AKA: The Seraphic General, Lady of the Cleansing Flame, The Dragon-Slayer
Former Kingdom: Gonel
Followers' Epithets: Seraphim, Furies
The world hurts. The world always hurts. The Darkness is everywhere, subtly writhing in the night and in the hearts of corrupt bastards, and those fucking parasites in Alhambra make the world a worse place just by existing.
So we burn it out. We burn it all out. When some bastard takes children, we're there to make sure he dies and make sure that the Taint he leaves doesn't get to spread. We're not soft-hearted fools like the so-called 'Radiant', who prattle on about hope and self-belief and innate kindness and the like. The world is stinking and wretched and corrupt, and, like a cancer, the evil must excised. By any means necessary.
It's better to light a fire than curse the Darkness, after all.
Because the Kingdom was betrayed from within. We were all betrayed. Our Queen gave her life protecting something which wasn't worth protecting, and we now know that you can flap around talking about the Light all you want, but what the world _needs_ is for all the bastards to die. They all deserve to die. And we're willing to give our lives to do so. We won't compromise, and if we die, we'll keep on fighting. Even in the face of the end of the world.
The Queen of Storms was once a mortal woman, but is one no longer. As the hordes of the Darkness closed in on the last city of the Kingdom, she led the fight back, at the head of an army. And they were slaughtered. Transcending her mortal flesh as rage burned her alive, since the Fall of the Kingdom she, and her followers, have sought to cleanse the Darkness, and the traitors of Alhambra, from the world no matter the cost. She was not trapped in the Dreamlands, and she has raged and she has fought all this time. The forces of Storms are composed of mortal cultists, those who the world has taken everything from, and is backed up by strange ghost-like beings, which build bodies for themselves out of flesh and clay; now, with the Release, Nobility join their ranks.
Tales from the DarknessEdit
Deep within the Dark World there is a storm that never ceases. Green fire scorches the sky. Bolts of thunder split mountains and carve the ground open. The wind sings hymns of defiance. The clouds are formed of people in their millions, they burn with rage hot enough to warm the frozen heart of the Darkness. Wherever this Storm travels, it leaves nothing but ash.
The Queen of Storms died during the fall. She died faithful to her duties, she died untainted, and she died fighting. In her final battle she burnt herself to ashes with the fury of her rage and the power of the magics the channeled against the Darkness. Her body was destroyed, her mind was consumed by hate, and her soul was transformed. The Queen has become the very embodiment of Tempesta. She battles the Darkness itself within its world; she exists deep within the soul of any who knows hate and rage within their hearts. Every feeling of rage is a petition for the Queen, all hatred is a prayer, and the requests of those who feel hate at the Queen s ancient enemies are granted. The Queen bestows her powers and her favor on all who would take up her banner and fight for her cause.
She never abandoned her people, for all the good it did her. She stood on the front lines, sword in hand, meeting wave after wave of the monsters with righteous fury that cleaved all who opposed her in two with her very gaze. She stood alone in a whirlwind of carnage. When her last opponent fell to the ground, the Queen looked up and realized she was alone. All who had stood with her were dead. They had protected nobody. The shattered kingdom lay all around her like a bloated corpse. The last human thing in the Queen died and she screamed. She shrieked. She roared. She thundered. Her cry became a great wind and her body burst. Lightning melted through her eyes and her blood scattered into rain. The Queen grew into a great storm that scoured the land. The last refugees, the last wandering men and women -- they recognized still the royal power of the Queen and supplicated before the storm as if it were a god. The Storm Queen sucked them up and tore them apart in her maelstrom.
The very few who remained were reborn as angels of her fury. Overcome by her glory, they leave the Heaven of her body and travel down into the world to evangelize her screams. They wish for all to understand the gospel of rage and let loose their most primal hatred. They see nothing more pure than the release of pain, nothing that honors the Kingdom more than the anger of the frustrated. The sad, frail, fallen world must be made to pay and be reborn only after it sets its own pyre. They carry the scream and the scream shall set you free.
Let the scholars of Alhambra mumble over the vague pronouncements of the Traitor Queen. The commands of the Seraphic General are clear, and she gives them to everyone in her service.
Death to the DarknessEdit
This is perhaps the simplest order given. Kill the Darkness. Kill Darkspawn, kill Endarkened, kill Mnemosyne, kill Cataphracti, burn Tainted locations to the ground and salt the earth so that no-one returns to them. Of course, when it's your sister, who became Endarkened through no fault of her own, it's different for you. Not for the Queen of Storms. Every Endarkened is a potential Darkspawn.
The Flesh Is WeakEdit
This principle has rather more depth than might at first appear. It is simultaneously a warning, a message for self-improvement, a threat and a caution. It warns that human beings, whether mortal or Enlightened, cannot always maintain the level of dedication needed to save the world, and so that must be remembered, so that flagging souls may be spurred on further. It is a message that followers of Storms are weak physically, and so should strive to improve themselves, so that they may continue to fight better, by training and by, if they have access, Goalenu-made Grafts. It is a threat, because failure will not be tolerated. And it is a caution, because followers of Storms frequently push themselves harder than their bodies can stand, and so they will learn that they hurt themselves.
And finally it is a promise, for those who die from use of Tempesta Charms; they transcend their weak flesh, and become a Tattered Ghost.
Burn the World to Save the WorldEdit
The final statement is one of their purpose, and, again, it is both instruction and warning. Although the nature of their powers is such that they frequently cause collateral damage, it does not matter, as long as they are doing it to save the world. The opposite also stands; they are not like the Traitor Queen of Tears, and they do not drain the world for their own selfishness. Even in the rage-filled mind of the Queen of Storms, burning down an apartment to destroy the Tainted Site within it is completely different from random violence. Collateral damage is acceptable - indeed, even meaningless - but if it doesn't hurt the Darkness (as filtered through her warped perspective), it's wrong.
If asked, the Radiant will tell you that the duties of the Seraphim are summed up in a single word: Fight. Fight the Darkness until your last breath leaves your body, and then fight on until it’s purged from the world. This is essentially true, but it does gloss over the details. The “duties” of a Fury are the complex byproduct of her burning hate and the practical advantages of their Calling. Among young Enlightened and fresh recruits, the hate is bright like actinic lightning. All of them fight. Champions are the purest expression of the purgatorial violence of Storms’ call, but they are not alone. Graces empower and boost themselves and any allies they have with destructive hatred, ramping emotions up so they fight to the very last. Menders are armored titans whose control of their environment and their own bodies makes them surprisingly effective fighters. Seekers blind foes with illusions and hunt down targets who try to flee into Twilight, their magic homing in on the Darkness’ weaknesses. Finally, Troubadours control the battlefield with magic and illusions, and as heralds of Storms’ rage leave scenes of battle as a warning to those who would oppose them.
Older Furies tend to be a little more cynical about matters - or, rather, the ones who survive longer are the ones who are more mentally flexible. They are still driven by hate and rage, yes, but the burning emotions are banked, waiting. When they need them, fresh fuel is thrown onto the fire and they flare to terrible life, but until then they are better at thinking in the long run. The icy cold rage of an experienced Seraph is a terrifying thing to behold. Time and hatred has worn away any last inhibitions, and taught her every dirty trick. A young Fury might not care about collateral damage, but kicking down the door gives people some sort of warning, while a bomb does not. Experienced Furies can appear from nowhere in a whirlwind of destruction and vanish, leaving only the bodies of their enemies to mark their passing.
Unlike the five Radiant Courts, the Furies are not alone. Mortals who hate the Darkness may become Sworn to the service of the Seraphic General, and they can become allies and even companions to a Princess of Storms. It is among these cells, especially if multiple Seraphim are in a single cell, that more conventional Calling-based roles start to emerge. Champions take to the front, using their abilities to tie down the strongest opponents so their weaker allies are free to fight. Graces often gravitate to the unenviable task of trying to organize the cell, though most find it far easier to express their calling on the front line, blessing their allies and countering their enemies’ magic. A Mender often finds a specialty in arms and armaments and on the battlefield she heads where the fighting is thickest, taking the blows others cannot. Of all the Callings Menders are the closest to the terrible Goalenu, learning to maintain and repair Vessels and acquire the parts - one way or another - to construct fresh ones. Seekers make expert scouts and trackers, and when they find their foes the fury of the Storm is rarely far behind. A rare few have the will to overcome both Tempesta’s demands and their own hate, to scout and depart unseen. If you meet such a Seeker, fear her. Troubadours turn their hatred and combat into a macabre work of art, inspiring their allies in battle. When the fighting is over the more rational Troubadours use their skills to hide the Cell’s presence from the investigations righteous battle invariably spawns.</p>
For those who are called to the Queen of Storms from their Blossoming, one thing is frequently true. The world has treated them badly. Many of them were exposed to the World of Darkness before their blossoming, and the Seraphic Legion counts a notable number of former Hunters among it; some have retained their links, and both offer support and request assistance from their own allies. Others have broken homes, or anything else which would have exposed them to the things that people do. The Queen of Storms, for all her flaws, offers a home to such people, enables them to get back at the things in the world.
One of the notable things about the Queen of Storms is the sheer number of Twiceborn who join her ranks. In some ways, it is not surprising. The Twiceborn, those among the Hopeful who Blossomed in the long years before the Release, never knew the Kingdom. They are those who fought a desperate struggle against a world of darkness, and died. While those among the Kingdom-born can call upon their memories of a better time, the Twiceborn have seen the things that lurk in the shadows, and moreover many of them have served Storms in another life. Her call is the call of familiarity.
Disturbingly to the forces of the Radiant Queens, there are also those among the Seraphim who are not merely bereaved or distressed. There are those who appear to have logically thought about the state of the World of Darkness, and decided it is better that it burn than it be smothered in Darkness. Worse yet, this ideology can be attractive to inexperienced Princesses, especially since Storms can provide money, and training, and allies from the networks, and so such more-rational members tend to accumulate groups of younger Princesses, in the same way that the more experienced among the Radiant do. This is obviously a threat, but on the other hand, such cells are more willing to deal with the Radiant if doing so will aid them in the destruction of the Darkness. In such areas, Storms can become an uneasy ally, which usually lasts until the levels of collateral damage becomes unacceptable for more moral individuals.
Likewise, among the Radiant, there is a public perception that the Queen of Storms is the one of the Twilight Queens who gets the most defectors. In part, it is because of the relative publicity of such defectors (while Mirrors is subtle, and Tears tries to hide), but it is also true that the Queen of Storms offers much to a certain type of Noble. When one has seen too many friends (and, then their replacements, barely out of childhood) die, when one has seen the Darkness come back and ruin everything you've worked for, when one has had enough of vague platitudes from Queens who live in the Dreamlands and don't know what the world is like... well, then Storms, with its cells of organised mortal cultists, and its simple mission to destroy the Darkness no matter the cost, starts to sound awfully tempting.
The Queen of Storms not only admires strength, but demands it. Seraphim tend to have above-average Physical Attributes, with Stamina prized, because it allows them to keep going longer and absorb the negative consequences of the use of the Tempesta Invocation better. In addition, both Presence and Resolve are prized; the former is the force of will needed for a soldier, and the latter the ability to keep going, no matter the odds against you. And for individuals particularly deficient in these, there is always the option of Goalenu Grafts, which can boost attributes, but at a cost...
Heraldry: The colors of the Seraphic Legion are steel grey, brilliant acidic green, and white. These colors are proudly displayed, and mandatory; they are the Last Legion, who remain loyal to the idea of a Kingdom betrayed by its leaders. From this background, some would expect the clothing of Seraphim to tend to the militaristic and armored. In fact, although some have a certain harshness of trim, the peculiarities of the Tempesta armor Charm, Best Defense, mean that their garb is based around permitting as free movement as possible. Short skirts and shorts are common among both genders (although Princes prefer to call the skirts "kilts"), and where the clothing is not militaristic, it instead takes on elements of antiauthoritarian counter-cultures.
The Seraphic General sustains her acolytes in battle; the Furies can shrug off blows that would put down any lesser fighter, and strike all the harder as their own flesh bleeds. In either Transformed or mundane state, a Princess of Storms may spend 1 Wisp. For the rest of the scene, she reverses wound penalties into bonuses (-1 becomes +1, -2 becomes +2 -3 becomes +3) and does not check for unconsciousness if her last Health box fills with bashing damage.
When a Fury has Belief 8 or 9, the -1 wound penalty changes to a +2 bonus. When she has Belief 9, the -2 wound penalty changes to a +3 bonus. When she has Belief 10, all three wound penalties change into +3 bonuses.
The Invocation of Tempesta is the principle embodied and founded by the Queen of Storms, and which her Enlightened find come naturally to them. It is conceptually linked to several things, including anger, acid, radioactivity, martyrdom, cleansing and sterilising, and all things connected to these, allowing Invoked Upgrades and Invoked Charms to be based around them.
Tempesta has the unique disadvantage that many of its Charms inflict damage upon the user. This is counted as part of their activation cost, and so may not be bypassed. Damage so inflicted is Resistant, and so may not be healed by magical means of any kind, as the rage and hatred of Tempesta burns at the Enlightened body and soul alike. Should a character die due to damage from Tempesta Invocations, or bleed-out because of such damage, the character does not reincarnate, but instead becomes a Tattered Ghost. Because of these costs, many Tempesta Charms which have such a price are more powerful than equivalent ones which lack such painful payment.
Tempesta applies at no cost when a Princess has taken enough bashing damage to suffer wound penalties, or any amount of lethal or aggravated damage; and in the midst of violent storms, earthquakes, explosions or other widespread devastation. It also applies without cost when a Princess is fighting servants of the Darkness or agents of the Queen of Tears.
Those who would use Tempesta must be merciless and swift, striking without hesitation and never showing fear. Displays of mercy to those who have wronged the Princess or those she protects or loves, or retreating from battle, render this Invocation inapplicable until the sun next rises. (Pulling back from a foe for tactical advantage is acceptable; fleeing or refusing to fight is not.) If the target spared is a servant of the Queen of Tears or the Darkness, the Invocation cannot be used until the Princess's final health box is filled with damage, for their flesh cannot channel these powers until the weakness has been forced out through pain. (A Princess may injure herself to regain use of Tempesta; in fact, such penance is expected and encouraged among the Furies.)
- It doesn't matter if I die, just how many I take with me.
Clubs: So... when're you actually going to do something useful, then?
Diamonds: You're real smart. Now look at the real problem.
Hearts: The kind of cattle who followed the Traitor Queen into betrayal.
Spades: Yeah, let's go prank the Darkspawn on Fifth, who're there because some fucker killed his kids. That'll make things better.
Swords: We kinda get them. They just need to focus on the real problem.
Tears: You're in with the Darkness! Your Queen is a traitorous bitch! So just die already!
Mirrors: Arrogant blind self-righteous bastards.
Vampires: Bloodsucking parasites. The world will be a better place when you are all ash.
Werewolves: Sometimes... I just want to smash everything, too.
Mages: How the fuck did you do that!
Prometheans: They're like the Goalenu, I think. I saw one tear something that looked like a Darkspawn apart.
Changelings: Keep out of our way.
Sin-Eaters: Huh. I see a dead person who isn't dead anymore.
Mad Scientists: Who cares how the fuck this works, we can nuke Darkened from orbit with it.
Leviathans: I'm not running, not even from a fucking god. I hope I fucking give you indigestion.
Hunters: They get it, you know. We're like them.
Mortals: FUCK! How can you just sit back and... argh!