kastil backstory

Nine hundred years ago, in the middle of the Shining Crusade, Iomedae, personally responsible by writ of the Emperor of Taldor for administration of the territories she was halfway through conquering, set up Her inquisition. 

It wasn't the first thing She set up, obviously. The first thing She set up was the military courts and military administration, which functioned from the earliest days of the Crusade, and then the civilian courts and civilian administration, once there was sufficient free territory for them to administer, and then a diplomatic service and a spy service, which by the time She ascended was unsurpassed even by Taldor and Qadira. It's a powerful thing, for a spy service, to have adventurers from all over the world have served for decades in your Crusade and been converted to Your worship.

After all of that She set up Her inquisition. The problem was that due to corruption and enemy action, sometimes some of the other branches of Her government might fail to discharge their duties, and someone would have to get to the bottom of it. Those personally chosen by Her, obviously, would be chosen for not being corrupt, but She couldn't choose the entire administrative apparatus of a sizable and wealthy state, and She wasn't kidding herself about whether any mechanism beyond 'personally chosen by Iomedae or Aroden' would suffice to prevent corruption or infiltration. 

Inquisitions are, well, often Evil. This is in part a self-fulfilling prophecy. Most of the Good churches don't have inquisitions because of their distinct tendency towards Evil. So it's mostly Neutral churches, and they don't care much that the Inquisitions are mostly Evil. Pharasma has an inquisition, which roots out the undead and Urgathoa cultists and those who scheme towards undeath; Abadar has one, that focuses near-exclusively on bribery and corruption. There's an organized collaboration against Rovagug cultists. And past that it was down to regionalisms. Some fae-touched places have an anti-fae inquisition, some places with shapeshifters have an antishapeshifter inquisition, places with a possession problem tend to have an inquisition right on its heels, Sarkoris bans all arcane spellcasting, that kind of thing. Nidal has an inquisition. That those kinds of inquisitions turn out Evil would surprise no one.

Iomedae, in the characteristic fashion of Iomedae, decided as a mortal that Her Church was going to have an inquisition and that She would simply set it up to not be Evil. Her inquisitors would be familiar with the concept of tradeoffs, and understand Law not as a series of procedures to follow while torturing confessions out of people but as one of Iomedae's invaluable strategic assets which they should die rather than squander. They would be charged with spending the trust of Her people in Her state only very carefully and at great need. They would not do harm unnecessary for their work. If they needed to mindread people to check for external possession or control, they'd check only for that, and let people go otherwise even if they were murderers, so the state not grow into one that exercises control through mindreading in cases it wouldn't have regarded as worth it in advance. Lastwall would have few laws, all of them worth enforcing; it would not be true that an ordinary person had anything to fear from the inquisition, and in fact in training they'd interrogate ordinary people for calibration, and get more training if they thought those were a threat.

She wanted an inquisition such that people who committed a serious crime could turn themselves in and cooperate and correctly expect this to have been in their own interests, where, having been successfully blackmailed once, it is not in someone's interests to despairingly give in to being blackmailed twice but to go explain everything. She wanted an inquisition that functioned because the people of the world deserved a Lastwall that was Lawful Good, and therefore that was itself Lawful Good.


And She suspected that Her church would be a great danger to Evil everywhere on Golarion, and would in fact need to be extremely robust against infiltration by Evil gods and their servants working - with more power than Her - quite hard at misdirecting and undermining Her hands and Her eyes in the world. So it wasn't, in fact, sufficient for it to be Good, it had to also be good at its job. 

They make extensive use of Marks of Justice. Those are, unlike human justice, impartial; the trigger conditions are set when the spell is cast, and go into effect when they are met, whatever anyone thinks about it, however convenient or inconvenient. Lastwall's leadership will be trustworthy not just through Iomedae's potential direct intervention but through magic enforcement of its standards; this not only saves Iomedae on intervention budget, but allows for the same standards imposed on those who are not Her divinely chosen agents. Every time they rely on Iomedae, their answer comes at the cost of losses somewhere else for their cause; they will carry Her banner as far as they are able without calling on Her for aid. 

Iomedae's first inquisitors all trained under Her personally, and future inquisitors had to do six months' shadowing of three different senior inquisitors, to make sure they'd get a sense not just of procedure but of the range of possible deviations from it, and that if some of the senior inquisitors were doing it terribly wrong they'd have a basis for comparison with which to identify the error, and in the course of the training they are repeatedly presented with apparent evidence of corruption in the highest echelons of Iomedae's church, and fail if they either dismiss or or report it to someone who would obviously be in on it if the evidence were real. 

Iomedae's inquisition isn't Evil. It is pretty ruthless. This was once less true; in the runup to the Age of Glory, as Lastwall trained and prepared to be the sword with which Aroden could strike at Nidal, and at Geb, and at whatever other horrors opposed the arrival of a new age, Iomedae's inquisition evaluated most tradeoffs as favoring not doing a lot of dubious things that'd be unnecessary and embarrassing to the Church in the light of a new day.

But the Age of Glory did not come, and what came instead was mass starvation and mass war and a rift in the world and Asmodeus clawing His way into power in Cheliax and thereby into influence across all of Avistan. Lastwall is desperate, and its inquisitors make different tradeoffs. They do not torture people, because that is Evil and doesn't work; they do, if there are no spells on hand with which to do it more gently, beat them unconscious so they'll be unable to resist spells cast on them. They don't execute people who they know or suspect they're sending to Hell, if there's the option of petrifying them instead, but this is less a mercy and more a matter of reducing Hell's information access. They follow the rules Iomedae wrote, some of them because they understand and share Her vision, some of them because they understand 'invaluable strategic asset', some of them because Inquisitors tend to be rule-following sorts of people. But they are not, really, an institution of which one can expect any mercy that isn't in the rules, and they are also very very busy, and taught to act on their best guess when they're out of time even if it isn't very certain. 

And so the headquarters of the Iomedaean inquisition, in the present day, are a grim, windowless, underground, Forbiddanced, Mage's Private Sanctum'd building in which prisoners receive three fifteen-minute visits from an elderly retired member of the Church each day, because Iomedae thought that solitary confinement was inhumane, and are well fed and healed if sick or injured and have access to recreational activities and the opportunity to report misconduct by their guards, and are not tortured and are encouraged to seek atonement - in which the guards are subject to Marks of Justice that ensure prisoners will not be mistreated, in which the cells are clean and dry -

- and where they will, from the moment they enter until the moment they die, encounter no one who loves them or mourns for them or instinctively desires the good for them. Because it wasn't really possible to make a rule about that. 

Iomedae, once the goddess of victory, is the goddess of triage, in these days, and She has higher priorities.

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Ettore Castelloni arrived in Vellumis at the age of three in his mother's arms, along with his parents part of the steady trickle of refugees slipping out of the Chelish-dominated Isger. His parents found work as day laborers, in the city, but the Church of Iomedae funded a little education for children so they could know the Laws and a little more for brighter ones so they could write and read, and Ettore proved to be bright. He also proved to be talented, diligent, healthy, and, in the opinions of his teachers, disturbingly Lawful. He explained to a fellow student that it was obvious why you followed the rules. Iomedae was the god of things doing better for people. She made the rules. Therefore, the rules were good, because She wouldn't have made them if they weren't. She's smarter than us. That's what that means. If She wanted us to do something else, She would have told us.

The possibility of careers in the officer corps, in the civil service, and as a wizard were all raised as possibilities, but at age fourteen Iomedae preempted Her country by selecting him as an inquisitor. He finished training in the traditional form, foiled plots faked by his superiors - at one point sneaking out of his superior's mansion to deliver evidence of his apparent treason to Vigil directly, a week-long journey overland and moving by stealth in which he used himself as a decoy and hired a carter to deliver the actual information - and -non, and steadily, with work, helped mitigate his fundamental flaw as an inquisitor, his tendency to mistake incompetence for enemy action and so accuse even the innocent of deliberate sabotage.

(He was not the first inquisitor-in-training of Iomedae to make that mistake, nor the hundredth. Her church has a lot of experience dealing with it, in Lastwall.)

After completing his apprenticeship he was assigned to the eternal duty of Vellumis counterespionage, the most common posting for new inquisitors as they attempt to root out Asmodean infiltration of the city, and his talent continued to show itself with capable, unambitious work cleaning out the most humble of Chelish assets. The possibility of foreign service was mooted, and he made his first tour to the Worldwound was in his twenties, thus adding longbow and longsword training and a persistent hatred of demons to his list of valuable job skills. His superiors' reports about him included the usual warnings about "wishes he had more Detect Thoughts spells daily so he could always read everyone's thoughts, even though that would not actually be allowed" and "does not ever stop concentrating on Detect Evil, even in his sleep" , but also the increasingly obvious facts that he seems to be functionally incorruptible and that he's pretty good at his job.


And then Vigil gets notice that the head inquisitor in Kenabres is dead in the demon sack of the city, which isn't surprising, and that he was reportedly killed by others among the city's defenders, after he went mad, decided everyone was a demon, and started murdering people.


...they'll raise him. He's fourth circle and that's above the present bar for a Raise Dead. But also they're going to recall him for an investigation, and assign someone else out to Kenabres.



The fundamental situation of the Church of Iomedae in Lastwall and in Mendev is like this: 


Iomedae founded Lastwall personally and built all its institutions herself more or less from scratch. She wrote its laws and the procedures by which it'd change its laws in response to new information about what actually worked best to run a Lawful Good military and a Lawful Good country. She hired and trained its first administrators and its first generals and its first spies. She spent years varying her sermons and then doing intensive questioning of peasants afterwards to see what they retained.  Lastwall has access not just to her holy books but to writings that she did not ultimately decide to make public, usually because they turned out to lend themselves to disastrous misinterpretations: the records of her conversations and her diplomatic work in Oppara and her early plans and her extensive Communes with Aroden trying to unravel the mysteries of ascension and the universe.

Lastwall knows how to Commune with Her, how to fix their intent firmly in their mind so it's readily visible to Her what will happen if she gives each answer, which is often cheaper for gods to see than the literal words spoken; how to ask questions on which they are as uncertain as possible so as to maximize how much they get from Iomedae's limited intervention budget, how to combine questions to stretch Iomedae's insight farther. 



Mendev was a poor feudal monarchy far enough north that the population was sparse, the growing season short, and overland trade with the rest of the world slow and expensive, when a rift opened up in the world and its Queen pledged herself to the Inheritor, begging Her for aid. 

Lastwall is very flattered that nations in desperate peril turn to Iomedae for aid, because She's in fact the best person for it. And no one can criticize the determination of Mendev's people, the tenacity which with they've risen to the challenge of defending a border with the Abyss itself. 


They don't, actually, know all that much about Iomedae. They do not have institutions that She crafted. They don't even want to replace their existing government with them! (Lastwall did offer.). They don't want to do the thing where Iomedae's resources are throughout the world first and foremost Hers, allocated across fronts however they're needed; they want their specific country to not be overrun by demons. (Which is in fact reasonably high on Lastwall's prioritization, but - it's a different spirit.)

Mendev, Ettore will be told, should not really be thought of as an Iomedaen country, so much as an ordinary country which, faced with destruction by Evil, had the sense to notice Iomedae was the goddess to turn to. He'll see the difference shortly. 


Ettore did have a brief assignment in Caliphas, thanks to ancient treaty part of free Ustalav even though it is the main port city for the region which includes the city of Vigil, so he thinks he has some idea what that means. It means that everything will be horribly ruled and everyone will be corrupt and the laws will be terribly written and selectively enforced (which is an abomination unto something much more important than Iomedae) and there will be perpetual conflict between every institution in the state and outside of it, and he is very not happy about this assignment.

Nonetheless, he does what his bosses tell him to do because they do what Iomedae wants them to do and she's right so they're right, and so he will pray and pack his gear and talk to people who have been there about the situation, and fill his Bag of Holding with supplies that veteran visitors tell him he should pack, and so get ready for the teleport to the Worldwound line, this time to the east side instead of the south.


They'll tell him that Kenabres has, since the Third Crusade, had a serious problem with demonic infiltration! And that Hulrun was a problem for the inquisition's reputation because he burned a lot of people at the stake but that, to be fair to him, an astounding number of them were in fact secretly in the service of Baphomet or worshipping a random succubus living in their basement or had had it Suggested they should slit the throats of sleeping paladins. And so on. Hulrun was not doing proper inquisiting at all but also the alternative circa the Third Crusade was mobs (themselves Suggested by demons) tearing apart suspected cultists in the streets, so, you know. 

They'll tell him that in Mendev the Iomedaen inquisition does not have the authority to arrest nobles without the direct permission of the Queen, so investigations into their activities have to tread very carefully.

They'll tell him that the very confused reports out of Kenabres so far claim Deskari showed up in person and Terendelev is dead and her body missing and there were some direct and expensive miracles and the city's still full of demons but the Wardstone's holding. And Galfrey's called a fifth crusade? No one's clear why she did that. She didn't even send for a Commune about it. 

(In Lastwall the miraculous interventions of the goddess they serve are not spoken of primarily with reverence and awe, but with vague shame. Every occasion Iomedae had to intervene directly is a failure by those who should have acted for Her, and let Her save Her resources.)

Good luck, Inquisitor.


The inquisition building in Kenabres looks like it has been recently sacked, when they arrive. Furniture is strewn everywhere; so is paperwork; there's a stray dog in the corner of the records room, bleeding from an arrow wound. The door to the dungeons is barred with magic. There's someone kneeling in the shrine to Iomedae, scrubbing the floor; it's been drenched with manure and blood.


Is the person Evil and/or Chaotic? Are there Evil and/or Chaotic creatures in range of his Detect? Is the dog Evil and/or Chaotic?

(he'd like to cast Detect Thoughts on it to check if it's intelligent, but doesn't have the spells.)

Also, he'll nod to the servant with a ghoulish attempt at something resembling a smile on his face.

"Inquisitor Castelloni."


No one is visibly Evil or Chaotic.

“-ah,” says the servant, not entirely happily, though also not terrified. “Lastwall sent someone. Uh, welcome. We’ll have the place cleaned up tomorrow, probably.” And a bit defensively, “We were busy moving everything back from the new lines.”


"Understandable," he says, still spectacularly bad at not being terrifying. (He is wearing a mildly enchanted breastplate and has a mildly enchanted sword.) "What is your name, please?"


Yeah now the servant is a bit nervous. "Mard, sir."

Hulrun didn't go after anyone who his magic told him was a servant of Iomedae but Mard didn't actually ask if that was a rule the whole inquisition followed. Though you'd expect it to be. They're supposed to persecute everyone else.


They aren't, actually, but Ettore doesn't know that!

"Mard, thank you." He'll turn to one of his inquisitorial assistants. "Silvio, would you take over the job here?"

Silvio Zavala (Orcish on his father's side and with army experience on the Belkzen frontier as well as in the Worldwound) nods. The job, as he knows, is to get the building more secure and, well, clean, and to make sure nobody runs off with Ettore's supplies.

"Where would the Count be, or whoever is handling his duties?" He'd like to present his credentials to the local governor, assuming he survived the disaster, and that's apparently the local nobleman.


Mard can give directions to the Count's mansion! Some of the landmarks given in the directions may even still be standing. "...of course," he says, only when he's finished giving those directions, "I guess maybe he's got to build himself a new mansion, depending where the new barrier-line runs."


Blink. "New barrier line?"


" - well, see, sir, Deskari picked up the wardstone and he threw it halfway across the city. That's why we've been having so much trouble."


"... Thank you. Silvio will handle clearing and unpacking a space for us."

And then he and his other assistants can follow the directions (as best they can) to go find Count Arendae's manor, assuming he's there. They're prepared to ask for directions and assassinate invisible or shapeshifted quasits along the way, of course.


There are, indeed, invisible and shapeshifted quasits along the way, and a lot of bodies human and demonic, and some looters picking over abandoned buildings, and eventually Count Arendae's mansion, whose guards refuse to open the door to let them in. 


"HE'S NOT HERE" someone shouts through the door. "PLENTY OF GUARDS ARE THOUGH".


Invisible and shapeshifted quasits will probably be very surprised to be immediately shot several times with unerring accuracy and cold iron arrows!

"I am Inquisitor Ettore Castelloni of the Church of Iomedae," he says, "here to speak with Count Daeran Arendae, Her Majesty Queen Galfrey's regent in Kenabres."

Is this an ambush? Possibly. That's what inquisitorial assistants are for.



There is some internal squabbling.

Someone'll open the door. 

"He's not here," they say. (This is a lie, if one is Discerning those.) "We can take a message, though." (This isn't).


Actually, he's just using a truly implausible level of ability to detect people lying to him, since it is What His Job Is All About.

This is a Spectacularly Bad Sign. Either Count Arendae has something to hide, or this is a stupid status play, or he's just fascinatingly incompetent. What Ettore's instincts are telling him to do is storm the palace, but his are unfortunately something he needs to overrule because Iomedae Knows Best.

"Tell Count Arendae," he says, slightly gritting his teeth, "that Hulrun's replacement as Chief Inquisitor is here to speak to the lord of Kenabres regarding the state of the city." Is that enough 'the spiritual power is here to speak with the secular power' to do the trick?



"....Yes, Inquisitor, we'll tell him that, as soon as he gets back." This is mostly not a lie aside from the 'gets back' and the fact that this guard is very sure Count Arendae won't care at all. 

"Count Arendae appreciates all your work on keeping the city safe," someone else says soothingly from behind the first person. This is definitely a lie.


He HATES Caliphvaso nobles.

"Do," he says drily.

Next stage: He would like one of his other assistants, Francesca de Ybarra, to ask locals who's in charge in Kenabres. Does she get the answer 'Count Arendae?' from random surviving citygoers?


"Terendelev, but she's dead."

"Prelate Hulrun."

"Prelate Hulrun. He's dead but the church'll fix it."

"Oh, I suppose technically it's Count Arendae. But he's, you know."

"Count Arendae and Prelate Hulrun, and if both of them are dead the city'll be all the better for it."

"Irabeth Tirabade, the Eagle's Watch commander. if you're wondering who might actually fix anything for you."


"Thank you," says de Ybarra with a distant smile, whose aura of regal grace is almost entirely a perpetual state of social panic.

And then, to Inquisitor Castelloni, "Irabeth Tirabede of the Eagle Watch."

Can they get directions to... wherever she is?


The Eagle Watch is manning some improvised barriers along the new wardstone-line and has a camp a bit back from that as part of where the Fifth Crusade is forming up to march on Drezen.


Irabeth Tirabade turns out to be a paladin of Iomedae, half-orc, the first person since Inquisitor Castelloni arrived in Kenabres to look happy to see him. "Pleased to meet you! I'm Irabeth, Commander of the Eagle Watch. What do you need from me?"


"You as well," he'll say, because social customs are done. "Ettore Castelloni, Inquisitor of Iomedae on assignment from Lastwall, and information on the situation. What has happened since Kenabres was attacked?"

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