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The Turquoise Tree

Berestha Earthsister

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Berestha Earthsister

 

 

Berestha Elmessene was of the Renolfing Clan of the Stravuli, a farmer and follower of Vinga the Spearwoman. Shortly before her twentieth birthday, raiders struck homesteads on the Renolfing tula; the victims included her entire family, brutally abused and killed, as well as most of the neighbouring families. The raiders, ex-mercenaries, were never caught. The young Vingan was devastated, and became filled with a burning desire to avenge her family. Realising that she could not do anything to attain revenge at that time, Berestha spent long hours planning what to do.

She entered the Avenger cult, trained relentlessly, and studied ancient myths. The Earth Avenger was not her life path, but she sought the Dark Earth’s aid in her quest for revenge, and diligently sought a way to gain the powers she desired. After eight years, several heroquests, and lengthy rituals in which she swore powerful oaths to the Earth Avenger, and undertook numerous geases, she gained the power she sought to attain her revenge.

 The next twenty years were spent hunting down her foes. Her revenge was cruel; one of the raiders took two weeks to die. She was almost 60 by the time she tracked down the last of them, a swordmaster named Janos of Pent. The two fought on a narrow mountainside track. She was fatally wounded but took Janos with her, using the last of her strength to knock him from the track to his death on the rocks below.

Berestha is said to have hated men so ferociously that a look from her could render a man impotent for life. This is based on truth, Babeestor Gor granted her the power to do so (among others) as rewarded for her devotion to revenge and the powerful geases she had sworn.

Those who would follow her path can join her hero cult to do so. It is based at the Vinga temple in Notchet, although several shrines to Berestha exist in other areas of Esrolia. The hero cult is generally joined only by Vingans with an incredibly intense desire for revenge, but who are not drawn to the veneration of Babeestor Gor (many do not hate or distrust men in particular, or have no intention of spending the remainder of their life as an axe-wielding psychopath).

New members must be from the Vinga the Avenger subcult, and convince a priestess of the cult that their desire for revenge justifies taking this extreme course of action. They must then sacrifice 1 POW at Berestha’s shrine and another point at a Babeestor Gor shrine or temple.

The new member of the cult must spend the next year as an apprentice to a Babeestor Gor priestess. They perform everyday tasks for their mentor, who teaches them of the myths and rituals of the Earth Avenger. This first year is often tough going, it is used to test the new initiates resolve and commitment to the path they have chosen. At the end of the first year they are tested to see what they have learned (Babeestor Gor Lore, three out of five attempts). If they fail they can either leave the cult or continue for another years an apprentice.

If they succeed, they become full initiates of the cult, known as Blood Sisters. Their hair becomes blood-red in colour, changed by the will of the goddess (one of the reasons that they are called Blood Sisters), and they must take three geases; two selected by the will of the goddess (i.e. randomly), and one in consultation with their mentor. They must also take a geas never to reveal any of the secrets they are taught. An ancient and powerful ritual that will slay those breaking it enforces the latter geas; the Earth Avenger takes such things very seriously.

Cult members normally remain with their mentor for several more years, enacting rituals, heroquesting, and learning dark secrets best left hidden. They will normally take at least one additional geas each year, symbols of their growing closeness to the goddess. As they do so, they gain powers and abilities that will draw them nearer to their goal. Many dedicate themselves fully to Babeestor Gor during this period, using the Blood Sister ritual to leave Vinga’s service without rancour or the attacks of spirits of reprisal.

 

The members of Berestha’s cult are treated in all respects as initiates of Babeestor Gor. They may learn spirit magic from the cult, sacrifice for 1 use divine magic, and receive training and accommodation at temples. At Berestha’s shrine in Notchet, cult members can sacrifice for the Make Man Impotent divine magic spell.

After their initial training, members are expected to devote 40% of their time and income to the cult. This requirement is ended when the cultist undergoes the Blood Earth ritual and sets out on her quest for revenge. From that moment on, they are left to their own devices; the quest itself is sufficient devotion to the goddess that the character is considered to have more than ‘paid their way’.

Once the cult member has attained their revenge, they must choose either to become a Babeestor Gori or stay a Vingan. Either choice is considered acceptable by the cults concerned, incurring no penalties. They retain divine magic from the cult they no longer serve, but it becomes 1 use ever, and new spells cannot be sacrificed for. Any geases connected to the cult they leave are ended, and the benefits lost.

 

The details of the apprenticeship of new cult members have been deliberately left vague; each initiation varies considerably and it is important for the GM to personalise the experience. The apprenticeship is meant to be a life-changing and challenging series of events, with potentially great rewards, and should be treated as such. It should not be resolved largely through dice rolls.

 This hero cult is not necessarily appropriate for player characters as it effectively removes them from play for several years. It is possible to incorporate this into a campaign quite seamlessly, but if it is done without careful consideration, could prove a problem. The simplest solution is to have plenty of adventures/scenarios that can be linked to Babeestor Gor or Ernalda somehow, that way the character could be assigned to assist them some of the time (i.e. the majority of game sessions), but get little of the free time that other PC’s get, a downside of their quest for power.

 
 
 

Spells

 

 

Make Man Impotent

 

Divine, 1 point, one-use, ranged, instant, permanent.                                     

 Avenger (Berestha Earthsister).

Notchet Vinga temple only.

This must overcome POW in order to work. It may only be cast on a male that the caster can see (and who is within range); it makes the target permanently impotent, in other words they are unable to gain an erection or father children. This may not be healed by normal magic, although there may be specific magic that will cure this ailment. Normally to gain a cure the male must perform a heroquest. (SP/J)

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