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The Scarlet Arts

The Red

Obviously... this is probably a little NSFW due to the blood. You have now been warned.
“Fine, I'll be an animal then,” Morrigan said, “Tyler, give me your knife.” She found it in her hand within moments. “For my sake,” she began, “and for yours. Hide. Please don't watch.”
Tyler didn't reply. She assumed he nodded, forgetting her blindness again, before rushing to the sedan and diving into the seat through the open door. Morrigan’s finger traced the edge of the blade. She clenched her fist around the handle, bracing herself for the pain. She couldn't wait. She raised it into the air as the footsteps neared, drove the blade through the palm of her hand, and let out a scream of sheer joy. The footsteps stopped. They were unsure of whether they should come any closer.
Morrigan noticed the blood, lathered it between her fingers, and felt a smile stretching across her face. Her screams transformed into a fit of laughter, her thoughts clouded by a drumming sound that filled her head. She could feel the blood pumping through their veins. Their hearts raced. She refused to let them pass, feeling each of her victims frozen in fear. She raised a hand, bent her fingers, and curled them down to her palms as the blood dripped in between. She pulled her hand back, and felt the warm spray on her face as blood spewed from the pores. The man's screams were like a symphony. She called every wasted drop to her, the blood rising into the air and forming an orb above her hand.
Her attention shifted to the woman at his side. She charged at her, her allies not far behind. The blood above rained down, each drop causing the skin to sizzle and blister. The woman cried out in pain and the others backed away. Morrigan pointed at the nearest foe, a woman, from the screams that followed. She fell to the ground with a wail. The blood boiled within her veins, forcing the woman to contort in all directions.
Morrigan felt the vessels burst while turning her attention to the final opponent.
The man chose to flee deeper into the woods, and Morrigan pursued with a casual stroll. She could still feel him, his heart revealing the man’s location with every beat. She closed in without a sound, the man turned, and she drank in the fear in his eyes. She watched the reflection of her smile, still plastered on her face, as she tore him open with the knife.
— From The Scarlet Ashes
Dear readers, take a moment as we discuss this strange topic. It's easy to misunderstand The Scarlet Arts. The Scarlet arts are more commonly known as Arcana Sanguis, the arcane genre that places focus on the arcane use of blood.   There is no quicker way to silence a room, to be given suspicious glances, or bring all attention to you than announcing yourself as a practitioner of this ethically complicated art. Part of that reaction comes from disgust. Drops of blood are commonly used throughout our culture to reveal that something is serious, dangerous, or that something is horribly wrong. Blood is also a bio-hazard, something that is applicable in our modern day. Awareness of this hazard leads many to stop in their tracks at the sight of it. Some even feint.   Another part of this reaction is carnal fascination. The taboo of this forbidden fruit often yields more than disgust. It also brings curiosity. The forbidden desire to lather the blood on your hands after a kill and savor the experience, to relish that metallic taste on the tongue as you lick a busted lip, literally seeing red and lashing out at any who may dare stand in your way are all examples of this desire at play. If it weren't for instinct, it'd be hard to resist.

Fun fact: Censorship

Like all genres, this branch of arcane power comes from The Simplex Arcana, but the book is reluctant to show you. It may take several tries, flipping through the pages and commanding the book many times before it will show you. Arcana Sanguis should never be learned without caution, and The Simplex Arcana seems aware of this fact. The reluctance is usually ignored, but it adds another quality to this bizarre book.

Seeing Red

We, as all living things do, actively avoid blood. The sight of blood, especially our own, always indicates something isn't right. Some may feint, but others may feel a sudden rush of adrenaline, as if preparing to avoid a potential threat. What is essential to understand, however, is the color.   That sanguine tint has a complex symbolism in almost every culture. Red spells danger and can easily mark our last moments in this world, but it also represents life as our first moments in life are drenched in red just as much as our last.   Blood means danger but keeps each of us alive. This dichotomy cannot be overstated. It serves as a fundamental principle of the genre. Those who use The Scarlet Arts are not crazed killers driven by psychotic rage. They are not twisted or sick. They see beyond the disgust and forgo the taboo to experience something few ever do.

The Scarlet Rapture

This Scarlet Rapture, as they call it, is a spiritual awakening unlike any other. It brings on the mental state befitting of such strange talents. Practitioners are dangerous, but not unfeeling. Red is dangerous, but it is also the color of love, passion, and most of all... extremes.   The Scarlet Rapture occurs the moment a practitioner's blood is split. To call it "Blood Rage" would be insulting and inaccurate, but none can blame you for thinking so. Most carry a small blade and enter this state of their own volition, burying the blade in their hand and keeling over, smiling in delight as their inner demons are set free.   The action is intoxicating, a high to those who know how to tap into their own cognitive dissonance. It leads many who practice the art to call blood "The Wine of Life." To experience the rapture, you must use your own blood. It's not the same if you're injured from an outside source. This sacrifice is both deliberate and unnecessary. You don't need to use The Scarlet Arts, but dear god... you want to.

The Passion

When one uses Arcana Sanguis, the rapture will evolve. The Passion is what connects a practitioner to the blood surrounding them. It is what allows them to link their veins with allies and foes alike. The Passion comes on a crashing wave as in a single moment, the practitioner enters a state of temporary insanity. They indulge the shadow, their inner darkness. They soar ever higher, their intoxication growing.   If the The Scarlet Rapture is a buzz, The Passion is the high, the rising action plateaued at its peak. The practitioner defends into madness, and they love every moment of it. This is where they get their power and this is how they perform their spells. They find their devotion and masochism can heal even the most lethal of wounds. They also discover their need to show others the joy they've found.     Practitioners lose themselves in The Passion. It's almost unavoidable. The more blood you spill, the closer to that edge they walk until it's too much to resist. It isn't the peak of the high. The Passion is a means to an end. When a practitioner links their veins with another person, the experience is deeply personal. It's intimate in a way nothing else can be. They feel everything their partner does, but The Scarlet Arts negate things like pain and sorrow. The peak of their high comes when they experience the joy of passing on into death... over... and over again.

Arcane Addiction: Dancing With Your Shadow.

The high experienced will cloud the practitioner's mind. Their victims are overcome with fear as the pain deadens and the soul is ripped from the body. The practitioner experiences the same but the negatives are stripped away. Those who use the art are aware of this lie. Their lives are spent on that edge, often trying to avoid it. . They tread a fine line between who they are and this otherness within them. Blood is addictive and every blood mage is an addict. On one hand, they have control. On the other, they become monsters   The otherness takes over when in the throes of passion. Many describe it as a complete loss of control. It's like meeting your shadow face to face. Every dark part of who you are will emerge. Every forbidden desire comes within reach. It is unclear how or why this occurs. The psychological element of blood magic is deeply rooted in the minds of those who practice it.   This is not to say that they become someone else. They do not have multiple personalities or any other mental illness. Their filters get switched off and all social and cultural restraints they have disappeared. This shadow is their darker side, the part of them that lies underneath the masks they wear.  

Faith and Ethics

Blood has always had a power, but it wasn't until The Wetworks formed this power could manifest in arcane practice. This led many to worship the color red in all its forms. Some worship divine beings of blood, others simply worship the color itself. The amount of religious connotation in the genre is no coincidence.   According to The Simplex Arcana, the first users of The Scarlet Arts were members of a church. To this day, the religious tone of the genre remains, and many of those who practice it feel a sense of spiritual completion, even by those who have no religious belief. The genre has come to be a morally complex art, especially within the last few millennia.   One of the most divisive subjects in the genre is how one harvests blood. Should it be a specific classification of blood? Must it always be red? What blood type and state of health? Should you take this blood from others forcibly, or for ethical reasons, only use blood freely given to you? Then again, shouldn't you only use your own? The genre is a battlefield of ethics, and each the strains. Each strain teaches various answers to those who wish to learn. Most practitioners use a combination of any or all the strains they learn, setting aside morality for the fix it gives or for dire situations.

The Red Maiden and The Wetworks

The Wetworks act as The Red Maiden's domain. She is the virgin mother of all that is red. All arcane power that resides in blood comes from The Wetworks. Some practitioners know nothing of the domain, or the patroness who grants the gift.   The Wetworks are nothing more than an island of black sand surrounded by an ocean of blood. The sky has no stars, and the beings that populate this place are powerful and horrific. Much like those who use the power of blood, these beings are sympathetic and love those who visit the domain… but they do so in their own special way.   The Maiden maintains a cult in the modern day, though most would claim the cult has fallen from grace. None have journeyed to the black shores in centuries. The Maiden herself has grown silent for some time.  

The Fiery Lock

A cult in Europe, referred to as The Fiery Lock, maintains the vast majority of all practitioners who use The Scarlet Arts. Most fear or despise the cold for one reason or another, and many in The Web consider them to be the enemy.   There is one known member of the Oxford cabal who can practice The Scarlet Arts. Morrigan used to be a member of the cult, and was even next in line to take the red mantle, which marks one as the leader of the cult.   Due to other circumstances that she keeps secret, she abandoned the cult and its members. Later, she assisted in the creation of the Oxford Cabal, which she is still considered a member of.  

The Red Mantle

The red mantle is the most powerful gift of blood and comes directly from The Red Maiden herself. Few have ever possessed the gift, and that's going as far back to the dawn of time. The Red Mantle allows one to become one with the maiden on the physical plane. You are yourself, but you are also an avatar of her. She ravages you as her impossible shapes fold from your body in countless arms, flowing rivers of red, and endless weaves of scarlet locks.   To gain the gift one must make pilgrimage to the black shores in The Wetworks. One must journey to the step pyramid of black stone that lies at the center of the island, and come face to face with The Red Maiden. She will embrace you, and you will emerge into the physical plane, a part of her, and she a part of you.   There are other conditions, of course. You must be a woman, and the journey is much easier if you have red hair (natural or dyed). The beings in The Wetworks are less hostile that way. Being a woman, or having red hair, grants an advantage to a practitioner who uses the art, as well. The art comes more naturally to women, and red hair is a preferred trait to The Red Maiden. The Scarlet Arts are even more potent for one who possesses both traits.

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Articles under The Scarlet Arts

Cover image: by Neosiam


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13 Mar, 2020 16:36

Wow... this is dark. I am generally a fan of, say, a good necromancer pushing against the stigma against his powers, but this takes it to the next level. This power is actually very dangerous, not just gross. It's kinda like taking drugs to improve your fighting ability, but it works.   one thing, you use the word 'feint' a couple of times when I think you really wanted to use the word 'faint'.   Off the top of my head, a couple of character ideas:   A doctor, probably a black box medic, who struggles against the darker side of the scarlet arts in order to maintain his hippocratic oath.   You already did this one a bit but a former cultist who tries his best but sometimes relapses into murder sprees. carries several different religous symbols on him at all times in hopes that they'll motivate him to maintain his self control.   an alchemist that loves to experiment with different types of moon/sacred rites blood in order to create his own elixir of life.

R. Dylon Elder
13 Mar, 2020 18:02

This is one of the darkest articles I've written. the darker side of the web is not a fun place to be or even to write in some cases.   It is very dangerous. One wrong move and you lose control. it is something to be handled with great care.   Not everyone struggles, but on a long enough timeline, they will have complications. Morrigan is a former cultist but she still worships... think... nondenominational cultist XD a cult of one.   The little touch with religious symbols. Oooof that one got me. That's a character with depth i'd love to see in a game. Like all of these ideas use the arts exactly as intended. It's so much more than just a skill tree.   I remember you asked why October Brooks is the way she is. The passion is why, she is almost always under its influence, almost addicted to the addiction.   Thanks and sorry for the dark turn. The Web can be brutal.

Sage Timepool
Garrett Grace Lewis
30 Mar, 2020 00:20

I like how you've given what is typically an insanely powerful ability a reasonable drawback to keep it in line, gives it an interesting flavor as well!

16 Aug, 2020 16:04

The Wetworks wouldn't happen to be inspired by Hormuz Island, with its black sand and red water, would it?

Lead Author of Vazdimet.
Necromancy is a Wholesome Science.
R. Dylon Elder
17 Aug, 2020 19:46

Actually, I've never heard of it, but I am quite happy to know about it now. That's awesome! Thank you for telling me about it. The visuals are definitely the right idea.

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