Nechestivan Taint

A Pact With The Unknown

"All we wanted was a home for our people, safe from the damned gods and their servants that plague this world. All we found was the cold - and a plague we brought upon ourselves." - Father Nikolas, in his last journal.
The Taint itself is almost as old as Nechestivy itself. The Founding Fathers brought their people to the northernmost point of the world where no Risen had laid claim to the land. Perhaps for good reason - the land here was frozen, permanently covered in snow with little to no vegetation thriving in the icy weather. Powerful Magickal Beasts that have adapted after generations of living in the frost. No man was ever meant to live on this continent.   The early days were the worst for the Nechestivan people. Their population was reduced by a third in the first month of arrival, mainly due to starvation and attacks from local beasts. Cannibalism become commonplace in the days to follow - the dead became the source of strength to keep the living going. Founding Fathers Nikolai, Radomir, and Yuri came together and worked to find a solution. Radomir and Yuri, twins, were extremely gifted in elemental magicks and masters of manipulating fire. The two of them weaved their ways to clear the ice all the way down to the soil, but clearing it wasn't enough to make it livable. They needed time and manpower, which they had none of either. Father Nikolas was chosen to venture into the mountains with a contingent of men in blind faith for a solution.   Deep underneath the belly of the mountain, he found an answer.   Far down below the surface, they came in contact with unknown entity. A shuddering mass of flesh that was incomprehensible to their eyes in how it managed to stay alive lie before them, filling half of the cavern and at least twenty meters in height. Their eyes burned to look upon it, and standing in the same space blistered their skin and minds. The few members of his contingent that had made it this far fled, leaving Father Nikolas alone with the being. It peeled into his mind, and spoke. It offered salvation to his people, in exchange for nothing aside from accepting it's gift. Father Nikolas, having seen men and women feast on their fallen children, having nearly collapsed dead on his journey to this cavern, cried as he accepted the offer.   The few men in the travelling contingent that survived the trip back found half the number that they had left in the clearing. Father Radomir greeted them alone as Yuri had perished in their fight against a massive bear with unwieldly tentacles sprouting from its side, whose pelt now clung to his back. They warned him of the awful power they had encountered in the cavern, and declared that it's taint must have soaked into the land itself, causing these nightmarish beasts and the dead land. They accepted their fate of death until what Father Nikolas had become returned to camp. His right shoulder fusing with his neck and the side of his face, drooping down into a mutated arm that dragged familiar tentacles across the ground. Father Radomir held himself back from killing this creature as he saw the downpour of tears from his eyes. Nikolas was still there, and told them that he had found their salvation.  
"My actions have cost my body dearly and my soul even more. Our people will live, but what life have I earned them? What costs will they pay going forward? I no longer fear death. I fear what lies after for me and my sins." - Father Nikolas, to Father Radomir on his death bed.

The Taint

  The 'gift' from their patron Baal left the Nechestivan people with The Taint, a cursed disease that lingered in their blood. All direct descendants of the initial council who received the blessing have The Taint in their blood from birth. While some will become healthy carriers with no visible signs of it, many of them will be obvious in their condition. It manifests itself in many different ways, each an almost unique circumstance. The few who count themselves 'lucky' will have what they consider aesthetically pleasing mutations; manifestations of horns, glistening skin of unique shades, unnaturally rippling muscles defining their physiques. More often than not, The Taint reveals itself most often through hideous, rapid mutations of the body. Tentacled appendages sprouting from or replacing existing limbs, patches of skin erupting with several eyes, malformed arms and legs bending in opposite directions, powerful magicks manifesting at early ages despite any training or inclination.   Many who experience The Taint will experience varying lifespans which will be altered experiences depending on the mutations they manifest. The affected have a high rate of infant mortality or shorter lifespan, while a few of them will have unnaturally long lifespans, exceeding a few centuries, such as Tzar Radomir III currently ruling over Nechestivy. Their Taint will often give them incredible strength and abilities in their short lives. Those with mutated arms or sprouted other limbs are able to lift and carry much greater weights than their untainted brethren. Many will develop powerful magickal abilities, either manipulatin the land or elements around them or a form of psionic abilities. They will often be utilized in Nechestivan society for their abilities as manual laborers or be drafted in by the priesthood or militia depending on their gifts.   The Taint thus far has proven to be incurable. None have found a solution that would remove The Taint from an affected individual, but they have found ways to spread it. The Taint lies in the blood of those affected by it, and can be transferred either through genetics or intake. If one would have their blood contaminated with Tainted blood, they will surely become infected with it themselves. A few with the knowledge of it's origin have theorized the ability to spread the taint through Baal's worship, though none have admitted to testing it.
A Curse or a Blessing?
  While many of the Nechestivan people and nearly all outsiders view The Taint as a curse upon their bloodline, some actually view it as a blessing, thanking the progenitor Baal for saving their people and gifting them with his strength. The priesthood and royal family of Nechestivy are all fully embedded with the taint. When a promising infected individual shows up in the community, they will often be inducted into service based off of their abilities. Prone to short, painful lifespans many will debate whether or not the extra gifts are worth the trade.


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