The Old Ones
Cauterus has a long and rich history of jousts and knights and epic poetry, but none of that really matters anymore. Now, when people talk about Cauterus, they invariably talk about the Fall.
Years ago, the decadent-but-chivalrous rulers of Cauterus were usurped in a messy, three-way meltdown between a druidic cult and a desperate legion of the Imperium. The cult won.
In the ensuing years, the cult of God-in-the-Woods consolidated their power and swept the two losing parties under the rug. A great deal of heremancy is forbidden because it has the potential to permanently damage the world. It can create wounds on the world that will never heal (e.g. most of the Cacotropic Stain). During the turmoil of Cauterus’ revolution, a great deal of forbidden magic—thought to be destroyed—was unleashed on the nation. The original offenders are not known. Everyone blames each other. The curse of Cauterus covers the entirety of the once great nation-state – now those who remain are mostly unable to leave due to its grisly effects.
The exception to these are the prostletizers of God-in-The-Woods – The bagsaints.
BagsaintsA bag saint appears to be a human whose skin has been completely replaced with fabric, most frequently good quality wool. The fabric is usually dyed in specific colors, usually a combination of plaids and tartans, moons, designs, etc.
Bagsaints do not speak. Their tongues have been cut off. Males are castrated, and sterility is likewise chemically induced in the females. Their fingers are bound together, giving them permanent mitten-hands. Their teeth are also removed.
Beneath their woolen skin, bagsaints do not think much, because they have been lobotomized. The top of their skull is also removed and replaced with a wooden cap. The inside of this wooden skullcap is carved with phrases from God-in-the-Woods’ scriptures and naturalistic iconography. They communicate with each other via shuffling dances.
They tend to be smelly, since their woolen skin can’t perform many of the functions that biologic skin can. They have their woolen skin replaced every month or so. If their woolen skin is removed, they are as vulnerable as a flayed person would normally be, and will invariably die soon after. Not that they live very long anyway.
Although bagsaints are former members of the community, it is forbidden to refer to them by their old name. Even if it were your mother who was taken away and made into a bagsaint, the cult does not allow anyone to treat them differently based on who they were before. Bagsaints are assumed to have forgotten all of their former lives, anyway.
Bagsaints are touted as the embodiment of civilization. The end point of modernization. The first man who wrapped his body in woven cloth committed a sin, and that sin is magnified and extrapolated in the form of the bagsaint.
Just as humans have hidden their sexuality beneath chiffon and lace, so has the bagsaint been neutered. Just as humans have forgotten the succor of violence and self-reliance, so has the bagsaint been made harmless, lacking teeth or claws. And just as humans have allowed their voices to become meaningless babble full of gossip, lies, and politeness, so has the bagsaint been rendered mute.
“Look at the bagsaint!” cries the cult. “Is it not disgusting? This is what your so-called civilization would have brought you! To worship the bagsaint is to worship cheap kings, crass materialism, and filthy lucre! But now we have shown you what it truly is, you have been enlightened!”
Despite their idiotic appearance, the church employs bagsaints for their own purposes (although the exact mechanism of control is not quite known). They are used as spies, messengers, and—occasionally—assassins. A bag saint has no problem hiding under a bed for 18 hours, only to creep out at 3am and strangle the room’s occupant.
People often ascribe uncanny powers to bagsaints, as well as unusual knowledge or communication abilities.