Askurgan Trueblades

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Askurgan Trueblades is an ascetic order of Soulblight Vampires that seek to follow the ways of the ancient Askurga Renkai.

Origin

The Askurgan Trueblades were formed with the arrival of the Era of the Beast. Vampires who are in a struggle against their bestial nature were heavily affected by the primal magic that crashed through the cosmos resulting in widespread chaos as entire dynasties collapsed with their members going insane or devolving into abominations. Some vampires took to the new era as a time of testing and guided by visions took pilgrimages to the mountain of Ghur. The few that didn't succumb to the beasts of the realm or to their own blood-lust discovered the sanctuaries of the Askurga Renkai where they found tomes and esoteric wargear of the fallen order. They studied and adopted the rites of their predecessors. Seeking to overcome their base urges by martial excellence they dubbed themselves the Askurgan Trueblades, the reborn Askurga Renkai.[1a]

Beliefs

Similar to the fallen order of the Askurga Renkai the Askurgan Trueblades avoid drinking the blood of mortals and instead hunt down and feast upon the gore beasts. They also do not sire vampires as they consider the Blood Kiss as a gateway for monstrous desires. They avoid engaging in politics or using magic in battle, instead, they dedicate themselves entirely to the arts of the warrior. While their armor is embellished to look similar to that of mortal remains they look down on taking trophies of weak mortals and the coarse ropes they tie around their waists symbolize their tether to the human form. When forced into battle with mortals they will fight back and often may handicap themselves to better improve their abilities. [1a]

The Trueblades prefer to stay in seclusion and avoid contact with outsiders but have gained a fearsome reputation as beast-slayers, a fact that they take immense pride in. Other undead often use their pride to seek their aid in slaying terrible beasts, claiming that only the Askurgan Trueblades could slay such beasts.[1a]

Rituals

All Askurgan Trueblades participate in hunts of the massive Ghurish beasts after which they ritualistically drain them of gore under the watchful gaze of their peers. While this beast-blood sustains them it also inflames their curse but this is the point as these vampires believe that they need to face the inner monster in order to defeat it.[1a]

Unlucky outsiders who trespassed on their hunting grounds are captured and slowly exsanguinated while Aspirant Truebloods meditate in front of them as these vampires attempt to deny the temptations from the tantalizing screams and the aroma of blood. Some may even take it even further by trapping themselves in coffin-like structures alongside living sacrifices, denying their hunger for days. After their use is finished these victims are used to feed Fell Bats.[1a]

Units

Askurgan Exemplars

Exemplars are masters who have confronted their bestial nature many times and has always emerged the victor. They can be found meditating upon platforms surrounded by lakes of blood or on mountaintops surrounded by pounding storms. Their life is of sanguine provocation and martial refinement, awaiting the next test of their martial skill. An Exemplar is almost impossible to defeat one-on-one and even titanic beasts of Ghur face a tough challenge as against such entities these vampiric remove all of their restraints on their unholy speed and ferocity, reaping a massive toll with their twin blades. Many Askurgan vampires dream of learning weapon arts directly from such masters but approaching one means they must first get through the copious amounts of gore that surround the exemplars without succumbing to the beast within.[1b]

Askurgan Ascetics

Ascetics are the elite warriors of the order that seek transcendence through battle, searching for secrets that could not be found from contemplative study alone. These warriors fight through the carnage of battle until they are knee-deep in gore yet through battle-mantras and the martial kata that allows them to appear as blurring specters they repress their hunger. Their status allows them to chose weapons from the vaults of the ancient Askurga Renkai and many chose long-hafted galives or giant maces that could split the bones of giant beasts.[1b]

Askurgan Acolytes

Acolytes are new recruits of the Trueblades, many having just received the Blood Kiss and horrified by their new existence seek out the order to learn how to control their eternal thirst. Reaching the secluded sanctums alone is proof of their potential but they further prove themselves to their new kin by mastering the skill to deliver precise blows without the gory theatrics many other vampires prefer. In battle, they either wield two-handed falchions or roped sickles called "throat-takers". [1b]

Cursebloods

Cursebloods are the result of Trueblades losing the battle against their inner beast. The result is a hideous and painful transformation with muscles growing larger and larger while facial bones elongate into a maw. The rope that symbolizes the Askurgan lay flapping around their waists as if mocking them. Yet they are truly mindless, having just enough self-awareness to avoid attacking their fellow vampires and go after more tantalizing prey in a berzerk fury of claws that could even sunder armor. Worse their howls channel the power of the bloodlust long denied that could induce an immobilizing terror even within the hearts of veterans. While other undead regard Cursebloods with disgust they also feel an unease as they also face the same beast and they could have been the ones to falter.[1b]

Askurgan Pariahs

Pariahs are rare Cursebloods that manage to leash the beast and regain their humanoid form. To revert they must engage in a harrowing trial observed by another vampire ready to execute the shifter in case of failure as the process risks the curseblood losing any remaining sanity. Even if they survive the physical marks never fade and must live on the margins of their society both respected and feared as despite being able to regain control one that slipped the leash may fall again. Despite their self-loathing, the transformation gives them a close connection to undead beasts and often employs chiropteran creatures as scouts and to harry distant enemies. They also retain some of their bestial strength which when combined with skill and cunning are fearsome combatants which have led some within the order to whisper that they are the natural evolution of their creed. [1b]

Sources