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KBR

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  1. Forewarning: The forums have betrayed me before, I have no doubt they will again. I will swiftly begin to edit the formatting errors of this post once it is up, so you will have to excuse me for any ugliness for a moment. If you find any issues with consistency or anything else, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. Strigae, Children of the Unseen Origin/background/culture “There is, you say, an issue with monsters here?” The leaves of autumn crunched beneath Stefan de Witte’s doeskin boots as he stood before the alderman, in the centre of the village of Ashworth. A royal witch-hunter of the highest order, there was very little ground in provincial Exeter that he had not scoured in his dangerous trade. This village was known to him fairly well, it having been plagued by vodniks and the like before, however it had evidently elected a new alderman - the last, Deremir, had been known to de Witte, and had died of dropsy the year past. The new village elder was a middle-aged man of grey hair, clean-shaven and quiet of speech. The governor had assigned de Witte to speak to him, to attain the root of the hamlet’s problems. “Aye, sir. Not just any monster, either,” responded the alderman in hushed tones. He was briefly interrupted by a hound that barked at him as it passed, “The cooper’s son was found behind the chapel, with his throat torn open, his blood drained. It’s the third such murder in three weeks.” “Were there any witnesses to any of the killings?” asked the witch-hunter. “Only the village drunk, Henry Evein, and to the first murder. He says he saw a figure transform into a ghastly beast and tear the victim apart with dreadful talons, but in an instant, it was gone, disapparated into the fog,” retorted the elder. “A figure of what kind? Were they from around the village? Might I speak to Evein?” “I fear you cannot. For he was the second murder,” responded the alderman hesitantly, “If you would like to examine the body, it was taken to the crypt. I shall show you to it.” “With a striga? To what end? Did you kill her?” -Baron de Wett to the Hexer, Adeon Fableknight, 1521 Common elven legend has it that the first striga (Plural: strigae/Singular: striga) was a child born the sixth son of a sixth son, (Truly, an exemplary number of children for any elf to bear) and the tradition of human small-folk states that strigae are the reanimated corpses of great sinners, unable to find solace in death. These are the kinds of tall tales and folklore circulated between villages, propagated by peasant preachers and taught to children in lieu of discipline in order to scare them into submission. In truth, strigae are not undead and are of such variation that to quantify them is difficult, however scholars have managed to broadly categorize them into two classes - the greater and lesser. In the elven tradition, these beings are referred to as ruahdrel, and in dwarven texts they are called the ardolar. Savoyards and Imperials may call a female (But never a male) striga a bruxa. Most familiar to any reader is the universally commonplace appellation of choice for these mysterious creatures: vampires. “Give us a maid of unspoiled stock, That we may hew her limbs, And on a pile sacrifice her flesh, Before this earthly prison of her bones, A virgin’s blood, so that the Taker of Souls be appeased.” The elven sorcerer, Gedym aep Helgraen, and his seven acolytes had spoken the words in unison before the assembled altar, as the texts they had found in forgotten crypts described. Everything was proceeding as according to his plan, his exact measurements prescribed and carried out with an expert eye for detail. A runic pattern drawn in ground manticore horn adorned the basalt floor of the highest chamber of his great black tower. Demonic icons garnished various points of the pattern, and the walls of the chamber were covered in murals depicting the most disgusting and violent of excesses. Magic and power aep Helgraen had in abundance, and he had conjured himself an army of filthy, bestial servants to attend to his every need - it was not temporal desires, then, that had led him to spend the greater part of his life endeavouring to summon Iblees. It was his wish for eternal life. It was aep Helgraen’s virgin daughter who would serve as his first sacrifice, once he and his students had spoken the proper incantations. Bound tightly to the heavy rock altar, the girl made not a sound as her father slit her throat with his silver dagger, her lifeblood spilling out and pooling onto the sorcerous symbols that had been arranged so carefully. “We call Him hither,” ordered aep Helgraen imperiously in a forgotten, black tongue, and nothing came. The blood continued to flow as the girl choked on it, her eyes glazing over slowly. A dim glow was emitted from the runes cut into the altar, but naught else emerged from their chanting. “We call Him hither!” commanded the sorcerer again, and the earth rumbled from far below. With a terrible groan and a vile laughter from the realm beyond, each of his seven acolytes were torn apart by hideous, eyeless and winged creatures, their talons rending flesh as effortlessly as they had appeared in the chamber. Afeared, aep Helgraen took a step back from the spectacle, holding his staff aloft and preparing an incantation. His students were paralyzed, cut to ribbons by the demonic beings he had accidentally summoned, who lapped up their blood like the night-bats of Varendoz. The First of the Unseen “Fear not, Gedym aep Helgraen, who hath so foolishly called us to this world,” spoke the first and tallest of the beings, “You have sought immortality, and so we shall grant it to you.” And swearing allegiance did aep Helgraen thence become the Unseen’s first follower, and the first of the strigae. “A vampire? Get together a band of militiamen, weave a few wreaths of garlic and get the smith to forge some aurum weapons, herd it into sunlight. It’s hardly a difficult matter to deal with, hexer, so why is it taking so long?” “Lord Godwine, the matter’s hardly that simple. We could kill the striga, sure, but these are beasts of ancient breeding and dark magic. It’d be back in a few years time and I doubt it would be very happy with you.” -Godwine Horen, Regent of Lorraine, and Coren Isil of the Hexicanium, circa 1530s Origins The Unseen summoned by the wicked sorcerer Gedym aep Helgraen were foul, demonic creatures sworn to the fallen daemon Iblees. They wielded dark, unutterable sorceries, and toyed with mortal life like playthings. They were faceless and eyeless, and what features they bore were sunken and protruded, like skin taut against bone. Their flesh was pale and grey, like stone, and great, torn wings adorned their backs, carrying them throughout the planes of the daemon and the world of the mortals, whereupon they served their master, however sparse their service was. The creatures, of which there are only seven, were powerful casters, capable of great feats of dark magic, and fond of cursing the unsuspecting and the foolish. This was the case of Gedym aep Helgraen, an ambitious elven sorcerer, who sought to further his agelessness, and create himself master of death - unkillable, and undying. Through an ancient, odious ritual, the elven mage aspired to gain this gift by favor of the daemon Iblees. His power was magnificent, but out of reach. Helgraen made hearth in Aeldin, in the era of the elder races where humanity were little more than hut-dwelling savages and elven kingdoms dominated the continent. There he was hidden away in the northern reaches of the continent, as unforgiving as time is voracious. The savages residing in the lands were said to be easily ensorcelled, and made fit servants and cultists for the sorcerer, proving useful in the elf’s pursuit of true immortality. When the time came, and the means had been set, Helgraen performed his dark sacrament, crying out to the fallen daemon to summon him for reward. He erred in some intricacies of the incantation, for his pleas fell upon the ears of the Unseen, a coven of otherworldly beings who came to the elf from another dimension, with ill intent. Savoring in the misfortune of mortal beings and desiring to create for themselves a race of servants, the seven creatures granted that which Helgraen sought, but not without burden. His skin grew paler, and an almost insatiable compulsion took hold. He felt himself yearning for something, as if he were incomplete. The Unseen were quick to enlighten the sorcerer as to what he had become: a striga, the first of his kind, a new kind of being damned to hunger for the lifeblood of mortal creatures. In exchange for timelessness, he now craved corporeal pleasure, and where he had been an accomplished wizard before, the arts of magic were now lost to him. He became capable of assuming two forms. When resting, he was able to appear much the same as he had before his transformation, albeit paler in complexion. When in an agitated and activated state, he would lose control of this form, his nose and ears becoming bat-like, flat and pointed, his canine teeth being elongated into fangs and his fingernails growing into long, vicious talons capable of rending flesh with ease. The Unseen had sown the seeds of darkness, and set out across the land, falling dormant, finding themselves unable to return to their plane. The seven creatures began to sleep, each awakening in intervals of fifty years at a time per ancient tradition, leaving the cursed elf to his relative lonesome. The striga came to become familiar with his new form, and took for himself a collection of human worshippers, idolized as a powerful lord by the short-lived creatures, who so greatly admired the triumph over age and time. Their curse was already outshined by the long lives of the elves, but now, even that was well and truly trumped. Helgraen’s immortality would eventually come to be desired by his servants, and the sorcerer himself desired to increase their longevity and diminish their fragility by sharing his blood curse. Eventually, after many horrific failures and experiments, he developed a means by which to create new strigae. Helgraen had attained the ability to survive even the most dire of wounds, and so he feared not the loss of his own cursed life-essence. The aspiring mortals were bled, and rid of the majority of their own blood. Once drained, the host of the ceremony, the striga in question, spilt its own blood, sharing it with the bled mortal, and allowing them to take it upon themselves. The process is a dangerous one, and fails often. Many of those who undertake it die horrible, slow deaths. Others reject the blood, and merely rot, suffering violent reactions as if it were poison in their veins. The select few who survive and remain living become strigae, bearers of the curse first bestowed upon Gedym aep Helgraen. New generations of striga were born, and in time, they slowly spread across the world, traversing the continent and establishing small covens and enclaves, relishing in their immortality, while constantly battling the price it bore. The true origins of the Unseen and the curse conveyed upon Gedym aep Helgraen are in actuality shrouded in mystery. It is widely believed to those few scholars and enthusiasts in maleficarum that they are demonic creatures from another world, however in actuality they are a group of seven fallen aengudaemons pledged to Iblees, meaning their origins are in the present dimension after all. The Codex of the Unseen Before they departed into hibernation, the Unseen established a code for their children to follow under pain of death. Strigae (To whom the code exclusively applies to the greater kind) take this set of principles extremely seriously, for to defy them would mark them for a permanent death at the hands of their fellows as the anathema. It is worth noting that of the seven of the ‘demonic’ Unseen, one is always awake and six remain dormant in hibernation, ruling in ‘terms’ each for a span of a roughly a hundred years. Trusted greater strigae are allocated the role of seeking out the next of the Unseen to awake in sequence on the year of the ‘change-over’, a temporary position known as the Herald of the Unseen. This cycle is considered inviolable, and the last ‘change-over’ was believed to be around 1733. The woken Unseen is known as the most ‘senior’ elder of the striga at that particular time, and his command is law so long as it is in accordance with the Codex he and his six other compatriots agreed upon originally. He or she has the power to issue a summons to any of the greater striga in the world at will. Despite this, his location is not known to any but the designated herald for the next change-over, and he leaves his servants alone and is accordingly left to his own devices, likely in some forgotten cave network. In the Unseen’s relative absence of active involvement, communally-minded greater strigae have been known to establish covens ruled over by their own (Non-Unseen) elders in accordance with the Codex, while the more solitary of their kind prefer to live among mortals or alone. There is an entire manuscript that makes up the Codex of the Unseen, however the crudely translated volumes elucidate seven key points which form the foundation of the golden law followed by all greater striga. One must never drink the blood of and kill another fellow greater striga. All those who defy this principle shall be considered anathema. One must always remain unquestioningly obedient to the Unseen. All those who defy this principle shall be considered anathema One must always provide fraternal assistance to any fellow striga whose body has been destroyed, and they must be helped to regenerate. All those who defy this principle shall be considered Anathema One must never consort with the lesser striga, for they are beast and a shame upon our kind, and are considered to be anathema One must never consort with the anathema, and must consider them exempt from the privleges of any greater striga, and thereby anathema are worthy of present death One must always endeavour to avoid bringing the attention of mortals onto the greater striga. One must always consider it their duty to cremate the cast-off flesh, leavings and destroyed bodies of any fellow striga. The body of the cooper’s son was truly wretched. His throat had been torn open and made a ruin. His torso carried innumerable slashing marks, and where his heart should have been there was now a simple, gaping hole. Looking over the cadaver, de Witte could see the stone slab upon which his body had been placed in the crypt through the hole, slick with dark blood. Of course, the witch-hunter had seen worse. Perhaps this was the work of some particularly careless frost witch? After making a few more observations, he exited the crypt, returning to the alderman. “I’ll need to question a few villagers,” he said at once, to which the man nodded fervently. He checked that he had all of his golden blades, just in case he encountered this beast. De Witte would keep his suspicions to himself for the moment. If word were released that a town were plagued by a greater vampire, a striga, the governor would sooner burn the village and massacre its inhabitants than even risk the chance of such a creature escaping. For the sake of these people, he prayed that the fiend was a mere ghoul or rotter. Physical description “A higher vampire, Your Imperial Majesty, is truly more like us mortals than it is a bestial lesser vampire. They are like your people in speech, behaviour, and intelligence. You will not find them lurking in caves or forests, but within your very cities, practically indistinguishable. We of Haelun’or call them the ruahdrel.” -Kalenz Uradir, advising Robert I on magical affairs, circa 1460s Greater strigae Greater strigae (Flexio: vampirus superiores) are the masters of camouflage and deception, in many cases appearing nearly identical to their form prior to transformation. These immortal, ageless beings (In actuality they are not immortal, having natural life-spans of around four thousand years, only appearing so to shorter lived species) are just as varied and capable of thought and emotion as any sentient creature - in fact, they often feel the latter to a higher intensity than mortal creatures. In contrast to their lesser forms, whom they typically loathe and shun for their animalistic instincts and lack of grip on reality, greater strigae may fall within any alignment and have just as diverse aspirations, abilities, moralities, feelings, goals and personalities as any mortal. Some strigae may be inherently more bestial than others, depending on their prior lives. They may desire to live among mortals in cities or live solitary lives, hidden away from society. Even their individual approaches to their addiction to fresh humanoid blood may be heterogeneous. Physiology The normal and ‘passive’ form of a greater striga is very similar to the appearance assumed prior to their transformation. They are humanoid, allowing them more or less to blend into greater society, and while they look much as they were before when mortal, there are a few very subtle differences that the trained eye can notice as telltale signs of a striga. Firstly, a greater striga appears paler than average, though not necessarily unnaturally so or to a degree that appears unhealthy or abnormal such as albinism. Secondly, the canine teeth are slightly pointed and elongated into tiny fangs, however this is usually hidden by a closed mouth. Thirdly, the iris of a striga’s eye is always a yellow-green colour - however, again, this is not necessarily unnatural among many mortals. Finally, a striga who has not fed on blood for a considerable amount of time feels cold to the touch. A male greater striga in bestial form However, greater strigae are able to change their corporeal shell and shapeshift. This bestial and ‘activated’ form can be willed by the striga or brought on by intense emotions such as anger or fear, especially when the striga is hunting for prey or triggered by excessive blood. This form is still humanoid in nature, however it is distinctly more monstrous in appearance. The cheekbones appear hollow and sunken, with eyes dark-rimmed and totally blackened (To the point where there are often no pupils) as if those of an insect. Skin appears sallow, with black veins beneath becoming slightly visible, and the nose is flattened and the ears elongated as if those of a bat or wolf. This similar appearance is believed to be the origin of folklore’s identification of vampires and ruahdrel with bats, however in actuality the two creatures have no affinity at all. Fingernails become extended to extremely long, strong and sharp talons, perfect for the rending of flesh (These talons may also be manifested as a singular feature while the striga is in their normal, ‘mortal’ form) and are durable enough to sometimes even capable of parrying blades. Finally, a striga’s canine teeth also become elongated, for the purpose of biting and thrashing. It is worth noting that there are only two forms a greater striga can assume - their mortal form, which resembles their appearance prior to transformation albeit slightly changed, and their striga (Albeit humanoid) form, the details of which are described in the paragraph above. As the striga's monstrous form can be either willed for utilitarian purposes or triggered inadvertently by intense emotion, more level-headed strigae may never need to assume this shape. A female greater striga in bestial form Though strigae are not undead and are technically living, being somewhat a halfway point and hybrid between their mortal husks and their Unseen predecessors, the curse has greatly diminished and slowed their ability to naturally produce the life-essences found in mortal bodies (genus, lifeforce, etc) and so they are blindly compelled to consume blood in search of it. Despite this compulsion, the consumption of blood serves as a powerful addiction for which they will always have a taste, but not an absolute requirement to survive. Greater strigae can theoretically sustain themselves on mortal food and drink alone, however this rarely happens in practise. The blood of mortals serves as a powerful drug which conveys upon strigae several temporary boons - greater strength, speed and regenerative capabilities among them, as well as the pleasurable sense of being ‘drunk’, senseless and intoxicated - and as a result very few strigae can ever totally overcome the addiction, if they indeed would even desire to. A lack of blood will often result in weakness and lethargy as signs of withdrawal, a loss of significant vitality, regardless, an overindulgence will usually result in a greater striga’s degeneration into a bestial lesser striga with no grasp on reality (See below for lesser strigae). This occurs usually if a greater striga partakes in more than two adult 'meals' (Presuming that enough blood is drained to kill an adult victim) in the span of a single saint’s day. A male greater striga in his normal form In contrast to the tales of folklore, garlic, sunlight and holy iconography have no effect on greater strigae, and though they are naturally nocturnal they are able to adapt to daytimes accordingly. Strigae are also totally infertile, and can only reproduce by transfusing their blood to create more strigae, a dangerous process which usually ends in failure and degeneration. They also possess a heightened sense of low-light eyesight and smell and are able to identify and track familiar blood through its particular scent. Similarly, animals with developed olfactory ability such as dogs, cats or horses are able to identify a striga merely through smell, and are usually averse to one’s presence. This makes it practically impossible under normal circumstances for a striga to mount a typical horse, as the animal will be too afeared and inevitably throw off its vampiric rider. In the presence of an extreme amount of blood, such as in an abattoir or large battle, a striga is liable to become overstimulated by the scent of excessive blood, and is typically driven into an animalistic, uncontrolled rage made manifest in the striga’s bestial form. This tends to make strigae very poor soldiers of any army intended to face battle. Depending on how much time a striga takes to feed, they may imbibe minutes amount of blood in a short amount of time, taking not enough to kill the victim, (Though that is contingent on their ability to both literally restrain their ‘meal’ and physically restrain themselves) or they may drain a victim of blood to the point of their death. They may feed on victims living or very freshly killed, however cannot feed on putrefied corpses. A striga will appear the same age as they were when they were transformed across their lifespan, with very little signs of aging - for example, a striga transformed at age twelve will appear twelve forever, however, if they do not feed regularly they will begin to wither and appear aged (though this will not kill them). As they are considered to be creatures of darkness, all strigae greater or lesser are anathema to the monks of the Cloud Temple, and accordingly they cannot be healed or restored by them. They possess an immunity to diseases, poisons, toxins, plague and sickness. This does not apply to those created by magical means. “Helgraen was immortal, and so too did the lesser folk desire to be. Thus, a method of transfusion was discovered by the sorcerer, and the creation of more strigae came to light. The process is a vile one, steeped in failure…” -Texts found in Tor Styx, unknown author, circa 400-600s Venom All Striga, lesser or greater, are capable of producing venom. Secreted by glands located in the canines, akin to a snake, the Striga’s bite injects an inflammatory paralysing black toxin that spreads quickly through the muscle tissue of victims. An antidote to this bite can be found in two forms: 100ml of Greater Striga Blood being consumed by the victim, or the consumption of the Calefacto Elixir; an antivenom making use of the more accessible, albeit far more volatile Lesser Striga Blood. Calefacto Elixir Abilities/ Characteristics The hoot and flutter of a tawny owl could be perceived through the small shot-window, moonlight briefly illuminating the bird’s piercing yellow retina. A sallow hiss emanated from the back of the chamber, as a short bald man with sickly green eyes, flicked what appeared to be a large silver trinket into the air, and caught it, balancing on the end of his little finger. “It matters not.” He said softly, his dulcet tones breaking the palpable silence of the room. “I killed the master Harpy, and scattered his apprentices to the four winds. It was foolish of him to take the contract, and it’s one more that we no longer must worry about.” He tossed the item that he had been playing with into the center of the table with a casual smirk, and under the dim candlelight it was clear to all about that it was a pendant wrought into the shape of a winged lady. “And you are certain they did not discover your own true nature, Benda?” From across the table, the imperious and nasally voice of a woman called out, and was met with a variety of muttering agreements. “You should have consulted this council, before taking such reckless action.” She chided, pursing her lips. She wore a large white wig, netted about her head, and her face was powdered pale, which was in strict contrast with her blood red lips. A large ruby set in gold sat around her neck, and one could see that where the metal had touched the skin was burned, yet it seemed not to bother it’s wearer. The rest of her, from the bosom down was wrapped in a fitted scarlet bodice and cut skirt, which sat in contrast with the subject of her admonishment, who wore a simple black tunic, albeit finely tailored. “He didn’t have the chance Madame de Larroque; that is, before I took off his head.” The man stated plainly, resting back into his chair. This too was met with a chorus of vile chortles from the other members who encompassed the table. The bald man allowed himself a smile at that and placed up a humble palm as if to reluctantly accept their praise. The woman scowled, which quickly dispersed the laughter, as she easily regained control of the conversation. “Yes, well it will be in your best interests that those two apprentices that escaped your clutches, do not know, or suspect, who they were really after in Pronce.” She moved to clasp at the finely jeweled goblet that rested at her elbow, frowning slightly as she inspected its empty contents. Raising her long talon-like hand, she snapped her fingers authoritatively, the sound of which traveled across the chamber, and a matter of seconds later was met with the creak of the large wooden door opening. A hollow faced, balding man with a beard entered silently, carrying a large pottery jug came forward, and moved to decant a portion of the contents into the woman’s chalice. It quickly filled with thick, crimson liquid, “Enough.” She snapped. “You are lucky that they are no longer around or you’d have not found such lenience as this council allows.” He rolled his chalice about his thumb and forefinger with exaggerated tediousness. “You worry too much Madame. It benefits our station no end, that those damned hunters vanquished the Unseen. We’ve all their authority without actually having to deal with them.” With that, he beckoned for the thrall to serve him also, to which the pale serf meekly obliged. “I would remind you.” She responded, “That our power is maintained by the illusion that they still remain, and that we, their heralds, are but that: heralds.Were the rest of our kind to find out, they might have such ridiculous notions such as attempting to revive them.” *** The sallow serf, wound his way down the ancient labyrinth of cobbled staircases and narrow corridors, his eyes bloodshot and expression limp. His urgent footsteps gave hollow echoes before and after, as if painting some unnatural sound-scape of his past and future movements. As he reared his head from under some low overhanging arch and stepped quickly round a half turret into another passage that looked so minutely identical to each that he had passed through before, that to anyone who had not memorized the intricacies of this maddening castle, they would undoubtedly have thought themselves to have been traveling in circles. He had just about reached the halfway to his exit, when suddenly a flash of red flickered briefly across the peripheral vision of the man before he was held hard against the wall, the jagged scraping of claws at his neck held the decrepit scion about a foot above the ground, as a regal and unpleasant voice, whispered in his ear. “You thought I would not smell the blood of your new master upon your filthy form? I wonder, what would ever possess a vermin to think they could spy upon the council and not go undiscovered.” The man’s eyes were frantic and wild, looking about him in great urgency, and, if he were able to communicate, he did not seem to make any attempt to do so, despite the rampant stink of fear that clung to him. In response to his silence, the Madame De Laroque sank her fangs deep into the man’s protruding jugular, as blood trickled down her chin, her eyes rolled back in her head, as her eyelids flickered as images flashed across her mind. “I believe you are searching for me.” A pale man stepped out from the doorway at the end of the hallway, his features were chalky, with lime coloured eyes, and stark white hair that fell down to his shoulders. His overcoat was stained and weathered as if he had been on the road for many a month, and his disposition was thin and wiry. He frowned slightly, as the female Striga’s head flicked to look in his direction, her eyes snapping back as she dropped the thrall to the ground, as the mute clutched at the dangerous wound on his neck, his veins already starting to darken as the woman’s venom started to take effect. The pale man grimaced slightly as he inspected the fate of his spy, tucking a strand of hair behind his ear. “Or rather, I am searching for you. I’d ask you to explain yourself, but I have a feeling this only ends one way.” The woman bared her fangs in agreement, steadying herself before she pounced, talonous fingers outstretched in attack. After a myriad of blows were exchanged between the two, the elder striga deftly knocked her young adversary down. As the Madame de Larroque loomed over her victim, she snarled, her previously immaculate wig rested at an angle atop of her head, and the powdered makeup that contrived her complexion was smeared red from the rouge of her lips. In this moment of victory, she had a look of derangement about her unkempt visage. As she reared over the bruised and bloodied face of her opponent, he winced in preparation for the impending death that surely followed. She gasped, looking down at her torso, her eyes wide and fearful. A moment later, a tip of a golden spike peaked through her chest, blood trickling from it’s point. She quickly collapsed to the floor, with a gurgle, ragdolling as she went. *** She awoke with a start, struggling slightly as she inspected the aurum chains that bound her. Her eyes quickly narrowing as she spied two figures resting against a windowsill the outlines of their faces barely illuminated by hollow candlelight. “What would you have of me?” she spoke up, her tone as venomous as the look in her eye “Handed over as sport for marked men, or perhaps sold a specimen to some Rythori cultists?” The stranger man who she could only have assumed to have been her unseen assailant shifted as she spoke, the heavy tails of his dusted coat cracking against the wooden panels of the wall “Where is it?” he barked out, the simplicity of the question almost as unnerving as his disregard for her contentful outburst. “What is it you seek?” she enquired more eagerly “I have lived a long and fortunate life, and have many precious trinkets that would make even the Emperor himself green with envy. You have but to name it, and surely I can deliver it unto you.” Although she could not see the man, she felt a chill run through her bones as his scowl filled the room. “I do not care for stolen heirlooms or coveted treasures. Where is it?” The emphasis on the final word ran bolts of electricity through her skull, as she came to understand. “No, no. Lost, for a millenia. I haven’t seen it for a thousand years! Please, you must believe me!” Again her words seemed to fall upon deaf ears, as the candlelight finally came to illuminate his dark, ferocious features. “We shall see.” He said, as the hairs on the back of her neck stood on end. “As you say Madame, you have lived a very long time indeed, but as we both well know, blood is lives, and I’ve got a great deal to sort through.” He said with as much mirth as an undertaker. “No… Please.” Her plea came out hoarse now and with little of the fight she was known for. As he came to loom above, finally her courage broke and her chin began to wobble as Emerick aen Anerhyd descended upon her. Greater Striga Blood Enthrallment Heightened skills Regeneration Passive Metabolism Blood Memories “Blood is lives.” -Emerick aen Anerhyd Strengths and weaknesses summarized Strengths Strigae are immortal, unaffected by time or disease. Strigae are capable of producing a venom within their fangs, further detailed under physical description. Strigae are endowed with some significant strength relative to their size, though not beyond that of an uruk. This is not super-strength. Strigae are able to be very quick and evasive, capable of moving and concealing themselves in the shadows adeptly. This is not super-speed. Strigae may grow long talons (up to 1ft) for use in combat when enraged, hunting or blood-drunk. Greater strigae are capable of regenerating wounds that would be fatal to mortals very quickly, such as a stab through the heart or a slit throat, unless inflicted upon them by gold or holy magic, in which case such wounds take considerably longer to heal and are able to more easily incapacitate the striga. Strigae are capable of falling a maximum of 20 blocks with the right preparation, anything over that will likely result in circumstantial injury or even fatal. Strigae are capable of tapping into their victims memories through the drinking of their blood, these memories shown are completely at the OOC discretion of the victim player. They are unable to see the former deaths of the victim through this. Greater strigae are unkillable under most circumstances. While their bodies can be totally incapacitated in much the same manner as would a normal humanoid (Rapid dismemberment, beheading) and destroyed through destruction of the brain, ‘death’ in this fashion only serves to destroy the corporeal body and banish the spirit from this plane. With enough time (Recorded in this document as a minimum of nine years) and the aid of another striga’s blood, a greater striga may regenerate a new body, identical to the last. However, if a greater striga is killed by one of its own kind, it suffers a final death - and similarly, if another striga refuses to offer aid to a comrade whose body is destroyed (Whether this is because they are anathema or for other reasons) they may not regenerate. Weaknesses Strigae are compelled to feed on blood, hungering for it like a powerful addiction. Though this ‘alcoholism’ can occasionally be overcome by the most controlled of strigae, it is always latent. Strigae who have not fed on blood for an extended period of the time are cold to the touch and usually significant weaker in combat than those who have - slowly withering away. This proceeds in three stages. Strigae who have fed on blood in the last week are at peak strength and vitality and appear almost indistinguishable from normal people. Strigae who have fed on blood in the last two weeks are at base human strength and vitality and appear more gaunt and pale. Strigae who haven’t fed on blood in the last two weeks or longer are weaker than the average human and appear pale, gaunt and their eyes shine viridescent, making them more easily distinguishable from a normal person. Over an extended period of time, these Striga who forgo their meals will appear to rapidly age until they refresh themselves once more. Greater strigae who overindulge (More than two adult 'meal' per saint’s day on blood will devolve into one of the many forms of lesser striga.) Many animals with developed senses of smell, hounds and horses especially, are able to detect the scent of a striga and are averse to one’s presence. This weakness is not combatable by simply putting on an obnoxious amount of perfume. Like most unnatural beings, strigae are susceptible to aurum and silver, and cannot immediately regenerate wounds inflicted by blades of gold. To a striga, any form of aurum or silver is very uncomfortable to the touch, and must be handled with gloves. Similarly, strigae are vulnerable to holy magic, and are unable to immediately regenerate wounds inflicted by it. They tend to avoid practitioners of holy magic such as paladins, being uncomfortable in their presence. Accordingly, they cannot be healed via magic. Becoming a striga is irreversible. Strigae are infertile and can only reproduce by inflicting their curse (Or as they often see it, a blessing) upon others. Strigae are completely unable to learn and utilize magical skills as a result of their affliction. Prior magical skills that were learnt prior to transformation become unusable. Strigae cannot utilize the Cloud Temple monks to heal their bodies. The scent of excessive blood such as that of a large battle or slaughterhouse will drive even the most controlled striga temporarily wild and rabid, forcing them into their more bestial form and causing them to lose control of their emotions. The pyre was so bright that it illuminated the Exeterian countryside around Ashworth for miles. It seemed to reach metres into the sky, an array of logs and brush upon which was bound the burning figure who had been de Witte’s adversary. It had been heard of for strigae to masquerade as herbalists and alchemists in villages, and so the obvious culprit of the murders was Johanna Varens, the hamlet’s primitive witch-doctor. Mysterious and maligned, it was her who the villagers would turn to in place of a physician, which the rural folk had no access to. She would brew her remedies and salves in her cottage just outside of Ashworth, charge a hefty price, but otherwise trouble nobody. None of them would have suspected the old woman to be a greater vampire as ancient as the continent itself. The witch-hunter was slightly disgusted at their non-perception. He would lie to the governor, though, for their sake, and tell him that it was merely a frost witch or something of the like. They had gathered around the pyre, dancing and rejoicing as the herbalist burnt alive. The moon was weak and waning, and so the cold night was lit up exclusively by the arrangement of burning wood and flesh. Stefan de Witte did not partake in the pomp and ceremony as the local priest proselytized against wickedness, instead going straight to the main hut to inform the alderman that the deed had been done, and the village was safe again. “Thanks be to God!” said the elder, producing a coinpurse of Imperial crowns with which to compensate him. The witch-hunter waved it off, for his actions were merely his civic duty. “If there’s nothing else,” he said as he turned about-face, going to exit the elder’s house. “But you forgot something, Mr. de Witte,” stated the alderman with quiet certainty. The witch-hunter turned around impassively, an eyebrow raised. “Did they not teach you in the academy,” began the middle-aged man, bringing his candle-light up to his face as if to demonstrate the point, “...that fire will not kill a striga?” Before de Witte could respond, the alderman fell upon him as quick as lightning, sinking long teeth into his exposed neck. Then, all turned to darkness. The ritual of transformation To become a new striga, a transfusion of blood must take place. A mature striga must be present to host the ceremony, as must be the requisite runes and incantations in reflection of the procedure aep Helgraen originally used when he summoned the Unseen. This process is mysterious, with the full details and preparation unknown to most. Theoretically, any striga can perform the sacrament necessary to create more of their kind, however knowledge of the ritual, its incantation’s exact pronunciation and reagent’s explicit alchemical measurements, is required and that itself is a private mystery to any but the most venerable and senior of strigae who guard it closely and jealousy. A newly turned female striga, in their bestial form after having fed Generally, (The following information being all that is known to strigae and those educated in the dark arts) the process begins with the bleeding of the aspiring striga. They are drained of a great deal of their blood, to the point of killing them. Once drained, and on course to death, a striga must share its own, cursed blood with the aspirant. The ritual is a risky one, often resulting in the death of the aspirant, and a bloody mess. In the case of success, the cursed blood will flow through the aspirant’s veins, afflicting him or her with the curse. There is much more to the transfusion than this, however many of these riddles are as yet unanswered to any outside observer. A newly turned striga must feed at least once shortly after the experience of turning, or else it will starve and wither. Alternatively, if it overindulges on blood, it will turn into a lesser striga. For this reason, a living sacrifice is often retained to be fed upon at the end of these rituals. Most of the information available to mortals about this dark sacrament comes from those rare sacrifices that have escaped, having observed the clandestine process. “Pray you the striga we hunt has not degenerated. We’ve come equipped to reason with something more akin to man than beast.” -Glaeddwen aep Invaerne to Marked initiate Luka of Flotsam. Lesser strigae Lesser strigae bear only a marginal resemblance to their greater striga origins. In contrast to the latter, who are capable of as much reason, thought and emotion as they were prior to their transformation, lesser strigae are little more than beasts, barely sentient. All that is unanimous between the two varieties of striga is a mutual thirst for blood - however, while the sentient greater striga are capable of going about slaking their thirst through calculated means, lesser striga are not. They are unable to regenerate wounds to even half the degree greater strigae are, and will not be able to form into a new body upon death (On account of the unwillingness of their kin to help them do so) making them a particularly undesirable state for any greater striga to reach. However, their regenerative abilities are still latent, and their brain must be destroyed to be sure of their death. Lesser strigae are mindless in their pursuit of blood, having completely lost their grip on reality and become totally animalistic in nature. They shy away from sunlight and the day, hiding away in sewers, forests and caves. They may not assume either of the two forms a greater striga assumes, instead being confined to their own twisted shell, and are therefore unable to blend into society as they once were. In contrast to greater strigae who retain some delicacy in their feeding, lesser strigae do not simply bite a victim and drain their blood. They more characteristically tear a victim to shreds in a show of gory dismemberment, licking up the blood from the ground with long, rasping tongues. A striga will usually suffer degeneration if they overindulge on blood, draining more than one adult meal of its life essence in the span of a seed-month (1 irl day). Degeneration has a short span in which it may be halted(before reaching Alpdom), but progressing is incurable and irreversible - it can only inevitably proceed further, and will never improve. There are many different types and forms of lesser striga depending on their level of degeneration, with the most immediate kind and the state of the least devolution being the upir, the greatest the carcoran. These labels are merely those which have been applied to the various lesser strigae by scholars of monsters such as the Marked Men - they are biologically the same creature, just at varying stages of degeneration. Lesser Striga Blood Portrait of a male upir The upir is a fiendish, crazed striga who has recently succumbed to their blood-drunk bestial habits. Their flesh is taught and grey, and their faces are sunken. Their claws are permanently present, and their maws distort and protrude from beneath their lips. They often linger in forests and the darker recesses of cities, looking to remain near ample sources of blood. With enough cloaks and at a great distance, an upir might appear mortal on account of its humanoid shape, however in close quarters they are anything but. Walking on two legs, they shy away from sunlight, living a distinctly nocturnal lifestyle. Their humanoid physical appearance is deceiving, for they have the mind of rabid beasts and are only capable of thought in regards to one thing - their next meal. They can speak and grunt a few rudimentary words, and generally have a painful memory of their identity prior to their degeneration which they are unable to verbalize, however appear to communicate with one another. They are weaker and slower than the greater striga they once were, their bestial mind making them far less dangerous, however nevertheless a monster to be feared. In their desperation for a cure they have been known to attempt to kill greater striga who have been marked as anathema, the blood of these greater striga (or any greater striga) has been known to restore their sanity, lifting them from the state of lesser strigae to greater once again. The other known cure is far more painful to the Upir, in which a Greater Striga may capture them and drain their blood only to seal them within a coffin for two years in which time they would slowly return to their wits, suffering incredible pain all the while. Their original gender is typically indiscernible from their appearance. A sewer-dwelling alp feeding upon a city guardsman The alp is the second-greatest stage of devolution, resulting from when an upir exists for an extended period of time, such as several years, gorging itself on blood. An alp is barely humanoid, with a belly like a barrel of beer, a thick grey trunk covered in coarse hair and a vicious, animalistic face with deadly teeth. They are strong and stout in their body shape, and possess little to no signs of the being they once were save for a few - Coren Isil records in his Journal of the Maleficarum an instance where a striga with auburn hair eventually degenerated into an alp with a head of hair the same colour. It walks on either two legs or all four, like a great ape, and reviles sunlight. Utterly incapable of speech or sentience, they are pained creatures that retain no memory of their former identity save that deep in the subconscious, tearing apart their victims and devouring both their flesh and blood indiscriminately. They have been known to feed on corpses, and often hang around crypts and mausoleums as a result, however the disgusting creatures cannot digest rotting flesh - leading to their propensity to uncontrollably vomit and purge themselves. An alp’s sole response to any stimulus is to attack it indiscriminately, and their eyesight is very poor, undertaking much of their sensation through hearing. A hulking carcoran The carcoran is the greatest stage of degeneration a striga might reach, and is arguably the most dangerous form of lesser striga. They are violent and bestial, originating from the extreme devolution of an older alp which has fed on blood for an extended period of time. The degeneration from upir through to carcoran typically takes at a minimum five years - a period of time many upirs or alps would fail to survive, as their monstrous and stupid nature makes them considerably easier to kill, even by peasants in great number. The carcoran is significantly more dangerous than its weaker counterparts, however, possessing over-long dangling limbs bearing bloodied claws, a thick, hulking, batlike appearance and an ability to move very swiftly in the darkness. They may walk on four limbs or stoop up on two. They are blind and unable to operate in sunlight, navigating through echolocation, and as a result they mostly reside in caves and sewers similar alps, emerging only to hunt. Like any lesser striga, they are not sentient, and their mind is incapable of higher thought, their pursuit of fresh blood and meat endless and unrelenting. Bearing very little resemblance to the original form of a greater vampire, a carcoran is strong, fast and capable of some moderate intelligence by which to hunt, making them a deadly foe for even an experienced hunter of monsters. The cavern made for an unsettling, dark scene, silent aside from the steady drip of overarching stalactites. They dotted the rocky ceiling in a morbid homage to the unwelcoming maw of some unnamed behemoth. One could easily find themselves lost for an eternity in these caves, devoid of any human life. Certainly, this site was one to avoid, and as such much of the town, only a few miles back, adhered to this. Yet the trail ended here, spatterings of blood painted here and there up to a mile back ceasing abruptly at the unhinged jaw that was the cavern’s entrance. His apprentice had been taken the night before, having been sent out on his daily chore of preparing the torches for night. It had only been dusk, the setting sun still offering its deplenished rays upon the oceans of barley and hay. The cottage was only a short ride out of town, yet the abduction was seen nor heard by nary a soul. As a witch hunter, a tradesman tasked with the culling of beasts birthed from darkness itself, it was hardly his job to handle abductions, yet the crime held a particular nefariousness to it; none of the common townsfolk would dare welcome the wrath of the witch hunter on the hill over yonder, much less make off with his apprentice, an excitable yet obedient boy of about ten. This was the work of a beast of darker character, a demon beyond town lines. There would be no quarter for the culprit, vowed the witch hunter. As the hunter sauntered into the cavern, fingers twitching instinctively around the hilt of his blade, the scene became more clear. A huge cavern enveloped around him, walls absent from the sparse light offered by the moonlight peering in through the maw of the formation. His footsteps worked in unison to the uniform drip, drip of the cave, a welcome accompaniment to the ominous absence of sound. A certain mustiness found itself to the man’s nostrils as he descended into the labyrinth, a cloying, heavy scent he found easily recognizable from his line of work: death. Death was not foreign to these caves, and the hunter immediately understood the reaper’s touch had graced this abyss only too recently. As the man found himself deeper and deeper in the cavern, the friendly moonlight had dissipated to no more than a hint, causing a halt in his descent. From his pack the man withdrew a hastily prepared torch, one of those left unlit in the chore of the apprentice. He deftly lit it with his tinderbox, immediately illuminating the cave in bouncing red hues. Continuing along the path, the hunter passed the torch into his left, calloused fist, his right hand still knowingly fingering the grip of his shortsword. A bend in the path approached, the walls of the cavern veering abruptly towards the right. As the hunter rounded the bend, the opening immediately sunk deeper, ominously akin to that of a tomb. Urgency of the cause driving him on, the fellow delved deeper into the abyss, his own safety largely shelved for the wellbeing of his apprentice. The stench of death grew in magnitude as the figure descended, illuminated by his torch, burning brightly against the surrounding darkness. As he reached the bottom, the walls of the cave stretched apart, forming a chamber. As light struck halls absent of light for a thousand years, the scene became clear to the hunter. He found the young apprentice draped against the rocks opposite him in the chamber, body strewn in an inhuman, broken manner. As he hastily approached the corpse, it was clear the body was handled in a monstrous manner, work beyond the capabilities of any man. The boy’s clothing was ripped to rags, long, slicing wounds dotting his body. The throat of the apprentice had been roughly ripped open, blood and gore splattering his face and hair, yellow like the fields of wheat dotting the edge of the hunter’s property. The incisions lacing across the boy’s corpse were like nothing the hunter had seen, the work of a creature undoubtedly gargantuan in stature. His examination of the cadaver, a gruesome process having already dealt an unsettling blow to the hunter, was abruptly cut short as the deathly silence of the cave erupted in a raucous noise, a thundering blow to the cave floor shaking the vicinity and giving the hunter quite the start. Pivoting around hastily, the hunter was met face to face with a beast perhaps only ten feet beyond the flames of his torch, its fire illuminating the scene far too well. The behemoth at his opposite stood perhaps eight feet tall, a hulking beast possessing milky white limbs as thick as tree trunks. Sharp, unkempt claws caught the light of the torch, gleaming menacingly in a manner that emphasized their deadly make. It glared at him with calculating, hungry eyes, devoid of humanity yet equipped with an animalistic predation. The hunter’s frozen, shocked form broke free from the demon’s hypnotizing figure with a roar emanating across the hall, a bestial scream shaking the very foundations of the cavern. He expertly withdrew his aurum blade with a right hand, leveling it towards the beast as he once more gathered his senses. Very little time was allotted to the hunter in this regard, the gargantuan figure wasting no time in charging the man. Leveling its claws up towards the man akin to that of a stabbing saber, the beast flung itself at the hunter with strength unmatched by any man. Parrying the veering weapons of the beast, the hunter whirled to the left, allowing the monster to charge onwards into the wall. He desperately stepped away from the creature, once more attempting to gain his footing. As it pivoted and attempted a second charge, he shoved the blazing torch towards the behemoth, stopping it in its tracks with a screeching hiss. Fire was undoubtedly a deterrent, giving the creature pause that no blade could rightly produce. Gripping the torch with all his might, the hunter waved it to and fro at the beast, leveling his blade vertically in the air. The beast watched him with furious yet hesitant eyes, halting in its tracks as if waiting for the slightest mistake. For a few moments, a tense peace settled on the chamber. The peace was broken abruptly as another shattering explosion detonated across the cavern. This thunder of noise came from behind the hunter, who spun to face the new threat in the heat of the moment. Before his eyes could analyze the second beast, he had been hit with the strength matching that of a galloping horse, slamming into the rocky ground. As he gasped for air, from his grasp rolled the torch, sputtering once, twice, before extinguishing against the damp floor, plunging the chamber once more into the darkness. Rolling onto his belly, the hunter desperately fought for his bearing, scrambling across the floor of the chamber. The pure darkness of the cavern was accompanied by the returned silence he had found at the cave’s entrance, only the consistent drip of the stalactites echoing through its empty halls. Stumbling around the chamber on his hands and knees, the hunter abandoned his blade in a desperate search for the torch. He knew there was little time to locate the device, the beasts undoubtedly but a few feet away, yet his desire to find light once more in the choking, pressing darkness powered him onwards. After a few moments, the gasping hunter felt a hand wash over the familiar wood that comprised the torch. Fumbling once more with his tinderbox, the trembling hands fought to light the torch once more. After several heart-wrenching attempts, the torch gave birth to a blast of flame, once more illuminating the cavern. As the hunter gazed upwards, powered on by his small victory, he came face to face with the hulking beast, a mere three feet ahead of his prone form. Having been delivered no more than a moment of the sweet salvation that is light, the hunter found himself fallen on by the beast. General Red Lines Strigae are compelled to feed on blood, hungering for it like a powerful addiction. Though this ‘alcoholism’ can occasionally be overcome by the most controlled of strigae, it is always latent. Strigae who have not fed on blood for an extended period of the time are cold to the touch and begin to suffer from a state of degeneration. While they do not become lesser striga, they become emaciated husks the longer they go with blood, eventually reaching a point where they will be incapable of feeding themselves without the assistance of another due to extreme physical lethargy and muscle degeneration. Greater strigae who overindulge (More than four adult 'meals' per seed-month) on blood will devolve into one of the many forms of lesser striga. Animals (specifically of the family Canidae) are able to detect the scent of a striga and are averse to one’s presence, often going into a frenzy in the presence of a striga. Strigae are susceptible to aurum, silver and Ro’ah wood, and cannot immediately regenerate wounds inflicted by blades of gold, causing it to take twice as long as would normally be applicable. To a striga, any form of aurum or silver is very uncomfortable to the touch, and must be handled with gloves. When a stake formed of any of the three materials are driven through the heart of a striga, it causes immediate bodily paralysis and inhibits the regenerative functions of the striga until removed. Becoming a striga is irreversible. Strigae are infertile and can only reproduce by inflicting their curse (Or as they often see it, a blessing) upon others. Strigae are completely unable to learn and utilize magical skills as a result of their affliction. Prior magical skills that were learnt prior to transformation become unusable. Strigae cannot utilize the Cloud Temple monks to heal their bodies. The scent of excessive blood such as that of a large battle or slaughterhouse will drive even the most controlled striga temporarily wild and rabid, forcing them into their more bestial form and causing them to lose control of their emotions. Purpose Citations
  2. NAME: Octavian ((MC NAME:)) KBR RACE: Human IMPERIAL SUBJECT (Y/N): Y IF NO, FROM WHICH FOREIGN COUNTRY?: PEER OF THE REALM (Y/N): N IF YES, OF WHICH PEERAGE?: N PREFERRED WINE: Something fruity
  3. ur cute lol uwu

     

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  4. Vote Briarwood An Orenian Future Helena is an ever-expanding city with a booming population, but with such things come problems. Riots in the streets, infestation of the sewers, a lack of housing for all; these are just examples of some of the many problems that we face and will continue to face in these coming years, but together we can and will make it through this. As a Senator of Helena, I hope to achieve much for the city in ways such as the following. Cuts and the vassal tithe: Lowering Taxes for Helena proper while pushing for a vassal tax, those who may not afford their own land outside of the city should not be punished while wealthy landholders who provide little to the state itself are rewarded for their indolence. Welfare Measures: Poverty in Helena is an unacceptable reality that we face; the shining pearl of the Empire deserves better, thus I would make strides towards the elimination of unemployment and impoverished living by giving aid to the needy; the creation of welfare programs such as soup kitchens, as well as cooperating with companies such as Carrington Co, and the Waldenian Trading Company, etc, to see the creation of new job opportunities for citizens of the Empire. Imperial Cartographic Project: As of the current year there are no cartographic efforts underway to establish a uniform map of the Imperial territories and the governorates and fiefdoms therein. I will establish a cartographer’s commission to codify and produce maps of accurate and up-to-date bearing for use across the Empire. Land Reform: The Crownlands are polluted with too many fiefdoms that see chronic disuse. These lands could be put to better use were they to be seized by the state and redistributed to tenant farmers and freeholders willing to till the land and produce vital goods for the people of Oren while also creating more opportunities for work within the heart of the Empire.
  5. SURNAME: Briarwood FIRST NAME: Godfrey ADDRESS OF RESIDENCE: 13 Anapalis Place DATE OF BIRTH: 2nd of Godfrey’s Triumph, 1722 Are you registered and eligible to vote in the province of Helena?: Yes Do you have any other title, peerage or public service that may conflict with becoming an Imperial Senator, as per the Edict of Establishment (1736) or Edict of Election (1736)?: No. If yes, do you understand that you will be required to resign or abdicate from this position should you be elected to the Imperial Senate, and if this does not occur your seat shall be considered to be vacant?: Yes. ((MC NAME)): KBR
  6. Burbur’Lur, who has proclaimed himself Rex once more, signs this document.
  7. I am a simple man, I see frog, I upvote frog. +1. Very balanced, very frog.
  8. As someone who learned fire evocation first, nearly four and a half years ago now, thank you for making it a little bit more diverse. +1
  9. KBR

    THE FOREST

    Godwyn Wold let out a small sigh as he read the letter that had reached his door the morning prior, before looking over his shoulder at his cottage a final time, setting off down the road with nothing more than his sword and a rucksack.
  10. Really glad to see a complete rewrite that solves many of the old problems Necromancy had, my favorite is the taking up of 5 slots as well as the new physical downsides, being a necromancer should be one of a characters largest traits, in the past, however, it was simply an addition along with 4 other magics that took away any real identity.
  11. The orcs brought them on our great boats. Sorry Joel :^)
  12. Burbur frowns as the Empire begins its war on drugs
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