The basic pattern of this Humakt pilgrimage fits many hero cults (see Tales of the Reaching Moon #5). The particular pilgrimage below honors a semi-divine hero named Spathar. This pilgrimage is the only way to gain magic from him. The pilgrimage site is in Sartar, on Humakt's Hill. There, Spathar became a hero, and there Humakt buried his body. Unfortunately, Humakt's Hill lies perilously close to a troll wood, and within the territory of the wolf-worshiping Telmori. Thus, this pilgrimage involves a fair amount of danger.
Spathar belonged to a now-vanished tribe of demi-gods that opposed the Storm pantheon. Spathar renounced his heritage, and vowed to serve Humakt. His fellow tribesmen bound his limbs to prevent him from doing so. They left him on Humakt's Hill to suffer his fate. However, Humakt rewarded his devotion by sending a spirit to break his bonds. Spathar served Humakt faithfully. When he died, Humakt buried his body on the Hill.
Becoming One with the Sword. To prepare for this pilgrimage, the pilgrim must spend at least a week in continual readiness to fight. This requires keeping the sword unsheathed, wearing armor all day, and gripping the sword most of the time. It is permitted to hang the sword around one's neck instead of gripping it, as long as the handle is touching one's skin. The pilgrim should practice his swordfighting skills during waking hours. To participate in a real fight almost guarantees success in the pilgrimage.
The pilgrim must eat only with his dagger. He must be silent as much as possible. He must have his head and beard shaved and nails trimmed on the day of departure.
If a group of pilgrims plans to go, they must conduct a first blood tournament to choose a leader. If anyone accidentally dies in the tournament, the pilgrimage cannot continue. The killer becomes an inactive initiate, and ill luck will befall the group.
Every pilgrim must spill blood on the ground during the preparation. The losers in the tournament will do so by virtue of losing. The winner of the tournament, or a pilgrim travelling alone, must spill his own blood.
The Journey. During the trip to the Hill, the pilgrims must grip their unsheathed swords. They must not use any non-cult magic (or allow its use on them). They must not speak to any non-cultist. Ambushes and poison are forbidden.
The pilgrims will certainly face a foe at some point. They may not climb the Hill until the group has slain at least one foe in face-to-face combat. Common foes include trolls, telmori, and Sartarite tribesmen. The pilgrims must fight fairly, even if their foes do not. They may not slay any foe from behind. They may not slay any foe who surrenders, or who drops his weapon. If a foe falls down, the pilgrims must wait for him to rise or to attack from the ground.
Severing the Bonds. At the Hill, the pilgrims enact the bondage and freeing of Spathar. If a group is present, they tie their leader to a tree near the top of the hill. If a single pilgrim is present, he ties himself to a tree as best he can. The tied pilgrim remains there for a day and a night. The other pilgrims must withdraw to a place where the tied pilgrim can neither hear them nor see them. They must remain out of sight except to fight cult enemies. Cult enemies often try to kill the helpless pilgrim. If the tied pilgrim is still alive after the day and night pass, a Humakt spirit visits him. If he is dead, the pilgrimage has failed and the survivors suffer disgrace.
One cannot renounce one's clan more than once. If a pilgrim severed his ties and then joined another clan, he could sever the later tie by performing this pilgrimage again. If the pilgrim has no tribe or clan, then the Humakt spirit will not appear.
The Humakt spirit appears in the guise of an old man of the pilgrim's tribe. He offers to release the pilgrim if he will return to the tribe and forswear Humakt. The old man will always keep his word. If the pilgrim agrees, he loses his membership in Humakt, although he still must obey his geas(es) and Resurrection will not work on him. The other pilgrims cannot benefit from skill checks or POW checks made on the pilgrimage, but may return home without penalty.
If the pilgrim refuses, the old man compromises, offering to release the pilgrim if he will merely return to the tribe. If the pilgrim agrees, the pilgrimage ends. No pilgrim gains any special benefits or suffers any special loss. The pilgrims may resolve their checks normally.
If the pilgrim refuses that, the old man offers to free the pilgrim if he will accept the old man's blessing on behalf of the tribe. The pilgrim may then accept without dishonor. The old man will release him and bless him. The pilgrimage continues, and the pilgrim retains his membership in his clan.
If the pilgrim refuses, the old man will threaten to kill the pilgrim. If the pilgrim then agrees to the old man's terms, he suffers disgrace. He loses a point of Honor and cannot benefit from the pilgrimage. If the pilgrim still refuses, the old man puts his knife to the pilgrim's throat. The pilgrim feels the cold steel, whose merest touch draws blood.
If the pilgrim refuses once more, the old man cuts the pilgrim's throat. Instead of dying, however, the pilgrim realizes that only his spiritual throat has been cut. All the air rushes out of him, and honor replaces it. The pilgrim gains a point of Honor. The dagger severs the pilgrim's ties to his tribe. He permanently loses his membership in ancestor-worship cults, founder cults, city cults, or culture-defining cults like Orlanth, Waha, Malkion, or Yelm. Note that this is the only way known to cease being a Malkioni.
The pilgrim loses any magical benefit he had as a result of his former kinship, including divine spells learned from the lost cult. He cannot use magic items limited to members of his former kin-groups. He cannot hold political office in his former kin group. He will not be reincarnated into that kin-group. It is as if he had never been a member.
Then the old man cuts the pilgrim's bonds, and introduces himself as a Humakt spirit. If the pilgrim is a Sword without an allied spirit, the spirit becomes his ally. It has INT 18 and POW 18, and knows Bladesharp 6, Parry 6, and Heal 6. It refuses to learn any other spells.
Following Death. In this stage, the pilgrims act out Spathar's deeds in the service of Humakt. Usually, they invade the Daytime Woods, near the hill, searching for anyone whom they are not forbidden to kill. Sometimes they find Praxians on Battle Ridge. Sometimes, parties of pilgrims strike north, until they find trolls, or trolls find them. Still other pilgrims attack the Telmori, even though arousing their wrath makes the rest of the pilgrimage difficult. During this portion, each pilgrim must at least wound an enemy. The group will return to the hill, bearing the bodies of any pilgrim who dies. The souls of the dead go directly to Humakt's Lodge. There, they will serve under Spathar.
Burial upon the Hill. If any pilgrim died during the previous stage, the remaining pilgrims bury his or their bodies now. They perform the usual Humakt funeral service, ending with the breaking of the warrior's sword. If no pilgrim died, then all the pilgrims must again shed their blood. In such a case, wounded pilgrims must reopen their wounds. The burial or shedding of blood occurs within a cross-shaped area at the top of the hill. The arms of the cross are ten meters wide and fifty meters long. The head is twenty meters wide by thirty meters long, and the foot is twenty meters wide by one hundred meters long. That area marks the burial place of Spathar. The soil there is red, and the stones are white. The central twenty-by-twenty meter square is of red stone.
Spathar teaches two divine spells. A pilgrim can only obtain one of them per pilgrimage, but may obtain multiple uses of it. He must sacrifice the POW for the spell.
Break Bonds 1 point, touch, instant, stackable, reusable
This spell breaks or undoes all bonds holding the target. If the bonds are enchanted, such as a Waha Rope, slave bracelets, or Armoring Enchantment, the stacking of Break Bonds must be greater than the POW of the enchantment. For this purpose, a Waha Rope is a 3 POW enchantment, and slave bracelets and collars add together and count 1 point of enchantment each. Against non-magical bounds, each stacking affects an additional target.
Sever Relationship 2 points, touch, instant, stackable, non-reusable
This spell only affects willing targets. The target specifies which one relationship he wishes to end. The spell will end that relationship. The spell can affect relationships with individuals, groups, and gods. It can remove a chaos taint if the caster succeeds in overcoming the MP of the agent that caused the chaos taint. With creatures born tainted, the spell must overcome the target's POW.
Mystic Insight: an initiate can take another gift and geas. A Sword can get Sever Spirit for two points of POW (once). If the pilgrim takes advantage of this opportunity, he gains an insight into the nature of severance. Put in its most tepid and platitudinal terms, it is this: for every gain, there is a loss, and vice versa. Rather than merely hearing this, the pilgrim KNOWS it in his heart. The gift in itself is a boon and bane. The geas in itself is a virtue and a vexation. Likewise the loss of the two points of POW, and the gain of Sever Spirit, are in themselves both blessings and curses.
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