Cult of Night
|Symbols||The Cult of Night is associated with the symbols of the color red, a sharp crescent moon, a crown with vines wrapped around it, the Benalian lion inside a circle, and a weeping heart.|
In order to enter the Prayer state an adherent to the Cult of Night may do one of the following:
The question of what Night Malefic truly are is one that has haunted the world since the beginning of time. What does it mean to become one, to wear the cloak of darkness and terrify the quaking souls of every mortal man walking through this rotting corpse of a world? Many are the fools who would stare into the shadows, quivering with candle in hand, pointing their fingers and naming all that frightens them evil. Yet, do they not fear god and love him? They say the monsters are villains because they kill, but did god not make man to die? Just because something is inimical to life does not make it evil, indeed some of the most deadly forces in this world are also their most virtuous. Most forces of the world are simply beyond simple morality: the volcano, the storm, the wolves baying at the edges of cities. They are not evil; they simply are.
Take, for example, the Night Malefic. When you scrutinize their meaning, their origins and the actions they take, what is it you see? The world itself recognizes acts of great evil and gives the spirits of the wronged a chance to make it right; to avenge themselves. Within the shadows are potential: potential for crimes to be rectified, for the weak to stand against the mighty, for the truth to be unearthed and revealed. The Malefic are a reaction to the existence of human wickedness, and essentially bestowing the ability to make it right once more. Such is the power of the Nachtstrom, instrument of god’s wrath and the most tangible divine power across all corners of the earth.
When god made the world, it was done with a moral imperative in mind; that those to whom the gift of life was given must follow laws which god laid out in the very nature of men and beast. Laws of hospitality, of the strength of blood both shared and spilled, of the right to lead and the right to rule. Not only does the heart of every man recoil at violations of these natural laws, but the guardian which god anointed to keep and enforce the laws does seek out and punish those who would transgress against their own natures, elevating the Nachtstrom and using its power to bring the wicked to justice. This guardian, say the Nightwalkers, is known as Vecatra, and it is among mankind’s greatest follies that they came to believe the teachings of the Testimonium and the Verdant Covenant were in conflict.
Followers of the Cult of Night, often simply called Nightwalkers, believe they carry the key to reunifying the disparate philosophies of the Benali and Vecatran faiths, that being the secret of the Nachtstrom: a power of divine justice and balance, entrusted to the keeper of our earthly garden on behalf of its creator. It is this power that animates the Malefic and inspires them to acts that might mend creation at man’s expense. But they are not the only ones capable of wielding this power. Humans, after all, have the spark of the divine within their anima, and with the proper strength of will they can take up the power for themselves. It is when a human fully immerses themselves in the power of the night, taking on the responsibility of enforcing natural law and the authority inherent to that honor, that they become something greater and more holy than any mortal man. They become a Vampire.
This changes them at the core of their being, giving them the ability to wield the Nachtstrom as a skilled swordsman holds his blade, not merely as a tool but as an extension of his very will. It is this combined with the divine right to rule, known as the Vollmacht, that marks the Vampire as apart and above mankind. Their guiding hands contain an eternity of wisdom they might use to better curate creation. But that power comes with a cost. It is not enough to rule, one must rule well and be an arbiter of divine justice and the implacable laws of nature both.
Those Vampires, Dhampirs, and human sympathizers that follow the Cult of Night believe that with the gift of Kingship and authority that they have been given comes also a dark inheritance, the weight of all of the world’s sins that are necessary to put right. So many Malefic creatures are without mind, driven only by their purpose to avenge, that the Vampire must take their ageless wisdom as an obligation to use it selflessly. Their duty as rulers of all lesser creatures is to connect more closely with their lands and wards, anticipating the needs of creation and the mandate of the night. They seek to understand the Nachtstrom and its secrets, and to use its power to guide the world towards its destiny, even if it takes a thousand lifetimes. Even if their duty denies them entry into heaven, they will lead mankind to the gates.
As the first, the Red Queen Adrasteia is worshipped as the representative of the path to the truth. She was not perfect, but to share in her sin is to share in the sin of all of humanity, and only by admitting fault can those of the blood take up the burden of liberation for mankind. Her soul and her story is believed to be present in each and every Vampire, guiding those who can hear her to the truth. Some even believe that if they follow her guidance then they can heal the world of its sins, and they too can be redeemed and transcend this world.
Hierarchy is a core value at the center of the Cult of Night, as it is natural that the elect, those so obviously blessed, would rule over the rest of mankind. They recognize that all creation owes its existence to god, including them, and that the power of the Nachtstrom is granted to them by the Threefold Soul Vecatra. Besides these superior entities, the only creature to whom a vampire must bow are those older and more powerful than they, for with age comes wisdom and a concentration of the Nachtstrom which is most holy. Though only very few Vampires follow the Cult of Night, for religious inclination is discouraged in the dark valleys of Seravia, the Nightwalkers have special reverence for the Sanguifex Focolor, who revealed the lost gospels detailing the secrets of the Nightwalkers and whose blood is believed to be older even than Karsus. It is he who conveys the edicts of the faith to his followers, though it is known a great number of his deeper truths and lore are kept from all but his most ancient and faithful kin.
However, the Cult is not without teachings for the human faithful. As any mortal may become a Vampire, should they be chosen, and due in no small part to the timeless nature of the Vampire, one of the primary edicts of the faith is that one should not seek to subvert one’s masters. Should one be worthy of elevation, it is god’s will that they be noticed, and naturally they will rise above the rest if they are worthy. It is the duty of the servant to respect and obey their master, and it is the duty of the master to issue just and righteous commands. This, combined with an intense study of the intricate, mutually dependant structures of nature – particularly the relationships of predator, prey, and environs – are integral to the faith. A wood with too few wolves will become overrun with deer, who will mindlessly consume the ferns and trees even to their own destruction. So it is that adherents to the Cult of Night see the world as a natural kingdom, in no way divorced or separate from the food chain.
Those who follow the Cult of Night value leadership, following established hierarchies, seeking knowledge about the Nachtstrom and creatures of the night, and solving and preventing malefic creatures. Though often rejected by Benali and Vecatran sects alike, they strive tirelessly to be the bridge between the two faiths in hopes that they might someday see the full picture of creation of which they are a vital part.
Appropriate offerings to be made for the Cult of Night are sanguine essence, stag antlers, silver ore, furs, carnelian stones, meat, items tied to malefic creatures, moonstones, and items tied to bats and blood.
Followers of the Cult of Night must take a vow to never subvert an established hierarchy. If they do so, they then find themselves unable to feed for the subsequent three event days. If they are Vampire or Dhampir, this means they cannot take in any additional blood until they properly atone for their broken vow and make an appropriately impressive sacrifice. If they are human, they cannot receive any benefit from food or alchemical concoctions until they have done the same.
Should the follower accept their punishment and end the next three event days without rectifying their broken vow, they are no longer considered a follower of the Cult of Night, and will be unable gain a benefit from offerings until they have made amends through atonement and a precious offering.
Make an Offering
The Cult of Night promises the following gifts to those who leave an offering at a Shrine of Night. Anyone can trigger the shrine by presenting the proper offering and using the prayer ability, by swearing the following Oath:
“Adrasteia, the first, the lost, I ask you to guide me to better understanding of my role and power. Help me grasp the reins of kingship, refine the essence of the night, and set my mark upon the land and to bring justice to all who reside within it.”
Swearing this Oath places them under the Vow of the Cult of Night.
The following must be written into the dedications book as if it was a prayer. The use of an Altar or Shrine spends the user’s daily prayer ability:
Common Offering – By making an offering of silver ore or silver shavings, meat, or furs, along with tallow to Adrasteia at her shrine, any follower may present a single sanguine essence of a sentient creature within a vessel and it will be preserved.
Rare Offering: Adrasteia’s Blood – By presenting an item tied to a malefic creature, bat wings, carnelian stones,or fine meat, a follower may increase either their Faith or Resolve Attribute by 1 (to a maximum of 3) for a single night.
Precious Offering: Vollmacht – By offering a moonstone, a stag antler, a mummified bat, or the unconscious body of a sentient creature with blood, a follower may declare the Shrine under their protection for a single night. As long as the follower that made the offering remains seated in front of the Shrine, all those who seek the sanctuary of the Shrine and touch it with both hands may call “Incorporeal” and “No Effect” to all attacks made against them.
Requirements of an Altar
In addition to offerings at a Shrine, one may make a common offering to the Cult of Night at an Altar dedicated to it. The Altar must contain a representation of Adrasteia, and a moonstone placed with a glass bowl filled with either unspoiled red wine or sanguine essence.
Dedicate Shrine of Night
Dedicate a shrine to the Red Queen, Adrasteia
“My power is that of my blood, that of my sire’s blood, and that of their sire’s. A single, unbroken line that goes back to the Red Queen herself, the great Adrasteia.”
Focus: The cultist takes a metal bowl filled with water and places it at the location that will be dedicated as a Shrine, under a covering from the elements.
Focus: Behind the bowl, a statue of Adrasteia is placed.
Offering: A candle is lit and placed before the bowl.
Focus: A piece of unsullied linen is then raised and presented before the statue.
Act: All followers present must make a wound in one of their limbs and press those limbs against the linen until the blood from those wounds is allowed to soak into the linen. If there are less than three adherents, the linen must be soaked with the unspoiled sanguine essence of three different sentient creatures.
Liturgy: All adherents present must recite the following words thrice:
“Ours is the blood that guides, ours is the story that leads. Ours is the weight of the world, and the justice of those the world has not forgotten.” The cloth is then wrapped around the figure of Adrasteia, and the adherents bow to her and put out the candle.
Creates a Shrine of Night to the Red Queen that may be used to give offerings for effects. Anyone can trigger the shrine, as long as they swear the Oath and use their daily prayer ability.