Steros Merroand, a human from central Fresia, was the first Arch-Warden and nominal "founder" of the Alexandrian Church. He was a member of the First Stand and one of the two chief mentors of Alexandria in the years following the razing of Tragidore. Originally a firebrand priest and justicar of Talos, the demi-god of justice and retribution, he served as the general of Alexandria's armies during the Prophet's War, and assumed leadership of her generals and allies when she left for the West. At the conclusion of the War, with the general religious collapse that came after Alexandria ascended to the Omnity, Steros and his Dwarven allies pushed the creation of a new, central religion to fill the void left by the death of the demi-pantheon. Steros, along with Mythrian, was also responsible for organizing the Crusade and served as one of her chief generals in the Kingdom of Shadow. After the Martyrdom, Steros returned to the mainland and redoubled his effort to unite the clerical orders of the mainland administratively, if not doctrinally. He spent the rest of his years developing the young church's organizational infrastructure, eventually establishing the Arch-Wardenship and being the first to hold the office. His testimonal, published late in life, became one of the four Testimonals that make up the Canon of Orthodoxy.
Origins and Pre-Tragidore Life
Steros's early life was one of tragedy and loss. His mother died in childbirth when Steros was very young, and he was raised by his father in near poverty. While still an adolescent, his father was killed defending the family's few remaining possessions from a desperate burglar. Steros, young and angry, found refuge in the Church of Tarlos, and he grew up, fixated on revenge, amongst the monastic warrior-priests of the faith. When he was satisfied with his martial and clerical training, he left the refuge of the church to hunt down the man that killed his father. Steros returned to his home town, and found that his father's murder had reformed. Although torn by a small level of sympathy for the once desperate man, his Oath of Vendetta effectively demanded his execution, and Steros obliged.
Less than a week after finding his vengence, his mind and heart still torn and searching for new purpose, Steros was drawn to Tragidore by a prophetic holy man. Steros, believing the encounter was divine purpose delivered to him by Tarlos, readily accepted the charge. His three traveling companions, who shared the holy man's prophetic quest, were the Petran merchant Sayid ibn Maimun and the elven princess-in-hiding Marrwyn Teldandilion. The three traveled to Tragidore, where Steros sought to leverage his religious fervor into a witch-hunt to purge the corruption from the town. Although the tree eventually found the source of the corruption and rescued the children of Tragedy, their victory over the spawn of the Black Wyrm was phyrric--before they could return to Tragidore, the Wyrm razed the town to the ground, orphaning the children.
Alexandria and the Orphans of Tragidore
After the events at Tragidore, Steros returned to Madros-on-the-Tinryll in Odessa and attempted to track down the extended families of the Tragedorian orphans. Steros, an orphan himself, was deeply moved by the plight of the children of Tragidore. He adopted the lion's share of these children, housing them at first at the Church of Tarlos in his own hometown, then later in the barracks of the church of Talos in Hakan City. He raised them in the monastic, militant manner reflective of his own time in the church, and honed a great many of them into holy soldiers bent on avenging the wrongs the suffered in Tragidore, many of whom played major roles in Alexandria's campaigns. Chief among them was Mythrian Arabelle, a disciplined, charismatic, and athletic boy who would become a son to Steros.
Steros also had a very strong influence over Alexandria during this period, and became one of her main tutors. Curiously, Alexandria did not take much from the clerical or martial training that was the focus of his training with the other orphans. Instead, his tutelage instead was focused on the theory, practice, and implications of revenge. Alexandria and Steros shared a bond deeper, perhaps, than she shared with any of her other mentors--the Oath of Vendetta. Like Alexandria, Steros had taken his oath young, and had grown to a man under its yoke. Alexandria drew first and foremost on his valuable wisdom regarding the taxing nature that living under, and even fulfilling, the oath could take on the soul.
Many believe that during this period Steros began a slow but powerful shift in personality and perspective that was a source of tremendous wisdom in his later life. There is no doubt that the fire-brand Steros raised the orphans fixated on discipline, vengeance, and religious fervor. However, at the same time he finally began to understand the pain that this fire and rage had tried, futilely, to consume in his own heart. This is particularly true in his relationship with Alexandria, in whom Steros saw a powerful reflection of himself as he struggled under the Oath. Steros, in a very real way, became deeply loyal to Alexandria and the orphans because, from them, he learned many powerful truths about the human condition.
Steros and Antioch
In XXX BI, the Stand relocated to Hakan Free City at the urgings of Alexandria and Marrwyn, who were seeking information on the Prophecies of Alabar Tremaline. Sorcerer-King of Hakan Free City, Antioch was the preeminet expert on these Prophecies, and Stand sought his council. A fortuitous encounter with Dark Naga allowed for a quick introduction to the King, who knew the return of the Naga to be a crucial part of the Prophecies. Antioch mistakenly believed that he himself was the "chosen one" of the Prophecies, and Alexandria encouraged this to keep her own mission clandestine. The Stand, therefore, pledged themselves to Antioch's service, and spent the next several years building the knowledge of the Prophecies through exploration, research, and study.
This was, unfortunately, a very difficult time for Steros for a number of reasons. First, at this age Steros was not a patient or steady figure, and he was deeply frustrated with the relative inactivity of the Stand. For him, the time and treasure wasted on expeditions and research were only delaying their holy purpose. Also, subterfuge was not Steros's strength, and it was difficult for him to act as if he believed Antioch was the chosen. This was particularly poignant during his tenure as Antioch's Minister of Law, where honor and expectation tied him to a position he did not want and responsibilities he had no taste for. However, Alexandria's aid and comfort kept his reckless nature in check, and he learned to focus on long term projects without losing temper during day-to-day political banalities. Unsurprisingly, many sages view this as a "growing up" period for Steros, as his relationship with Alexandria developed from a straightforward mentorship into a more complicated friendship and he began to learn the nuances of leadership.
These many years of suffering ended for Steros in an infamous and dramatic moment in 11 Sunforge 31 BI. Rumors of darkling prophets made Steros restless as he feared he was "outpaced by prophecy and impotent to act." When a humbled and magically deformed Antioch returned from the Kingdom of Shadow, Steros immediately began to divest himself and the Stand from positions of responsibility in Hakan. In a public forum, Antioch attempted to coerce him to stay and needled him for reasons for his departure. Steros exploded into a loud, angry beratement the king, accusing him of short-sightedness, arrogance, and "aloof and intemperate rule". Not only did he admit to having never believed Antioch's claims to prophecy, he also listed all of the reasons he believed Alexandria to be the true savior. This dramatic declaration, coming from a popular and influential priest of Tarlos, sent waves through the already strained religious community. The mural "The Declaration" by the halfling painter Anzo Riveroler in the Main Antechamber of the Sacellum Chancel is a famous depiction of this moment. Needless to say, Antioch was more than willing to accept Steros' resignation at that point.
The Prophet's War
Building the Church of Alexandria
Personality and Testimonal
Steros was, beyond a doubt, the most strict and structured member of the first stand. As a church administrator, first for the Church of Tarlos and later in the nascent Church of Alexandria, he adhered strictly to rules and laws. This quality is prominent in his contributions to the early Church doctrine, as Steros is responsible for a large body of rules and regulations for the church. As a civil leader, he was a strong supporter, and often a participant, in enforcing laws and putting down rebellion. While Steros was not a heard-hearted leader who disregarded the value of the individual in favor of the laws of society, he would certainly err in the favor of law and order.
Through the middle of his life, Steros was very much a fire-brand: quick both to judge and exact retribution.