The Crucible

This war is a trial. A crucible where we are reforged. Every horror that you see, every waking nightmare, every festering wound and miserable trudge across the no-man's land, every lungful of choking, poisonous gas is an ember to the fire. Here; I will light the kindling and see you remade.   When our gods come, you'll thank me.
    The Occultarum have haunted humanity for centuries, infesting their dreams and sighted in moments of madness. Not all see them as devils. The Crucible worship the Devouring Sigil as a god, without ever truly knowing what it is. The horrors they've witnessed on the field of battle and in gas-shrouded trenches filled with dead have scarred them. When the shroud weakens and they see the Sigil in its infinite fractal inferno, they saw a sign of something... Divine.    




Impossibly infinite, the Sigil is a glyph of fractal design falling in on itself onto an ever-burning core. It has acquired something rare among the Occultarum - a taste for a particular flavor. Across the shroud, it haunts the battlefields of Cascera for its favored meal of death by violence, of fire and gas in particular.

Reborn in Fire

  Spurred by dreams of consuming fire, the Crucible see the war as an ordeal to prove their worth. Humanity is flawed; this pointless struggle proves as much, but it can be redeemed with cleansing flame and purpose. The exact beliefs of the cult, however, are inconsistent. Each cultist who have been touched by the Sigil's impulse or brushed against its presence all have their own ideas of what it was they saw.   But they all agree on one thing; their god demands fire and sacrifice.   The Crucible meet in secret to share their visions in rapturous tales. They test themselves - and others- with fire, and seek to set more and more of Cascera alight. They brand themselves with a crude imitation of the Devouring Sigil, both to show their devotion to their uncaring god and identify others who have seen it.      

Burn the World

  As of recent, the dreams have become more insistent. Night-terrors haunt the Crucible who live in Purgatio-3 as the shroud is diminished. Their god draws ever-closer and the cult is whipped into a zelot's frenzy.   Now, they prepare and wait for a sign from their god. A sign that all their struggles and all they've endured in this war has had a purpose, that there is more to to the endless days of misery in the mud and rain. They wait with hidden shrines and fevered prayer, ready to set the world on fire.    

When the shells fell, he had been fortunate enough to be inside the bunker and could do little but cower as explosion after explosion rocked the fortification. When it ended, he was trapped under tons of dirt and mud in a concrete grave.   He was alone. His only company were the undead who had been stacked in the bunker to meet the next charge, now put to use digging them out.   Then they started to mutter and howl, almost in unison. No matter where in the small confinement he hid or how much he tried to block out the sound, there was nowhere to escape it.   Hunger. Rations soon ran out. There were enough of the crew that one or two could sacrifice an arm or a leg.   The noise wouldn't stop. Even when the stiffs had gone quiet, he could hear something still crawling inside his head. Once the lamp oil ran out, he was left in darkness with nothing but the noise.   Soon, he started to listen. He knew that he had been chosen.
The immense presence of the Occultarum disturb the risen dead. It has become known as the Dirge, a phenomena where the undead begin to howl or moan almost in unison. It can last minutes, hours or days.   There is no reason to it. No matter how much poets wish to spin it as even the dead protesting the senseless carnage of the war. As the Occultarum press against the Shroud, the dead react. Like prey to a predator's shadow.    


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3 Sep, 2018 05:48

I love how ominous and impending this article is and how well you've set that mood. Especially with this insight in the Crucible's ways and beliefs.   I love the 1st and 3rd quote, they're wonderful and are on point.   Also your usage of the sidebar is great.   I've noticed some typos but i'll just PM them to you.

3 Sep, 2018 06:01

Thank you! :D I'm really glad you enjoyed the read!   And please do! I'll correct them as soon as I can <3

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
3 Sep, 2018 15:30

The art in this article is fantastic. Creepy and atmospheric, it sets the tone really well. Also, is there a way to stop the Dirge? Or are there any methods to like... Distract from their wailing?

3 Sep, 2018 18:41

Thanks! :)   Surgical removal of the vocal cords is about the only way. Which they've tried.

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Nichole Roach
3 Sep, 2018 18:19

I love the art, especially the Devouring Sigil (I have a weakness for fractals). How far does The Crucible go in their quet to burn the world? Also, in their tests amongst themselves, does anyone die? Are they considered weak if they do?     Off to read more!

3 Sep, 2018 18:46

I imagine they'll go pretty far; they're more limited by their lack of planning, equipment and cohesiveness then willingness to sacrifice themselves. So, chances are they might have a dramatic but limited impact on the story. Then again, never underestimate an determined maniac surrounded by heavy weaponry.   Oh yes, people definitely do. And yeah, they rationalize it. "He didn't believe enough", "his faith was weak", "the god has denied him"; it definitely wasn't that they doused him in gasoline and lit it on fire, no sir. As one can expect, it does little to discourage them. :)

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
12 Oct, 2018 18:13

Aww, cute! Some minor concerns, you worded this quite nicely.  

Not all see them as devils, but as Gods. The Crucible worship the Devouring Sigil, without ever truly knowing what it is.
Not all see them as devils, but as Gods sounds quite awkward. Maybe, "While most see them as devils, some rather see them as gods..."?   Also: is the Devouring Sigil an actual demon, which moves around eating people, or is it just a representation? I found that somewhat unclear.   In general, it was quite an interesting read!

12 Oct, 2018 18:37

Updated!   And I wouldn't say demon. Devil is metaphoric. The creature itself takes the shape of a fractal sigil that eats thing... The Occultarum are a bit weird and don't really play by earth-rules.

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
17 Oct, 2018 05:44

This really feels like some final-hour stuff here. Where the rest of your world feels like a finely tuned machine this comes through as the hole in its armor, the weak point where it's all going to come tumbling down.   Something is coming, and it is nasty.   I particularly like your description of the Dirge, it's very ominous and the line about them reacting as though a predator's shadow is chilling, especially since it can last so long.   We see their goals, but how do the Crucible feel about the Devouring Sigil? Is it reverent worship, or fearful? Are their any violent schisms among them as they diverge on interpretations of what's to come? Does anyone know of them, or are they totally clandestine?

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17 Oct, 2018 20:15

Thank you! :D I'm really glad you like it and I am particularly pleased about the Dirge. :ghost:   It's a bit of a mix. It's definitely more old testament than anything.The exact belief of what will come is a bit scattershot, but they work pretty much like a cult: a charismatic personality tells them something that sounds good and they really to that. When he gets killed in the trenches, someone else has a go at it.   Some people know that *some* crazy shit is going on, but no one knows about the Occultarum.. Yet. But they know a bunch of soldiers have gone a bit wackadoodle-dee.

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
17 Oct, 2018 16:51

Your setting sounds a-freaking-mazing. This 40k/dark souls flavor is the sort of unknowable horror I yearn for. If this were the summary for an RPG or book, I would buy it immediately! Seriously good job. I love how the undead are used as tools, but also seem to know something their masters don't. I also really like how you've described this cult.   Are there any "powers" imparted to the Crucible when they perform their rites? Or are any possible powers more in their minds? And are they a rogue element, like most cults would be, or are they sometimes employed by someone, like how flagellants are used by the Empire in Warhammer?

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17 Oct, 2018 20:13

Awh, thank you! :D I do have some vaguely formulated plans to maybe turn it into either novels or RPGs, so you might get the chance.   And they receive no benefit from their worship and rites. The Occultarum doesn't really gift them anything: they are carrion-eaters, just cosmic.   The cult is more or less completely unknown, as are the Occultarum. They are edging towards discovery though, as the shroud between world grows thinner and thinner.

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.