A Kind of Homecoming
St. Dionysus was a force in the Bloodstone Lands about 700 years ago. He was the opposite of the standard Ilmatari, being both forceful and martial. Dionysus gathered and organized the Ilmatari of Easting Reach, the Vast, the Great Dale and the lands around Lake Ashane. He was born a peasant near the city-state of Lyrabar in the first kingdom of Impiltur.
In time, Dionysus joined the militia and served well for nearly a decade. His military experiences made him respect the power of nobility and learning. These would be important later in his illustrious life. While searching for an escaped slaver, he entered an overgrown shrine in the foothills of the Earthspur Mountains. Here, he was given visions of Ilmater’s glory and immediately was consecrated by the Broken God as one of his clerics. Dionysus found a poorly handwritten account of Ilmater’s dogma that he kept ever after. This ancient text is called Dionysus’ Chapbook, though Dionysus did not actually pen it himself.
After resigning his commission, he proselytized to the peoples of the Impilturian city-states and beyond into the Unapproachable East. Quickly, he rose to prominence and developed a devout following that he organized into walled and defended cloisters, unlike the other faithful of Ilmater. While still caring for the downtrodden and sick, his followers also could defend themselves against those who wished to harm their charges and themselves—it was one thing to die a martyr’s death; it was another to be slain for herb lore and coppers or by wild beasts. Dionysus also stressed reading and writing among his flock, preaching that the passing on of dogma or lore orally, as was often the case, was not adequate to give the faith its necessary pillars.
At the Council of Keltar in 828 DR, Dionysus brought forth his ideas of defense and literacy to the Faerûnian church of Ilmater. Since this time, the Ilmatari have kept accurate records and have studied and learned medicinal lore. They teach reading, writing, and weapons training as a rule now rather than as an exception.
Though he was a priest, Dionysus remained a soldier at heart. He stressed that the Ilmatari owed fealty to their rightful lords as long as the nobles fulfilled their obligations to their folk. He argued that the Ilmatari should be spiritual aids and advisors, helping rulers to make the right decisions.
After defeating powerful servants of Auril who had stolen a globe from Ulutiu’s Necklace, Dionysus was given a sign by Ilmater. As a result of the vision, Dionysus told his followers a monastery one day should be built in the Bloodstone Lands and be dedicated to Saint Sollars, the man who embodied Ilmater’s teachings most fully on Faerûn. At this monastery, Dionysus said, the monks should specialize in genealogical studies. Dionysus thought that such a place of learning, politically isolated, would keep the true histories of men’s lives uncorrupted by outside influences. This was due in part to his fascination with nobility and in part to his wish to maintain stable ruling structures by taking the conflict out of succession processes.
In 863 DR, St. Dionysus was slain while fighting the lich Sevanoq at the Tower Aquiarum in the Easting Reach. A planetar of Ilmater weeping yellow roses was seen over the water as the god himself mourned the passing of his great servant. Dionysus was beatified as a saint of Ilmater just a year after his death and the paladins of the order of the Holy Warriors of Suffering were founded in his name.