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The Pictish Empire

History

The Pict once ruled over all of Lyrendor in ancient times. Their nature has always been strongly tribal - ancient proverbs joked about spotting a lone pict as something that would almost never happen, and therefore meant you were a lucky individual. While most at home in the jungle and woodlands, the pict have been known to settle in plains when it was necessary. Their long-standing history of violence has left them eager to shed blood at every opportunity they can get - the humans of Lyrendor did not have an easy time finding their place in the world, constantly being raided and pillaged by pictish warriors since the beginning of time. 

Pictish magic takes three forms: Elemental, shadow, and blood. In their early days, the pict were partial only to elemental magic, until their first meeting with a bat demon.

Nine thousand years before the formation of the Order, the Hemokin (or Vampires in the common tongue) sent three Athrakar (A.K.A Blood Fathers or Bat Demons) into pictish territory to observe them. The Athrakar had been servants of the Hemokin since the dawn of creation, but they operated in a strange partnership. The Hemokin drew power from the Athrakar, but also ruled over them. Surprisingly to the Hemokin, the Pict viewed this visitation as an event of prophecy, and they began to worship the  Athrakar, calling them 'Bat Demons' and learning about Shadow and Blood magic from them. 

The Hemokin viewed this as opportunity to establish control over the Pict.  For thousands of years the Hemokin manipulated the Pict through the Athrakar, with the intention to some day rally the Pict as an army for their own cause. Over time the Athrakar also taught the Pict how to summon more Athrakar, taking the responsibility and the huge costs away from the Hemokin themselves. Additionally, the Pict were devoted to empowering the Athrakar, furthering still the motives of the Hemokin.

The Pict are pawns and do not know it.

The Pict

The Pict are a race of primitive, tribal humanoids that worship bat demons. They often conduct dark rituals using skulls of both their prey and their own fallen kin. The Pict have an ancient crypt by the Coast in the Wildlands in which they store their dead. In their culture, taking a skull from your kinfolk before their skin has decayed will leave you cursed. So, they pile their dead in the crypt and harvest the skulls when they are ready. Skull rituals can do any number of things, but the primary use is to summon a bat demon. There are very few bat demons alive today, as the summoning procedure is so taxing. 

Skull Rituals

Summoning a Bat Demon:

Eight pictish ritualists must arrange themselves in a ring, each with a pile of fifty skulls behind them. A rune must be drawn on the ground by a ninth participant that connects all eight ritualists. If a ritualist's foot is moved before the ritual is complete, all eight of them will die instantly. When the rune is drawn, a light will travel around it, stopping on a single ritualist. When this happens, the ritualist has a single second to smash a skull onto the center of the rune. If they fail, all participants will die. This process repeats four hundred times in total, over the course of 6 hours. At any time, the rune may pulse red, which means it requires a blood sacrifice. All participants must dispense a drop of blood onto the rune within 7 seconds or all of them will die. On rarer occasions, the light itself may turn red, which means whoever it stops on next must sacrifice their life. Within 10 seconds they must kill themselves and fall onto the rune. The ninth participant must then spread the skulls out evenly between the remaining ritualists. In very rare ocassions, the rune may turn purple, which means a drop of King's Blood must be dispensed onto the rune. (This blood can be from a past or present king, but they must be human. Years ago, the Pictish people laid siege to a human stronghold and slew the King. They siphoned every last drop of his blood into vials which they now store in the crypt also.)  

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