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  1. “There, in the hills of Adria, the wild and untamed grassland, canopied by primordial trees and the beaming crescent above, portends an inescapable truth. Be it through ancient augur or the dreams of Saints, God implants upon all men a singular and inviolable understanding. Nothing remains in perpetuity, for there shall always stand an enemy to mankind’s persistence. Thus, in the short gift of this life, some amongst us must rise to serve the purpose of our preservation and temperance. Some must oppose the evils inherent to this imperfect world, so that one day these lands might stand to reflect the beauty of the very firmament above.” - Ardashir, Knight Paramount of the Order Index I. Overview II. History III. Symbology IV. Ranks & Titles I. Overview he Order of the Flaming Cypress is a knightly order founded by Ardashir of Chaldees and headquartered within the city of Velec in the Duchy of Adria. The Order’s primary purpose is the protection of the downtrodden and innocent against unholy or flagitious forces in the lands of human-kind. Whether it be the hunting of monsters, witches or roadside brigands, they intend to spread zealous faith and security through their ascetic and disciplined methodology. Likened by some to warrior monks, the Flaming Cypress is distinguished from other Orders by virtue of their utilizing a unique approach to the traditions of knighthood through a dedication to intense ritualism and esoteric study in addition to purely martial skill. Often draping their trappings in distinctive symbols and imagery associated with their Order, knights and squires of the Flaming Cypress are rarely seen in the traditional heavy plate associated with typical Knights. Instead, they are often outfitted in lighter and more hermetic attire that services their diversity of pursuits. Dedicated wholly to the principles and teachings of their organization, a typical Knight of the Order can be discerned as anything from an alchemist or philosopher to a physician and craftsman. Furthermore, neophytes and potential knights of the order are not required to bear any noble blood or lineage to be considered for oath, for the Order rejects all discrimination on the basis of origin or class. The vehemence of their rituals and tradition are displayed through the incorporation of southern and eastern customs into the structure and daily life of the Order. From Mihyaari to Oyashiman, their eclectic framework diversifies their goals of preserving the mundane and natural in the world for the security of descendant-kind. To them, that which seeks to undo the order and divine decree of the Heavens is an abject transgression that demands retribution. It is ever seeking new members to join into its flock, though the severity of its trials and lifestyle are far from accessible to all but the most devout aspirant. Whether a postulant squire youth or a warrior seeking oath, find the Knight Paramount within the bounds of the Adrian Duchy for information and membership in the Order. II. History eep within the forests beside the city of Velec, an itinerant of a bygone order found himself hunting amidst the brush. Game proved an unruly absence that day, and so he chose to sit upon a perched rock beneath the illumination of sun concentrated through the gaps between the branches. It was not far from his day-time resting place when the Duke of Adria, one Heinrik Sarkozic, was attacked by the haunted remnants of the drowned fisherman of the nearby river. Their flesh peeled at its seams and their forms were reduced to hunched, disfigured amalgams of rotting tissue that attacked the entourage indiscriminately. The once tranquil hunting party was suddenly ravaged as guard by guard were slaughtered or mauled by the attacks, forcing them to retreat in ascension of the hill that backed the riverside forest. Ardashir caught wind of the ruckus and ran toward the aid of the Duke. For some time he assisted in fending off the beasts until the arrival of his own companion allowed for a final death to be rendered unto the Vodniks. [A woodcut depiction of the rescued hunting party of the Duke of Adria] The attack was a violent and unanticipated brutality for the fledgling Duchy, but the Duke was ardently grateful. Ardashir declined any offered coin, instead requesting temporary housing within the nearby tavern and a gratuitous meal. Some weeks later he found himself summoned upon a dias during a held court, and was bestowed the honor of Knighthood. He was tasked with the creation of an order by the Duke, and despite the sudden and unanticipated nature of the proposition, accepted graciously. Ardashir and many of the initial members of the Order belonged to an ancient Mihyaari guild known as the Banu Sayatin. Their ancient monster-hunting practices informed their skill in martial combat, as well as their ascetic lifestyle. Through this bestowed honor, the new Knight Paramount believed it fit that he would seek to intertwine his ancient beliefs and conventions into a new order that could serve Canondom. With that, the Order of the Flaming Cypress was born. Soon, squires and eager warriors flocked to the fledgeling order for recruitment and service, primed from across the realms to service a greater purpose. Since its inception, the Order has taken on contract and quest alike – from seeking out witches, protecting human lands from great ancient monsters, and stopping banditry among the squalid outskirts of cities and townships. Many once felt the days of monsters and great terror were over, but reality assured such a fact to be far from any informed truth. The Order of the Flaming Cypress has endeavored to act as a paragon of mankind’s steadfast opposition to the forces of wicked and ignoble origin. [An Ayrian woodcut depicting Ardashir and two of his squires as they are lauded for their fine deeds in the streets of Velec] In recent days, the Flaming Cypress has come to develop many popular rituals, trials, and acts that grant each of its members an individual importance and recognition for great deeds and service. Whether it be the bestowal of the moniker, the ascension of oath, or the bestowal of mask, each knight is afforded the opportunity to implant themselves into the annals of the Order’s burgeoning history. With this galvanizing prospect, words of great deeds and ambitious young minds has spread regarding the order, and only time can tell what tales and folklore about the Order will soon spew from the mouths of the elder spinsters of the countryside. III. Symbology The Burning Cypress Tree The Cypress Tree appears all throughout the imagery of the Order of the Flaming Cypress, its manuscripts, missives and documentation. Ancient folklore speaks of a great southern cypress tree lighting afire with a similar flame to that of the Exalted Owyn, and burning with the vigor of God. It is likewise from the Cypress tree that the natural growing Haoma-Yasna is harvested and used for many rituals of the Flaming Cypress. For this omnipresence in both the cultural practices and the stone-laced lores of the order, its imagery has found domicile in many forms. Whether adorning heraldry, architecture, religious manuscripts or even clothing, it is a universal sign of divine goodwill and warmth. Often, too, it is depicted in conjunction with other imagery, such as the Great Crescent or Silver Mask. Most notably, the Order’s foundational heraldry bears a central depiction of it. The Great Crescent The crescent, often stylized to have manlike features, is a personification of the moon that is usually depicted bearing an ugly, intentionally disturbing or at the very least uncanny expression. The moon is not revered as a divine celestial body, but rather a cradle of ill omen and wicked fate, for old traditions told that it is upon the moon that the lasting souls of dead men are drawn to be assigned unjust fates by the Aengul Aeriel, corrupting the nature of death itself. The moon draws upon the souls of the dead, and therefore, it is wicked, and it will always be wicked for as long as those souls are not subjected to the rightful laws of the earth and God. The Great Crescent, both with and without its unpleasant facial designs, can be seen printed on armaments or trinkets meant to both torment and ward away the undying, who are destined to be moon-bound if banished with enough strength. It is also used to signify the presence of everything cursed to be trapped upon the moon for harboring the essence of the Palebeasts, painted upon places like necromancer covens or upturned graveyards to convey such a point. Flame Fundament The Flame Fundament is a representation of the divine nature of fire, symbolized by the burning torch and as upheld by the Exalcted Owyn. It is both the light and dark bestowed upon mankind by God, in the form of flame, elevated by wings that carry it between the firmament and the earth. This suggests the nature of Order, in that there are two halves to men that are sacred and shall decide the fate of their future. The fundament is more often depicted in glory than other symbols, alongside the Burning Cypress, to emphasize the significance of fire and Raum to the entire movement of the Mihyaari dynasties and the Banu Sayatin. Brand of the Traitor The Brand of the Traitor is a mark of punishment burned into the flesh of betrayers of the Order of the Flaming Cypress, and draws inspiration from the Chi-Rahm symbol of the folkloric sword-demon Dagnir that inspires the desire to betray and kinslay within the hearts of all men who touch it. Furthermore is the blade seen piercing through the form of a dark moon, crested in representation of the Great Crescent, in significance of the blade being used to kill the entity which has the capacity to damn monsters and their ilk; thus inferring the bearer of the mark to have acted in their benefit in some way. Those who are branded as traitors are implanted with the brand upon the back of the neck or the palm, and are sent out into the world to live in constant fear of facing a punishment, for if one is ever to find them, they will be hunted and dealt retribution – often death. IV. Ranks & Titles A simple listing of the basic orders of the Order of the Flaming Cypress, for the purpose of public distinction. Many ranks exist in the Order not subject to this simplified hierarchy. This applies, however, primarily to the purpose of the Knighthood Ascension. Knight Paramount The Knight Paramount is the leader of the Order as declared by the previous Paramount or voted in by the inner circle of the Order. They are tasked with managing all pertinent affairs from recruitment to public directive and carry executive control over the Order. Knight of the Fundament Members of the inner circle of the Order of the Flaming Cypress, they are tasked with assisting the Knight Paramount in his administration of the Order. These are Senior Knights who have displayed themselves with exceptional zeal and are all often carriers of the Rite of Moniker. To this end, they are the highest regarded and are often the party from which the successor to Paramount are chosen. Senior Knight / Fidai These are Knights who have, through valorant display and long-time service, distinguished themselves from the commonality of the Order to ascend to a rank of higher pedigree. Knight One who has received an official knighthood by order of the Knight Paramount of the Order of the Flaming Cypress. These men have completed their trials, studies, and demonstrated their worth and capacity in operations across the Continent. Typically these are men trained from Squirehood, though there have been rare occurrences of Men-at-Arms ascending the ranks through exceptional deeds. Man-at-Arms A general member of the Order of the Flaming Cypress who is neither a squire nor knighted. There is a vast diversity among this category of members who can take up roles anywhere from that of a physician to an ascetic monk. Squire A youth inducted into the Order and having completed their Oath with the intention of ascending the ranks to attain knighthood. Their trials are long-lasting and grueling, but ensure skilled warriors upon their completion. Neophyte An aspirant to the Order who has not yet taken Oath. Oftentimes the Neophyte represents a trial period by which the eligibility of a potential member is determined by the Order’s administrative body.
  2. Index I. Overview II. History III. Symbology IV. Rituals & Traditions I. Overview The Banu Sayatin are a Mihyaari order of warrior monks dedicated to following the scripture of the Mahdic Texts and maintaining the existence of the Mihyaari peoples. They are trained and regimented to such degrees that the standard Fidai may be an alchemist, an omen-reader, a preparer of illicit substances, an assassin, a spy, a turncoat, a wiseman, and a ritual-leader all within one man. Their lives are tested daily through their adherence to the rites and guidance of Gaspar Mahdi’s Raumism, with which they are inspired to compel men toward the great destinies revealed in revelation. These roguish monks descend from the first Yultharan beast-hunters that heeded the call of Ur-Mihyaar and Gaspar Mahdi, following them along and into Rh’thor and beyond to Arcas to endure the hardships of war, loss, and then eventually righteous adaptation. The duties and skills of each warrior were passed down by the sons and daughters of their bloodline, lasting through time until this very day in which they set foot upon the accursed land of the Four Descendants. Their nature and culture is alien and hermetic compared to that of the typical Descendants, where they approach all situations in life like a ritual that must be conducted according to the rules of their doctrine. Cycles and omens are seen by them in many things, perhaps all things, especially that which is supernaturally distinguished from the rest of the world. To the Banu Sayatin, all things that disturb the mundane nature of the world may be considered a threat in some way, shape or form, to the smallest or largest degree. II. History Since before there was bread, the Mihyaari lived amongst the Yultharans, yet undistinguished from their ancestral monster-hunting brethren in ethnic or cultural grounds. Their lives were as theirs were, born of rigorous training and regimental hunting. It was not men that proved their foe, always had it been beasts, and such formed the framework for their martial culture. The Yultharan continent acted as home to a great many microclimates, with civilization burgeoning there in patches spanning from stretches of dune-enwreathed sands to jungles with wide-hanging canopies and long-spanning brush. Within one of these townships, a small village known as Mahdret-Shur, there lived a middle-aged shepherd by the name of Gaspar Mahdi. While his trade was humble and his disposition amicable, Mahdi did not reserve himself simply to guide the sheep’s flock. His shrewd mind instead sent him on intermittent sojourns to the temples of the Hantā Sōryo, a caste of monks who were known to have trained the best beast-hunters among the Yultharan ilk. Here, Gaspar learned not the art of beast-felling, but instead the precepts of asceticism and much of the orthodox doctrine of Xionism. His dutiful efforts granted him the attention of the religious potentate of Yulthar, the High Vicar. With time, Mahdi became the High Vicar’s second, and a trusted confidant – though in irregular fashion when compared to others in similar occupancy, he refused the wealth and pamper of the role. He instead opted to live an ascetic and detached lifestyle, ever tending to his herd as a shepherd of the lesser lands, both literally and proverbially. Nonetheless, he continued to pursue his religious quests through the form of many journeys, intent on remaining tied to his disciplinary roots. During one of these aforementioned spirit-finding journeys, directed by the Hantā Sōryo, Gaspar Mahdi was sent through a desert portion of the continent, southeast of the temples of the Sōryo. He traveled through the great hillocks and ridges of sand for some weeks, his minuscule supply of food and water running thin expeditiously, until all that remained were morsels. The horizon bore no sign of oasis or civilization, only more of the same cresting mounds that populated the trek before. The sun beat like a pulsating drum, slowing the shepherd with each taken step. It was then that fate seemed crueler than already known, as a tempest of sand descended upon the desert proper, assaulting the traveler with its pelting embrace, and liberating him of his vision. It endured for many hours, but once cleared, revealed a single form of life to populate the path ahead. Such was a great and towering cypress tree, solitary amongst the great stretches of granule desert. Gaspar was astonished, and as his approach was made, its boughs and bracts suddenly engulfed in robust flame. [A depiction of Mahdi set before the manifestation of the Widukind] In time, the great tree of cypress, veiled in fire comparable in brightness to that of the sun’s own gleam, revealed itself to be none other than the Widukind. He lamented those of His truths who had forsaken mortality and the bounds of their directives. He enlightened Mahdi as to the beings of Raum, the Shurad, the Ashurat, and the dualities and true enemies of their endeavors, the Nemuritori, colloquially referred to as Palebeasts; the beings who forsake the mundane and mortal to give into to their baser and viler nature’s desire for power and the undying. In this revelation came the inception of a new faith, Raumism. The Demiurge was foretold to have exiled himself from the world long ago, his essence distributed into the forms of the Aengudaemons and into the descendants. The Demiurge’s foremost essence, however, was transferred upon his leave into Raum, or God, and the two aspects from which he manifests, the Shurad and the Ashurat, which are fated to battle one another. Widukind informed Mahdi that he had been chosen as vanguard, and thus was tasked with spreading word of this great truth. Invigorated in zealous conviction, Mahdi swiftly returned to the temples of the Hantā Sōryo, spreading word of his divine divulgence to all that would lend an ear. It was not long before the Xionists of Yulthar began to convert in considerable numbers to this neo-Xionist faith, many of its precepts more wholly aligning with the warrior-culture that existed among the Yultharan peoples at the time of its inception. Unhappy with this perceived heresy, however, were the High Vicar and his personal clergymen, who proved quick to deem all converts as infidels and ‘Mahdists’. Gaspar Mahdi, once a friend to the then High Vicar, famously brought his followers to stand before the great Temple of Kurzanawi, seeking reconciliation and the ability to live in union with the Vicar’s flock. [Emē-gir] 𐤁‬𐤓‬𐤏‬𐤕‬𐤇‬𐤄‬𐤓‬𐤔‬ 𐤀‬𐤓‬𐤄‬ w𐤄‬, 𐤁‬𐤏‬𐤕‬ 𐤄‬𐤍‬𐤄‬𐤌‬‬𐤉‬𐤄‬𐤔‬, 𐤄‬𐤌‬𐤁‬𐤓‬𐤀‬𐤂‬𐤄‬𐤔‬ 𐤂‬𐤏‬𐤌‬𐤄‬. [Interpreted] Why break bones when brotherhood endures? We are bound in union, our faiths alike, Shall blood spill from naught more than fear? Despite the eloquence of Mahdi’s plea, the High Vicar, so enveloped in his fury with his once-disciple, hired one amongst his flock to disguise himself in the garbs of a lesser vicar. In the middle of Mahdi’s great speech, the assassin plunged from the shade of the perimeter, dagger in hand, primed to pierce the heart of the divinely chosen. Death would have suffocated Mahdi then, if not for one amongst his flock sending forth his blade to halt the attacker. This was none other than Gaspar’s cousin, Sayat-Mumtaz ‘the Ferocious’, a revered monster-slayer among the Yultharans and one of the first of the converts to Raumism. Mumtaz’s small retinue managed to hold off the attack that ensued and bring Mahdi to safety, but from that day forth, any prospect for tolerance seemed intangible. [The attempted assassination of Gaspar Mahdi, depicted in wood engraving] Exile and escape seemed the only path to freedom for the ‘Mahdists’, though they lacked the wealth and direction from which to move forth. This was until a man named Mihyaar, a member of clan Ur, one of the most powerful amongst the Yultharan families, converted to Raumism and declared himself the protector of their ilk. He unified the peoples and worked alongside Sayat-Mumtaz to form a sect of warriors to act as the elite amongst the warriors serving Mahdi’s Xionist schismatics. This guild came to take up the name Banu Sayatin, meaning the Sons of the Sayatin, or followers of Sayat, referring to Sayat-Mumtaz, and the clan he would soon come to form. With a united front, they were able to escape the lands of Yulthar by sea, though fated to the embrace of violent tempests, and left stranded upon the lands of East-Meets-West, in the mist-enshrouded city of Rh’thor. While fear of further prosecution marked their initial bout into the smogged city, the Yultharan exiles soon discovered a synchronism and friendship with the Rh’thoreans, the latter finding their schismatic faith interesting and similar enough to inspire a shared tolerance. This tolerance soon forged a friendship, as the Rh’thoreans taught the practice of ward-drawing through the form of markings upon the flesh and ground, a famous form of which allowing the Mihyaari entry into the city of mist without succumbing to the suffocating effects of its miasmic mists. In return, the Mihyaari offered their aptitude for beast-slaying to assist the Rh’thoreans in killing the monsters that threatened their conurbation. The Mihyaari soon founded themselves a township on the outskirts of Rh’thor, naming it Baal-Hazor, and thus endowing themselves, at least to the Rh’thoreans who granted them stay, the name of Baal’hai. [An engraving upon a wall in Baal-Hazor, depicting the friendship between Rh’thor and the proto-Mihyaari] The Banu Sayatin, in particular, were deeply respected by the Rh’thoreans for sharing similar values of hunting as themselves. No less effective in spurring friendship was the fact that their union between beast-slaying and zealotry was viewed as meritable and righteous by the Rh’thoreans. A time of peace followed, in which many of the early traditions of the Banu Sayatin came into creation and codified practice. Soon, however, tumult would take rise once more when the theologists of both the eternal city, as well as Baal-Hazor congregated to make a firm proclamation - that Gaspar Mahdi was the first recorded incarnate of the Shurad. This came after a series of intensive omen readings and visions seen often enough by the most trusted clergy, until little question remained to be discerned. While Raumism at the time remained in proto-form, the conflict between a Shurad and Ashurat was still understood, with one existing to oppose the other. Likewise did they understand that the Shurad wished to envision a heaven upon the earth in which man is freed of sin, a prospect that, at face value, seemed most appealing. This spurred a great fervor among the Raumists, as questions of the true nature of prophecy began to rise in search of greater understanding. Nonetheless, many flocked once more behind Mahdi, hoping he might fulfill the prophecy of the Shurad to form a more perfect world. As time has made known in endless repetition however, no great movement can proceed without some opposition. A nameless hunter-warrior, having risen amongst the flock of both Rh’thor and Mihyaar alike, built forth a reputation as the most capable slayer of Palebeasts in the realm. He spoke publicly in opposition of the Shurad’s world, believing its outcome too simple and forward to come without a great cost incurred by man. Some began to flock beside him in agreement, enough to prove a threat to the movement in the eyes of Gaspar Mahdi. In doing so, this nameless warrior unintentionally assumed the mantle of the Ashurat in the eyes of the Shuradists, though still only partly as a result of the incomplete vision of Raumism at the time. Sayat-Mumtaz, his Banu Sayatin, and Ur-Mihyaar all took the side of Mahdi, immediately untrusting of this nameless Ashurat. The Banu Sayatin, now most skillful in their capacity for subterfuge, infiltrated the walls of the Eternal City, as well as many secretive circles within Baal-Hazor, systematically killing the many leaders of the opposition movement. This did not come without joint-resistance from the Ashurat, whose warriors on several occasions proved capable of defending against and defeating attacks from those sympathetic solely to Mahdi. A conclusive end to the conflict came, however, when one Hasmi-Ahmull, a Banu Sayatin, infiltrated the personal circle of the nameless warrior himself and assassinated him during a parade through the streets. Hasmi-Ashmull escaped only barely, and news soon spread throughout the lands. This brought finality to the chasmic war that seemed near to eruption amongst the Raumists. The followers of Shurad, galvanized by their foe’s death, took his carcass and casted it into the Consuming Sea, damning the nameless warrior to a foreverial death, his mantle of Ashurat never to be met. [A depiction of the assassination of the nameless Ashurat, worn through the centuries] Following this brutal reaction to supposed dissent, along the trek from the outskirts of Rh’thor to the settlement of Baal-Hazor, Gaspar Mahdi, somewhat worn with age, witnessed another vision of the burning Cypress tree; the final of the two unveiled to him. So deeply vivified was he by what he saw and was told by the second and final revelation of the Widukind that upon arrival to Baal-Hazor, he demanded all the clergymen and Baal’hai of the realm gather together for his final great sermon. Upon directing dozens of scribes to enshrine his coming words in parchment and stone alike, the prophet began. The strength of the episode that ensued was so severe and overwhelming that, almost against his own will and control, Mahdi uttered his recitations of divine inspiration across the span of five sleepless days and nights, never once overcome by hunger or thirst. Whence dusk fell upon the fifth day, the last words were spoken, and upon his precipice between two cypress trees, Gaspar Mahdi collapsed - never to rise again, and resetting the cycle forth anew. His words over the span of those five days constituted the Mahdic texts, the central scripture of the faith of Raumism, by and large expanding the breadth of the religious beliefs to their fullest elucidation. The final words of Gaspar Mahdi: [Emē-gir] 𐤋‬‬𐤉‬g𐤇‬𐤕‬ 𐤏‬𐤅‬ 𐤕‬𐤓‬u𐤕‬𐤇‬ 𐤅‬‬𐤉‬𐤍‬𐤃‬ 𐤇‬𐤏‬𐤍‬𐤏‬𐤓‬ ‬𐤉‬g𐤍‬𐤏‬𐤓‬𐤀‬𐤍‬𐤂‬𐤄‬ ‬𐤉‬𐤔‬ 𐤍‬𐤏‬w g𐤏‬𐤍‬𐤄‬ w𐤇‬𐤀‬𐤕‬ ‬𐤉‬𐤔‬ 𐤋‬𐤄‬𐤅‬𐤕‬ ‬𐤉‬𐤔‬ g𐤏‬𐤏‬𐤃‬ 𐤕‬𐤇‬𐤄‬ 𐤂‬y𐤂‬𐤋‬𐤄‬ 𐤄‬𐤍‬𐤃‬u𐤓‬𐤄‬𐤔‬ 𐤅‬𐤏‬𐤓‬𐤄‬v𐤄‬𐤓‬ 𐤅‬𐤏‬𐤓‬g‬𐤉‬v𐤄‬ u𐤔‬ 𐤍‬𐤏‬𐤕‬ 𐤏‬𐤍‬𐤋‬y 𐤔‬𐤄‬𐤄‬𐤊‬ 𐤕‬𐤏‬ 𐤁‬𐤄‬𐤕‬𐤕‬𐤄‬𐤓 [Interpreted] Verily, in the light of truth, are these words made inviolable. Gone are the days of ignorance, whence we were embraced by hatred, For what now remains is solidarity and a righteous path. Ever shall the cycle endure, and ever must we seek its abolition. We may not find absolution for our misdoings, but we may live to amend them. What came to be revealed in the Mahdic Texts was the true purpose of the Shurad and Ashurat, and their roles in the defeat of the vile Nemuritorii. This was revealed through flame, which was once more discerned as the manifestation of matter that united all sides of mankind and reflected their truest nature; for flame illuminates brightly, but also casts a long shadow. Where in the times of the nameless warrior, the Ashurat was believed to be the quintessential opposite of the Shurad, an incarnate of the vile nature of man, this belief proved far from any truth. While the prophesied conflict between the Shurad and Ashurat was true, it was never born of an intrinsic dichotomy of intentions, for the two share a common enemy. Instead, their opposition manifests through separate means for an end. The Shurad’s quest is to sacrifice the Ashurat and his followers in order to fulfill an esoteric ritual that will rid the world of all Palebeasts, or Nemuritori, and in doing so, jointly remove man of his sinful nature, thus preventing them from ever again seeking to pursue the path of immortality. In doing so, the Shurad would effectively create an ideal world upon the earth, a heaven, or Rafkisi. The Ashurat, however, who is incarnated into man only following the incarnation of a Shurad, seeks to stop the Shurad from manifesting his plan of a world in which man’s vile nature is cleansed from them. To the Ashurat and his followers, man’s vile nature is an intrinsic part of descendant-kind, and it is in their ability to overcome it that they are able to be discerned as righteous and of good character. If man’s vile nature is removed completely, believes the Ashurat, it would be not only a sacrilege of Raum, for man is made in His image, but likewise would deprive man of his ability to overcome the strife of the self, and thus overcome their baser nature. If the Ashurat is able to defeat the Shurad in their strife, the Ashurat would seek to fulfill their prophecy by destroying the gift of Immortality, cleansing it from the palebasts and, in turn, starting a great war between descendant-kind and the Nemuritori, known as Felteri. With no pre-ordained victor, the Ashurat’s destiny does not share the guarantee of salvation characterized by the Shurad’s path, but it would preserve the true nature of descendant-kind. In this division is the core separation of beliefs among Raumists, who believe that once a victor is discovered, be it Shurad or Ashurat, the Fifth Lord will reveal themself, and manifest the world associated with the prophecy of the respective victor. Such were the revelations of the Mahdic Texts. Soon thereafter were the Mihyaari people enraptured once more by the bouts of ambition, particularly instigated by the aging and now decrepit Ur-Mihyaar. His proclivity for expansion and avarice compounded his aptitude for rhetoric, and soon he convinced his flock the time for movement was nigh. Their sails set forth once more, and Ur-Mihyaar, succumbed to ailment, died upon the journey to a far-flung continent known as Ramasar. There the people resided for a considerable time, and the Banu Sayatin established their first citadel within the southern city of the realm, Mihyaar. The fortress was given the name; Al-Zadur, meaning the castle of the faithful. There the mantle of Grandmaster passed forth from Sayat-Mumtaz, to his son, Sayat-Soroush. The reign of Soroush was one that supported the Rh’thorian lord of Ramasar, even if their stay within those lands would be fugacious. He developed many of their ranks and customs, and invented the rank of Death-Seeker, to whom those who betrayed the principles of the order could seek penitence prior to their death. [Banu Sayatin slaying themselves on the orders of Sayat–Soroush in a display of public hecatomb] In time did the act of sacrifice become a thing of Sacrament, with the term Fidai being levied to describe the warriors of the Banu Sayatin for their willingness to surrender their lives in service of their creed and master. Furthermore, upon Ramasar, the Banu Sayatin assumed a role of religious authority, particularly through their Grandmaster, as a result of their ascetic dedication to faith and the intensity of their practice. Many in that time, and beyond, looked to the Grandmaster of the Banu Sayatin, along with his Triad, the three most trusted of his subordinates, to make sense of religious questions and determine the presence of prophecies and incarnations alike. [Emē-gir] 𐤔‬𐤀‬𐤂‬𐤓‬‬𐤉‬𐤅‬‬𐤉‬𐤂‬𐤄‬ ‬𐤉‬𐤔‬ 𐤕‬𐤓‬u𐤄‬ 𐤃‬u𐤕‬y 𐤍‬𐤄‬v𐤄‬𐤓‬ 𐤁‬𐤄‬𐤅‬𐤏‬𐤓‬𐤄‬ u𐤍‬v𐤄‬‬𐤉‬𐤋‬𐤄‬𐤃‬ w𐤄‬ 𐤀‬𐤓‬𐤄‬ 𐤅‬𐤓‬𐤄‬𐤄 [Interpreted] There is great nobility in sacrifice, For it is to give all that one has In service of that which exceeds them. Many decades passed in this era of stability, though as was nature for the Mihyaari, a land not wholly their own was not a land all could abide to reside within. With the passage of Grandmastership shifting from Soroush to Sayat-Hameesh, a man known for his love of illicit substances and bloodlust in battle, the Banu Sayatin rode alongside the regnant lord, Ur-Belshezzar, into the Korvassan deserts of the Arcasian deserts of the south. Poverty soon entrapped the Mihyaari people, the only recorded time in which the Banu Sayatin stooped to levels of decadence, utilizing their intimidation and coordination to secure food and wealth to sustain themselves. Penitence for their deeds found them, however, in the form of the war-bands of the Seyami people. A war ensued, violent and tumultuous in nature, but the Banu Sayatin then bore their great proclivities in the slaying of beasts, not men, and the superior skills of the Seyami proved overpowering, soon to force the Banu Sayatin alongside the other Mihyaari into servitude. The decisive battle of this subjugation was the Clash at Karnasi Hill, in which the Grandmaster, Sayat-Hameesh, deeply inebriated prior to the battle, was slain by the Seyami people. [An artistic rendition of the Clash at Karnasi Hill] Rather than face genocide or pogrom, the pragmatic Mihyaari were swift to accept their tributization beneath Seyami rule. With this servility came a molding of cultures, the Banu Sayatin, now led largely by Hameesh’s son, Lakhmu, began to adopt many of the man-fighting practices of the Seyami, particularly taking up use of the Shamshir as a primary weapon as opposed to solely carrying blades shaped and designed for combat against monsters. Alongside this shift in utility, they were taught superior equestrian training and stratagems of war between descendants, many Mihyaari rising swiftly through the hierarchies of the Seyami. Although the sun-kissed natives of Korvasa had won the battle, the sheer quantity of Mihyaari made their intermixing inevitable, both in culture and in genealogy. Unions, whether wed or not, often proved the cause of offspring of mixed descent, and after only a matter of decades did the Seyami people slowly become one with the Baal’hai, causing an ethnogenesis of what would come to resemble the modern Mihyaari. Likewise did the Seyami, even before their absorption into the Mihyaari, swiftly convert to Raumism and its doctrinal beliefs, finding the faith far more complex and convincing then their own primitive and largely self-contradicting animistic faith. What rose from this union was an entirely novel Banu Sayatin, one bearing a peoples of mixed origins and eclectic faculty for battle, as well as well-developed religious beliefs and a long history of ritualistic practice and belief. From Yultharan roots conjoining with roguish tactics that soon converged into contemporary offensive tactics and frontier battle efficiency. This prepared the Mihyaari for the coming of the Inferi upon the continent of Arcas, viewing their arrival as a renewal of the Great Cycle of Nemuritori and mankind. They were among the vanguard in the south that met with the beasts, but as time came to flee the continent, the Mihyaari were all too ready to embark upon the dirts of Almaris. The Banu Sayatin’s initial bouts upon the new continent were slow, the warrior monks spending apt time scouting the affairs of the lands, familiarizing themselves with the nations and cultures of interest, and likewise supporting the newly installed Pharoah, Sahaar, the Diamond Vehicle, in the construction of the village of Chaldees. Here, the Grandmastership has since passed onto the young member of the Dynasty of Sayat named Ardashir, following the premature death of his father Bahram. Word has spread amongst the ranks of the Banu Sayatin and their associated clergymen of his rumored status as a Saoshyant, a warrior monk divinely inspired by Raum, and thus destined to fulfill his wishes upon the earth, and prepare it for the coming of a Shurad and Ashurat. The veritability of these claims have yet to be discerned, with the omen-readers certain to maintain diligent watch, but many eyes seem planted upon the Banu Sayatin and its leaders in recent times. III. Symbology Mahdicari The Mahdicari is the most prominent symbol of the Banu Sayatin, as it expresses the nature of Gaspar Mahdi the clearest. In his hand lies the Cycle Precept, or the “Chi-Rahm”, of which is clasped tightly to imply mastery over the cycles that burden man’s creatorial nature. There are wings extending from him to similarly establish his role as a divine messenger, like a bird perched upon the branches of the Widu to closely hear his secrets. The Mahdicari is often seen in the temples of the Mihyaari and upon their garb and vestments, and their tabards and shields welded into the metal makings of their crowns. Places where the Mahdicari is risen up in grand display are believed to be pure and safeguarded by his wisdom and excellence, which is why the symbol can be found plentifully where-ever the Mihyaar have been in the world, from Yulthar to Arcas to Rh’thor and now Almaris. The Cypress Tree The Cypress Tree appears all throughout the imagery of the Mahdic Texts as well as the history of the Banu Sayatin. As the form foremostly taken by the Widukind in his appearances in both revelations, its importance has not been resigned to that alone. It is likewise from the Cypress tree that the natural growing Haoma-Yasna is harvested and used for many rituals of the Banu Sayatin. For this omnipresence in both the cultural practices and the stone-laced lores of the order, its imagery has found domicile in many forms. Whether adorning heraldry, architecture, religious manuscripts or even clothing, it is a universal sign of divine goodwill and warmth. Often, too, is it depicted in conjunction with other imagery, such as the Great Crescent and the Cycle Precept. The Great Crescent The crescent, often stylized to have manlike features, is a personification of the moon that is usually depicted bearing an ugly or intentionally disturbing or at the very least uncanny expression. The moon is not revered as a divine celestial body, but rather a cradle of ill omen and wicked fate, for it is upon the moon that the lasting souls of dead men are drawn to be assigned unjust fates by the Aengul Aeriel, corrupting the nature of death itself. The moon draws upon the souls of the dead, and therefore, it is wicked, and it will always be wicked for as long as those souls are not subjected to the rightful laws of the earth. The great crescent, both with and without its unpleasant facial designs, can be seen printed on armaments or trinkets meant to both torment and ward away the undying, who are destined to be moonbound if banished with enough strength. It is also used to signify the presence of everything cursed to be trapped upon the moon for harboring the essence of the Palebeasts, painted upon places like necromancer covens or upturned graveyards to convey this. The Cycle Precept Often seen depicted on banners, sacred embroideries or subtly depicted in architecture, the Cycle Precept, or the “Chi-Rahm”, is a simplistic interpretation of the esoteric concept of cycles. It is a kind of primitive Xionistic chart, which draws upon the different interpretations of what they call the Old Ones, who are beings that descended upon the earth to become like mankind but only became extreme expressions of mortal nature. In clockwise order, they begin from the bottom-left, near the serpent’s head: I - Dresdrasil the Mother The ouroboros begins with Dresdrasil, whose own depiction is akin to the cycle of a wheel. Dresdrasil simultaneously represents the mortal loss of ego and self in the creation of new generations and multitudes of people, but also a recognition of the source, for Dresdrasil was the mother of all sea-life. It is through one man and one woman that countless others are compelled forth into being, and though their names and memory may be forgotten or blurred by time, it is their progeny that retains their old image and history. Dresdrasil’s symbol, because of its duality, is found reversed or true to the Chi-Rahm form depending on whether its use is positive or negative. It can be found in noble family embroideries and banner designs to signify the importance of their family, or drawn backwards upon places or people thought to have detached themselves completely from their forgotten source. II - The Fell-Blood God The Fell-Blood is said to be something that lives within the hearts of a race of men inhabiting an unknown edge of the world, allegedly untouched by Iblaeic curses but still doomed to a wretched fate nonetheless. The Fell-Blood may have saved them from the touch of Iblees, but it did not recognize the Palebeast instinct still alive within men in time to save itself from its wickedness. The Fell-Blood symbol depicts blood falling from a crescent moon, where the ancient souls of men are trapped and one day await their return to the earth to become Nemuritori themselves. It suggests men are inherently bound to their own nature, unless appropriately and righteously acted upon, and no matter how much the lineages are twisted or gifted by supernatural elements, nothing will save them except themselves. Those such as criminals found to be half-born of two Descendant races are often marked with the Fell-Blood symbol, as well as painted in areas associated with Aengudaemons to express the inhabitant’s unacceptable alliance or worship of them and their blessings. III - Spiraling Feldamfir Feldamfir is the mad rage and hunger of men, a prime example of what they are destined to become through immortal living. His depiction is a spiral, for to be something that is reduced to such a state must have spiraled downward and out of control, driven by impulses that could not be resisted. Those who show signs of the the Palebeast’s nature among the Mihyaari are given a brand or a tattoo somewhere on the skin, not so much to condemn them but to express that they are of a spirit that must be reigned in or else be abandoned to feral madness and evil. This mark can also be found on beasts caught in the wild to be subjugated, or even on the bones of enemies stripped of their flesh and carved like a ward to forbid their return. IV - The First Sword Dagnir Like the Old One of blood, Dagnir is a fell-God trapped within the mortal makings of a blade, and it is said all who come to hold the first sword will be compelled to betray their own quicker than destroy their enemy. Dagnir is indeed symbolic of the mortal tendency to betray or turn traitor, even to oneself, and is depicted as a sword trapped within its own, smaller circle. The mark of Dagnir can be found branded upon the exiled traitors of the Mihyaar, or roughly carved upon weapons that Al-Auguri deem cursed for being used in acts of betrayal and kinslaying, V - Calamitous Zhdun Zhdun is believed to be mindless or insane like the other Old Ones, and is depicted in this manner to express his strange shape. Men who have survived the downfall of their enterprise and civilizations are said to recall his presence as a great horrible storm of dark poison, hanging over their ruins like a volcanic cloud. It is not Zhdun who delivers the doom of civilizations, but rather it is the one who cements the doom itself, allowing for no reproach or return of their makings. Zhdun’s symbol is more often than not used to curse physical places and other people than to warn of something, akin to salting the fields of a conquered enemy, to forever doom their homeland. VI - The Ouroboros The ouroboros is man himself, locked in his cycle. It is the master force of the Chi-Rahm, the central mechanism to the entire symbol, which the symbolic depiction of the Xionist Old Ones rely upon for full understanding. The ouroboros not only affects man, but all things that come unto and aspire to be like men. Simplistic or isolated depictions of the ouroboros are often carved into stone or painted near places where danger or evil things dwell, as above all the ouroboros represents the Nemuritori, or the Palebeast. VII - Inner-Widukind Separated from the rest of his fallen kindred, Widukind stands at the center of the ouroboros - he is witness to how mankind consumes himself, but he is rooted there and cannot extend himself to destroy the cycle, only grow upon it. He represents mankind’s divine mental capacity, clarity and ability to reflect on the self in order to achieve awareness and influence over causality. Al-Auguri and omen-reading Fidai favor the symbol of Widukind, who is said to be the greatest reader of omens of all time. Trees themselves are among the greatest omens on account of Widukind’s history with the gloried prophet Gaspar Mahdi, who heard his voice from burning cypress trees. Flame Fundament The Flame Fundament is a representation of the divine nature of fire, symbolized by the burning torch. It is both light and dark that stems from Raum, the flame, elevated by wings that carry it between the firmament and the earth. This suggests the nature of Raum, in that there are two halves to men that are sacred and shall decide the fate of their future. The fundament is more often depicted in glory than other symbols, alongside the Mahdicari, to emphasize the significance of fire and Raum to the entire movement of the Mihyaari dynasties and the Banu Sayatin. Brand of the Traitor The Brand of the Traitor is a mark of punishment burned into the flesh of allies and Sayatin who turncoat against the Mihyaari and do them harm, and draws inspiration from the Chi-Rahm symbol of the sword-demon Dagnir that inspires the desire to betray and kinslay within the hearts of all men who touch it. Furthermore is the blade seen piercing through the form of a dark moon, crested in representation of the Great Crescent, in significance of the blade being used to kill the entity which has the capacity to damn the Palebeasts and their ilk; thus inferring the bearer of the mark to have acted in their benefit in some way. Those who are branded as traitors are implanted with the brand upon the back of the neck or the palm, and are sent out into the world to live in constant fear of facing a Banu Sayatin, for if one is ever to find them, they will be hunted and killed on sight. IV. Rituals & Traditions Embrace of the “Ashura-Hasmi” Among the Banu Sayatin, death remains central to their perception of the self and its importance relative to the world. Not only in religious doctrine, but likewise in practice do they proffer upon death and the act of killing a considerable reverence and near sacrament. It is however, for this reason, that the act must be accompanied by a counter-balance; some manner of action that shall equilibrate the violence of the individual so as to ensure their role in the physical world is one that purveys balance and homeostasis. The most popular and widely accepted of these practices is referred to as the Embrace of Ashura-Hasmi. The ritual was formed when, during the era of Sayat-Mumtaz, a Mihyaari peasant youth inducted into the Banu Sayatin named Hasmi-Ahmull, assassinated the believed Ashurat as his followers rose in power. After learning of the truth of Raum from the illumination of the Mahdic texts however, he fell into great despair and contrition, believing he had acted in a manner that rejected the cycle of Raumism and the world’s ultimate truth. For the fact that his act of bloodshed was so great, he laid himself upon the great precipice of Malni-Itfin, the tomb for the unnamed warrior believed to have been the first Ashurat, and self-flagellated with lead-weighted thongs of ox-tail. [An artistic depiction of the flagellation of Hasmi-Ashmull] He struck himself for a full day from noon until dusk before collapsing from the blood loss and abject pain. For this act he was revered as a righteous penitent, and the then Grandmaster Sayat-Mumtaz, moved by the display, wrote the ritual into credence and made it the standard act following the spilling of blood. For all those who shed blood in their service to the Banu Sayatin, so too would they pay back that blood with their own through the disciplinary practice of self-flagellation. Likewise was it ordained that in proportion to the number killed and their relative importance, the degree of flogging would increase, either in length or severity. Although it is righteous to be enacted following a killing, so too have dedicated Fidai practiced the Embrace of Ashura Hasmi simply as a practice of discipline and fortuity, seeking its indurative effects for purposes beyond those of metaphysical importance. The Induction of the “Kaaran” In the days before there was bread, it was through the growth and preservation of lineages and clans in service to the Banu Sayatin that allowed the maintenance of their standing force. Each man, born and raised in their way and in the Mihyaari fashion, was compelled into service by their own will for it was the obligation of their fathers and their fathers before them. In the Descendant lands, where there are dangers teeming and emerging from all four corners of the realm, reliance on their traditionally small but skilled band of warrior-monks was recognized as a possible flaw that threatened the safety of the Sayatin and the Pharaorate. So they began the tradition of binding the “Kaaran”, or “the owing”, to service as their first attempt to diversify recruitment methods and bolster their numbers. Those who came to mingle and join among the Mihyaari in their long journey, primarily comprised of the different races and clans of human-men, more often than not chose to defy the foreign ways of Ur-Mihyaar’s flock, and when they were caught in acts of sabotage, petty theft or even vocal defiance to authority, they were deemed Kaaran, a mantle little better than being named a criminal, and became apart of a caste that may only redeem themselves through death, exile, or service - the latter of which was mandatory or forced against their will, after the severity of their crimes was weighed. [An inductee recently named Kaaran by their Sayatin recruiter, preparing for their spirit-journey across the dunes beyond Chaldees] As they have come to establish the Pharaoate of Chaldees, these methods of forced conscription, which were always justified as “payback” from the owing, loosened, as the closer the Mihyaari came to settling near the nomadic Descendants, the more they realized they would be placed in hot water for being perceived as masters of a slave army. The nature and meaning of the name Kaaran changed in this; while they would persist in the conscription of actual criminals, the way one becomes Kaaran itself mutated into a much more tame and opportunistic process that still borrows the subject that the individual “owes” the Sayatin, and therefore must serve. When a worthy Descendant reveals their interest in joining the Banu Sayatin, they are pursued by one of three hierarchical figures: the Triad, the Deathseekers, or the Grandmaster himself, and after careful deliberation between the two parties, the potential inductee is asked to “shed the blood or marrow” of the Sayatin who sought them, to cement that the Descendant has technically dealt a blow to a Sayatin that must be repaid. Thereon, the inductee becomes Kaaran, and they are given a task befitting of those of Descendant blood: they must breathe the smoke of the Haoma-Yasna, and then roam the desert for an entire day and night until they are found by the one who recruited them in the first place. In the midst of their spirit-journey, where the mind twists and bends and reveals all too much at once, they must fight the one that made them Kaaran for as long as possible before a draw is called. If they falter and fall to the sands, bloody and dying, they are not worth their induction into the Sayatin - and so repay their status in death. But if they stand their ground like a true struggler, then they will repay their debt in life. They are given sparse supplies - filling, hard bread and water to keep them awake and sustained, and a sole camel who will help keep their feet from being scorched by the sun-touched sands. They must endure the intensity of the Haoma-Yasna and all of its self-revealing effects before they find themselves before their debtor, who is found only when the debtor witnesses them endure day and night of their odyssey. Omen Reading & Divination Inherently, the Mihyaari and their Banu Sayatin are an omen-reading people, tasked with the discernment and determinations of important prophecies and the meaning of strange phenomena. Those versed in the histories of the world, particularly those of ancient bloodlines among the Mihyaari, naturally develop a state of mind attuned to the symbology and patterns of the world. They regard ancient legends and contemporary events on the same level, for the Banu Sayatin especially, time is a spiraling cycle, and the past and present are compared jointly with that reflection in mind. [Banu Sayatin omen-readers analyzing the stars to predict the length of the harvest] There are Fidai among the Sayatin that are particularly versed in this state of mind, so much as to turn it into a nearly scientific and elaborate practice. They are known traditionally as Al-Auguri, or “those who witness waves”, and they conduct procedures meant to decipher both earthly and firmanental elements to gain the meanings of certain omens. What exactly an omen is to Al-Auguri is diverse and scaling; they may recognize horrible doom in the subtle glint of the eyes of other men, or determine the makings of a bountiful yield of grain from not more than the movement of a crow at dusk. Though despite the perceived randomness of such readings, the act is by no means arbitrary, and circumstances as those aforementioned are quite rare. Divination has, through the centuries, become a meticulous and mastered practice, with the interpretations of that which is seen often cross-referenced between scholars, clergy and the Al-Auguri alike to make true determinations of their implications. One of the oldest of the omen-reading forms is ornithomancy, or the interpretations of the movements of birds. The exact details that encompass the readings are secretive in nature, but it is known that the location, type of birds, and manner of movement are all paramount in deciphering the connotations of such a sight. Another of such forms of divination, discovered a time more recently by the alchemist Abu-Waqar, brother of Grandmaster Sayat-Soroush, was haruspicy. On days of religious importance or rituals of sacrifice, the animals levied for such sacrifice are not only killed, but likewise gutted for the purpose of omen-reading. In days long past, even Banu Sayatin sacrificed to Raum as a result of their betrayals or actions had their organs dissected and read for the purposes of discovering some connotation or underlying premonition. The livers of poultry, in particular, have been examined in their coloration, shape, texture, and weight to determine the comings of war as well as in judging the character of one with whom the Mihyaari may have made dealings. A famous such case was when, following first contact with the Seyami, the liver of a sacrificial lamb was found to be so black in hue, its coloration was said to resemble the void itself. Bestowal of Yurmal Among the Banu Sayatin are those whose feats and actions speak beyond verbal praise and recognition alone. Few among the Banu Sayatin, whose vigor in battle or ritualistic aptitude is great enough to merit it, are granted the great honor of a ‘Yurmal’; or epithet. The Grandmaster alone is deemed the declarer of such epithets among the Fidai, unless the epithet is levied upon the Grandmaster himself, in which the three members of the Triad are directed to decide unanimously amongst themselves. Some famous examples are Sayat-Mumtaz ‘the Ferocious’, granted to him for his capacity in battle, or Hasmi-Ashmull ‘the Penitent’, who earned his moniker through his feverous display of zealous repentance. The Struggle of the Haoma-Yasna The Struggle, as the ritual is known, is a trial that all Sayatin postulants must complete before they are recognized as true Fidai of the clans. They are tested by the effects of the sacred reagent, which is collected from the rare cypress species Haoma-Yasna that has been cultivated among the Mihyaari ever since their departure from Rh’thor. It is said the branches of the Haoma-Yasna, once burned, lend visions to the subject that force them to face their worst fears, whether old or new, as intense projections and hallucinations of the mind. They say Widukind keeps unique wisdom or advice for every man born in the world, and that these wisdoms are revealed when the branches are sheared in collection and then burned in ritual. [The deliverance of Haoma-Yasna branches to one of the Triad] The experiences witnessed in the sacred struggle must be preserved and understood by the new Fidai at all costs, as they are forbidden from partaking of the plant again in order to further discern their own mind. To forget or discard the understanding of the self gained through Widukind’s branches means the Fidai will be untempered and poor in practice, and that they will not read omens but create them. But for the Fidai to inhale the Haoma-Yasna’s smoke a second or even a third time means to invite certain doom upon their own sanity. It is said reality begins to twist and curl at the edges of one’s vision, should they even survive a second experience with the Haoma-Yasna. All elements of the mind become detached from reality in the slightest way from just two times alone. But for a third and final time, from which there is no return, things are revealed to the person of themselves that they are better left never knowing at all, and the world unfolds around them in such horrible bareness that the will to live is quick to leave them. Fidai who are not compelled to the Fael-Alnadam for their own sake are corrupted and twisted by a new and inhuman madness which overtakes their mind, becoming mad demons inhabiting the forms of the Banu Sayatin’s old friends. These forsaken Fidai are called Al-Ashrar, who exhale the smoke of the sacred branches with each breath and cause the trees to pause in their sway in their wake. [The first of those known as Al-Ashrar, Bahiman the Grinning, who is said to stalk the Haoma-Yasna burning sites for a week of moonless nights following a ritual] Fael-Alnadam & The Mayt-Hai Fidai who commit to shameful and detrimental actions against the Banu Sayatin, such as the unlawful murder of a fellow initiate or threatening the general wellbeing of the clan, as well as even disrupting the processes of witnessed prophetical events, are compelled or demanded by the Grandmaster and the Triad to commit Fael-Alnadam, or the Act of Penitence, in which the dishonored Fidai commits ritual suicide to preserve the balance of his corrupted soul. [The ritual suicide of Hasmi-Ashmull’s comrade, the beasthunting spearmaster Zaydun al-Asra, who hamstrung the nameless Ashurat to subject him to a cruel and undignified defeat] If they fail to gain the courage to submit to this personal destruction, the dishonored Fidai are cast out like a leper and intentionally placed at a disadvantage in the world; given a circular or ring-shaped brand upon the palm of their right hand. This mark forever acts as proof of their shame to the Banu Sayatin, who are driven to take every opportunity to ridicule, deride and harm them for the crime they were judged guilty for. The Mayt-Hai, an ancient name which roughly translates to the seekers of death, are inhuman or accursed mortals who may forge a close alliance with the Sayatin and, in their cooperation and service to the cause, may undergo their own redemption to spare themselves from an eternal Act of Penitence. All accursed men who are not Mayt-Hai are subjects to the Fael-Alnadam, destined to be lashed and punished forever until the Banu Sayatin has made them living dust. The seekers of death are true to their name, as in exchange for their alliance with the Banu Sayatin and the commitment to the divine cause, they repay for their ugly nature and unnatural existence by being given true death once their duty comes to a close. This is less of a servitude to the Banu Sayatin and more of an exchange or a sacred promise - for as long as the Deathseekers are assured their foreverial rest is at hand, they will be compelled to stay close friends to the Fidai and their masters. It is ultimately left to the individual Deathseekers to pursue the tools or secrets needed to destroy themselves completely, so such means may be delivered to the Grandmaster for the day of their proper passing. In the event of a supernatural threat making itself known to the world, the Mayt-Hai are the first ones to pursue the wake of it in investigation without risk. Using deathlessness to their advantage, the Mayt-Hai brutally and mercilessly hunt down what does not belong in the world based on the Sayatin desires for a mundane existence for man. The Exorcism of the Omen-Crucible It is among the chief duties of the Deathseekers, for them to maintain and perpetuate the purpose of an alchemical artifact known as the “Omen-Crucible”, a massive cauldron that stands nearly as tall as a man, holding a certain effect in which things that bear a supernatural power may be melted down and together, irregardless of their nature, to form a strange and shifting cosmic soup. The things comprising this anomaly are rendered down from magical weapons and armor, both greater or lesser, magic trinkets, supernatural entity, beast or individual’s remains, and anything else supernaturally separated from mundanity. It forms a liquid-seeming mass of shifting essences and nonsensical designs and conflicting and volatile reactions, of which intensify the longer the crucible remains untended. The longer there is a union of such things burning together at the cauldron’s capacity, ill things may occur, as the combination results in an unstable and crude connection to the Interstice, residing within the firelit crucible’s primordial soup. [The Omen-Crucible, kept in the lowest levels of the Sayatin citadel] To both the Banu Sayatin and their Deathseeker allies, the creatorial madness that writhes within the Omen-Crucible is no kind of power they are capable of harnessing; as the act of spilling this liquid calamity outside the pot is expected to incur some kind of destructive and heinous reaction from just a drop, let alone a spill. There is only one purpose for the Omen-Crucible that the Deathseekers have identified. Disposal. For the sake of worldly mundanity, all magical things and items cast into the crucible are destroyed once and for all in their breakdown with many other items. The chaotic molten essences left behind act as a rough passage into the layers of the Interstice, from which things may only emerge, not enter. So the Deathseekers must be joined in a ritual to draw a fell resident of the Interstice out from the cauldron, to be defeated and driven back through the passage by force as to trick the portal into becoming inverse. In doing so, the primordial soup consumes itself, and is banished beyond the realm of men. The Departure of “Xindral-Moot” Death is common-place amongst the Banu Sayatin. Whether through battle, sacrifice, or sickness, the Banu Sayatin ensure that their faith is upheld in ritual, even once their souls have fled from their body. Raumism declares that a body, once freed of its soul, is of no true value or importance. It is not more than a shell, consigned righteously to be returned to nature from whence it came. It is believed by the Banu Sayatin that before judgment is rendered by the chosen of Raum to dictate a soul’s path of reincarnation, it is dutiful to enact one final deed of goodness and charity by allowing the body to be made sustenance for some manner of creature, most often the buzzard or vulture of the desert. In doing so, not only does the body reunite with the nature that created it, but jointly enacts a moral good that might inspire Raum to look more fondly upon them as they face God’s acumen. [A manuscript’s illustration of a Dokhma, upon which bodies are left for excarnation] Excarnation is achieved through the construction of a dokhma, a cylindrical tower upon which bodies, after death, are delivered and layered beneath the sun’s illumination so as to be reached by carrion, vultures, and other scavenging birds. There atop the tower, where the bodies are largely separated from the elements and unable to be contaminated, is it deemed proper for the death of the vesel to come. Once all that remains of the bodies are bone, a death-seeker or grave tender ascends the dokhma and collects their skeletal remains, either for burial or burning, depending on the individual at hand.
  3. Settlement PRO MC Name: Quantumatics Settlement Name: Keep of Dún an Éin Proposed Settlement Locations (Highlight 3 on the map): (Build Already Exists in the Remnant of Savoy alongside region in Tile 122) Bounds: (11,0,2207) -> (163,255,2305) Settlement Lore (could include previous roleplay posts showing involvement with the community) (1000 words minimum): Settlement Government Structure Explanation: Being a guild rather than a city, the notion of government does not strictly apply. In simple explanation, there are three basic tiers in the hierarchy. The first being the initiates, those taken in by the Creed who have yet to finish their training and pass their trials. These are adepts who must undergo a series of vigorous examinations and on-field tests before their right to a 'brand' or marking as a fool Hexer is granted. Upon doing such, however, they are branded and graduate to claim the second rank, and title of Marked Man or Hexer. This is a title that associates plainly with one who has proven themselves capable through their survival and aptitude in hunting to be regarded equally alongside their brethren. The third and final tier is their Grandmaster, whose ordained purpose is to maintain and guide the members of the Creed in matters of monster hunting and the preservation of their knowledge and lifestyle. The keep also provides domicile for various characters and entities that work alongside the Hexers towards general pursuits. Whether it be alchemists studying the natural world and developing potions, tonics and salves to assist the Creed and expand their knowledge base on their trade, or sorcerers and sorceresses who's ideals align with the Hexers in seeking to rid the world of vile creatures and rendering adjacent aid and knowledge to that end. Settlement Builds and Infrastructure (photos required): How does this settlement offer a unique niche not already found in an existing polity on the server?: The Hexers offer a unique facet of roleplay in that they are an independent guild entirely removed from nations and political entities in the land of Almaris. From an IC perspective, Hexers operate under a tenuously strict code of political neutrality and abstinence; this in turn allows for a far greater sense of freedom for the players within the community, as they remain unbound to the relative OOC bureaucracy that is often found within general nation roleplay whilst still interacting with the RP bodies of these entities through roleplay events such as contracts. In terms of in-character dynamics, the Hexers are a group of warrior-monks who undergo intensive training from childhood in swordplay, bestiary study and philosophy in order to become monster-hunters for hire. Whilst the niche of monster-hunting is something that has been heavily explored upon the server countless times by varying groups over the years, Hexers have always been a group that have sought to solidify that niche and grant a proper basis for it to be explored. It draws the qualities and elements that worked well from old monster-hunting groups such as the Marked Men and seeks to improve upon them as well as make them more viable within the servers current climate. A core factor that separates Hexers from other groups that explore similar areas of RP is their motivation. For example, in comparison to the Lectors, another group which also dabbles in monster-hunting roleplay, the motive for pursuing their like cause varies greatly. Whereas Lectors slay beasts due to their adherence to Exalted Owyn and consider them unholy abominations, Hexers are more motivated by wealth of pocket and health of mankind. Hexer philosophy is a good window into the variety of RP that we as a collective provide. Whilst we take inspiration from classical monster hunter sources for themes and setting, lots of the group's IC ideals have been developed naturally through roleplay since the group began last year. Hexers are thematically low-fantasy with gritty and pessimistic tones; Hexer philosophy and dogma is deeply reflective of this, as it is often relative to the idea of nihilism and stoicism. But beyond that, it explores ideas that are pertinent to the characters that partake within the group. It facilitates an environment in which characters can involve themselves in the fantasy based aspects of the server in concentrated guild rp that is often lost in nations or other groups. These ideas of personal-character narrative and motivation blend with the RP that we provide, to allow characters within the group to grow, develop and pursue their own arcs and storylines congruent with the overarching narrative we pursue as a group. How does your settlement tie to the greater lore and narrative set by the community on LotC?: The Hexers began in October of 2021, starting off as a small-group of 3-4 roleplayers. A great amount of the guild's early interactions with other polities on the server came with their interactions with the Principality of Savoy where they were primarily based, starting off as a small camp upon the coast and eventually expanding into possessing a keep after they were granted it by the Prince of Savoy after conducting a series of monster hunts and bounty work on the Prince’s request. These interactions eventually culminated into a server wide eventline where the city of San Luciano was destroyed via a Thahnium Bomb by a foreign mercenary band known as the Band of the Cockatrice. The main motivation for this occurrence was because the Prince of Savoy actively chose to safeguard the Hexers from the Band of the Cockatrice, whose main objective was to hunt down and exterminate them as well as convince other nations and factions on the server to do the same. This same notion of sanctifying the existence of the Hexers came from the Empire of Oren and the Kingdom of Haense, as each respective nation signed a treaty that refuted the Band’s threats. The aftermath of San Luciano’s destruction would go on to become an active event zone for a short time, where other players could come and interact with the wasteland in ST ran events. Hexers have played a very active role in the ongoing Kivdrona eventline, and much of what is currently happening within that eventline has been shaped by actions carried out by the Hexers through roleplay. Alongside this, Hexers have also undertaken various roleplay monster-hunting contracts for nations such as Oren and Haense, allowing for a sort of collaborative narrative experience between the two groups and thus proving that Hexers can coincide and interact with other existing factions on the server without issue. We have been heavily involved in other assorted ST events relating to monsters and beasts, and even ran several of our own player-events. In addition, Savoy’s dissolution granted full independence to the Hexers and their Keep of Dún an Éin, meaning that our settlement would derive its basis from extensive pre-experienced roleplay that would facilitate its reputation and existence. Have you ever run a settlement on LoTC before and what experience do you have with leadership within roleplay communities among the current groups of players?: I've had experience in leadership in nations like Oren and Savoy in the past and also ran my own settlement for a time with the Grand Duchy of Vasiyeva, which taught me a great deal about player management and the importance of role play in facilitating a positive and efficient environment for a settlement The Hexers in particular have been run for over half a year now and have maintained very successful roleplay and even considerable activity just from passive RP and guild-style events and player directives. We’ve maintained around 2.5-3 percent at our height, largely keeping Savoy’s activity high prior to its roleplay dissolution. With our own settlement similar metrics would be maintained and continue on as an extension of pre-existing roleplay. Do you understand the metrics for maintaining activity and the grounds for settlement removal, along with the standing polity cap? Yes.
  4. Edmond of Sava peered out from the ramparts of Dun an Ein, eye set upon the flowing southern waters of Savoy. "And so Aeldin's encroachment goes not uncontested. Almarian will shall prevail, evidently, and our traditions endure. Certainty brings ruin."
  5. You’ve been one of my best pals on the server, Danny, and I wish you only the best as you step away from the server. Let the world come to you, king.
  6. "Damned Imperials," Edmond of Sava groaned, reading the parchment that finally found itself within his possession with a weary eye. "More of the Aeldinic agenda seeping into the Continent. Seeking to start another pogrom, no doubt. Hardly surprising."
  7. "A fort outside Kivdrona? Sounds real familiar," Edmond grumbled as he looked over a well preserved piece of parchment issued in contract by the late Lord Barnaby, his gloved finger tracing down the scribe-infused inkword carefully. "Real familiar."
  8. "This city will always unsettle me," spoke Edmond of Sava toward his fellow Hexers, gripping from a meat hook in his left hand the severed beak and wattles of a marred and grotesque Cockatrice, slain by members of the Creed within the plague-addled and corpse laden graveyard of the city of Kivdrona. "Though, the contract is done."
  9. "A debt owed must be paid," Edmond remarked as his gaze settled upon the carefully inscribed parchment.
  10. If i sent old spice body wash to ur house would you use it?? asking 4 a friend...
  11. Edmond of Sava spun a stick in his off hand as he examined the contract, turning to upnod toward Arthur of Caermad. "Was waiting for this one," he'd remark as his eye set upon his fellow Hexer's.
  12. Edmond of Sava, contently sipping some plum rakija of which the flavor was unparalleled, chortled uncontrollably at the many bidders. "The ultimate auction house spook. . ."
  13. "Neutrality is not the abdication of sensitivity or empathy. A Hexer needn’t kill feeling when the quelling of hatred is toil enough.” — Adeon of Rhoswen, Founding Speech of the Hexicanum A collection of texts, journal entries, and accounts by the monster hunters of the Hexer Creed of Almaris, founded by Master Hexer Edmond of Sava. These writings have been amassed and collected over decades — detailing these monster slayers’ journeys and hunts, as well as the doctrines they have adopted during their time upon the continent. Such sacred tomes, innumerable in their knowledge and lore, depict the many trials and tribulations of the members of this Creed. Spread across the realms and made known to those propitious enough to find them, their contents reveal much as to the true nature of these Beast Slayers. These texts have become vital in training and conditioning the future generation of Hexers. Entry 47 Hunting A Griffin Journal of the Hexer: Edmond of Sava 14th of Grand Harvest, 1834 The patchwork by which that murky ground did sprawl into desert still confounds me, though the farmers tell that this fugacious beast bore an aquiline head. It is that fact which made me certain. I approached the carriage discerned to me by the alderman outside of San Luciano, four hundred paces west to my recollection, and there it was. I shifted about its mass, and slumped against its wooden frame did they rest. When I pressed my palm against that ligneous sideboard the squeal of hinges resounded in concert with the squeal I knew once rung from the woman’s destitute visage, her daughter lying upon her lap sprawled with blood and thrawn flesh not simply her own. The maiden’s eyes were gouged, her once golden locks now a percolated crimson as gore flowed like a stream from below her scalp, lifeless and desecrated by the bastard Griffin which tormented this woesome vale. Such, too, could be spoken of the tormented infant within her grasp, its limbs unmoving as two deep scarlet lacerations chasmed within the child’s chest, where talon’s no doubt penetrated. And oh, how that mother did cling— even with whatever life once ebbing through having long since passed, her countenance still wept for the child lost. The remainder of the cart was no different, two more bodies, these ones men, hanging from the now dilapidated rail-work that once kept the contents of the vessel stored. They bore similar cuts, the first mangled through the face upon which blood still coagulated over lividy-enveloped skin, slowly oozing forth. The second had his arms mutilated so severely that they hung only from his shoulders by the cartilage and tendon that remained in sinew between the two sections of his form, as though it was naught more than string binding flesh to flesh. Either wore studded gambeson of cheap make, one a tabard with Savoyard colors imprinted upon its white cloth, barely discernible behind dirt and blood. They were affordable guards, an escort for a likely middle class family hoping to make it to the city with heed and assured safety. Within the carriage the only contents I discovered within the wreckage were the clothes of the mother and daughter, and a small pouch of twenty minae, a traveler’s fee no doubt. I placed the pouch within my satchel and rounded the length of the carriage once more, contemplating the tale it soundlessly told. The attack that interrupted those travels was recent, swift, though the only entity that had disappeared from the scene was the horse that led the hansom. The breeching and traces that would have fastened it to the carriage’s shafts had been left cut waywardly upon the ground, and hidden beneath a small clump of sand the hoof of the mare I would later find sat severed in a small pool of vermillion blood. Of the beasts which cling to the skies few would carry with them the appetite of a fully grown mare, let alone make a strike of such unprovoked upon a well traveled valley path. No cockatrice, wyvern or crackadonk would befit the injuries afforded and the circumstance laid out before me, nor a manticore considering this beast’s proclivity to strike unprovoked. It was then that it was made apparent we were hunting a Griffin, and an Imperial Griffin, no less, considering the depth of the wounds upon the guards. It was upon that realization that my disciple arrived, Masuo of Yamatai, an Oyashiman whom I had been training by the code just as Sebastian had taught me those many years ago. He was astute, a model hexer, even, if not for his loquacity. He had been speaking with the contract giver, securing payment before reaching me with word of our bait. A dead sheep, black balls of yarn plunged into gouged eyelids with rope wrapping its form upright and into place. It was as though a children’s doll had been by some arcane machination enlarged ten times its size. A pathetic, sad-looking bait, but more than effective enough for the tribulation at hand. I poured an inordinate amount of Hunter’s Charm onto its form, emptying nearly the whole flask; enough, I’d imagine, to attract a damn Vodnik from Elysium across the continent. Regardless, we lugged that now putrid-smelling bait further into the Southern Plains of Savoy, the beating heat, I recall, adding some toil to the trek. We placed the sheep atop a foothill, placing ourselves a few dozen meters behind it beneath the brush from which we could observe the descent more easily. [A Sketch of the Imperial Griffin on the Left Hand Side of the Page] An hour passed, the beast lurking above in observation of its easy prey. It watched as though suspicious of an attack, though its base nature overcame it. A hexer must ever be made aware that Griffin’s are driven by their insatiable hunger. Griffins long had hunted wild goats, marmots, and other mountain kin, though the increased encroachment of mankind toward their territory led to their grazing of easier prey; sheep, horse and the shepherds that cultivated either. They too would often feast upon mankind, a secondary delectability, though one taken without hesitation— especially when made cause by encroachment upon that which those beasts deemed their cultivated territory. It was this particular Griffin, which upon its descent above us, confirmed our initial suspicions. It was an Imperial Griffin, a female subspecies of an Archgriffin with wings and talons considerably larger than the average size. The townsfolk had deemed it the Mistress of the Hills, for as we were told none dared engage in trade within the south for fear of its torment. Hence our employ under the then Marshal of the Principality of Savoy, a brazen and hot-tempered man by the name of Joseph Brandt. As the beast whipped through the afternoon sky, its wings expanded outward to halt its descent; displaying lines of feathers flailing against the formed gale of wind that thrust itself upon myself and my adept’s position. Still, however, it did not see us- those yellowed eyes far too consumed by the meal set before it. The obstinate and abrasive brute wasted not a moment to sink its mandible deep into the wool-enwrapped flesh of the lamb, blood spewing forth from the lifeless corpse and onto the beak of the Griffin. No time was wasted then, a flask containing alchemical Flash Powder launched toward the beast’s head as Masuo of Yamatai approached from the rear, launching his rope dart through the wing of the beast while it was blinded. I, too, set my path forth, levying my crossbow toward it, though it did not yet reveal its patagium, a membrane of flesh by which the wing is allowed to be made of any use to the aquiline being. As my crossbow lay where it stood, the beast pulled its wing inward, the initiate wrapping his hand about its chain as the Griffin bit into his leg and sought then to fly upward with him in its clutch, rope-dart now entangling its pinion. A Griffin’s most powerful attribute is, undoubtedly, their proclivity to the sky. Their attacks often consist of sweeping strikes from above, only to retreat to the air once more after their claws and talons had wreaked havoc upon any victim made its prey. Some are known to bear corrosive acid produced within salivary glands in their mouths, and others in adulthood develop a grating screech, so off-putting it has been known to put Ologs off their balance. Most paramount to a hexer’s success in battle against one is to deprive it of its ability to the air, thus cutting or piercing the patagium of one or both wings. It was then, as the beast ascended to the air, that I let free the bolt of my crossbow- striking true in the aforementioned tendon binding wing to scapular. An ear grating screech sounded from the beast, sending me backwards some and depriving my grip of the crossbow I once clutched. Still, I saw Masuo above tangling with the beast, managing to grip upon its wing with his rope dart as it plummeted, grating at its ribcage with his blade. Even when on ground, it was still a beast of great ferocity, launching Masuo a great many feet away from it, even ripping his rope dart out of the wing from the sheer force of the blow, as well as his unwillingness to surrender his grip upon the chain. It is then that I proceeded forth, and made my greatest blight- an attempt to strike at the beast head on. It made no hesitation as those three talons ripped through my chest, one breaking deeply enough through my armor to leave a scar I am certain shall remain until the end of my days. For many more minutes we exchanged blows, but without its aptitude for flight, a well placed blow through its nape made due for a certain end to its terrestrial ravaging. Still, despite its many injuries, it ensued its battle far longer than we could have anticipated. It is this fact which led us to our next discovery- for no more than a few hundred meters past the very mountain upon which we stood, on a terraced hill surrounded by stone a perched nest did sit. When we approached it we found a great many mutilated remains of soldiers and farmers alike, and upon the nest of seven eggs, only a single remained unburnt or crushed. The Imperial Griffin was a mother, which made due cause for the expansion of its perceived territory in the recent months, and its further reason for fervor in battle; defending its youth against those who had sought to slay it. Further inward we also found the form of a much smaller Griffin, an average one, and a male, who had been pierced by what was at least thirty-four pierces and lacerations by a steel blade. Still, it is a lusty beast far too consumed in its pursuit of mate and meal to be afforded more than a moment’s empathy. It is from this fact, however, that the Griffin has long been held as a symbol of valiance, courage and loyalty. It is a beast that finds only one mate throughout its life, and mates no more than once throughout that span. This makes any Griffin who lays egg and offspring a far more dangerous threat than one that does not. It is thus my hope that I will not for some time have to face again a Mistress of The Hills. Entry 132 Passage On The Entrapment Of A Griffin Journal of the Hexer: Adeon of Rhoswen 6th of Snow’s Maiden, 1464 [An ancient tome, centuries old, preserved through time purely by those so inclined to conserve its knowledge] The spot took three days of soggy travel through the rainy foothills of north-western Oren to reach. We settled after dark, and continued before dawn. Valahan kept chiding the squires about speaking too loud and leaving food out, so much so that I grew tired of his voice. After three days of silent, cautious travel, we saw it crest a mountain further down the valley. The fog made it hard to see, and the rain made it easy to want to sit by the fire all day. It had long wings, and it was too hard to make out from here if it was a Wyvern or just a big vulture. Upon receiving the report, the creature was immediately assumed to be a cockatrice and we had brought with us a means in which to deal with it. When we finally arrived at its nesting ground, Valahan had the squires and sherpas make camp just over the opposite peak, and we awaited nightfall. As the night drew in, we sent three with a wagon of lumber and shovels. As quietly as possible, the men excavated just enough to lay lumber in an effort to maintain the trench. For what felt like hours, the men persisted, and deGrey and I watched with our pipes lit. Once the preparation was done and we had the Ballista’s parts carried in. We called it a night and slept early. Noon of the next day, we started planning our assault and to arrange equipment for the events to come. With Ballista in place, the area was thoroughly scouted and the nest was spotted. It had been empty and there was no sign of the thing, aside from assorted feathers and remains of various prey. Once we finalized the plan, we made our way back to the campsite and laid in wait for roughly 2 weeks. For a time, it had just become another home. Generally untouched, the land had plenty of wildlife to survive on and grain we brought on wagons had made life generally easy. A few of the men we hired to labor in our stead became displeased despite it, they’d begun discussing returning home but during such disarray, without warning, a shadow cast itself over the camp, moving toward the nest that had been deemed abandoned and useless. With unanticipated fervor, the camp burst to life, men moving to their tents and sliding on their armor or gathering the gear intended for their role. Within the hour, we departed from the camp, the beast was swooping over the men several times in what was likely a probing behavior. Valahan herded the sellswords to the site intended for ambush, as many of them were being picked up and lobbed skyward by what was now clearly a Griffin. Several times it swept over the men, and I watched its talons scooping flesh out of armored mercenaries, then flying out of range before any retaliation could be made- not that anybody at this point had the courage to. The group had split itself in two, with three of us— Morris, Gerald and myself standing before the makeshift ‘bunker’ in an effort to draw it’s attention whilst Temp and Valahan ran into the bunker and tended to the ballista. It was during this time that the massive feathered beast had set itself upon me, and tried to take me within it’s grasp. At the time, I hadn’t the slightest bit of knowledge of the beast. All I could perceive was it’s bald, vulture-like head, pecking at me with the might of a warhorse and its frightful claws nipping at my baldric. From within the ‘bunker,’ as the creature brought itself down for another attack, I heard Temp’s voice order the bolt to be launched and yet, there was nothing. I panicked, and it got atop me, ripping and crushing what felt to be every bone I had. Just when I thought I was done for, the weight was thrown off me, and I looked up to see a huge bolt in its side. The plan had worked. Like wolves, I saw Morris and Gerald immediately set themselves upon it, and hack it apart like butchers. And so it was no more.
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