Warding Beast Hands

The Warding Beast Hands also known as the Cult of the Beast Hands among some circles is the dominant religion among the people of the Narrow Plateau. Abandoned long ago by their creators, the humans of the Narrow Plateau were left surrounded by a forested canyon full of predators. While other human sanctuary domes had the benefit of either being hidden away deep underground or isolated on unassuming islands, the people of the Narrow Plateau were forced into regular contact with the native demons of the Pit. The founders of the Warding Beast Hands saved the populace by reaching out to some of the less immediately aggressive demons and offering tribute in the form of drink and food. Through much trial and error, they managed to get convince enough demons that it was in their benefit that the sanctuary remained unharassed and in doing so got the demons to drive off their more aggressive relatives.

As the years passed, the Cult grew as its practices became vital to the survival of the sanctuary. Whereas other villages and sanctuaries survive off of fishing, growing mushrooms, or serving the Sculptor Giants, the humans of the Plateau have survived through the use of their "Warding Beasts". As such much of Ebyl (the sanctuary)'s population is part of the Cult. Those that aren't part of cult instead tend to Ebyl's fruit garden and produce wine for the cult's purposes.

Members of the cult are known as Hands. The cult is led by a council of its most experienced Hands although they only convene during matters of great importance. Beneath them are three sects of the Cult - The Gentle Hands, the Guiding Hands, the Rough Hands. As their creators took the secret of their alchemical growth serums with them, many of the humans within Ebyl are unable to physically mature beyond a certain point. Due to their smaller, frail size, those humans who had not received the growth solution are usually unable to join the sect of Rough Hands.

The Guiding Hands

The Guiding Hands are those who tend to the spiritual beliefs of the cult. While originally the cult's relationship to demons was purely utilitarian, over time its members have come to believe that the Warding Beasts are embodiment of divine pleasure. The eternal conflict between Pain and Pleasure is a central tenet of the cult's beliefs. The Guiding Hands come up with the various rituals performed by the cult, which are designed to bring blessings of pleasure to the sanctuary. They prepare the various drinks and foods offered as tribute to the demons, ensuring a satisfying taste. They are also responsible for teaching the basic rituals to initiates to the cult. Finally, they tend to the giant silkworms within the sanctuary that are used to produce fabric.

They usually wear long flowing robes of silk and wrappings around their eyes so as to attune their other senses.

The Rough Hands

The Rough Hands are the protectors of the cult. Unlike the other two sects, they do not normally participate in ritualistic tribute to the demons. Instead they arm themselves with rudimentary weapons and fight alongside the Warden Beasts in battle against predators that invade the Narrow. As they are still human, they usually keep to fighting lesser demons while supporting allied demons in battle. Their numbers are few due to Ebyl's population being sterile and the potentials for death associated with the profession. Thus they are rarely used unless the sanctum itself is in immediate danger.

In times of peace, they act as guardians for the other two sects, escorting them on long journeys or during certain rituals. If during a ritual of "flesh communion", one of the Gentle Hands needs a break, the hard bodied Rough Hand will step in and take their place. As only the most physically capable of humans are allowed to the join the Rough Hands, they can take more rougher attention from the cult's demons.

They usually wear armor made from crystallized demon bone with wrappings of black gelatin.

The Gentle Hands

The Gentle Hands are the most numerous members of the cult and are the ones that carry out most of the rituals. They are a combination of servant and holy concubine, tending to the needs of the cult's protector demons. When a demon climbs up the Plateau from the forests below, the Gentle Hands welcome them with sweet-smelling flower petals and offerings of food. Should the demon stay after finishing its meal, the Gentle Hands keep them company. Whether it is a massage, a bath, or sex, it is the purpose of the Gentle Hands to see that the demon is satisfied.

Gentle Hands often train early on with one another. While most demons are indiscriminate, other demons may fixate on a particular Gentle Hand. Such Gentle Hands are known as the Favored, and it is seen as a great honor.

Due to the nature of their jobs, Gentle Hands usually wear revealing apparel made from fine translucent fabrics. Also common are bodysuits or wrappings made from a glossy gelatinous sap harvested from demon womb trees.