Arantham appears tall from a distance, but this is due to his slender build and skeletal form; he’s of roughly average height. The priest is entirely skeletal, with barely a trace of flesh remaining on his body. He still has hair atop his head that is a stiff and faded gray somewhere between the hair of a dying person and a clump of moss. His eye sockets gleam with an inner gray-green light; his bones have the faintest sickly green tinge to them, and his teeth are perfectly white. Elder Arantham wears a ceremonial robe of snowy white hue, trimmed in the traditional black and red of Orcus. When going into battle, he wears a shirt of scale atop it. An amulet of black wrought iron, bent into the shape of a horned skull, hangs from his neck. 1
Origins and ExploitsEdit
Little is known about Elder Arantham before he started the Ashen Covenant movement. His followers know he was once a high priest in Bahamut’s Church, and that he turned to Orcus after a crisis of faith, but beyond that, none can say.
Elder Arantham’s notoriety began when he set out to uncover a copy of the ancient ritual that transforms apostate priests into foul undead creatures called huecuvas not to punish, but to voluntarily subject agreement to the vile transformation. In a ceremony witnessed by his fellow cultists, Arantham shed the last of his humanity and, as he proclaimed, “the last lingering stench of my prior misguided beliefs.” Word of the priest’s zealous embrace of undeath spread in whispers and hidden messages throughout Orcus’s sects, and his cult swelled with new worshipers, their souls stirred by Elder Arantham’s powerful sermons of Orcus’s dark glory.
It was then that Arantham began first to focus his sermons less on Orcus and undeath in general, and more on the notion of Orcus’s eventual and inevitable rise to the Raven Queen’s throne—though he pursued the issue with less fervor than he would later display as part of the Ashen Covenant movement. Yet his ascension to undead was the first of Arantham’s tributes to the Blood Lord. As his cult grew, the foul huecuva returned to the temple of Bahamut where he once served. There, in a bloodbath of mythic proportions, he not only massacred the entire priesthood but also raised them as shambling zombies, whom he then set loose upon the surrounding city. Arantham’s following tripled within the year. However, his efforts drew down the wrath of the city government and various religious orders, which put aside their differences to hunt the destroyer of Bahamut’s temple. Several of Arantham’s followers were captured, but none revealed their hidden shrine or the identity of their leader. Arantham’s actions also drew the attention of Holchwier, an undead glabrezu and exarch of Orcus. Appearing in a burst of fire before Arantham’s cultists, Holchwier berated the priest, insisting that his activities were too overt and too great a threat to the survival of what was supposed to be a hidden cult. Elder Arantham listened quietly and then, calm and polite as ever, invited the exarch to discuss the situation in a more private setting. None can say what occurred behind those closed doors. And every cultist present watched, eyes wide, as Elder Arantham emerged from the meeting, his desiccated fingers coated in demonic blood. Holchwier, he proclaimed loudly, was a coward, unfit to serve the Prince of the Undead and that he, Elder Arantham, would take his place as exarch. The cultists waited for the wrath of Orcus to strike down their leader. When it never came, the notoriety of Elder Arantham, self-proclaimed exarch, grew further still, as did the size of his following.
Though he rarely shows overt anger, even when thwarted, the huecuva holds his grudges eternally. Anyone who forces him to experience the shame of running can expect repercussions to come. Elder Arantham is a master of rituals. 1
- We will restore order to the universe by making undeath the inevitable conclusion to life!
- There is no reason to worship undead, but treat them with the respect they deserve.
- Follow the tennants of Orcus.
- Dragon 364 (Wizards of The Coast - 2008) - The Ashen Covenant By Ari Marmell