Nine in Water, Many Beyond

In the tongue of the Karicarya, their world means 'Adoring Sunrise'. In the Saenoch's speech, it is 'Open Palm'. The name of this world is unknown as of this writing, but most other subjects...well, that's a different story.


5. Above And Below Mortals - Gutsodality and Dust

A guild needs to be respected or feared to survive, like the honourable Warriors' Guild or sly Rogues' Guild. Yet the guild of Gutsodality upon Remand is both. To understand how this guild of assassins and cut throats managed to earn such a desired and vilified status, one has to understand the central power behind it all - the Queen of the Heart.

Not much is known about the young Evemeni in Remand's Guild of Mages before she got such power, only that her true talents lay in the school of Domination and that even the Masters bowed to her. Her skill in the discipline of Domination was such that she manipulated Saenoch Thixur of Immorality and Ravage into coming down through a hole in the barrier, cutting out his own heart, and giving it to her before returning to his realm.

When the mages of Remand's guild saw what she had done, they rallied in anger against the young Evemeni, turning their former guild hall into a tomb for her and Thixur's heart, locking both in the Guild basement, and burying the whole building in earth. Mount Uhryxi became their prison, and the mages of Remand thought all was done.

A few decades later, when the Evemeni with Thixur's heart had been forgotten, a group of cartographers were mapping the area around Mount Uhryxi and were met by a comforting woman's voice. She called herself Queen of the Heart, and said only five could serve her. The explorers turned upon one another until five stood amongst the bloodied remains of their colleagues. These five became the first Inner Circle of Gutsodality; the first of many to hold those positions and venerate her as a god.

All across Remand, even to this day, people pray for the Queen of the Heart to answer their wishes, send out a follower, and deliver those who wronged them to an early grave. Betrayed by Remand's Guild of Mages, the Queen of the Heart decided to turn her attention from magical arts to murderous ones, with a particular focus on ending the lives of members of the Mages Guild. With a cult following of eager bloodletters forming sancturies in every city, town, and even the tiniest villages on Remand, the Queen of the Heart can order any of her followers to pick up contracts and strike hard as a warhammer, yet silent as a distant sniper. The people of Remand will always find reasons to have someone killed - from cheating spouses to child molesters - and Queen of the Heart will always find enough followers to grant their wishes.

Trouble would soon emerge for the guild when a hero with little claim to fame discovered the truth about Queen of the Heart and how she got her power. Accounts conflict over whether the lone hero was originally a member of Gutsodality from the start, or was a student of the Mages' Guild when Queen of the Heart had Archmage Tertis and Professor Halimeda assassinated, but all stories agree that the lone hero gathered the essence of Saenoch Thixur from his chained bride Mepasir, and used the weapon to destroy the Heart of Thixur and slay the Queen of the Heart in the buried remains of the first Mages' Guild hall. Afterwards, when Saenoch Thixur leapt from the stars to reward the hero who slayed Queen of Heart, who tricked him so many years ago, accounts diverge again. Some claim the hero knelt before the Saenoch of Ravage and Immorality, accepting the reward in exchange for giving up their soul. Others say the hero refused Thixur, and instead was forced to battle him. Whether they won or lost is yet another argument for the scholars, as some say the hero was too stubborn to accept help from other Saenochs, and others say the hero had a full army of the Saenochs ready to banish the malevolent Thixur. Whatever truly occurred, one thing is clear. Despite the death of their Queen of the Heart, Gutsodality remained strong, and its members loyal.

Well, most members remained loyal. The Domination magic used by the Queen of the Heart died with her, and her Inner Circle broke free of the spells binding them to serve her. They saw the withered corpse, the pierced heart, and felt ashamed to have worshipped a common mortal. So they left, full of the mastery of stealth and assassination, yet determined to never hold one mortal in higher regard to another. While the hierarchy of Gutsodality allowed contracts to trickle down to the lowly slayers, this new guild settled everywhere, covering the Nine like a fine layer of dust.

Dust - It's everywhere, but you only notice it when it's built up enough. The remains of Gutsodality's betrayed inner circle, Dust, operate more as individuals than as a Guild. Each member gathers as many contracts as they feel up to and exchanges them with their fellow killers so each assassin gets a contract tailored to their skills. This can be particularly useful for novice members and specialists, like the vampires.

Vampires and lycanthropes have always made up a decent sized portion of Dust. Gutsodality views all lunar-bound as twisted abominations, and a vampire's natural gifts of agility, Domination, and stealth make them ideal for stalking prey. In return for satiating the vampire's hunger for human flesh, Dust grants the lunar-bound of Menti a place to call their own.

The people of the Nine will always turn to the shadows when they need someone killed, and the shadows will always allow them to look inside their darkness. Most cultures of the Nine disregard both Gutsodality and Dust, ashamed that such evil guilds can be allowed to exist.

Most cultures. Not all...

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