When the host of angels came to earth, Penemue chose a mate unlike the others, a woman scorned and abandoned by her husband for her physical appearance. She was short and uncomely, yet strong of will. She made for a poor wife, but exhibited a natural aptitude for the Goety arts. She absorbed Penemue’s teachings with frightening ease and quickly became a master.
Soon thereafter they bore their first son, which they named Hori. At the height of the antediluvian Empires, Hori and his mother departed from Penemue’s company and made their own kingdom, taking with them their siblings and laying the foundations of their own nation in the mountains and cliffs of a distant desert land. From that day forth they would no longer call themselves ‘Penemuelim’, but rather they would brand themselves the ‘Horim’. There the children of Hori developed a culture unlike any of the other Estates, as well as disturbing new uses for their Goety.
From the first days, the children of Penemue stood out from the other immortals. Their short stature and physical appearance quickly made them the target of many, who would quickly discover that they are not to be taken lightly. Many armies were sent to find and destroy the people that the other Estates called an abomination of their first Covenant. On only one occasion did any of those armies return, and what they spoke of struck fear in those who heard their words. After months of searching through the endless desert expanse, their army had found the city of the Horim and laid siege to it. But the Horim people used powerful magiks to summon beasts and demons of all kinds to attack their assailants. What followed was a description of hellish events that would cement the perception of the Horim in the eyes of their brethren for all time. The invading forces turned upon themselves, murdering and mutilating one another in delusional fear.
Brothers and sisters, fathers and sons, friends and loved ones who, believing themselves to be attacked by that which they feared the most, began to slaughter one another. So began the dark stain that would tarnish the Horim for all time.
When the floods came, many of the survivors thought the Horim lost, but a few centuries later, there appeared from the desert the Horim people and their stone kingdom. None dared attack them, and so it was that the Horim lay the foundations to a powerful desert nation until one day, they simply disappeared again. Once more they were believed to be extinguished, but centuries ago, as the fledgling Empires spread their wings and began to conquer the known world, they
fell upon a small kingdom in the desert, and again the Horim came to the eyes of their brethren.
So it was that the Estates reluctantly allowed the Horim people to be part of their plans,
and all seemed well, for a time. With the invasion of new peoples however, the Horim are finding it
hard to hide from the mis-trusting eyes of the other Estates, for they remember the power of
Penemue’s Goety and fear his children greatly. A new time of conflict may be upon this Estate soon.
Within the Horim Estate, women hold the true reins of power, for they have sole right to the
religious titles and spiritual leadership of their people. This also means that anyone wishing to learn any Goety, must do so under the tutelage and warding of the Horim women. Men do hold some measure of power, but it is political and economic, nothing more. They perform the political duties and negotiations
that involve their mortal herd and any interaction with outsiders, immortal or not. At first glance, a stranger meeting the Horim people would perceive the men of the Estate as those in power. But like many things about these people, it is an illusion. What is known about the structure of the Estate is that only the powerful rule, those who show weakness are quickly dispensed with and replaced by an individual who is powerful enough to take control, sometimes plunging the Estate in a state of
The Horim do not entertain the ideology that mortals are their equals. In fact, very rare are those who indulge themselves in relationships of any kind with their mortal mates, it is seen as a deviancy to do so. They do watch over their flock of mortal kin however, not so much out of emotional attachment but out of need, as a shepherd would watch over a flock of sheep.
Most Horim, when required to mate, will use their Goety to shape their appearance so as to appeal to the desires of their potential mates, and then leave once the act has been done. Many Horim feel that it is for the best, for what mortal would want to be part of their lives or be capable of handling the truth? Once the child is born and the priestesses have determined its immortal potential, the Estate will steal the child away, placing it into the custody of the warder. The Horim do not believe in acolytes, for if a child is incapable of surviving on its own, it does not deserve to be Horim.
The physical appearance of the Horim people is the single most distinguishing factor of all the Nephal; they are diminutive, with the tallest of their people at five feet in height. On all other aspects, race, color and beliefs, they are as diverse as any other people or Estate. Mentally, they are a people afflicted with complete and utter mistrust. The general belief is that everyone has personal goals, and if someone offers you something it is because they desire something in return. The distrust that the Horim feel permeates their entire people, including relations with one another. No single Horim trust anyone but themselves nor would they willingly show any sign of weakness to anyone. Thus all Estate interactions have developed into complicated and detailed ritualistic ceremonies that are meant to facilitate the
interaction between individuals and avoid any internal conflict.
Older Horim hail from the Persian and Egyptian desert nomad people, from which their first kingdom emerged. They are expected to be strong both physically and mentally. Their knowledge base is dictated by their gender, with women specializing in the skills necessary for religious and spiritual leadership and the men with political and commercial dealings. However because of their dark natures, mistrust and many socially crippling edicts, Horim begin the game with but 3 points of Redemption, and 6 points of Sin.
The Horim undergo a particularly harsh form of tutelage. From the moment of their introduction to their people, they are not coddled. They are given to their warder, who is always a woman, and are taught the ceremonies, Goety and skills they will need to survive. The tutelage is a series of tests, both physical and mental, to ensure that they are strong enough to be part of the Estate. Those who fail are either left to die or are executed for their weakness. It is the harsh reality of their people that the weak have no place amongst them.
Once the tutelage is complete, they are brought before a council of priestesses who will invoke their greatest fears. So terrible are some of the sights invoked, that some initiates have been known to die as a result. Should they survive this final test, they will be welcomed by their brethren, and may then take their place in the ranks of the Horim.
The Goety of Penemue:
It was said that the Goety of the Horim patron angel was not one of fear, but rather simply that of illusions. However the jaded souls of his chosen mate and their first son Hori, twisted the art of his Goety to summon forth the soul’s deepest, darkest fears, giving them flesh. This is the perverted legacy of the Goety of Penemue, the power of fear. Many disdain the Horim for this reason alone, for the power of fear is great.
At its starting levels, the adept may summon small fears such as the dark or insects, causing discomfort and small imagined physical effects. At higher levels of proficiency, the adept can amplify those fears into something that will affect the senses, fooling the target into believing that they are hearing, seeing or feeling something other than what is actually there.
However it is the higher levels of the Goety that terrifies others. The masters of this art may call forth the deepest fears of the victim and give them tangible form, summoning forth monstrous creatures and indestructible demons. Those who have witnessed the full power of the Horim attest to beasts appearing out of thin air and slaughtering all those around the victim while they lay on the ground, cradled in shear terror.
In addition to this, the Horim do retain some vestiges of their patron’s true power, albeit as a minor Goety. They have an uncanny ability to discern the deepest longings of those individuals they observe. To this effect they receive a +1 bonus to all difficulty markers for each dot in their minor Virtue towards the detection of a target’s sincere desires. Consequently, they also receive a +1 bonus on their difficulty markers on all rolls involving the detection of a target’s deepest fears.
The Horim also benefit from an intensively ritualistic society concerning their Estate social customs, thus by force of habit alone they have become so accustomed to performing ceremonies, rites and rituals that they benefit from such. Thus the men benefit from a +1 bonus per minor Virtue to the difficulty marker of all ceremonies.
However the women of the Estate, being the legitimate rulers in all matters of mysticism, receive a +1 bonus on their difficulty markers when performing any mystical ritual.
Penemue was said to be so anguished and jaded by the betrayal of his consort and their son, that he cursed them, placing upon all his children the taint of mistrust. All situations in which any interaction takes place directly between a Horim and any non-Horim, the first will suffer an age modifier penalty on all social rolls.
The most obvious frailty of the Horim people however, is their diminutive physical stature. In all situations whereas the Horim are handling any armor, weapons, piece of equipment, tools or other materials that were not made with their diminutive size in mind, they automatically suffer a Brawn difficulty penalty equal to their age modifier. This penalty may vary in degree by the object of course which should be arbitrated by the Storyteller. Also consider the Horim to have the equivalent of one point less of strength of their actual Brawn score for the purpose of opposed or combined rolls.
This latter Estate frailty is ignored when dealing with items made by the Horim people for themselves. And albeit a Horim broadsword would be considered less effective than its normal counterpart against the average individual, for simplicity’s sake, treat all Horim weapons as their normal counterparts and remove 1 point from the damage score.