The Coven of the Dying Sun has a number of rituals which serve as milestones in each coven member’s advancement through the ranks.
With the organizational structure of a religious clergy, the Coven emphasizes adhering to the will of its pantheon of gods and the strengthening of the whole through the contributions of each individual.
The Coven’s primary deity is Molag Bal, with the lesser pantheon consisting of Clavicus Vile, Mephala, Nocturnal, and Hircine.
Vampiric Rites of Bonding
The vampires of the Coven are expected to complete rituals in order to continually bind themselves to the Coven. Unlike mortals, vampiric rites are more focused upon establishing and maintaining the oaths of mutual protection and brotherhood than about ascension, since to be a vampire sworn to the Dying Sun is already to be considered worthy and family.
Loyalty is the primary trait sought among those who would join the Coven. Vampires are often creatures of deceit–but not to other members of their Coven. Any member of the Dying Sun found to betray another will be considered a pariah until reparations are made, up to and including execution.
What sets the Dying Sun apart from other covens is the ritualistic Drink of Life which unites vampires from individual bloodlines into a new, secondary bloodline so long as the rite is regularly maintained. If a vampire does not partake, the bond will eventually break, which generally results in banishment from the coven, barring extreme circumstances.
The Drink of Life
The primary rite practiced by the Coven is the ritualistic consumption of the blood of Amalthea’s line, as she is the Matriarch of the Synod. Known as the Drink of Life, this rite will be practiced at every Coven meeting to maintain a mutual bond of loyalty. This rite is a simple yet potent one.
The members of the Synod add a small amount of their own blood to a chalice filled with fresh mortal blood. This chalice is then passed from member to member. Imbibing small quantities of the Synod’s blood creates a minor blood bond–not thralldom in any sense of the word, but an increased awareness and ability to sense one another. Every member of the Coven who shares the Synod’s blood gains this benefit, making them all Dying Sun vampires in blood as well as name.
The drinking of another vampire’s blood is considered blasphemous by many covens, yet is revered by the Dying Sun as the most sacred of all bonding rites and the foundation their camaraderie is based upon.
The Rite of Intention
When a vampire wishes to join the Dying Sun, they will be invited to stand before the Coven in a neutral location and state their name, their reasons for joining the Coven, and any skills or assets they bring to the table, from the mighty to the mundane.
Afterwards, the existing members of the Coven are invited to question them–aggressively, if they wish–with the goal of seeking deception or weakness. The vampire is then instructed to leave, and the Coven is given the opportunity to express any thoughts or concerns about the new pledge before a formal vote is taken.
The Rite of Rebirth
Assuming a new pledge gains enough votes to be approved for initiation, the vampire is invited to the Inner Sanctum where they may undertake the ritual that will bind them to the Dying Sun in blood.
The simple blood rite which follows is a variation of the Drink of Life which takes place at every coven meeting. The new pledge will vow to serve the coven until the day of their final death. A chalice of the Synod’s blood will be prepared and offered to the new pledge first, before being shared with the rest of the Coven. This act binds the Will of the new pledge with that of the Coven.
Afterwards, the blood that remains in the chalice will be poured over the head of the new pledge, symbolic of them being born again into the Dying Sun.
Once the Rebirth is complete, the new pledge will be considered the base rank of Clergy and sorted into one of three categories depending upon their skillset: Intriguers, Knights, and Priests.
Mortal Rites of Servitude
The standard progression for mortals is through the following ranks:
Acolyte > Supplicant > Sacristan > Anointed
It is required for a mortal to take each of these steps in order. The only exception is if a vampire with an existing thrall joins the Coven; at that point, the thrall is only required to undertake a modified version of the Rite of Purification when their master formally joins the Coven.
After they have been initiated, Anointed are allowed to ascend higher to select roles as they become open within the coven.
The Acolyte’s Rite
Neophytes who have indicated they wish to pledge themselves in service to the vampires of the Pact are brought before the coven. There, they are to state their name and intentions as to why they wish to join the coven. The coven is invited to aggressively question the mortal with the express purpose of rooting out deceit.
If the coven agrees the mortal is worthy, they may partake of the Acolyte’s Rite. The mortal picks up a dagger and draws it across their own palm, before smearing the blood upon their throat. There it will remain for the rest of the coven meeting as a gesture of placing one’s life in the hands of the coven.
It is considered sacrilegious for an Acolyte to be fed on before they are deemed worthy in the eyes of the coven.
The Supplicant’s Sacrifice
Acolytes who have proven themselves loyal to the coven and sought to understand its ways may advance to the role of Supplicant–a role which demands they give blood in exchange for further initiation into the coven’s mysteries.
While it is allowed for Supplicants to provide blood only to one vampire after their initiation, for the sake of the ritual, they must present their wrist and invite three vampires to feed. Only vampires capable of controlling their blood thirst are allowed to partake.
After the neck and each wrist are fed from to the point the mortal begins to lose consciousness, the rite is considered complete and the mortal is placed safely within the Inner Sanctum to recover.
The Drink of Freedom
After a period of providing blood for the coven, mortals may wish to progress higher to the role of Sacristan. As the caretakers of the Inner Sanctum and attendants of the vampires of the coven, Sacristans enjoy a level of trust and autonomy Acolytes and Supplicants do not.
While many Sacristans continue to provide blood, it is not demanded of them if they wish to serve in another way. However, the price for ascension is a heavy one.
The potential Sacristan will stand before the coven and ritualistically slit each of their wrists, symbolizing the sacrifice of their own selfish mortal life for the coven’s benefit. They will bleed within a basin until the point of near death, at which point a chalice, which contains the blood of the Synod, will be provided to the mortal. The blood from multiple vampires will heal the mortal’s fatal wounds and provide a temporary madness and euphoria.
Mortals who survive and recover from the madness of starting a blood bond with multiple vampires will be considered free mortals in the eyes of the coven, able to make their own decisions in how to serve–provided it serves the interests of the coven.
Successful completion of this rite heralds the formation of a low-level blood bond which keeps the Sacristan bound to the Coven. This allows them to be sensed by the Synod, but not the regular members of the Coven.
The Rite of Purification
The highest honor a mortal can attain is the rank of Anointed. These mortals are thralled to one member of the coven to serve in the manner of their choosing. Whereas before mortals were expected to serve a variety of vampires, to become Anointed is to have the honor of serving only one. With this in mind, the bulk of the ceremony takes place between the intended Master and thrall.
After receiving permission from the Synod to pursue thralldom of a mortal who is at Sacristan rank, the vampire who wishes to take another as a thrall is invited to stand before the coven. There they will state their intention to claim the worthy mortal as their personal servant. The thrall will be informed of the vampire’s intentions for service and given the opportunity to publicly accept or decline.
If the rite is declined, that vampire will not be allowed to solicit the mortal for thralldom again without the express approval of the Synod.
If the rite is accepted, the vampire and thrall will each add their blood to a bowl which the presiding priestess smears upon each of their foreheads, symbolically linking the pair in blood. The thrall is then given the first drink of their Master’s blood within a chalice.