Category: Tertia Worldbuilding

The Cults of Tertia – The Following Footfalls

The following footfalls, a cult that was unintentionally formed and whose members walk an eternal pilgrimage to nowhere. They bear an odd reputation, seen as a neutral group by most but as thieving anarchists by others. The footfalls is comprised of many bands of journeyfolk who spend their days seeking out certain items and places. They tend to be passive, if a bit nosey given curiosity is a common trait among them. While they are certainly focused on their own travels, they will always spend the time to hear the tales of others. Their survival skills and accommodating nature has even earned them a good reputation among adventuring groups.

The footfalls are far from just a regular nomadic tribe, however. While they might appear to be tempered on the surface,¬† many of them see themselves walk towards a doomed fate. The eldest and most decorated of the cult’s members always have odd bodily mutations and oftentimes unusual mental issues. Infrequently do these quirks offer any positive benefit, in fact these effected individuals look to be collapsing in on themselves. Certain groups within the cult have devolved into horrific practices such as death matches to determine who is worthy of all the band’s adornments. The cult’s lesser known reputation of thievery also comes from these warped sorts, stopping at nothing to attain the objects of their desires.

Pact Dealer – Perjalanan

The one behind the journeyfolk’s ceaseless quest is none other than the old god Perjalanan. Though, it is not by his choosing that the cult follows his long and scattered path. Perjalanan’s modus operandi has always been to see the effects of and reactions to the various items he leaves in his wake. An odd form of pact dealing has emerged as one of these effects as Perjalanan’s magic imprints itself onto those who wield certain items. As a part of this imprinting, a sense of motivation and wanderlust awaken in the minds of the newly pact-bound. They become energized and almost invariably set out to see more of the world.

Learning about Perjalanan and the true nature of their supernatural motivation tends to come early in a journeyfolk’s quest. It is as if they are fatefully bound to uncover this knowledge as they are led towards others like themselves. As well as the feeling of motivation and the happiness they gain from it, these journeyfolk also begin to unlock new abilities as a product of the pact. The journeyfolk become thankful to Perjalanan for these life-changing gifts, unknowing of debilitating long-term effects. Perjalanan’s magic destroyed the peaceful ways of an entire continent and it similarly breaks down those who are effected by it for too long. Regardless, the journeyfolk naively follow Perjalanan’s path, using his magic items as waypoints.

While the magic does not have effects as vicious as Head mutations, its influence on the mind is comparably disastrous. What begins as mental energy and motivation eventually turns into a tunneled obsession. The journeyfolk become unable to think of anything but their quest and the items they seek. They’ll kill anyone, even members of their own tribe, to get their hands on Perjalanan’s gifts. Horrific as this all might be, Perjalanan is amused by the footfalls cult and sees their actions as little more than an eternal game of tag. Whether they go mad or not isn’t of any concern, in fact it just makes things more interesting for the old god. It’s ever intriguing for him to see how his items cross hands and what becomes of each who hold them.

Notable Members

Brass Chieftain – Wistful

While every band of the following footfalls will have its own elders and leaders, there are few who become iconic and respected enough to be known as ‘chieftain’.¬†Back in the earlier days of the cult, when there was so much more to discover, the title was far more common. Nowadays, the number of chieftain could be counted on one’s fingers. It’s a reserved title among the footfalls, only given to those who make great discoveries or who uncover particularly rare items. Wistful attained her position by coming into ownership of one of the rarest of all; Perjalanan’s brass basin. One of the first three items Perjalanan gave away back in the early days of the old gods’ rule.

Of all of Perjalanan’s gifts, the initial three remain among the most potent. Their very existence spurred a rapidly increased rate of growth in the communities surrounding them and the years have not decayed this potential. The basin was left in Forpassa and it was what allowed the people of that country to craft their iconic mind-pooling magic, which would later inspire the creation of Sleeper’s Parley. It remained a national treasure even going into the tired age following the war on alignment. At which point, Wistful and a handful of hired Rogue’s Gallery members stole it. It’s worth noting that Wistful’s mind hadn’t been altered by Perjalanan’s influence, she just had the right combination of knowledge and thrill-seeking.

While what she had done wasn’t exactly morally upstanding, the journeyfolk who heard about Wistful’s feat could not contain their excitement that one of Perjalanan’s original items had been reclaimed. Her feat only became more celebrated after Forpassa tragically fell to Circadia as the item may very well have been lost forever if Wistful had not acquired it. Although, contrary to what one might think, this was not the greatest turning point in Wistful’s life. Wistful actually began as an adventurer, before ever coming into contact with any of Perjalanan’s items. The will to see and learn more was always a part of her, she only lost a couple inhibitions when she came across one of the old god’s gifts.

It was a quill pen with endless ink, though at first she had no idea what the significance of it was. As with a majority who attain gifts, she sought to find the truth of the quill, though she did not find knowledge in the form of a band of journeyfolk. Instead, she came upon the sage druid Luxalim as he was on his way to meet Nairn Birchorn. Luxalim sensed the quill in Wistful’s possession and felt an ominous familiarity within him. It reminded him of Iaxus. Perhaps talking more than he intended, Luxalim told Wistful the tale of Iaxus before it was consigned to its current state. Wistful was made aware of the dark secret Perjalanan’s magic held and it only sparked her curiosity further.

She set out to learn more about others who had attained Perjalanan’s gifts and surely enough all the tales led to tragedy. They caused damage to their holders and to the people around them. In some cases, entire communities fell due to the insidious madness aroused by the items. It was a truth that the following footfalls were either ignorant to or chose to ignore, either way Wistful decided she could let it go on no further. She decided that she would collect the gifts and seal them away, preventing any others from seeking them out and causing further harm to the world. She knew the danger in exposing herself to the items but, if she could be the last, then it would be worth it.

The basin was actually one of the earliest items she targeted. Circadia had already become known to the world and Wistful could see that Forpassa was on the warpath. She acted quickly and managed to acquire it, though the potency of the basin turned out to be far greater than she had expected. The effects of Perjalanan’s other gifts manifested relatively slowly, it took decades for them to have the mind-decaying effect that Wistful feared. The basin acted much quicker, turning Wistful’s skin to brass in a matter of months and causing her to passively hear the thoughts of those around her. Holding the basin also granted her other mind-related abilities but she has since put it and many other gifts away into a secret vault in a location only she knows.

Her next goal is to acquire the other two original gifts, a star-shaped pendant and a three-colored feather. She originally intended to leave them until she had cleared Crobayoris more thoroughly but her priorities changed after experiencing the potency of the basin. She refuses to allow the other two to remain at large, where they could possibly effect others in terrible ways. She will be satisfied if she manages to lock away the original three before her mind is lost, even if there are countless other gifts out in the world. It is certain to be a long journey, one that may even take her to Iaxus some say, but Wistful is not weighed down by her duty. She is happy to see and learn more about the world and, despite what’s at stake, she enjoys every step she takes.

Wayward One – Kapri

Kapri, known by the following footfalls as one of the wayward or ‘gift hunters’. Given how long this cult’s been around, it’s impossible to state that its members aren’t aware of the ones who lose themselves in the compulsion of obsession. They’re aware, they simply don’t attribute it to the items they ever-seek. They believe the madness of these individuals to come of their own immorality. They have gone off of Perjalanan’s path, hence the title ‘wayward’. They are otherwise known as gift hunters as they technically are driven towards the same waypoints as the rest of the journeyfolk. Regardless of their title, they are abhorred by the cult as a whole as they do not realize that their path leads to the same fate.

Kapri is a particularly feared wayward for how many gifts he has acquired and how powerful they have made him. He boasts a titanic stature that came as a result of mutation, comparable to a Head though one still in the process of growing. His figure is certainly warped, though it cannot be seen as his skin is entirely covered by clothing and trinkets. A monster’s skull upon his head symbolizes the death he promises for those who keep Perjalanan’s gifts from him. A sad state for one who risked himself for others during the war on alignment and who otherwise might have been known as a hero.

The invasion of the misaligned kin was a dark age for everyone, the following footfalls included. The people of Tertia were forced to group into large settlements so as to not be picked off by the chaotic beings. Traveling from place to place was practically suicide if you didn’t have some extraordinary fighters on hand, even just maintaining farms put the farmers at great risk. For people like the footfalls journeyfolk, they had to weigh their unmitigated wanderlust against risking their lives. Of course, the danger did not stop them, for the footfalls were better at traveling than anyone else.

Kapri led a particular band of journeyfolk who decided to use their talents for the good of the suffering world. The acts of trade and attaining resources were too dangerous for the population at large, so the journeyfolk took it into their own hands. Kapri was the warrior who protected his band as they brought food to the most needy and suffering settlements around Crobayoris. Other footfalls groups followed Kapri’s example, though none were nearly as effective as the man who put his body on the line. When calm finally returned, Kapri was celebrated and gifted countless items by those he saved. Some were the magical items the cult sought but others were just humble offerings from those who had nothing else to give after the destruction.

Kapri accepted all of the gifts happily, treasuring everything that he was given. He even spread the gifts among his band, who were just as key to their efforts as he was. He wanted them all to bask in the happiness that they had brought, though these items he received would be the death of the man he was. Being exposed to so many of Perjalanan’s gifts made his decay in mentality rapid over the next years. Then came the day he went wayward and simply couldn’t stop himself. He slaughtered his tribe and reclaimed the items he gave out. Even the ones not touched by Perjalanan’s magic. He covered himself head to toe until the person he once was became both mentally and physically lost.

He still isn’t satisfied. Since then, he has hunted down and massacred other following footfalls tribes as well as anyone else who was in ownership of Perjalanan’s gifts. Every time he puts on another trinket or item, the Kapri that once was is buried even further. There’s no digging him out now, the only way to stop him is to put him down. A task that may fall to Wistful as he seeks her acclaimed vault of items.

Highest Activity Areas

While not limited to a particular area, the journeyfolk are far more common in Crobayoris than in Pradas due to how Perjalanan’s gifts have historically been spread. While Perjalanan did leave some items in Pradas in the earliest history, he has been warded from Pradan lands for a majority of history by spells cast by Nelaime. While he has since found ways around these barriers, they did minimize the influence he was able to have on the continent. As such, Crobayoris has emerged as the primary starting point for following footfalls members. That isn’t to say that many of them haven’t gone to Pradas as a part of their quest, just that your chances of finding one of their bands are better elsewhere.