What follows is an excerpt from the forthcoming “Houses of the Blooded: Secrets of the Elk” article for Wicked Words #8. You can become a subscriber to Wicked Words for just $2.99 per issue. That gives you access to all the back issues as well. To subscribe, just click here!
The Accounting of Enemies
Another important element about enemies among the Elk. Goes along with the Accounting Book.
Jaymen Steele once wrote that a Cunning Elk will destroy his enemies as quickly as possible. “A living enemy makes more enemies,” he said. “But dead enemies only make graves.” For centuries, Steele’s advice served as the backbone of Elk philosophy. Until Arisaphe Steele.
Arisaphe Steele (writing under a pseudonym) published a paper called “The Accounting of Enemies.” In it, he espoused the idea that an Elk should be measured by his enemies. His living enemies.
“I could kill them all at will,” he wrote. “It is the mere fact that I allow them to live that demonstrates my mastery over them.”
After he went into his Solace, Arisaphe became known as “the Suaven of Enemies.” His philosophy became popular among the younger Elks. Elders thought his approach “smelled too much of Foxwine.”
Those who embrace Arisaphe’s Accounting of Enemies try to make as many enemies as possible, playing them on strings, manipulating them while keeping their own necks safe.
The conflicting approaches have created a kind of rift among the Elk: those who espouse Jaymen Steele’s ruthless example and those who embrace Arisaphe’s accounting of enemies. Typically, the rift goes along age lines: younger Elks (full of vim, vigor and the enthusiasm for Art) support Arisaphe’s approach while older Elks (more practical and experienced) demolish their enemies as Jaymen Steele advises. Of course, each Elk demonstrates their support through devotion to the appropriate Suaven.
Arisaphe Steele: The Suaven of Enemies
(The character “Arisaphe Steele” was created by Fabien Badilla.)
Arisaphe espoused a dangerous philosophy: the more enemies you have, the more prestigious your legacy. Those who revere him receive Blessings that reflect his methods.
Rank: 3 (ven may only have up to 3 Devotion to this Suaven)
House: Blooded of the Elk
Favored Virtue: Cunning
Titles: the Sublime Adversary, the Puppet Maker
Unique Blessing: The Oppugnant Promise
Arisaphe’s Blessing allows the Devotee to give a special distinction to those he deems “enemies.” A Devotee of Arisaphe may have a number of enemies equal to his Cunning. To make another ven an enemy, the Devotee must kiss the ven and say the words, “I swear I shall destroy you.”
Whenever facing a ven so chosen to be an enemy, the Devotee gains a number of Free Wagers equal to his Devotion to Arisaphe Steele… as long as his actions do not lead to the enemy’s death.