Section I: Gods and Goddesses
Section III: Myths and Religions of other Peoples
“There was a time when the Archduke of Owon-Kibirsk grew mistrustful of his personal guard of elves. They had shown their allegiance in previous decades, and not once had there been cause to question their loyalty to the Archduke. Now, though, his suspicions were roused. Yet the Archduke did not wish to free them of their service. Too much had he grown accustomed and reliant on the elves, to carry out his every order without ever questioning it. [Note by G.A.Q.: Owon-Kibirsk is today called Novbirsk, in Kraznyczar. Its ancient name is commonly used for a mythical place that has little in common with the actual city; it is always ruled by an evil Archduke. In this traditional tale, the character’s dark nature is established in the first lines: the typical reader or listener in Kraznyczar would assume that the services of the elves were to suppress the populace.]
“He needed proof that the elves were still loyal. So he sent a messenger with a sack full of gold to the Haguenite temple in Owon-Kibirsk, purporting to buy the services of one of the priests. The head priest took the gold, and with the sack in his hand returned to the Archduke’s castle. ‘Ruler of our town,’ he addressed the Archduke, ‘I come to return your coins. My service, nor that of any of my clerics, is not for sale.’
“The Archduke replied, ‘You offer your services to the simple folk, why not to me? Do you disrespect my authority?’
“’No,’ the priest shook his head, ‘that would be improper. Our lord has decreed that we should follow the propriety and laws of the place where we live. Therefore you have all the respect that your position demands.’
“’Then take the money and do as I tell you!’
“The priest frowned. ‘But that would be most improper. As I said, our services are not for sale. They are for the asking. I can accept a donation to my temple, yet that would not affect how I conduct my holy affairs.’
“The Archduke shrewdly thought that he had uncovered the true meaning of the priest’s words. He must have felt that the sum offered him was not enough, so that a new bargain had to be struck – coached in the words of the clergy. ‘Then consider it the first part of a donation,’ the Archduke said. ‘A second bag with the same amount of gold shall be delivered to your temple as soon as you have finished your task for me. Are you now willing to do as I ask?’
“’I have been willing before,’ the priest assured.
“To the Archduke’s ears, that was only proof that the new bargain was sealed, and now the priest would – because of his oath to Haguen – be loyal to him for the duration of their deal. Although he now had to pay twice the price he had intended, the Archduke thought that the money would be well spent if he had bought a cleric for it. Now the Archduke called for his elven guards, that the priest would examine them on their faith and loyalty.
“Once that task was explained, the highest-ranking of the elves stepped forward and said, ‘My liege, when have we ever displeased you? Every task was carried out to the letter and spirit of your command, ever have we shown ourselves to be trustworthy. Have you now decided to follow the commoners’ distrust of my people? Do you now share the simple folk’s hatred for my kind?’
“’Silence!” roared the Archduke, angered by the questions. ‘You will do as I tell you, elf – or I shall take this as your first act of rebellion.’
“The elf nodded. ‘As you say, my liege. Forgive me for speaking in this manner.’
“’Yes, yes,’ the Archduke muttered, then waved the priest towards the elves. ‘Cleric, test their loyalty. I know that you can sense whether they are true to their word, so go on and do your duty.’
“Slowly the priest said, ‘I can do as you say, ruler, yet would it not be better to –‘
“’I will not be questioned again! Do your duty, cleric, that is what your god is good for!’ the Archduke shouted.
“The priest agreed at once that indeed Haguen was the Dutiful, and that the cleric himself would do nothing than his duty. With those words it was that the priests came to stand before the highest of the elves and asked him, ‘Do you believe in my lord Haguen?’
“The elf raised his chin angrily. ‘Do you persist in denouncing my people? We are not heathens, we also believe in the gods. Including Haguen. He is one of the prime deities we worship.’
“’Yes, I sense that you speak true. Your faith in Haguen is strong,’ the priest said. ‘Then answer my second question, are you loyal?’
“The eyes of the elf sparked as he listened to the words, then he nodded with a soft smile. ‘If you have sensed my faith in the Eternal Guardian, then you will also sense that I am indeed loyal. My loyalty cannot be bought, it cannot be corrupted by any means.’
“Nodding, the priest replied, ‘I can see the truth in your statement. All the truth.’
“’It is what I would expect of a priest in the Eternal Guardian’s service.’
“The Archduke angrily interjected, ‘For the moment, you are in my service, cleric. You had better remember that, and now tell me, has he passed your test? Is he as loyal as he claims to be?’
“The priest bowed right away and said, ‘Yes, ruler of our land, the elf and his subordinates are completely loyal.’
“Elated at this news, the Archduke released the cleric from his castle and posted the elves at their stations once more. But he did not send the promised second sack of gold to the temple, for he thought that in this manner he could bind the priest to himself. The bargain, the Archduke thought, would endure until the final payment was made.
“Nothing could be further from the priest’s mind. Yet, as he returned, he found to his surprise that the ceremonial halbard was gone from the altar, as was the gilded cuirass that had adorned it. Furious, the head priest called for his clerics and acolytes, charging them to search for the stolen items. Yet none of his subordinates moved to obey the command. ‘What has gotten into you?’ the head priest yelled. ‘You have been given an order!’
“’But we already know where the halbard and the cuirass are,’ one cleric answered.
“Hardly had he spoken these words that a man entered, bearing the supposedly stolen items. There could be no mistaking him, nor could any claim that he was a thief, for both halbard and cuirass rightfully belonged to him. ‘Eternal Guardian, great Haguen,’ cried the priest and sank to the floor, ‘I am honored by your presence.’
“’That you are,’ the god replied and stood before the priest. ‘Tell me, my servant, do you believe that you have rightfully acted today? You know that the elves are not loyal to the Archduke but only to themselves and their own cause.’
“Doubt settled in the priest’s heart when he raised his eyes carefully. ‘My lord, I was asked to see if the elves were loyal. That I did, and I answered truthfully. The Archduke’s money could not alter the elven loyalties, nor could they be corrupted in any other way.’
“The god asked, ‘You did not feel it necessary to inform the Archduke that his task was insufficient, and that a better wording would produce the desired result?’
“’My lord,’ the priest said slowly, ‘I have tried, yet the Archduke reminded me that I had to fulfill my duty, by which I am letter-bound to his words. That was the rightful way to act, as I saw it.’
“A smile slowly spread on Haguen’s face. ‘You have done good, my servant. You have not questioned your own actions in the face of your god, and thus you have proven yourself a staunch believer in my tenets. You will now go to the citizens’ council and suggest to them that they have need of your guardianship ten days from now. That is your reward; you now can fulfill your own duty to this city and its people. Carry my halbard, wear my cuirass, and defend them if the need arises, as I do protect the faithful.’
“With those words, Haguen left the temple, never requiring a door or even to undo the sacred items. The priest took them, put on the cuirass, slung the halbard over his back, then did as he was bidden by his lord.”
“It is the divine spirit of Haguen which guides us to stay true to our duty and the purpose we have chosen, be it the soldier’s duty, or that of a messenger, or that of a merchant. Keeping to our promises and fulfilling our duties to the best of our abilities, that is giving praise to the Eternal Guardian.
“So praise Him throughout your existence, serve faithfully, and be assured that He shall keep a place reserved for you by His watchfire in the everafter.”
Gauld, Haguenite Priestess,
“Curious, isn’t it? There you have a whole clergy devoted only to duty. And here I thought that any given priest was high and mighty about the faithful following the divine orders by the letter. Only goes to show how crazed clerics can be. Not that I have anything against the gods, surely not. It’s just the priests who gall me.
“And the clerics of Haguen are the worst of the bunch. Look, maybe I could accept them if they kept that idea of holy duty only to their own purposes, like most of the others do. But the Haguenites insist that everybody has to be loyal and dutiful – no matter what the circumstances. Do they really think that’s so smart?
“Let me give you an example, all right? A couple of years ago, I knew a clerk in a merchant house. She figured out that her employer was scamming the customers. The merchant made up tolls and fees that he had to pay for passage of the goods through other lands, he invented various other ways of rising the prices, always after a deal has been struck beforehand. He’d concealed his scam very well, managing to goad his customers to keep ordering more wares.
“The clerk, she went to ask a Haguenite priest for advice. The man had seemed reliable and wise to her before. Well, guess what the fool cleric told her? He said that she was trying to break her duty to the merchant, the one who paid her! Can you believe that? She was concerned about the customers, but the priest told her to mind her duty to the bloody thieving merchant!
“That’s the way Haguenites think, you know? If you’re a soldier in the employ of a murderous dictator, you’ve got to do what the dictator tells you and lay down your life for him if the need arises – but you must not turn sides, because that would be disloyal.
“What a load of crap! A priest of Decirius, now he would say that justice is what you should seek; he would have told the clerk to bring all the evidence so that he could levy judgement on the merchant. (Not that I really like having clerics as judges, I don’t trust the Decirians any more than the Haguenites. They’ll find some way to screw you over just the same.)
“If we could get rid of priests altogether, I’d be happy. Let everyone worship the gods in his own private way, without any of the pompous fools inbetween, that’s the way to live.”
“We are all bound by a web of duties and loyalties. It would be simplistic to claim that at any time we are beholden to only one of these, that we can select to whom we owe loyalty. We have to balance the debts and services that we owe.
“It is not an easy task, yet it is that which Haguen has set before us. In that, we must follow the tenets of Decirius, He Who Decides, and look for the just action. After all, does not Haguen himself serve Decirius? Are not we, as his servants, therefore duty-bound to the High Lord as well?
“As you can see, we have already two masters whom we must please.
“But then, Haguen is the Eternal Guardian, who stands before the gates of the Divine Home. He is the Protector of the Faithful. Therefore it is his servants’ task to also safeguard those who put their faith in Haguen, and therefore they owe loyalty to the faithful as well.
“We are also held to respect and follow the customs and laws of the place where we reside. Proper and civil behavior is another demand that Haguen places upon us, as part of our duty. Therefore we owe loyalty to the law and the authorities enforcing them, as well as those who make the law. The ruler is another master we have to be loyal to.
“Yet civil behavior also means that we have to be respectful of every other person, no matter whether a lawmaker or his representative. Do we not also owe loyalty to them?
“All the faithful share these loyalties, but each one of us also has other ties, of a personal nature. There is the loyalty to your parents, to your family, but also that to your friends. Then there is your employer, or your superior in the ranks (be it clergy or wizardry or army or anything else of the sort) – he is the one whom most would call your proper master.
“We must not let our loyalties be decided by only one of these bonds; they are all important and have to be considered in our decisions. A priest has to be foremost in this. That is what the Eternal Guardian demands of us.”
Valoran, Haguenite Priest,
“There are those among us who say that we have to protect the faithful by keeping them true to their oaths and their duties. They say that words are mightier than a wielded blade.
“But we, the Nyblungs, ask whether Haguen is truly reflected by the symbol of a shield, or by the halberd that he carries, and by the force of which he protects the sacred? Haguen is a god of virtue, but he knows that virtue must be defended, defended with more than the mere words of other clerics. No, it is the halberd that has to stand for the deity. It is the halberd which we have to bear as well, to carry out our duty to the Unswerving One.
“Despite the way our brothers in Haguen speak badly of our acts, we shall proceed to walk armed, we shall proceed to defend the sheep, as the shepherd also carries weapons to drive off those who would prey on his flock.
“We shall continue to do our duty to Haguen in the only righteous way!”
Stenz, Nyblung-Haguenite Priest
“The Nyblung Sect is a strange offshoot of the Haguenite clergy. They have altered several of the precepts of the main branch, most importantly that the Nyblungs bear arms and hire out their services – which puts them in direct competition with Nash’Geo guardian priests. Of course the Nyblungs claim that they have precedence, since theirs is a prime god, while Nash’Geo is only a deity of the second generation. On the other hand, the numbers of guardian priests of the traveller god are much higher, and they certainly have a longer standing tradition. Nyblungs always counter by claiming that in the ancient and pure times, Haguenites were always armed. Only the perversion of their creed in more recent times has allowed Nash’Geo priests to usurp the Haguenites’ old place.
“Whatever the truth of this, the rivalry between the two has become intense. To a degree, this is the major reason why the main branch of Haguen’s clergy denounces the Nyblungs, because their presence encumbers the clergy’s relationship with Nash’Geo. Unfortunately, the sect has established itself solidly by now, with its own temples and its own clergy (ranked, suitably enough, by military designations), oftentimes openly challenging the representatives of the main branch in a city by placing their temple opposite the regular one.
“Nyblungs are generally aggressive and feel the need to assert the righteousness of their cause in many ways; luckily they tend towards words (which is ironic, given their supposed loathing of words). Nonetheless one should never forget their halberds which they train with excessively and thus have become highly adept with. Picking a fight with a Nyblung is not difficult, winning it without any loss of limb or life, that is difficult.
“Since they are ordinarily more of the physical type, they don’t study as hard as the regular priests. As a result their magical abilities lag behind their brethren’s. Although they have the same basic range of blessings and curses at their disposal, they are almost always less skilled – but they make up for that disadvantage by their weapons and brawn.
“Despite the differences, they are still Haguenites at heart and absolutely devoted to duty. Therefore several cities have welcomed Nyblungs as part (or the entirety) of their town guard, a task that they cherish. The cities can rely on the Nyblung loyalty, while they are glad to be respected as they should be (and will state that on many occasions).
Tall, Darawk priestess,
“There is no greater challenge for a builder than to design a temple devoted to Haguen, I firmly believe in that.
“When the head priest of the local temple, here in Vellabie, selected me for his new building, I was excited. The Haguenite temples are always so dire and simplistic. That indeed is their desire, to make their temple look much like an ordinary guardhouse, its harsh lines reflecting their own dedication to duty. Yet I feel that is not what a temple should look like; it should be a place of worship, one of lighthearted devotion to a god.
“My challenge, then, was to combine both the earnest steadfastness of Haguen’s clerics with the delight of the worshippers. First I worked on the exterior. Ordinarily a squat building on a square base, I changed the layout to be rectangular, broader than it is deep, and also higher than its depth. I gave the walls a slight bend, by having their thickness reduce towards the front, where the entrance is located. That way, an observer’s eye is unconsciously drawn towards the gate.
“To make the best use of that attraction, I had the walls around the gate itself carved so they resemble a fence. It is supposed to be a guardhouse, after all. The gate itself is the customary doorway with the rounded top, made of solid wood.
“Since Haguenite temples are never painted, I had to consider other ways of coloring the building. After much pondering I settled to build a second, very thin wall around the actual stones, made of cement bricks. Into the bricks, some coloring agents were mixed, and as a result the temple now shines in a bright ochre. By these means, I had now created a veritable gate to the gods, a perfect representation of the Eternal Guardian’s function.
“As for the interiors, the head priest was most precise in his demands. There were to be the clerics’ cells on the second floor, as simply furnished and designed as would be those of ordinary guards. Next to the stairway down, the offices of the highest-ranking clerics were to be placed.
“On the ground floor, the back of the building was to be taken up by kitchen facilities, lavatories and other such ordinary rooms. In the eastern part, a room for communion was to be situated. (I have taken to calling it the ‘briefing room’. By the way the head priest described to me what it was used for, it reminds me very much of the briefing rooms that the city guard uses to give out the daily assignments. The only real difference is that here, the priests convene for regular worship as well.)
“The western side of the building was to hold a single cleric’s cell, identical to those on the floor above – but its walls were to be two feet thick, without a window, and with its door behind a corridor of no less than twenty feet and no more than thirty feet in length. Only two torches were allowed to light the corridor, and a third was within the cell. This room is never occupied – at least not by any mortal being. It is reserved for the Eternal Guardian himself, should he ever visit this temple.
“What remains of the ground floor is taken up by the place of worship, a triangular room. At the base of the triangle, there is the door outside, as well as two windows set high in the walls. Benches are lined up in the room, turned towards the tip of the triangle where the altar to Haguen is located. The altar is a stone table, with the shield insignia of Haguen carved into its rectangular top. Its sparse decoration consists of a halbard mounted on a stand. (In other temples, the stand is made of metal and placed on the altar. I had a stand carved from the same block of stone as the altar itself, so that they are a single piece.) Hanging from the wall above the altar is a cuirass. Both are the ancient devices with which Haguen is associated, and through them the Unswerving One is present. In some temples, a shield, a helmet and gloves are also added, but that is not common. I am proud to say that in the Vellabie temple, we have all of that, and the items are all gilded. I have also taken care that they are mounted as if Haguen himself was wearing them, seeming to hang in the air (but actually attached to slight wires and stone spikes).
“There was little I could do here to add an aesthetic touch to the austerity in so many temples. I did my best, by choosing more lively kinds of stone, a more interesting arrangement of windows, of columns (some bearing actual weight, some for artistic reasons only). As I said above it is a true challenge. I feel that I have succeded, yet that should be for others to judge, not for me.”
The Blessing of Absolute Loyalty
“Oft it is that a servant feels less valued than he should be. It is then that he undertakes to see a priest of the Unswerving One, that he may be as firm in his devotion as is Haguen. A ritual will then be arranged, during which the blessing is laid on the applicant’s soul, to bind him to his duty eternally and irrevocably. But only then will the blessing settle within the soul, if it is welcomed freely, as a good priest can easily ascertain.
“Thusly, the master must now accept that the servant is fully devoted to his duty, and now the servant must be as valued as is his proper due.”
Hallmar, Haguenite Priest,
“Flowery speeches surround this so-called blessing, but they mask its one real purpose: to enslave a person to a master. The one who is ‘blessed’ must execute any and all commands by the master, no matter what those may be; he may question, he might go as far as to do so in a private discussion with the master, yet there is absolutely no way that the ‘blessed’ person can reject an order.
“Granted, they always do so of their own accord. Most Haguenite priests would be shocked if they were tasked to put this blessing upon an unwilling soul (not all, there’s always the curse – more honestly named). But how many really choose this entirely voluntarily? Who, honestly, would curtail his own free will, for the rest of his own life – or at least the remaining life span of the master?
“Only those, I say, who are forced into this by one measure or another. A stingy employer, perhaps, whom the clerk can only please in this manner – otherwise he would lose his job. Or the ruler of a land who will only grant a plum of a splendid job to one who binds his soul to the ruler’s. I could go on for hours about this, but anybody can come up with a list several pages long within a few minutes of thinking.
“What I am most incensed about is one practice that has been going on for a long time in my home republic of Nede-Rhol: on their wedding nights, young brides are ‘encouraged’ to submit to the Blessing of Absolute Loyalty, with their husband as their master. ‘Why should you not do that?’ others, predominantly the husband-to-be, will ask. ‘After all, it is part of marriage that you shall serve your husband, as he will provide for you.’
“Why then, I ask, has there never been a husband who submited to the blessing? Why has it always been the woman? Is she of inferior willpower than a man? Is she easier to sway, is she more likely to break the oath of marriage? Or is it perhaps the other way around, that men want assured control of their wives, while they can do as they please?
“Let us not forget here that a large number of Haguenite priests are males themselves. How many of their wives are subjected to this blessing, easily convinced not only by tradition but also the quick tongues of their husbands-to-be?
“And do not hope that the mothers of these poor brides have much say in the matter. In most cases they themselves have been bound to their husbands, and the men’s ideals have long since taken hold in their souls. How much did I struggle to avoid this accursed blessing! My mother was ready to disown me – until I managed to convince my father, whereafter she quickly came to cherish my decision.
“I ask you, is that what you would expect a ‘blessing’ to effect? Is that what a supposedly good deity should stand for?”
The Curse of Absolute Loyalty
There is not much of a difference between the blessing and the curse to the eyes of an outsider like me. Both will bind the soul of the subject to the duty to another person – or an institution, like a state. The blessing, though, only works with a voluntary subject.
The curse on the other hand batters down any resistance, shattering the free will and replacing it with the bond to the master. It seems an utter perversion to such as myself who cherish free will above everything else; and the Christians of the Imperium have denounced Haguen as a dark god for that reason. (I should rather say that they call him a dark “idol”, since they only believe in a single god. The reader should not confuse the Christian god with Gushémal’s own One God of the Tonomai, they are quite disparate.)
To the fortune of us all, the curse is far more difficult to cast than the blessing. It requires a very experienced cleric to overcome resistance; the more defiance the subject shows, the more force the priest will need. It is said that the firmest of wills cannot be bent even by this curse.
A claim that I know to be false. Some twenty-five years ago, a good friend of mine – Claudius Aemilius – was taken prisoner in Kraznyczar. Haguenite priests took control of his mind, binding him to their own emperor and returning him to us as a spy. It took us months before we began to suspect him – we scarcely know how much information he transmitted to the Kraznyczarians during that time.
Claudius has been a fervent soul, who was incapable of betraying us. Yet his will was broken by the curse, so that he now had to follow the foreigners’ commands. Worst of all, he was aware all the time that he was betraying his own people – and his own ideals. Yet he could do nothing about it. All he could do was hope that his treason would be uncovered. But he could not even give us the slightest hints at what was going on, that deeply had the curse burrowed into his soul.
Poor Claudius! Priests serving our own Apollo tried to shine the light of truth into him, yet the curse remained unbroken. Other clerics came to undo the bond, to no avail. Claudius had to languish in a dungeon (house arrest had proved unsuitable, for Claudius had unwillingly attempted to escape), until a Christian priest was called. (My friend’s wife is a Christian, yet he had not converted to their religion.) This priest managed to loosen the curse’s hold enough so that Claudius could return to the outside world and tell us of his suffering.
I wonder if the priest could have completely eradicated the curse over time, yet he never had a chance. Claudius had taken ill during his months in jail, an illness that would grow worse, and within half a year he died. One cause surely was the jail itself, but I think that the torture of his mind had left a larger stain on my friend – he had known that he had committed treason, which rotted away his will to live.
(It is quite curious that a Christian priest could succeed where others failed. All in all, their faith has not flourished much in Gushémal. Their clerics do not make use of magic, but merely praise their lord and preach his sermons. Where there are ample signs of the other gods’ existence, the Christian deity seems to be absent most of the time – except for such odd occurrences as this. Sometimes I think that their god has stayed behind in the Munda Antiqua; perhaps his faith there commands much of his attention.)
The Blessing of the Examination of Loyalty
Every Haguenite priest can invoke this blessing, it seems to be the first one that they learn. The effects are very well described in the legend of the Archduke of Owon-Kibirsk above: The cleric first has to ascertain whether the subject believes in Haguen, then he simply asks whether the subject is loyal.
It appears that the cleric can sense the truth of the answer, how deep the loyalty runs. I cannot say much more, there is a dearth of Haguenites in the Imperium whom I might ask. (That is most likely a result of the enmity of the Christians towards them. Even though the latter’s numbers are certainly in the minority, they have great influence on our nation.)
The Blessing of Locks
One primary function of Haguen is that of the Eternal Guardian, standing watch at the city gate of the Gushémal deities. Therefore it is no surprise that his followers have devised a number of blessings and curses which involve this guardianship.
The most common of these is that locks are blessed (some would say cursed) so that they cannot be opened except by the rightful owner or someone properly authorized. Some don’t require a key, only a certain phrase or some other measure by which the blessing is temporarily removed.
There is a goodly variety of these blessings, of varying intensity. A very few can actually be picked like a non-magical (but very complicated), yet the majority cannot be circumvented that easily. As happens so often in our world, the lower layers of society have found ways to deal specifically with this blessing, and I have it on good authority that there are ways to undo almost every of these lock blessings – although I hasten to add that most of these require a lot of experience and also expenses.
If you, kind reader, detect any fondness in the words above, then please do not confuse it with affection for the criminal. I certainly do not condone that; the records of my time as senator of the Imperium should clarify this matter. But what I do appreciate is the fact that the human spirit can not resist the challenge of a blessed lock – indeed the challenge of a god -, and that mere mortals can be victorious.
Curses on Doorways
Of course the Haguenites are aware that many lock blessings can be circumvented. Those cast by the lower ranks of their clergy are particularly vulnerable – a situation that those most definitely do not like. (After all, these blessings make up a good part of their temples’ revenue.) As a result, other ways of protecting entrances have been developed, to wit by cursing them. The curse is usually linked to an ordinary lock blessing. When the lock fails by any other means than the regular key (or word or something of the like), the curse is invoked and affects all that stand before the doorway. The range varies, depending not only on the abilities of the casting priest but also the wishes of the proprietor.
The basic function of the curses is always the same, but their effect varies greatly. Some blind the persons within range, some call down lightning, some make them fall asleep, some cause insane berserker rage so that the supposed invaders try to kill each other. Most often the curse is not openly advertised, and it is only discovered when someone tries to enter irregularly.
As one can imagine from my previous statements, there are people who have sought for ways to circumvent these curses. To their dismay, such ways are far more difficult to uncover than those against lock blessings. First, one has to find out if there is a curse at all, then which kind of curse it is, or how it can be countermanded.
For that reason the doorway curses have put the priests back in the business of protecting entrances. It appears safe to assume that a door locked by a Haguenite blessing also carries a curse of some form. Whether lethal or not, I would say, depends much on the nature of the person who has hired the clerics in the first place. If the Archduke from the legend above had had a curse put in, it would most assuredly have been deadly.
The Blessing of Impenetrability
I find this one very intriguing. It seems to be a continuation of the blessings and curses above, also used for protection, but it is a very extreme (and expensive) measure. Here the priests make sure that walls cannot be pierced by any means, that they become impenetrable. As a matter of fact, the blessing also includes windows, doorways and in some cases the air which seems to turn into a wall of its own. There have been instances in which a house or castle had been surrounded by a perfect globe of impenetrability. (These instances have been regretted quickly by the people inside, for the solid globe did not allow in any fresh air, so that the inhabitants of the castle suffocated – unless the blessing was revoked quickly. Since the casting Haguenite is usually also inside, he will take care to leave several openings in such a globe – vents, if you will.)
Most commonly, though, only the walls of, say, a castle are blessed. For this matter, the priest has to walk along the entire length, constantly casting his blessing. Obviously this consumes a lot of strength and time, which accounts for the high price that the Haguenites charge for this blessing.
It seems that this blessing is highly effective, but it always comes at a price, for it is as impossible to leave its protected zone – except through pre-arranged passages – as it is to enter. If windows are included in the blessing, you cannot leap out of it (if there is a fire within, for example), and neither could a defender of a castle fire arrows at a besieger.
Should the zone have many open passages, then its effect is called into question, for the outsider can use them as easily as the insider. They are ordinary windows and doors, for all intents and purposes. That a siege engine cannot batter down a wall is an advantage, yet there are more ways at the disposal of a besieger.
All in all, this blessing is a double-edged sword. It can be very beneficient, but it should be well considered before handing over the donation to a priest.