Thursday, 4 June 2015

The cult of Unnek, Queen of the Buzzards


Runes  Death  Avian

Mythos & History

Unnek was born to be Queen of All Birds.  Her shell was as fine as purest Kralorelan porcelain,
her feathers more radiant than Vrimak, her intended, her beak sharper than the Descender Hawk's.
When the Black Night flew into the face of the Sun, she failed in her duty of guarding her Emperor, because she was too intent upon preening her plumage, and singing her wondrous songs.
The guilt of her failure was obvious and unavoidable, so Vrimak burned her feathers black, and then Tholm plucked out the plumage from her head and neck, leaving her pink and scarred.  Her voice was stolen by Tritwiddeth, and her roost was broken.
Exiled by her kin, in the Darkness she learnt how to fend for herself, taking the flesh of all that died around her, and drinking their thickened blood.  She became a nightmare creature for many, cast out by the Bird-Folk and reviled by those of the River Valley.  She was accepted by some as a necessary cleanser, but by others she is a feared despoiler of the dead.

Over long ages she has occasionally crept into nests and masqueraded as the female of the pair with a night-blinded male, and so she has several children to her name, and has had more that died in the past.  Their young in turn have filled and purified the world since the Dawn.

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Unnek and Vrimak, floor-mosaic in Ganbarri

Nature of the Cult

Worshippers of Unnek are cleansers of the steppe, and - amongst those who follow bier burial - the
undertakers of the clan.  The sub-cults allow for a diversification of roles, but they are smaller even than this small cult.


Unnek is the prototypical turkey-vulture buzzard, and is depicted in any form that is faithful to that nature.  Where she is worshipped through one of her daughter subcults, the depiction is that of the appropriate bird.

Rune Affinities

As the bird who cleanses, Unnek's associations are with the Death and Avian runes, subcults sometimes requiring another as well.

Death Rune Affinity
Unnek survives by devouring Death wherever she finds it, and this affinity has been used to help Initiates see and smell the dead, to slay those near death, and to intimidate others with the fear of death.  It is never used to harm the healthy, since Unnek is not a killer.  It has also been used to assist in the task of preparing the dead for exposure.

Avian Rune Affinity
Unnek is both the high-flying spotter and the low-flying sniffer of corpses, and her Avian affinity has been used by Initiates to see from afar, and to enable 'swooping' movements as they imitate her descent upon prey.  It cannot be used for flight, but can be invoked to turn a fall into a gentle landing.
After dead have been arranged on a bier it can be used to summon carrion-birds to the feast.

 Particular Likes and Dislikes

She has an absolute loathing for all bat-deities and their cultists, and will never co-operate with an healing cult, since it is disrupting the proper order of existence.

Cult Organisation

The cult works as an extended family, with each Nest (Temple) headed by a mated-pair, including the Priestess.  If another aspires to become Priestess, she is sent off with full honours and assistance to start another Nest.  The Priestess and her husband have absolute authority within the Nest, and she always outranks him, in any disagreement.


If a cultist aspires to the role of leading a Nest, she is, subject to the usual requirements and restrictions, blessed and sent to another clan with a male to whom she will be married upon arrival.
If members of one Nest find themselves on the territory of another, they will always defer to the Priestess of that Nest.

Holy Days and Sacrifices

Every day is equally holy, since it marks the return of glory to the sky, and all life is a sacrifice to Unnek, eventually.  Feasts are held on the Priestess' whim, accompanied by much stamped 'steppe-drumming' and dancing. 

One may approach The Mother Of The Soul Eater through either of her runes, since each is as important as the other to her.  They are expected to  to respect the clan's social order, even if that order rejects them.  Initiates are required to demonstrate the cult virtues of Callous and Patient .


In her nocturnal matings, Unnek brought forth several unlike daughters, in part dependent upon the fathering, who carry on their mother's work in different ways.

Nests can maintain shrines to more than one subcult, although that of the Priestess, if she follows one, always takes precedence.

Attratu the Black (Death)
Despite her name, it is as a woodland bird that she is known, and among trees that she roosts and hunts.   Her cultists are the active killers in the cult, because of their hatred for cattle and all who herd them, and in their case they make an exception to trying to follow the course of nature.  Initiates may use their Death rune to assist them in killing cattle and cow-herds.

Ogyps the Strong (Movement)
Ogyps sacrificed much to become the strongest and largest of Unnek's offspring.
The swiftest moving, and generally least tiring cultists, initiates can use their Movement rune to assist their speed and endurance while riding, and to strengthen their movements where appropriate.
Initiates are required to sacrifice their sense of smell, which also permits them to feed upon longer-dead carrion than others within the cult.

Buteo the Adaptable (Hunting)
Buteo was the child of an hawk, and has a lifestyle very different to that of her mother.  She eats carrion in the winter only, and in the better seasons is a swift and savage hunter, although of small game only.  Initiates can use their Hunting rune to assist in any hunting activity that targets small game, but find it utterly useless against larger prey, or when the prey is stood on snow or ice.

Vulpi of the Steppe (Movement)
Buteo's younger and smaller sister, she was thrown out of the nest early on, and had to find her own hunting area far from her sibling.  Initiates may use their Movemet rune to assist in speed and endurance while riding, and in any attempt to out-ride a Buteo cultist.  Vulpi Nests do not stay with a clan for more than one season, but constantly migrate between them.

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Buteo slaying, Vulpi watching from a safe distance


Those who are sufficiently motivated can cut themselves off from normal society by devoting themselves utterly to Unnek.  They are governed by the normal requirements and restrictions. 
Unnek's devotees are regarded as people of terror, since they remove the living from the world, and are sometimes called upon for the purposes of euthanasia.

(Death)  The Steppe Purifier Feat 

This feat is used to permit the wholesale consumption of carrion, no matter what the size, until the steppe is cleansed.  The cultist is rendered immune to disease and chaos-contamination when under the effects of the Feat.  The remains will be digested and eliminated from the cultist's body without unusual effect, no matter the amount devoured.

(Death)  The Funeral Feat 

Unnek became the psychopomp for the Gamatae and the Hyalorings, although even she was prohibited from feasting upon Vuranostum's body.  Her cultists can use this Feat to prepare a body for bier 'burial', to undertake the proper rituals and to protect the dead from any interference beyond that of carrion-birds.

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Unnek, defender of the dead.
Hyaloring gold-work

 (Avian) The Escaper Feat 

Although she was punished for her failure to protect the Emperor, thereafter Unnek discovered how to escape those who would punish her further.  The feat triggers a vomit response from the cultist, which allows them to flee immediate combat as their opponent avoids this unusual strategem.


 (Avian) The Flight Feat 

The children of Unnek fly high and slow or low and swift, and this feat enables the cultist to undertake either.  They may also use it to descend swiftly and safely from flight, landing noiselessly.

Agents of Reprisal

An apostate will appear vile even to carrion eaters, and will remain a monstrosity, mouldering away slowly and horribly.

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