Excerpt: Malfeas

MARA, THE SHADOW-LOVER

Demon of the Second Circle, Defining Soul of That Which Calls to the Shadows

Mara, the Defining soul of Erembour, shows a mutable face to the world. Her apparent age varies from youthful to motherly, while her ethnicity matches the region to which she has been summoned. She is comely in all forms, however, with bright blue eyes and, hidden beneath her long skirts, the hooves of a deer. She favors forest colors in her garb and prefers to travel beneath a woodland’s eaves. In Malfeas, she makes her home in a great tree amidst the forest Hrotsvitha, wherein her verdigrised garments gleam with threads of shining brass.

Some call Mara the Shadow-Lover. She comes after dark, either in the flesh or in dreams, to seduce both men and women. Most mortal lovers die. Some perish amid the first night of coupling, while others waste away over weeks or months of doleful pleasure. Some, too, call her the Soul-Eater, for she kills by swallowing her victim’s soul, drawing it forth with her kiss in the form of a vapor, a butterfly, a bird or a snake—or something even less pleasant, such as a swarm of insects. If commanded, she can cough forth a stolen soul for her summoner. She can also return it to her victim’s body if it still lives, though life rarely lingers in a soulless frame.

Mara does not always kill her victims. Why spare their lives? Perhaps they please her, or she sees in them the seeds of some dark destiny, or she simply dislikes the flavor of their souls. Rumors to this effect abound. In the South, they assert that those to whom she shows mercy are destined to become shamans, while Northerners claim that she will not slay a bedmate who can make her laugh. Cathak Rakara’s Journey to the East states that she has a pact with the forest spirits of the East and will do no harm to those under a wood god’s protection. Among the villages and towns of the Hundred Kingdoms, they say she afflicts only the beautiful, and they disfigure their children when rumor spreads that she is near.

When Mara finds someone fated to bring great suffering into the world, she becomes that one’s lover in truth, returning again and again to teach him or her every pleasure of the flesh. Such a one battens on stolen souls delivered from her lips, growing strong in infernal power and acquiring a taste for death.

Published May 2009 by White Wolf Publishing

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