Cult of the Shark Organization in Scarterra | World Anvil

Cult of the Shark

The goddess Bellusk is the goddess of sharks and apex predators. She is credited with creating the Karakhai aka sharkmen, and while there are a few exceptions, most Karakhai worship Bellusk as their primary if not sole deity. The Karakhai priests and priestesses of Bellusk are called the Samearu.   The Cult of the Shark represents followers of Bellusk who are (mostly) not Karakhai. Hence the Cult has the derogatory nickname "Faux Sharks."  The Cultists themselves prefer to call themselves the Teeth of Bellusk, but that hasn't caught on anywhere else.  The Cult of the Shark is almost entirely contained within a subculture of the Oshamni Empire, mainly among professional soldiers.   The Faux Sharks follow the tenets of Bellusk and seek to cultivate strength, courage, cunning and tenacity. All of these are tempered by loyalty to comrades and loyalty to the Oshamni Empire.

Demography and Population

Most members of the Cult are Merfolk.  The distant second is Astakalians followed by a few unusually Oshamni loyal Karakhai an the rare bloodthirsty Ojiongo.   The Cult of the Shark is only matriarchal in the sense that they follow a goddess.  They are technically egalitarian but a noticeable majority of their members are male.  In some ways this is a counter culture to the Oshamni Empire as a whole which is officially matriarchal.  The Cult of the Shark gives male soldiers a hierarchy where they have more advancement opportunities.

Foreign Relations

There is a damning rumor whispered in Oshmani forums is that the Faux Sharks are conspiring with Karakhai tribes abroad to bring down the Empire.   This is pretty far from the truth. Since most members of the Cult of the Shark keep their membership secret, a great many Karakhai are unaware that Bellusk has any non-Karakhai followers at all. Those that are aware of it find the idea of Merfolk pretending to be sharks to be literally laughable.   If the Karakhai is not favorably disposed towards the Oshamni Empire, the best treatment a Faux Shark can expect to receive is to be treated like an honored opponent. Essentially the attitude is "if you want to claim a shark's strength, prove you can fight like one Merman!"

Divine Origins

The Cult of the Shark began small.  While some Karakhai can be bribed or bullied into serving the Oshmani Empire on a temporary basis, very few Karakhai clans swore fealty to the Imperial Sting Ray outright.   Of those those that did a charismatic Samearu began encouraging more assimilation between the Oshamni Karakhai and the rest of the Empire, eventually recruiting a small number of warriors interested in learning about the Mother of Sharks, the apex predators of all seas.  After the founding Samearu died, his (mostly Merfolk) disciples carried on his teachings but generation after generation the teachings were filtered through a non-Karakhai lens.

Tenets of Faith

The members of the Teeth of Bellusk are expected to train themselves physically and mentally to be strong, brave, tough, tenacious, cunning killing machines. This might is tempered by loyalty to other Cultists so their strength can directed at exterior foes rather than go towards infighting.   What really rankles the fins of other Oshmani is that the the Cult of the Shark views the Seeyirah as being insignificant.


With their focus on strength and cunning, machismo culture is encouraged, but loyalty is encouraged too.   While friendly scraps are routine, battles to the death between different members of the Cult of the Shark are frowned on except in very rare formal duels usually involving the rank of Khan or Grand Khan.


The Cult of the Shark only inducts warriors and requires a violent initiation to join though exactly what the initiation involved is a secret.   The cult has several ranks each with it's own secret initiation ritual.   Beyond initiation to various ranks, the cult has a lot of secret worship rituals, to solidify brotherhood (unisex brotherhood), strength, and loyalty.   It's rumored that some of their rituals involve ritualized murder or consumption of flesh of mortal flesh, but this is not proven.


Magical prowess is valued but rank and status are primarily determined by years of seniority and combat prowess.   The ranks are Initiate, Fin, Tooth, Jaw, Shark, Khan, and Great Khan.   As of yet, no Faux Shark has attempted to claim the title Great Khan.  Supposedly the majority of Faux Sharks who seek the rank of Khan die and most Faux Shark Khans have died in battle pretty quickly after attaining the rank.

Granted Divine Powers

Most of the cultists do not have magic powers, showing their devotion and strength through literal strength honing their bodies into "living temples of the shark goddess" and honing their combat training and instincts.   They do have some theurgists among them.  All of Bellusk's favored spheres of Animal, Hexing, and Wrath are highly valued, as is Augmentation.  Those with Animal magic will often summon sharks to fight beside them or even shapechange into sharks.   Healing and Protection are valued for their utilitarian use but it's frowned on to overly rely on them.   Powers that prevent a warrior from fighting are frowned on including Necromancy and Spirit Magic which often has the spell caster hiding behind summoned minions.

Political Influence & Intrigue

Technically, the Cult of the Shark is heresy to the Oshamni Empire, but the Cult of the Shark usually preaches loyalty to the Empire, or at least the Imperial Army, so the potentates of the Oshmamni Empire turn a blind eye to the Cult's "forbidden" rituals.   Despite rumors of the Faux Sharks secret rituals being abhorrent, no one in the Oshamni Empire is super eager to alienate a cult made up of some of the fiercest and most ruthless warriors in the empire.   Also, the cult is mostly secretive.  They don't normally wear visible signals and maintain a normal public persona.  Some rumor that shark teeth necklaces are a common symbol, but that is an extremely common adornment in Scaraqua hardly limited to Bellusk cults.


There are two political extremes within the cult withmost Faux Sharks falling somewhere between.   One extreme values loyalty to the Oshamani as the absolute all Shark Cultists should strive for. The other side wants to put loyalty to the Cult above loyalty to the Empire and wants to reach out to Karakhai outside the Empire.   So far, loyalty to the Cult and loyalty to the Empire rarely contradict each other, but that could easily change if the Oshamni Senate or the other potentates of the Empire decide to stop turning a blind eye to the not-so-secret Cult of Sharks swimming in their midst.
Religious, Cult
Alternative Names
Faux Sharks,
Predecessor Organization
Teeth of Bellusk
Parent Organization

Cover image: Photo of Megladon Shark Teeth by Museums Victoria


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