In -2800 EC, the process of converting light into metal was discovered. This process is called theoalchemy, although the term was not actually used until -96 EC when it was coined by Irictus Ross. Instead, it was called Hythmiosis, after the name of the first Ghyllian to convert light into metal, Umbrig Hythmium.
Umbrig was a normal fellow for the time and was considered by many to be the best Ghyllian in all of Ghyll. When he discovered the process of creating metal from light, most of his peers embraced the idea right away. There were some who considered it be a big hoax; some do even today, but their numbers are dwindling.
In -2789 EC, Umbrig started working on converting light into other materials, such as food and water. These experiments proved fatal, unfortunately. His death was not fully discovered until -2788 EC since he lived alone and generally kept to himself. When he was buried, his five best followers sang his praises. Each of them opened a church in Umbrig's name; however, they used his last name since it sounded better and could be used with many words for rhyming. These first five Churches were very popular and soon followers grew into the hundreds.
- By -2197 EC, the Church of Hythmium had grown out of popularity, having been replaced by other false deities and such things which come with education. There are still followers of Hythmium, many of which are also theoalchemists.
- By -1904 EC, the religion had been dummied down to the point where Hythmium was thought of as a deity.
- By -1500 EC, the religion regained some strength and began growing anew.
- By -1125 EC, the religion had once again lost popularity, but benefitted from the extra support of its previous growth spurt. Many who weren't members of the church still passed on its teachings.
In the Hythmium religion, there is a strict hierarchy for the patrons of the church. The leader of the church is called Maestre and is generally considered unapproachable by all except those directly beneath him, the Precepts. The next level is filled by Mariners and Marshingtons but no one remembers what they do really, so usually this level is skipped. The last level for church members is the Railin, wherein everyone is considered a full-fledged church member and must follow the above hierarchy. Outside of the hierarchy, church members are all the same level and don't follow the hierarchy, except for not approaching the Maestre under any conditions.
A normal church service would be held every Ween around the time Perky would be first visible. It was generally considered rude to show up late to the church services, but no one complained if you did happen to. The service would last about two hours and be filled with Hythmium's teachings and any new research in Hythmiosis study. This would be followed up with some singing and some personal stories which related to Hythmiosis. One such story was rediscovered recently and has been reprinted here:
- "I was a poor man with no hope for my future. I found out about Hythmiosis and I decided to come by and see what all the fuss was about. I went home that night and converted some light from my house into metal and I worked that metal into a sculpture which I then sold! Now, I make sculptures for a living and it's all thanks to Hythmiosis!"
Hythmium, The Big Hoax
In -2797 EC, some people claiming to be followers of Hythmium came forward to admit that Hythmiosis was a hoax and that there was no process for converting light into metal. Umbrig came forward and toured all of the cities, demonstrating the process to everyone. The people who had been making the false claims were never taken seriously again. There are still some who claim theoalchemy is a hoax; behind their backs, people call them jinkees from the ancient word jinkees which means to tell a lie with the intent of lying about something which is not a fallacy.
The Church recently has taken to selling ancient texts from its history and is always looking for a new way to fund expansion. Some scholars see no reasonable need for expansion, since all of the current followers can fit inside the oldest standing church building in Folktown. However, the church differs, saying that since they are always looking for new members, they must remain hopeful that they will need every building they can build.
In recent years, some people have taken to writing papers about the Church and selling these papers as ancient texts. I have personally seen three such texts on display in the Bureau of Recovered Knowledge and the Gruff fiction library of Ellensworth.
--Trousle Undrhil 05:12, 3 Jul 2005 (EDT)