisa and Geralf’s cooperative siege on Thraben. His heartless body was quietly moved to the Tomb of the Lunarchs, but that did not impede Liliana from resurrecting Mikaeus to pry necessary answers in her search for Griselbrand. The former Lunarch is now dead and forgotten, with only his journal having been discovered in the time since.

Mikaeus, the Lunarch by Steven Belledin

Perhaps it was distrust built from Mikaeus hiding the truth of Avacyn’s imprisonment, or perhaps it is a greater challenge to slay multiple people with a single letter opener, but the Lunarch Council was formed as a replacement for the vacant position of Lunarch.

Unfortunately for the denizens of Innistrad, the majority of councilmembers have sided with madness. When Avacyn and her angels began to Descend Upon the Sinful, the council justified the acts and decided to aid in the purification of Innistrad.

“The Lunarch Council, leaders of the church, believe that the sins of the people have turned the angels against them, so they have launched an inquisition to assist the angels in purging the world of sin, hoping to appease Avacyn and avert her wrath.”

But is this the true intention of the council in their faith?

Not exactly. There is a sinister force hidden within the Lunarch Council and the ranks of the Church of Avacyn: officials who aren’t true to the faith, simply using the power granted by their holy positions to spark unrest and break all who would stand in their way—some officials who simply do not belong . . . 

The Skirsdag Infiltration

The Skirsdag are a cult of demon worshippers.

During our first visit to Innistrad, the focus of the Skirsdag’s worship was the powerful demon Griselbrand. This left their cult at an uneasy intersection with the Planeswalker Liliana Vess as she scoured the plane on a mission to kill Griselbrand, one of the four demons she had made deals with to secure her current power.

Demonic Pact by Aleksi Briclot

Liliana tracked down and interrogated Volpaig, a bishop in the Church of Avacyn who was secretly the Skirsdag cult leader, but she ultimately killed him after he refused to disclose the location of her target Griselbrand. Eventually, she did find Griselbrand and use The Chain Veil for her fatal spell, both killing the demon and freeing her from another contract.

But the Skirsdag still lived on without their demon lord Griselbrand. They continued to infiltrate the Church of Avacyn and sought a new focus for their efforts. Luckily, they found one.

Westvale Abbey
Ormendahl, Profane Prince

The Skirsdag did summon Ormendahl, Profane Prince, as told in “Under the Silver Moon,” but they don’t seem to be finished with their work. Not much is known of their plans, aside from the anticipated strike from Spiteful Motives, but when looking to their future, we cannot ignore the fact that the Skirsdag keep disquieting company. If your Hanweir Militia Captain abandons her post to become a Westvale Cult Leader, you can observe the unnaturally popular gill lines streaking across her face, while her staff is topped with “the symbol.”

But what is it a symbol of?

That truth remains unknown, but it supports a connection between the Skirsdag, the cryptoliths, and Nahiri's Machinations, hinting that even the Skirsdag may serve as yet another pawn for Nahiri in her war to destroy Sorin’s home. The Skirsdag’s greater agenda and presence could be what swayed the Lunarch Council to side with Avacyn, but their corruption has not gone unnoticed.

The Order of Saint Traft

Thalia, Guardian of Thraben has caught onto the truth behind the Lunarch Council, assembling those who will stand against the church’s directives under a new sect, the Order of Saint Traft. Named for the Geist of Saint Traft who continues holy work as a spirit, feeling indebted for playing into a demon’s greater plan, the Order of Saint Traft seeks to defend the people of Innistrad from the corrupted faith they were once united by.

Strength of Arms

“Hope has not completely fled from humanity. Though few dare to question the decrees of the inquisitors, some cathars still seek to protect the people—even if that means shielding them from the church itself.”

The Church of Avacyn Is Splitting

On one side, you have the council, the cultists, the angels, and some fervently devoted. On the other, you have the Order of Saint Traft, those hunted by inquisitions, and those who oppose the cultists. Stranded in the middle, you have a pensive marshal.

Odric, Lunarch Marshal
Hope Against Hope

Odric is a powerful ally to either side of this battle. His heart could guide him to the Order of Saint Traft, to the people he loves, but doing so would turn against the system he has dedicated his life to. Odric’s faith could bind him to the church, but he would neglect the people who put their faith in his guidance and leadership.

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Odric, Lunarch Marshal by Chase Stone

I can only hope that we see more of this conflict unfold through the story of Shadows over Innistrad, hopefully involving Arlinn Kord as a pre-established enemy to the corrupted church and it’s cultists, but we’ll have to wait and see. Until next time, happy planeswalking.

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