Bleak Inscription Tradition / Ritual in Ethnis | World Anvil

Bleak Inscription

A Bleakheart Rite of Passage

In Bleakheart cultures all over Ethnis there is one rite of passage that is nearly universal: Inscription.   Inscription is the practice of marking yourself with the signature symbols of your tribe of Bleakheart. What shape these symbols come in varies from tribe to tribe, as Bleakhearts emerged from all tribes of humanity. For some this means skin dying, for others it means scarification, for others it means something far more grotesque still.   No two tribes has the same tradition, and any Bleak can spot one of their own by their Inscription.


I sat proud, surrounded by my family as my father, the local Inscriptor, expertly tinged my skin with intricate symbols—the cross on my brow, the red floral patterns blossoming around my eyes, the twisting of vines and the outlines of my skull, teeth, and smile.   "As with our familia, as with you, niña," he murmured, eyes fixed on my forehead as he worked on the cross. I saw the glow of the hologram reflected in his eyes.   This was the first of many patterns I would receive in life, my la marca de mi familia to wear around my family. Next was la marca de trabajo—simple and non-nonsense, a simple skull pattern for work and socializing. As I gained roles in life I'd gain inscriptions, and at a thought could switch between them.
Constance, recalling her Inscription
I fought against my bindings, bellowing in fear and anger as my family held me in place and tightened the straps. The sedatives coursing through my veins made my struggle weak and ineffective compared to what I could normally muster, but even then the steel table groaned and protested against me.   I felt the bite of the injector, and all went hazy.   I remember the incisions. The scalpel teased from the center of my brow all the way to my chin, the perfect bisection of my face. I remember them using the foot of a dead crow to puncture my cheek and brow, then tugging to leave a streak of gashes. The hammering of a ball-peen hammer against an ink-dipped needle, the dull throb whenever it went too deep.   I swore to never subject my children to this, that I would be the last.
Nikolei Venistasia, forsaking tradition

Components and tools

Depending on the culture and customs, Inscription tends to be done with tattooing and scarification tools.This can call for anything from sterile, humane nano inks to sharp, primitive hooks.


Inscription is almost always done by a designated member of the tribe, even in cases where the Inscription is a nonpainful process. They are the ones who say the rites and perform the action. In larger communities there will be multiple.

Cover image: Brak by Ademal


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