The Enchantress and the Priestess (Pt. 2)
In part one, we saw the fall of Santa Cora. The Priestess has not left like the Elf Queen. She is not at war like the High Druid. She is simply—missing.
Possible ways the cathedral was destroyed:
- A spell of iconic magnitude shattered its crystal surface.
- A vital object which held the vast magical energies of so many gods in balance was stolen from within its sacred vaults.
- The Priestess herself was the key to balancing the abundance of religions. Without her, the cathedral dissolves, both symbolically and in dramatic physical dissolution.
- Deliberate architectural sabotage or a rite carried out by a splinter group within the cathedral.
The state of the city:
- Monks with ties to the cathedral join forces to defend the city, crossing religious and training backgrounds.
- Religious leaders with a bent for apocalyptic narrative sway the city's religious masses. Others seek to turn the situation to their deity's advantage. A few actually give an owlbear's ass for their congregants and can be found throughout the city helping the panicked and downtrodden.
- The faithful salvage precious objects from their shrines and wings of the temple. Of course, so does every unrepentant “art collector” in Santa Cora.
Something is Rotten Under Santa Cora: Since ages past, the faithful have sought burial in Santa Cora. Only in its serene graveyards and ornate charnal houses could they be safe from the influence of the Lich King. For Dragon Emperors, it's a matter of tradition. The poor in Axis, Horizon, Concord, and outlying villages, gather their pennies and hope that their family will be able to avoid the trip. The only larger necropolis in the Dragon Empire is, well, THE Necropolis.
When the Cathedral shattered and the Priestess disappeared, her protection over those who lie beneath the city faltered. The living don't have time to think about it—yet—but the dead are now vulnerable. And it just so happens that there's a new ghoul in town, gathering power to take on the Lich King. The Great Ghoul Mordiggian and his hyena-headed, skull-masked priests (more on them in a later post!) are here for the harvest. Whether they're behind it or taking opportunistic advantage, they'll have to be dealt with before the city can be restored.
Iron and stone: The shining cathedral on its verdant grounds is an abomination before the Crusader's eldritch replacement (ugh, sorry I haven't settled on it 100% because this is an evolving series and I'm not entirely into Nodens for it, taking votes in the comments!) or even the Crusader himself (let's just call this person The Crusader for now). In its place, he intends to raise a building of iron and stone and bring these untamed masses to heel. When the crystal shards settle in the city, the residents find themselves ringed on land by the Crusader's forces.
The Priestess is his prisoner, separated from her source of power within the cathedral. If adventurers can find it before the Crusader's advance guard destroys it forever, and reunite the two, there may be a chance they can save the city.
Blood Tide: They came from the Wild Wood, Blood Druids of the Elk Goddess, moving ever-onward on their journey of forceful conversion. Whether jealous that the Priestess does not countenance their religion or zealous in stamping out all other faiths, they take on Santa Cora's religious diversity. How do they find an in? Either by breaking into the city and performing necessary rituals or by finding a disgruntled ally on the inside. They may feel a kinship with Santa Cora's stigmatics and offer an even greater honor to their blood-sign than the current Priestess has ever done.
A Thief in the Cathedral: How long has the Prince of Shadows actually been the Crawling Chaos? Much longer than any of this other business has been going on, that's for sure. It's possible that he's the instigator of the entire eldritch shift. Whether not content in waiting for matters to progress or as the next step in his master plan, he's instigated the theft of some item critical to holding the cathedral together.
How hard is it to steal The Priestess herself? You'll need an even better team than Nate Ford's, but it can be done. For a critical or sacred item, the DC's probably much lower…say DC 40 instead of 400. It's up to those seeking to put things right to track down this master thief and retrieve the item before it vanishes into the Prince's vaults.
Restoring the Priestess
Can the Priestess be restored? Should she? It's up to you to decide if she's what this new Age in the Dragon Empire really needs.
Moriamis knows this kind of world. Whether she becomes the new Priestess or a surrogate, she may begin offering her semi-iconic favor to those in need of help. She's dealt with bloodthirsty Druids. She lived in a land that knew the names Yog-Sothoth and Tsathoggua.
Or, in a campaign, perhaps recovering the Priestess could become an eventual plot point to restoring the world to a better age. Her light counterbalances the overwhelming darkness of these new icons.
How did Moriamis Get Here?
On the one hand, do any of the new Eldritch Icons really need an explanation? Most are goddesses or god-like figures in their own stories. But that's where Moriamis differs. She's presented as a mortal. Perhaps she has the enhanced lifespan of a sorceress, but she's a woman supposedly in a time and place (Druidic-era mythic France/Averoigne). How does she come from there to the dragon empire?
One could do this both ways.
- She's a refugee from the Wild Wood. The Moriamis of Averoigne lived alongside Druids. She considered their practices unrefined, but didn't show hostility toward them as a group. She prevents a human sacrifice by cowing them with her already-known power, not challenging them to a fight or slaughtering them in turn. The Moriamis of the Wild Wood lives alongside the Druids and, depending on the pre-Yhoundeh situation, may not even even find them distasteful—if unrefined compared to her skill. But the incursion of Yhoundeh's Blood Druids either proved too much for her or destroyed the land she once held dear. She may have planned to stay in Santa Cora or to take a ship from there to quieter parts.
- She's from Averoigne. One could play the Eldritch Icons as an infection, a planar shift, another world that blends into and corrupts the Dragon Empire. In that case, it's not only
Why not the White Sybil?
A few people asked why I chose Moriamis over the White Sybil. She's an option with potential—an enigmatic and quasi-religious figure. My biggest reason was that Moriamis is a character with lines and a personality. Her choice to work for the “welfare of men and not for their bale or bane” sealed it.
If you wanted to run with the White Sybil, the attack to Santa Cora comes from within. Whether it's the glaciers of Polarion or a chill in the hearts of the faithful that extinguishes their religious fervor, her presence mysteriously stops the religious pulse of the city.