Cassiel was an angel in the service of Dagda. He spent the Age of Dragons protecting the men who hid from the might of the warring gods around them. It was his counsel that led Dagda to create and sign the Compact, but Cassiel felt the Compact did not go far enough. He wanted the gods to retreat entirely, to let the men form their own world. When the Compact allowed the gods to battle through men, Cassiel abandoned Dagda’s service and began his own crusade to lead men away from a war that has little to do with them. This action gained him few allies among the gods or the humans who serve them.
A few brave souls were attracted to Cassiel’s creed, though he refused to offer any divine boons or even direct leadership to them. His followers must adhere to his ideas and lead themselves. Throughout the ages the cities of the Grigori offered safe haven for those who wanted to lead their own lives. The wars of the Age of Magic and the scarcity of the Age of Ice took its toll on them like every other land, but the sought help not from the heavens but from themselves.
In the Age of Rebirth, Cassiel still stands, offering others ideas and guidance but little more, and some brave few are still drawn to his ideas. Among those who seek asylum in his lands are the Luonnotar, who teach that none of the gods acting on creation is worthy of worship, but only one greater god who made them. Cassiel certainly agrees with the first part of this, though he isn’t forthcoming on the second.
~ 1% Other
22% Neutral Good
20% Chaotic Neutral
10% Lawful Neutral
8% Chaotic Good
4% Lawful Good
2% Lawful Evil
1% Neutral Evil
< 1% Other
Adult population Lvl 1 or higher: 6%
Other: < 1%
My name is Elizabeth, and I was murdered on the first day of winter. My father was at the market. In the instant I died, he was buying ribbons for my hair. Later, he would put them on my corpse.
My father knew the man who killed me, a neighbor that talked to him about trade and argued about religion. As a follower of the Order, my father was quick to advocate it to anyone who would listen. The neighbor looked at me the way some men look at teenage girls, but he had never spoken to me until that day.
I was surprised he knew my name. I was removing the last of the vegetables from our small garden before the night’s frost killed them. I stood and subconsciously straightened the worn dress I was wearing. I didn’t answer him.
“Do you know anything about cats?” he said.
“I had a cat, she disappeared a few weeks ago.”
“Was she white?”
“Yes, did you find her?”
I was an only child, my mother died when I was born and my cat Abagail was the keeper of my secrets and playmate for as long as I could remember. I searched for her and had almost given up hope.
“More like she found me, she’s moved into my cellar. She’s taken over a corner for herself and her kittens.”
He returned my smile. His hand had been resting on his knife—most men in the city carried them—but now he relaxed and took his hand off of it.
“Would you like to see them? Maybe help me move them to your house. I want to make sure they get somewhere warm before tonight.”
I followed him to his house; we walked across my yard and through a small field that separated our homes. At the time I was too excited to wonder why we didn’t walk on the road. The field opened to the back of his house, which is where the cellar entrance was. He unlocked the cellar and opened it for me. This was the first time I had a suspicion that something was wrong. If I was by myself I wouldn’t have gone down there, but I had told him I would and I didn’t want to seem like a scared girl so I went down the wooden stairs. He followed and closed the doors behind him.
The cellar was a shrine to Agares, decorated in blood and jagged weapons. He attacked me as soon as I saw it. In time he would sacrifice me on the cellar’s brown altar, but even worse was done to me before.
I wandered in the grey. I saw my father search for me, my body was found in the woods outside the village a few days later, covered with cuts and ritual marks. My killer came to my house and offered his condolences with the rest of the neighborhood, pretended to be shocked and upset. I watched my father come and go, cry and then pretend to be okay when neighbors came over. Crushed by the thought that when his daughter really needed him, he wasn’t there.
In time I became aware of something else. Abagail came trotting through a wall, meowing in that way she reserved for when I forgot to feed her. I rushed to her, picked her up and squeezed her as she nuzzled my neck with her head.
When I set her down she started walking, then looked back to see if I was following, which I did. We left the city, walked through forests, fields, mountains. I was never tired or hungry and only had a dim view of the world, as if I was viewing it through a haze. Some dark places we avoided and I could occasionally hear voices, usually angry or sad from those places.
We walked until we entered a city much larger than mine. We went through it to a grand palace at its center, decorated in bronze and black. We walked through to the throne room and the haze was gone from the center of this room. A man with ivory skin sat on a throne, listening to an argument between two merchants. The man was tired and I somehow knew that he was once one of the greatest of angels, now bearing the burden of mortality and time.
I had heard of an angel that had become human, the archangel Cassiel who had turned against the gods, who claimed that religion was servitude and wouldn’t follow them. But after what I saw, felt, experienced… I couldn’t accept that. There was an enemy, a religion that should be battled. I approached his throne, knowing he would see me even if no one else did.
“Cassiel, the Veil killed me. You can do something about that, the Order is trying to fight them. You could help.”
He looked at me, I saw a great sadness in him. The same as in my father when he sat in my bedroom and cried. The arguing merchants quieted, realizing Cassiel’s attention was somewhere else.
“Open your eyes.”
He said it to me, he was pleading with me and commanding me at the same time. I tried to follow it, everything except Cassiel seemed distant. I could see Abagail at my feet, the rest was clouds of grey flowing into each other. I looked at these clouds, there were shapes in them, figures, faces. And I began to see other spirits in them. Men and women, orcs and elves, children and adults, all caught in their own grey worlds.
I talked to the spirit of a man who had been killed by an order Confessor for lying, a boy who had starved because his family couldn’t afford food and the teachings of Kilmorph don’t emphasize charity, an elf who had used wood from a sacred tree to rebuild his home and had been killed by the Fellowship for it. And thousands who had died in wars they didn’t believe in for gods they didn’t trust and who didn’t accept them.
Later I went back to Cassiel, he was sitting alone on the roof of his palace.
“Are we forever doomed to this in-between place? I understand now that the gods are flawed, but if they hold the only way into heaven, what else can we do but follow them?”
Cassiel smiled at me. “The places they have made are not heaven, the true heaven is closed to everyone, even them. One day the doors will open and we will be rejoined. Until then we wait and we try to improve what we have been given.”
After that I sat at the feet of his throne, played with Abagail and paid less and less attention to the occurrences of the mortal world. Until I heard a familiar voice in the throne room, that of my father.
“Lord Cassiel, I have come from the Bannor empire, I have turned my back on my people and my god. The religion that once seemed so important to me, that I dedicated my life to, offered no comfort to me when I needed it. Only hollow words about faith and my own weakness. Now I come to you. Three years ago my daughter was killed, she was only a child and she was sacrificed in some unholy ceremony. Because of the manner of her death the priests say they cannot bury her in the cemetery, they burned her so that an evil spirit wouldn’t inhabit her tiny corpse.”
My father fought to keep his composure. He took a deep breath before continuing.
“Now I come to you.” He repeated. “To offer my help, I’m only a simple merchant but if you would have me I wish to join the Grigori.”
Cassiel looked at him, requests like this weren’t uncommon. They usually wouldn’t even get to Cassiel himself unless the person was someone politically important.
“You will stay in the palace tonight. Tomorrow you will awake a new man, put your old life behind you and start a new one here. Your name will be Goodreau. In the morning you will go into the city, find a job and earn your place among my people. But for tonight you are still Tamur the Merchant. My sergeant will show you a room and provide you with food and drink. Eat and sleep well.”
My father thanked him and followed the sergeant out of the throne room. I followed them and sat in the small bedroom they gave him. Traveling had been hard on him and he ate ravenously and fell asleep. I sat in the corner of the room just as I had in my bedroom when he cried after my death.
My father was awake, awake and staring at me.
He jumped out of the bed, terrified, but only terrified that he was somehow imaging this and I would disappear before he could grab me. But his arms passed right through me and he fell on the floor sobbing. I knelt down beside him, he stared at me, trying to memorize every detail of my face.
“Oh sweetie, I’m so sorry… please… I’m sorry… I’m sorry”
“Daddy, I’m okay.”
We talked and I told him about the fake heavens and my life at the palace. How, if it had been three years, it seemed like only a few days to me. That I really didn’t remember dying that well, but I remembered playing games with him and the walks we used to take. I lied and told him I didn’t know who killed me, I didn’t want him going back.
We talked until dawn. As I began to fade from his sight he pleaded with me to stay, asked what he could do to stay with me. I repeated Cassiel’s words.
“One day the doors will open and we will be rejoined. Until then we wait and we try to improve what we have been given.”
He said he loved me, that he would see me again and when I was completely gone from his view he left the palace and started his new life among the Grigori.
“Group together people deliberately chosen for strong religious feelings, and you have a practical guarantee of dark morbidities expressed in crime, perversion, and insanity.”
The Grigori have many loyal heroes that arise from the population or arrive from far lands. Adventurers from afar are welcomed as long as they commit no crimes and refrain from intrusive religious proselytizing. Exceptional groups often achieve cult status, becoming popular heroes and darlings of the intelligentsia. Successful adventuring companies are in constant demand at taverns, inns, guild-houses, theaters, carnivals and the salons of the rich and powerful.
The Empire of the Grigori began to thrive, as men from all corners of the world, tired of being pawns of the Gods, sought a way to determine their own destiny. Whether carried by this wave of immigration, or inflicted upon them by the Gods as divine retribution, the Grigori began to suffer from diseases for which they knew no cure.
Cassiel had the power to cure these ailments and could even confer that power to others. But the archangel of Dagda was shrewd enough to realize that this would put him in the position of acting as a God himself and all that he had been fighting for would be lost. Instead, Cassiel summoned the best herbalists and natural healers in the Kingdom, forming the Ordine Medicos.
Members of the Ordine Medicos travel throughout Arcanearth seeking natural remedies to the ailments that inflict the Grigori. The Medicos are widely known for their ability to cure disease without divine intervention. Although quite often found traveling with Grigori military units, the Ordine Medicos take a vow of non-aggression and will only fight to defend themselves and those in their care.