To kill a tongue is to kill all who speak it.
Also Known As: Mage hunters, Whisperers, Qadar, Svert.-Velhtja, Lux.-Makkai, Muj.-Majoamsa, Tol.-Hexejäger, Oss.-Magi Venandi, Vic.-Draoilann, Neh.-Kadivesh
Pre-requisites: Human, Cannot speak any Lingua, Will 4
The Kadesch are an ancient and clandestine order of assassins who demonstrate a semi-religious dedication to the eradication of all Linguists. With the exception of a few bold and dedicated lorekeepers, and exceedingly lucky Linguist survivors, very few people know about the group, let alone their inner workings or abilities. To become a Kadesch is to be selected by them, and very few meet their standards and even fewer survive the training process.
Through intense training, meditation, and ritual Kadesch are able develop a range of abilities that allow them to interfere with Linguist abilities. They also learn the skill set of a master assassin, learning how to communicate in secret, set traps, use poison, and strike from distant shadows, all to ensure their survival against the often devastating power of Linguists.
The Kadesch ability to interfere with the arcane is accompanied with a potent curse known as the Ire, that triggers a visceral fear or hatred in most who observe its use, making them pariahs even among the mundane and silent. Beyond this, the Kadesch are rightfully considered an intractable enemy by all Linguists, and even with their unique abilities few Kadesch can survive a direct encounter with an arcanist of any skill.
The history of the Kadesch is long and obscure, even to many within the order, but the story of their creation is one of the first told to initiates. As the masters tell it the Kadesch were originally known as the Kadai, a term said to mean ‘Guardian’ in some lost language, and were not the enemies of the arcanists, but were their protectors. This was born out of the exceptional danger the Lingua poses to both the wielder and those around them. A Shaper losing control of the vast power could easily render a mountain to dust, a Shifter could be turned into a ravening monster, or a Singer could set a city to riot. Recognizing the danger, the Linguists of the Urul Empire established the Kadai who were tasked with a grim duty; the execution of their charges should they falter and pose a danger to others.
To this end the Kadai studied the Lingua and, with the assistance of the Master Thamators, Proteans, and Enchanters of the age, learned how to counteract their abilities, if only temporarily. They called this ability ‘Haberem’, the act of “holding reality”.
At some point during the fall of the Imperium the Kadesch were born, an offshoot of the Kadai spawned by those who saw the danger of the Lingua as more fundamental. Several stories trace the origin back to a Kadai named Nyaeon and a Shaper named Vecan. The stories suggest that the two were paired, a partnership that lasted centuries, only to end when Vecan lost control of his powers, forcing Nyaeon to kill him to prevent catastrophe, but not before her hesitation cost tens of thousands of lives. It was then that Nyaeon realized that no Lingua would ever truly be safe and sought out like minded individuals among the Kadai, calling themselves the Kadesch or ‘True Guardians’. Under the leadership of Nyaeon the newly born Kadesch, knowing that the Turning Tower would never willingly abandon the power granted to them by the Lingua, plotted the assassination of its leadership before being discovered.
Nyaeon and a small group of her allies were able to escape, continuing their crusade against the Tower from the shadows and through the chaos of the falling age. Using what they knew, the Kadesch murdered thousands of Linguists; taking them in their sleep, poisoning them, turning allies, or rousing pogroms against them. Any Linguist, of any skill, or any who would seek to become one, became a target. It was during this age that the open use of Lingua slowly ceased and Linguists began to hide their abilities for fear of drawing the lethal attentions of the Kadesch.
For a time it seemed as though the Kadesch might ascend to heights of power and even rulership among the post-Urul cultures, but something happened that remains a mystery to this day; the Ire.
At some point during the third era the use of the Haberem began to trigger violent or terrified responses from any non-Kadesch who observed it. Crowds, patrons, even close allies found the use of the Habarem viscerally repugnant, unholy, or horrifying, and as a result the Kadesch were driven from society at large and into hiding where they have remained ever since. Speculation regarding the source of this curse is a common pastime in the Kadesch but no one really seems to know the truth.
In the Fourth Era, the Kadesch exist on the fringes, hiding in small groups within or outside of the great cultures. The only major settlement they control is said to be a fortress in the furthest reaches of the Illspires.
Modern Kadesch are recruited, often but not always at a young age, and typically without the consent of the recruit. The criteria for selecting a Kadesch is unclear but is believed to be related to the high will needed to survive the training and utilize the Haberem.
Kadesch travel the length and breadth of Aeldos, seeking any report of the arcane and killing any Linguist they encounter. They are careful to hide their true nature behind masks and aliases, rarely staying in one place too long and as such few have any knowledge of their existence.
The most notable visual feature of the Kadesch are their featureless masks and anechoic armour designed to protect the wearer against the Lingua Arcana when the Habarem fails, and disguise their true identity to avoid the consequences of the Ire.
The code of the Kadesch requires that they take the heads of their victims, returning their grisly trophy to their Masters for a purpose that remains hidden to all but the most senior of their kind.
Network: The Kadesch have a network of informants and contacts that extends across virtually all of Aeldos. This ensures that it does not take long for word of the arcane to reach them but also that they are able to get intelligence on local power structures and figures with relative ease.
The Tapestry: ?
Ire: The more powerful the Kadesch becomes the more the Ire seeps into their very being, making them pariahs and outcasts. For each point taken in Habarem the Kadesch suffers a -1 penalty to social rolls.
Arcane Antipathy: Just as the Kadesch hunt Linguists, more than one Linguist has taken it upon themselves to return the favour. The Kadesch are recognized as a danger severe enough that most Linguists who are familiar with them are apt to kill them as soon as talk to them.
Core Trait ∞
Habarem: The core trait for a Kadesch is defined by their mastery of the Habarem, a meditative ability to ‘hold reality’ as it should be in the face of Linguist tampering. This ability is strengthened by meditation, mental training, and practice of the abilities below.
Ability levels cannot exceed the characters level in Haberem
Abjuration of Iron: The Kadesch is able to interfere with the forces wielded by a Shaper. Mechanics.
Abjuration of Water: The Kadesch is able to interfere with the forms taken by a Shifter. Mechanics.
Abjuration of Spirit: The Kadesch is able to interfere with the tones sung by a Singer. Mechanics.
Abjuration of Mist: The Kadesch is able to interfere with the abilities of the Xia. Mechanics.
Poison of Silence: The Kadesch is able to craft a liquid that interferes with Linguist abilities when ingested. Mechanics.
Anechoic Armour: The Kadesch is able to imbue armour with resistances to Lingua. Mechanics.
Kaeki Vision: The Kadesch is very briefly able to see the world as the Kaeki do, granting them the ability to identify and track Linguists by their aura. Mechanics.
Abjuring Ward: With sufficient preparation the Kadesch can create an area that negates a specific type of arcanistry. Mechanics.
Abjuring Seal: The Kadesch can bestow a portion of their abilities on another. Mechanics.
The Quiet Hand: The unique form of martial arts practised by the Kadesch. Mechanics.
Resilient Mind: The Kadesch trains their mind to ignore stress. Mechanics.
Recurring Wound: The Kadesch learns how to inflict a lasting wound on normally resilient Shifters. Mechanics.
Confuting Totem: The Kadesch is able to craft a unique item that negate a single arcane act. Mechanics.