So when we think about heroquesting, the Empire of the Wyrms Friends, and Belintar’s Holy Country, one common thread is the idea of the “Proximate Holy Realm”.
The mundane world and the divine realm are distinct. Many philosophers and priests claim that the divine realm (which exists eternally in the God Time) underlies and defines our mundane world. We all know that they overlap during worship ceremonies and at some specific places where the divine realm erupts through the mundane world.
Heroquesters interact with both realms. They are mortals, born in Time, but their heroquests have them interacting with archetypes and powers tied to the divine realm These interactions follow prehistoric patterns eternally present in the cosmos. Life is always producing Life, Death is always Separating the Living from the Dead, Air overcomes Fire/Sky, Fire/Sky overcomes Darkness, etc. This overlap of the divine realm and the mundane world that the heroquester interacts is usually called the Hero Plane.
After the wild heroquests that ended the First Age – Arkat and Harmast are best known, but there were far more than those two – priests in Dragon Pass came up with the idea of the Proximate Holy Realm. Through widespread use of magic and adoption of the “holy customs”, the divine realm could be brought closer to people. These holy customs encroached on clan and tribal organization by requiring that leaders meet certain magical criteria that were in the hands of the organized religion of Orlanth and Ernalda. Within a generation or two, the priests became a centralized hierarchy ruled by a Sacred Ring that in turned ruled all of Dragon Pass.
The Proximate Holy Realm brought widespread prosperity and peace to Dragon Pass. But maintaining this required an increasing amount of magic energies and resources. As the Orlanthi learned to communicate with the dragons, eventually the Sacred Ring learned to do so around 725 and become the Empire of the Wyrms Friends, which gave far greater magical resources to the Sacred Ring which meant that the Sacred Ring – restyled the Third Council in 826 – had vast surpluses, at least at first. As the EWF expanded it gained more resources, and in 889 the Third Council accelerated the process, and demanded to be worshiped directly as gods.
The costs of maintaining this grew, but the EWF no longer expanded. With rebellions, it began to contract and lost resources as the requirements to maintain the Proximate Holy Realm continued grew. The people were forced to offer more and more to the Third Council, and received less and less for it. The Third Council was visibly decadent and exploitive, and the tottering edifice collapsed in 1042.
Belintar had a different solution. His deeds uniting the lands of Kethaela brought his Holy Country close to the Proximate Holy Realm. But he maintained this through his Tournament of the Masters of Luck and Death, which summoned heroquesters from far and wide. The Tournament resulted in a new Belintar and magically reunited the Holy Country, as described elsewhere. It was easy to cross over into the divine realm and vice versa, especially during the Tournament. The Holy Country enjoyed centuries of peace and prosperity, but Belintar was slain by Jar-eel in 1616 and the Tournament failed to produce a successor.
But many philosophers believe that Dragon Pass remains close to a Proximate Holy Realm, especially during the Hero Wars. Some claim this is because of the Lunar efforts to change the divine realm itself, others think it is a result of the True Dragons that have been awakened in Dragon Pass, starting with the Dragonrise. Whatever the reason, wild heroquesting was increasingly common among all participants in the Hero Wars, arguably even more so than in the Gbaji Wars.