Northwestern Chirak is a remote location, isolated from much of the central civilizations of the Sea of Chirak region, and only tenuously connected by trade and warfare with certain regions of the West and the North. Syrgian traders have been journeying to the eastern regions of Theliad for two centuries now, and on certain occasions the Madigar and Abraheilites have engaged in trade by way of the difficult sea and land routes to Theliad. Still, it is not as isolated as Far Therias, and its people know something of the wider world, though their insular cultural groups are not receptive to outside influence.
Theliad is described by some as a land that has moved on. While the rest of the world still mourns the loss of old gods or eagerly awaits the rise of new avatars and demiurges, Theliad has dispensed with the old pantheon in disgust and created its own new ways. Chiefly, the earliest arbiters of civilization were several clans who claimed trueborn blood of the old Inadasir, and that this was divine blood, which asserted their ultimate destiny as ascended beings. The first true civilizations to rise in Theliad after the Apocalypse were driven by these early god-kings, and the concept prevailed. The notion of a leader being directly equivalent to a god is commonly accepted among the people of this land, and their belief that mortals can ascend to divinity is very strong.
Theliad’s history has not been without conflict. The earliest god kings arose in three primary cultural groups, including the Atarthic kingdoms, the Shellas, and the Adenar. These three groups rose from the ashes of the Apocalypse within three or four centuries, and it was around seven centuries that the first self-proclaimed god kings manifested. The first such was the enigmatic being called Hakarthos. This man ruled Atarthis as a benevolent ruler, who claimed to have visited a cavern in the Agardash Mountains, where he was spoken to by a divine spirit some claim to be Pallath and others claim was Pornyphiros (and still others believe something else entirely happened; see Black Kyanite later on). The legends say that this variably named divine spirit passed on the essence of godhood to Hakarthos, who then went on to rule, as an immortal, for nine centuries before his fall during the Keterash Uprising.
Two other divine beings manifested during this early period, including Nimrasa, the divine queen of Shellas, and Sulturian of Adenar, an amorphic being who, though starting as a man, eventually transformed in to a terrible entity. Like Hakarthos, Sulturian was eventually deposed, though his followers found they could not slay him, and instead entombed the terrifying being in the deepest levels of the catacombs of his great city, and then abandoned it. This city is known today as Afar, and it is said that the blood of the entombed god poisoned the land all around, turning Adenar in to a dead land.
Nimrasa is the only one of these ancient ascended beings to remain alive to this day. Though her kingdom collapsed long ago, her loyal priesthood spirited her away to a place of safety during the time of the Keterash Uprisings and kept her safely hidden. A century after the collapse of the old empires she was revealed anew, though Nimrasa swore she would never again demand servitude of mortals. The goddess dwells to this day in her venerable mountain temple just south of the lake city of Typhonis.
It was approximately eleven hundred years ago that the second pantheon arose. This time, the first scended mortal was a man known only as Agarthis, a warlord of the Ekarthask clans, he was a powerful figure, and in this era he conquered a great deal of territory. On one occasion, near the edge of the White Desert, he was visited by a seductive spirit, a woman who claimed to carry the blood of the god Ga’Thon in her veins named Ierata. As the tale goes, she seduced Agarthis, and gave him a taste of divine godflesh from her father’s own body. Agarthis was transformed, and rode forth to declare his status as risen god. He conquered much of the known world in that time, and his own troops were now prepared to venture across the burning sands of the White Desert to sack the fabled city of Eristantopolis, when he was confronted by a man named Pallath Eridanos, a chosen avatar of the sun god, who allegedly united the surviving foes of the risen god with the troops of Eristantopolis to at last stop the mad immortal. Agarthis was imprisoned, again found to be unkillable, beneath a massive stone monument, usually called a tomb, but known also as a temple by his followers to this day. Even imprisoned, his voice can be heard in the dreams of men of great desire and power, and it a common term to speak of one who has fallen to madness as having “received the dreams of Agarthis” as an explanation for his insane behavior.
The mysterious Pallath Eridanos is still revered by the people of Theliad today, though little is known of this man. He is said to have studied for a time in Eristantopolis after saving his people, and then to have traveled to the western islands, where he founded the modern city and kingdom of Theliad before passing on in to time. His whereabouts to this day are unknown.
The Demon Kings of old were feared and reviled by all, and Theliad, much like the rest of the world, was not spared their rampaging shortly after the Apocalypse ended with the death of the gods. In this region it is known that many such ancient demon kings settled, as they tired from their ceaseless rampaging or were at last captured, imprisoned, or sometimes even destroyed. Scholarly records suggest that eleven demon kings were left alive or imprisoned in the land, and to this day there are Cults of the Eleven in the region, which revere and seek dark power from these entities.
The last thousand years of history in Theliad have revealed two more “ascended immortals.” One is a man named Krytias, a scholar and student of lore who discovered, some say, the very cavern in which Hakarthos gained his divinity. Krytias manifested his divinity two centuries ago, and has been a peaceful ascetic ever since, teaching others how to achieve spiritual unity based on his visions prompted by the visits he makes to the sacred caves. His temple is located in the isles of Nelindiros.
The other immortal is a man of mixed infernal heritage, whose mother may have been taken by one of the Eleven, specifically the infernal king Naramaeos. This son, named Tyrios, rose to power by virtue of his wiles and charms in the city of Masar, where he has ruled with an iron fist now for four centuries. Masar is a decadent kingdom of dark delights and opiates, reveling in the slave trade and the exploitation of others. It serves as an unpleasant bridge between the westerlands of Abraheil and the rest of Theliad.
Of the many lands in the region, Theliad and Ekarthask are unique in that they eschew all faith in magical teachings, and disdains sorcery in all forms. These people only nominally tolerate divine practitioners, and seek instead the guidance of men who are enlightened through conventional wisdom.
In contrast to these two lands, Nuliria and Nelindiros venerate their divine practitioners, and keep a watchful eye out for others who might claim potential immortality. These lands believe that the old age of gods is gone, and the essence of the gods has been imbued in mortal flesh, to be revealed at a time of their choosing. As a result, there are perhaps two dozen cults to various “living gods” in these lands, as well as certifiable ones such as Krytias and Nimrasa. A short list of these more popular living gods include:
Katharios the Wise
Chelisana the Divine Mistress of Light
Traidoros the Living Spirit of Strength
Macharadan the Healer
Setrinara the Oracle
The twins Tython and Ulistrana, divine sparks of Pornyphiros.
Further east, in Sytaris, the people are less prone to worshipping living gods, though it does happen, and they instead venerate the ancestral dead, where they believe that the immortal spirits of their kings are all descended from the first true god, Hakarthos. They believe that Hakarthos was a unifying god-spirit, and that all of his descendants carry his spark. This ancestral cult is not unlike those of Nubirion, although with the added belief that each reincarnation brings an ancestral spirit closer to divinity.
In the distant east, the city states of Ghurthal tend toward the worship of their resident goddess, the ancient Nimrasa, but there are cults and factions to many other gods as well. In an alarming trend, there are those who worship the entombed gods, Sulturian and Agarthis, and feel that they must follow the “children of Ga’Thon.” Where such teachings begin is a mystery, though rumors of Ierata’s hand in the matter are troubling. This mysterious entity, branded a Thousandspawn by the Preservationists of Eristantopolis, is believed to have secret designs on Theliad at large, and that she is partly to blame for the enigma of the so called ascended immortals and living gods in the land.
In recent years, through the determined scheming of many lifetimes Ierata has consipired to manipulate the Theliadic Emperor Tiraeus into mad schemes of grandeur. Emperor Tiraeus has initiated a plan to conquer all of Theliad, to assassinate all of the immortals, to clean the slate for his great empire. He will then establish himself as a new, living god. Even as Ierata uses the emperor to destroy her enemies, Tiraeus quietly conspires to destroy the witch as well, using the maddened creature that was once Agarthis, whom he freed from imprisonment to use as his guide in his new war against the world.
Next: Black Kyanite