Servants of the Secret Hymn
Alignment: Any non-evil.
Symbol: A golden musical note locked within a bird cage.
Discipline: Sleeping Goddess.
Oath: The oath sworn by the Servants of the Secret Hymn is a very private event, often with only the student and her mentor present. Often a potential student isn’t even aware that she has been ‘recruited’; she begins having unsettling dreams of terribly evil events that are happening in her world, or that have not yet happened. These visions sometimes manifest spontaneously, but most often appear in beings with a tangible relation to evil that they choose (or struggle) to reject—tieflings seeking to rise above their heritage, the bastard scions of demonic sorcerers, victims of evil sorcery or malicious psionic assaults. What follows is a dangerous and harrowing time for the would-be initiate, who develops an aura that marks them as the servant of righteous powers; many, in total ignorance of what is happening to them, are detected and slaughtered by malign powers who mistake them for much more potent foes.
Some, however, are found by a Servant of the Secret Hymn, or one of the psychics that work with them. They are sheltered, trained, and taught what is happening to them—that they are being contacted by a being the Servants call the Singer, or sometimes the Prisoner. The initial training is focused on healing the traumas so commonly suffered by initiates into the Servants and on refining the connection with the Singer that is now part of their mind. When the student is deemed sufficiently whole of mind and advanced in their training, their mentor asks them to recite their oath, which is, by tradition, sung.
“I have been touched by evil, but it will not define me; I have been wounded, but remain unbroken. I was Chosen, but here, and now, I also Choose for myself. Where my visions reveal evil I set out to prevent it, where my eyes are clouded by darkness I kindle light. Though I commit myself now to wrath my mind is a pool of calm in which no corruption can dwell, for mine is the power of righteousness, the glory of justice, and the honor of duty. Let the Hymn be done.”
Allegiance Benefit: A Servant of the Secret Hymn gains a +2 insight bonus on Autohypnosis and Sense Motive checks, as well as a +2 insight bonus on saving throws against psionic powers and psi-like abilities.
A Servant of the Secret Hymn who violates her oath loses each of these bonuses (but not access to the Sleeping Goddess discipline) until she atones with seven days of meditation or by slaying an evil-aligned being. A Servant of the Secret Hymn who becomes evil-aligned may not atone until she ceases to be evil.
Description: Few knightly orders are as misunderstood as the prophet-champions known as the Servants of the Secret Hymn. Some believe them to be warriors scarred by evil, seeking revenge for what was done to them. Others believe that the Secret Hymn is a fallen god whose Servants seek to restore it to the full flower of its might, or that the Servants are incarnate angels sent to do good works upon the Material Plane. All of these theories contain a grain of truth, though all fall short of the full story told by this complex and contradictory group.
There are many mysteries that the Servants of the Secret Hymn freely admit that they do not have the answers to. What they do know, and share freely, is this: somewhere in the multiverse there is a prison, and within it dwells the Singer. They do not know how the Singer came to be trapped within its prison or what its true nature is, though they work tirelessly to free it; what they do know is that the Singer is a being of strange and powerful benevolence, its very thoughts stained with an intense and painful mercy that mortal minds were not meant to withstand. Though constrained, the Singer reaches out to those who feel the need to oppose evil and grants them visions of malevolence, so that they might seek out the events and prevent them before they can occur.
To what extent the Singer knows what it’s doing is unclear, as is its true nature. Attempts to contact it with magic have been successful for a certain degree of ‘success’; the last ally of the Servants to do so has not spoken a single word in fifty years, and her beautiful raven hair was stark white when she was done communing with the Singer. Attempts to read her mind have only produced an intense feeling of benevolence and confusion, and the vague memory of a presence retreating from her mind after it realized far too late that even attempting to communicate was harming her. For this reason the Servants of the Secret Hymn train intensely to control their connection with the Singer, the better to receive visions when they need them and to prevent their minds from being snuffed out like candle flames.
And here, then, is the most misunderstood part of the Servants; they do not do good, in the strictest sense. The Servants of the Secret Hymn oppose evil, seeking to limit or reverse the harm it inflicts upon others. Certainly many of them seek to become genuinely good people, and what organization the psychic knighthood possesses is deeply sympathetic towards celestial causes. However, the Servants do not require such dedication from their membership—preventing evil, they feel, is enough. Their visions do not teach them how to bring the most good out of a situation, nor do they provide moral or ethical advice, and by longstanding tradition such concerns are left to the individual Servant, which unfortunately means that for every Servant of the Secret Hymn who genuinely believes in doing good in the world there is another who thirsts for revenge against evil, or chooses to cooperate with the Servants because they feel as though they have enemies in common.
Servants of the Secret Hymn tend not to gather in large numbers. The visions granted to them by the Singer are intensely personal, and the magnitude of an event is no indicator that more than one Servant will be ‘tasked’ with solving it. As a result they tend to scatter in master- student pairs, or exist by themselves as lone knights- errant seeking hotspots of evil to correct. Despite this an organization of sorts exists, which attempts to meet twice yearly and keep tabs on problems within the order itself and on maintaining good relations with their allies. Many good-aligned psychics choose to work with or for the Servants of the Secret Hymn, which is happy to use their powers to coordinate for long-term change in opposing evil, and a small group of Servants are maintained full- time to guard and tend their library. Most of the great fortress-library maintained by the Servants of the Secret Hymn is publicly and freely available to all, and the Servants regularly invite friends or trusted allies to visit them and do business there. Truly dangerous knowledge is locked in the deep levels, which contain blasphemous writings so foul as to permanently stain the souls of their readers; these malicious tomes are kept under lock and key, guarded against the desperate day when such heresy might be needed to defend the innocent.
Common Tasks: With almost no organization to speak of, the Servants of the Secret Hymn don’t really ask for tasks of their membership. However, many Servants choose to seek the Singer in an effort to free it and often raise up students to do the same. Others may receive requests from the library to find (or contain) a specific artifact or writing, or be asked by a senior member to investigate allegations of corruption in a fellow Servant.
There are some curious commonalities in the visions granted by the Singer. Though a Servant might be sent to prevent or reverse any act of evil, the visions granted to them by the Singer often result in them confronting beings of alien malevolence—demons from wretched, forgotten corners of the Lower Planes, gibbering invaders from outside reality, sapient poems that devour the minds of those who hear them, and other eldritch malevolences are commonly seen in their dreams and prophetic visions. Sometimes simply finding a way to harm such evil can be a quest in and of itself as the Servant tries to learn how to slay a color or imprison a two-dimensional being that moves only through length and time.
Available Services: Again because of their obscurity and lack of organization, the Servants tend to lack in support for their members beyond the visions granted by the Singer. Certainly the Servants have more than their share of accomplished psychics and can train their members in such powers (in addition to trading in psionic goods and items), but beyond such mentor- student relationships little formalized services are available.
Path of War – Expanded, © 2016, Dreamscarred Press.