Post from Scarred Lands Forum, preserved by CarnivalKid.

Short Story; Initiation into Belsameth's Priesthood

author: Joseph Carriker
date: 2002-03-22
status: finished

Andoreth shifted uncomfortably. The black marble of the sanctuary room was hard and unforgiving and he had been kneeling before the altar from high midnight. Judging by the candles upon the altar - tallow fat candles treated alchemically to burn with a dull red light, casting a wash of blood on the room - it should be near to midnight again.

Once more his eyes strayed to the statue on the wall behind the altar, depicting a triple figure. To the right was Belsameth as the Vulture-Winged Hag, her taloned hands bearing a censer from which burned incense made of powdered bone and rotten hemlock. To the left was Belsameth as the Dark Siren, beautiful and seductive, beckoning with one hand while the other held a censer that burned with amber and sweet lotus.

And rising above both of them was the hooded and sinister figure of Belsameth as Death Incarnate, ruling over both of the other forms, which were simply murder and demise in both of the forms that they came to mankind - ugly and painful, beautiful and ecstatic.

The rustle of robes behind him alerted Andoreth to the entry of the Priestess who would be initiating him. His eyes snapped shut, but still he saw the image of the Threefold Slayer.

He opened his eyes again and the candles had guttered and extinguished, and the priestess knelt before him, lovely and sinister with her blackened lips and purple eyes.

"Thy vigil is over. You have entered in the sweet darkness and shall exit this sanctuary a priest. You have resisted the call of hated day. Welcome to the Night, my son."

She kissed him and his lips tingled slightly. He licked them nervously. She reached down beside her and raised a small bowl covered with gauze. She removed the gauze, which was sweetened with perfume.

The stench of rot rose up and nearly gagged him. With black nails, the priestess reached into the bowl and extracted a piece of foul, rotted flesh; he thought he saw the movement of maggots in the bowl.

"Our Queen is the Vulture. Eat of the carrion and know that the death you bring affects the world still. Send the souls of your foes to Belsameth and let their corpses rot, bringing horror to those who they leave behind. This is the will of Belsameth."

She held the morsel of filth to his lips. Swallowing thickly, he opened his mouth, his gorge rising. Fixing his eyes on the image of the Vulture-Hag, he steeled himself and quickly snatched up the vile meat with his tongue, forcing himself to not only take it into his mouth, but to chew. If he could not savor the taste of it, he could at least savor his own strength to do what had to be done.

He thought that the Vulture-Hag smiled; the priestess certainly did as she leaned in to give him another ritual kiss.

She reached down and took up a silver chalice, chased with the symbols of moon and skull and set with pieces of jet, black onyx and moonstone. The scent of sweet, potent wine rose from within.

"Our Queen is the Seductress. Drink of the wine and know the sweetness of her kiss. Intoxicating and heady is her worship and purest ecstasy is both reward and weapon. Bring the sweetness of her worship to all who are bereft of it."

She raised the chalice to his lips and he drank. The wine was indeed potent and very sweet, but just beneath the surface, he tasted a slight bitterness. As he swallowed, his eyes found the Dark Siren, and she, too, was smiling.

The priestess took away the chalice and leaned in to give him another kiss. The tingling in his lips was more pronounced, and he shuddered as a chill took him.

Suddenly, his vision began to swim and he felt dizzy. A cold hand clutched his heart and his breathing became ragged. The priestess took a cloth and held it to his forehead, wiping away the sweat, and then pressed her lips to the cloth, wiping away the blackness there.

"You have tasted the carrion that is death, and the ecstatic sweetness that is life. But Belsameth dwells not in these places."

His eyes found the shrouded figure that rose above the Dark Siren and Vulture-Hag.

"Belsameth dwells where you now dwell - in that place between life and death. You are dying, Andoreth, poisoned by kiss and carrion and wine. Should you survive, you will have found blessing in Belsameth's eyes. Should you die, you will be given a fine burial and serve the Dark Lady in the afterlife."

She stepped away from him as he grasped feebly at her robes. The motion caused him to topple and then he began convulsing, his eyes still locked onto the shadowed figure that was the truth of Belsameth. And somehow he know - that figure was smiling, too.



Then, have him make some Fortitude saves (two of them, one for "initial damage" and one for "secondary damage"). If he scores low on one of them, roll some six siders behind your GM Screen, ask him what his Constitution is, etc. ;)

After doing so, let him know that he awakes laid out on the floor, draped in funeral shrouds. Panicking, he feebly rips his way out of the shroud and drops to his knees before the altar of Belsameth - he is in the sanctuary. The priestess comes to him and clothes him in the vestments of Belsameth and hangs a holy symbol around his neck, and a black curving dagger at his belt.

Joseph Carriker