Monday, 10 April 2017

A Few More Gods and Followers

This is a spiritual successor to my last post, which people seemed to like for some reason (thanks, by the way! That was my most viewed post ever).

And, before we get on to the gods, a little tidbit about followers: Priests and Chosen.

Big difference between the two. Both follow the practices of their religion, but each one works a little differently.

Priests and High Priests practice more traditional worship. They pray at temples, spread the good word of their god, that sort of thing. This is always a choice. In addition, not all priests have magical abilities, and all priests started without magical abilities. Any god who has priests generally has lots of followers.

Chosen and High Chosen, however, are different. Like the name says, they are chosen by their god. Sometimes they didn't even worship them beforehand, or it was just in the spur of the moment, or they haven't even heard of them. However, their god chose them, and they probably didn't get any say in the matter. A chosen is akin to a mini avatar for a god. They always have supernatural abilities, and generally there are much less of them that priests. They generally have a large share of their god's. Sometimes they are worshiped as mini gods in their own right.

And something people asked about: the subject of God's Domains.

These are pretty simple. As part of becoming a god (a process that is partially about willpower, and partially about reaching a sort of magical/spiritual critical mass and collapsing into the black hole of godhood), you gain access to a domain, which you can get to with more followers. A domain fits a god's personality, sculpting it into their perfect world, whatever that may be.

As a god loses power on Lint, they gain power in their domains, making them more responsive, more complex, and more interesting. This is why many gods want to have enough followers to stay there full-time; they love their own little slices of paradise, and want to stay in them. 

Lady Dogrunner
The Tamer, Fang Mistress
Like this, but with funkier hair and better clothing and more 
Lady Dogrunner is one of the oldest human gods. In life, she was a normal tribal girl, with what her family thought was an unhealthy obsession with wild animals. In secret, she caught and tamed a wolf litter, and their children, and their children.

She showed her tribe her mastery of the wild beasts, and was hailed as a goddess. Her tribe tried to make her chief. But Lady Dogrunner had grown fond of running with the wolf pack. She left with them, to find her own way.

She is the patron of dog-tamers and any who hunt with dogs, as well as those who run long distances (yes, she is the goddess of marathons as well as endurance hunting). She generally stays out of the mortal world whenever she can, spending time in her realm, which is an endless lichen tundra, full of prey. She hunts with her wolf pack there.

Lady Dogrunner has two High Chosen, both children. A twin brother and sister, both found lost in the wilderness at a young age. They have been raised by the man who was previously her high chosen, a hunter named Riskar Dral. He is exceedingly grateful he no longer has to do her duties in the world, and is glad to have human children of his own to raise

The Girl in the Fire, the Hospitable, Flame Daughter
 AireensColor, 'Hestia' 
Yeah, this picture is a cop-out, but it's so perfect for her
Hearthkeeper was a young girl, her name lost to history. She was hospitable, friendly, and always had a fire going for visitors. But she trusted people too much.

Hearthkeeper was killed by visitors before reaching her sixteenth birthday, and her body was thrown in the same fire she worked so hard to keep going. The house was burned, and the bandits went on their merry way.

But wherever they stopped, wherever they tried to find shelter, they were turned away. They tried to take what they wanted by force, and the buildings they attacked burned down around them. They died alone and forgotten, nobody to give them shelter; not even their own families.

Hearthkeeper appears as a face in the flames of a hearth, or sometimes as a young girl tending a campfire alone in the wilderness, or a cabin thought long forgotten. She requests only kindness, and offers it in return.

She is the goddess of hospitality, kindness, and fire.

Her High Priest is a peasant girl not unlike herself, named Aselis. She lives in a small, unnamed village, and it is said that she can let people who ask politely step into her fire, and travel to any other fire in the world.

Shadowwing, the Knowledge-Thief, Owl-King
Lothris, although you would be skeptical after a conversation with them, was human. Theoretically.

The first mention of them was a little under one thousand years ago, near the forming of the Taleyan empire. There came rumours of a small being, a childlike thing with wings, attacking Taleyan soldiers. None had been killed, but many were traumatized by their experiences. Reinforcements were sent, and did not return sane. Thinking it was a spellcaster, a cadre of mages was sent out to deal with the threat. They came back telling tales of boiling swamps and glowing eyes and birds bigger than any seen before.

The threat was responded to with ever increasing displays of force. It seemed to work, once, where a soldier reported hitting the being. But then the being disappeared. Soon after, so did the nearby baron's eldest son. He was found three days later, sitting in the bottom of a well, muttering to himself about birds. He never recovered.

But Lothris remains. They were a constant thorn in the side of the Taleyan kings. They rarely killed, but many would argue the madness they bestowed was worse.

Lothris ascended somewhere along the way. As with everything they did, it went silently and unnoticed, only being realized after the fact. Some say they stole a fraction of divinity from the gods themselves. One theory says Lothris has existed for much longer than we think, and what we regard as their ascension was simply them stealing everyone's memory.

They are the god of knowledge, thievery, secrets, and owls. 

Their high priest is a crazy old man named 'Odinkinkin' (he named himself), who chained himself to a grain mill and spends his days trying to scoop up and eat nonexistent flour, occasionally disappearing and reappearing with some royal treasure in his hands, which is quickly sent back to it's original owners by his descendants.

The True God 
The One God, the Mighty, Truth-teller
Less than two thousand years ago, nearly everyone in the Taleyan empire experienced a vision. None were the same, some lasted for days, some for seconds, but the general meaning of all was the same.

There was one true god. And he was ready for their worship.

Most of the visions didn't seem to have any effect, but some began worshiping this new god. They were shocked and awed by how much power they gained from it, and how willing he was to give it up. His following grew quickly, and formed what they called 'the Church of the True God.'

He had few rules, many of which were created by his early High Priests. He never spoke to anyone, never touched the world except indirectly. While most gods seem content with spending at least some time on Lint, the True God was actively trying to sever every last tie he had from it. He was ready for his perfect existence in his perfect realm, and didn't want mortal squabbles to tie him up.

The True God left discrimination, decision making, and all that stuff to his priests and angels. Another layer to distance himself from Lint. In his supposed absence, the church thrived. New acolytes ran to them like a starving man towards a feast, and sated themselves on it's power. They were stronger than the followers of any other god.

The difference shrank, of course, as more worshipers came.

His priests began the process of creating orphanages to raise new followers of the One True faith, taking in any children that needed help, and kidnapping those who's parents were deemed unfit for them.

His worship, due to being mostly composed of man-made rules, is very accessible to the common folk. He has the most followers out of any deity on Lint, and so has the least direct impact on the world. However, his presence is felt by the symbols around the necks of every other man, and the churches in nearly every town. 

He has more sects than any other god, including the Knights of the Oath, the Martyrs, and the Ember Guardians (more on them another time).

His High Priest is a blind young woman, a prophet, called 'Hoyalan the Pure.' It is said that by her hand, any knowledge can be learned, any truth revealed, and any open wound closed up, to preserve the secrets of the flesh.

Mother of Ghouls, the Slithering Queen
Child Eater is a spirit, the wife of Gothos, and one of the lesser-known threats to humanity. She's been there for a good long time, lurking in the background, just out of sight.

She does not quite belong on this list, because she is technically not a proper god, but she is close enough, and rivals true gods in power. She came into being when the first human child died, eaten by a snake.

Child Eater was a human-made spirit, unlike Ithis. She never knew existence before humans, and so feels differently about them than the spirits that can remember the good old days. The driving force of most spirit's hatred of humans is to recover what is lost. A sort of nostalgia.

Child Eater wants to keep humans alive, because without them, there would be no more children to eat. Keeping them happy, safe, or whole? That doesn't matter nearly as much as keeping the other spirit's good books. And humans generally don't like things that eat children anyway.

Child Eater can appear in many forms, but each contains elements of snakes and centipedes. Her favoured form is an enormous serpent who's eyes and mouth are full of centipedes, spiders, and undead mice.

Child Eater's greatest accomplishment was creating the ghouls: cannibalistic, intelligent predators made to hide among and hunt humans. As a little hint to any who tried to seek her out, she made their method of reproduction involve eating babies. She gets bored, and the excitement of talking to an intelligent mortal thrills her to the bone.

Although not quite a goddess, she is still worshiped as one. Her followers are all ghouls.

Death Dancer
The Waltzing Mask, the Swordstring Player
Once upon a time, not long ago, there was a man. A man with a mask.

He was a noble boy, son of a great duke. His father wanted him to be a warrior, he had aspirations of becoming a roguish musician; a rake, of sorts. He fled his home.

He played his music, ever watchful for his father's groping, greedy hands, seeking to bring him back. The noble boy's talents allowed him to slowly, but surely, climb the societal ladder back up. He became the personal player to a Taleyan king.

But then, there was the king's daughter. A beautiful and fair thing was she, and smart too. Him and her matched wits against each other, long into the night. Their conversations became more than just conversations.

The King caught wind of this, and was furious. He demanded the boy's face, tongue, and fingers be removed, and then the boy killed. His soldier's delivered, cutting the screaming boy alive before his weeping princess, before throwing his body from the battlements.

One year past. The King threw a party, a birthday celebration for his daughter. Halfway through the celebrations, a masked figure entered.

The King demanded to know who the figure was, fully prepared to have him shot down. The figure produced a violin, and silently showed it to the King. It was the same one the noble boy had held the day he died.

He was ordered killed again. Soldiers rushed in, but the masked figure was quicker. He plucked a bow from his back with shadowy fingers, and began to play. He played the strings, and as he played the strings, he played the soldiers. They danced their own dance, turning the halls red with blood.

In the end, only the masked figure and the princess were left. He extended his fingerless hand and, as if under a spell, she took it.  

Death Dancer is a god of death, music, celebration, and everlasting love. His followers are bards and assassins, who turn their instruments into weapons. The strings of a lute become garrote wires, flutes become hidden daggers, and the bow of a violin is razor sharp.

His High Chosen is a woman who claims to be his descendant, simply named 'Mus.' Whether she was chosen because she is his descendant, or because he admires her audacity it not known. It is said that when she plays, the lost lovers of those nearby arise from the underworld for one final, loving dance.

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