- "I was going to study The History of War, but when I discovered that Myrmidia’s Book of War had twenty-seven different translations, each with key annotations by different, well-respected generals, I lost the taste for it."
- —Gebberd Pesche, Student of Imperial Literature, Nuln University[1a]
|Cult of Myrmidia|
Emblem of Myrmidia
|Seat of Power||Magritta, Estalia|
|Head of the Cult||La Aguila Ultima Isabella Giovanna Luccelli|
|Militant Order||Order of the Blazing Sun, Order of the Eagle, Order of the Righteous Spear|
|Major Festivals||Day of Sanctuary, Day of the Spear|
|Holy Books|| Bellona Myrmidia,
Bellum Strategia, The Book of War
|Holy Symbols||A spear behind a shield, an eagle|
The Cult of Myrmidia is considered to be one of the largest organized cults in the Old World. The story of Bellona Myrmidia ("The War Goddess Myrmidia") begins with the tale of the tragically flawed Tylos, the legendary father of the Tilean peoples. Tylos made a covenant with raven-haired Myrmidia, a Goddess of Civilization, Beauty, and Honour, and with her help built a great city for his tribe. However, this city was not enough for Tylos, for he dreamed of surpassing the slender, white structures to the south. So, he ordered his people to build a tall tower, one to humble even the Elves. Myrmidia was appalled at this pointless toil, and, after many warnings, abandoned Tylos, claiming she would return when his people knew honour again. The fate of the city is unclear, but some scholars claim it fell to the Dark Gods, its corruption spreading outwards to form what is now known as the Blighted Marshes.[1a]
Centuries passed, and the shattered remnants of the people of Tylos spread through the other, southern tribes. After a great war with the Dwarfs, the Elves abandoned the Old World, and Humanity cautiously replaced them, slowly building new civilisations around the Elder Race's ruins. For reasons still hotly debated by her modern cult, Myrmidia then returned to the descendants of Tylos; however, she came not as a God, but as a mortal. It is said Myrmidia learned hard lessons in her early years, and was driven by her experiences to abandon her pacifist ways, and take up weapons of war to fight injustice. Over the years, and many battles, she gathered great heroes to her side, and within a decade had bound all Estalia and Tilea under her rule, staving off all manner of invasions and rebellions. But, just as Myrmidia was to be crowned queen, she was shot by a poisoned dart. As she lay dying, she ordered a great ship be built, and, it is said, sailed west upon it, there to return to her home amongst the Gods, known now, and forever after, as a Goddess of War.[1a]
In Estalia and Tilea, nearly everything is influenced by her, for beloved Myrmidia is not only appealed to in times of war and injustice, but in all matters, especially those concerning revenge, honour, and art, three aspects of her mortal life that have many legends attached to them. This almost universal adoration of Myrmidia in the south is something that northern folk find very hard to understand.[1a]
- "Sailed into the sunset” or “Sailed west"
- —Proverb meaning "Dead"[1c]
In the Empire, the Cult of Myrmidia has very little influence. Myrmidia has none of the visceral appeal of Ulric’s furious ways, nor does she invoke the loyalty and solidity of Sigmar. To some, specifically soldiers, Myrmidia is considered “an officer’s God.” Her emphasis on learning and thought is not the way of most soldiers—force and passion have carried the Empire through countless wars, not strategy or “strange foreign ways.” In truth, the Cult of Myrmidia only secured a position on the Grand Conclave because the Knights of the Blazing Sun were the first templars to support Magnus the Pious during the Great War. Indeed, the nature of Myrmidia’s divinity is even called into question within the Empire’s borders. Many of its scholars claim she cannot be the daughter of Verena and Morr, as is widely claimed in the south, but must instead be an ascended Human, much like Sigmar. However, these claims make many in the Cult of Sigmar uncomfortable, for many believe that Sigmar’s rise to Godhood was unique.[1a]
Whatever individuals may believe, most cities within the Empire have a temple run by the Order of the Eagle. There, sharp-eyed priests run classes in strategy and warcraft, open to any who wish to attend. They also hold regular services for expatriate southerners (the specific day varies according to local customs, but is often every five days). These services—normally conducted in Classical, Estalian, or Tilean—are more interactive than most, with the priests actively encouraging others to get involved, asking questions of the congregation. This is too much for most Empire folk, who are used to being preached at, not asked questions, and rarely understand anything bar the Emperor’s Reikspiel; so, most avoid these deeply odd sermons. Therefore, to most people of the Empire, Myrmidia is nothing more than a Goddess of Strategy and War.[1a]
The Order of the Righteous Spear has several chapterhouses in the Empire, and although many chapters use different names (such as the Knights of the Verdant Field in Talabheim), they are all part of the Righteous Spear order. Each chapter is typically tasked to protect one of the Eagle’s temples, although they also respond to honourable causes as and when they see fit. Because of this, the templars of the order are rarely seen outside of the area they protect.[1a]
The Knights of the Order of the Blazing Sun are far more commonly encountered than the Righteous Spears, even though there are numericallyless of them in the Empire. This is because of a unique custom the order practises. After an initiate has finished his training, he is sent to wander the Old World for at least a year, which is symbolically supposed to represent the time Myrmidia spent as a mortal, learning of the world. Because of this, Blazing Suns can be encountered in all corners of the Empire, lending their swords to honourable campaigns and explaining the finer points of strategy to those in need. It is said that a single Blazing Sun does more to spread the awareness of Myrmidia in the Empire than all of the Eagle temples combined. Further, the Blazing Suns, the only Myrmidian knightly order to have been founded by the people of the Empire, is responsible for the cult’s pilgrim routes from the Empire to Magritta. Working these important trade lanes has been extremely lucrative, and the order is rumoured to be one of the richest in the Old World, rivalled only by the crusading Knights Panther.[1a][1b]
- "Eagles and Women"
- —The source of all conflict is religion and women. This is a common response to the question: “Why did the war break out?”[1d]
Myrmidia’s twelve greatest battles, and her commentaries upon them, form the basis of The Book of War. It contains all of the cult’s core beliefs, and is carried by many Myrmidians, who ponder long over their Goddess’s words and deeds. Honour is central to the cult, as it is the guiding principle behind all Myrmidia’s actions. In life, the Goddess followed a strict code that she called the “Rites of War,” and she offered all her opponents the fair treatment that it afforded, even when they had proven to be treacherous in the past (which they often had). In kind, Myrmidians treat their opponents with respect, especially when they surrender, which is seen as one of the goals of a battle.[1b]
The command structure is also central to her teachings, but there are several legends where the Goddess or her Shieldmaidens chose to do what was right, not what they were ordered to. Because of this, although most Myrmidians stick rigidly to orders, they readily ignore them if it will result in a betrayal of their honour.[1b] Myrmidia also teaches her followers to master the art of war. As a woman, she was physically weaker than many of her opponents, so she learned how to best use her strengths, and cover her weaknesses. Unlike other war Gods, she focuses on avoiding unnecessary conflict through use of clever strategies. This is something that many soldiers favour, as few that have experienced the horror of war relish it. Ulricans and Sigmarites see this as cowardly. Myrmidians see it as prudent.[1c]
This said, Myrmidia is quite popular with women who have sons and husbands at war. They pray to the Goddess to guide the officers into making wise choices that will keep their loved ones alive. As they say, “Sigmar takes you to war, but Myrmidia brings you back.” There is also a feeling that Myrmidia, as a woman, is more likely to understand their fear and heartache for their men—a belief the Cult of Sigmar frowns upon.[1c]
Signs of Myrmidia
Myrmidia has a salute with the fingers on the hand spread wide, representing the rays of the sun, a common symbol of the cult. The salute starts with the palms open in front of the chest, then splayed out to the side. Cultists in deep meditation often hold their open palms in this way upon their foreheads with the eyes closed, in hopes of attaining spiritual understanding. In Estalia, cultists of Myrmidia may slap their necks when they feel betrayed, while in Tilea, they bow to the west when they feel hopeless.[1g][1h]
Also, the militaristic cult of Myrmidia utilises salutes found among the armies of the Empire. The most common involves holding a clenched fist over one’s heart with the arm held parallel to the ground. As a way of showing great approval, cultists hold their arms straight along their belly, while making a clenched fist—this sign is also seen among comrades-in-arms as a respectful, but casual, almost familiar way of showing respect. Among cultists, placing the back of the hand on one’s sword pommel is a private, subtle way of disapproving of a given situation.[1h]
- Act with honour and dignity at all times.
- Respect prisoners of war.
- Show no mercy to the enemies of Humanity.
- Honour your master’s commands.
- Disobey an order only if it is absolutely necessary (for example, if an order forced you to break another stricture).
Myrmidia is not really a God of the Empire, no matter how many soldiers may have taken to worshipping her. Most folk of the Empire find worshipping a foreign God very suspicious, especially one as strange as Myrmidia. After all, many of her temples have statues that are, quite frankly, indecent, and bound to attract the Ruinous Powers![1b]
This penalty is only suffered by those that are part of the cult, not those that wear Myrmidian symbols—after all, respecting a deity, no matter how odd, is something that folk of the Empire understand, and view as sensible.[1b]
- "You just don’t understand. She isn’t like the other Gods. She understands us. She walked as one of us! She experienced pain for us. She died for us. She isn’t like your uncaring Gods. She’s Myrmidia!"
- —Iulius Innocenti Giovanelli, Tilean Merchant[1d]
In the Empire, most believe the Cult of Myrmidia is only open to those from military careers or expatriate Estalians and Tileans. However, almost anyone, if they show the proper interest in the Myrmidian cult and the honourable lifestyle it demands, will be accepted if the local temple priest is sufficiently impressed.[1c]
Once accepted, Initiates are given a white, hoodless robe, and are each attached to a priest, who may be training up to four other initiates at any one time. These initiates form a “Flight,” and they do everything together, including eating, sleeping, listening to lectures, and physical training. If a temple has enough initiates to have several Flights, they will be pitched against each other in various wargames and tasks. Honing the mind is as important as honing the body, so lessons in meditation whilst inhaling sacred smoke, or periods of contemplation during prolonged isolation, often accompany the extensive lectures in Myrmidia’s teachings. The best of any Flight will soon be elevated to become the “First Eagle,” a Flight’s leader. No initiate can be elevated to a priest until they have been a First Eagle and have done something to distinguish themselves. What this entails differs from temple to temple. It could be something seemingly simple, such as demonstrating insightful wisdom concerning a difficult trial, or showing strong leadership skills. Or, it could be something more challenging, such as bettering Myrmidia’s successes in a battle recreation using painted figurines to represent opposing armies.[1c]
Whatever it takes, eventually an initiate proves himself worthy of consideration to become a priest, or he will be taken aside and told to leave. Those that are worthy are given a task to complete by the temple priests, which varies according to the temple. It may involve navigating a puzzle-filled maze beneath the temple, or ritualistically evading a powerful creature from the myths of Myrmidia, such as a bull or wild boar. It may require that the initiate survives abandonment in a hostile environment, or quests to uncover the secrets of a distant holy site. Whatever it may be, once the task is completed, the initiate becomes a priest, and a temple sergeant takes command of his training.[1c]
- "This little general—I forget his name, it sounded all foreign—sent me a letter offering to fight by ‘Myrmidia’s Rites of War.’ I accepted, just in case there was an advantage to be gained, although I had no idea what the man was wittering on about. Two hours into the battle, von Borndorf spotted these little, white-robed men scurrying about the battlefield. They could have been getting up to all sorts of mischief. So, I had the little buggers shot! Afterwards, the prisoners we captured and tortured explained that the mischiefmakers were there to count casualties and corral prisoners. Well, how was I to know that?"
- —Siggricht von Wallenstein, Retired General[1d]
In the ‘Book of Transformations’ from the Bellona Myrmidia, the Goddess takes the form of a sharp-eyed Golden Eagle to scout enemy positions. The Order of the Eagle thus identifies itself with this majestic bird, and commonly pictures it with wings spread high above its head. This symbol is worn on the left breast, or as a clasp to hold a priest’s white cloak in place. In the Empire, members of the order also wear blue cowls with red edging and white robes. Elsewhere in the Old World, cowls take different colours according to the regiment the priest belongs to. Rank in the Eagles is shown with small claw pins worn at the neck.[1c]
The Order of the Righteous Spear wears well-polished plate armour, with white tabards marked with the spear and shield of Myrmidia, her favoured weapons. However, the order has splintered into many scores of lesser orders spread across the Old World, with each sporting its own unique uniform, style of fighting and weapon preference. The only thing all these disparate orders have in common is the shield-and-spear symbol, which is always worn somewhere.[1c]
In comparison, all Knights of the Blazing Sun wear highly polished, ornate plate armour of black and gold, often sporting the order’s symbol—a stylised sun emitting sixteen rays of wavy light—as a head crest, or as part of their heraldry. The order’s inner circle—an enormously rich group of men—sport their wealth ostentatiously, wearing stupendously expensive armour, detailed in gold, jet, obsidian and diamond. Many templars of the order bear polished, mirrored shields, which they use to reflect sunlight into the eyes of their enemies, dazzling them.[1c]
- Lorenzo di Marco - Current Eagle of the North.
In Estalia and Tilea, the massive Cult of Myrmidia has seemingly countless positions of power spread through its myriad orders. However, in the Empire, where the cult has little representation, it is somewhat simpler. Although the Order of the Eagle is organised like a vast army, where those below take orders from those above, wisdom and insight, the gifts of Myrmidia’s mother and father, also command great respect. Superiors not only listen to the counsel of their lessers, but they actively request it. The highest position in the Empire is the Eagle of the North, who is currently based in Nuln, and commands the Northern Regiment of the Order of the Eagle. This Regiment is split into ten Units—one per Human Imperial Province and one for Kislev—each of which is commanded by a high priest. A High Priest’s Unit is split according to how many temples he controls, with each temple commanded by a temple priest. A temple priest is aided by one or more temple sergeants, who each order up to ten priests each. Lastly, each priest can direct up to five initiates.[1c][1d]
In the Empire, progress within the order is mostly dictated by the whim of an individual’s superiors, and the availability of appropriate ranks, although most ranking priests meditate long upon their options to make sure they are making the best choices. However, to the south, appointments of most ranking positions require the support of the Order of True Insight, which is believed to have a greater understanding of Myrmidia’s strategy for the cult. The impartiality of the oracles is never openly questioned, but it is whispered that money and favours have more influence than any revelation of Myrmidia during a smoke-fuelled prophetic trance. Indeed, it is not uncommon to find different oracles supporting different candidates, with each claiming Myrmidia is guiding their choice.[1d]
The structure of the Order of the Eagle goes though minor changes almost every other year, as it believes in adapting to changing circumstances. Currently, the Eagle of the North is an equivalent position to the head of a province in Tilea or Estalia. He is commanded by the High Eagle of Miragliano (L’Alta Aquila di Miragliano), who also commands half the order’s Regiments in Tilea.[1d]
The Order of the Righteous Spear is one of the largest orders of templars in the Old World. Most of their number is spread through Estalia and Tilea, but chapterhouses can be found in the Empire, Bretonnia, the Border Princes and even Araby. In the Empire, they have not spread any further than the temples that they protect and support, but the order is slowly gaining in popularity. The order is split into many minor orders, each of which has its own grand master and unique name, but they are all still answerable to the Glorious Leader (El Lider Glorioso), who leads the order from Magritta. Each grand master of the Empire can be commanded by the Eagle of the North, although the Glorious Leader can override these commands if he so wishes. Each Righteous Spear chapterhouse is led by a templar captain, who is always a knight of the inner circle.[1d]
The Order of the Blazing Sun is tiny when compared to the Righteous Spears. During the Crusades, sixty cornered Imperial knights swore to the service of Myrmidia after a violent tremor toppled a massive statue of the Goddess onto hundreds of charging Arabyans, saving the knights from certain destruction. When they returned to the Empire, they built a chapterhouse and temple to the foreign Goddess near Ravenstein in western Talabecland. With help from other crusading knightly orders, such as the Knights Panther and Knights of the Golden Lion, they worked hard to open trade and pilgrimage routes to Estalia and beyond. Today, the order, rich from its foreign dealings, now has most of its influence in Middenland, where the grand master orders his templars from the Carroburg chapterhouse. The order is only answerable to La Aguila Ultima in Estalia, to whom the original Empire Knights swore fealty, which is a source of great annoyance to the Eagle of the North, who covets their seemingly endless coffers of gold.[1d]
The Cult of Myrmidia has many divisions of belief. Fortunately, most of these manifest in the southern nations, and never reach as far as the Empire. However, one division is so fundamental, that every corner of the cult is affected by it.[1d]
East versus West
The Cult of Myrmidia is split. To the east, there are the Tileans. They believe Myrmidia was born in Remas, and was therefore a Tilean. Importantly, they believe that Myrmidia, as a Tilean, conquered Estalia. However, the Estalians to the west believe Myrmidia was born in Magritta, and was therefore an Estalian. Similarly, they believe Myrmidia, as an Estalian, conquered Tilea.[1d]
Both nations have their own versions of Myrmidia’s holy texts to support their beliefs, and both are convinced they are correct. This fundamental difference has been the cause of, or the excuse for, much of the hostility between the Estalian kingdoms and the Tilean city-states down through the centuries. Indeed, the cult has almost broken in two over the issue on more than one occasion.[1e]
Currently, Magritta is considered to be the heart of the Myrmidian religion, although the high temple in Remas undermines this at every turn. La Aguila Ultima (or, as Tileans prefer, L’ultima Aquila), the Order of the Eagle’s leader, is a Tilean woman; thus, the Tileans expected her to support Remas as the future centre of the cult. However, she controversially swore to accept the Estalian version of Myrmidia, and has moved to Magritta, where she is working hard to put this old division to rest.[1e]
This causes problems for the Empire branch of the Cult. The Order of the Eagle is sworn to obey a High Eagle from Tilea, thus they use the Tilean texts. However the templars receive their orders from Magritta, and, by default, accept the Estalian texts. To make matters a little more complex, the Eagle of the North has authority over the Order of the Righteous Spear in the Empire, and has been ordered to ensure the templars follow the Tilean texts, which, of course, they resist.[1e]
It is a massive divide, and one that, it seems, will inevitably tear the cult in two, which could plunge almost half of the Old World into an acrimonious and bitter war.[1e]
There are countless lesser orders of Myrmidia in Estalia and Tilea, where almost every isolated hill has a monastery or temple dedicated to a particular deed, battle, or proclamation of Myrmidia. Few of these orders have reached the Empire, but those that have are expanding their influence quickly.[1e]
- Blessed Order of True Insight -
- Order of Fury -
- Order of the Blazing Sun -
- Order of the Righteous Spear -
The fortified Myrmidian Temples are normally built according to the architectural principles of Estalia and Tilea, both of which are strongly influenced by the extensive Elven ruins in those nations. Thus, spired roofs atop slender, tapering towers are common, as are domed central halls. White marble is preferred, but local building materials, especially granite, are more common in the Empire. Most temples are decorated with large bas-reliefs of weapons and shields, which often form a backdrop to the training grounds that surround Myrmidian holy sites.[1f]
Within, it is common to find cramped, circular lecturing theatres for lessons in warcraft and strategy. These are normally dwarfed by an airy, seated hall, which has a lowered, central area where priests (commonly working in groups, promoting concepts of teamwork) lead services to their Goddess. Surrounding this central hall are statues of Myrmidia alongside her shieldmaidens, companions, and local heroes. Often, these statues bear archaic weapons from the south, and are often only dressed in a single scarf of silk about the waist, something many Empire people find scandalous. Above the central hall, many temples also maintain small, isolated shrines to the Goddess, where her devout can retreat to ponder difficult questions and pray to Myrmidia for inspiration.[1f]
Most Eagle temples also have a chapterhouse for the Order of the Righteous Spear (under whatever local name it has chosen) within its walls, making assaults upon Myrmidia’s holy sites a daunting task indeed.[1f]
List of Known Miracles
Myrmidian Petty Magic
These blessings are only known and taught by the Cult of Myrmidia.[1i]
- Blessing of Fury: Your passionate prayers fill a single person with righteous fury.[1i]
- Blessing of Myrmidia: You bless a character to have the keen combat insight of Myrmidia Herself.[1i]
Divine Lore of Myrmidia
In Tilea and Estalia, the many orders of the Myrmidian Cult practise an array of different prayers, rituals, and rites that reflect the many aspects of the Goddess. In the Empire, where the Cult has less influence, prayers tied to Myrmidia’s association with the art of war are most common.[1j]
The Order of the Eagle practises an assortment of prayers, with two primary camps found in the Empire. Some warrior priests perform tactical roles, leading units of men according to the dictates of their leaders, and learn prayers that aid them to do this (Myrmidia the Captain). Others prefer to support the generals directly, and memorise rites more appropriate for this role (Myrmidia the Commander). In the Empire, only the Order of Fury goes beyond these prayers, preferring rites that demonstrate their unique view of the world (Myrmidia the Wrathful).[1j]
- Blazing Sun: Myrmidia answers your prayers with blinding flames of retribution.[1j]
- Command the Legion: You pray to Myrmidia to lend her strength to your words, and shout out your orders, making them audible to far greater a distance in battle.[1j][1k]
- Dismay Foe: You take on the wrathful aspect of Myrmidia to instill fear in a foe.[1k]
- Eagle's Vision: Answering your prayers, Myrmidia sends you visions of a nearby battle as if you were an eagle flying high above it.[1k]
- Fury's Call: Your passionate prayers instil your allies with a fervent hatred of their enemies.[1k]
- Inspired Leadership: You take on an aura of authority, your prayers inspiring allies with faith in your abilities.[1k]
- Quick Strike: Infused with Myrmidia's power, you can make a quick attack.[1k]
- Shield of Myrmidia: You bless your allies with Myrmidia’s protection.[1l]
- Shieldmaiden's Devotion: Your chanted prayers fill Myrmidia’s children (including Tileans and Estalians) with the devotion of her bravest Shieldmaidens.[1l]
- Skill of Combat: You instil your allies with the skill of Myrmidia.[1l]
- Spear of Myrmidia: Your weapon, which must be a spear, becomes imbued with Myrmidia’s power.[1l]
- Vengeful Wrath: Your prayers fill you with unbridled fury and hatred.[1l]
- 1: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd ED -- Tome of Salvation