Sunday, 9 April 2017

Religion and the Gods

There are a shit-ton of gods in the world. And since I've been writing so much about the Church of the True god, I thought I should probably tell you about some of the others, and how divinity works in this messed up world (which, by the way, I have decided to name 'Lint.' Because why not?)

The Physiology of Gods
Gods in Lint are not spontaneously created (most of the time), they have ultimate divine power (questionable), and they are unarguably the most powerful beings in the word (arguable).

At least, that's what they like to say. The truth is a bit more complicated than that.

We'll start off with the first thing that comes to mind when I think of gods: Power. How much do they have, how powerful can they get, that sort of thing. This is quite a simple answer. 'It varies.' Yeah, I know it's a cop-out, sue me.

The power of any given god usually depends on how many followers it has, and how devoted they are. Before you stop reading because 'you've heard this before,' let me explain.

Gods get weaker the more followers they have, and the more devoted those followers are.

I know this seems like a shitty business plan, but to them, it makes sense. Every god's goal is to have enough followers that it fades from existence, very similar to the True God. They do not (with a few exceptions) want to live in this world.

This also means that the less followers a god has, the more powerful the followers are. Therefore, if you killed every devotee of Gothos but one, be prepared for a very angry, very strong, and nearly immortal spear-wielding maniac to come after you. Possibly with Gothos himself one step behind.

Gods can come down to Lint for short periods of time, to protect their interests. The fewer followers, the longer these visits are, and the more impact they have. Religious wars are very dangerous, simply because at some point, the gods themselves may come down and duke it out on the battlefield. As the soldiers of both are killed by the enormously powerful magic or physical strength being flung around willy-nilly, the gods get stronger, and more soldiers are killed, and so on.
Thousands of years ago, when there weren't many people in the world, gods would always walk the earth. Now, they've mostly retreated into their own domains.

Gods such as Zira, or the True god, are so widely worshiped they simply do not make appearances. Their priests still use magic, and their angels still come to earth, but they themselves are removed from the world. Gods like Gothos, or the Drowned One, have trouble getting to Lint, but have few enough followers (due to their morbid domains), that they can still manage it. Very minor gods, most too minor to be named here, must live in the same world as mortals, usually because their only acolyte is a deranged and near-crippled beggar or hermit.

Gothos the Bloody
The Impaler, the Betrayer, the Lord of War, King of Ghouls
Thomas Weivegg, found here, 'blood god'
Like any good story, we're going to start this one with a war.

Gothos was a simple soldier, in the beginning. Most soldier assumed that he, like so many young men, had joined an army to fight for a cause he barely knew, for whatever pay he could get. This illusion was dashed on his first battle.

As the stories go, Gothos was part of a strike team, venturing to the border of enemy territory. At the first sight of the enemy, Gothos attacked. No screaming, no yelling, no shitting himself like most first-time soldiers, just the attack.

He was calm, but bloodthirsty. At the end of the fight, he personally went around, impaling corpses and the wounded. His allies were terrified of him, and a group of four men vowed to put an end to the apparent madman in their midst. They were found impaled as well, still screaming, but well past help.

And Gothos still stood, sitting in between their corpses. He was left alone after that point, following around the other soldiers like some sort of demonic dog. Nobody could get rid of him and live. So, they didn't try.

Gothos proved his usefulness many times over, but still he imapaled his enemies, and still his allies tried to kill him, and he survived it all. He rose through the ranks in a singularly bloody fashion, and became a top general, very soon. Then he was ordered to participate in a great battle, one of singular importance to his people.

Nobody knows what happened in that war, but whatever it was, Gothos snapped. By the time someone checks the battlefield, everyone was dead or dying. No survivors on either side, and every body was impaled. Those still lucid enough to speak raved about a man with a mask and armour of blood, moving silently as he staked one of them after the other, not discriminating as he killed.

Nobody was willing to go after the man, and many soldiers began worshiping him. Worship is what gods live for and so, Gothos became a god.

His priests are warriors, one and all. They use spears, and attempt to impale their enemies instead of directly killing them. The greatest of his Chosen can draw the life force out of impaled enemies to keep themselves alive, even when they are on the brink of death.

His archpriest is a nameless plainsman. The High Chosen stalks the land, impaling all who come in his path. It is said that those he stabs are impossible to harm, but any injury he takes will appear on them.

The roads of those plains use the countless victims of his attacks as road-markers. Many try to remove or kill them, but it seems to be impossible.

Gothos is the god of blood, war, and betrayal. He has enough followers that he has trouble coming down to Lint, but still can. His wife is an enormous spirit-snake, with centipedes for eyes, named 'Child Eater.' She is the one who created ghouls, with his help (more on them later).

Gothos demands only three things of his followers:
  1. Never Attempt to Defuse a Fight Already In Progress. Gothos, in life, started fights, and finished them. He expects his followers to do the same. This goes hand in hand with Never attempt to get out of a fight,' and 'never run from a fight.'
  2. Sacrifice Your Kills to the Bloody God. Impale any enemy you kill, as homage to Gothos.
  3. Bathe in the Blood of Your Allies. This is believed to be a cleansing ritual after a battle, where the followers of Gothos soak themselves in their allies blood. Whether this is to honour or defile them is unclear, even to the followers themselves. 
Zira, She in Pain
The Tortured, Sister Zira, Mistress of Pain, Lady of Vengeance, the Earthmother
 dyramisty, 'Broken Girl'
Zira was a young girl when she ascended.

She is one of the oldest gods. She was born hundreds of thousands of years ago, when the world was young. A time when all gods walked the earth and the dragons were young and the mountains still spoke.

Zira was born to a nomadic tribe, as the daughter of a slave. She was the lowest of the low, free for people to abuse, punish, or even kill any way they wanted. Before she had lived her first decade, she had been buried alive, whipped countless times, and thrown off multiple cliffs. Although she lived, her body and mind was a patchwork of scars.

One night, Zira's beatings were particularly bad. Her legs were broken, an ear torn off, and an arm dislocated. Her tribe deemed her to much of a burden to keep, and she was buried. The tribe was impatient, and didn't wait for her to die beforehand.

Deep in the earth, Zira waited for death. But it never came. Her struggled ceased after a day and a night, and she began to become one with the earth. Her skin became stone, her hair became moss, and her eyes became precious stones. Her skin was still cracked and broken, but it would not be broken again.

Zira willed herself up from the earth and, recognizing her as it's own, she was raised up to the surface. Her broken limbs dragged free of the ground, and she began limping in the direction her tribe had set out in.

The tribe was faster, but Zira did not tire. She chased them down, heedless to their arrows and spears glancing off her skin. One by one, she buried them alive, just as she had been buried. One by one, in the earth, their limbs were broken, just as her's had been.

It took nearly a year, but eventually, every member of her former tribe had been tracked down, and killed. Zira lay back, and let the earth take her.

She is the goddess of earth, pain, and revenge.

Zira is one of the most widely worshiped gods, so much so that she cannot create her physical form. She is the earth, and no one wants to disrespect the ground they stand on.
The Priests of Zira are initiated by being beaten daily for weeks on end, and then buried. While buried, they call on the power of Zira, and she lifts them out of the earth. No buried priest has ever died from the entombment itself. She never refuses a follower, although some she dislikes will find themselves in an uncomfortable position, such as with their head, legs, or entire right side left buried.

The High Priest of Zira is a man known as Uku the Numb. He is old, and wanders the world deep underground, occassionally coming up to rest for a day or two at one of Zira's temples. It is said that his goddess bestowed upon his the immunity to pain, in exchange for a lifetime as her companion. With the companionship, he became immune to another type of pain: heartbreak.
The Drowned One
The Drowned God, Drowner of Men, Leviathan, Lord of the Dead Ocean
Bayard Wu, 'Monster in Deep'  
Unlike the previous two entries on this list, the Drowned One was never human in the first place. Nobody knows exactly how he came to be. The legends concerning him always begin and end with him rising out of the sea, falling upon some ship or port city, and utterly destroying it, leaving a town of unliving corpses. He is a force of nature, a destroyer seemingly unconcerned for human life.

And yet, as is typical of humans, some fucking idiots still decided to worship the damn thing.

Their greatest ceremonies generally involve the Drowned One popping out of the ocean, listening to their prayers, and then eating them, and vomiting the remains out as zombies on unsuspecting ships. He seems to be one god who wants to stay on the material plane, and so generally goes out of his way to kill his followers whenever possible.

He is the god of oceans, undeath, and death at sea.

He has two types of followers. Believers and Deceivers.

Believers are usually crazy, desperate, or both. They worship him like you would worship any other god, praying in their holy sites, seeking them out, that sort of thing. The more fanatical ones generally die pretty quickly, due to seeking the Drowned One out. They kill Deceivers to keep their god in the material plane.

Deceivers look like Believers on the outside, but really, they are martyrs. They worship the Drowned One to keep him from the material plane, and draw power from him as well. Among themselves, they are called 'the keepers.' They usually go out of their way to make Believers harmless, but alive, so that the worship of the Drowned One will continue.

His High Chosen is the one woman said to have actually spoken with him, called 'Jivis the Blue,' on account of her odd complexion. It is said the Drowned One brought Jivis back to life when she fell off her ship during a storm, because he was smitten with her beauty. She resides in a rocky outcropping, barely an island, where he visits her once a year, and they go on a gleeful rampage.

Ithis No-Face, Lord of the Wild, Scarecrow of Men, the Fearmonger
Ramses Melendez, 'Rising'
 Ithis is the god of fear, patron of druids, and murderer of men. When you feel a creeping sensation down the back of your neck while on a forest walk, a faint rustling in the bushes, or phantasmal teeth sinking down on your spine, that is Ithis at work.

Ithis has existed for longer than most can remember. He was there before Zira, before Gothos, and before the True god. If the legends about him are true, he has existed for much longer than the human race. And he hates us.

Many of his followers will tell you that 'humans struck first' or 'we attacked him unprovoked.' None of this is true. The hatred for different things existed long before humans, and will exist long after they are gone. Ithis struck before mankind even knew he existed, trying to wipe them out before they ever became a threat.

The war between humanity and Ithis raged for hundreds of years. Although humans knew the power of nature, Ithis underestimated the sheer dogged nature of humans. His greatest rivers only just matched them in determination, but were, comically enough, not nearly as fluid in their abilities.

Ithis was fought, and killed, and fought more, and killed again and again. It took a banding of three lesser gods (the Fool, Hearthkeeper, and Lady Dogrunner), as well as an army of spirits and humans to finally stop him.

He came back, thousands of years later, when the world had forgotten him. But he had forgotten the world, and Zira was strong in those days. He was imprisoned when she threw a mountain at him.

His High Priest is an enormous bear permanently summoned to Lint by him. It seems to do normal bear stuff most of the time. However, if challenged, it speaks with the voice of Ithis, and fights with the strength of a thunderstorm. 

His followers are all druids, although a few ignorant forest-folk have turned to worshiping him, simply to keep his wrath at bay. It doesn't seem to work, but they swear it does. He condones nothing except the destruction of civilization, and cares nothing for worship (although he does appreciate the occasional sacrifice).

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