The End of Hope – Guild Leaders, Buildings & Deity
First Principal Helphak Velde – First Principal
The Rayvahnite Church is run by one man and that man is Helphak Velde but he is not what you would expect of a Church leader. Before his story is told it must be understood that he is not a Priest as such and that he is not a Politician at all and that whilst he signs the pieces of paper that make the church go round he is not truly in charge of it. Behind him the Faith of Rayvahn get on with their business and the Church ticks over with Helphak busy as an administrator rather than anything else. But that is not to say that he is the object of ridicule or that he is not respected, Velde commands the respect of every member of the faith and is a commanding if occasionally ill informed member of the Church and the Clergy.
Helphak was born at some point in the late 60’s or early 70’s as the Eleventh of Fifteen children born out of poverty in the back streets of Malierunne. His mother was a prostitute working in horrific conditions for a criminal group called the Jackdaws, nothing more than a slave. His father was one of the faceless many that took advantage of the cheap prices offered by the Jackdaws who would not care if a whore fell pregnant. There was other work for them. Helphak was seen in his torment by a Priestess of Rayvahn called Milly Velde who spoke with the beaten and half starved child as to his circumstance. She asked him if he believed that he deserved his punishment and his answer was clear: He did not but he knew of those that did. Milly decided to return with the boy to the Temples and saw her way to cleaning him up feeding him and asking the boy a question: What kind of man will you be?
The next morning twenty Jettatura and a boy kicked down a door in Blades Street and entered a building in which foolish people drew quick blades against them. Slowly they began to mete out punishment to those deserving and freedom to those that did not. Some tried to flee but found their way barred by Woundbringers desperate to demonstrate the virtue of their title. Helphak saw his mother freed but no recognition in her eyes and felt no despair, she had suffered so that others, later, would not. Instead he returned to the task that he had set himself. Milly watched the boy recording the confessions, goods recovered and statements that were being made in his notebook with great efficiency. When she enquired who had taught him to write and what he was doing he replied with three answers: They did which is justice because I am recording their sins so that they can be punished to the full extent the law allows for every, single act that they commited.
That is the kind of man I am, although kind should not be used in a sentence used to describe that man.
More than impressed Milly took the boy into the church and adopted him as her son intending to train him as a Jettatura as she was. Helphak was a boy and later a man of extreme faith, moulded by his youth and she respected that but a Priest he was not. Despite her training efforts he returned time and again to his books; record and account keeping, not just for his temple but as weights and measures of the souls of those that had committed sins and deserved punishment. The level of spite that was directed at those that crossed swords with Emily Velde were in for an exact and horrific level of punishment that was truly deserving of their crimes. Sadly Helphak learned the next lesson of hopelessness when his adopted mother was murdered in 1987 whilst the Churches were still in flux by hands still unknown save the mark of the Jackdaw burned into her forehead and any chances to return her to life removed.
Helphak swore revenge but his talents and skills did not lie in the area of one gifted in hunting down his enemies and time moved on leaving the murder unsolved and his mothers soul lonely and lost. This has weighed on him.
Helphak was promoted through the quiet and unobtrusive path of the scribe and record keeper slowly and methodically doing his job and keeping much of the Church ticking over on his own. He was a loyal defender of the faith of Rayvahn during their long exile from the Royal Basin, speaking openly, clearly and with fervour in defence of the sanctity of his Goddess to the unbelievers. In truth, after the death of his mother, his role in the Church had become little more than a custodians one, keeping track of religious texts and artefacts as the faith moved from hidden location to hidden location. However he became instrumental in the return of the Church into the Duchies; brokering the deals and arrangements that has seen the clergy slot almost seamlessly back into the position that it now holds. The senior members of the Church acknowledged his role and rose him in rank once more but moved him to a similar role only this time without the need for secrecy and a drive to endure the survival of the faith.
Once they were ensconced once more in the politics of the Royal Basin and the Clergy the End of Hope soon realised that they were out of their depth. Too long away from the cut and thrust of the established churches they found themselves losing ground, underfunded and underrepresented wherever they tried to achieve anything. Several transitions of power took place which almost threw the church apart until someone remembered the man that had bought them to their rightful place in the first place. When the transition was complete Velde seemed to naturally retain the reigns of leadership and has continued to organise and maintain the Church on a day to day basis. The council make their choices and decisions regarding religious matters and the direction of his church and if believes they are correct he will sign off on them if not then he will seek out those responsible for the considered errors.
Velde has very little ambition of his own so it is generally suspected or known that he is a figurehead for the Church. His position is one of maintenance and of the government of the resources at the Churches disposal. He is served by a ceaselessly shifting council of priests and politicians who represent the Church at Clergy and at Court, a notable member of this council, for example, is Sebastian Blackthorne who is the mortal host for the angel Bloodtear. It is well known that they serve the ambitions and of the Mistress and protect her faith and belief in the arenas that have become their new home. That is what is suspected but behind the calm demeanour and the sharp eyes there is a Rayvahnite, a boy born to a nameless slave on the streets of Mallierunne but who turned out to be the son of Emily Velde who was of the line of Velde who served at the leisure of the Mistress since the first days.
Major Centres of Worship
The Church of the one on the island in Haven hosts the largest current temple of Rayvahn. There are currently plans underway to construct a Cathedral in the capital and several smaller temples in Vopanderan, Strabain and Vobde.
The Deity: Rayvahn
The Mistress, The End of Hope, The Everlasting Scream
Blood Red Tears
Agony, Grief, Anger, Strength through suffering
Weariness, Torment, Misery, Punishment
The Yama Lords, Yarrianne, Naed
The Tower of Final Grace
The All Hell, Purgatory, The Shadows of the Sin Eaters, The release of the Faithful, The plains of the damned
Rayvahn (Ray-Van) is the seat of misery and pain, her kiss could take you to the brink of ecstasy but leave you always wanting just one more embrace, her gaze reminds you of all things lost that you have ever lost and her words can make the very soul bleed. She is a cold and uncaring Goddess whose function in the pantheon of gods is to ensure that those souls sent to her by Ekimelahw are punished to the very letter of the law. Rayvahn maintains the power she has come to enjoy through relentless devotion to her tasks and expects the very same from the clergy. Through her long exile from the basin, which denied her a great chunk of worship, she sought out several lesser deities that were worshipped in the dark places or in secret. These she has forced to serve her to increase her own power and position amongst the Dark Pantheon.
As well as being part of the dark alliance Rayvahn holds an uneasy pact with Ekimelahw. Long ago they were assigned the roles of Gaoler and Judge, respectively, and were forced to co-operate over the matter of departed souls. However during Rayvahn’s absence from the basin it was Ekimelahwian followers that were destroying her representatives and now a tense level of animosity exists between the two deities.
During both of Rayvahn’s appearances in the Royal Basin she has appeared as a slender woman of surpassing beauty with clear Eaölfen heritage, tattered white wings spring from her back and she is oft garbed in a white gown over which her long black hair hangs seductively. Her followers tend to dress simply and functionally and weave autumnal colours into their robes. Her Clergy is made up of Priests, who make up the bulk of the Church, The Grey Whisperers, priests who have taken oaths of Purity and then there are the Wound Bringers, the warriors of Rayvahn who bring her word with steel and fire.
Clergy of Rayvahn have a difficult task with the skills at their disposal; Rayvahn commands that all of her gifts are brought to the deserving, but establishing the deserving from the innocent is a difficult task. Many believe that her Priests simply mete out her gifts to all and sundry, those that do are not part of her clergy, to most priests the gifts of Rayvahn are precious. Misery, pain and suffering are things that come at as a response to an action. For most people these things come naturally and the cause of such pain is often unjust or untimely. For others, actions go unpunished and crimes and sins that deserve the gifts of the mistress are the food of the Clergy. It is the sworn duty of the clergy of Rayvahn to uncover the discretions of those who would attempt to thwart their mistress and show them the error of their ways.
Rayvahnites are commanded to ensure that any who worship their goddess do so out of respect for the responsibilities and power that come with the role. She instructs her followers never to utilise fear but to use their own powers. If some have to be persuaded then let it be through the erosion of their will through the application of the gifts that have been given to her children.
“I charge my children to scour the land, to ensure that the gifts of the mistress are in every heart, locked away waiting or writhing amongst the ashes of a man’s soul. Root out those who are in need of my gifts and punish them one-hundred times over, prepare all for the land beyond life and give no quarter to any enemy. Protect those other followers of the Mistress and raise not your hand to them through the anger that fills us all.”From the Book of Rayvahn
Keth, Archangel of Agony
Dealing with the inflicting of direct physical and emotional pain. A Priest that has called upon Keth to be their patron has offered their service in bringing both physical and emotional pain as retribution against those that are seen as enemies or heretical in the eyes of the Goddess.
Vehlok, Archangel of Anger
Dealing with the direct influence of Anger over the emotions of a being and the harm that it can cause on them and those around them. A Priest that has called upon Vehlok to be their patron has learnt to channel the rage and anger of Vehlok and to harness his strengths. Through his power they may give purpose and strength to the flock that they protect and to those companions that they travel with.
Anaban, Archangel of Grief
Dealing with the grief of loss, the hardships of love and the emptiness of loneliness. A Priest that has called upon Anaban has dedicated their lives to dealing teaching their flock to draw strength from the emptiness of the loss of those that are dear to them and of the hardship of love leaving one’s life.
Nemex Kahn, Archangel of Hopelessness
Dealing with the hopelessness of failure, betrayal and the unkindness of insurmountable odds. A Priest that has called upon Nemex Kahn makes it their duty to bring hopeless despair against those that have betrayed their goddess or each other through pacted means.
Angels of Power
Shamik, Angel of Misery
Dealing with the misery brought about by hard fortune, famine and disease. A Priest that has called upon Shamik to be their patron is responsible for their flocks and companions understanding of the joylessness of hard times and poor fortune. Those that embrace the mistress in these times are strengthened and those that are weak fail and die.
Jorith, Angel of Weariness
Dealing with the hardships of the burdens of life in general. A Priest that has called upon Jorith represents the priests ability to accept the hardships and burdens of day to life as tests from the Mistress and through them to gain her blessings in all that they do.
Kordan, Angel of Torment
Dealing with the torment of that which is always out of reach but could so easily be attainable. A Priest that has called upon Kordan to champion them are responsible for teaching the brethren of Rayvahn that they must continue to persevere towards their goals no matter how out of reach and how much torment that they will be put through in trying to reach them.
Fatchar, Angel of Shattered dreams
Dealing with the horrific cruelty of sudden loss of the most cherished and beloved things. A Priest that has called upon Fatchar deals with those that have suffered the sudden loss of cherished and beloved things. They teach them how to accept the gifts of the mistress and to explore the cruelty that walks with such loss and bring it to bear in their own psyche.
Turyzek Rekarn, Angel of Raw Faith and Power
Dealing with the smithing of anger, belief, hopelessness and agony to reforge a being to strength through suffering. A Priest that has called upon Turyzek Rekarn is responsible for dealing with those that have suffered the faith of Rayvahn and have emerged from that journey stronger. To smith that new faith hammer and anvil into a new being fuelled by that belief.
Rayvahn is served by a number of Lesser Powers that can also be worshipped by Priests and Ley Followers, these powers have fallen under the remit of the Lord over the years and given their power to increase the strength of The Everlasting Scream
The Demi Power Rarta
Punishment through bitter Cold, Hardship in the wastes, Emotionless states
Rayvahn, Dirge, Beshet
“Embrace the pain that the bitter isolated winter brings. Look not to others for your strength but instead to your own scars and sinew. Bring low those that wrong you or stand against your purpose when the time is right and do so with a pure soul and clarity of purpose.”
Long ago Rarta was a powerful angel of Kalarin that through trickery and betrayal was cast out of the heavens into an empty and terrible wasteland far from the heavens as we now know them. Little is known about what happened to Rarta as he fought for survival and freedom from that lost place but when he emerged finally back into the heavens of Vaklam he had been remade. The long exile in the wastes had scoured any trace of emotion from his being but fostered and honed a power born of suffering and endurance itself.
Rarta calls upon his followers to likewise strengthen themselves through enduring adventures in harsh and unforgiving places and to look upon the world with a cold clarity that allows pure purpose. His favour is granted for suffering and survival, for spurning emotional action in favour of rational progress and for punishing enemies by slow, painstaking steps and leaving them to perish in the bitterest cold. Rarta’s most faithful can be found among those who have suffered and endured like him and can mostly be found in the fringes of civilisation near forsaken places. Within the basin worship of Rarta is almost exclusively found in the Bitter vale and the north of ironstone.
Most who worship at the altar of Rarta wear the Sigil of Frost and wear ragged robes or clothing of white, grey and blue. The most fanatical and extreme followers wear little clothing preferring to expose their flesh to the elements especially walking barefoot.
The Demi Power Beshet
Physical punishment, strong arm tactics, blind anger
Rayvahn, Rarta, Dirge
“OBEY OR SUFFER!”
When Rayvahn rose to the heavens there was much unruliness in her realm, much chaos. The screams of the dying and the suffering filled her hell, for there was only one in those says and Rayvahn’s despair grew. Still she needed to create, not to wallow in what she had but she could not, at first, control this and so she created Beshet to serve her. That is what Beshet is, that is all that Beshet will ever be, Beshet is the will of the Mistress given form and sent forward to cause order through punishment and make the will of the Goddess manifest in the heavens. So too do her followers bring the will of the Mistress and by proxy the Church to life in the world of mortality through strength of arm and those that disobey them suffer the fury that they are filled with.
The Holy Symbol of Beshet is the spiked whip.
The Demi Power Dirge
Bardic Songs of Sorrow, Courts, ramification of action
Rayvahn, Rarta, Beshet
“Words can bring hope, those same words spun in a different tale or sung in a different song can bring sorrow or joy. It is understanding that brings this, diplomacy in its truest form.”
Some time ago the heaving streets of Shriek Spire were little more than the dirt tracks off a village called Arodan. The name can be found amidst the moldering ruins of various municipal buildings scattered across the Bitter Vale. What you will not find mentioned are the links that Rayvahn had with the humble village of Arodan, nor of the great burial catacombs below Arodan, nor of the Violent Passing, a portal to Rayvahn herself. Only the faithful know of the things that dwell there, they and the Lord of the Bitter Vale. Arodan was once a child; he grew, in the fullness of time, to be an accomplished traveler and storyteller. Yet within Arodan was a cancerous seed that fed upon the emotions of his audiences. I say fed because it was not nurtured by the swell of pride that came from a tale of valour but instead fuelled by the sorrow of a dirge or a great tragedy. Arodan, did not, as so many other bards do, pay homage to the Goddess Terref, but instead gave himself wholly to the mistress of pain; Rayvahn.
Many years of successful travelling and telling gave Arodan enough capital to buy land and status, so he came to rest in the market town of Viles (Vil-es) which lay on what would become the Bitter Vale. Viles had been a mining village, tin being the major commodity, those mines were long abandoned but the tunnels still existed below Viles. He arrived, changed the name of the town to his own and begun his mistress’ work. For the previous six years Rayvahn had been appearing to Arodan in the shape of an Angelic being called the Dark Muse. She seduced Arodan and, after nights of high and “interesting” passion, she whispered her insidious plans to his very soul; teaching him, feeding his dark seed, until in the final days after his arrival in Viles Arodan was lost to the world and Dirge was born. Neither alive nor dead, a child of Torture and Pain, a dark Poet and a creature of suffering!
Over the years that followed many faithful of Rayvahn flocked to Arodan, the pull of the Violent Passing was strong indeed. Dirges followers are politicians and diplomats that speak to the mortal folk on behalf of the Churches and to the heavens on behalf of the mortal folk. They maintained a peace between the Churches of the Dusk during the dark days and continue to work their power across the land.
The Holy Symbol of Dirge is a Black Harp.