This portrait of Berechiah by an unknown Varushkan artist currently hangs in the Blood Red Quays Art Gallery in Sarvos


Berechiah was recognised as an exemplar of Vigilance in 302YE, fifty years after his death.


The tale of Berechiah's life was largely lost from history until recently. Details of his exceptional deeds were unearthed recently as a result of the work carried out at the School of Epistemology in preparation for the Symposium of the Imperial Synod of Winter Solstice 380. It is possible that the important lessons his words and works teach about Vigilance may be of interest to the current generation of pilgrims.


Born in 198YE, Berechiah was an extremely contentious figure in life, his death did little to change this. He exemplifies the often unpopular idea that the vigilant should be prepared to do whatever is necessary to protect their people from outside threats. Raised in a Tassatan orphanage, he lived much of his early life as "Shifty" Bertolli de Tassato, he left the League in his forties and joined the nation of Highguard, taking residence in a little-known chapter not far from Sybela where he finally became Berechiah.

From his earliest days, Berechiah had a natural talent for uncovering information, and judicious application of his abilities saw him rise to a position of influence within the Empire. As Bertolli de Tassato, he acted as an expert witness for the Imperial Senate on numerous occasions relating to financial mismanagement, embezzlement, or illegal business practices. He provided regular information to the Imperial Conclave about the sorcerous doings of misguided magicians, and exposed both idolatrous cults and the machinations of eternals whose actions threatened the stability of the Empire.

He also aided in the identification, location, and prosecution of dangerous heretics and blasphemers - invariably people whose extreme convictions made them a threat to the wellbeing of Imperial citizens. Perhaps his most famous success in this regard was exposing a cult of anarchists intent on fomenting a secessionist rebellion in Varushka. Berechiah's gaze was not focused entirely within the Empire however - he was equally effective at exposing the plans of a group of Asavean diplomats to gain influence over the Senate through bribery and blackmail as he was at providing useful intelligence to the Imperial Military Council that prevented at least one surprise attack by the Druj that might otherwise have seen the loss of the town of Drycastle and the deaths of hundreds of Imperial citizens.

Berechiah's effectiveness has rarely been in doubt. His methods, on the other hand, are still discussed and debated by priests and students of the law to this day. No tool was too underhanded for Berechiah to use in pursuit of Vigilance. His primary agent in exposing the anarchist cult in Varushka, for example, was a member of that group who he had helped to become addicted to a certain rare substance withdrawal from which caused agonising madness and death. He regularly blackmailed and bribed people who might be in a position to provide him with information - pointing out that neither was a crime under Imperial Law. He regularly consorted with criminals, arguing that the world was not black-and-white; that there was a difference between mundane criminal behaviour and threats to the Empire and its people. "Morality and ethics are fine and good most of the time,", he wrote. "But they offer little comfort to those who have been murdered, or enslaved, because nobody was prepared to get their hands dirty when the threat was still manageable."

He was also a vocal supporter of the idea that the vigilant should take direct action once a threat was identified. "If you discover that someone is a threat" he wrote, "why should you scurry off to ask a magistrate to agree with you? Do you not trust your own judgement? I trust my judgement, and no judge should shy away from wielding an axe if they think the threat merits it."

His critics regularly accused him of malfeasance - pointing to his wealth and influence as sure sign that his "talents" were directed not only at the enemies of the Empire but at its citizens. He refused to either confirm or deny any such accusations and on the occasions when he was brought before a Magistrate either proved his innocence or simply paid the fines they levied and promised to "mend his ways" in the future. He was the target of three serious assassination attempts directly linked to his work protecting the Empire - he survived not due to any particular skill of his own but to his habit of surrounding himself with competent, effective soldiers who he paid very well indeed.

After his death, in an act of unexpected largesse, he donated his entire fortune to the support of orphanage and schools across the Empire. In his will, he claimed that without these institutions he would never have achieved the heights of his ambitions - and that by supporting them he hoped to see another Berechiah or three. "The Empire badly needs someone like me," he said more than once. "It needs Someone to take a lantern into the nasty places, where the virtuous cannot go for fear of getting their boots dirty."

He was recognised as an exemplar of Vigilance five decades after his death, following regular campaigning by members of his chapter and fervent supporters in several parts of the Empire - especially the Courage and Vigilance assemblies. A year after his Recognition, his book “The Necessary Actions of a Virtuous Sinner” were first published in Tassato - a book that the printer claimed had been left with her grandfather to be printed in the event of Berechiah becoming an exemplar. While this was not the first book Berechiah had written, it was the most "honest" - and the most inflammatory. The words within were either an excellent forgery or written by the exemplar himself. Frank and unashamed, they detailed many of the actions he had taken in pursuit of Vigilance including – contentiously – several crimes against Imperial Law. The book caused outrage, and an attempt was made to deny his exemplarhood. The basilica in Bastion erected in his name was badly damaged by fire, and the Synod furiously debated his flagrant claim that virtue - and especially the virtue of Vigilance - neither knew nor cared what mortal lawmakers might attempt to claim was appropriate behaviour.

Yet his book does not claim that all actions are justified. "Judgement is key," he wrote. "But while we hear a great deal about the importance of accepting the consequences of actions taken, people are amusingly reticent to talk about accepting the consequences for actions not taken. Inaction is a choice, just as action is. If you choose not to stop the threat to your family now, you must be prepared to live with the consequences of that decision as well."

The assembly of Vigilance and Courage both actively opposed priests of the assemblies of Pride and Loyalty who denounced Berechiah. The argument became quite vicious, but in the end recognition of Berechiah as an exemplar was upheld - to the open consternation of several high ranking magistrates and captains of the militia.


The Assembly of Vigilance cited the following signs of Berechiah's exemplardom:

  • First and foremost, for all that his methods were considered underhand and borderline illegal, there was no doubt that Berechiah's benevolence repeatedly protected the Empire from external and internal threats and corruption.
  • That Berechiah inspired others is also without question. In addition to those he directly patronised, his writings were published after his death and served as a blueprint for the followers of Vigilance in detecting threats before they became too great.
  • These writings also form the bulk of Berechiah's legacy. In some circles, they have led to him being heralded as a "modern Vardas" - a vigilant investigator who embraces the tools of civilisation rather than those of the wilderness hunter. Pragmatic priests also point to the schools and orphanages across the Empire that Berechiah set up or supported in his life - and claim these are a much more significant and lasting legacy than any amount of books extolling the use of blackmail as a tool of the Vigilant.
  • Berechiah made a very public pilgrimage to the White City towards the end of his life. A lifelong supporter of the aspirationalist movement in the Synod, there is little doubt that this was an exceptionally cynical move by a man aspiring to be recognised as an exemplar.
  • In a similar vein, several of Berechiah's supporters argued that as nobody had had any past-life vision of being the exemplar he clearly satisfied the sign of liberation - although more as a cynical attempt to demonstrate their opinion as to the foolishness of this sign than any real attempt to prove his exemplarhood.
“Legality is a matter for lesser minds; I am concerned with Vigilance and ensuring that it is upheld. There are few prices too great to pay, and few alleys too dark to explore, when the prize is the Virtue of immortal souls.” - From “Necessary Actions of a Virtuous Sinner”

Further Reading

  • Knocking on every door - 385YE Winter Wind of Fortune relating to an inspirational location connected to Berechiah