St. Senren was a 2nd century saint who lived during the dark times of the Secession Wars. He was the lord of a region in what is now Benthos and, under his rule, that region was peaceful and prosperous â€“ he administered it with just laws and was a devout and pious man. He had successfully rid the land of the plagues of bandits and brigands; however, the peace was threatened when a dark mage, meddling with forces too powerful for him, summoned a number of demons including a demon lord, Soharadon Naxtil. The Soharadon had found ways to (slowly) bring other demons through to this plane and, to gain more power, came out of the mountains to he north and occupied one of St. Senrenâ€™s towns, destroying all the inhabitants and killing or fleeing the soldiers. Whilst his courtiers and guardsman panicked and spoke of flight, Senren, with just 6 retainers, rode out to meet the Soharadon. While his retainers desparately fought against the hordes of Sthand and Goruthang (various demons), Senren himself engaged the Soharadon in single combat. Long and grievous was the struggle, but at the last, Senren drove his sword in to the Soharadonâ€™s chest, perishing even as he slew his foe. It is said that a red flower, the Crown of Senren, sprouted on the ground where he died; it is now found widely all over Laurentia.
The Crown of Senren is a small, delicate looking blood-red flower. It grows low to the ground and the plant (leaves, etc.) itself is quite undistinguished. The Crown of Senren is one of the first plants to sprout on a battle field and is also one of the first to recolonise the barren slopes of a volcano after an eruption. It has a very faint, sweet smell, though if in large quantities the smell can be overpowering, reminding one of blood. The flower has a slight (non-magical) medicinal property: a poultice made of the crushed flowers will help blood to clot.
The White Crown of Senren
Very occasionally, a single Crown of Senren will bloom white, whilst all amongst it the others are red (for comparison, this is considerably rarer than finding a four leaf clover). The white flower is considered to represent innocence and purity and is widely valued, particularly by the Senrenites. Before being picked, it is scentless; however, when picked, it has a pure, sweet smell that revives and refreshes those nearby.
If a white flower is picked by someone innocent or helpless, it will act as a powerful charm of protection. As long as they are carrying the bloom, they will be protected from all magic; in addition, evil creatures such as demons or undead will not approach them under any circumstances. Against mundane foes, the flower is more subtle but no less potent: it will awaken all the feelings of pity and compassion, even if these lay buried deep and almost unused in the person’s heart. Only the most cruel and heartless will still harm one carrying a white Crown of Senren. After a week, the blossom will wither and fade; in addition, should the bearer commit any act of violence, it will turn red.
The Senrenites prize the flower, not only for this reason, but for its use in two of their most holy rituals, the Ritual of Atonement and the Ritual of Redemption. In the Ritual of Atonement, the recipient, who must be willing will have committed some wrong-doing (either in the eyes of everyone or just in his own eyes) and wishes to bind himself to one or more promises in order to atone for his wrong. The recipient will commit to one or more promises; these may be as mild or as stringent as are wished and may either last for ever or have a fixed time limit (e.g. â€œNever to harm a childâ€; â€œNot to eat meat for a yearâ€; â€œTo pray twice a day for a monthâ€; â€œTo make a pilgrimage to Aesthen within the next five yearsâ€; etc.). He will then be bound to these promises.
The Ritual of Redemption is even more powerful, though rarely used. In performing it, the president of the ritual, who must be a holy, almost saintly man, must sacrifice his own life. All those nearby will immediately reevaluate their actions and lives from the perspective of the person who sacrificed themselves Although some will just go back to their original way of life, many will be ashamed, conscience stricken and repentant and, at least for a while, make an effort to live better, make amends and cease their evil actions. The more holy the sacrifice, the larger the area effected and the more likely it is to cause a permanent change in the people’s lives.
In order to be used in either of these rituals, the white Crown of Senren must be used within 24hrs of being picked.