|Symptoms||The Ezekiel Affliction is hard to detect. Outside of seeing them in their Skeletal form, there is no way to identify an Ezekiel.|
Far from the binary oppositions of life and death and the Void and the Exist, beings roam the world that do not truly affiliate with any of these, called the Unspoken Gods. The Ezekiel are the servants of one such Unspoken God, Selëya the Goddess of ancient lore, secrets, mysteries, forgotten legends, and dark magics. The Ezekiel have accepted the dark pact with Selëya to satisfy their hunger for lost knowledge, scouring the world for long lost tomes and hidden places of learning to add to their own, a never ending search for greater knowing. By unlocking the secrets of the past, the Ezekiel weaponize their knowledge for the future, either by using knowledge itself as a tool for subjugation, or by harnessing the dark magics held within these lost treasures as a weapon to enforce their secretive might.
The exact origin of the Ezekiel is, much like their work, shrouded in mystery. The Ezekiel sing praise to Selëya the Goddess of ancient secrets, herself a so-called Unspoken God. Unspoken Gods are divine beings without a Religion attached to them, created through emotional manifestation, where something is felt so strongly across the world that it can manifest in the spontaneous birth of a divine being. Sëleya herself was born from the desire for secrets, the lust for knowing, the willpower to find hidden libraries and archives, and discover all the lost gems within. She is known as a malicious Unspoken God, who pries the minds of the unwilling for their deepest secrets, and enjoys extracting hidden information to the anguish of her victims. She resides in dark and lost forgotten places, often appearing to those who are near-death to offer them a bargain for their soul. While Void and Exist beings have shown no interest in souls, the Unspoken Gods have appeared more favorable to the process of binding souls to their eternal service, and as such, the Ezekiel were born one day.
The how or why is unknown, but it is said that the first Ezekiel was Zeer-Kahel the Graverobber. His tale starts in the city of Marjataïr of Al-alus, where he was but a simple bottom-feeding Sariyd criminal, a street-urchin having turned peddler who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. As a member of the Haliq’afa crime ring, he did simple jobs running errands for the overlord. One day, he stumbled onto the ruins of Zarq-Fatinh Aslaqqa while on a simple delivery mission in the desert, a massive library that was buried deep in the sands, holding many secrets of the Sariyd Empire’s Scripters that had long been swallowed by the deserts. He stumbled into the library that was half-submerged in sand, driven by unfortunate curiosity. Tragically, due to his bad preparation or perhaps ignorance, Zeer-Kahel's rope snapped and he fell thirty feet, straight onto a broken table with shards of wood impaling his legs.
As Zeer-Kahel lay dying, blood caking the sand, and the light from the hole from where he came slowly dying as the cold of night started setting in, he cursed his own incompetence. To make matters worse, the ruins of Zarq-Fatinh Aslaqqa had long been looted empty; there was no shine of gold, no old Artifacts to loot and sell. And yet, he refused to accept death in this moment, even if his life had been a miserable disaster from one to another, he would at least go out on his own terms. In agony, he tried to crawl to find a way out, dragging his impaled, useless legs around. In his delirium, he had not even noticed the young porcelain-white girl that was following him slowly, a curious face peering down at this young man's tragedy with curiosity and perhaps a hint of pity. He turned at a certain point, not believing the girl was real, presuming it was a hallucination of his blood-loss. The girl asked him if he would bargain for his life, which he decided to muse as he had given in to his presumed end, and chose to go out with some amusement. Much to his surprise however, the girl rapidly changed into a massive spider-like creature with the upper body of a fair woman, but a beastly and monstrous stomach jaw that appeared more like a bottomless pit with teeth than a mouth, its tongue extending to him as if seeking things to consume. The hungering creature started consuming him, but instead of actually eating him, it ate his flesh off his bones, leaving his bones intact. As his flesh left him, he did not feel pain, but rather just cold, coldness all around him.
Just as quickly as the girl changed did she disappear again. For a moment Zeer-Kahel tried to inspect himself, no longer in pain, and in full skeletal being, but before he could properly register what had happened, he too felt a hunger. It was like his mind would suddenly snap, no longer capable of higher reason or thought, he became as stupid as a hungry beast that only knew how to eat, and he started to eat the books around him, the dusty tomes in languages that he could not understand. He consumed their crumbling pages, almost as if driven by some higher power, fragments of pages, book covers, sometimes even just dust and ashes left behind from rotten papyrus. And with each book he consumed, he could feel his sanity returning to him. Days of consuming turned to weeks, weeks turned to months, months to years, and before long, he had been endlessly consuming books for nearly 50 years, until he heard a scream of another unfortunate traveler, one that had fallen from the same hole he had once descended, and comically, fallen onto the same broken table he had. He wandered closer, skittish at first, but curious after, as the terrified visitor yelled at the creature to go away. Zeer-Kahel could not understand him, for he spoke in a funny language, but as his blood seeped into the sand beneath him, Zeer-Kahel felt pity, perhaps the same pity the porcelain girl had felt. He too offered the unfortunate soul a bargain for his life with his Zerenomicon, a book of ancient lore he had put together from pages of different books in the library. The man accepted, and so the second Ezekiel was born.
When the two left the forgotten library, ascending with Zeer-Kahel’s dark magics learned from the many dusty pages, Zeer-Kahel’s sanity had been fully restored, and there was a newfound wisdom and knowledge in him. He could recall the last fifty years, the years in which he had lived like an ever-hungering and consuming creature. The knowledge he had consumed had brought order to chaos in his mind, and suddenly the words of what he consumed shifted back in order, the texts started making sense, and he was learning all that he had consumed, fifty years of eating tomes and crumbled books worth of knowledge all with the most brilliant clarity, all at once. The old Zeer-Kahel died there, if there was even anything left of him, and Ezekiel, Prophet of the Sages was born, his trusted companion and lesser Mutabbi by his side. They both donned long robes left behind by some passing nomads. Zeer-Kahel’s hunger had never left him, that never-ending hunger to know more and to unlock the dark secrets of the past. But now he could control it, and as Ezekiel set the first steps towards the rising sun, his ebony blackened, reflecting the orange light that filled the sand dunes, his first follower in his wake, with many more to come.
The accuracy of this tale is not widely confirmed, however Zarq-Fatinh Aslaqqa did indeed exist, and a skeleton was found at the base of a table, and the whole library, larger than the Regalian Palace but underground, was completely empty. Not a single book on any of the shelves, and not a single particle of rotten papyrus was left in any of the sand-filled halls. Ezekiel himself became a figure of legend, however all Ezekiel still revere his name as the Prophet of the Sages. Ezekiel has also supposedly been sighted various times across the world, so the scholarly community has largely accepted that he does indeed exist, but some claim that the myths and legends of his power may be slightly exaggerated.
From their beginnings in legend, Ezekiel induced more knowledge-hungry souls into his fold, who would in turn recruit more, until Ezekiel numbered a few hundred, but were spread across the world, remaining only loosely affiliated and in contact with one another. Particularly in Regalia, a nexus of people and learning, many Ezekiel have found their way into the more down-trodden parts of the city, their identity being easy to hide among the other Occult that roam the streets, and even using their own dark magics to appear like their old normal self, even if this is just a mere illusion brought about by old Primal powers. Some Ezekiel work together, while many also compete over unique tomes and scraps of knowledge. Others yet have found ways to induct themselves into groups of Vampires or Cahal, using a process called Attunement to create a closer connection to whatever other Occult group they wish to mesh with, whether it is to gain control over them as minions, or to use them as a conveyance for greater reach in their learning.
To be an Ezekiel is to be afflicted, but one quite unlike all others. Because of its unique basis in an in-between space of all planar identities, Ezekiel are flexible casters that can fluctuate between groups as their priorities demand, with no true master beyond their Unspoken Goddess. They are by default casters, though casters with a strong emphasis on intellect and knowledge as opposed to raw combat power. That being said, Ezekiel are formidable opponents when faced alone or without any kind of anti-Ability protection, as they specialize in keeping distance between their target and unleashing an unrelenting torrent of dark magics. In most cases, Ezekiel have hidden identities, and tread in the shadows, content to avoid the factional wars and racial politics of the surface world, scouring for hidden things underneath that none pay attention to or have forgotten about. Ezekiel are not known to the legal system in Regalia and while there is no explicit law stating they should be treated as criminals, they more often than not will, on account of looking like a literal skeleton. Most Ezekiel should try to avoid being caught, as being imprisoned causes them to be unable to gather knowledge.
Infection and Curing
To call an Ezekiel infected is not to paint the whole picture. Ezekiel do not necessarily get infected with an Occult status, as much as they transmute their soul into something else entirely, through the intervention of an Unspoken God. Ezekiel can convert other willing souls into Ezekiel, though the process is permanent and irreversible. It is not possible to convert an Ezekiel back to a non-Ezekiel. The process of an Ezekiel converting another willing person into an Ezekiel, is firstly to test their willpower. The converting Ezekiel must ascertain with complete certainty that the subject is willing to either accept the bargain to save their life in the face of imminent death, or has an extreme hunger for knowledge and dark secrets to the point of obsession and/or disregard for life. If this is made clear, then the Ezekiel can summon their Zerenomicon, a tome of knowledge that all Ezekiel possess, and cast the Curse of Surrender, a ritual that eviscerates all the flesh and mortal sheddings of the convert, who then fully becomes an Ezekiel.
Ezekiel have two appearances, their Ezekiel skeletal appearance, and their normal old self (the normal old self can be modified with mutations however). The Ezekiel skeletal appearance is their natural physical state, where they are simply a walking skeleton of whatever race they were previously. The color of the Skeleton itself may vary from black to white, or even more rust-like. The skeletons may also be reflective or matte, and have decorative engravings, writings, or accessories manifested into them. Ezekiel can also at any time change their appearance to appear like their own old self. This old self is mostly an illusion (but cannot be seen through by anti-Illusion Abilities), and does not have any other visual features that would give away their identity as an Ezekiel, regardless of their Attunement. That being said, Ezekiel can only use their Abilities while in their Ezekiel skeletal appearance. Changing in and out of Glamor or Skeletal form is painless, instant, and cannot be Cancelled or Countered in any way, even Purestone.
Attunement is a process in which an Ezekiel becomes more like a particular other Affliction, in order to mesh in with them, or be seen as a natural leader to them. Attunement can be done any time, anywhere, but after attuning once, the Ezekiel must be attuned to that specific Affliction for at least an IRL month before they can change it again. The process can however happen off-screen, or instantly in-roleplay, with added effects as described below.
- Selëya Attunement, is the standard Attunement for the Ezekiel. This grants the Ezekiel no glowing eyes or color in their eyes (though their eye sockets can leak shadows optionally), while not attributing any additional functions. The Ezekiel’s Abilities are Primal Powers.
- Vampire Attunement, is an Attunement that allows the Ezekiel to become more Vampiric. The first noticeable feature is that their skeletal appearance has Vampiric Teeth, and has red, orange or yellow glowing eye-sockets. This Attunement gives the Ezekiel a hunger to consume blood (though they get nothing out of it, nor does not doing it cripple them), the Ability to drink blood with their vampiric fangs, and a Void-alignment, as all their Abilities become Void based.
- Cahal Attunement, is an Attunement that allows the Ezekiel to become more Cahalic. The first noticeable feature is that their skeletal appearance may take on more animal-like bones, such as their humanoid skull (even if the Ezekiel is Asha, their skeleton form will still have a human-like skull) becoming a beast-like skull (or any beast). Their eye-sockets also have a blue, white, or gray glow. While Cahal Attuned, the Ezekiel is beholden to all rules associated with knowledge of the Cahal Ritual sites, but can be taken there by other Cahal. This Attunement gives the Ezekiel the desire to perform ritual sacrifices or activities like the Cahal (though getting nothing from it), while also Exist aligning them, all their Abilities becoming Exist based.
- Dragon Attunement, is an Attunement that allows the Ezekiel to become more like Dragon Wardens. The first noticeable feature is that their skull forms Draconic horns, and their eyes become glowing purple, magenta, or pink. While attuned to Dragons, the Ezekiel can see the Soul Rivers and sense Dragonsouls if they seek them in Emote Range. While attuned to Dragons, all Ezekiel Abilities become Dragon Powers.
- Death Attunement, is an Attunement that allows the Ezekiel to become more like Morvali. The first noticeable feature is that parts or their whole skeletal frame may become see-through of any shade of green, while their eyes always have a glow of any shade of green. While attuned to Death, the Ezekiel emit a soothing aura to Morvali, allowing any Morvali in Emote Distance of them to experience passion, love, romance or friendship, without entering an enraged state. While Attuned to Death, all Ezekiel Abilities become Ordial Powers.
Ezekiel have a set of Abilities granted to them by Selëya, while also specializing into Shadow Sorcery. The Ezekiel have 3 standard Abilities called the Ezekiel Ability Kit seen below. All Ezekiel must have these Abilities. Additionally, Ezekiel may choose a maximum of 6 Abilities from the Shadow Sorcery Page to complement their class, which must be listed on their Character Application, and cannot be changed or swapped around once picked. This means that when all is said and done, an Ezekiel should have their Racial Abilities + 9 Ezekiel Abilities, and any additional maximum 2 Sorcery Abilities (which cannot be from Shadow Sorcery) or 2 Alchemy Abilities that is chosen. Note, Ezekiel must be in Skeletal Form to use any of their Abilities from the Ezekiel Ability Kit, including the 6 chosen Shadow Sorcery Abilities.
Use Time: N/A
Description: Ezekiel souls are affected by Selëya's will. As such, the following things happen to them. Firstly, Ezekiel do not age from the moment they become Ezekiel, and can change the age-appearance of their glamor form to anything older than 18 years old. Secondly, Ezekiel cannot be infected with any other Afflictions, nor can they be cured, so they are forever blocked from other Affliction Abilities. Thirdly, Ezekiel have a Physical Stat limit of 5, and cannot use Mundane Technique Abilities. Finally, Ezekiel cannot use Engineering, but they are allowed to purchase (following their Proficiency cost), up to 2 Alchemy Abilities from the Alchemy or 2 Sorcery Abilities from the Sorcery Page (which cannot be from Shadow Sorcery).
Target: Others or District.
Use Time: Instantaneous.
Range: Emote Distance.
Description: This Ability has two functions. Firstly, the user has Mage-Deflect. This allows the user to “/dice 0 20” on any Ability used on them directly that they are: Aware of, is not some form of Anti-Magic, or an Ability used to counter them, or an Ultimate Ability, or multiple Abilities at the same time (only 1 can be chosen). If the preconditions are met, the user may perform the Dice roll. If the dice rolled 10 or above, the Ability is Countered, thus not affecting the user. This does not work on Abilities that create Area-of-Effect functions, or affect the user by proxy of another target being hit. Any Ability that is Countered this way goes on a 3 IRL minute Cooldown, regardless of the Cooldown for that Ability by default. Secondly, if at least five Characters with Magical Pendulum are present within Emote Distance, they may commence the Global Pendulum. This can be performed in: New Town, Old Town, Imperial Isle, or Crookback Districts. When performed, one member must initiate a ticket on RP Com Discord. When the Ability takes effect, a Mage-Storm consumes that particular district for 24 hours, making the use of any Ability (including Racials, Primal, and Ordial Abilities, but not including Mundane Techniques) impossible for anyone, including those who used Global Pendulum.
Cooldown: The first part of the Ability has no Cooldown. Global Pendulum has a 7 IRL day cooldown after being used for all participants.
Use Time: N/A
Description: This Ability has two functions. Firstly, it grants the user perfect telekinesis on any object that is a book, a piece of paper, a tome, or any other paper or book-like object (vellum, papyrus etc). They can control any number of these objects by moving them through the air, though never with so much force that a book being flung into someone will feel like more than a very weak punch. This can also be used to rip objects out of other’s hands regardless of how strong their grip is, unless the object is locked down through belts or chains, but will never affect Artifacts or special objects for Abilities, like a Zerenomicon. Secondly, this Ability allows the Ezekiel to offer up theories or thoughts to Selëya though an RP Com Ticket. The user may submit a ticket, once a month, to arrange a date and time for an ingame audience with an entity. They must prepare a dissertation with supporting evidence, concerning history or world theory such as “I believe the Altalar to be the seventh civilization”, or “I believe the Thousand Eye God is actually Ammu-Loa”. The page cannot contain information between characters such as “I think this person loves that person”, or “I think this person’s mother’s hair was blue”, or “I think this person killed that person yesterday”. At the appointed time, the Ezekiel will be taken to a site where they can speak to the entity, where it will approve of parts of their dissertation that are accurate, and give nuanced commentary on parts which are not. This Ability should be used to give hints or point an investigation in the right direction instead of a wrong one, not shortcuts to solutions.
- Ezekiel are notoriously frail. Despite being immensely powerful in terms of keeping distance with an enemy, and countering other casters, Ezekiel have the Physical Stat of a wooden plank.
- Many Ezekiel fake their own death before disappearing into a long life of arcane knowledge searching. Though there are also Ezekiel who keep their old life alive.
- Despite the assumption that Ezekiel are (on account of being Skeletons) Undead, they are in fact not. They are still very much alive, and at no point in them becoming an Ezekiel, died.