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La Aguja del Dolor and High Priest Muriego




None and Male


Pincushion and Human


The Phenomenal Fracas



La Aguja del Dolor and High Priest Muriego are characters in The Phenomenal Fracas.



High Priest Muriegro is a normal human being; he knows how to use a knife and a blowpipe, and is an expert crafter of a myriad of poisons from the plants and animals of the Amazon jungle. The only reason he or anyone in his sect are alive is because they are expert survivalists. For the most part, he is fairly unremarkable.

La Aguja Del Dolor is sentient and aware of its surroundings, which is unusual for a pincushion. It gives anyone who holds it (and that it gives its permission to) the ability to channel powerful magic; while it is capable of slinging fireballs or summoning demons, it tends to prefer and is much better at subtler magic; it specializes in mind and body control, illusions, and many other less flashy sorts of magic. While it can use its powers of its own volition, it is much less powerful than if its powers are being used by a host. It also has the ability to teleport short distances, but can typically not bring its host with it. It frequently uses a very minor form of illusion magic to create a gravelly whisper in the minds of those it wishes to communicate with, but it cannot actually speak, or even move much beyond its teleportation abilities or use of magic. It can use pins and needles that have been stuck in it like limbs, but not particularly effectively.


Muriegro is a tall, gaunt man; his skin is on the dark end of hispanic, and his cheekbones are high and pronounced over his square jaw. He might have been attractive without the life of hardship and self-denial he had lived; the fact that his mouth is crudely stitched shut with thick, bloodstained twine is also somewhat offputting to most. He wears a hooded cloak that might once have been black or may have always been the dingy grey it is now; the hood is typically up, concealing most of his face save for the stitched lips, and its hems are all embroidered with symbols that make the reader's eyes water. His posture is slouched and defeated and his limbs are bony, but he is still quick and lithely strong. A cord around his belt is hung with dozens of pouches and vials of varying sizes, and the insides of his sleeves are lined with pockets, most of which are full of God-knows-what. On his left hip is a sheath holding an eighteen-inch, curved knife; on his right is an ostentatious pouch made of embroidered leather which holds Laguja.

Laguja itself is a fist-sized pincusion, made of some fine, grey fabric. It is typically stuck with some three dozen pins of various sizes and quality; unlike the nearly-ubiquitous tomato pincushions, it is embroidered with legs that give it the appearance of a spider: a spool sewn onto the front of it forms a sort of head, which is adorned with ornamental, but still very sharp, fangs. Its personality is vicious, vindictive, and manipulative; it seeks dominance of those around it, and it will not hesitate to form alliances that it feels will bring it more power or influence.


Muriegro was a member of a small doomsday cult that based themselves in a secluded corner of the Amazon jungle. The cult itself was founded by the members of an undiscovered village of fishers who accidentally uncovered a statue that had been occupied by a nearly-dead god whose previous worshippers had been routed by a rival religion. Upon its discovery, the god made itself known to the villagers and demanded they worship it; not being accustomed to being spoken to be statues, they acquiesced.

The god itself volunteered no name, and the villagers cum cultists never bothered giving one to it or themselves. Their god demanded obedience and that they spread its influence, and promised that once it had regained its powers it would destroy the world that had turned its back on the god and its followers. It promised that its followers would be put at the top of the order of the new world it created, and it promised that its most obedient servants would be made gods in their own right.

Muriegro was not the leader of the cult, nor was he the one who originally discovered the statue. He was simply a particularly devout member, and a notably adept naturalist and poisoncrafter. As his god's influence grew, so grew its power; it fed off the belief and fear of its followers and those they subjugated, and it eventually became powerful enough to condense much of its divine presence into a powerful weapon: the pincushion was similarly unnamed, but it became known to those few that experienced its power and escaped as La Aguja del Dolor. The needle of pain. For reasons that the god never bothered to explain or that anyone cared to question, it was entrusted to Mugriego, who was immediately made High Priest (a position second only to Grand Weaver). His ineffable god demanded that his mouth be stitched shut using the single needle that had been embedded in Laguja when it was formed; it appears that this ritual gave the pincushion significantly more control over the new High Priest than it had over average people, and by this point little of Muriegro's personality remains. He is little more than a husk that carries and carries out the will of Laguja, but he is far from a zombie and frequently makes his own decisions and uses his own initiative, especially if separated from Laguja.

In a world where magic was largely believed to be superstition and only a dozen people on the entirety of Earth are both aware of its existence and able to wield it, Laguja is a powerful weapon; since its creation, the god's influence has expanded tenfold, and even 'civilized' people outside the Amazon have become aware of stories of a cult that commands supernatural powers. Their expansion would likely have gone on inexorably were it not for a power greater than the nameless god's plucking High Priest Muriegro from his world for sport.

The voice in Octavio's head was like listening to the sound of grinding stone formed into words. "Your treachery seemingly boundless, "priest". What made you think your transgressions would go unnoticed? Did you think your joke of a false god would protect you?" Bound as he was to the altar, Octavio could neither run nor even look away from the unblinking face of the silent High Priest; in his off hand, Muriegro still held the bloodstained knife that had just removed Octavio's eyelids, so save for the pooling blood there was nothing to let the heretical priest avoid the gaze of vengeance. "Speak, worthless beast."

The venomous voice didn't actually speak in Octavio's old dialect of Portuguese, simply making its meaning known without using anything as pedestrian as an earthly language; if he really strained, the heretic could make out the actual bizarre syllables before his brain arranged them into ideas he could understand. These thoughts were only making themselves the focus of Octavio's attention because the alternative was coming to grips with the situation he was in, a thought the bound man was not ready to entertain. "You will speak as you speak before your god!"

Emotionless eyes scanned Octavio's naked, whip-scarred form; he seemed to be maintaining his tight lips, even under the onslaught of physical torments he'd already ben subjected to. Muriegro calmly drew a four-inch brass pin out of the grey cushion, gently trailing its tip across the heretic's neck. "I will know the names of those you served, with your permission or without." The grime-encrusted claw holding the pin suddenly jabbed, sinking the metal into Octavio's neck. It was slowly withdrawn, tears mixing with the blood welling in the ex-priest's eyes, and the bead of red that welled up was teased into a complicated glyph on his skin.

Red-hot pain lanced through Octavio's body; his back arched and in spite of his iron self-control an animal yelp escaped his lips. The hissing words that weren't really there intoned "You have brought this on yourself, so it is only fitting that you be the one to deliver your punishment. Tell me their names." The High Priest undid the bindings on Octavio's right wrist and calmly placed the ceremonial dagger in it. Without being willed by the heretic's brain, fingers wrapped around the handle, and the elbow bent. Panicked, he tried to regain control of his body, but nothing from the neck down responded; his arm calmly dragged the tip of the knife down his torso, splitting the skin and opening lash-wounds further. As it passed the navel, a horrible realization dawned on Octavio, whose eyes dilated further.

"Griegla! Destino! Cebrazto!" These and a dozen more names tumbled from the lips of the now-blubbering priest, and the hand holding the knife paused, blade resting idly on his waist. "Good. Your eventual obedience is noted." Muriegro silently retrieved the dagger from Octavio's hand, which flopped to its owner's side. "You are no longer required." The High Priest unknotted the rest of the restraints, and Octavio hauled himself achingly to a sitting position. "You mean, I can just...?"

"Of course not."

Octavio's body was again out of his own control, muscles fighting each other as he strained to stop his inexorable march to the pit. Hands scrabbled on every surface they passed, futile grips slipping off the ichor-slicked stone. He stopped as suddenly as he had started, balls of his feet planted on the precipice of the spike-filled stone pit. "Remember, you bring this on yourself."

It was the longest step of Octavio's life. It was also the last.

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