In the White Shadows
Dwarf melee cleric (WIS/CON build) trained in heal, insight, religion and arcana. Low damage but at-wills hand out a free save or resist 3 to an ally; encounters and dailies focused on buffing allies or debuffing enemies. Ranged attacks . . . don’t ask. Good defenses and survivability.
Appearance and Mannerisms
Skin on face, arms and chest is blotchy, thin and scarred, as if scoured or lightly flayed (as it was, to remove tattoos). Wears scale mail and a holy symbol and other ornamentation from his Order devoted to Nusemnee —a serpent curled around a kukri. Carries a warhammer inscribed with kneeling worshipers.
His personality is intense and driven, rarely smiling, but his demeanor is kindly and compassionate to those he believes seek redemption. He is drawn to those who have fallen furthest and are experiencing the personal torment necessary to better themselves.
Faustus Salva is the last of a line of high priests devoted to Nusemnee. The Order began with Emmet Salva, a high priest of Pelor who, through compassion, turned Nusemnee from a vicious devil assassin into a symbol of redemption and, after her assassination, a goddess of redemption (see below).
Unlike his forbears, Faustus was not raised to worship and promote Nusemnee, because when he was an infant, his parents were assassinated and the main Nusemnee temple destroyed by Zehiri cultists led by an offshoot known as the Faithful Daughters. Rather than kill the infant, the cultists raised him in seclusion in a compound owned by a wealthy noblewoman who was secretly a cultist and who maintained an underground temple to Zehir. Although isolated and kept ignorant — he knew the noblewoman only as Mistress — the cultists treated Faustus well. His only exposure to the cult was, once a week and on certain holidays, being brought into the temple to play a limited role in various religious rites and ceremonies. Faustus participated without knowing the significance of his role or the evil nature of the cult.
Over time, the Faithful Daughters decorated his body with various tattoos in homage to Zehir, including a small teardrop for every life sacrificed at ceremonies in which Faustus participated (after he was shuffled out, unaware of what followed). By the time his 13th birthday approached, Faustus was covered in teardrops and other decoration on his arms, chest, and part of his face.
The Sanction of the Disloyal
In return for a great boon from Zehir, the Faithful Daughters planned to torture and kill Faustus on his 13th birthday in a ceremony to be attended by almost about every Zehiri cultist for hundreds of miles. As the day approached, Faustus began to question his secluded life and wonder about the meaning of the odd phrases he was required to chant at the ceremonies (in Supernal, which he does not understand). He began to overhear whisperings of a coming Sanction of the Disloyal, and began to suspect that his keepers were not the kindly priests they held themselves out to be.
On the day of the ceremony, Faustus was dressed in regalia, anointed with oils, and given a special tattoo of Nusemnee on his chest (the only tattoo he still retains). The ceremony was held in the courtyard of the compound to accommodate the 100 or so worshippers. Just as the noblewoman raised a kukri to begin the sacrifice of Faustus, a dozen attendees began attacking the worshippers, intent on rescuing him. One of the rescuers cast a spell that removed the glamour on Faustus and allowed him to see the ceremony and inner compound for what it was — a vile homage to death and despair, a reward for the wicked. Faustus ran but was caught up in the battle and killed by a powerful poison.
Temple of Nusemnee
Faustus awoke later in an underground temple to Nusemnee in the upper reaches of the Underdark. He was told that most of the rescuers (and most of the Zehiri worshipers) were killed, but they managed to escape with his body and resurrect him. His rescuers were powerful Nusemnee adherents from other temples who had been searching for him since his parents’ temple was destroyed, and the Zehiri sacrificial ceremony was too big a secret for the Faithful Daughters to keep.
Once his sad, misdirected life was explained to him by his rescuers, Faustus presided over a ceremony in which he scrubbed all of the Zehiri tattoos off of his body with a rough porous rock, except for the Nusemnee tattoo on his chest. For the next five years, Faustus was instructed in the ways of his true family’s faith, and saw firsthand its mission to minister to the vilest creatures, wherever they could be found (the upper Underdark is prime real estate for a Nusemnee temple).
Faustus became a fervent believer in Nusemnee’s mission and believes his own redemption requires him to bring redemption or death to all Venomers (Zehiri clerics) and other Zehiri followers wherever they could be found outside of the Endless Night (Zehir’s realm). He especially seeks to destroy the Faithful Daughters, and is not sure he could bring himself to offer them redemption.
Although he has become wise during his recovery and instruction by the priests of his order, Faustus made the very unwise decision to leave his temple, go out into the world alone, and rely upon nonbelievers to see his redemption through and protect him from vengeful followers of Zehiri. Declaring that redemption holds its head high, rather than sneaking in shadows, Faustus shares this backstory with anyone who wants to hear it.
Nusemnee (from Compendium)
Origins and ExploitsNusemnee was the daughter of Zehir and a powerful devil . A scaled, lean woman with burning eyes, her fangs dripped with poison. She was originally an assassin for her father, supporting his schemes by murdering his opponents. When she failed to assassinate a high priest of Pelor , she was abandoned and then mortally wounded by a paladin ’s holy blade. Expecting only death, she was surprised when the high priest healed her, showing her compassion and forgiveness. Intrigued, she decided to honor a promise to the high priest and aid him in his holy quest until a time that she could save his life in turn. Nusemnee thus became a symbol of redemption. When she finally died at the end of the high priest’s quest, she rose again, this time as a minor goddess . In this form, she opposed her father by offering redemption to all who would turn away from evil.
CommandmentsWhen Nusemnee was still alive she taught her followers that:
It is never too late to seek redemption.
True heroism does not come from good deeds. It comes from doing good when it matters.
Nobody is perfect. Those who seek to be perfect will fail. It is not a shame to fail, and it is not a waste to try.
Open your heart to possibilities. Never give up hope.
Exarchs, Allies and Followers
Nusemnee’s exarchs became exarch’s of Pelor after The Horned Daughters death, though their loyalty remains with her. During her life her only true allies were Avandra and Pelor. Her followers are still fairly common.
Rivals and Enemies
Nusemnee was loathed by all the evil gods due to her ability to purge the evil from a mortal’s soul once they had sought redemption. Her greatest enemy was her father Zehir, because of her betrayal against him and his wicked ways.
Nusemnee was later killed by a poison that could kill anything, even a deity, that was distilled from Zehir’s blood. It is widely believed to have been carried out by one of his exarchs or even Zehir himself.
Her body, a scaly withered husk, drifts in one of the darkest recesses of the Astral Sea , where it is sought out by redemption seekers. Some say that Nusemnee’s blood still holds a poison strong enough to kill even Zehir. Vicious devils and a force of yuan-ti abominations guard the body in Zehir’s name. So far, nobody has drawn a single drop of blood from her dehydrated corpse.
Since Nusemnee died relatively recently, a number of cults and priests still exist today. Their numbers dwindle as people turn their worship to other deities. Temples to Nusemnee exist in twilight places, city slums, and the upper Underdark , where those most in need of redemption can be found.