What Evil Begets
This is a short biographical piece on Rastiel A'naro, an "evil" character for the Dungeons & Dragons Game. I thought the rest of you might like to have a read too...
Rastiel never knew his parents, his true date of birth or even his true name. Found as a baby near the temple of Kemet in the temple city of Baqara, he was already disadvantaged in a land where social status and wealth meant the difference between life and death. The people who found him wanted to keep him but did not want to offend the Goddess Kemet and so took him into her temple. There the priests bid the people to lay the baby onto the altar and to leave; Kemet would judge on the child herself.
The High Priest of Kemet came out and asked for guidance from the Goddess herself as to the fate of the child; he would gladly offer him as a sacrifice if it meant his own daughter, who was ill with fever, would live. He gasped as he was granted a powerful prophecy that in time to come the boy child would ensure the High Priests own name was not forgotten. The High Priest, Kadas A’naro, was truly shocked. Losing his name would mean he would be damned in the afterlife and that such a powerful prophecy had been given made him realise that Kemet herself was watching over this child. And it was this that made him adopt the boy but from a distance. The child was not his but he would grant it life and make sure the child was raised to adulthood.
The first eight years of Rastiel’s life were the simple mundane years of any child, and to this day he has no recollection of anything of that time. All that changed on the year of his eighth birthday. The High Priest A’Naro, who had given Rastiel his family name and status, suddenly died of an inexplicable illness; when he was found his face was black and eyes were bulging, and a torturous look upon his face. But the greatest shock came when A’Naro’s own daughter, Efidiel, announced to the Prince and to the people of Baqara that this was a warning from Kemet herself, that her father had been found wanting by Kemet and his soul had been taken.
The Prince was shocked and a little terrified of the thought that Kemet, Goddess of the Night and of Death, was angry and asked Efidiel, against judgement from his viziers, what would appease Kemet. She replied that she herself should be made High Priestess of the Temple of Kemet, and that she would pray long and hard for the answer. The Prince was taken aback by this request but he did find her eyes pleasing and she had a way about her. After a brief communion together in private, he granted her request. Efidiel A’Naro was now the High Priestess of Kemet.
Things began to change within Baqara over the next five years but as time progressed, those changes went from slow to fast. Efidiel quickly assumed power and a number of deaths from the priests of the temple ensured that no one stood in her way of total control. Indeed, it appeared that Kemet was very angry with her chosen ones for a great many priests and priestesses died with the very same symptoms that had claimed her own father’s life.
Rastiel was quickly bundled out of sight of Efidiel, his step-sister, and the priest who did so told him to never use his family name again. Although he was an A’naro, his sister would view him as a threat and kill him. Shortly afterwards, that very same priest was found dead, drowned in an oasis that had turned blood red.
But that did not save Rastiel. Instead, he and the other orphans of the Temple of Kemet were rounded up and brought to Efidiel. Rastiel was too young to think of lust but he did know that his step-sister was indeed beautiful and that the men around her were loyal to her. But he did not like the way she shamed herself in public, and especially in Kemet’s own temple. Efidiel looked upon these waifs and smiled to herself. ‘Excellent’, she thought to herself, ‘these children would be very useful in the years to come.’ She was already smiling upon one of the orphans, a boy about to blossom into a man. Instead of taking action, she restrained herself and had them dismissed.
Over the coming years, the Temple of Kemet continued as it always had but there were strange rumours of rituals held in the bowels of the temple and odd sounds and smells emanating from therein. All these were dismissed by Efidiel who herself publicly denied any such events. Her comings and goings to the palace to advise the Prince were by now well documented, as was the rise of the worshippers of Kemet in social status.
As the years passed, Rastiel began to notice things about him. How the older boy children would not return from certain ceremonies, how the girl children were taken away from the temple to never return. How everyone bowed deeply to Efidiel, sometimes even in the presence of the statues of Kemet. It angered him especially that people were losing their faith to the Goddess herself, she who was the most generous of all the gods, by ensuring safe passage to the afterlife.
Five long years passed and in that time, the city of Baqara had changed beyond recognition. Gone were the dutiful worshippers who prayed nightly to Kemet, gone were the devout ceremonies that offered flowers, fruit and meat to Kemet, gone were the traditional rituals. Efidiel was now in almost total control of the city of Baqara.
Indeed, one such ceremony, the devouring and release of the Sun God Ra by Kemet, had been completely changed. Whilst before the ceremony required a token sacrifice of fruit, flasks of water, meat and a token man of Baqara, now Efidiel had ruled that the man was no longer token. Indeed, she had ruled, without objection, that she herself would spill the lifeblood of the man.
She would enter the hall whilst the man lay on his back on the altar and when she was at the pinnacle of the ritual, she would draw back her hand and stab downwards, slicing the man’s neck with her dagger, spilling his lifeblood upon the dusty floor. In this way, she proclaimed, Kemet would share her enjoyment and her heated desire to kill.
But things would go too far.
Rastiel was now nearing his thirteenth birthday and knew he was next for the ceremony of life and death. He had become aware that his friends had been taken away and had never returned and once he had even watched as his own step-sister had slit the throat of an arguing priest; All of this in the name of his beloved goddess, Kemet.
Efidiel had him brought to her in the days before his ritual sacrifice. She examined him, all over and smiled at his body. She had said only one word. “Good”. Then she had him dismissed and returned to her grape eating.
The night before his death, Rastiel prayed devoutly to his beloved goddess, Kemet. He did not want to die without pleasing her and he knew he was only going to die to please Efidiel, a snake of a woman even if she was his step-sister.
Rastiel dreamt that night about Kemet, and that she had come to him. In the dream, the door to his cell opened and a woman walked in. She had pure white alabaster skin and dressed in a purple silk dress. But he knew she was Kemet because she wore her ceremonial mask.
She came to him and told him she was displeased. Efidiel was no longer praying to her and she was murdering many of her loyal subjects. It was time for Efidiel to be stopped. Rastiel replied that he would always do whatever Her Majesty desired, even if it meant his own death. The Goddess Kemet, at least in his dream, was pleased with this reply and gave to him a ritual dagger. This dagger, she explained, would not be seen by anyone save him, and it was to be used when Efidiel raised her hand. He was then to strike her down. Rastiel awoke in a sweat but in his hand was grasped a ceremonial knife. He looked down upon the knife and swallowed as he realised Kemet was truly watching him.
They came for him in the morning, the young priestesses, joking and laughing about the day to come. To them, he was nothing more than a young calf to be slaughtered. But he was not surprised when they did not react to him holding a knife in his hands. The women bathed him and cleaned him, they oiled his hair, and they anointed him with fair-smelling scents. They made him eat and drink of the Lotus, but it had no effect on him, although to them it seemed it had.
And then they took him to his funeral room, the hall of Ra and Kemet.
There he was made to lie on the altar. He could twist his head left and right but he did neither, looking straight up at the ceiling of the temple at the face of his goddess Kemet. As the drums began and the darkness began to take hold of the room, he could hear footsteps. He knew it was his step-sister but he did not react. She loomed above him. The darkness was almost complete when the ceremony began, the drums in his ear. Then, he saw her hand rise, and in that moment he heard Kemet speak to him:
“Strike the serpent down in my name.”
Rastiel shot his hand holding the knife forward and shouted, “For Kemet!”. The knife sliced into the undulating flesh of his step-sister and she screamed. The blade had sliced through her belly and almost completely disembowelled her. Rastiel knew, as he jumped off the altar to run away that she was dead as she fell; of the dagger given to him by Kemet, he could see nothing.
As he ran off the plinth, he was grabbed by the temple guards, who pulled his head back and laid a sickle-sword against his neck. Rastiel closed his eyes and said a prayer to his beloved goddess.
The voice reverberated throughout the chamber and everyone’s eyes turned to the altar. There stood Efidiel, her belly flapping open. But it was Kemet within her. Kemet, the goddess herself, had come to the temple in anger of the way her subjects had been murdered in her name, a blasphemy she would not tolerate. And hadn’t.
“Release my priest and bow to him.Do not take my name lightly again and suffer no would be idolaters.”
With that, the corpse collapsed.
Rastiel was released and judged a Priest by all those present, his status completely unchallenged. In time he would help return the people of Baqara to proper worship of Kemet and re-claim the name of A’naro and restore honour back to his family name.
Of the Prince, he was found dead in his locked chambers, his face black, his eyes bulging. In his hands was the Book of the Dead, his own name struck out.
Rastiel would later discover the secret rituals that Efidiel had never discovered and he would journey forth, to spread the word of Kemet amongst the unbelievers and do her bidding in unholy lands.