- See also: 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.
According to the Gospel of Laodice, a Cainite holy text, the principles of some Via Caeli Roads 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.
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 paths similar to Via Caeli are usually members of the Ashirra; especially devoted Jewish and pagan kindred are also commonly on this Road.
In ancient times, this Road was known as the Road of Light, but most of the teachings of this predecessor seem to have been lost.
Rules and Practices
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. Cainites 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 ostericized 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 destroys the corrupt Cainites hidden within the sect.
- The Stairway of Ahaz, the Holy Land
- The Castle in the Lake, Scotland
- The Seventh Church
- The Isle of Glass, Glastonbury
- The Mount of Olives, Jerusalem
- The existence of a higher power and its dominion over all things is irrefutable.
- God laid his mark upon Caine and his childer as Vampiric existence is part of His great plan.
- The Embrace is a call to direct service of the divine.
- The word of God is law. Defiance of God is sin that leads to damnation.
- Serving the divine will takes precedence over individual will.
- No one is above God's law.
- Love and serve God in all things.
- Deny the Devil through denial of the Beast and all creatures of Hell.
- Following divine law and rejecting evil is the only way to shackle the beast.
- Each Faithful must choose their own Path, which determines more specific ethics and moralities they must adhere to.
Hierarchy of Sin
|Road of Heaven|
|10||Violating any of the Ten Commandments, for any reason.||God's Word is law.|
|9||Failing to speak out against corruption and sin.||All the Devil requires is for the faithful to do nothing.|
|8||Acting out of pride, avarice, gluttony or some other sinful impulse.||Sin is the road to the Beast.|
|7||Theft, robbery, willful vandalism.||Thou shalt not steal.|
|6||Causing harm to pious and virtuous persons.||God sees all and punishes such sins.|
|5||Feeding from an innocent without permission.||God protects the innocent.|
|4||Blasphemous or heretical acts.||Thou shalt have no other gods before Me. Denial of God leads only to damnation.|
|3||Allowing crime or major sin to go unpunished.||"Vengeance is mine," sayeth the Lord.|
|2||The murder of innocents.||Thou shalt not kill. Do not repeat the sin of Caine.|
|1||Aiding a demon or other supernatural agent of evil.||Serve evil and you serve the Beast.|
- Via Divinitatis ("Path of Divinity") - The zealots of the Noddists and predecessors of the Sabbat, followers of this Road Consider 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 deviant of the four.
- Via Penaculum ("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 ("Path of Retribution") - These kindred consider themselves as the wrathful Hand of God, destroying those who have offended him. Any who are considered evil or unfaithful to God must be destroyed. They tend to hunt Cainites which they see as corrupt. Their principles are similar to those of the Ashirra.
- Via Dolorosa ("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 Islamic Kindred.
V20 Dark Ages Paths
In Vampire Twentieth Anniversary Edition: The Dark Ages, there is no central Hierarchy of Sins and each religion has its own approach to the Road.
- Path of Christ for Christianity
- Derech Chaim ("Path of Life") for Judaism
- Path of the Prophet for Islam