Voormas, the Grand Harvester of Souls, is a corrupt Euthanatos mage who has fallen to Jhor. Most Euthanatoi consider him barabbi, although he technically has the opposite goal of most Nephandi: he desires to eliminate the concept of death, both his own personal death and the eventual Telos of the Tellurian. He ran (and still runs) the Consanguinity of Eternal Joy.
|“|| Shivasakti, thou are the Divine Father and Mother.|
Grant me thy devotion, destroy the evildoer
and the withering of the Wheel of Ages from whence evil issues.
Wear the garb of Maya; conceal the truth in thee
Let our desires become ultimate wisdom
Let our accomplishments lie eternally.
Fix form out of formlessness with thy miraculous power
Conquer all death and fate beneath the heel
and let the stillness be the eternal law.
|— The worshipful and destructive resonance of Pasupatta Astra, howling in hundreds of languages in the climax of "Judgment"|
Voormas' downward spiral took many centuries, but began in the streets of Old Calcutta. He was once a Kapalika Thuggee priest, an ascetic devoted to the fearsome aspect of Shiva the Destroyer. Carrying a brahmin's skull as a begging bowl, he collected alms and bodies for his god. As a young Thuggee priest of the Dark Mother, he preached the coming of the age of Kali. He descended into the Underworld again and again and spent most of his early life killing for his Euthanatos masters, so he attained a fixation on death that rivaled the most depraved vampires. He passed through the various ranks, learning more and more Euthanatos truths along the way. By the time he reached the innermost body of the sect, he was a Euthanatos mage. He had given up the ways of life for the ways of death. Knowing that such a fascination would bring him under suspicion, Voormas gravitated to the hidden sect founded by the Grand Harvester Helekar, the Consanguinity of Eternal Joy. He continually provided more of the chosen with the "Good Death" and over the centuries he acquired fear, respect, trust, and power. Nobody exactly knows how ancient he is; by the 15th century he was a Master and second in command of the Sapindya Sadanada, serving the Greek Euthanatos Helekar until the day his master met Voormas' sword.
Grand Harvester of SoulsEdit
After years of faithful service, in an elaborate ceremony Voormas slew Helekar in duel for the leadership of the realm, and then finally assumed the Grand Harvester of Souls mantle in 1709. Since that time, Voormas' name has been synonymous with death and fanaticism. Under his command, the societies of the House moved from their original purpose – protecting the sect from outsiders – to a covert agenda of murder. At the behest of powerful spirits who claimed to be Kali and Shiva, Voormas had gathered the powers of death and misery and used them to fuel the dark essence of his Realm. Over the time, the House of Helekar turned into a bone-dusted shrine to depravity and pain. Voormas sheltered the Realm's true nature and purpose for 200 years. Blackmailing Doissetep's finest granted him access to some of the foulest Nodes in the Tellurian. Studying the old secrets of the Idran, he tried to command the raw Entropy of these places. He wanted to master Death itself – the one thing he still feared after centuries as a Chakravanti. The gods appeared to him then and told him that true Living Death could only be achieved when the whole cosmos was united by annihilation.
By the early 1990s, Voormas was a Postulate hoping to gain acceptance into the ranks of the Oracles of Entropy. However, unbeknownst to him, the beings he believed to be the Oracles of Entropy were not really Oracles. They were indeed mighty spirits, but they were beings aligned to the Wyrm, though they were not Nephandi. In 1990, Hermetic Mark Gillan discovered the mutilated and Quintessence-drained body of a young girl in Cape Town, South Africa. Gillan traced the murder to Richard Somnitz of the Consanguinity of Eternal Joy, and from there unmasked the truth about the secretive sect. Voormas was insane with Jhor. His followers shared his madness, killing mages and mortal alike for the personal satisfaction and the arcane demands of House Helekar's master.
Protected by corrupt Hermetics and embarrassed Euthanatoi, the House of Helekar resisted formal investigation until 1996, when attacks on the Verbena and the Sons of Ether prompted the Council to arrest Voormas' Adept Theora Hetirck for crimes ranging from murder and rape to theft and sabotage. When the agents of the Council descended on the Realm after reports of its true nature, they discovered an empty plain of dust, marked by massive footprints and copious amounts of blood and corpses. Voormas vanished, taking the House of Helekar with him, and making clear the monumental power he holds, as any man capable of moving a castle and sheltering it from the collected Council is more a force of nature than a mage.
The sudden exposure and disappearance of House Helekar catapulted its longtime master Voormas from respected obscurity to hunted infamy. Though he once distinguished himself among the Euthanathoi with his loyalty and efficiency, somewhere along the way he crossed the line between dutiful assassin and sadistic murderer. In his eyes, Kali dances her last steps upon the dying Earth. The Age of Iron was at hand, and Voormas was a disciple of it.
Destroyer of WorldsEdit
Voormas' obsession with cheating death reached its apex with the advent of the Red Star. He planned to destroy the Wheel of Ages and replace it with himself. The universe would halt in its tracks and Voormas would guide it down a course free from suffering, loss, and decay as Shiva reborn. He believed that an eternity of half-dead Stasis is a minor price to pay for eternal existence. The master of Helekar wanted to thwart Ascension out of compassion and fear.
Voormas served the gods for centuries, always testing himself to conquer his fear of the afterlife – a sliver of bad faith that dogged him while he used the skulls of priests as begging bowls. The Euthanatos confused his fervor with genuine faith. Voormas became a talented death mage, but his fear remained and was intensified by his growing understanding of the Wheel. Something was wrong with the cosmos; karma was more apt to punish than reward. Each turn of the Wheel was thicker with chaos. A lesser mage would have been satisfied with life-extending spells, but the Grand Harvester knew that those mages were simply bulwark against ultimate destruction. He had to throw down the Cycle and steal the thrones of the gods. But even with his immense power, Voormas was unable to assassinate Death alone. The focus he needed was the Pasupatta Astra, Shiva's weapon from the Mahābhārata epic that can destroy worlds. The archmage spent centuries searching for the Pasupatta Astra. He discovered it questing in the deep reaches of the Apex of History, but the guardians of the ultimate weapon refused him. Despite his aspirations, he was not a god. As an enemy of the Wheel, he was no Arjuna. The Presence that Voormas identified with the true Shiva cast him back to the Spires time and time again.
In the Ten Thousand Hells of Asian legendary he found the solution. Yama Queen Tou Mu was barely a shadow of Kali, but she was divine. He approached her, offering to synthesize his Awakened power with her own, but he kept his own council. At the culmination of the tantric sex between the archmage and the goddess, Voormas released the souls bound to her. His necromantic skills were insurmountable; the stolen souls that made her a match for the archmage dispersed. Perverting the spiritual union between Shiva and Shakti, Voormas devoured her remaining essence. He then returned to the Apex of History with the stolen spirit of a goddess, and as his divinity was confirmed, he claimed his prize.
Pasupatta Astra is a fragment of the first focus used by the first murderer. It was also a doctrine that Shiva used to lead the world to the end of time. Some mages would call it a meme or paradigm capable of binding thousands to a single purpose. Voormas used it to this end; every Questing Avatar from the Avatar Storm had been bound to the weapon, that Voormas carried as a ephemeral trident to assist his ritual magic. He planned to direct thousand of Avatar toward the destruction of the Red Star.
Voormas learned to channel the powers of Kali and Shiva, hoping to remake himself into the Tantric union that would herald the end of worlds. After he seized the Pasupatta Astra, he would be able to finally break the Cycle and save the Tellurian from untold destruction. This plan has been lifetimes in the making, first revealed to him by the dakini, the soul-guiding goddesses that he encountered in the deepest reaches of the Shard Realm of Entropy. With their help, he learned to secure Nodes and discovered that Yama – Death – would reveal himself in the form of a red star.
As the ruler of the Consanguinity he fostered the death taint in his followers. Good Death became a thing of the past, as serial killers and venal mages seeking immortality flocked at his side. His servants would still obey him after the Traditions hunted him down. Ghosts bearing his commands flitted from the Thousand Hells to innumerable cults, checking their progress. Then his triumph came, embedded in the Reckoning, and he knew it was the time to act. His closest servants were rewarded with lichedom: a spell stolen from the mind of an Etruscan necromancer.
With Jhor flowing through his heart, he began to see signs of his death everywhere. His final objective was to become a god: an incarnation of Shiva who refuses to destroy, a Black Mother that would never give birth. This would be the supreme act of necrosynthesis, unity between the principles of life and death. Voormas' Tapestry would be a world without growth, but also without loss. The death and the living would be a part of one indestructible whole. Awakening would be impossible. Indeed, his Jhor had become a powerful spiritual entity in its own right, possessing him and driving him to more and more desperate deeds. His fear of his own death had become so encompassing that his death taint would never cease, instead attaching itself to the next accessible Avatar and infusing it with its essence.
Voormas is a withered, ancient man of South Asian descent who hobbles on a cane made from a child's skull and spinal column. When violence or high ritual calls, he becomes the Shivasakti Ayavatara, a 10-foot-tall, six-armed androgynous creature that combines the attributes of Kali and Shiva. Its black iron body, fangs, and taloned hands make quick work of lesser enemies, but he takes few chances with other mages. Spells cast from a screamed mantra, burning lotus, skull, or sword dispatch them.
Voormas wanted to claim an aspect of Shiva and join mystically with Kali, the Black Mother. His gods are not those loved by Hindus, but more brutal and ambivalent beings. To him, this union comes about at the resolution of the Kali Yuga, the Armageddon.
Voormas had few personal interests save morbidity. During the times before to the exposure of the corruption of the House Helekar, he spent a great deal of time meditating, studying magick, travelling about the Shard Realm "testing himself," scrying potential threats to the Euthanatos and directing the mages of the Chantry. Occasionally, he handled an assassination himself if the target was worthy or powerful.
To most, Voormas would seem to be totally insane. This may or may not be true, but it is undeniable that he is brilliant, paranoid, and evil. Voormas hopes more than anything else to be accepted before it comes time for his own "Good Death". During his times as the leader of House Helekar, no one knew it, and it is doubtful he knew consciously, but Voormas began to fear his own death.
His final goal is to never die. As a god, he will crush Death and Fate and replace them with universal laws more to his liking. Yet he sees phantoms everywhere, proclaiming his demise. Yama taunts him, and Voormas will only know peace when he kills him. The souls of the Pasupatta Astra already worship him in anticipation of the unchanging Age to come, and the Nephandi are his most insistent foes. To Voormas, those facts confirm the righteousness of his cause.
He uses heretical Tantric magic along with his own unique necromancy. His spells work on the premise of self-deification: claiming the divine attributes that are rightfully his.
- Attributes before the slash represent the weakest version of his Avatar form. The strong form adds at least four dice to unarmed or melee combat pools, soaks lethal and aggravated wounds and radiates an aura of fear (roll Willpower, difficulty 6 to overcome; at least three successes are required). Voormas might have 20 or more successes worth of additional Effects prepared. These spells do tax his concentration, just as they would for any other mage.
NOTE: The individual who kills Voormas might inherit his madness and become the "Second Heir" predicted by Akrites Salonikas. Once he dies, Voormas transmits Jhor equal to a 10-point Paradox Backlash, so the killer is forced to make a Willpower roll (difficulty 8) to reduce its effects, with each success countering one point and the mage's Paradox adding to the Jhor. The one who killed the Grand Harvester of Souls inherits his terror to death and his goals, turning into an enemy of Ascension with access to Pasupatta Astra and they will to continue his work.
- According to unpublished material written for Ascension, Voormas memetically poisoned the very concept of Necromancy a long time ago in order to hasten the downfall of the cycle of creation. This is why many organizations which use necromancy decide they "need" to tear down the Shroud.
- The character of Voormas and the House of Helekar were created by Steven C. Brown.