Sunday, September 29, 2013

Faces of Pretomournon: The Priestess


The Cathedral of Clouds in Pretomournon is the largest cathedral in the world. It’s home to nearly a hundred small orders, all of which are members of The Temple, the global organization for waning religions. The cathedral is a wonder to behold: a huge structure of more than 500 feet high, made of large grey stones, with gates big as titans, sixteen bell towers touching the sky, and guarded by terrible gargoyles patrolling the walls.

Inside there is plenty to see, hear and experience as well. The floor is inlaid with the sacred symbols of a thousand gods. High stained-glass windows display scenes out of the stories of Deucalion, who saved mankind and wildlife by building the ark Utnapishtim, of Rystespyt, who teached humanity to speak and write, and of Crow, who slayed The Chimera Out Of Nowhere.

Each god has its own shrine – the greater gods a chapel - and each shrine shows the power and greatness of its god. The water in the font of Elgar, god of Patrionism, heals all who drink from it, as long as he or she demonstrates to know the full text of the national anthem, including the lesser known fourth stanza. The dead husk of the Lord of Apathy, hanging on iron chains suspended from the ceiling,  promises to prophesize for those who sacrifice a finger. The statue of the Invisible Queen will make everyone with pure hatred and darkness in his or her heart beautiful in appearance.

Despite all these wonders, the Cathedral is rarely visited, and there are hardly any people other than priests and tourists. One of those priests is Amariza, priestess of Muizi, goddess of memory.

At first sight, her shuffling gait and stooped posture remind one of an older person, but once she starts talking and laughing, it becomes clear immediately that she is younger. Amariza is in her early ‘30s and small of stature. She wears her dark blond hair pinned up in a bun and she always wears the light blue robe of office. A  cloud of about 10 dragonflies – insects sacred to the goddess Muizi – circles her constantly. When starting a conversation, she always asks people the same question: "Do you remember Muizi?"

Amariza grew up in Heugenis, a small village in the northeastern part of the Mournful Kingdom. All residents of Heugenis worship the goddess Muizi, and from an early age Amariza knew that she wanted to dedicate her life to serving her goddess. The priest Pascer took her on as an acolyte at the age of twenty, and inaugurated her into the mysteries of the faith. She learned to talk to dragonflies, to read and interpret signs in the collective memory of humanity, and how to cast some spells. Once her training was complete, the disadvantage of living and working in a small town like Heugenis became clear: the shrine to Muizi was small, and could be managed easily by one person. Amariza stayed on as Pascer’s assistant much longer than normal for an acolyte, but eventually it became clear she had to find her own path to walk. Therefore, Amariza decided to leave her home village to travel to the capital, where the largest and most important shrine to Muizi was located in the Cathedral of the Clouds.

Amariza’s idea was to join the priestly order of Muizi. However, as she arrived in Pretomournon, to her dismay she discovered that no such order existed in the city. The shrine in the cathedral was abandoned and no one – not even the leadership of The Temple – knew about the shrine’s goddess. Amariza was shocked to learn that no one knew about Muizi.

When Amariza learned more about the religious and philosophical schools in the city, she came to the conclusion that the majority of the population had forgotten the gods. And, as the new high priestess of memory, she felt it was here duty to do something about it.

With the help of a young nun named Trudi, she obtained from the library of The Temple an obscure ritual that calls a god into the material world. Amariza wants to use this ritual to summon Muizi. She believes when the goddess of memory walks in the world, people will remember again.

The ritual requires an enormous magical symbol drawn on the ground, covering an area of half a city quarter. Although there’s enough space in the ruined part of Pretomournon to make this half-mile-wide sign, the ruins in the outer circle of the city are not quite uninhabited. Therefore, Amariza hired the “fixer” Carter Don to ensure that the necessary area is clear, and the people who live there are paid to move.

Although Amariza is a sweet woman, she is very naive and gullible. She truly believes Carter Don uses the money she pays – almost her entire salary as a High Priestess of The Temple – to compensate people for leaving their homes, and she has no idea of his true methods. She has no suspicion of her confidant Trudi's true identity either, and has no clue about the real objective of the summoning ritual: to bring about the Apocalypse.

Amariza: AL N; MV 12; AC 9 (unarmored); Human Female Mage 1; hp 4; #AT 1; Dmg 1d4 (dagger) or by weapon; S 11, D 10, C 13, I 14, W 9, Ch 14; M 6; Items: medallion of thoughts; XP 13.

Spells: Amariza can memorize two 1st level spells, or one of 2nd level. Favorite spells are amnesia, augury, and know alignment.

Faultless Memory: As a priestess of Muiri, goddess of memory, Amariza never forgets anything. She can recall anything she has heard.

Sacred Dragonflies: Amariza always has 1d6+6 dragonflies flying around her. If Amariza is attacked, the dragonflies will fight as an 2 HD insect swarm with a number of hit points equal to the number of dragonflies.

Dragonflies (1d6+6): AL N; MV 3, fly 6; AC 7; HD 2; hp 1 per dragonfly; #AT 1; Dmg 2 hp (bite); Save as human0; M 11; XP 29.

Location: In the Cathedral of Clouds during work hours, or in her small home in the Priests’ Quarter.

See also: Carter Don, Quinzel, Sylgya.

Note: Because the cleric class doesn’t exist in the Weird Opera world, Amariza is a mage. If you want to use her in a more traditional game, make her a cleric of intermediate level. Give her faultless memory as a granted power instead of turning undead, or give her both.

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