- For the book, see Road of Heaven (book).
Via Caeli, commonly called the Road of Heaven and known as Tariq el-Sama' to Islamic Cainites, is one of the major Roads that vampires may choose to follow in Vampire: The Dark Ages and Dark Ages: Vampire. Followers of Via Caeli attempt to control their Beast through religious devotion. They are frequently referred to as Noddists or the Faithful.
Although the primary examples of the Road of Heaven come from Christianity, any Cainite devoted to their religious beliefs can follow the Road. Islamic kindred who follow Via Caeli are usually members of the Ashirra; especially devoted Jewish and pagan kindred are also commonly on this Road.
According to the Gospel of Laodice, a Cainite holy text, the principles of Via Caeli stem from Caine himself. Although Caine was cursed by God, he was also closer to God than any other kindred who has existed. The most faithful Cainite to the Lord who has since existed is Saulot, who is considered the founder of Via Caeli. Saulot and his progeny exemplified the way a holy Cainite was to live, and are held in high regard by all Noddists. Saulot is in fact a martyr and saint for the Cainites on this Road, as are his childe Samiel and the Toreador Michael who dreamed of creating an earthly heaven in Constantinople.
The Road was in ancient times known as the Road of Light, but most of the teachings of this predecessor seam to have been lost.
Rules and PracticesEdit
To follow the Road of Heaven basically means that any Noddist will love and serve God, follow and obey the rules already laid out by Him (the Ten Commandments being a prime example), and will not act in ways that empower the Devil. Other rules (and gods), depending on the religion, may be substituted for the above, but the general idea is the same.
The rituals and hierarchy of the Road also closely mirror religious beliefs. Christian Noddists are usually inducted onto the Road by way of the Confirmation of Blood. Communion and confession are also expected of Via Caeli's followers, as are acts of contrition. Caniites may join a congregation or become a priest, confessor, or even a respected paragon of the Road. Likewise, a kindred who falls from the Road can be excommunicated and ostericised by his fellow Noddists.
Several groups have been created from Via Caeli. Many orders of knights who fight for holy and just causes, including the Leper Knights, the Order of Chanticleer, and the Unblooded are prime examples. In a similar vein, the Mahgrib is a secret division of the Ashirra that seeks out and destroy the corrupt Cainites hidden within the sect.
The four optional Paths of Via Caeli are:
- Via Divinitatis (The Path of Divinity) - Considering themselves favored by God rather than cursed by Him, the Divinity followers seek control over mortals and to appeal to as many Cainites as possible to join Via Caeli. This Path is considered by many to be the most devient of the four.
- Via Penaculum (The Path of Penitence) - The opposite of Via Divinitatis, Faithful who follow this path consider themselves unworthy of God, the lowest of lowly creatures in his eyes. No path takes acts of contrition as seriously, for this is the only way these Cainites see to gain enlightenment and favor in the eyes of God.
- Via Vindicta (The Path of Retribution) - The zealots of the Noddists, these kindred are the wrathful Hand of God, destroying those who have offended him. Any who are considered evil or unfaithful to God must be destroyed; this unfortunately includes non-Via Caeli Cainites.
- Via Dolorosa (The Path of Tears) - The martyrs of Via Caeli, these Noddists offer themselves as undead sacrifices so others do not have to suffer. They will willingly sacrifice themselves to stop any corruption caused by anything considered unholy, especially demons or other Cainites. This Path is called Tariq El-Alaam' by the Islamic kindred.
- The Stairway of Ahaz, the Holy Land.
- The Castle in the Lake, Scotland.
- The Seventh Church, Heaven.
- The Isle of Glass, Glastonbury.
- The Mount of Olives, Jerusalem.