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The Barakaiel'im.

Imagine a world without history, a people doomed to repeat the same mistakes time and time again. Every generation having to learn the same lessons as the previous, each making the same mistake as their forefathers, an endless cycle of repetition. Had we not learned to pass on knowledge in verbal and written form, we would certainly not have evolved past hunter-gatherers. This is the gift the children of Barakaiel have brought to the world; the words of the past, conveyed to the present.

In the ancient times, before the Hosts came to Earth, humanity lived as near to animals as the sands to the ocean. All that changed with the introduction of the art of history. At first, this came under the form of storytelling, where a select few individuals learned to relate past events in the form of oral epic stories, thus passing on valuable lessons to younger generations. Then the Ben-Barakaiel taught their children how to write, and written history took shape. Lessons could be kept for future generations, defying the erosion of time and death. Many other Estates at first scorned them for introducing the power of the word, for their own children began to grow intelligent, and some even grew wise to their ways and became independent. Such self-awareness breathes enlightenment, dissidence, and rebellion.

Although the altruistic ‘Ben-Barakaiel’ were not warriors by nature, they quickly learned to defend themselves and their libraries from the onslaught of their angered brethren. They built great hidden repositories of knowledge, and developed communities living in some of the most reclusive and inhospitable places in the world. There is a legend that one such place was the Mecca of their knowledge, a place so well hidden that after the flood, none could remember where it stood. Thus, it may well still be there, waiting to unleash ancient knowledge from a time when the Hosts walked the Earth as gods.

Even in these dark times, the ‘Ben-Barakaiel’ have not swayed from their appointed tasks as historians. They travel the known and unknown world, recording all that may or may not be of significance, cataloguing events, and summarizing them into various texts, signs and occurrences. However, whether they are recording local events, chronicling the life of historical individuals, or traveling abroad to discover strange and possibly unexplored places, their task is perilous indeed, often requiring them to expose themselves to war, plagues and even overseas travel. Their work is time-consuming, and leaves little in the way of riches, fame, recognition or personal life. To be ‘Ben-Barakaiel’ means that in many respects, loneliness will most likely be your constant companion.

The Estate as a whole is organized into several branch sects which are appointed specific types of duties. None of these sects are considered Roots, as they all work towards one common goal. However, each are allocated a fair amount of leeway to perform their tasks. There are the Librarians who transcribe the texts brought to them. There are those of whom travel around the world, recording events as they happen. Then there are the Searchers, a small sect which deals with cross-referencing the past with present texts, and archeological findings. Within this last sect, there is an even smaller sect, nicknamed the Diggers. They seek the ‘holy grail’ of knowledge: the lost temple of Barakaiel’s great library. To belong to this last sect, one must first pass various tests to be accepted. Candidates must be cunning, intelligent, rugged and capable of surviving in any situation.

Each of these sects answers to their own council; a group of appointed elders of respectable reputation who evaluate all the information, and seek to make sure that the great tragedies of the past do not repeat themselves. It is said that, of late, they have become very nervous about what they are reading. Not all sects answer to clearly defined councils, for within history there are dark secrets, things better left undiscovered. Likewise within the ‘Ben-Barakaiel’, there are sects that dutifully make sure these secrets remain undiscovered. They are the Grigori and the Zophim, semi-independent sects within the Estate that make sure the information that is gathered within the Estate and with others, is safe to be shared. The Grigori, or watchers, filter through information and artifacts that may be too dangerous to be revealed, such as the location of powerful items of evil. The Zophim on the other hand take a far more direct involvement. Some have called them assassins, others see them as no more than thugs. They are said to be trained in the arts of war, and deception, forever guarding those things that cannot, must not be revealed to the world. This they are said to do, no matter the cost.

The ‘Ben-Barakaiel’ are characterized by their deep discerning eyes, which appear far too knowing, often making people around them uneasy and uncomfortable. Wherever they may be, they always have some method of recording events on their person. This may range from a book or tome, to scrolls or parchment, the means are of little matter, in truth it is purely a preference, it is the end that is all-important.

Many elders will elicit the services of a few of Barakaiel’s children as scribes to keep track of the events in their region, as to better aid them in policing their charges. However not all is forgiven and forgotten, as the ‘Ben-Barakaiel’ have yet to put behind them the destruction of the great libraries of old, an act that was echoed in the burning of the library at Alexandria. This was not well taken by the ancients of the Estate, some of which refuse to share any of their findings with other Estates to this day. To anyone else, the ‘Ben-Barakaiel’ remain tight- lipped about what they find, and staunchly refuse to divulge any mass quantity of their precious writings.

The ‘Ben-Barakaiel’ and their mortal families often work side by side, although work relationships are rare and are considered unprofessional. This does not mean that they are not close or attached to their mortal brethren, but rather they choose to keep them at arm’s reach so as not to interfere with one another’s lives. Their first and most important duty of course is to uphold their appointed tasks, family comes next. This accompanied by the effects of the Estate curse insures that no long-term relationships take place between the mortals and immortals of these people. It comes as no surprise that most mates suffer from fits of emotional repression and solitude; who wouldn’t?

‘Ben-Barakaiel’ often take on the role of Scribes, Public Officials and City Audile; however, more adventurous persona concepts are acceptable, especially for the searcher and digger sects. ‘Ben-Barakaiel’ begin with 5 points of Redemption, reflecting their utter devotion to their task. They however also start with 4 points of Sin, representing their detachment from humanity. To this day they are the only Estate known to hide their birth name as well as their true angelic one. Once the tutelage and the Rite of Rebirth are completed, the Estate leaders will ask the equal by which name they would like to be called when not in the company of their own and hence from that day forth they shall be known as such to all save other ‘Ben-Barakaiel’.

The Tutelage:

The tutelage begins with a year of studying proper historical research and its collection methods, followed by an apprenticeship with their warder, out in the world recording events firsthand as they happen. Discipline is a great factor, but one must remember that fortitude and courage play a role in what the ‘Ben-Barakaiel’ do as well. Often enough they will put their immortal lives in danger to be at the forefront of historical events. This has resulted in many complicated situations, where people have seen them die, only to witness them return from the dead soon thereafter. Although there are many times that this can be coincidentally explained, sometimes the obvious surreality of the event is undeniable.

The final part of the Tutelage sees the mortal initiate being assigned to a team of students with the task of creating a complete and comprehensive report concerning a current historical event as a group. The project is expected to reflect the events that have led up to their subject, the current developments, as well as the closing events, if any. Once the project is submitted, it will undergo evaluation and from its results the initiates will be assigned to one of the Estate’s respective sects. With the project review complete, the initiates are told to which sect they will belong to, and the Rite of Rebirth is performed. From that point on, they are accepted into the folds of the immortal ranks. The endless hours of accumulating information and the gruelingly tedious task of piecing it all together for evaluation may seem boring to the average person, but to a ‘Ben-Barakaiel’, there is nothing more exciting than knowing what truly happened and seeing it all unfold before their eyes.

The Goety of Barakaiel:

The children of Barakaiel have the ability to remain out of the sight of others by focusing their will upon that of those in the immediate area. At first, this allows them to avoid visual perception. At higher levels of competence, they are able to meld with the surrounding shadows or disappear behind forms. It is said that masters of this Goety are literally able to remove themselves from sight and erase their presence from not only the perception of those who seek them, but also from the very fabric of reality itself. Thus, they would not appear in paintings, be mentioned in texts, becoming an urban myth that will soon be eroded by the passage of time in the memory of the few who might have possibly imagined them. 

The ‘Ben-Barakaiel’ have become so accustomed to recording history that they have evolved into living repositories of knowledge unto themselves. They may thus try to recall any event or piece of information they have encountered at a +1 bonus on their difficulty marker per dot in their Minor Virtue. They may also draw upon a vast amount of experience to evoke a form of “jack of all trades” when dealing with any Common and Skilled Knowledge Base they have come into contact with. This allows them to duplicate any such knowledge they may have come across at any point in time, counterbalancing the usual “unskilled” penalty with a +1 bonus on their difficulty marker per dot in their Minor Virtue.

Barakaiel’s Curse:

One would think that being able to simply disappear would be a great asset, but it is also a terrible curse. As time ebbs onward, the children of Barakaiel fade from the memory of those around them, becoming a myth, eventually disappearing into time completely. As they age it becomes increasingly difficult for the people around them to remember anything about their persona. Thus an age penalty modifier is automatically applied to the rolls of any individual seeking to remember any aspect of the immortal in question. They themselves are immune to the effect of the curse amongst each other, but their mortal families and the other Estates certainly are not.

This unfortunately means that many young initiates and Equals, having left for an assigned project or from their years of tutelage, return to find that their friends, family and loved ones have all but forgotten them.

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