The Enchantress and the Priestess (Pt. 1)

This post is in the Eldritch Icons project which will weave a narrative to supplant the 13 Icons of the Dragon Empire with more sinister icons born of Weird Fiction.

The Sacking of Santa Cora

We had thought the Priestess would always be here. Some of us were born here. Others, damaged souls, came to her for healing. In the vast halls of her Cathedral, we found the solace we needed. We thrived under her protection&
mdash;a city of righteousness and peace. As the world outside us got darker and refugees flooded in, the Gods of Light protected us from invasion by sea or shore. Always, we could look to the rising spires of our Priestess’s Cathedral for inspiration…

…until one day, it shattered.

At first we thought it thunder. Then the ground shook beneath us, radiating out from our luminous temple. Within minutes, even those farther away could see the dark cracks in the edifice. Enormous, jagged panes rained down on those unlucky enough to be in the squares outside. Of those within, we still know nothing. And our Priestess? I wish I could tell you. For months, our city stood open to attack, plundered by the twisted Druids to our South and opportunistic pirates of the Midland Sea.

Then, like a fresh breeze, she arrived by sea. Her enchantments sank pirate ships and her gaze sent Druids southward. She laid a cornerstone for our new house of worship—one of stone, not crystal—yet one where every woman and man might bend knee only of their own free will and to their own gods.

While it was easy to find a rival to the High Druid in Yhoundeh, handling her neighbor to the north proved trickier. The Priestess is almost an enigma, like her iconic symbol. Is she simply the essence of lawful good? That may be easy enough to handle in a regular 13th Age campaign, but what does it mean in this darker world?

Choosing a challenger didn’t prove as difficult as I had anticipated, but creating the situation was the hardest of all three so far. From the Clark Ashton Smith mythos, may I present:

The Enchantress Moriamis

She was very tall, with a fearless and regal demeanor, and was gowned in a dark shimmering blue, like the star-laden blue of nocturnal summer skies. Her hair was knotted in a long golden-brown braid, heavy as the glistening coils of some eastern serpent. Her eyes were a strange amber, her lips a vermilion touched with the coolness of woodland shadow, and her skin was of alabastrine fairness.

A powerful female character in mythos fiction is rare enough, but what about her alignment? Is she suited to oppose the Priestess?

I am Moriamis, the enchantress, and the Druids fear my magic, which is more sovereign and more excellent than theirs, though I use it only for the welfare of men and not for their bale or bane.

As she appears in “The Holiness of Azedérac,” Moriamis is a solitary figure. She doesn’t subscribe to a particular deity, but protects a Catholic brother sent back through time from the Druids of her day. Yet she is not at war with Druids. What does she want? Apparently, her greatest desire is to be left in peace, ideally with the hot young monk, and to help her fellow humans when things get bad.

As the realm that was the Dragon Empire fractures, Moriamis becomes a reluctant icon. Unlike the rest, she did not seek this power, but as she is now the wanderer in a strange time and place, she has little choice. Not power-hungry or seeking to hold the post longer than necessary, she seeks brave adventurers to put things right. She will bless them, as she is able, while remaining in Santa Cora to assist and inspire its stunned population.

In part 2, I’ll present plot hooks, ways to make things right, and possible sources of the chaos engulfing Santa Cora. Perhaps the Priestess is still out there.