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The Kasdeja.

In the ancient days, in the time just before the flood, the children of Kasdeja, or ‘Avites’ as they call themselves, were part of a small collectivity of Estates that included other likeminded peoples. These collective kingdoms were settled on fertile soil, enriched by their toil and Goety. The Avite kingdom bordered a great sea, which they fearlessly sailed and partook of its abundance.

Many Estates looked upon their lands and sailing ability with envious jealousy. When war came to them, engulfing their kingdom and those of their allies, their enemy the Caphtorim Estate, who had long been at war with the Avites, came to take their rich lands. A great battle lasting many weeks took place, whereas the Caphtorim and their allies took the Avite lands and in a treacherous act, infiltrated their city and slew the elderly, children and others they found therein. No less of a loss was felt on the battlefield, for the Caphtorim slew many of their numbers and captured their patron angel Kasdeja. The Avite people never recovered from their loss, nor did they forget what the Caphtorim and their allies did. Forced to leave their lands, they took the few mortal families that were left and fled to the sea where none would follow. They became a wandering people, sworn to avenge the screams of their slain loved ones. At night the ghosts of their fallen brethren torment their dreams with pleas of vengeance.

When the floods came, the Avites thought they had their vengeance and the few survivors watched as the Caphtorim and their allies were washed beneath the waves. And there was a peace in the hearts of the Avites, for a time.

But, a few centuries after the floods, the nomadic Avites came upon a lone immortal seeking shelter. They gave him food and warmth, but when asked who his people were, he answered that he was Caphtorim! Like hungry wolves they fell upon him, torturing and beating him violently. Before his death, he revealed that not all of his people had died, some had somehow survived and were hidden amongst the mortal peoples of the world. The Avites had been denied their justice, and now their dead screamed louder than ever for the vengeance they so richly deserved. Thus began the endless toil of their Estate and the downward spiral of the Avites people. Their unending exploration now simply a guile, a veil to disguise their true goal of finding and destroying the remaining Caphtorim. They scour the world, traveling by land and by sea to new and uncharted places, often leaving behind members of their Estates, who continue the sworn duty of seeking out the Caphtorim and avenging their forefathers. They harbor this deep-seated hatred and revenge, hidden by veiled smiles and open hospitality to any and all strangers who ask Them for shelter.

Few of the other Estates know of their true task, save perhaps the eldest. Fewer still are those that the Avites truly consider friends and allies. To befriend an Avites is to befriend a ghost, for they are not as they truly present themselves to be.

Their search for the Caphtorim has taken the Avite people to many lands, and indeed they are probably responsible for the initial colonization and exploration of many places. Ireland was said to see its first mortals due to the Avites’ relentless search for their hated ancient foe. The Estate structure is very loosely knit, with part of the Estate traveling as nomads, and the rest as settlers who remain abreast of news via their vagabond brethren. It is said that the four remaining antediluvian members of the Estate reside in a remote temple protected by powerful rites, its true location known only by the most ancient of their ilk. Mortal family members are made aware of the nature of their immortal brethren from their coming of age, however the secret of their revenge and the ongoing search for the Caphtorim survivors is kept from them. This decision was made by their antediluvian survivors the day they found the first Caphtorim and fell upon him in murderous rage. So appalled were their mortal loved ones by the violence of their act that it was decided they would be spared the terrible weight of their secret oath.

The Avites also adopt other distinct habits, of which include the ritual partaking of fish once per month, and the fact that it is taboo to speak aloud their patron angel’s name. They do not refer to themselves as Ben-Kasdeja, but rather collectively calling themselves Avites.

Most of the other Estates look kindly upon the few Avites they meet, some look upon them as kindred souls, seeing them as free and adventurous brethren, a people gifted with the courage and foresight to go where others will not. Others are wary of them and are not so easily fooled by their veiled smiles and hospitality.

The children of Kasdeja now vary greatly in origin as their travels have taken them to the most exotic of lands and peoples. However, they were at first said to be of dark skin and joyous nature, sharing a kinship and love of hospitality akin to the Ben-Hiyyah. They also held a deep reverence and respect for nature, especially the sea, so much so that they still make reference to it as a mother, a woman and a living entity.

Much like the nomadic Ben-Hiyyah, the Avites adopt the clothes and customs of the local people, so as not to arouse needless attention. But the hearts of the Kasdeja’s children is filled with bitterness, hatred and vengeance. Their overt smiles and great hospitality are but a lie, a mockery of what they once were. They may hide their true feeling, and become masters of secrets, but they have also become an untrusting, wary and suspicious people, driven mad with murderous obsession and constant nightmares. However there is a pattern emerging amongst the younger generations, a rebelliousness that may hold the very key to the survival of their people.

The Avites may be of any nationality, or social class, but many find their roots amongst the nomadic people of strange and distant lands now. Nomads and outsiders are common, however some of the younger generations have shown a penchant towards more socially conformist aspects, much to the dismay of their warders and elders. All Avites are nonetheless master deceivers, and develop survival skills orientated to various environments.

Unfortunately, because of the Estate’s deep-seated need for revenge and their secret task, Avites begin the game with only 2 points of Redemption, and 7 points of Sin, regardless of generation. There may yet come a time when they will remember the joy they once held in the days now past, and forget their hatred of the Caphtorim’s deeds, but that day may be far off indeed.

The Tutelage:

Avites have no formal tutelage past that of what is passed down in the early years of their apprenticeship. Their warder, who also usually doubles as an acolyte and trade teacher, will instruct the pupils in the proper etiquette of the Estate, as well as the skills of their future trade. Slowly but surely, they will also be taught the other skills which will be needed to perform their Estate’s sworn duty, the destruction of the Caphtorim people.

The Rite of Rebirth of the Avites is also different from the other Estates, taking place in small groups in the presence of the four antediluvian, hidden from the prying eyes of others in a sacred ancient temple. The Rebirth itself culminates with the vision of the last days of their Estate’s suffering at the hands of their enemies, cementing their resentment for the Caphtorim.

From there, the young equals will be asked to not only pledge themselves to the Covenant of the Estate, but to its common cause. Those who refuse the latter are never fully accepted as brethren and have little to no chance of advancement within the social echelon, if anywhere at all. An optimistic aspect of this is that all equals who accept this oath are immediately respected as brethren, important members of their Estate.

Of late the younger members of the Estate have shown a rebellious denial to follow the path of vengeance placed before them by their elders. This has led to a schism between the old and new generations, and possibly even the beginning of an Estate civil war.

The Goety of Kasdeja:

Kasdeja’s love for nature and its myriad treasures was so great, that he was said have been able to reflect it in his Goety. This was in turn passed down to his children in a form of elemental magic: the manipulation of the weather around them. Legend says that when Kasdeja smiled, the sun shone down upon the land, drenching it in luminescent beauty, when he cried, the rain would pour. To this effect, many theorize that his Goety may have been in part responsible for the great flood, but his children say that his power could not have possibly extended to such a grand scope.

Young Avites are taught the secrets that allow them to at first manipulate small natural elements, such as to call upon a soft breeze or early morning showers. Later, they learn to call forth strong winds, rain, or the power of calming storms. Once the Goety mastered, Avites are said to be able to summon forth or abating terrible storms of thunder and lightning and even cause great waves of heat and drought to fall upon entire provinces.

This Goety is very difficult to use as the forces of nature are not so easily swayed or lulled into submission. Thus all greater Goety costs are doubled. Furthermore, there are terrible stories of Avites who upon summoning elemental forces, lost control over them, resulting in tragic events the likes of floods, torrential rains and other mythical disasters. Young apprentices are forewarned of the dangers and unpredictable results of manipulating nature, and are reminded that a measure of respect and caution is to be exerted in the use of Kasdeja’s gift.

The Avites have long forgotten the power and teachings of their minor Goety, forsaking it in stead for advantages that best suit the task the Estate has undertaken. Avites of the dark ages benefit from a natural ease in all things secret, and thus gain a +1 bonus on all difficulty markers for each dot of minor Virtue when hiding their intentions, lying or performing any trait roll that is intended to aid them in their Estate revenge.

They have also inherited a natural sense of travel, adventure and a love of the sea, this was one of the few things that their people never left behind in the quest for vengeance. They not only benefit from a +1 bonus on all difficulty makers per dot of minor Virtue on all navigation and seamanship knowledge, but also do not suffer from the crippling fear of drowning that other Nephal do. This does not mean that they are immune to drowning in any way, shape or form, nor does it make them better swimmers than any other Nephal, it simply denotes the depth of their admiration, reverence and trust in the sea.

Kasdeja’s Curse:

The Avites are plagued with three curses, a reward for their centuries of devotion to their sacred revenge. First, they are afflicted with terrible and haunting nightmares of their own ancestors, affecting their rest and the strength of their will. So restless are their nights that they cannot regain Essence by sleep alone as other Nephal might.

Secondly, their greater Goety is one that taxes them. It is a demanding art and drains them of great amounts of Essence. To this effect all greater Goety effects cost them twice the normal amount. Finally, so great was the torment of their people’s extermination that their souls scream from the beyond to their own descendants, crying out in tortured pleas of revenge which drive the Avites people on in their task. To this effect, the entire Estate is bent on vengeance. They suffer a difficulty penalty equal to their age modifier on all rolls whenever they pass up an opportunity to exact revenge, until the chance has either slipped past them or they take the opportunity into their own hands. This twisted frailty does not end with their Estate vows, rather it extends to all those whom they consider friend and may have been unrighteously persecuted or wronged. They feel obligated, if indeed forced, to avenge friends, allies and loved ones through an eye for an eye mentality. To resist acting out on these latter urges, they must roll their Will with the same age difficulty penalty as mentioned in the above affliction.

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