The Ari'ilden Saga
The Primarch (pron. Pr-eye-mark) of the Church is the spiritual and political leader of the Reign. The position is generally held by an older man, having risen through the ranks of the various sub-Marchs to his position.
The Modern Church
The current Primarch, Matthias III (b. 1245) began his tenure in SA 1291, after the death of his predecessor, Julian IV. Matthias was at the bedside of the dying Julian, and allegedly collapsed into a coma before the physician had even formally declared the Primarch’s death.
Matthias was born Rikkan of Doenmarach, and is the first Primarch known to be of Wildborn heritage (his maternal grandfather was a Druid, killed during the Wildborn Wars). Matthias’ mother left her young son on the steps of the Church in Dunmore on the first evening after it was consecrated, and was found the next morning, having hanged herself in the Black Forest. The child’s father did not come forward, so he was raised by matrons around the city until he came of age. Matthias then left Dunmore permanently and took a merchant ship south to Baalbek, where he joined the Church as an apprentice in 1262.
Matthias’ career after that time is without incident; he rose through the ranks of the Hierarchy over the next thirty years, first as Tetrarch of Baalbelika, a small village outside of Baalbek, then as Triarch of the Baalbek District, and finally as Duarch of the Eastern Hold before becoming Primarch.
As leader of the Church, the Primarch has a direct and personal connection with Likos. His word is considered canon, and there are no religious restrictions on his authority.
The Primarch also has a vague telepathic link with every sub-March. At lower levels, this manifests as a sort of conscience, vaguely directing the Tetrarchs towards whatever end the Primarch dictates. At the other end of the spectrum, the four Duarchs essentially have the voice of the Primarch speaking in their minds, assisting and directing much more actively. This connection exists among the sub-Marchs as well, albeit to a lesser degree: Duarchs can communicate with their Triarchs and Tetrarchs, for example. This link also allows for a degree of mind-reading, thus making it relatively inconsequential for the entire Heirarchy to self-enforce collaboration and commitment to the faith.
The consequence of monitoring and communicating with so many individual minds, however, often leaves the Primarch in what is essentially a magically-induced coma. Only eight Primarchs in the history of the Reign have been lucid for the majority of their term, and of those only three could even stand on their own. Consequently, the direct governance of the Reign is in the hands of the sub-Marchs, and pan-Reignic doctrine and policy are announced by the Hierarchical Council, consisting of the four Duarchs and the Majordomo to the Primarch.
Early Reignic Period
The office of the Primarch was both sanctioned and first held by Julian of the Desert (SA 714-807), who ruled as Julian I. A Likosian Monk, Julian was gifted by Likos with the power to see into the minds of other men. He used this ability to choose Disciples of Julian eight disciples, who would become the first two Duarchs and six Triarchs. Under Julian the basic tenets of the Church were codified and spread throughout the post-Inquisition Reign, particularly into the Firstborn Legions, where Likos gained a tremendous following. Thus when the Battleborn Emperor Darian VI was killed by Wildborn raiders in SA 778, the military overwhelmingly supported Julian to be Emperor. Julian accepted the authority if not the title, but as an appeasement to his supporters the Disciples persuaded him to retain the naming custom of the old Emperors.