Riqueza Revision as of 09:28, 7 September 2019 by Dre
Riqueza was one of the three Founders of the Brass Coast. She was the eldest of the three, a mystically-inclined seer, highly skilled in night magic, and a talented apothecary. She was the most contemplative of the three sisters, driven by her philosophical beliefs about the nature of mortality, morality and the creator.
Before the Exodus
It is generally accepted that Riqueza, Guerra, and Erigo were not directly related by blood, but rather connected by bonds of idealism and opposition to the Patrician Council. Riqueza herself was born to a life of privilege among one of the patrician families of Highguard, and ultimately rose to become the head of her household. Details of her early life are sketchy; few records of the patrician families survived the Highborn civil war.
What is known is that Riqueza's family lived in the city of Pharos (what is now the the Necropolis) and sustained their wealth through the creation of potions and trade in herbs. The Founder was herself a skilled practitioner of the apothecary's arts, and bore or possibly created the Incarnadine Satchel.
The Revelation was well underway as Riqueza was growing up. From an early age she was frustrated by the restrictive nature of Highborn life. She was fascinated with spirituality and she travelled Highguard visiting many of the newly founded chapters, intrigued by the ideas of the early pilgrims who had begun to embrace the Virtues. Over time, however, she became disillusioned with the spiritual teachings expressed by the chapters in those times, finding them overly dogmatic and too focused on the pursuit of liao ceremonies over personal spirituality. In a letter to Erigo, who was an early devotee of Prosperity, she wrote that the virtues were fine as a motivating force to give people the strength to act but she found them too unmoral to serve as the basis for a divinely-inspired morality.
She also decried the growing focus on rebirth fostered by the early development of the Way. Riqueza flatly disagreed with those who saw past lives as central to an understanding of virtue arguing that all past lives should be viewed as failed attempts to escape the Labyrinth. She saw no relevance or meaning in a person's past lives, arguing that only your actions in this life are important and claimed that an obsession with the past was a detraction from the importance of the present. She is quoted as saying that no-one is born virtuous, a seemingly innocuous phrase but one that implies that the virtue of your past lives does not carry over into the present. It has often be interpreted as a heretical refutation of the Way's doctrine that each life represents an accrual of virtue that will eventually lead to an escape from the Labyrinth, suggesting instead that each life begins anew.
Ultimately she rejected the focus on virtues exemplified by the chapters, claiming to see no meaningful distinction between the powerful auras of virtue created using liao and similar consequential effects of the potions she mixed. She was deeply concerned with morality, with the essential right and wrong of an action, claiming that moral actions represented the will of the divine. She saw virtue, like the apothecary arts or the pursuit of alchemy, as something fundamentally of this world, rather than as a spiritual force that would bring people closer to the Creator.
As she moved away from the virtues, Riqueza became a passionate advocate of the idea that the Creator is present in all things. She was possessed of a profound sense of the spirituality of life, a belief that existence was fundamentally numinous and that it was impossible not to see the hand of the creator in all things. Riqueza never suggested that the creator interfered in the world we see, rather she believed that all people have a powerful connection with the divine that is simply there. Some found her more esoteric arguments a little philosophical, but her arguments that the divine is most visible when people are passionate were easier to understand. She claimed that it was impossible to create art or beauty without embracing the creator and saw music, dance, poetry and painting as evidence of the divine.
No-one is born virtuous.Riqueza
Several powerful patricians hoped Riqueza might be a kindred spirit because of her public criticism of the chapters. They approached her, seeking to co-opt her and her followers to their cause, but were firmly rebuffed. The descendants of the navigators had largely abandoned any pretence of morality, becoming openly venal and corrupt; Riqueza agreed with the chapters that the patrician's self-serving, short-sighted behaviour represented everything that was wrong with Highborn society, she simply didn't agree with their answers.
Riqueza's ideas drew a growing following and she might have been influential in Highborn history had she chosen to stay, but she eventually came to the conclusion that there was no hope for either the patricians or the chapters. Thus she finally agreed to make common cause with Erigo and Guerra and support their plan to leave Highguard.
The Exodus from Highguard
As well as being a skilled apothecary, Riqueza and her household were students of Night magic, especially the arts of transformation and divination. A common tale of the founding claims that she used a crystal with a flaw in the shape of the rune of mystery to lead the Freeborn to their new homeland. While an actual study of history brings into question the popular Freeborn tale of a long journey out of Highguard, it is likely that Riqueza's subtle divinations played a role in the eventual settling of Madruga. A number of her children were said to have inherited her fascination with transformation, and Night magic remains popular among members of her tribe to this day.
Despite her focus on spiritual matters, Riqueza also demonstrated a deep practicality. She and her family took responsibility for ensuring that the exodus was properly provisioned securing not only food and water but also wagons, oxen, horses, shelter, and medical supplies. While she was said to be unable to match the business sense of Erigo, or the political savvy of Guerra, she had a keen sense of what people needed to keep them in good health and good morale.
A common tale from the diaspora is that Riqueza and her followers began each morning with song that lasted through the day, keeping spirits high. From their position in the middle of the wagon train, dancers and musicians would head forward and back, often bringing refreshments to ensure everyone was prepared for the day's long trek. They maintained this tradition once the caravan reached Sarvos; Riqueza looked after the welfare of the Freeborn pilgrims and saw to the lay-out and maintenance of the camp while her sisters politicked with Patricians or defended the encampment from more martial threats.
While Riqueza herself was no warrior, there were soldiers in her household and many more among her followers. In ancient reports of the attack on Trivento, one can see the earliest hints at the practices that would go on to inspire the kohan movement. There is an old poem, handed down from the time of the Founding, that talks of Riqueza preparing the warriors of her family for battle by painting their faces with red pigment that filled them with passion and banished fear. Some believe that the red pigment was actually a potent salve, perhaps a forerunner of one of the Tonics of the Open Sky, while others claim that this ceremony was nothing less than an anointing granting the Riqueza warriors the blessings of Courage for the coming battle.
The Founding of the Brass Coast
Riqueza continued to take a more supportive role in the years that followed the settling of Free Landing. Apocryphal tales tell how the three sisters were the first people to set foot on the island that would be the first home of the Freeborn. Members of her tribe often claim that as the eldest Riqueza was the first ashore, leading the way with her magical crystal, glowing like a crimson beacon.
During the conquest of Madruga and Feroz, Riqueza and her nascent tribe particularly concerned themselves with offering succour to the humans liberated from harsh servitude beneath the Naguerro orcs. While her tribe remained the smallest of the three, its ranks were significantly swelled by a slow trickle of pilgrims leaving Highguard to make the dangerous trip to Free Landing in search of a spiritual home away from the corruption of the Patricians or the dour dogma of the Chapters.
Death and Legacy
The exact circumstances of Riqueza's death are not known with any certainty. The first of the three Founders to pass out of history, contemporary records talk of a wasting disease that she contracted in her early sixties. There are accounts of her gathering her household around her for a great feast - a celebration during which she would allow no mourning, a practice which set the standard for Freeborn funerals. The feast lasted three days, during which Riqueza herself slipped away taking only her magical crystal and her favoured walking staff. Her final fate is unknown. Interestingly, her crystal focus has reportedly shown up several times since here disappearance, each time in the hands of a different magician. According to the stories, however, it can rarely stays in the possession of any one individual for long before moving on.
Riqueza left several relics after her death; more than either of her sisters if the various stories are to be believed. The best known of her relics is probably the Incarnadine Satchel, but she is said to have made use of several other tools during her life. These include a unique Phial of the Sun that resurfaced in a recent Bourse auction as well as her enigmatic crystalline focus. Stories also refer to a magical rod she wielded in battle, and a beautifully embroidered magical robe of rainbow hue that she was particularly wont to wear while working magic or dancing (possibly an early model of a Hakima's Mantle). The Tonics of the Open Sky are widely credited to Riqueza, or at least to her family, but there are always stories of other unique potions that are less well known. Although students of the apothecary arts disagree as to their precise nature, details of the special salves she used to prepare warriors for battle are particularly sought after.
Beyond the physical artefacts she left behind - each of which was passed down through her family and then through the tribe that bore her name - her most significant legacy is probably her philosophy of personal spirituality. The sutannir tradition of Freeborn priests look to Riqueza for inspiration; while there are practitioners of their particularly celebratory theology in all three tribes the majority are i Riqueza. Likewise, while the kohan tradition did not begin with Riqueza directly, the hakima who first organised the disenfranchised Freeborn warriors into defenders of the Brass Coast looked to Riqueza for their inspiration.
Historical Riqueza tend to be known for their passionate spirituality. Among the most influential was Tomas i Suarez i Riqueza, a good friend and advisor to Emperor Frederick. Tomas spoke and wrote passionately about the need for the individual to be responsible for their own Virtue, and the requirement that a moral life grew from the idea of taking responsibility for one's own actions rather than seeking justification in the Virtues. By contrast Crescencia i Marusa i Riqueza is best known as the infamous briar whose sermons regarding the false virtue of anarchy eventually blossomed into full blown insurrection.
As recounted in the song Riqueza's Dream, it is said that she was the motive force behind the decision to quit Highguard. Riqueza objected to the restrictive nature of Highborn life. Her ideal was a home where people would be encouraged to live in the moment, where they would be free to celebrate all that was wonderful about life. For Riqueza, being Freeborn meant being free to express yourself honestly, to say what was in your heart and to share the joy of others who did likewise. She prized poetry, music, and art, encouraging those who followed her to take joy in all artistic expression. She was probably the first sutannir and it is claimed that she was responsible for the Coast's motto "Life is short, let it never be dull".
Riqueza believed that what mattered most in life was the essential morality of your actions. She was deeply ambivalent about the Virtues, some of her writings are positive about the Virtues, but not all. It seems that she didn't discount the Virtues, she just did not consider them to be fundamental to matters of decency, integrity, and justice. Riqueza believed that people should focus completely on this life, rather than any past or future life. She argued that what mattered was how you lived now, encouraging all her followers to pursue the divine by filling their lives with celebration and happiness, while still striving to live in a way that was fundamentally moral.
As well as some sutannir, many kohan also see Riqueza as the true inspiration for their way of life. Although there are few records of Riqueza in battle, it seems certain she would have approved of the joy that the kohan take in warfare as well as the intensity with which they celebrate victory and defeat.