Deep within us all beats the heart of the animal, the primal beast that defies all that is civilized. It screams to us at times, demanding to be released, unleashed upon the world as an animal kept in a cage for too long. None know and understand this wild animal like the children of Azaradel, no other Estate knows how to control it like they do, or how to unleash it.
In the days before the flood, the children of Azaradel separated themselves from the other Estates, choosing to live freely amongst the forests, plains and deserts of the land. They saw all creatures as brothers to them, respected them as such and communed with them in this world as in the next. For many centuries, they lived as true nomads, some claimed territories, making homes as the seasons demanded, remaining untroubled by the wars their brethren waged upon one another. Some Estates had all but forgotten they existed, even their patron angel was unknown to them, and none are sure if he was even found by the hosts of the flood and taken away. During the age of great kingdoms, the children of Azaradel did not live by the laws of any covenant, they lived by the order of things, the laws of nature.
When came the waters, it took all of them by surprise. Many perished under the floods, but not all, and the wild and proud children of Azaradel were made humble. When the waters receded, they sought reason in what had happened. They went out into the world and what they learned angered them, for it was the very corruption of their brethren that had brought on the great waters. The children of Azaradel saw the overwhelming evils they had visited unto the world, and thought nothing of denouncing them for their weaknesses, faults and indulgences.
Why couldn’t the rest of their brethren live in harmony? However, in their arrogance, the children of Azaradel thought nothing of ignoring their own shortcomings. Time passed, and the remainder of them returned to the wild places they loved so much, intent on rebuilding their lives. However, in fear that they too would someday succumb to the same “frailties” as their brethren, they created laws that they would abide by; a covenant for future generations to follow. The other Estates looked down upon this, claiming that their laws were a travesty to all things Nephal are sworn to uphold as sacred. The children of Azaradel simply reply that although the words do not come from the lips of their forefather or Shemyaza, they are no less valid. They claim their covenant is taken from what their patron angel would demand of them, whispered through the words of the wind, forest and mountains they live amongst.
The children of Azaradel are firm believers that they are not an unnatural species, simply an introduced product of a marriage between a natural and a migrated species: a new sub-species, evolved from two distinct creatures of similar making. There are numerous examples of this throughout the Earth’s history, and this will continue as long as the world is allowed to evolve naturally. Yet other Nephal have corrupted this once again, and have attempted to usurp the natural evolution of the world around them. These children of
Azaradel see the clearing of forests for the purpose of farming or the forced cross-breeding of domesticated animals to achieve better livestock as a travesty of the natural laws of the world about them. They see a world beginning to fall to corruption once again, for their brethren have begun to usurp the sacred laws of nature once more, but this time they fear that the floods will spare no one.
The other Estates are thus finding increasing contact with those they have come to call the ferals, or ‘ferorum’, as hostile and sometimes violent.
The children of Azaradel are organized into small, closely-knit tribal groups, typically led by two individuals. One spiritual leader who plays the role of a speaker of wisdom, and a war chief, usually a champion of combat skills who will lead the people in times of war. Their mortal kith live alongside of them and are well aware of the nature of their immortal cousins. They have become an integral part of their way of life, accepting various responsibilities within the group as well as several obligations. All tribes of any given area will meet once per year where a great festival is held in the deepest wilderness or at a sacred ceremonial location. These revels will last many days and culminate in a great spiritual prayer, during which the entire group of individuals will commune with the spiritual world. All local Estate decisions are voted on at these great gatherings.
The children of Azaradel commonly have sloping postures, wild appearances, mannerisms and demeanor. They wear simple clothing, often ethnic or aboriginal in style, as well as decorative ornamentation ranging from jewelry to tattooing. They are proud in nature and poise and inherently feel the need to avoid cities. They often involve themselves in the protection of mystical places and people, feeling a great attachment to the Earth, the land and all things of the old ways.
The creation of a covenant for Azaradel’s children placed them one step closer with their humanity, and began exercising a restraint on their animal side. This may well have been more of a hindrance, for in repressing their natural instincts they began building their anger. Most youths grow up with difficulties in controlling their emotions, suffering deep repressions and emotional outbursts which sometimes culminate in violent acts. Some say the ‘ferorum’ are nothing more than wild animals, uncivilized beasts incapable of true reason. But one should not judge them so superficially, for are we so different from them ourselves?
The children of Azaradel can come from both nomadic and some sedentary peoples. One thing they all share in common is a deep respect for the land, the spirits that surround them, and the protection of the laws of creation as they see them. They have a distinct way of seeing the world and their rightful place as part of it; good or bad as it may be, it gives them a unique sense of balance. An appropriate step forward in their quest, however, many of their covenant laws omit the fact of their true purpose, and thus they begin play with 5 points of Redemption, and 4 points of Sin. The unique mentality and way of life of the children of Azaradel characterizes their attitude and general behaviors as well. They may appear removed and even detached, however, this is a facade. They are respectful and believe in justice, having developed many rituals involving its exaction. They may seem primitive and unruly, but like their beliefs, this is just the surface of what really lies beneath.
The tutelage of young initiates takes the form of very difficult spiritual and physical trials. For the first part, each initiate begins their tutelage after they undergo a ritual ceremony that will reveal to them the animal spirits that share a part of their soul. These spirits will shape the appearance of the future abilities they will develop from their greater Goety.
They will then practice the use of these basic abilities for a short time. Thereafter, without warning, they will be taken away to undergo the second part of their tutelage. From this point on they are unaccompanied, and the Warder takes little part other than bringing them into the middle of a deep wilderness area where they are given the choice of one item that may assist them on their journey. The choice of their items will greatly decide the position the young pupil might take within the Estate. Such items will vary from implements of war, to tools of survival to spiritual icons.
The Warder will keep a reasonable distance, should the young initiate encounter great danger, but will not interfere in the actual course of their quest. Initiates are expected to survive for a period of no less than one year, alone and without contact with any civilization or peoples. During that period, they will have to commune with the spirit world around them, as well as learn to use and develop their Goety and survival skills. When they return, they will be fully accepted into the Estate.
The Goety of Azaradel:
Azaradel taught his children the power of the wild heart and nature’s myriad children, as well as the changes these can invoke. These powers not only hold domain over man, but also wild beasts and all manner of other creatures that inhabit our world and the next. The ‘ferorum’ seem to have an innate knowledge of this and have developed the ability to bend their bodies as well as their minds in metamorphic changes, taught to them by the spirits that inhabit their hearts. This knowledge coupled with their strong bonds to the often-overlooked spirits of animals and beasts allow them to perform frightening shape shifting changes.
Subsequently, they are able to adopt small to complete aspects of various animals which best represent them. At first, their Goety allows them to adopt minor characteristics and abilities which may include increased senses or minor trait changes. As their power grows, more abilities are adopted, as well as other aspects from other animals, until finally there is little that separates the immortal from the animal spirits within.
The children of Azaradel do not possess minor Goety as do other Nephal, rather they permanently adopt one particular minor ability or trait from two of their animal guides. These in turn do not physically reveal themselves as their greater Goety abilities would, and they thus remain unperceivable, but are likewise substantially weaker. One animal ability or trait is adopted, which offers a +1 bonus on all difficulty markers per dot of minor Virtue.
These traits may be as simple as having the heart of a stag, which permit the immortal to perform physical activities for long periods of time, or alternatively the stealth of a cat, which could be applied to stealth rolls.
The wild nature of Azaradel’s children, in all its blessings, is a curse as well. The beast within them is not always easily controlled and when it breaks through it has no small effect on the ‘ferorum’. Each time they fail their Greater Goety, the powers invoked invite the spirit of the animal to the surface of their soul. For as long as the user keeps the metamorphic form active they must perform regular Will rolls with an age penalty modifier to resist the natural urges of the animals in question. Should they fail, they succumb to the urges of the animals within and must act out on these said urges, possibly arising all manner of problems and situations.
However, should they botch roll on an attempt to summon their Greater Goety, the immortal immediately adopts all animal traits summoned, as well as that animal’s instincts for the duration of one day per level of the Goety that was to be used. For all intents and purposes the immortal’s conscious mind takes a back seat to the animal’s activities. All Mental rolls automatically suffer an age penalty modifier to their difficulty while during this period of time as the “ferorum” is incapable of unsummoning the beast, let alone control it.