H is for Haendryk

The merchants of Marienburg, and indeed all its citizens, take matter of commerce so seriously that it might as well be a religion. And here, by "might as well", I of coarse mean "it has already been made a religion, and it is the second biggest in the city".

The Lord of Commerce and Prosperity, Haendryk (known as Handrich in the Empire) stands as the second most powerful god reigning over Marienburg. His temples are huge and resplendent with the gifts of his dominion, and he boasts throngs upon throngs of priests (for every reputable merchant is, in actuality, a lay-priest at some level).

Whilst he cares not for healing the sick, or even really his most ardent worshippers, he sees the world as a series of business transactions: his priests pray to him and in trade, he grants them sufficient boons. However, like all good Marienburg merchants, each transaction is always made with Haendryk winning the upper hand. Whether the god is real or not is subject to the latest debates ranging through the Altdorf Universities - all that we do know is that his mortal subjects are very good at exacting His tolls.

The Cult is somewhat of an anomaly when it comes to the traditional religions of the Old World, for it openly announces that prosperity is the symbol of a virtuous life, and destitution is punishment for the weak of spirit. It claims that alms should be withheld at all cost, as assisting those less fortunate will only condemn their souls and yours for going against the natural order. Essentially, if someone is poor, then there is a good reason for it.

This standing has even gone so far in recent years to the selling of powerful positions within the Cult itself. Simon Goudenkruin, High Priest of Haendryk theorised that if prosperity was the symbol of a virtuous life, then the richest would have to be the most virtuous. He then made the conclusion that the Cult would benefit from having such a virtuous member join their ranks - but to do so without charge would be a sin against Haendryk, so he charges inordinate amounts for the pleasure. This has the added double bonus of not only making the Cult richer, but making Goudenkruin himself richer, and therefore, more virtuous.

Cyclic logic aside - this act has caused outrage with many of the other Cults of the Old World, themselves decrying the so called "heresy of Simony". Simon Goudenkruin, all the while, smiles down on these nay-sayers thinking that they're only upset because they didn't think of it first.

In truth, the entire practice holds a darker and grander secret... Rumours and folk stories have always abounded that Haendryk was born a mortal and managed to amass so many riches that he purchased his divinity from the other gods. Whilst the whole of this isn't true, there is a kernel of fact hidden in the myths - a kernel that Simon himself is privy to...