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She is largely 'what you see', which isn't much. A darkly garbed woman in flowing robes where very little flesh is shown at all. The robes she wears look ragged but it is a visual illusion, closer inspection could reveal that they are very richly tailored and clean. By extension, the woman emits no odor other than magical auras that may betray her fel affiliation.
She appears to move slowly and smoothly, constantly with a purpose. Most times, she uses her staff as a walking stick, always prepared for the unexpected.
Personality and Lifestyle
The Matriarch is not a social person and being the leader of a cult usually means her actions are in an administrative capacity. She hears complaints, and has the final word on various situations. She speaks in a slow, low tone, and utilizes language to its fullest capacity.
Some may find this intimidating, but her mental processes work differently and she doesn't quite understand why her version of "small talk" seems condescending to others. Her compliments are often (accidentally) underlined with veiled insults, when in truth she really is trying to be sociable. This "effect" fades once she gets to know someone after a length of time, but this is rare as she keeps people at arm's length.
Most people that meet her often find her sitting, reading, and sipping at the occasional wineglass. Very few see her depths, which involves a surprisingly lovely singing voice and a very poetic mind.
The Matriarch's powers are extensive. She has touched on just about every forbidden magic she has been able to get her hands on. From the dangerous study of Vitae to the madness of Void energies, she's studied and used it all at some point.
However, her primary focus (As it always has been), is Blood Magic. She is able to manipulate most organic lifeforms and can otherwise use blood to fuel various combative magics. To this end, she usually has some on hand in various containers.
Her absolute control over blood magic allows her to heal at an almost insane level - to the point of restructuring bones and returning lost limbs.
Her magical focus is very specific, mostly regarding the darker arts. Her knowledge of Arcane, Frost, and others is limited.
Firstly, she has limited range. Her primary form of combat is Blood, which relies heavily on line of sight. If she cannot see her enemy, chances are she is not currently using a spell against them.
Secondly, she doesn't have much in the way of technological superiority. Her blades are usually simple, though her Ritual Dagger is ornate and specially crafted (But is not used for general combat). She wears light armor at best because of her ability to regenerate rapidly.
Also, while she can use most organic blood as fuel for her magic, she is often tripped up by finding a creature or species whose blood she is unfamiliar with. This is detrimental for general control so instead she attempts to retrieve some blood and flee, for further study so that she may later be able to face the enemy.
She may have the dexterity, endurance (etc) of an Athlete, most of her general body conditioning is not specially superpowered.
The usual strategy of killing someone with rapid healing is decapitation. This does work to a certain extent, however her soul is split across the world, so her soul would simply be recycled after an incalculable amount of time. She tries to avoid this however, as it's not a comfortable process and it would take her out of whatever she's doing, from days to months.
She operates under different thought processes than most, uses large words, and doesn't think much of anyone around her. As a result, she is typically not well liked upon a first impression and it is not ideal for her to be in heavily social situations.
The Matriarch travels light, but does have a chained coinpurse for minor around-the-town purchases.
Her staff is probably her most valuable possession, it practically screams fel and blood. Anyone not practiced in dark magics may suffer ill effects upon touching it.
She has an ornate ritual dagger sheathed within her sleeve. Due to its design, it is unlikely for self defense.
Gnosis Genealogia translates to "Hidden Knowledge of the Lineage," or "Bloodline". It is the blood cult in which Narzul (as "The Matriarch") currently leads. Its ancient history was a gathering of historians marking down family trees to dictate leadership within tribes, clans, and factions. Over time their study branched out and evolved into a magic-based academy.
The cult has shifted through several names, some involving the word "Blood" which led to a general stigma in the magical community. Blood Magic has been banned on and off consistently since the founding of this "Academy," and is no stranger to political turmoil.
The cult was founded with the aim of magical study, an off-shoot of the usual leaders at the time. They did not originally plan to delve into the forbidden arts, but considering most of the founders were blood mages, it was the logical direction. This was soon proven right when they studied it in secret, recruiting acolytes to their cause.
Blood Magic was already taboo at the time and not much changed to remedy this. The aforementioned acolytes became obsessed with the concept and lusted for power, which led to several avoidable serial murders and the cult was ordered to be disbanded. This would time and again over the course of centuries of the Order's creation.
This process repeated itself several times before a man came in to finally give it "Direction", which included strict rules in recruiting and operation. This would date a few decades ago, where this man self-titled as "The Headmaster" began the road to respect. To an extent, he was successful.
Narzul came into play a mere ten years ago. After being wounded in The Battle of Abensberg in Lordaeron, a doctor noticed Narzul's fascination with blood and its properties. It was an academic obsession and was therein recruited to the cult.
Her leadership was a recent development after The Headmaster's betrayal, a title she holds with a moderate amount of contempt. However due to her actions, she gained the trust of a Magical Council and the cult's reputation is on the way to recovery.
Culture and Practices
Gnosis is hosted in Ravenrooke, a seemingly abandoned town hidden in the mountains of the world. The town once hosted a population of ninety-thousand (Approximately) but is now the host of The Matriarch's blood cult. The town is now in ruins from a mysterious attack when investigators found nothing but severe damage, yet no bodies. Blood littered the place and it seemed like there was an attack, however there are no leads as to what happened.
The town was forsaken, and The Matriarch now uses its underground, to host Gnosis Genealogia.
Gnosis Genealogia is comparable to that of an Academy. There are classes and lectures, but what separates it from normal studies is its cult-like properties. Largely the abandonment of one's previous life, the titles and masks. They don't generally refer to themselves as a cult, going with "Academy" but it certainly shares a few traits.
Recruiting is difficult because they seek people of even mind and temperament, people who look to study forbidden arts with a mind for knowledge - not for power. This is why their numbers are generally low, because finding acolytes is a slow process. However most leaders earn themselves immortality through blood magic, so they have the time to search.
Recruits become "Acolytes" and are introduced to a tiered system wherein promotions lead to more permissions and responsibilities. Acolytes must abandon their previous life, often by faking their own death, and live with the Gnosis for the foreseeable future.
After a few advancements the Acolytes abandon their birth name and take up a title, usually a descriptor of some kind but there is leeway for creativity.
A few other examples are as such;
"The Levee", representing a barrier between the cult and those who may do them harm.
"The Engineer", representing someone who fashions equipment for the cult.
"The Architect", representing someone who strategizes on the cult's behalf.
"The Invader", representing someone who leads the footsoldiers.
"The Seeker", representing an Acolyte who believes their primary focus is the search of information.
It is this point in which they must abandoned their birthname, forever becoming a part of Gnosis.
The most (in)famous examples in the cult's history are;
"The Headmaster", named for being one of the most favored Professors at the time.
"The Matriarch", named for being a natural-born leader.
"The Nocturnal", a highly ranked member known for his affinity to the night.
Around the time they earn their title, they also earn a mask. The designs can vary but there are "uniform" masks depending on what function a cultist serves. For example, the footsoldiers or "Enforcers" of the cult usually have the same design. Beyond that, most are free to contact the local artist and design a mask. This also extends upon a custom robe when a cultists hits the upper echelons of leadership.
The masks can be unique to each cultist but as mentioned before, there are "uniform" variants that can be seen among dozens.
The masks serves two purposes.
The first is to protect one's identity for when they visit the waking world. After all, their identity is usually that of the deceased and it wouldn't be practical for them to be recognized.
The second is uniformity. Wearing a mask symbolizes that a cultist is part of a greater concept than themselves.
The Headmaster's Betrayal
The Headmaster is an extremely powerful Blood Mage that took The Matriarch under his wing, back when she was still known as "Narzul". He had been leader of the cult for around a hundred and fifty years before Narzul came around. He had suffered through all the political and public issues that still affect the cult today.
He was very kind to Narzul, reminding him of himself. She looked at the forbidden arts as another puzzle to uncover, not a means of power and control. He had the same philosophy, which was the reason the cult was so renowned as being "one of the only good ones".
Under his patronage, Narzul spent the few years or so within the vast halls of the underground. Her interest in the forbidden arts caught the attention of local Magisters, but The Headmaster was always there to cover her side, in an almost lawyer-like capacity.
Over time, the Gnosis cult was undergoing one of its greatest golden ages (There weren't many). Under The Headmaster's patronage, Gnosis Genealogia was a respected mystical organization until a series of two events slingshot them back down into the "Murder Incorporated" type stereotype.
It began with their Patron, a blood God named ¦¦¦¦¦¦¦¦¦. The cult had begun having issues with an unnamed splinter group. It was a powerful student and several of his closest confidants. They began a ritual to exploit it, their initial plans was to tap into its power directly. After a time they decided to attempt to absorb it directly. The head of this group took a large portion of the cult under the guise of an "Experiment", a common term at the time. It was there that their ritual mostly succeeded - just not into the intended target. Instead, Narzul was present and she then absorbed the entity, giving her centuries worth of information.
The Headmaster arrived with several of his top Professors and the student who led this Ritual was executed within minutes. They turned to Narzul, and brought her to the highest of magical hierarchy at the time. This was an attempt at diplomacy, a sign of good will that they still bow to the laws.
She was held in a castle for a few weeks while The Headmaster, as usual, continued to be on her side with the higher ups. She defended herself well, showing everyone that she had no plans to meltdown into a power trip that the original group had planned. Eventually the castle came under attack by enemy necromancers and thanks to the present Blood Mage's aid, repelled the attack.
Narzul, having been instrumental in the defense of a few of the world's greatest Magisters, was then rewarded her Mask and title of "The Matriarch". She then began teaching within the cult, as her expertise was near The Headmaster's himself.
The reputation of Blood Mages in general was never better - but this age of respect did not last long.
Several months had past and The Matriarch met with The Headmaster. Between the lines of the conversion, she had deduced that he was behind most of what had happened to her - starting with the Ritual.
It was he, whom arranged his top student to attempt it.
It was he, whom gave necromancers the intel needed to attack.
It was he, whom arranged Narzul specifically to be the greatest defense of the attack. He ordered the students present to back off while Narzul took the brunt of the necromancer's hostility, coming out on top. Looking like a hero, and improving the reputation of his cult and Blood Mages in general.
He betrayed his top student and betrayed Narzul, pushing her up beyond her station.
She did not immediately mention how hurt she was by this, that she should have earned her own way with the Magisters. She continued this by going to the Magisters themselves and informing them of all she had learned. They respected her trust and The Headmaster was made an enemy of all who use magic.
The Matriarch was then promoted by the Magisters to lead Gnosis Genealogia, though their numbers had diminished after the public reveal of The Headmaster's treachery.
He continues to respect The Matriarch and her power, but their methods and philosophy became too different and are now enemies. It is a very polite rivalry, and one that is a bit too evenly matched for The Matriarch's comfort. However they both plan to execute each other, whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Mages and its varieties may have heard of her as well as her cult, likely named in various obscure tomes and books.
By extension, her real name has rarely been used and hasn't been spoken or written in a decade or more, and should be reserved for the highest of mage ranks.
Above Good and Evil
Academy of Adventure / This is actually a plotpoint in cult related subplots..
Anti Villain / A whole cult of them.
Sliding Scale of Anti Villains / Type III usually.
Badass Normal / Strangely enough, she mostly resorts to martial arts and absolutely wrecks people. Blood Magic comes into play against tougher enemies, or if a fight has gone on too long.
Bad Powers, Good People / Due to the strict screening process, 99% of Gnosis cultists are pleasant people. It's the other 1% that's the problem.
Creepy Monotone / She is capable of some inflection but mostly played straight.
Dangerous Forbidden Technique / Everything The Matriarch strives to learn.
Dark Action Girl / The Matriarch, natch.
Friendly Neighborhood Vampires / They're not actually vampires of course, just their dynamic and lust fo knowledge regarding everything about Blood.
From Nobody to Nightmare
Gratuitous Latin / Subverted! The cult name is actually Greek.
Helmets Are Hardly Heroic / Averted. Her mask is bulletproof.
Human Sacrifice / See below.
Hunter Of His Own Kind / The cult usually solves any problems with rogue bloodmages in-house. Execution is a common verdict.
Lawful Evil / Most of the cult operates under this, though they don't call themselves "evil".
No-Holds-Barred Beatdown / Her martial art style is usually ends in such a way that not only can her enemy not get back up, but they don't even want to.
Not Good With People / Type 2.
Serial Killer Killer / How the cult usually farms "resources" to study.
The Call Knows Where You Live / The Matriarch turned down several advancements and effectively doubled the amount of time it took normal Acolytes to advance.
The Dark Arts
Took A Level In Badass / Went from your standard-fare Acolyte to one of the most feared Blood Mages.
With Great Power Comes Great Insanity / A risk the cult takes.
Wizarding School / One of the least reputable out there, on the rise thanks to The Matriarch's guidance.