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Benei Topheth [Strains of the Cursed Blood- Phoenicia]

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  • Benei Topheth [Strains of the Cursed Blood- Phoenicia]

    The Beloved

    [a burning, golden bull's skull]

    ‚ÄčThe heat was intolerable.

    The fire engulfed the woods, devouring their tender flesh and filling the air with fragrant smoke- herbs were added to the fire, meant to make the odor a bit more pleasant. Salvia, myrtle, lavender, clove- all of them were added to the flames in order to cover the scent of charred wood. To cover the smell of burning flesh.

    The priest stood by the stage, rising his hands in the air before the fire and the idol behind it- a great, hollow statue of a bronze bull. Seeing the gesture, the sound of drums has started to fill the air- beating like hearts, like thunders, like growls of hungry beast. The flames danced with the sound, jumping and moving as if they had life of their own- filled with hunger desire. All around them, people watched- either standing or on their knees, either looking or averting their gaze. Some sang prayers. Other remained silent. Yet, none but the priest stood on the stage- covered with a golden mask in the shape of a bull, he watched closely at the people around him, as if he was waiting for something..

    A movement started in the crowd, and the priest smiled. Two people has started to move toward the stage- a couple, a man and a woman. The first had a determined look at his face, the face of someone who chose the lesser of two evils, and was going to keep with his choice. The second held what looked like a ragged bunch of cloths, her eyes are tearing. The couple went up the stage, looking at the masked face of the priest- but he didn't moved a muscle. The sacrifice has to be given willingly. The decision was their to make.

    Seeing the fire, terror filled to woman's face- it looked like she had some second thoughts about the subject. Then, she turned toward her husband, who simply nodded with his head. With shaking hands, she uncovered the rags and discovered a small baby. He was screaming, but she didn't heard a thing. The drums swallowed his voice, just like the fire would devour his flesh. She started to cry, and gave him one, last kiss before giving him to her husband. Filled with resolve, the man took the baby from her arms and advanced toward the fire. It looked like he was saying something- his wish, apparently. The priest has always wondered what they asked for, what was important enough for them to give away the absolute sacrifice to a god no one truly understood. He knew why would he do it- he have done so countless times before, after all- but he still wished to know if his reason were the same as others. Perhaps it would be a sign that he is still, somehow, a bit human.

    And then, the father threw his son into the flames. The woman collapsed. The people preyed. The priest hailed his god- yet none of it was heard. The drums were stronger than them all, covering the sound of life given to death.

    Only hour later, when the great fire would have die out and the priest would walk among its charred remains, when silence would cover the tainted valley and the drums would become a distant memory, another sound could be heard- the sound of a crying baby, which would be adopted by the priest and be raised as his on- only that this one won't be given to the fire, for that sacrifice was already given. He would be one of those to pass through the fire and live, one of those beloved by the fire and flames, a child birthed by the inferno which devoured countless souls through the ages. He was chosen, and as such he would serve the flames who gave him new life..

    or fight them until his last breath.

    Each of the Benei Topheth was betrayed by their closest person on earth. Each of them was once killed, his life given as a sacrifice in exchange for a wish. Each of them was sent to hell, kicking and screaming, being devoured by loving flames. And yet, they are alive. Their blood burns with the hellfire which scorched their flesh, their soul radiates with the heat of anger and vengeance. They are the ones beloved by hell, adopted kin to the demons and devil who roam its kingdom. They were meant to serve its will upon earth- they, who were betrayed by humanity, should be the ones to betray them back. Yet, not all do. Those who rise above the eternal circle of fire and blood rebel against its influence and devout their life to fight it, betraying the the hell who loved them so much just like they once were.

    No one truly knows when the Beloved has started- unlike other strains of cursed blood, no demon has tainted their blood, and no devil has laid with their foremothers. Still, there is something special about them, something in their blood which different them from the rest of mankind- they belong to a lineage of unknown progenitor, yet which was spread so long ago that no one can track the lines back to their point of origin. The lineage, either mundane or supernatural, does not come from hell- their descendants may spend their whole life without speaking with a demon or seeing a vision of hell. In order to actually become a child of inferno, a rite must be preformed. The Rite of Moloch, with them as the sacrificed.

    Some suggest that the Rite was made in order to find the descendants of that bloodline and convert them to their goal. Others think they are just an happy consequence. What ever the case, each time the Rite is preformed there is a small chance that one of the Beloved would awaken. While the tradition dictates the sacrifice must be given with fire, the truth is that there is no such condition- it may be just as easily preformed with a sharp knife or a bullet of a gun. The only thing that matters is that the chosen sacrifice is killed, given away to Moloch in the name of a selfish desire. For most people, that is the end of the story- but here comes the difference between the Beloved and the rest of humanity.

    They return from Hell.

    They pass through the fire unharmed. They go back on their feet with the bullet still in their head. Their butchered body stitch itself up leaving no scar behind. They can never be killed by the Rite, for hell has claimed them as its own, and you can not give away that which does not belongs to you. When preformed by amateurs, the reactions of the cultists range from wild happiness to pure terror, although the reactions of the chosen sacrifice are almost always the same- range, and feeling of betrayal. When preformed by a more "professional" cult, one which can track its traditions ages back, the protocol is quit clear- convert them to your cause, at any price you must pay, event if it includes letting them to kill a cultist or two in order to "relieve from stress".

    Once, during the old biblical times, it wasn't that hard to preform. After all, almost all of the sacrifices were young children, which could be easily manipulated into serving the cult. Still, the feeling of betrayal still burned in the heart of the Beloved, telling them they should avenge those who sent them to the fire. Sometimes, one of them rebelled- which lead to the unfortunate act of killing the Beloved. But the most complied, lending their newfound abilities to the cult.

    Things has started to change during the time of Carthage. A nation of sacrifice and blood, the Cult of Moloch has perfected it art up to perfection, with nobles adopting children especially for that cause. However, with the Rite becoming so widespread in the Empire, the concentration of the Beloved rose just as well, turning them from an interesting occurrence into a real body inside the priesthood- elite soldiers and temple guardians in the service of the priests. The Benei Topeth, loyal children of hell.

    That is, until they betrayed them.

    Making their plans in the darkness of the night, the Benei Topheth used the Third Punic War and exploited the Cult's weakness. They burned their temples and shattered their idols- they even claim they were the ones to salt their lands, not the Romans, just in order to erase the taint from the world. While they thought that this would be end, the Rite has survived, rising new cults among the darkest corners of earth- and the Beloved has chased them, fighting an urge which was as deep as human soul.

    While their main enemy always was and always would be the despised Cult of Moloch, through the ages the Benei Topheth has discovered they were not the only ones to be abused in such a way- countless organizations, conspiracies and cults has abused innocent souls for personal gain through occult methods, scarring the victims for all eternity. Seeing those broken souls as kin, the children of inferno take a stand against those evil organizations, attempting to stop them from causing any more damage and giving help for those who were remade by the experiments. Interestingly, that puts them in odds with a number of compacts and conspiracies, seeing them as potential abusers and evil manipulators. The Lucifuge has personally waged a long war against them, as both see each other as a satanic cult of some kind. The only thing which stopped both of the organizations from destroying each other is the fact that both are too small to pose a direct threat to each other- the one has its numbers limited by a supernatural power, and the other requires its members to die in a terrible way by a person who truly loves them.

    That made some among the children to think that perhaps Shomrei Ha'Mikdash which leads them don't truly do anything they can in order to destroy the cult. That maybe, sometimes, they let them escape- or even help them grow- just to make new members of their own. Perhaps, even though they believe they are the champions of the abused and the betrayed who fight evil conspiracies, they by themselves are being manipulated one- that maybe, just maybe, they are the true Cult of Moloch, the ones who are truly beloved by the blood and fire...

    And if that is the case, they'll do what has to be done. Moloch would fall, even if it would take them with it.

    0- you have been betrayed, killed and returned from the depths of hell, finding your place among the Beloved who fight Moloch's influence. You can not be killed through the Rite of Moloch, and you may not preform it as well. You may also buy dots in the Toaavoth Endowment, and are expected to live for 100 years.
    000- you have fought dark organizations and saved helpless souls from their clutches. You rage against those who betrayed you grows to a new level, striking fear at their hearts. Once per a Scene, you may expand a Willpower point to cause anyone who is not a Ben Topheth the Shaken Condition. You are also expected to live for 300 years.
    00000- your name strike terror among dark cults, and those who don't escape find themselves butchered by the hell they love so much. You get 3 dots in the Fame merit, meant for positive act among Deviants and for intimidation against dark conspiracies and cults. You are expected to live no less then 500 years.

    Endowment: Toaavoth (0-00000)
    Each of the Benei Topheth was scarred by her travel in hell. They are aberrations, abominations, incarnated wounds in the heart of mankind- and they have learned how to channel those dark forces to their benefit. Toaavoth is a single, 1-5 merit, representing the depth of connection between the hunter and the power which chose her as its child. Each time she gets a new dot in the merit, she gains a single Numen, called a Toaava. In order to activate a Toaava, the hunter must cause herself one level of Lethal damage per required Essence, or allow herself to suffer such a damage by someone else, and then roll for Toaavoth+Attributes, if such roll is needed. The hunter may replace such Toaavoth later, by causing herself three levels of Lethal Damage. The damage for activating the Toaavoth must be dedicated in advance as a sacrifice for the power, or else it won't work. When preforming a Toaava, the character strikes fear at anyone who does not belong to a Major Template or is a part of a strain of cursed blood, causing the Shaken Condition as it reveals the demonic form of the hunter and the signs of her "death" by the Rite.

    After a Toaava was preformed, the area becomes tainted by the power, suffering the effect of an Influence: Corruption with a rating equal to the level of the hunter's Endowment. The power, however, corrupts not only the environment, but the hunter himself- chose one persistent, negative Condition per dot of the Endowment. You start the day with one of those in effect to your choosing. Every time you activate a Toaava, another one is activated. The effect resets itself at midnight. However, there is an upside for an high ranking Toaavoth- for you treat your rating in the Endowment as an Honorary Rank with demons and any other corrupted spirit the ST deems worthy.

    My Homebrew Signature- Because I need one. If you use any of it, please share with me how it went!

    On a Dragonlance-reading break. Surprise homebrew may still happen :P
    I now blog in here

  • #2
    Oh, I like this

    Cinder's Comprehensive Collection of Creations - Homebrew Hub
    Currently writing: "Dark Era: The Forest That Weeps". When not busy writing homebrew, I also try to write CoD fiction. (All paused until August)

    Waiting feverishly as instructed


    • #3
      Originally posted by Cinder View Post
      Oh, I like this
      thanks! I like them too- I actually kinda planned them for a fan made Carthage Dark Era (the Third Punic War, to be exact), which was meant to be an extension of the "Molochite Mythos" which serves as a theme for a some of my homebrew, but eventually I've never wrote it down. Still, I believe that conspiracy stands well by its own, not to mention as a part of the Strains of Cursed Blood project I'm toying with.

      My Homebrew Signature- Because I need one. If you use any of it, please share with me how it went!

      On a Dragonlance-reading break. Surprise homebrew may still happen :P
      I now blog in here


      • #4
        Lucifuge: "they claim to deny the demon which spawned them, but I don't buy it. Sure, they do hunt demon cults- but if you ask me, they simply eliminate the competition"
        Habibti Maa: "you must appreciate their work in the middle east, and their long battle against cults. However, not everyone could be redeemed. Once you preform the Rite, there is no way back"
        Loyalists of Thule: "they have learned their lessons, and help others do the same. I see them as allies"
        Cheiron Group: "It is an open secret they are older then they claim, and their reputation is well earned. We have saved countless souls from their clutches through the ages, yet no matter how hard they fall they keep coming back. We need to root them from the source"
        Raziel Ltd: "lately, we have got reports about people covered with angelic signs, which seems to lead to one of their projects. We wonder if perhaps they experiment with creating their own version of the Rite- one that points not to hell, but to heaven. At any case, we have to stop that experiment, at any cost"
        Cult of Moloch: "oh, our dear mothers and fathers. Let's see how well they can handle the fire"

        "Hi Mom, I'm home"

        My Homebrew Signature- Because I need one. If you use any of it, please share with me how it went!

        On a Dragonlance-reading break. Surprise homebrew may still happen :P
        I now blog in here


        • #5