Emeralds by Night
The Chakravanti, sometimes called the Euthanatos, are one of the Nine Traditions. Their focus Sphere is Entropy. Amanda is an example of a Chakravanti.
It’s hard to accept the fact that, one day, consciousness as every human knows it will end. Death, to most people, is a terrifying unknown that must be avoided at all costs. It’s little wonder, then, that people look into the eyes of a Chakravanti and suddenly grow cold. The Chakravanti know death, and they know that it must and will come. Sometimes, these mages bring death with them. More often, though, they bring the potential for rebirth, for the seeds of creation in the remnants of the past.
Proto-Euthanatoic roots heralded from the earliest cities in and near what would later be called India. The philosopher-priests of the ancient years tracked the cycles of reincarnation and led people through their many lives in the turning of the eternal Wheel. These early mages sensed the greater cycle of life and death, and they guided entire civilizations through their rise, fall, and rebirth in new forms. Eventually, their philosophies settled in the Hindu religion and similar god-forms of the area. Dispersed throughout many cities, the root of the Chakravanti maintained similar methods and beliefs, but in small, isolated groups of healers, priests, and sages.
The Chakravanti Tradition has been accused throughout history of killing in cold blood, killing for the joy of killing and killing to serve its own ends and increase its own power base one of the greatest conflicts in Chakravanti history is the 300-year battle against the Akashic Brotherhood. Both groups, in the end, were fighting for the same thing — the preservation of life and reincarnation — but the Akashics couldn’t accept the Chakravanti’s methods. The Wheel must turn, and the Chakravanti believe that it’s sometimes wiser to end an unproductive or suffering cycle and send a soul back to be reincarnated than it is to allow a stagnant energy to linger and hold back the turning of the ages. From this pragmatism came the need to judge and shepherd the living in times of starvation or plague, but the Akashic Brotherhoods didn’t agree with such methods. The Himalayan Wars between the two groups brought forth a terrible series of killings, not just of individual mages, but of whole reincarnated lineages. Eventually, the surviving sects united as the front of Akashic opposition forced them in contact, and the small groups finally came under a single banner of Chakravanti.
The establishment of Buddhism changed the Chakravanti, bringing them to a new awareness of compassion and a new understanding of suffering. Where the various groups had worked before as fearful mages with the power to heal or destroy, they now learned to understand that very fear in their charges. From these roots the Chakravanti drew up the beginnings of their own moral code. Later, during the formation of the Traditions, that code served as the basis for the Chakravanti as a whole, Greeks, Celts, Indians, and others who served the Great Cycle and believed in the need for strong souls to ease the suffering of others all came together as a whole. The Chakravanti Tradition was born in an incarnation that the other Traditions might label “killers with consciences.”
The truth is that the Chakravanti must kill, but they don’t kill for joy or power. The Tradition is based in thanatoic — death-focused — sects of Indian, Greek, and Arabic culture. In India, with its frequent plagues and poor living conditions even before the modern era, death was often the best and kindest answer for ill, suffering people. In Greece and the Middle East, death allowed scholars and surgeons to expand their knowledge and help the people who still lived. Even today, Chakravanti plunge into ancient memories and reincarnated souls to find enlightenment. They cross to the Underworld to experience death, and they uphold a stern code. To the Chakravanti, theirs is a sacred duty, one that must be carried out, but is so strenuous and terrible that only the most strong-willed can perform it. It’s not so much that they take on a right, as they take on a burden: Responsibility for pain, for release, and for renewal.
This Tradition is fairly well organized, if somewhat loosely so, with a set system of apprenticeship, mastery, and leadership. There are established Marabouts (Chantry houses) all over the world, and the center of the Tradition on Earth lies in Calcutta. The Paramaguru (leaders) often serve as Acarya (mentors) to new arrivals in the Tradition, spotting them through the auspices of Fate while the Initiates hover on the cusp of awareness. From there, training can proceed in many forms. Some Chakravanti groups are notoriously strict in their discipline, while others have a very relaxed and egalitarian attitude. In any case, the Acarya is formally responsible for the Initiate once the agama sojourn is complete, up until the Initiate is recognized as a full mage. Once inside the Tradition, there are really only three ranks: Apprentice, member, and leader. Recognition comes with wisdom and magical skill, and leaders stand only as long as their followers support them.
In order to truly understand the power of death, the Chakravanti believe that a mage must have touched it. All Chakravanti must undergo the agama, or little death, when they are initiated intro the Tradition. This sojourn is a brief trip into the Underworld itself, overseen by a mentor and used as a guide. Often, the Initiate is drawn to the tradition because the Awakening involved some sort of near-death experience or the death of someone close to her. Therefore, Initiates tend to be people familiar with endings and sacrifice in some form or another.
Chakravanti sects are about as fluid as those of the Dreamspeakers or Cult of Ecstasy (both of whom the Chakravanti carry strong ties to). That is to say, Chakravanti have a great variety of sects and beliefs, and they have a largely open attitude toward philosophical differences within their own society.
Tantrism and Indian culture form the basis of the militant Natatapas, who confine themselves to the heart of India and keep the oldest rites of the Chakravanti. All Initiates of the Natatapas come formally through the agama sojourn to join this conservative sect, and they learn historical Hinduism and Buddhism. Naturally, their withdrawn world-view makes them suspicious of other Traditions, but the Natatapas makes up a reasonable, if conservative, group.
From the complex rites of the Africa come the Madzimbabwe. These Chakravanti study their own cultural ties to spirituality and healing. Theirs is a heritage of ghost-calling, soothing, and compassion from the old cities of Africa, when it had a civilization before European invasion. Although they differ from other Chakravantii in religion, the Madzimbabwe remain members of the Tradition due to their shared compassion and duty to help others.
Greek heritage manifests in the Pomegranate Deme, who study the mysteries of Persephone and the Greek Underworld. Literal worshipers of the Greek mythos, these mages are now few and far between, and their religion falters. Within a few generations they’ll probably be a memory as new Initiates join less theological sects.
The last ancient faction is the Aided, which stems from death-mages of Celtic heritage. Their order nearly collapsed under the persecutions from Christianity during the Dark and Middle Ages, but allegiance with other Chakravanti allowed them to shelter some of their members and ideals. Today, they uphold the bloody Celtic rites and sacrifices necessary for the proper culling of the herd (be it human or animal). Like the other cultural factions, the Aided do accept members without a direct tie to their base, as long as those Initiates have some sort of stylistic or inculcated elements that tie with the faction’s methods.
Modern chance and probability occupy the Lhaksmists. These luck-followers rely on total randomness in just about everything — magic, living, important decisions, whatever. However, they gladly throw themselves into the trappings of modern electronics, feeling a kinship with probability theory and quantum uncertainty. These Chakravanti, who are the ones closest to the Digital Web, watch over the growing webs of chaos spread by the Internet’s haphazard expansion.
The exclusive Golden Chalice serves as a political assassination group, specifically one that stalks and destroys dangerous individuals in positions of leadership and influence. Their roots stretch back to the Byzantine empire, and they include elements of various cultures from the era. In the modern age, though, they’re more than willing to use high-tech tools as a means to defeat high-tech enemies, and so they mix various poisons and gadgets along with their more traditional magic. Membership comes by invitations only. Recently, the sect has come under scrutiny — if membership is by invitation only, what’re they hiding? More to the point, how could they allow the atrocities of leaders like Pol Pot, yet feel justified in moving against lesser statesmen?
One of the more popular sects in the Chakravanti is the Knights of Radamanthys. These warriors hire out as mercenaries to the other Traditions, leveraging their command of entropy and their fearsome fighting skills, but only for causes that they feel are just. In this fashion, they advance the Council as a whole, work on Chakravanti cases, and still earn the Tradition its keep. Sensible and farsighted, this faction trains in modern combat, ethics, and a multitude of espionage skills. Internally, though, most Chakravanti consider it a simple training ground from which veterans can graduate to the true philosophical levels of inquiry, instead of just being “hired gunfighters.”
The Albireo may be the most important intra-Tradition group, as far as the Chakravanti are concerned. Although any Chakravanti may join, full membership comes only with probationary work. These diplomats carry the face of the Chakravanti to the rest of the Traditions, explain the Thanatoic code, work to uphold the Tradition ideals, and police the Chakravanti for internal corruption. Of course, with their privileged stance as ambassadors within the other Traditions, they may well sniff out corruption in those ranks, too.
Death isn’t the end; death is an end. There isn’t much good in an existence that will serve no purpose, and there’s less good in an existence that brings pain or trouble to everything it touches. It’s better to end that thread and let a new one take its place than allow it to take up space. Like flowers that grow from a burned forest bed, these threads will be rewoven into the Tapestry. The Tapestry weaves into a great picture, but suffering and sorrow mar that picture. Every man must take up his burden, surpass it, and accept the responsibility to deal with this inevitability. That responsibility becomes a keystone for the support of the world, for the willingness to support and shelter others — and to perform the duties necessary to release those who only bring or know suffering.
There’s another reason behind the careful attention these mages pay to emotion: Jhor. All mages gather Resonance from their activities, but this Tradition gathers more of this type of Resonance because its mages deal with the energies of Entropy. Jhor is the physical reflection of decay-related magic. It’s common for Chakravanti mages to have sunken eyes, hollow check, or pasty skin. As they channel Entropy, even to divine what the fall of a die will be, it comes to rest in their bodies. The accumulation of Jhor isn’t always related to the mage’s intent when she uses her magic, but a Chakravanti who seems too corpselike bears watching. Entropy isn’t a force to be used lightly or too often. This Jhor can accumulate and cause Quiet, too, leading the Chakravanti to morbidity and an obsession with death. While any mage can suffer this sort of affliction, Chakravanti are notoriously prone to it. Chakravanti mages watch one another for signs of too much Jhor. A mage who’s fallen into a Jhor-Quiet becomes an emotionless killing machine, and he must be put down. Most Chakravanti are acutely aware of the irony that they’re about two steps from being killed by their own fellows.
Theories And Practices:
Chakravanti mages have a variety of approaches to the actual execution of their magic. Most use some kind of device to analyze the balance of a life or a situation, divining the probably outcome of a course of action. This device can take the form of a coin flip — if it’s heads, the person can be changed; if it’s tails, it’s curtains — or a pair of glasses that the mage looks through to see what a soul holds. So many things depend on what Sleepers would call random chance, and the Chakravanti uses that perception to her advantage. However, just shrugging an Effect off by wondering what the odds were of that happening is clumsy and unsubtle. A clever Chakravanti begins a series of perfectly believable events that trigger her desired result (a man in a bar takes one drink too many, decides not to drive home, and calls a cab — the Chakravanti has effectively gotten herself a ride to wherever she wishes to go). Not all Chakravanti magic involves killing either — a situation can be changed for the better without anyone losing any blood.
The Chakravanti must look at the gains achieved by giving someone the Good Death, but they can’t ignore their sorrow, either. Healing is accomplished through excising the diseased material from the healthy, allowing the subject to feel the pain of the knife and then to produce new, clean tissue to replace what was removed. Only through experiencing every phase of the healing cycle — pain included — can the Chakravanti make a positive difference.
The Chakravanti dedication to furthering the progress of the Wheel doesn’t only apply to individual souls. The world itself is constantly changing and moving, and it too becomes diseased. Chakravanti mages find these diseased areas of society and, by addressing individual components of the problem, attempt to end them. doing so becomes harder and harder, however, as the world degenerates further. There are too many people involved in too many problems, and the Good Death can’t be given to every one of them. More and more often, Chakravanti find themselves performing delicate adjustments to people and situations instead of simply ending the cycle and letting the Wheel spin itself out.
Like the Dreamspeakers, Chakravanti have an acute sense of duty. Instead of feeling the consequences of actions in the spirit world, however, Chakravanti are intimately familiar with the human ramification of anything they do. Each time a death-mage takes a life, she must be certain that it’s the right thing to do. The choice is final, and the people left behind must life the rest of their lives with the loss of their victim — that’s not an easy thing for a mage to deal with. Therefore, the Chakravanti must be able to understand the consequences in order to weigh them against the benefits of the Good Death and make the right choice.
However the mage finds the Tradition, she must understand that the Wheel turns. She must understand that although she can affect some cycles for a short time, she’ll no longer be in control in the end. Games of chance are common illustrations for new Chakravanti — the mages practice predicting how the dice will fall or where the ball will land, and they inevitably make a wrong choice. Chakravanti must accept the inevitability of their own deaths — before giving the Good Death to anything.
Chakravanti will NEVER administer gilgul, even should they understand how (unlikely in of itself, considering their aversion). No matter the crime, gilgul removes any chance a soul can learn from its mistakes, and in theory even a Nephandus can be redeemed—there are some rare Masters and Archmages who have undertaken this successfully. When the Council of Nine votes on gilgul, the Chakravanti representative always votes No.