And finally I can reveal to you another finished section of the Compendium! Please read and enjoy!
See you in the Vein!
Initiation Quest -The Initiation Quest (sometimes referred to simply as the “Initiation”) is a mandatory journey undertaken by all prospective members of the Sect for the purpose of completing the necessary training and gaining full acceptance as brothers and sisters in the Sect of the Awakened.
Upon completion of two hundred days’ worth of training and education in the ways of the Sect (including Scythe combat training, the practice of daily Lodge chores, and the learning of the Original Tongue of the Seven), a would-be member is sent from his city of residence to the Blood Marsh located in the Southeastern corner of the Meridian, permitted to travel with only a working scythe (which, it is presumed, the prospective member has adequately demonstrated proficiency in its use) and an ample supply of food and water. Accompaniment by other established Sect members is permitted only until the Blood Marsh is within sight, after which the veteran brothers and/or sisters are to bid their would-be new member farewell and blessing in the name of Balys-Crahly, in hopes that success and not failure awaits the novice in the episode to follow.
From this point on, the apprentice is to travel alone into the Blood Marsh (which, based upon all accounts from experienced residents of the Meridian, is the most dangerous place in all of the land; a serious statement to make considering that the whole of the Meridian is essentially hostile to any and every Being) and brave the deadly environment for the purpose of obtaining the two materials necessary for construction of his own personal cloak. The first material to be acquired is the hide of a maw eel, upon which can be found a thick, fibrous, and durable fur. The second material is that of a cotton-like growth found on a tall, reed-like grass which is found in abundance in the marsh. Once sufficient quantities of the materials have been successfully acquired by the apprenticing would-be member, the quest is concluded, and the victorious prospect is to return to his city of origin safely for the purpose of instruction regarding the weaving and production of his/her cloak.
Despite the relative simplicity of the task, only a minority of hopefuls finish their Initiation Quest for success. An estimate given is that, for every successful member who survives the quest, there are ten to twelve who do not, either through cowardice (backing out of the mission at the time of embarkment or in the midst of the quest itself, such as stated by former prospects who have testified to seeing horrific and nightmarish things in the Blood Marsh and consequently tucked tail and fled, thus forsaking by default their membership in the Sect) or through encounter with a deadly fate from the hazardous elements awaiting them. It is said that portions of the Marsh are littered with the rusted remains of scythes once possessed by the unfortunate victims devoured by the voracious terrors lurking within the shadows and waters, and more than one returning Sect member has claimed to hear the echos of screams and strangled gurgles just beyond visibility.
Those successful in completing the mission are given the reward of a fifteen day respite from their daily Lodge responsibilities upon their return, required only to train in scythe combat one hour per day while they spend a majority of the rest of the down time learning to construct their cloaks (See the “Cloak” section of the compendium for more detail on this). As is verified by various accounts, the returning brethren, having survived their lone ordeal in the Blood Marsh, are more than happy to take the extended leave, as various testimonies indicate that the Initiation Quest is quite rigorous and taxing on both physical and mental health.
Those who do not complete the Initiation are given no ill-will by the Sect members, but they are required to turn in their scythes to the Lodge, as it is explained to them that the Scythe, like the cloak, is considered to be a mark of a fully-accomplished Sect member, and as such cannot be held by non-members. In general, this relinquishment of the weapon is done without incident or reluctance on the part of either side, although it has been testified that a very few who have cowered from their quest have not returned to their city of origin, instead making their way into another of the Fringe Cities and keeping their weapon at their side as they begin a new life somewhere else in the Meridian. Such behavior is considered highly dishonorable by the Sect, and all Sect members are under orders to confiscate any scythe, whether or not the weapon is equipped with a functioning charger, from any non-member (albeit the Sect members are warned strictly to do this through peaceable means and not resort to violence in apprehending the rogue scythe unless such action is absolutely necessary and unavoidable).