Guardians of Menxruk
|Regions Where Prevalent:||Arangoth, other areas of Veth|
|Symbol:||Half circle, serpent, crescent moon, etc|
The Guardians of Menxruk are a loose conglomeration of devoted worshipers of the godhead, Menxruk, who guard against the ever-growing plague that represents the path of order and Menxvan. Rather than protect any one individual, the Guardians of Menxruk are based in small groups (or cells) and because of this are more interested in the proliferation of the faith of Menxruk. Worshiping the Body of Menxruk makes one an important but ultimately expendable extension of the ongoing effort to rebuild. Once, long ago, the Guardians of Menxruk were able to raise armies, but today they are dispersed, hiding in all corners of the realm of creation.
- 1 Overview
- 2 Blood-Oath Allegiance
- 3 Structure of the Guardians
- 4 Guardian Special Abilities
Traditionally, they have opposed the monarchy of the nations in which they live, usually because established religions see their marked brutality towards their own followers and their blood rituals as being anti-social. Moreover, their religion demands they fight with zeal to ensure Menxruk is held in the heart of those around them, creating the illusion of lack of tolerance for other beliefs. The faithful Body of Menxruk appear to be intolerant because of their vigorous efforts to show others the power of Menxruk. As such, the Guardians of Menxruk are a loose group of warriors, priests, priestesses, and warlocks that commonly ally with the weakest group to cause unrest and then abandon their once-allies if the strife becomes too much for them.
Their leaders, leadership structure, religious order, and the locations of their strongholds are unknown, if there are any at all. These tenets are things of Order, something for which Menxruk holds with only a small amount of respect.
All Guardians of the Body of Menxruk swear unconditional dedication to Menxruk and vow to uphold the tenets of Menxruk for as long as Menxruk might require and as completely as Menxruk might demand. Their oath requires these followers to spread the faith of Menxruk as far as possible as quickly as possible and to create this faith in any way and by any means necessary. Guardians are to realize that they are the tools of Menxruk and not the power themselves. As vessels of the glory of Menxruk, they will throw themselves recklessly into battle, into worship, or into death without concern. If they should fear for their lives, then they are already dead to Menxruk and as such dead absolutely without soul or hope for continued existence on another plane. But if they should die in service to Menxruk, in battle or in defense of its tenants, then each of the Body of Menxruk believes its place in the next plane--where Menxruk's armies are always strong and unified and ever battling the Templar of Menxvan--is assured.
Unwavering faith is valued above all other traits in believers in Menxruk. Guardians teach the public with fear and with intimidation or with manipulation. As it is easy to become self-absorbed and to be consumed by the leadership and power one has in guiding those following the path of Menxruk, the dedicated faith required for guiding such groups of followers is greatly prized when it is without the impurities of arrogance, pride, or hubris.
Rumors suggest that among the Menxrukians, a common refrain is the short prayer. “Overcome those that might blind you, overwhelm those that might bind you. Guide those that are without into that Menxruk that welcomes; guide those that are within to see past the within to the Menxruk that forgives. Always I will search for you, always I will, always will I defend for you, always will I die for you. In death, let me overcome and pass through you into the bliss of the ever after.”
Structure of the Guardians
There is no rigid structure or order to the ways of the Guardians of Menxruk. Each excels or becomes more simply by overcoming the others within their independent cell or group. A leader will quite obviously denote someone of power or significance who holds sway over the rest of his followers through awe, fear, or manipulation. Each cell will likely also have a different brand or variant of the faith of Menxruk, some holding that balance is necessary and others, for instance, wanting only to see Menxruk completely eradicate all traces of the religion of Menxvan. It is entirely dependent upon who is in charge in a particular cell. It has been known to happen that cells of Menxrukians might war with one another to assert authority in a given region, but typically these “wars” are fairly subtle and rarely are ever seen in modern times by the eyes of those not familiar with the religion of Menxruk to start with. Loosely, however, there are several rough specializations: warriors, priests, monks, warlocks, and spiritual guides.
Warriors are roughly the equivalent of typical sword wielding, banner-carrying individuals who see that to bring the will of Menxruk to the people that need it, one must kill first those that oppose one. They have honed their fighting prowess and tuned their innate senses to develop an almost superhuman ability to conceal and manipulate. Warriors of Menxruk are opponents never to be taken lightly for they will make the world itself seem your enemy. With their allies, they will oftentimes lead “by example,” doing great shows of strength or courage to rouse sympathy or loyalties which will just as soon be broken when the purpose of Menxruk has been met.
Priests are the healers and the bringers of the Word of Menxruk to the people that would listen. Their power lies in their ability to use the influence of Menxruk to affect change, whether to bring back the strength of a Menxrukian warrior, speak among a crowd and drive them into a hateful frenzy, or whisper into the ear of a powerful politician words of dissent. Oftentimes, they will be behind the more prominent Menxrukian Guardians, whether behind them giving orders, supporting with power, or even within the ranks of the opposing side. Sometimes, the best place to look for a priest of Menxruk is in the ranks of their enemies, for that is where they can do the most damage. When not in battle or on the battlefield, a priest can as often be found within the sects of the Menxrukian religion leading prayers and ritual worship or giving guidance to those that may have a doubt in their faith. While the Menxrukian religion does not allow for any kind of sacred confiding, the religion does hold that the priests are responsible for keeping strong the faith of individuals, whether they be warriors, fellow priests, or another branch of the Menxrukian Body. They are the day-to-day representatives of the faith of Menxruk to the people and as such they can be kind or manipulative, depending solely on their intended purpose for the people they would speak with.
Monks are the examples of Menxruk, those that sacrifice their lives and their time to Menxruk, worshipping in his name for all time until such time as they are called to build or destroy. They are, generally, quite rare and typically of very old cells. They oftentimes dedicate themselves merely to the care of old tomes cataloguing the history of Menxruk. It is rumored that among these monks there are ancient powers passed down from centuries past, and that in their tomes they guard the deepest, most ancient secrets of the Menxrukian religion. Many a Templar of Menxvan has sought in vain to discover their secrets. And many have become corrupted and driven insane by the quest, losing both humility and honor in the process.
Warlocks are precisely what the name implies: witches, powerful mages that have bound themselves to the will of Menxruk for the promise of greater power beyond that which they had learned before becoming one within the Body of Menxruk. Their powers can vary and their influence is not as subtle as the Priests. Indeed, the Warlocks are those that will commonly use fear to influence rather than the subtle manipulation of the Priests. Raining fire, causing minor earthquakes, sending storms, and terrible omens are the signs of a powerful mage or warlock of Menxruk. This can often lead to the declarations that Menxruk demands worship. At other times, they will be found in the backgrounds unleashing great attacks that serve to supplement the warriors and the allies that the warriors have likely surrounded themselves with.
Spiritual Guides are the voice of Menxruk. Mystics, prophets, or simply madmen, they are those that are infused with the influence of Menxruk. Oftentimes, they are offshoots of Priests that have become convinced they speak for Menxruk. They lead through command and demands, sometimes using the subtlety of manipulation of the priests and at other times having the dedication of the Monks. These are the guides of the priests, leading the already deeply faithful to further the goals of Menxruk. Of course, each Voice, as they are whispered to be called, might guide differently depending on their personal perspective. It is oftentimes whispered there are only a handful of these guides and there have been many attempts by the Menxvanic Templar to capture one, believing that if they could then they could use the one to find the rest and completely remove the threat of Menxruk. Yet the Guides are rarely to be found in the open and difficult to identify until their purpose is completed and their presence gone.
Guardian Special Abilities
Of course, the abilities that each Guardian can call upon vary widely based on their type of specialization (if any), level of expertise and spiritual devotion, and access to the secrets of the hidden tomes of Menxruk. Some of the more common are discussed here, but even these have different names among different sects and may manifest in slightly different forms. Most Guardians can call upon a handful of these powers, but there is no way of knowing for sure which powers a particular Guardian may be able to call upon or how many he or she might be blessed with. This is by no means a complete listing, and those that do battle with the forces of the All-Evil are well advised to be especially careful and alert for new forms of Menxruk’s favor.
Drawing from within, the Guardians have the ability to channel their life-energies during desperate situations to increase their effectiveness in reflexes, strength, focus, and speed. The price they pay for this gift is years lost in their lives. Burning their life-force twice as bright means they last half as long, but sometimes that added brilliance is the difference between victory and defeat. Warriors that have used Forced Vigor have been known to face down three times their number and utterly destroy them, only to collapse into death themselves afterward. But the name and the influence of Menxruk had spread through the display of Menxruk’s power in victory, so that was all that mattered. Truly powerful believers in Menxruk have been known to actually consume the life-forces of others to perform terrible feats and miracles.
Through the guidance of Menxruk, Warriors within his rank anticipating great exertions have become able to gorge upon things that they need in advance so that they will not need to eat, drink, or sleep again for some time. Even then, they need only gorge upon them again to last weeks longer. For example, Menxrukian warriors have been known to feast before a great battle and then to not need sustenance for weeks on end as they battle tirelessly. In tandem with Forced Vigor, Warriors of Menxruk remain a force to be reckoned with. The penalty for using this ability is that the ability of the Menxruk warrior to regenerate wounds during this period is reduced because of the added strain on the body to maintain its inner-workings. Warriors in this state die of wounds that normally would not kill them, so they are typically forced to use Forced Vigor to ensure that wounds are the least of their concerns.
Cries of Life
To counteract the obvious disadvantages to reduced healing abilities, the Menxruk warriors do have a chant that they were given, legend says, by Menxruk himself through one of the very first voices that claimed to speak for the deity. Those that call upon this power chant words that they cannot themselves understand, nor remember aftefterward. Unlike a lesson to be learned, it is widely whispered by worshippers of Menxruk that only through their god speaking for them can they be healed. Indeed, taking a circle of no less than six worshippers, their chants become in unison one string of syllables that is not their own voices nor sounds like the combination of their voices. Wounds will then heal within hours of their own accord.
Using the majesty of Menxruk, a Guardian is actually able to temporarily blind an individual to his presence. Concentration upon the subject is required at the beginning, but once the temporary effect is taken, the victim will be unable to see the Menxrukian warrior until that warrior speaks to break the enchantment, touches the enchanted individual, or one minute has passed. However, once the power is used upon a person, it can never be used again on the same individual, giving them an immunity to the effect. The more individuals the Guardian attempts to influence at once, the longer it takes and the more effort it requires to initiate the blindness. Entire legions of Menxrukian warriors have been known to vanish into thin air through use of this power, leaving behind only footprints later.
Menxruk's warriors are naturally gifted with many of the blessings of the supernatural creatures that reside in the darkness. This is widely whispered to be a demonic blessing by a creature of great darkness turned to the worship of Menxruk. Guardians gifted with this power are given the ability to smell, see, hear, feel, and taste things that no normal human could. This grants them the enhanced ability to track those that might seek to evade them, see those that might hide from them, hear those that might speak some distance away, and smell and taste the trace of any poison in food. Those naturally proficient in this ability or skilled in exercised use of this ability have been known to do battle in pitch-black caves and to slay hundreds of warriors foolish enough to follow them into places where none could see.
Fit of Rage
Fueling the angry chaotic energies of Menxruk, Guardians are able to move with enhanced speed. This ability is for those that need to flee quickly, attack quickly, enchant or chant quickly, or even to read quickly. This ability has been known to give the Guardian who used it a great advantage, but the power is made less miraculous by the fact that it also leaves the user weary afterward. Sleep is greatly recommended after its usage, hence why it is usually only Monks who use this ability and only when a tome possesses required, but forgotten, information.
Truly powerful priests are able to enslave familiars within the next plane and bind them to their commands. At times, these familiars are whispered actually to be the priest’s family or friends sacrificed ritualistically to enchain them to the wishes of the priest. These messengers are able to travel across great distances to convey messages between priests. Legends say that at one time in the past these messengers were able to do more than just speak or convey information, but those times and those instances remain lost in legend.
Similar to the Spirit Messenger ability, the highest and most powerful of priests have the ability to enchant familiars. Some Guardians have been known to use something very similar to their mounts or their pets, but this is rare and indeed is quite the unusual warrior. This power entails enslavement of a creature of significantly less will and the binding of their mind to the caster’s. This creates a creature that is but an extension of the caster’s own body and their will is entirely suppressed by the wielder’s. Those that believe in the religion of Menxruk believe that this gift is actually a natural extension of the fact that Menxruk lives through each and every worshipper of the All-Evil and that they remain a part of his body as much as their familiar, whether animated statue, reanimated cadaver, or natural beast. This power has also been known to allow the greatest among the priests to cause the corruption of other, similar powers among opponents, thus allowing one enslavement to be superceded by another’s, if the wielder is greatly more powerful than the original caster.
Menxrukian priests and priestesses have a connection to the future and the past. Tying them to the past, they can speak with the recently murdered ghosts of a place that they are located in. Asserting the power they have been gifted, they can demand any piece of information from these deceased, but the deceased would have to have known this information before they died. Anything learned after death, whether through spirits or through sight at the time of being called would not be told unless the spirit itself felt inclined to share it. It is known that when a Menxrukian dies that his warrior brothers will seek his spirit out to learn anything they can about the way in which he died, to avenge him, or to ensure that any intelligence he might have had was not lost.
Seeing the method by which the Templar communicated with the undead, the Guardians prayed to Menxruk for a similar ability. They saw the usefulness in this power. Menxruk responded with the secrets to the dead bodies around them. Gifting them with the sparkle of necromancy, the priests found themselves suddenly writing tomes on the method by which to raise the undead from their resting place. The undead raised remain mindless and require commands, their bodies decaying rapidly and their powers having faded, but their bodies remained. Over the years, the Menxrukian Spirit Guides have found use in these undead cadavers, raising entire armies from around their opponents as they battled. Yet though this power seems great and can indeed create a great sense of awe, those raised are rarely any match for even a young boy with a sword. The bodies’ death seems their greatest advantage and yet also their greatest weakness. Rumor has it that experiments in this power have granted some very select Spirit Guides with the ability to push back death until later than it should have due to natural causes. And other experimentations are whispered to have given life to monstrosities that are neither dead nor alive, but sentient. These tales speak of some of these abominations being loyal to Menxruk and some not. They speak of warrior bands of Menxrukian warriors battling great fields of undead, but for what purpose, it is unknown. Why would they slaughter those beings they had just made?
Of the powerful Spiritual Guides that rule Cells, only a few--the most faithful--have ever dared to look past this mortal realm and into the realms that are beyond. For there are, in legend, many realms within this existence and each one passing closer to the gods of Menxruk or Menxvan, each is more surreal than the last. These worlds progress from the mortal and physical to a purer plane, beyond and deeper, deep into planes of thought or even passions in lieu of reality. A very powerfully gifted priest, a priest so full of faith that he sees the glimmer of the light beyond time, can reach across these realms to a bridge between the last mortal realm and the immortal ever after. Beings reside in this place, this causeway, and they will speak to the one most gifted in Menxruk’s ways who can hold their attention. Beings of order who have lost their way or beings of chaos who have paused to speak to the mortal flickers so far away, these things are The Chorus or beings of unspeakable madness, with thoughts and themes so twisted and conflicted they give answer, riddle, truth, and lie in the same moment. A powerful priest who has the ability to force his will upon these beings can temporarily call upon the knowledge held within these beings and find answers to his questions. But these beings have a mind of their own and a will of their own and their answers are as often harming as helpful. Yet for the Chorus, the worlds before the one in which they now reside are without time and without space and so they can see all a priest might ask of. And they can say all, answer all. But will they?
Fog of War
Calling upon the greatest of Menxruk’s gifts, a Guardian is actually able to cloud the minds of those that Menxruk’s chosen people fight. A great fog from an abyss below erupts from the earth and envelopes those that dare face down Menxruk’s warriors. Though the most gifted among the followers of Menxvan may be able to see through the fog, it will only be with great difficulty. The warriors of Menxruk, however, will see through it and move through it as if it were not even there. This fog is said to be of a great black color that moves as if alive. Whispers and sounds are known to float throughout it and illusions that appear and disappear are all meant to disorient an opponent of Menxruk. Yet only the most powerful of Menxrukians, only the closest to him could ever hope to call upon Menxruk to use such for their purpose. Many battles have been turned because of smart use of this ability, yet its power is so great and so taxing upon them that many warriors die from just one use of the ability. Yet some survive. Indeed, some have survived by using this ability and fleeing while their opponents were distracted by it.