The Chastened

The Chastened

Here lies a toppled god —
His fall was not a small one.
We did but build his pedestal,
A narrow and tall one.

Tleilaxu Epigram, Dune Messiah

Patron: Abaddon, sower of Chaos

There’s an old parable that goes something like this. A scorpion comes to the edge of a lake, and sees a frog. The scorpion asks the frog to let it onto its back, and swim across the lake, so it can reach the other side. The frog says “but you’re a scorpion – how do I know you won’t just sting me and kill me?”, to which the scorpion replies: “because if I sting you, both of us will drown.” The frog lets the scorpion on its back, and swims into the center of the lake, when the scorpion stings it. As they both sink, the frog asks why. The scorpion merely replies: “because it is my nature.”

Abbadon’s role in creation was always clear: destruction. All things must die, all things must end, and Abbadon was the purveyor of that end. With Hadad’s usurpation of the throne, Abbadon fought and fled alongside the forces of Attar. Once cast down from Heaven, Abaddon set about doing what they were made for: destruction.

Abaddon spread destruction upon the earth — and was successful enough that humanity was almost wiped away entirely. Attar found them, commanding them to stop: “There must be a balance to all things”, Attar exclaimed. “What is the purpose in defeating my brother if all we win are ashes?”

So chastened by his Lord was Abaddon that the lesson led them to accomplish a task never before attained by an angel above or below, one beyond the comprehension of that scorpion: in order to survive in this world, Abaddon changed its true nature. Instead of calling on its followers to destroy the world in an inferno, Abaddon asks that they to burn away all that holds humanity back from its destiny. As Abaddon was able to adapt and grow, so must the humankind. Where it does not wish to change, Abaddon’s followers will teach the harsh lesson needed to make it so.

Motivation: In the grand scheme of things, all of this – The Rightful God and the Usurper, the Blessed and the Banished, good and evil – is an evolutionary experiment. As we approach the end of days, the question will not be who is right and who is wrong, but who can adapt to survive the struggle, and take the actions needed in order to win, as Abaddon has shown them.

In many aspects, The Chastened share similar goals to The Bringers of Fire. The Chastened, too,  seek for humanity to evolve into the prosperous future. The problem with humans is that it’s too easy for them to get complacent; too easy for them to hit local maximums. Sometimes they must be freed from what limits them, and pushed, perhaps off a cliff, for them to be able to soar to new heights. The Bringers of Fire seek progress, but they’re rarely willing to burn out the corruption and apathy which holds back society. Where The Bringers of Fire fail to act, The Chastened step in — they’re not above putting down Old Yeller when its his time.

The Bronze Age might have seen like a glimmering apex of civilization at the time, but a society of monarchs in decadent mansions, focused on their piles of gold and back patting, had long ceased to improve the human condition. Without the fall of the Bronze Age, we might have never had Iron. Without Genghis Khan’s conquest and destruction of whole civilizations, the East and West would have remained isolated from each other, possibly permanently, by the greedy nations who profited from their separation. Without the impetus of catastrophic wars in the 20th century, humanity would’ve never gone from a land bound civilization to exploring the moon in 66 years — they would still be ruled by a single, petty, inbred, ruling family. Ultimately, The Chastened are willing to set fire to the “old guard” if it means making room for something new. Progress is worth cracking some eggs.

While the Chastened certainly have their own projects, they work best when they’re subverting the Blessed’s Bringers of Fire or Judges of Light — getting them to take things too far, to make changes they haven’t entirely considered the repercussions of. The Chastened were the ones who managed to convince the Judges of Light to fight the Crusades and stop those terrible Muslim heretics from stealing the Holy Land. Only much later did they find out that there were Blessed on both sides of the war, and that the Chastened convinced the Judges of the Caliphate of the same. However, the bloodshed was minimal compared to the progress gained bringing the Christian and Arabic worlds together. You can thank the Chastened for mattresses, paper, and not having to use Roman numerals anymore.

Goals: Tear down the structures that are holding humanity back from achieving its perfect, enlightened form. Show humanity the mistakes they allow to hold themselves back, and bring them kicking and screaming into the future. The future is worth any cost.

Beliefs Invoked: This society, group, company, is fundamentally flawed. The only way to purify it is fire. We must be willing to destroy in order to create.

Criticisms: By nature, the Banished receive a great deal of ire from the Blessed, but none more-so than the hatred the Bringers of Fire hold for The Chastened. They see their purpose reflected in their enemies, but corrupted through callousness and pride. What most worries the Fire-Bringers, however, is how easy it is for The Chastened to convince their members to simply go too far to reach their goals. The line is a slippery one, and while it is somewhat rare for a Blessed to leave for The Banished, it is often a Fire-Bringer being lured across that line that leads them into The Chastened. And after all, it was the Demons who started bringing progress to humanity in the first place.

While The Profane and The Betrayed certainly have their own problems being good teammates, they take special issue with the tactics The Chastened have used in modern nights to further their goals. In the world of instant communication and viral messaging, often all it takes for humans to tear down the old guard is a glimpse at the corruption within, and a sliver of opportunity — sunlight is indeed the best disinfectant. The housing crash and the Arab Spring were surprisingly easy for The Chastened to kick off, and The Betrayed will hold a grudge over the influence lost for quite a long time.