Category: Tertia Worldbuilding

The Cults of Tertia – The Archmage’s Legacy

The Archmage’s Legacy is a cult which enjoys a level of infamy comparable to the likes of Keratitis, though its members aren’t as active in committing abhorrent acts. Not on the surface, at least, what makes the legacy a terrifying cult is their ability to stay secretive and act outside of public perception. They’re a group which has been amassing ever since the death of Nelaime and they have since deeply rooted themselves in both Crobayoris and Pradas. They earned their bad reputation back then, when they dug up and stole the corpse of Nelaime. While in hindsight the old god’s actions were suspicious, particularly regarding her previous domain in Kjerne, she was still considered a hero for her efforts against Gonel. For that hero’s corpse to be uprooted was seen as a sign of massive disrespect, the act of unthankful grave robbers.

Though, ‘unthankful’ is the last word that could be used to describe the legacy. Taking Nelaime’s body was a necessary evil in their eyes, the first step to figuring out how to return life to it. Resurrection is a feat that not even the archmage of archmages managed to achieve and the true gods claim it impossible. This cult’s intent is to surpass those limitations and become beings worthy of the archmage’s legacy. To this end, there are no limitations as to the methods they attempt. Blood and lives are mere ingredients towards a possible solution and such things are acceptable gifts of apology from an age that has all but abandoned the old gods.

Pact Dealer – The Body of Nelaime

While Nelaime never formally became a pact dealer herself, it wasn’t as if she didn’t realize such a thing was possible. She was a genius when it came to magic, she realized the possibility of pact dealing even back in the early history after studying the realm star. The reason why she never did it was because of the other old gods, who would certainly oppose any attempts at selfish empowerment. They would seek the craft of pact dealing themselves and take away potential pact-bound from the archmage. Nelaime decided that if she were to perform a ritual the likes of pact dealing then she would first devise a method to extend the binding to all the people of Tertia.

Such a thing could not be done without a bit of experimentation. That is why Nelaime took such a small amount of land in Kjerne when the old gods divvied up their territories. It was a testing ground for rituals such as pact dealing and on such a small scale that the other old gods would pay no heed to it. She conditioned her territory’s residents into being complicit with her tests through various slow, mind-effecting spells. Of course, there are plenty who were willing to simply give themselves up to her on account of her position as an old god. It was these original pact-bound who would make the groundwork for the cult that would eventually emerge.

Nelaime’s plans were cut short by her death at Gonel’s hands but that would not deter those whose loyalty she had already procured. These people had already chosen to dedicate everything to her, they believed her to be the one true ruler worthy of overseeing the world. She was what Tertia needed, especially if more threats like Gonel were to emerge, so they dug up her body from the soil of Redigat. They brought the corpse back to Kildu, where they had found people with a like-minded fanaticism for the archmage, and used it to craft seven magic items. A dagger, a sword, a set of armguards and shin-guards, a mace, a hammer, an axe and a staff.

As Nelaime could no longer perform pact dealing herself, these items were to act as her surrogate. The members of the legacy bound themselves to the seven items, intending to feed their own power into them. That way, the power of Nelaime would not be lost- in fact, it would only become stronger. The power of the cult’s dedication would make her more powerful than ever before leading up to her revival. The archmage’s legacy intends to recapture the glory of the greatest mage Tertia has ever known. Her resurrection would not be their feat, it would just be another product of her own greatness and foresight. Then, once she stands among the living once more, she will light the path towards the future as Tertia’s true ruler.

Notable Members

WIELDER OF THE DAGGER – NEFARIOUS

The seven who wield the items that were once Nelaime’s body are known as the Protesia. A role that bares the honor of being able to directly draw from Nelaime’s power, though this does not come without risk. Nelaime cultivated her magical prowess across centuries, her body’s capacity to process magic made immense with time. Each of the items made from this immaculate form hold only a fraction of her complete power, yet that is still enough to potentially destroy those who try to hold them. Even those who manage to grasp the items and become Protesia will quickly perish as their bodies are forced past their limits. Even those who survive, the truly worthy, will see their bodies altered to look like the dead archmage.

Nefarious, also known as Nita Cessa, is currently positioned as Kildu’s pillar of absolution; the highest position in the Kilduvian government. Though the seven wielders of Nelaime’s corpse are considered equal within the archmage’s legacy, Nefarious is seen as a leading figure a head above the rest. Her power is immense and, of the seven wielders, she was able to attune to her item the easiest. Her experience in leadership is just another bonus towards her state of reverence within the cult. It was as if she was born to bear Nelaime’s image as she suffered nary a moment of whiplash upon taking Nelaime’s dagger into her hand.

As well as being a definitive leading figure for the other cultists to turn to, Nefarious is tasked with keeping records of all attempted rituals that have gone towards the resurrection. She does this while also carrying out her duties as one of the matriarchs of Kildu, a role which solidifies the cult’s place of power within the country. It is through her efforts that Kildu has remained a safe land for the legacy to continue their practices. In terms of her own personal vision, Nefarious has her eyes on the misaligned realm. After having seen it herself, Nefarious believes the realm to hold the key to Nelaime’s resurrection. The magic of that place cares not for the rules of reality, thus it could overcome the invisible barriers preventing Nelaime’s return to glory.

WIELDER OF THE AXE – ENVIOUS

Once a revered Vasaran researcher known for her achievements in magical discovery, Envious was turned to the legacy after reading notes written by Nelaime herself. Her most iconic area of study regarded matters of the soul, how it can be been manipulated and how such a thing relates to death. Furthermore, she made efforts to define what classified as a soul or soul-like being. If beings such as Aberration were beings of soul and if understanding them as such could aid in study regarding them. How Virtue, beings whose souls will reconstruct new bodies for them upon death, actually work with regards to Tertia’s understanding of magic. She found success in her many theses, though she struggled to find a truly definitive breakthrough.

Envious built up a solid understanding of the soul but felt a wall when it came to manipulating it. She theorized that if one could alter a soul that they could make just about anything out of it. They could be made to act like the souls of Virtue to achieve a form of immortality or they could even be turned into Aberration. There came a time where her studies began to feel stagnant, so she took a trip to Nelaime’s old castle in Kjerne to try and find some inspiration. Envious looked around and found that most of what was there was locked behind ancient seals; all except for one particular book. Put in such a place that it looked as if it should be sealed along with the rest and yet it wasn’t.

The book held information of a lost continent and a forgotten old god who died along with it. There wasn’t much in terms of magical craft or theory within these pages but just the prospect of lost information was enough to draw Envious in. She had to know more but her specialty laid not in undoing sealing magic. She sought a way to do so and ended up stumbling across the Legacy, who were always keeping a close eye on the old palace. Envious found that apparently the previous person who looked at that book took a page but it was nothing of note, so they were allowed to get away with it.

Envious asked the members of the legacy if they knew what was in the books, to which they responded they didn’t. Their mentality regarding the old palace was that it should be left as untouched as possible so that it will be as Nelaime left it when she returns. Envious thought this to be both foolish and a waste, there was so much to potentially find out from reading up on Nelaime’s studies. Though, she knew she would not convince the legacy with no sway. For the sake of learning, she made an effort to climb through the legacy’s ranks. With her great intelligence and penchant for theorizing new possibilities for the resurrection ritual, she quickly rose up and even became a contender for the Protesia role.

What she contributed to the legacy’s mentality all regarded the knowledge of the afterlife realms existing. The locked off planes where Gonel and the true gods came from, accessible only to those whose souls are left bare. While most could figure out that Nelaime’s soul was likely already in one of these realms, it was Envious who began to offer solutions. She knew souls better than anyone, so she worked towards a spell that would allow one to travel to the afterlife realms as a soul of their own will. If she could do that, then Nelaime could be found and guided or dragged back into the mortal realm. A dangerous proposal that went against the true gods but still the best bet in Envious’ eyes.

She continues to pursue this line of thought to this day, though she has yet to succeed in such a feat she was still given the chance to wield a piece of Nelaime’s corpse. She had been increasing the vastness of her magical potential through the practice of planar magic and believed she would be more than capable of wielding the axe effortlessly. However, when she took it into her hands, she felt all of the air in her body leave at once. This was what most who attempted to wield the body felt, like their body suddenly just felt as if it was too small for the bones and organs within. It’s a miracle to go through this and suffer no afflictions. There was no miracle for Envious as she began to see illusory echoes of anything she could see.

Despite being cursed with a constant bane to her perceptive abilities, Envious went on to perform her role as a Protesia well. She was named the primary face of ingenuity in the legacy and led a scientific turn in the mentality of those based in Pradas. Instead of just random killing and sacrifice, the Pradan legacy cultists will now turn to Envious to confirm whether or not their plans have merit. It may come as a shock to hear that the members of the archmage’s legacy aren’t utterly mad, when they commit crime they are fully aware of what they are doing. They know it’s wrong, they just believe it necessary for Nelaime’s sake. Envious offers to be a savior to the legacy’s morals, providing a clear foresight that is lacking in most of the cult’s other members.

She has certainly also begun digging into the studies of Nelaime that were previously locked away. That knowledge is what drove her this far in the first place and she intends to interpret all of it, now for the sake of the legacy. What lies in the deepest of the sealed chambers are the studies of the rituals which created the old gods. If such a thing falls into the hands of the archmage’s legacy then stopping them will become nigh-impossible.

WIELDER OF THE STAFF – LUSTROUS

Lustrous the lightless, an elder of the legacy and one who has proven particularly long-lasting among the Protesia. Her nickname earned after her initial wielding of Nelaime’s staff, when she paid the cost of her eyesight. Her role is that of a recruiter, tasked with scouting out new potential members and allies for the legacy. A relative simple and yet key role for the extended existence of the legacy, particularly with regards to finding those with the potential to become Protesia. Most recently, though, it is her dealings with a robotic lich named Orox that has brought Lustrous’ name to the center of attention. A great and powerful ally for the legacy, though a controversial one considering Orox’s cult hunting.

The robotic lich demands that the legacy takes no illegal actions while their deal is still active. Furthermore, Orox wishes to have the cult aid him in his political efforts to reintroduce robots into Crobayoran society. In return, he shares with the cult the magic that he has crafted and promises to create an artificial body capable of hosting Nelaime’s great power. While the cult does benefit from Orox’s magic as it could potentially aid in the resurrection, everything else has proven quite controversial. They are committed to Nelaime and are unhappy to be subordinate to another, even if it is for the sake of an allegiance. There are also doubts of Orox being capable of truly making a form worthy of Nelaime.

By extension, Lustrous’ own place of command has been called into question. It has become common knowledge in the legacy that she and Nefarious are at odds due to Lustrous making this deal on her own. Though Orox cannot feasibly prevent the legacy’s actions within the borders of Kildu, Nefarious believes it unwise to give an outsider so much power. Lustrous argues that it’s better than having their various bases outside of Kildu be destroyed by Orox’s hunter robot. Her reasoning is sound, yet the cult can’t help but be blinded by their passion for the archmage. Lustrous may be at risk of being slain so a new Protesia can take her place but she truly believes her dealings are in the cult’s best interest.

WIELDER OF THE SWORD – AUDACIOUS

Among the coven of the legacy, there are those who are steeped in conspiracy regarding the death of Nelaime. These individuals believe that Nelaime was an almighty being at the peak of her glory, an entity that couldn’t possibly have been defeated by the efforts of a single Demon. Their mentality is that the other ‘heroes’ who fought alongside her must have conspired towards her demise, how else would all of them live while the greatest of them all perished? Led by Audacious, the one who holds Nelaime’s sword, these extremists participate in actively attempting to take back Kjerne by force. While a majority of the legacy is under the mindset that such an endeavor should wait until Nelaime’s return, Audicious and her followers have no such patience.

It is not enough for Audacious to simply sit idly and await Nelaime’s return. While glorious she might be, followers who have chosen to entirely rely on her are unworthy. Audacious considers Nelaime to be a symbol of self-growth, the perfect example of one who used their own strength and ingenuity to climb to greatness. Those who hail her must follow her example and take initiative else they fail to meet the standards she set. This hard-working attitude has driven Audacious since childhood and has only been amplified since she took hold of the sword. A weapon with which she intends to seek down and defeat the other heroes of the colorless war.

The cost Audacious paid when she took the sword was twofold. Upon touch, the blade quickly molded and fused with Audacious’ skin, becoming a part of her. This would be no problem for one so dedicated to their task as she, the problem arose when she started to become the weapon. From her right arm up, her flesh became as the blade, metallic and with veins in which only magic flows. In the affected area she lost her nerves, all senses of touch and pain, and it still grows to this day. There is a limited time before Audacious can no longer feel any of herself. Before then, she will carry out Nelaime’s will to her fullest ability. All who she cuts have their magic drawn into the sword, a far more direct method than the slow burn of pact-dealing.

WEARER OF THE ARMOR – IMPERVIOUS

Known as the moral wall of the archmage’s legacy, it is Impervious’ task to mask the abhorrent actions performed by the rest of the cult. The cleaner who covers up the mess left by the other members of the legacy. Her methods to achieve this are various, sometimes it merely takes the promise of a wandering mercenary that they will find the villains who brought harm to certain settlements. Other times there are too many witnesses and there can be no survivors. The legacy is quite comfortable in their place in the shadows, it would be unacceptable if one were to pursue them and drive them into the light.

In addition to this, Impervious actually handles legal cases surrounding the actions of the legacy. She works as an active lawyer and politician and uses these positions to build an image of innocence for the legacy in legal circles. If nothing can be traced back to the legacy then there’s no reason to believe that they’re a harmful cult. Impervious’ aim is to have the legacy be publicly perceived in the same light as a perfect world or the following footfalls. A position of acceptance wherein the cult’s members can openly admit to being in the legacy and face no backlash. They are to be seen as little more than avid believers of a hero who once was, nothing more.

The cost Impervious faced upon first equipping Nelaime’s armor was a complete loss of her sense of taste. No longer could she divulge joy from eating, yet that was not the only adverse effect of the armguards and shinguards. Over ninety percent of anything she eats is converted to magical energy within her body. This is great with regards to her growth in magical ability but means she struggles to take in what her body needs to live. She has to eat ten times more than the average amount just to prevent herself from starving. This pair of curses is unfortunate indeed, yet Impervious believes that Nelaime’s revival will be able to fill her more than any food ever could.

WIELDER OF THE MACE – MALICIOUS

The dedicated assassin of the legacy, Malicious is the one whose name you should fear if you pose a direct threat to the cult’s continued operation. While it is Impervious’ task to assure the legacy is not pursued in the first place, she is not omnipresent. At times, there will be an individual or group that just so happens to learn a little too much. No matter, if they’re a bunch of no-names, but things become complicated if that knowledge reaches the ears of an adventuring party. Adventurers are the bane of cultists, those of the legacy included, thus Malicious has been trained as their response. She is the end of the wrong road, known among adventuring guilds as the quest killer.

Malicious was chosen out of all the Protesia to fulfill this role after she first held the mace and paid the price of her inhibitions. She lost her fear of pain and her body would no longer limit levels of exertion that were self-destructive. She was essentially in a constant state of high-adrenaline, just without the excitement factor. While she can be easily convinced to do just about anything, she still proves a potential threat to anyone around her whenever her whims take over. She was always the experimentative type, generally a good thing for members of the legacy, just not when those experiments are along the line of ‘how many legacy members can I hit with this mace before they stop appreciating it?’

WIELDER OF THE HAMMER – EGREGIOUS

The wielder of Nelaime’s hammer is tasked with carrying out Nelaime’s justice, for those against her or the legacy’s goal there must be punishment. She is the one who makes certain that no spies make their way into the legacy’s midst and the one who crushes any traitors who attempt to turn on the legacy or feed information of their rituals to the outside world. She shares Audacious’ passion and also her mentality that the legacy’s members are insulting the archmage if they are just complacently waiting for her return. When she isn’t chasing out rats, she’s motivating her fellow cultists to act in ways that would make Nelaime proud. She wants them all to strive for power and knowledge and, with her hammer, she is very convincing.

The effect Egregious suffered when she first grasped the hammer’s handle was another which altered the senses. Egregious became unable to use multiple senses at once or she would quickly suffer sensory overload and stop functioning. Thus, she must hyper-focus on only one sense at a time. If she wants to hear she must give up her sight, if she wants to taste then she must stop feeling what is in her mouth. The effects of this cost are a constant bane when performing even just the most basic of tasks. Nevertheless, this is far from meaning she struggles to carry out justice. She doesn’t need to see or hear a vile traitor, all she needs is the satisfying impact that comes when their skull is crushed.

Highest Activity Areas

There are two key areas around which the legacy base themselves; Kildu and Kjerne. Their positioning in Kildu speaks for itself, they have a Protesia in the highest seat of government and many Kilduvians hail Nelaime with a similar vigor to they. In addition to that, Crobayoris is just generally a lot easier to move around than Pradas. Crobayoran countries have a tendency to try and focus on the big conflicts between countries and generally speaking its nations have less advanced peacekeepers. Nothing on the level of the Serikaat’s judges, that much is certain. This ease of action is why a majority of the legacy’s members stay in or around Kildu, but Kjerne simply holds too much importance for them to abandon entirely.

Kjerne is the legacy’s homeland, where its founding members committed themselves to Nelaime and where she ruled as was her rightful place. It is where her castle stands to this day and where the entirety of her history of learning is kept. Members of the legacy have attained jobs in maintaining the castle and others dedicate themselves entirely to making certain none pay disrespect to such an iconic place. Due to the presence of the Serikaat and potential conflict with Keratitis if they were to spread into Vasara, the legacy is far less active on the surface in Kjerne. They stick to the shadows, monitoring the territory as its unseen security. Nelaime’s return will be the signal for them to rise up and reclaim the land with the entirety of their might.