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  1. Beneath the sun's golden rays, dulled by cloudy skies, the snows of Fin'hesin melt away to their lowest point of the seasonal cycle. Though all is still covered in powdery white, the layer is thin, and green pokes through the unforgiving cold. The days grow longer, and for a time, the sun refuses to sit - instead lingering upon the horizon; a midnight sun, to cast the grey skies in gold and purple. It is a time of peace and plenty; within the Fennic Remnants, the Svarling attacks have withered, and the Mali'fenn know respite. Thus, they prepare for the Solstice of Peace - a rare time of merriment and laxity. Missives are thus spread throughout the Fennic Remnants. "Mali'fenn - With summer's arrival, I invite you all to celebrate the Solstice of Peace with me. As many of you know, this is a time of revelry, when we might enjoy some rare comforts. In our tavern, we shall drink, eat, tell stories, and jump over the flames of our cooking fires. This rest is well-earned." Signed, Vytrek Tundrak ______________________________________________ [[OOC]] This lil festival will be held Saturday at 7pm EST in the tavern!
  2. They made their way to the gates. The Laughing Hag, cloaked and pale, carried him upon her shoulders. Bound and bleating was their vampyric prize, that darkspawn who had sullied an Archvigilant of Wyrvun - assaulting and corrupting her before that most sacred of wayshrines. He raged at the Vigilants who surrounded the pair with weapons drawn. Mention was made of the impermanence of what was to come, yet it was a lesson to be remembered; lest, they vowed, they hunt him down for a thousand years and return him to the dust each time he reformed. He pleaded with his captor, for they were two of a kind. What warranted such an act of betrayal? "You make too much noise," was the Hag's response. Upon stone and snow was he laid, before a roaring pyre that had already burned for one hundred days and one hundred nights, fed by a flood of Svarling corpses. There did the Laughing Hag perform her work, before at last, he was turned over to the Vigilants. With a cold indifference stepped forth the Vigilant of Hope, uncorking a bottle to pour seawater upon the darkspawn. He writhed and screamed; "What is death without a little pain?" the Vigilant mused. Reaching down, a gauntleted hand wrapped around the vampyre's throat, and lifted. Steel-clad digits held a vice-like grip upon his gullet, until only air lingered between feet and floor. "Wyrvun sends his regards," was the utterance, and shortly, the vampyre was tossed upon the flames. Screams pierced the night sky as he boiled and hissed. Flesh melted to bone, bone melted to dust, and all fell silent. Ash lingered in frigid air, mingling with the falling snow. The vampyres had bought peace. For now.
  3. A missive is spread throughout Almaris, reading as follows: To the blood-hunters, or "vampires" - We know what you did. One of your kind called "Ludovici" attacked and corrupted an Archvigilant of Wyrvun. There is no greater sacrilege. We know where you live. Your covens have been uncovered. Your identities are known. We are coming. End this "Ludovici" and bring us his corpse, or we will annihilate you. The paladins may break bread with you and forsake their divine task, despite the will and bestowed powers of their "Xan" - but we will not compromise the will of Wyrvun. -Wyrvun's Vigilants
  4. The Vigilants Vigilants serve as the priests and priestesses of Wyrvun. Drawn from the ranks of the faithful, they are the standard bearers of Isvinity, and fulfill a number of vital roles. Clad in cloaks of fur with scale-mail pauldrons, the most identifying feature of the Vigilants are the twisted, silver draconic horns forming a circlet upon their head, reminiscent of a wyvern. Most cloaks are brown, black, and grey, with white reserved for Archvigilants. Though often covered, the skin of a Vigilant is thoroughly and systematically scarred, particularly upon the arms, legs, and abdomen. Hierarchy A fully fledged Vigilant is bound to one of the four wayshrines, following the Path of Birth, Peace, War, or Death. Though they are not limited in the performance of duties at other wayshrines, their particular path allows them to focus on one aspect of their faith - a necessary feat, given the distance between wayshrines, which necessitates a delegation of important duties. From their path, the Vigilant assumes a moniker - a value or attribute related to their wayshrine. Among their own, Vigilants often call each other only by such monikers. Examples for Birth include Creation and Rebirth; for Peace, Wisdom and Serenity; for War, Strength and Agility; for Death, Reverence and Martyrdom. The Vigilant is tasked to excel in or represent this value above all others, serving as an example and counsel for the faithful. It is only through these values that a descendant can pass the ultimate test and survive the harsh climate of Fin’hesin - for to draw upon another deity is sacrilege, and to wield the void is to introduce chaos and sacrifice one’s own health. There are no shortcuts in survival. Rising above the Vigilants are the Archvigilants, one for each wayshrine - the Archvigilants of Birth, Peace, War, and Death - known primarily by their new path monikers and secondarily by their original ones. They hold dominion over their respective wayshrine and the Vigilants bound to it, including the ability to raise a novitiate of their path to full Vigilance, and together their council serves as the source of religious authority. From their ranks is selected a High Vigilant in agreement between the Archvigilants and prince, and the holder of this post maintains their status as Archvigilant. The High Vigilant advises the prince upon matters of religion; decision-making remains the realm of all four Archvigilants, though the High Vigilant may break a tied vote when they arrive at an impasse. Fresh Archvigilants are proposed by the High Vigilant and confirmed by their Archvigilant peers, with input from the prince. The prince, or princess, holds a peculiar status within the Vigilants. Their Vigilance is customary, but through divine right, they reign above even the High Vigilant. The alternative - a High Vigilant subservient to the prince in matters of politics, but a prince subservient to a High Vigilant in matters of religion - would be severely destabilizing. Thus, the prince takes precedence, but it is tradition for the reigning monarch to be uninvolved. Part of none of the Paths, the monarch may select any moniker, which then becomes divorced from the hierarchy for its duration. The participation of the prince in the affairs of Isvinity is a rare thing, for it represents a destabilizing effect upon the balance of the four Paths. Thus, royal intervention is a rarity, permitted only by extraordinary circumstances. Anything more is frowned upon. Relics In their capacity as Archvigilants, each is granted a relic, to be passed on to their successors upon death or abdication. These are the Breath of Isvin, Eyes of Isvin, Claw of Isvin, and Voice of Isvin. The Breath of Isvin is a lantern, and is held by the Archvigilant of Birth. This lantern is the tool through which the Vigilants transfer the sacred fire of their offerings from the Wayshrines. Fire drawn from the Wayshrine of Birth is used for the Cleansing Ritual and to light the hearths of the sick, and fire drawn from the Wayshrine of War is often used to light forges for weaponsmithing. Fire is light, and its spread makes things anew. Thus, it falls to the domain of Birth. The Eyes of Isvin are a ring of keys, held by the Archvigilant of Peace. These keys grant access to the Vigilants’ accumulated knowledge, buried in a library beneath the crypts. It is guarded jealously, for written knowledge is a rare and precious thing among the Snow Elves, and access may only be granted by the Archvigilant of Peace. Knowledge is fuel for the mind, and thus the keys fall under the domain of Peace. The Claw of Isvin is a glaive, held by the Archvigilant of War. This finely crafted weapon aids War in their primary task, being the physical protection of Fin’hesin from threats divine and mortal alike. From deific creatures to deific and voidal mages, it is only fitting that the embodiment of War wields for their relic a weapon. The Voice of Isvin is a horn, held by the Archvigilant of Death. Carved from a dragon’s horn, this instrument’s low tone is used for several purposes. One lengthy blast is sounded at the end of funerals to herald the coming of a new soul to Wyrvun, to be judged. Two blasts call for Conclave among the Vigilants. Three blasts sound an emergency or crisis relevant to the Vigilants. Other Vigilants may create and hold lesser relics representative of their monikers, to be held upon their death or abdication until a new Vigilant takes up their mantle. Novitiate Trials Before one ascends to full Vigilance, they must pass a series of trials, and until such a time are known as a Novitiate. These trials are to ensure that an aspiring Vigilant possesses the qualities necessary to serve Wyrvun. The first four center around each wayshrine, and are administered by a designated Vigilant. The final trial is based upon the moniker and path they select, and is overseen by their respective Archvigilant. The first trial is that of Birth, and its purpose is to test a Novitiate’s ability to nurture - for the Vigilants are tasked with nurturing faith among the Mali’fenn and protecting the fauna of Fin’hesin. Like many among the Mali, Vigilants use animal companions to send letters across vast distances. Often, though not necessarily, these are birds. The task in this trial is for a Vigilant to find a baby animal of their choice and raise it as their courier, to deliver their letters, share a bond, and perform other necessary tasks. The second trial is that of Peace, and its purpose is to test a Novitiate’s intelligence and wisdom, as they must provide counsel in life and an account to Wyrvun upon death. They will select a foreign group - often another nation, settlement, or religious order - and spend time among them. Taking a book, they will learn all they can of these people and record the knowledge, testing their ability to compile information and exercise charisma. When done, the novitiate will return home and pass the book on to the Vigilants. Just as Wyrvun is regarded as the Aengul of Wisdom, so too do the Vigilants aspire to wisdom, and that cannot be gained without knowledge. The knowledge within grants the Vigilants the added benefit of serving as a threat register of the other descendants to Fin’hesin, with whose protection they are tasked. The third trial is that of War, and its purpose is to test physical prowess. In their role as protectors, Vigilants must have strength, agility, and vitality. Thus, the novitiate is sent into the wilderness with nothing. They must craft an appropriate weapon, learn to survive in the harsh lands of Fin’hesin, and return with the pelt of some of the region’s big game. These include a bear, elk, boar, snow leopard, or direwolf. The fourth trial is that of Death, and its purpose is to test a Novitiate when pushed to its brink - as only then can they understand the fate of their ancestors, their god, and what awaits them after life. The Novitiate is tasked with bathing in a frozen lake for as long as they can. In time, the cold will take them, and they will begin to slip away. Only then will they understand the potency of the Deep Cold, and it is only on the verge of freezing that one can feel the embrace of death - the call to sleep - and still recover. When the Novitiate passes out, they will be pulled from the water, and made to relate their experiences on the brink. Before the fifth and final trial, a Novitiate is to choose a path - Birth, Peace, War, or Death. From the wayshrine they choose, they are to assume their moniker - a value or aspect derived from their wayshrine, and define it. Depending on which moniker they choose, their new Archvigilant will provide them with a trial to test that specific virtue, for by taking it as a moniker they are tasked with embodying it. Upon the completion of this trial, the Novitiate will ascend to full Vigilance. Roles The roles of the Vigilants are numerous, from ceremony and counsel to secret ritual. As guides of the faithful, it is the duty of Vigilants to teach the Snow Elves of Isvinity - from Wyrvun and the realms to behaviors and the processes of worship. Further, however, some may try to spread Isvinity to others who dwell within Fin’hesin, for their worship of foreign gods in Wyrvun’s land is unacceptable, and their spirits shall be held by Wyrvun regardless. Conversions of those outside of Fin’hesin - devotees of the winter season - are also not unheard of. In these capacities of teaching, they are also to provide counsel to those seeking their wisdom, particularly in relation to their moniker - upon whose value they are the authority. In relation to the public, Vigilants also preside over ceremonies and aid in the process of offerings. Outside of public view, they are accorded tasks of their own. One of the primary missions of a Vigilant is to guard and maintain the wayshrines, particularly that whose path they follow. Their attachment to Wyrvun sees them make offerings more than the typical Snow Elf. In regards to the replenishment of their ranks, a Vigilant may also be tasked with overseeing the trials of a novitiate. Lastly, the Vigilants serve as the ever-watchful protectors of Fin’hesin and servants of Wyrvun. In the former task, they scout and guard the lands of Fin’hesin, seeking to purge the region of evil deific creatures, the influences of foreign gods, and the chaotic forces of the void - thus placing Vigilants in opposition to deific and voidal practitioners of magic alike. Further, they engage in divination - a process through which signs are interpreted as messages from Wyrvun. From the weather, they draw broad implications, while from dreams come visions of a more personal scope. The final duties of the Vigilants are Cleansing and Blooding - the latter being a secret, sacred ritual. Though a Vigilant may perform any of these tasks, the different Paths hold primary responsibility for many of them. Path of Birth The primary responsibilities of the Path of Birth are that of charity, purity, pilgrimages, births, comings of age, marriages, and Cleansings. To be a Vigilant upon the Path of Birth is to nurture and treasure life. Vigilants of this strain often perform acts of charity. Further, they pay special attention to the sick, and often the Archvigilant of Birth will ensure offering fire from the Wayshrine of Birth is transferred to the hearths of the ill. Encouragement and guidance for those intending on pilgrimage also falls to Birth, for their Wayshrine is the first step on this path. Vigilants of Birth often preside over the ceremonies of birth, coming of age, and marriages - along with the ritual of Cleansing. Lastly, they are charged with the maintenance and protection of the Wayshrine of Birth. Path of Peace The primary responsibilities of the Path of Peace are that of teaching, spreading Isvinity, keeping knowledge, and counseling. Vigilants of Peace are keen to teach the faithful of Isvinity’s tenets, informing them of religious doctrine, beliefs, how to conduct offerings, and other facts central to the faith. In this capacity, they often serve as counselors. Many faithful take their problems to the Vigilants for consultation, and it is typically Vigilants of Peace that leap at the opportunity to guide. In addition, Vigilants of this path serve as the keepers of the Vigilants’ knowledge - their written works held sacred due to the rarity of ancient writings among the ‘fenn. Lastly, Vigilants of this path seek to prosthelytize. The conversion of settlers upon Fin’hesin is a long-held goal, and some even seek converts among devotees of the winter season within Fin’mirak - far outside of Fin’hesin. Lastly, they are charged with the maintenance and protection of the Wayshrine of Peace. Path of War The primary responsibilities of the Path of War are the physical protection of Fin’hesin, the fighting of monsters and mages, oaths, Stormcalling, and Battlepainting. Vigilants of War are the militant arm of Isvinity. Though this is not exclusive to them, it is their speciality. They seek to root out evil, foreign deities, and voidal influence upon the lands of Fin’hesin. Many wield weapons of thanhium, which obstructs voidal mages. In addition to these duties, they oversee oaths and the ceremonies of Stormcalling and Battlepainting. Lastly, they are charged with the maintenance and protection of the Wayshrine of War. Path of Death The primary responsibilities of the Path of Death are keeping the dead, funerals, divination, and Blooding. Vigilants of Death serve as the most mystical side of Isvinity. Often, they pass their time in meditation upon the dead, whom they are charged to protect within the crypts. They preside over the funeral ceremony and the Blooding ritual. Further, divination falls to the Path of Death, for these Vigilants bridge the link between Fin’ciwn and Fin’cuith - lending them particular insight in interpreting Wyrvun’s signs. Lastly, they are charged with the maintenance and protection of the Wayshrine of Death. Conclave Conclave is the gathering of all Vigilants, held in the crypts before the Wayshrine of Death. It occurs both on a periodic basis and as-needed, called by the Archvigilants and signaled by two blasts from the Voice of Isvin. In Conclave, the Vigilants may cover a number of topics. Changes to the hierarchy are a common one - with introductions given to new Vigilants and new Archvigilants, and the passing of relics and duties from the old to the new. Further, they catch up on recent happenings - past ceremonies and current events among them. Additionally, they plan for such events, planning and assigning Vigilants to attend upcoming ceremonies and festivals. One of their most important tasks in Conclave is to monitor the wellbeing of Wayshrines, Fin’hesin, and the state of the Isvin faith. Perhaps their most conflictive role, however, is the debate of religious doctrine and politics. It is in Conclave that official stances of the Vigilants on proper beliefs and conduct are established. Further, it is in Conclave that the intersection of religion and politics is discussed. While the Vigilants may hold opinions on what should and should not be law, and on what political course their state should pursue, such decisions fall to the prince and his council. The High Vigilant has a place upon this council, and so it is through Conclave that the High Vigilant’s stances and requests upon the council are often determined. Beyond these periodic meetings, and perhaps most importantly, Conclave may be called for crises and emergencies. A corruption of Fin’hesin, war, or an uptick in combative encounters with beasts or mages may warrant a Conclave to chart a course of action. Divination Divination stems from two sources - the weather and dreams. Just as Wyrvun rules of Fin’hesin and the Deep Cold, so can he shape it to make known his will. Manifestations with broad implications occur in the weather. Further, as Aengul of Sleep, he holds influence over dreams - though such meanings are often personal and thus more limited in scope. Weather Divination Shooting stars and meteor showers are thought to be the reflection of a soul returning from Fin’ciwn to Fin’cuith, as the light of the moon plays against the lakes of the land and mirrors the journey into the night sky. The polar light display known as elanah'sul is considered to be the opposite: a stream of souls making the journey from Fin’cuith to Fin’ciwn. Comets are often seen as omens of significant change, acting as a sign of drastic alterations to the status quo. Due to the rarity of these events, sky gazers will not often focus their attention on searching for this rare phenomenon, but rather allow it to be noticed by coincidence. The nature of this change will often be up to interpretation as to whether this change is one to be feared, such as the Cataclysms. The Mali'fenn are often viewed as isolationists, even by Wyrvun himself. Because of this they often find themselves forced into a defensive position within their home. Blizzards are often believed to be an extension of Wyrvun's influence in Fin'hesin, designed to mitigate the strength of the threat. Most likely these threats are mortal in nature, but on occasion it can be interpreted that these blizzards are to drive out insidious foes of the supernatural kind. In contrast to the battering nature of a blizzard, a soft snowfall will often be viewed as a common blessing for the Fennic people. A sign of good faith and the prosperity of things to come is often what is associated with freshly lain blankets of snow. Thundersnow is a rare occurrence where, despite the freezing climate, thunder and lightning still occur. This is seen as unintentional backlash by Wyrvun as he engages in some form of divine conflict - defending Fin’ciwn from divine interlopers. Due to his connection to Fin'hesin, his interactions with other divine beings can spill out, causing phenomena such as thundersnow. Seeing how Wyrvun often uses Fin'hesin as a way to communicate with the Mali'fenn, it stands to reason that he would offer his distaste and anger through it as well. Hail is often a sign of this anger, and with it can predict poor harvests and livestock troubles. While there are many reasons as to why Wyrvun might be angry, it is undebated as to the fact that hail is meant to act as a form of punishment for the Mali'fenn. Sunny skies and warm weather often spell troubling times for Wyrvun as his lack of strength echoes through the warmer weather. When these times occur it can be expected that Wyrvun will be unable to lend any assistance for quite some time, at least not until his strength has returned. A red sky is one of the rarest phenomena to occur in Fin'hesin and often spells troubling times ahead. Most often it is a sign that blood will be spilled in the days to come, but often it is hard to tell if the blood will be Fennic in nature or foreign. A red sky can frequently be associated with a coming battle or a treachery that has occured. Rainbows are a beautiful sight to see in the northern lands, and as such forecast peaceful times to come. This peace can be felt in either the weather, in politics, inside oneself, or even domestically. Sometimes this omen can be for all of the Mali'fenn, or sometimes it is to be interpreted as a sign for a single individual. Similar to hail, Wyrvun can show his pride in his followers' actions by presenting them with a moon halo, a sign of plentiful harvests and good health. The grace of the moon halo will last for many months as the crops reach maturity and harvests begin. Often celebrations and festivals will follow quickly behind a moon halo in order to capitalize on the good will of Wyrvun. Sustained winds blowing in from the north suggest the coming of a harsh winter with much sickness, whereas winds coming from the south indicate a warm and uneventful summer; winds from the east suggest a wet, rainy spring, and winds from the west assure a mild autumn with bountiful harvests. Dream Divination As Wyrvun guards the entrance to eternal slumber it makes sense that he would speak to his chosen people through their dreams, offering guidance for his followers. Due to the nature of dreams, however, his messages can come across jumbled, twisted by the imaginative creativity found within them. Despite this, there are many constants that can be found across all dreams from Wyrvun. These constants hold significant meaning to the Fennic people, which can be judged by a Vigilant in order to interpret the intended message. The Weaver, often seen working on a grand tapestry or draped in a funeral shroud, represents the beginning of a new cycle and the clarity of leaving unnecessary tribulations behind, or that one may soon be faced with an important decision involving great risk. Her appearance may also suggest that by disregarding the repercussions of their actions, a person may soon find themselves in danger. She also serves as a caution that one should be aware of the people around them, as to not be taken advantage of, for something may soon prove too good to be true. The Messenger, depicted by a late loved one or monarch, signifies a need for deeper intuition to see through the dark and unknown paths laid before oneself. He typically represents a vital piece of information that is yet to reveal itself, whether due to uncertainty, deviousness, a misunderstanding, or a truth one cannot admit to themselves. His appearance may also suggest that one is being pulled down by a projection of their fears, dormant insecurities, or the resurfacing of repressed emotions. The White Bear represents the need to turn away from materialism and focus on spiritual growth, and the introspective consideration of one’s own motivations, values, and principles. They tend to appear as a spiritual mentor to guide one’s consciousness and teach them how to find their answers within themselves. The White Bear may also suggest a struggle with one's faith, unwelcome isolation, or that one may be ready to explore an interpersonal reconnection. The Wolves signify one's connection with their dignity, sensuality, fertility, creative expression, and ability to nurture, as well as their security, comfort, and practicality. The lone wolf suggests the birth of new ideas, reaping what one has sown, and the stability needed to manifest and grow; a pack of wolves represents an abundance of strong relationships, love without restraint, and coming pregnancy or births; the direwolf urges that one may need to venture out into nature to reconnect with their personal self after a time of neglect. The Snowy Owl symbolizes that life is in a constant state of change; his appearance suggests a sudden increase in love, resources, or unexpected benefits, as well as breakthroughs in negative situations or the end of a harmful cycle. The owl may also appear during times of great control and stability as a cue that factors outside of one’s control are influencing their situation. The Dragon signifies conscious connections, meaningful relationships, open communication, and raw honesty. When the dragon soars into one’s dreamscape, it suggests that they may be out of sync with the people around them, or that they are ignoring responsibilities which have thrust hard choices upon them. The dragon signifies being at war with oneself, and to rectify this, one must be open and clear about their values and beliefs. They must decide what they stand for and work to unite against those who would challenge their philosophy and morals. The Comet, whether soaring across open sky or in a reflection of a lake, brings with it the revelation that unforeseen danger is coming, out of one’s control and impossible to avoid. It serves as a catalyst for sudden drastic change: upheaval, destruction, and chaos. This coming event will shake a person to their core and affect them spiritually, mentally, and physically. On rare occasions, The Comet may also serve as an indication of spiritual awakening or revelation, but only if one can make a massive transformation before reaching the point that change is the only option. The North Star is generally seen as a positive omen, symbolizing endless possibilities and one’s hope for the future. Those who glimpse this celestial body should be prepared to follow their dreams and aspirations, inspired and hopeful, while being wary of potential red flags. The North Star may also signify the need to open oneself towards the healing of old wounds and neglect. The Sword and The Shield represent justice, fairness, truth, and the law. To see them suggests that one is being called to account for their actions and will be judged accordingly. One may also be met with the pair when they need to make an important choice that has the potential for long-term repercussions; one should be aware of the impact their decisions will have on their well-being and the well-being of others. Similarly, The Sword and Shield may also represent that one is unwilling to take accountability for their actions, and serves as a reminder that the consequences will weigh on their conscience until they acknowledge these faults. Deep Slumber signifies a complete, painful severance between the past and future and a need to release unhealthy attachments. It may also suggest the coming of a painful transformative change or ending of a major phase in life. One who finds themselves facing their own sleeping visage must be ready to close one door to open another, put the past behind them, and be ready to embrace new opportunities. Less commonly, this vision may represent the massive personal transformation that one is going through, and one is urged to embrace this change rather than resisting it, lest they become stuck in changeless limbo. Raging Fires symbolize willpower, determination, and strength, and suggests that now is not the time to be passive in the hope that things will work out in one’s favor. One should take focused action and stick to their course, no matter what challenges come their way. Fire also represents the call for one to be assertive and courageous, bold in their expression and firm in their boundaries. Cleansing Cleansing is a ritual by which the Vigilants seek to purge Fin’hesin of corruption, foreign gods, and voidal chaos. The Vigilants assemble at the Wayshrine of Birth for this task. There, they make offerings, and the Archvigilant of Birth appeals to Wyrvun for the cleansing of their land. Thereafter, the Archvigilant of Birth wields the Breath of Isvin, drawing flames from the offering fire. From this lantern, other vessels are lit, and the Vigilants fan out across Fin’hesin - spreading fire through the use of controlled burns. Through the offerings of Birth, the land is born anew - purged of undesirable influences. These controlled burns have the added benefit of preventing wildfires - a not uncommon occurrence in summertime Fin’hesin, despite the region’s permanent snow. Blooding Blooding is a dark, secret, and dangerous ritual that is periodically performed. Known only to the Vigilants, it is an act of self-sacrifice, and its goal is to imbue Wyrvun with strength. Since Wyrvun’s fall and redemption, he remains weak - recovering among the dead in Fin’ciwn. After his conflict with Iblees, and on account of his distrust of other Aengudaemon, the ritual is done in secret - for it is thought Wyrvun would not wish for rivals to know of his returning strength, lest they grow envious and feel threatened. To perform this act, the Vigilants gather at the Wayshrine of Death, for in his weakness Wyrvun is counted among them. There, they cut their skin and heavily bleed themselves over the offering fire, giving rise to the myriad of scars emblematic of a Vigilant. Through this act, they restore strength and life to Wyrvun. ______________________________________________________________________ Joining the Vigilants Prospective Vigilants from across Almaris make their way to Ikur'fiyem in the Fennic Remnants, that bastion of Wyrvun's devotees and center of Isvinity. There, they may find the guidance that they seek, and embark on the long path to Vigilance.
  5. Trial 1: Birth Norland Shrieks of agony shattered the glacial construct. Nature itself roared in retaliation. Sheets of snow heavier than the world's burden cemented. Warm bubbling life. Its eyes are diluted. It's cawing dying out. Buried underneath nature's creation. A pit fight of two kin. Yet another sibling intervened. Lumber and wisps of grass binding its lock. Aiding its offspring. Chirping till dusk. Till the keys offered themselves. In return only cawing for the oil of worms. The wings of the venture unlocked. Trial 2: Peace Bramblebury Shadow swallowed an entire home. Darkness plagued and torch bringers retaliated. Shovels grasped to dig their culture. A fresh rake of crops to collect. Thin strands of gold describing centuries of turmoil and memory. The soil chanting words of the past empowering the ticking of time. Glass held the happiness. Chugging it down till it spilled into another's lap. For a second the man had endless hope for peace. But on exit the north's wind reminded him. Trial 3: War Rimeveldian Wilderness A minute felt forever. The snow froze in place. Its elegance shown as rage. A challenge. But he'd forgotten. Its gladiator reminded him. Its pearl white claws are soiling red. Saliva dripping to the tune of murder. But its murder was met. Screeching shouts of pure death echoed. It was too familiar a noise. His spear the arm of revenge. Nature's hand. Flesh grossly spurting velvet. Wailing settled the scene. Salt seeping in the wound. The beast left naked with its crime. Trial 4: Death Rimeveldian Wilderness There were already enough chattering teeth to shake the world. Ripples of ice and blue called for more. Sirens pulling at his values. Blood flowing cold. Limbs limpened. Darkness engulfed him. An aurora of colour arrived. Its beauty is unmatched. But it was monstrous. A kiss from another world. Time had summoned it. The passion was prepared. Though it had been expected. The door is wide open. The welcome mat set. But the back door was left unattended. Death failed its job. Its prey escaped. Trial 5: Seclusion Wilderness of different lands and places - 1564-1630 The stranger brought pain. Familiarity hidden. Mind ran rampant. Raged on with thought. Blood red in reality and construct. Unknowing of all except imagination. Though lesson learned. In isolation, I became befriended. Isolation... was now the tutor. Ikur'Fiyem Crypts - One month Lifeless corpses whispered. A mocking experience. Ice cold in tone, a reminder. All alone. The cracking of silence nothing more than a rat. Until a familiar voice echoed. It was his tutor. Lessons learnt. This was his homework. Isolation had been reminded. Retaught. Which marked a moment is his ever learning lessons. "Where others depend, and seek collusion, I act by self; my lone conclusion. Unbothered by my own exclusion, I thrive in quiet, and seek seclusion." Thus rises the Vigilant of SECLUSION.
  6. 𝐁𝐈𝐑𝐓𝐇 Kept quiet by her own thoughts, the moment that follows Vytrek’s request is stiflingly silent. A scene on the edge of upset, emotions stood upon a precipice. It weighs on her, drags along the length of sternum, feeling for the lines of her ribcage and threatening to break the surface. What would be exposed then, she wonders? What grotesque imagery? What secrets? It’s hard to imagine she was ever innocent before this, but girls become women when they feed on enough grief — nevermind when they gorge on it. And yet... for all the weight of the world that presses against her, she finds some semblance of hope, here, with him. Their friendship a strange one, and what she knows is that at the end of the day her devotion to him is stronger and wilder than they place they call home. Her hands meet his own; even teetering upon the edge of fear, there is a certainty in the way fingers brush against fingers. “I will raise it,” she agrees, wrestling the whelp from his gauntleted grip and into the crook of an elbow. “Let my trials commence.” 𝐏𝐄𝐀𝐂𝐄 "The world is a hard and violent place, my friend, why should I be the same?" This cathedral of tongue and teeth, this golden swivel of language that makes the world revolve around her. She imagines his accusation should frighten her — that the curl of his mouth and the thick tenor of his summertude should inspire trepidation. Flowers may be beautiful but how many times have they been left at the feet of dead things? How many tombs have they grown from? How many wars have they begun? She looks to her hand, and his hand, and his wound. Smiles, in a way that's convincing, wrist twisting just slightly to free itself from his clutches. Pupils quiet — imbued with a clouded and far-off question, deluged by disappointment. "A little kindness does not make one a trickster, and I believe my acting is quite poor." A smile to paint her voice into a swan-winged picture. A smile that blossoms into a laugh, a mock performance for his eyes alone. "Quite poor, wouldn't you agree?" 𝐖𝐀𝐑 Compassion curls. It unfolds, burgeoning. It blooms half-wild: tempestuous, thorned, petals embryonic with concern. Leagues is she from Amaethea and yet its summer sympathies remain rooted in the heart of her. Around warrior and fallen stag frigidity undulates against half-fallen trees and howls across the dying grass. For years they've prophesized winter, and now that she finds herself shivering under its gnashing teeth, she longs for warmth. But the world is too wild for that now and she too far from home. And besides: there is more purpose here than in the frivolity of her wants. Her grey gaze assesses the wounds of the fallen stag, contemplative. Grief crescendos in the space between them. Writhing, war-wept, memories hanging by threads. Even now, the stories feel more like rotted things, broken and bog marrowed. Even now, all these years later, she can detail the moment she knew her life for forfeit; remembers the way her spine caved and her heart broke as she bled those men in the ruins of her home. She cannot bring herself to sink steel into the soft of another neck — because her world is jarring enough without adding one more wreckage to the mist. In this deluge of death, she remains hunched: a loyal hound awaiting the final vapours of breath. 𝐃𝐄𝐀𝐓𝐇 His question comes as a rending snap, abrupt in the hush of the afternoon. Remote, yet swollen with life, with the voices of the smallfolk who lied beyond the patterned hills. She has heard the tales: how his arrival on the battlefield was a palindrome promise — raw war. How at the mere sight of him enemies weltered in the corroded iron of their blood-curdled screams. How intimate violence can be. "What troubles you?" She holds courtesy between her teeth, the weight of a crown against her tongue. Whatever it is that ails her, she holds her secrets to her breast like a mother that fears for the fragile livelihood of her children. She wants to explain that she thinks there’s something disturbing inside of her, an anomaly that swells with each eerie grey light of the moon. An odd piece of identity like the tide ebbing, eroding at the structure of her soul. As she slips beneath the numbing waters of the lake, she is confronted with a dizzying realization: she will no longer be able to save everyone. Death is inevitable, it is that lone torchlight burning continuously in the dark. Beckoning, reminding her that this all is temporary. Her skeleton is on lease, her pink slippery organs are rented by the day, by the minute. From this day forwards, her mind the weapon, her body the finality. 𝐒𝐀𝐂𝐑𝐈𝐅𝐈𝐂𝐄 A ghost of her own making, she pulls herself forward — clutches at the frayed fabric of reality and resolves to hold on. She can’t quite shake the cold. It nibbles at her viscera, gluttonous. It roves across the length of her spine. There’s a taste like death on the air and it’s begun to pluck at her senses; it’s wiggled down beneath the north-worn thick of her skin and is feeding on the muscle below. The idea of forsaking yourself for something like that? It’s venerable. Her teeth tighten as she holds a hand to the wound that’s hindering her - by itself, it’s survivable. But here? In this cold, in this dark, in this bleak essence of winter? It’s worse. Her hand scrabbles over the stone of the path as she pulls herself a little higher, though her knees struggle to support the weight. Even now, for all the chill that gnashes jowls over the bones of her fingers and the slopes of her shoulders she is resilient. Heat blooms where claws minced fur and flesh but it feels second-hand to the certainty that hangs in the air: you will suffer so others need not. 𝐕𝐈𝐆𝐈𝐋𝐀𝐍𝐂𝐄 The northern frost biting at skin bared against it. The twisting turmoil of a primordial power within a body that no longer belongs wholly to her. Rebirth, rebirth, rebirth. "In coldest winter, and deepest ice, When struggles mount and yield entice, To save them all I pay the price, Their burdens now my sacrifice." Thus rises the Vigilant of Sacrifice.
  7. Trial 1: Birth Elvenesse It called from the stalks of tall grass, waving in the warm sea breeze. Grating, shrill, desperate; its caws struck an unpleasant chord. He waded among the sea of green, gaze trained towards his sabatons, which flattened the long lime-hued blades underfoot. Hither and thither he tread, until at last he arrived at the source. Upon gauntleted palms, he scooped up a little ball of blackened feathers, lofting it to his visage. Its calls answered, the young raven fell silent. Intelligent eyes stared back, brown to his grey. “Hesin,” he spoke, and it cawed in response. With delicate digits, he nestled it upon the furs atop his shoulders. There, in the coming weeks, it would gorge itself upon many a worm. Trial 2: Peace The Vale of Nevaehlen Sweat clung to his brow, light as mist. It pooled in droplets, torn away with each swipe of the back of his gauntleted hand. He was a man out of his element. Whereas the eastern wind had carried some measure of relief to the Snow Elf during his time in the Vale of Nevaehlen, he now trod through the continent proper, and there he found no respite from the sun’s golden rays. He had come to that settlement of Wood Elves laden with questions and empty parchment. As a result of their hospitality, through lengthy conversations with the Archdruidess Miven and her family, he left with answers - pale pages of parchment sated with blackened ink - that written knowledge held so dear to the ‘fenn. Trial 3: War Rimeveldian Wilderness Deep snows soaked up each heavy step with a muffled crunch, that familiar sound of fresh powder underfoot. Venturing forward, the Snow Elf stalked those barren woods, digits curled around the wooden shaft of a spear. Grey eyes scanned a grey horizon, until from behind a tree, he found movement. Broad antlers crowned the head of a bull moose. Closer and closer he crept, until its snout rose to the wind, picking up his scent. Their gazes met. Simultaneously, horns and spear lowered. Steel met bone as its charge was halted, and there in the snow, a melee ensued. Hoof, antler, and blade arced through the air, and when the powder settled, it ran red. Pierced upon each flank, the moose forced its last gasps, before steel to its throat ended the beast’s misery. A quiet prayer was muttered, and then the process of taking its hide began. Trial 4: Death Rimeveldian Wilderness A thousand points of light mirrored upon a pond’s frigid surface, dulled only by the occasional patch of pale ice. Ripples spread from the featherlight touch of a toe upon water. It alone was enough to make the blood run cold. Foot by foot, he stepped into the cold, and lowered until it surpassed his shoulders. For the unprepared, it was a death sentence. With Kindrel Araaloq over his shoulder, it was a challenge. Enveloped by the cold, it took seconds for his body to seek defense. It began as a quiver in his fingers, spreading up his limbs and to his abdomen. In minutes, it was a violent shaking, played to the chattering of teeth. Pale skin grew white, red lips dulled blue. Darkness took hold of his periphery, pulsing inwards to claim him. Minute after minute, he staved it off, until at last he accepted sleep. Vague outlines of pallid shapes danced in his vision. He awoke next to the fire. Trial 5: Hope The Summit, Southern Rimeveld Five months earlier Apprehensive digits curled and flexed as Vytrek Tundrak stood upon the ice of another pond, in another time. On the banks formed ranks of his people. For so long, they had surrendered to despair; their nation was dead, and their futures bound to a foreign existence. A nervous glance here revealed sullen faces; there, the hallmarked thin lips of skepticism. And yet, within his chest, a burning. It had begun in years prior as a spark, the mere idea of rebuilding that which was long-lost. Now, in this moment of import, the result of years of hard work, it was an inferno. He dared to hope. Ascending the rock, he would see its flames spread. Present Day Flames licked and bit at the frigid air, droplets of the pond burning away to mist upon Vytrek’s countenance. Pulled from the waters but minutes before, he sat cloaked in dry furs, grey gaze lingering upon the orange sparks. There, amidst the final of the five trials, witnessed by Kindrel Araaloq and Aldred Tundrak, he swore his moniker. "In darkest hour, on steepest slope, When weak distress and bold must cope, My strength I lend and fray-wards I lope, To quell despair and give them hope." Thus rises the Vigilant of Hope.
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