“You are not special. You are not the hero. Tens of millions of people on this planet surpass you in every art of arms and spellcraft at this exact moment. No god is going to save your lives, nor lost royalty give you their hearts. You are not the stuff of bard’s song, and it would shame me to feed worms with you. From this moment, you are nothing, until the moment you prove me wrong.” — Grand Inquisitor Mehud giving the Vigil’s Convocation of Initiates (informally called “Meat Shield Appreciation Day”), 1738 V.R.
No world exists where the title “Inquisitor” kindles optimism.
The Vigil’s elite have many other titles; they’re simply called Black Robes in the Ton-Ga, hailed as “Deathsbane” in Ilbarra, “soulbreakers” in northern Anseth and saviors among the Shards. They emerged in 1284 V.R. just three years before the Lich-Empress Binusi began her conquests. At first no one took these portentous newcomers seriously; it was hard to do so when they introduced themselves with rankings produced from thin air, claimed they’d regulate the use of magic, and that they wielded some unheard-of new spellcasting. Worst of all, they followed a single unheard-of mage: Pelari Tur.
Detractors referred to her as “the Tur fanatic,” “the lunatic from Stoßdär,” and many more unsavory things best left unsaid.
Then Evard the Wizened, often called the greatest Invoker in the world, stepped forward as the young woman’s mentor. Then the Vigil eradicated a nest of necromancers plotting to kill Vislyka, crown princess of Temana, and use her corpse for a puppet. A would-be Lich fell in the Barren-Age ruins beneath Hanir, a rogue court sorcerer met his end in a spectacular mountain-top duel against Pelari herself. Day by day, the Vigil’s successes mounted, their numbers grew, and even vaunted orders like the Brethren Warlocks and Arcane Alliance, survivors from the Age of Splendors, conceded the new order’s power.
Their deeds in the long war against Binusi from 1287 V.R. to 1291 made the Vigil living legends, and need more space than this entry alone can offer. Afterward, no one could deny the Vigil’s importance, or its power. Monarchs grudgingly opened their countries to the burgeoning order, and recruitment swelled. The Vigil settled to the long task of rooting out arcane ne’er-do-wells across Canno.
Above all, they sought necromancers.
With Binusi’s soul-binding now etched on public memory, only the tiniest portion of Ansethi had anything to say against the Vigil’s encroachment. Even tribes in the more distant parts of the Shards who fear and distrust mages were willing to accept them. After all, if the Vigil’s investigations found anything, they removed local mages, and the Inquisitors left–fewer mages in the end!
Stoßdär’s people, along with most other kingdoms in the Black Havens, emerged early as the Vigil’s staunchest supporters. Necromancers and various undead enclaves once flourished in the empty tropical hills and dead volcanoes of the Black Havens, menacing any who traveled too far from the safety of their harbor towns. These lurkers became rather shy after Pelari publicly executed one group by peeling the outer flesh from their genitals and magically inducing rot. In short order, their fellows were all hunted down and butchered in similarly gruesome fashion.
Despite fame and infamy alike, the public knows little more of the Vigil’s origins than they did before Binusi’s war. Pelari seems to have sprung from the ether; beyond her austere appearance and fanaticism, arcane scholars believe she may be the most naturally powerful mage of the era. None can explain how someone so strong went unnoticed for so long, or met the famously reclusive Evard. Her followers are an even greater mystery. Their magic behaves like no known casting form, and most full Inquisitors have kept even their names from public knowledge.
(Part 2 to come)
(More from Canno)