The Artist's Gift
The power of the Imbued Artist is unique in that the individual, by entering a pact with one of the secret powers of Cairne or by managing to steal power from them, is granted dominion over a specific aspect of reality, gaining the ability to generate and manipulate the essence of that aspect as though it were an extension of the self. Creating tangible objects, pulling from them and moving them from place to place, and in some cases even using these elements of reality to gain knowledge and information that might otherwise remain hidden. The Artist taps into the closest thing that remains in Cairne to divinity to gain these powers, and those that are granted these gifts are rare and few between, as the levels of power granted to them over time grow to staggering proportions, granting them the ability to not only affect the fabric of reality, but to create new and wonderous or terrifying things within it, depending on the individual and the powers that move through them. The Secret Powers of Cairne are individual entities or factional groups that have achieved near deific levels of power, many pre-dating the Blight itself substantially. They tend to be very isolated from the rest of the world, opting to interact or influence their world through their agents or through the reach of their own power in some cases. No matter what their drive and method, they all have their own agendas and plans through which they utilize the carriers of their gift to further in some way or another. Some of these seem benign on the surface and some are vile and twisted, while others hover in the grey borders of uncertainty, the mortal mind struggling to fully perceive their intentions. No matter their end goals, the Imbued Artists that have been granted their boons are able to leave pemenant and lasting marks and changes in the world, and in doing so, leave hidden hints where they go as to the existence of the powers themselves. For the way these powered present themselves, one must first understand the source and nature of the aspect of reality the Imbued Artist is manipulating. The aspects often go beyond the threshold of common reality, and reach into and draw from places that magic cannot or struggles to go. Below is a short list of each of the aspects.
- The Pact of Blood is a dark boon granted by the power known collectively as the Sanguine Epoch. This is a coven of void touched, vampiric creatures that exist in a location at the heights of the Barren Peaks so inhospitable and deadly that no mortal can go there with being brought safely through a series of secret tunnels, deep within the mountains, and those that do attempt to go to that unholy place are never heard from again. This matriarchal gathering of extremely powerful creatures grant the occasional individual their boon if their work is able to catch their eyes, for the sisters of the Epoch are easily moved by the creative wiles of the mortal world, their immortality and distance from their long forgotten living roots having removed them from their ability to create such wonders themselves any longer. To their agent, the artist, they grant dominion of the blood that sustains them. The essence of life that flows through all living things, this quickly becomes a deadly and dangerous power to wield. Able to pull this essence both from themselves and other creatures as well, both living and dead and utilize it, shaping it into whatever form they wish and to use it to both empower and to harm.
- The Pact of Tears is granted by a unique gathering of spirits known as The Lachrymatory Conclave, housed in the ruin of an ancient conservatory that lies among the wastes of the Seanachaisian Islands called Dóchas Caillte. This school was once renown for the artistry and composition that were born from the tutelage within its walls. The Imbued Artist that accepts the whispers of the conclave and accept their gift, is granted dominion over the realms of the intangible air and the spectral realms that surround them. The specters of the Conclave feed from the energy generated by the artist's creations, favoring the expressions of woe and despair above all else, and thriving when the artist is able to draw those feelings out from those that experience their works. While they lack the Spiritualist's ability to interact with and manipulate spiritual energy as they do, they are able to pull from it and the air around them to create subtle, and often intangible creations that give off a subtle glow and appear as wisps of smoke and mist. The more devious aspects of this granted boon, is the ability to draw this energy from an opponent, draining their breath and their spirit as a source of power, generating a terrifying experience for those affected in the process.
- The Pact of the Deathless is one of the most rare pacts, and the one most often misunderstood. The University and the surrounding Isle of Beacon that houses the Order of the Black Flame and its denizens is nestled deep within the Blight itself, so far that no living creature could venture there without being destroyed by the Void energy that permeates the location. Within its halls resides the ancient and extremely powerful undead lich lord named Erebus Kane and his champion, Phaedra Cadence. The two of them envision a world without the cold claws of death cutting down the potential of the inhabitants of Cairne, seeking to create a world without pain, suffering, death, and disease where those deemed worthy and holding the potential to better the world may create and innovate without the temperamental boundaries of life and its frailty to hold them back. It takes a select type of artist to garner their favor, and the Artist must embrace their cause to be considered. Erebus and Phaedra believe their cause to be just and noble, and they would convey this through their agents as well. The Artist granted this pact garners the dominion over flesh and bone, able to craft and shape these aspects of both the living and the dead, eventually gaining even the ability to reanimate and command the bodies of the fallen as well. While quite benign in their believed purpose, this macabre path is often viewed as a horrific slight against the living, and a source of terror among them.
- Pact of the Foundling is unlike any other of the Powers of Cairne in that she remains an elusive mystery, even to her chosen Imbued Artists. The Orphan resides in a place that remains tucked away in a tiny hidden grove somewhere near the Golden Tarn, tucked away deep within the shimmering and toxic miasma that covers the Golden Ridge Mountain Range. It is said that she leads a solitary life beneath the branches of a great oak tree on the edge of the Tarn, a lonely creature of unknowable origins. Those who are graced with her touch are granted the power of dreams, and the ability to draw from them into the waking world. This particular aspect of reality in unbound and limited only by the imaginings of what the Imbued Artist can imagine and call forth from that place, but even with their dominion over that place, the realm of dreams is a place of unhinged and foundationless whimsy, and the creations the draw from that place will often have a mind of their own should the Artist reach too far and draw too much.
- The Pact of the Shadowgrove is for all intents and purposes a remnant of not only a bygone era, but a culture that once flourished and came and went from the realms of Cairne with ease and regularity, playing minor roles in the lives of the people that inhabited the lands. The Blight fell and everything changed, the way home broken away and those that remained afterward left wheeling in confusion, cut off from the way home. While the fae creatures that remained were far from benign or kind to begin with, their disdain for the mortal realms only escalated as the energies of the Void tainted and twisted the lands to which they were connected, and in turn they themselves. The cast off survivors of the Twilight Lands slowly gathered as far from the Blight as they could get, finally settling in a quickly mutating portion of the Arven Islands and forming the Court of the Shadowgrove. As the grove around them changed, so too did they, becoming darker and twisted versions of the creatures they once were. In their anger and desperation, they began to utilize their substantial combined abilities to reach out into the world and select specific individuals that held tremendously potent gifts of creativity and talent in the arts as a means by which they might retaliate and protect the ways of their people, all the while carving out a stronger and stronger foothold in Cairne by which they might increase their influence and power. The chosen of the Grove is granted the dominion over the various aspects of nature that remain in the world, twisted and changed as they may be. Able to draw forth dormant plant life from the grounds and awaken the strange forms of it that take root in the Void touched soil, these Imbued Artists weave powerful creations from wood and vine, crafting lasting vestiges of their presence and a unmistakable reminder that the world is not dead.
- The Pact of Stone is a mystery that not even the dwarves that remain in the hallowed halls of Underhome can explain. Somewhere deep below the lost Pouman Vide Mine, a power stirs. This entity has no distinct name or form that anyone can explain, but the power it grants to the rare and gifted Artist that it chooses cannot be denied. The power to manipulate earth and fire, sculpting them into powerful tools and weapons, and directing them outward in devastating displays of strange grace and intensity, these Imbued Artists are legendary with the dwarves of the Fouveinians, viewed as signs of favor from below in the rare cases that one appears in their realms, and in the end they always do as the Lost, the formless power that moves through them eventually calls them back to make a one way journey back to the mines. While they are active, the Artists of the Lost move through the world striking out against their foes with the gifts provided to them, and shielding their allies as well.
- The Pact of the Deep is by far the most manipulative and deceptive of the Powers of Cairne, using its agents to infiltrate many walks of life and exacting its influence there. The Drowned schemes and plots constantly, and its Imbued Artists are often enterprising and powerful tools in these attempts to subjugate power where it can, seeking to dominate key roles and individuals throughout Cairne. The Artists called to the Drowned are gifted the ability to hold power over the waters of the world in all its forms, and granted the ability to manipulate it in such a way that they are able to craft powerful illusions as well as various tools and weapons to be brought to bear against their foes. While the Artist remains in full control of their lives until the pact is completed, the Drowned only chooses those it feels will be most able bodied and willing to assist them in their nefarious machinations, whispering secrets to the Artist from the black depths of Nether's Deep, pushing them to play their role in vast reaching conspiracies and plans that can often span several lifetimes, placing people and things in certain places and events in motion that will lead to a final outcome that benefits the Drowned in some way, often with no one the wiser.
- The Pact of the Void remains the darkest of all the Pacts offered to the Imbued Artist. Synchordia Demonda, the Eyes in the Dark seeks only power, their fervor to ascend to godhood in the absence of any divine presence an all consuming obsession for the entity. To this end, the creature will, from time to time find a potential candidate it deems worthy of its gift, empowering them to paint the world with its black stain. The Imbued Artist so chosen is granted the ability to manipulate and draw from the Void itself, granted the ability to create using and manipulate the energies that make it. These powers are deadly to all but the Artist who not only wields them, but even seems to hold some loose sway over the denizens that exist within the dark and shrouded boundaries of the Blight, calling them forth in times of dire need. Every life claimed with these powers is a victory for Synchordia Demonda, who awaits the power of every life with ravenous hunger, but none so coveted as the life of the Artist themselves, who is required at the end of their pact to give themselves to the void as a willing offering to feed the would be god's power even more.
- The Siphon is the exception to the rule. These extremely rare genetic mutations are gifted with the ability to draw power from all of these sources without making a pact. While they are never quite as powerful as those who are free to draw from the energies in question freely, they are at a slight advantage by being able to draw from any of them, granting them a variety no other Imbued Artist manitains. The down side to this, is that the Siphon is stealing from entities of overwhelming and unstoppable power, and they do not take lightly to being stolen from. Should the Siphon draw too much power at one time, or from one place, there is a risk that the Secret Powers of Cairne will take notice of their transgression and seek either retribution or compensation, and since the Siphon cannot be bound to a pact with the Powers, instances that lead to their capture or discovery most often do not end in a way beneficial to the Siphon.