"Helfeirch Taibhse" Profession in Aedelwynn - The Land of the Free | World Anvil
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"Helfeirch Taibhse" (Ancient Tuana: [/hɛlfɪə ˈt̪ˠavʲʃə/])

'Ghost Hunters', 'Exorcists', 'Spirit Wardens'

The Night is Full of Horrors

"Th'banshee is a spiteful ghost tha' thrives off o' th'misery 'n hatred of its victims upon death. Or so tha' is wha' th'Folk say. Truth is, they're often sidhe who've passed on brutally. They either reveal themselves to those who've murdered 'em or those who they perceive as their killers. Thing is, when you've passed, there is little of ye tha' remains. Ye're closer to a shadow of yerself than th'real thin'. So banshee, also known as bean sidhe, follow set patterns 'n might even be able tah tell th'future or cast hexes. If he sees a banshee washin' someone's bloody clothes, means one o' yer loved ones 'as died, or the sidhe is tryin' to intimidate ye. Wha'? Do they scream? Aye. Wear ear muffs if ye want tah live."
- Drustan Mac Tuorn, Master Helfeirch


The Helfeirch are a social caste within the Clans who serve an unconventional purpose. They dispose of the living dead, and exorcise the corrupted spirits of the damned. Although essential, this places them at a precarious position due to the suspicion and superstition surrounding spectres and revenants. Understandably, this often means they are mistaken for necromancers, or demonists instead of their true profession, which staunchly opposes such practices. The Helfeirch are typically outcasts, or the last of the family, who have nothing to inherit and wish to make something of themselves. As a result, they become ostracised further but gain crucial knowledge in how best to defend or protect their home and loved ones.
A Costly Profession:
Sadly, the traumatic experiences they are subjected to do not leave them unscathed, and some develop rather manias, phobias, or die before their hair turns grey. Incidents are not uncommon, and many Helfeirch may lose their sanity, or a limb in their rituals and battles against the restless dead. Furthermore, the costs of materials needed for rituals and other methods of exorcism often are too great for a single family or village to afford. Therefore, albeit rarely, Helfeirch make clans of their own, small groups that take in young apprentices and teach them in their ways. In some even rarer cases, there are entire families that make the Way of the Helfeirch their profession, such as the Mac Tuorns, and Mac Tarnas.



"Seventh Son of a Seventh Son"

Whilst there are no true requirements to the profession of Helfeirch, many believe the runts of the family are destined to become undead-hunters or exorcists of the living dead, and thus discard or neglect their upbringing. It is not a common belief across the Clans, as few families end up having up to six or more children. However when it does happen, and the child cannot be taken care of on their own, the boy or girl is sent to the local Helfeirch or Brotherhood to be instructed in their ways by priests of Saint Emrys or elder of the Way. An arduous and perilous apprenticeship is undertaken, during which the fellow must learn as much as they can in binding, exorcising and summoning rituals. Which spirits are weak to which materials/metals, how best to survive against them, how to identify them, etc.

"Mac Tuorn & Mac Tarna"

The descendants of 'Tuorn Mac Uthryd' and 'Tarna Mac Uthryd' take their family legacy as seriously as a king would their dynasty and bloodline. There is often little other choice of profession for the children of these two families. Even if they somehow manage to escape their 'destined fate', their newfound positions will always - somehow - benefit these two tribes of undead hunters, whether they wish it or not. The Mac Tuorns take their education in the slaying of the unholy so seriously they often send their own children to join priesthoods of Saint Emrys, whilst the Mac Tarnas believe in their own methods and traditions more than the ramblings of the clergy. Regardless of bloodline, these two families are often deemed the best at their jobs, and are rightfully feared and suspected for it.

Career Progression

Apprentices are newly wrangled Helfeirch, who follow their masters into simple exorcisms that are manageable for children their age. They are also taught in methods of binding (magical circles, protective wards, amulets, etc), and alchemical potions, poisons and tonics that will aid them in dire circumstances. No Helfeirch is allowed to wield a sword, and instead is taught in methods of fighting that involve simpler weapons: the staff, the sickle, the seax or the bow. Apprentices are also taught how to read, write, count and measure.
Blooded are apprentices who have succeeded on their lonesome in their first assigned exorcism. These usually range from 16 - 19 years of age, and whilst they are not considered official Helfeirch, they are trusted with missions that their masters believe they can handle. They are also tasked to teach themselves as they have gained further independence, and can access some of the more dangerous rituals in their master's library. It is at this point that Blooded are given a journal of their own, where they are required to write every day that has passed since their first mission, in order to add to the ever increasing archive of the Helfeirch.
Exorcists are blooded who have now taken on the trade, leaving their masters to their own duties as they take on their own. Usually exorcists don't immediately take on apprentices, but this stage goes from accomplished Helfeirch to death or old age (incredibly rare cases). They are free to take on whatever duties they wish, and operate however they please, so long as duty is done. Some even keep pets, such as cats or hounds, who seem capable of spotting spirits before their apparitions. Despite being of a 'particular profession' many law enforcers consider exorcists no better than troublemakers and grave robbers.

Payment & Reimbursement

"Last time I rid this one fellow of a hob that had made its lair in his garden. Dimwit thought 'twas some kind of horror come to damn him from the grave. Every night, the hob would just toss rocks into the house, break windows, pottery, and howl at the moon to terrorise him. I whacked it across the head and asked for the arranged price, he refused to pay. Took his jug of whiskey, he disagreed, I gave him a black eye and he spat in me face. Worse thing is, the hob broke my staff, crafty bastard..."
- Derfel Mac Tarna, Blooded Helfeirch.
Laborious Earnings:
The truth of the Helfeirch's profession is that often clients mistake certain creatures - harmless or not - for ghosts and apparitions that would be real threats to the lives of people. Many Helfeirch as damned as charlatans for it, though folks simply refuse to see their face their own ignorance.   A productive week for a Helfeirch would result in 7r/7sA, with any luck they might take on a job that gifts them upwards of 15r/15sA per week for their services. Otherwise if the clients are too poor to properly pay the exorcist, they might choose to barter with them for the sake of their practice.   Most often, these payments barely allow the Helfeirch to live by, unless they are crafty enough to dabble in another profession, or self sufficient enough to grow food on their own and evading taxes or land tithes. That said, trying to tax a Helfeirch is often ill-advised due to the various pacts or 'understandings' these exorcists might have with local spirits, hobs, or elementals.



Helfeirch Taibhse consider themselves handimen of Saint Emrys, the God of Death. They often tend to graves, become grave keepers themselves, or roam from village to village, looking for a job to take up, or a spirit to exorcise. Whilst not priests, many have had an education that could validate them as such, albeit they seem to take a more rational approach to exorcism rather than belief in divine or godly interventions.   To be a Helfeirch is to be an outcast, and an outsider, usually more comfortable amongst cemetaries and mass graves than with the rest of society. It also means to hunt the undead, wherever one might find them, which usually results in stepping on the clergy's toes, or excavating long buried corpses to properly burn the remains or examine them for purification.   Finally, a Helfeirch's ultimate goal is to prevent necromancy and undeath to such a degree the very concept of raising the dead would no longer exist in the common subconcious. A few radicals have tried (and failed) to alter the common memories of men through a horrific demonic ritual, and have been executed or burned at the pyre for such acts which, alongside the grave digging, have contributed to their ill reputation.

Social Status

Helfeirch Taibhse are seen as lower than tanners and leather workers to the common folk of Aedelwynn, notably because they work with the dead, corpses and undead in an impious fashion. Whilst a priest of Saint Emrys is seen with much reverence, exorcists are not. Akin to the local witch, these people tend to live on the outskirts of villages or outside city gates.   Some decide to build large manors in remote places, often to house their apprentices and serve as a base of operations. Many Helfeirch are suspected of necromancy, and if something horrible or tragic happens they are often at risk of being the first targets of mob retribution.   Finally, The Spakeheart Lodge will do whatever it can to hunt down and eliminate the Helfeirch, often in the belief that some may be rogue mages and would rather prevent any kind potential crime than deal with transgressions of any kind.


"His Majesty cannot acknowledge you as a member of An Brenian, Master Mac Tuorn, Lord Emrys never had any children, and you are neither of royal, nor noble blood." Old Man Drustan drummed his fingers on his dour dinner table, and glanced back at the ministerial official that poked, rather uninterested, at the cut of mutton before him. The elder Mac Tuorn spoke back, and filled the nobleman's cup with some crimson red wine. Thunder rolled in the distance, the flashes of lightning cast a ghastly shadow on the house itself. The official did his best to hide his surprise. They said Helfeirch were part-ghosts themselves, or rose the dead to do their bidding. He certainly hoped he would not encounter any here. "Our Lord Emrys did no', but ol' man Uhtryd certainly did. Everyone talks 'bout sons one two 'n three, but no one speaks o' four, five, six 'n seven." The official protested. "All of which are completely apocryphal!" The elder went back to his seat, and spoke as he did so. "All o' which were very much real, I can assure ye. 'n furthermore, while th'elder brothers 'n granpa Uthryd were out takin' care o' th'dead, they were left at home 'n neglected." He sat down, the house creaked beneath the thunder, and the old man stroked his beard. "So th'two youngest, twins they were, went on 'n took care o' themselves, 'n found uncle Emrys' diaries..." Indignated, the official called out. "You will speak of Our Lord with all reverence due to him!" The Mac Tuorn continued. "They decided tah do thin's their own way, 'n deal wit' th'remnants tha' stubbornly wouldn't move on. Tuorn 'n Tarna married, had children, 'n here we are." Old Man Drustan grinned, cut into his own dinner and chowed down on the mutton. "And do you have any sources of this claim, Mac Tuorn?" Exhasperated, the old man groaned, swallowed the cut, drank some wine, and answered. "Me dear official, this blasted house is full o' 'em, ye are me guest, consult as ye please."

Various Origins:

The Mac Tuorns & Mac Tarnas claim the Helfeirch profession descend from an apocryphal set of twins, both of which were children of Uthryd, the Damned elder brother of Saint Emrys, the God of Death. As such they believe it their fated duty to rid the world of undead.   Most Helfeirch believe that their profession was created out of necessity during a turbulent era, where war and poverty caused unforseen unrest amongst the dead and departed. Without the funds or knowledge for the arcane, many individuals discovered other methods to combat spectres and hauntings, often at a great cost. Due to their relation with the dead, most of society does their best to forget their existence.   The Brotherhood of the Damned claim that the Helfeirch profession came from a splinter group of brothers and sisters who were rejected entry, and stole texts, documents and traditions from their own archives to suit themselves. Despite this slander, the Brotherhood holds little shame in working alongside Helfeirch to further their own goals.



The lair of a Helfeirch Taibhse is full of trinkets, charms, potions and herbs that are used to fight back against the undead. Their front doors are often marked with symbols of protection to keep the spirits out of their home. Those who have walked in have often been terrified by the trophies and tools exposed in broad daylight for their operations. Some have claimed to feel being watched, whilst others claim to have felt at peace within it. Both are tricks, employed by the Helfeirch to determine if their clients are foul or haunted, as the charms put in place are used to intimidate necromancers and practioners of the darker arts of the arcane, as well as expell the presence of the undying.

Provided Services

Helfeirch Taibhse remove curses, exorcise spirits and hauntings, dislodge unwanted hobs and goblins, as well as tame house kobolds if they become too bothersome to deal with. Their core duty, however, is exterminating undead and binding troublesome An Sidhe should they step out of line. In this respect, Helfeirch differ from Astòr in the sense that: a), they get paid and b), they rarely negotiate or care for a sidhe's reasons to cause trouble.
The Charter:
Identification - 1r/1sA
Hobs, Gobs, House Kobolds - 2r/2sA
Shades, Knockers, Gaunts - 3r/3sA
Ghouls, Ghasts, Geists - 6r/6sA
Restless Dead (Skeletons, Zombies, etc) - 8r/8sA
Specter, Wraiths, Revenants, Banshee - 12r/12sA
Artifact Removal - 4r/4sA
Curses, Hauntings, Hexes - 3r/3sA to 1s/1gA
"Anything above this, we discuss the price."
P.S: "I do not do marriage counselling, or deal with domestic disputes."

Information, Methods & Occult Powers.

"We're professionals, lad, we move where the work is. Don't matter if we aren't wanted."
- Rhodri Nì Tarna, Occultist & Helfeirch.

Alternative Names
"Freaks", "Necromancers", "Pests".
Only when a place is haunted, often shunned or cast out.
Helfeirchs border often on the subject of legality and unholiness. Sometimes they are both priests and exorcists, but most keep away from churches and sanctified places. Many perceive them as necromancers, though they often do their best to combat such practices, and work with the Brotherhood of the Damned to put an end to said necromancy.   Most Helfeirch aren't officially allowed into larger cities, though it would be difficult to distinguish one from the common masses. Additionally, the Brotherhood does foster a few dozen, and assigns them to local graveyards as a prevention method.

"Iron, Salt, & Silver"
The Helfeirch have discovered various metals and materials have different effects on the creatures they hunt, as well as sigils of protection and warding which they have developed over time. Salt is believed to ward away ghosts, whilst iron has a rather distasteful effect on sidhe and other faerie folk. Silver is best used against the undead, such as vampires, or the accursed, such as werewolves. An accomplished helfeirch often carries the following with them:
  • Walking staff/quarterstaff made from rowan or alder.
  • Silvered weaponry for undead, ghosts & accursed (sickles, stakes, seax, etc).
  • Pouch containing iron dust, silver dust, etc. Alchemical & herbological supplies.
  • A journal with crucial knowledge on their quarries.
  • Set of occult chalk sticks to write wards and protections.
  • Corpselight bullseye lanterns, to reveal hidden spirits and ghosts.
  • Birch handled knife for blood rites or contrals to summon restless spirits.
Hazards of the Trade:
Death. Permanent insanity, amputation blindness, loss of hearing, loss of sense of self, self-hatred, crippling fear of the dark, etc.

Occult Powers
"Live as long as I 'ave, lad, and you'll begin to feel as unnatural as th'thin's ye're huntin'."
Helfeirch who have lived long enough, and encountered the paranormal on a daily basis often develop an unnatural defense mechanism against the creatures they hunt, which they have dubbed 'silver blood', or 'airgetfuil'. This blood, when shed, emits a particular odour that draws undead creatures and spirits to them, all the while burning them if they would ingest or come in contact with it, similar to silver, thus its name. It possesses a ghostly pale colour, faintly red and evaporates shortly after being spilt.
  The "Sense":
Helfeirch develop something they simply call 'the sense' over their years of service. It is an uncanny subconcious ability to 'sense' nearby necromancy and undeath, simply by feeling the atmosphere of a room, or a specific location. This allows them to know if a place is haunted, or under the effects of a curse, a hex, or a spell cast by malevolent forces or fellow Helfeirch. The Sense sometimes contributes to a Helfeirch's fighting capacities, and whilst it does not increase their movements, they can 'smell' murderous intent.
This ability ends up becoming most useful when dealing with faerie folk and sidhe who can cloak themselves in shadow, allowing the Helfeirch to see the invisible and spiritual even when hidden in shadow or in the dreaming realm. Nobody knows when or how it happens, only that it does to some, and not to others. This ability does require the Helfeirch to see, and thus if blinded by sand or spell, or some other methods, it will not work properly.
  The "Mark":
The Helfeirch can 'mark' an area, enemy or person to keep tabs on them, as well as protect them if needed. If they 'mark' an area, they become aware of any intrusion into said area, and the nature of the intruder. If they mark an enemy or person, they know of their true nature (even if they were hidden or disguised through a hex), as well as their general position. Some Helfeirch are skilled enough to track down their marked across entire countries, whilst others can prevent these marked from leaving their reach.
  The "Blessing":
Perhaps most useful ability of all, when a Helfeirch attains a certain age, or is exposed to sufficient curses, they gain some kind of immunity against them. Usually this comes under the form of increased resilience against the effects of hexes and geas, and allows them to be on equal footing with creatures that would use their own minds against them. Often times, Helfeirch with the 'blessing' can simply shrug off necromantic effects, or determine illusions without a second glance, which comes incredibly handy when dealing with faerie folk and An Sidhe.
Credit goes to: Marcin Przybyłowicz

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Cover image: The Return by Eytan Zana


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