Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Countdown Finale: DOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMM!!!!!!!

And so Halloween is here! For me, there is nothing more mysterious, terrifying and tanatalizing than the End of Everything as we know it, and so I offer up some of my favorite images of the Apocalypse from conception to conslusion.

First, though it starts off with a cause....

Nuclear War...

Alien Invasion...


Meat Boy Kaiju...


But in the end, the results are all the same...

And inevitably the struggle will begin anew!

Ages of Lingusia: The Death Gods!

Just in time for Halloween....

Principle Gods of Death:

Profile: dreams, fortune telling, visions, third sight, insects
Alignment: neutrality
   Akuuris the dreaming god is the lord of Ethenur, and master of oineriomancy (divination through dreams). He manifests as an immense humanoid insect, and indeed is followed by insectoid species as well as those who have learned to commune with the god and visit the dream plane through meditate practices and psychotropic extracts.
Akuuris' cults spread secretly throughout the world of Lingusia like a thin but tenacious spider web. His most active and visible cultists are in Karaktu, but Akuuris is a god in every land, worshipped in those sultry, smoke-filled dens of mystery. The priests of Akuuris contend that all men pay homage to Akuuris when they fall in to dream-filled slumber.
   Akuuris is the slumbering lord of night, a god who wandered for more millennia than man has existed, and at last settled down in the Dreamlands of Ethenur, a hazy demiplane of mystery, which exists nowhere and everywhere at once. His first great dreams were said to spawn the races of the insects, and the Inkidii, who see him as their creator god. He was the first god to dream, it is said, and when he discovered the dreamlands, he sought to share is discovery with all beings, and so it is that most sentients can walk through dream in slumber.
   It is said that you can travel physically to the dreaming plane through the Ethereal realms, but the cultists of Akuuris learned long ago how to move their in dreams by harvesting and smoking the leaf of the blue lotus. A plant that is rare, found only in the East of Zued, Al’Jhira, and Karaktu, the blue lotus serves as the medium by which the soul of the dreamer can transcend reality and arrive in a simulated physical form in Ethenur.

Profile: ancients, old age, the veneration of elders, wisdom
Alignment: lawful
   Elisin is the goddess of ancient wisdom, old age, and long life. Elisin is usually depicted in sacred murals as an ancient woman of half-elvish and human descent, wise beyond imagining and surrounded by adoring children.
   Elisin is seen in some tales as a harsh old woman who observes or imparts tough life lessons on the young in a “Grimm’s Tales” sort of fashion. Among elvish poets and bards, she is spoken of as an infinitely kind and wise woman who dwells in the depths of the Weirding, and is the keeper of the Spring of Knowledge, from which the essence of learning is drawn. Most suspect that both views are right.
   There is no cult of Elisin, though it is said that there was a strong priesthood before the War of the Gods, but they were all killed in her defense when the demons overran Corti’Zahn and slew her mortal form. Her tomb is unknown, and no temple stands in her honor save the ruins of the one in Corti’Zahn.
   Once in a while, a woman of many years who has lost all she care for or loves, but who perseveres in the face of great opposition, is given a vision by Elisin, and receives a calling to take up the faith and worship of this goddess. These few women, wandering the land and aiding the needy and teaching the ignorant, are the select priestesses of Elisin.
Appearance: An elderly, harsh old woman of wizened age and appearance, sometimes kindly.

Profile: warfare, blood and thunder, glory, combat, killing
Alignment: neutrality
Hargameth is a northern god who spread long ago, his aspects being common to all men. Hargameth is the proverbial lord of blood and thunder, the great warrior of the battlefields, the last of the gods to go down fighting in the War of  the Gods, sealing the rift of the Abyss with his own blood before he collapsed.
   Hargameth is a cult which warriors throughout the world, especially barbarians and more visceral fighters who rely on rages, berserkergang, and bloody frenzies to work themselves in to an appropriate mind-set for combat. He is the antithesis of Vishannu, a god who harkens from the east, and represents the strategic element of war, the art of combat, and the finesse or elegant dueling and intrigue.
Appearance: Hargameth is usually depicted as a furious barbarian warrior in full plate, wielding his immense bastard sword and tower shield, stitched from the skins of the thousand devonin generals he has slain. In the afterlife, it is said that the Celestial Kingdom of Hargameth is the final resting ground of truly powerful warriors who fall valiantly in battle. There, they are ascended to the ranks of the Einheriar, spirits of battle who fight the good fight against the Abyssal devonin and all other enemies of the mortal plane.

Profile: ancestors, reverence for the dead, ancient secrets
Alignment: neutrality
 The record keeper of the dead, Karn is one of the gods of the Afterlife. His following is scattered and his presence as a god is little known outside of those priests who follow one deity of death or another. His worship occurs only in those lands where a need to provide records of the dead have become necessary. As such, his worship can be found in Hyrkania, where great mausoleums of cremated remains can be found, as well as in Galonia, where his worship continued even after all other gods of the Old Galonian pantheon passed on. In the city state of Karan, the ancient tradition of the magiocracy requires that the priests of Karn preside over and record all royal burials. Last but not least, the only death god given recognition beside the Nameless One in Autrengard is Karn, who is said to bar the northern warriors from the afterworld if they cannot recite the names of their forefathers to him, in honor of all their great deeds.
   Karn is sometimes confused with Esyphas in the Middle Kingdoms, but Esyphas is a demigod that holds the Book of the Dead for Kavishkar, and recites the crimes of those to be judged. Karn, however, performs a different duty for the souls of those who worship him, and is more of a secret master to be approached on matters of the afterlife. He is also considered the true scholar of knowledge and lore in the afterlife.
Appearance: Karn is a striking figure, an oligarchic man with kingly and wizardly aspects. However, his face is a sunken image of deathliness, and his eyes hollow voids.

Profile: justice, mercy, final fate, reincarnation, destruction, executioners
Alignment: lawful
Mistress of the Land of the Dead, Karsyllym is wife to Kavishkar and keeper of the Book of Names. Karsyllym’s duties come after her husband judges the innocence or guilt of a soul, and it is her duty to record the sentence and decree the fate of the being in question. Some are sent to purgatories for whatever period is necessary to purge the soul of its crimes. Others are sent to the celestial kingdoms as servants, and an occasional soul is granted an opportunity for reincarnation. The fates of the dead are many, and Karsyllym knows all of them.
   Karsyllym has a small but dedicated order of men and women, priests who act as the executioners for dire crimes in Hyrkania. Her priesthood is feared by all, for their duty is to insure that those sentenced for their crimes are brought to justice. Often, this simply means carrying out an execution or insuring the offender is taken to the proper prison, but they are expected to puruse those who seek to evade justice, as well, and are coldly efficient bounty hunters.
Appearance: Karsyllym appears as a tall and gaunt woman, sometimes wearing ebon armor, other times a dress of blackest silk. She is flanked by a squadron of ancient guardians, spirit defenders of the eternal darkness called the Invantyr.

Profile: Justice and the hand of judgment
Alignment: lawful
Serving as the lord of judgement in the Lands of the Dead, Kavishkar’s duty is to determine the guilt or innocence of any soul who must come before him in the afterlife. He holds court in the most ancient, eternal necropolis of the Stygian Darkness, with his queen Karsyllym at his side.
   Any soul who appears before Kavishkar for judgement will be scrutinized carefully. Esyphas, the Record Keeper, is a dreadful servant of Kavishkar who holds the Book of the Dead with him, in which the tales of all misdeeds of those who come to the court are held. While Esyphas read these deeds, Kavishkar scrutinizes the hapless soul, and at its end, he may interrogate the being for further illumination, after which he utters his sentence of innocence or guilt. His wife then takes over, recording the fate of the soul to whatever purgatory awaits. It is then that the Nameless One takes the soul to its appointed rendezvous with eternity.
   In Hyrkania, the Order of Kasdalan is a dedicated priesthood of civic servants and warriors who hunt down the accused and preside over lawful trials to decide the fate of living men. They revere Kaviskhar for his wisdom on such matters and are especially fond of divinatory magic.
Appearance: Kaviskhar is a tall, sallow-eyed king of darkness, with an immense beard and gaunt, pale features. At times, he seems to take on the aspect of a true skeleton or mummy, at others to be merely an ancient, wisened old man. He wears ebon armor made from the laquered bones of those who have defied his judgement.

The Nameless One
Profile: death, passing on, destroyer of undead, harbinger
Alignment: neutrality
The word for death in the Old Tongue is “Koth,” and the word for That Which Must Not Be Named is “Esiros.” When joined together in the proper manner, these words form the Old Tongue title of Death, He Who must Not Be Named: Koth’os. T’Kothos, in fact, means Lord of the Nameless One, Death.
   Death is a being which pervades all cultures and religions in Lingusia, and his Middle Kingdoms incarnation is by far the most forbidding. Throughout the Middle Kingdoms, his priests are the shunned and mysterious Walkers of Final Night. These Walkers are part time morticians, grave diggers, and hunters of the undead. Indeed, the undead are an anathema to The Nameless One, as they are the dead which will not lie in peace. He is guardian of the gates and boundaries of the afterlife, and caretaker of the netherealms where the souls pass through in their transition. He opposes the devonin of chaos who would foul that barrier to steal souls, as well as any mortal who seeks to reclaim one of the dead by reanimating it as an undead being. It is the solemn Duty of Death and his priesthood to find these undead and put them to rest.
Appearance: Death is a massive, giant-like skeletal being wearing ebony armor and wielding the sacred great sword Rishelka, the Ruby Death.

Profile: keeper of tombs and wealth
Alignment: neutrality
   Nephythis was a goddess of the ancient Old Galonian pantheon, a protector of tombs in the mortal world, who saw to the protection of the dead from tomb robbers and necromancers. She is now barely remembered, venerated only by a handful of Galonian families of wealth who keep her spirit alive. Naphythis has seen a minor resurgence in Jhakn, where it has become fashionable to build a shrine to her at the entrance to a family crypt.
   Nephythis was also associated with wealth and prestige, and her image was popular as a patron goddess among the merchants of Old Galonia, and even today she is still given prayers and offerings at special shrines by Galvonarian merchants.
   Nephythis has very few true priests or followers in the present, perhaps only a handful who have felt the calling of the goddess.
    Nephythis was depicted as a comely young Galonian woman in regal azure robes with gold jewelry. Once, she dwelt in a grand palace of pure gold in the celestial kingdom, but now it is said she walks the dreamlands aimlessly, looking for her lost brethren from the pantheon of Old Galonia, and trying to restore her own power.

Profile: deep waters, aquatic undersea dwellers, drowning
Alignment: neutrality
   The mystery of Trimelin is difficult to unravel. God of the watery deeps longbefore Enki came in to fashion, Trimelin is a god recognized by the intelligent aquatic races as a patron and perhaps even creator. The god has temples in some remote locations on the surface, and seems to have been a priesthood for thousands of years, but little or no written material about this god has ever been recorded. Some scholars worry that Trimelin bears a certain similarity to the mysterious ancient gods, the Kraken, but the similarities are tenuous at best.
   Trimelin is depicted as an immense squid-like being dwelling in an ancient city beneath the sea. Some aquatic beings claim to have actually visited this location, and say the god is a very real being, and that he exists only in the material realm. It is possible that he never even participated in the War of the Gods, and thus was never slain in the corporeal world.

All text copyright 2011 by Nicholas Torbin Bergquist, all rights reserved

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween Countdown #4: Camazotz, The Death Bat!!!!

My Namesake is a real thing, and the Quiche Mayan "camazotz" means literally death bat, referring both to the Xibalban demon, a masive vorpal bat prone to stealing the head of the Hero Twin Hunahpu, lurking in his domain of the House of Night in the underworld of Xibalba, as well as the broader appelation of death bats in general. He makes his formal appearance in  myth by way of the Popol Vuh, one of the most notable surviving codices of the period.

There's a suspected link between the weird mythology of giant bats in Mesoamerican lore and the fact that, until only a few thousand years ago there may have been a real, live basis for this myth in the form of a massive bat with a ten foot wing span. Now extinct, the remains of this creature have been found in a context indicating that it likely existed, and was known to the early settlers of Mesoamerica.

Ages of Lingusia: Gods of the Middle Kingdoms II

Neutral Gods:

Profile: evil, lies, ascension of power, corruption of innocent
Alignment: chaos
Set is the eternal prevaricator of evil and corruption, the god who has taken it upon himself to embrace the tenets of ultimate order at any price. He is not a lord of chaos, evne though he is sometimes mistaken for such. His obsessive dedication to deceit is as much an ordered process as truth, and Set’s very existence as a deity depends upon an ordered universe in which his godly powers can work against. The tenets of chaos are in opposition to any truth about which the Keeper of Lies might spin false tales.
   The followers of Set are many, and the largest enclave is in the rigid empire of the Setite serpent men, Hazer’Phennis. Here, the rule of evil is ultimate, and power goes to the most treacherous and conniving. Throughout the world, the setites and other servants of Set seek to further his cause, which might, one day, be to unite the world under his banner of evil and worship.
   Set’s infernal kingdom of evil is known as the Nine Hells, sometimes also called Stygia. Here, Set’s fallen seraphim, the devils of lore, serve him and his dire ends.
   Set is known to take the form of a variety of desert-dwelling beasts, especially that of the snake and the jackal. His mark rests upon the races of his own creation, such as the Jackalmen of the deep deserts in Galvonar, and the Setites of the Hyrkanian Deserts.

(also called Drolzaros)
Profile: lord of storms and destruction
Alignment: neutrality
   Shandrigal is the enigmatic lord of storms, a weather god with what some would describe as primitive, bestial aspects. He is sometimes worshipped by dragons and their kin, though such worship is seen as heretical among dragonkind.
   In the eastern kingdoms Shandrigal is believed to be a brother of Ravanos and is described as “The Demon of the Winds.” In the north he is called Drolzaros, and is a Wendigo-like banshee in tales.
   Shandrigal is a destructive deity, but is still a nature god, and so does not usually attract the worship of chaos entities.

Profile: art of war and conflict, martial arts, the amazons
Alignment: chaos
   Vishannu began as the god of tactics and warfare in distant Al’jhira of Takkai many thousands of years ago, but migrated to Lingusia, where his temples appeared in early war-torn Zued and eventually were adopted by a truly fanatical cult of women who founded the kingdom of Vyrindia deep within the heart of Amech.
   In this era Vishannu is still expanding, his cult slowly becoming more popular in the Eastern Kingdoms and with the warriors of Amech. Whether he will prove to be the ultimate betrayer god in the distant future as he did in the prior timeline remains to be seen.
   Vishannu wears blood-red armor forged from the heart of the sun. He is tall (9 feet) but moves with alarmingly protean speed. He is startlingly rugged and handsome and very well spoken. He has the army of the Enheriar at his command, as well as a handful of devonin who have defected to his cause. He is courting Wishupar, Ravanos, and certain other gods to serve as his agents and allies in his mysterious schemes.
Plot Hook: In 1,958 Vishannu is assassinated, being the first slain god in almost two thousand years. This coup was distinctive, however, for the perpetrators were two shadowy beings calling themselves Unarak and Phaedra. They used an unknown prehunate device to capture and vampirically siphon away Vishannu’s life force, but the process was interrupted by his greates amazon champion, the avatar Avolakita, who wounds Unarak and drives the two back in to the Shadow Plane. Too late to save her god, Vishannu imparts the last of his divine essence within her, making her a true demigod, and charges her with the task of bringing his killers to justice…

Profile: tricksters,  thieves, deception
Alignment: neutrality
   Wishupar’s temples are still secret, and known only to the acolytes of the cult. It is not a popular cult, but has gained a quiet edge in amongst Hyrkanians, as it has become endorsed as a cult for the purposes of the Hyrkanian Throne. It’s most prominent servants and warriors have dedicated themselves to the service of the Mandragora House, and the restoration of the Empire.
    Wishupar was once seen as a dreadful northern god of thieves and cut throats, but in fact Wishupar was never so hideous....the cult has always wanted to be seen as such, and propogates the rumors to insure it is feared. In fact, the cultists fof Wishupar are civic servants, worshipping a deity who espouses secrecy and deception to support the ruling class. They are mercenaries, and Wishupar is a patron of mercenaries. Worshippers may be thieves and rogues, yes, but more in fashion with a kind of secret service, one which must work conspiratorially  to serve the throne.
   It is suggested by many that  the servants of Wishupar have hidden, secret agendas, and that their dedication to a ruler is not so much for the interests of that ruler as their own. Some claim that this conspiracy goes back many millennia, and that the real purpose of the cult is to gain domination over all lands and people through time, and to damage the worship of other cults, especially the kin of Wishupar’s as described in the Idean Codices (such as Hermes and Haro). Given that the Agents of Wishupar are prone to going out of their way to kill priests and servants of those gods, there seems to be some truth to this.
   On those rare occasions Wishupar appears or is depicted, he manifests as a raven, sometimes as a wereraven. He does take human forms, as as a former demiurge ascended to godhood after the Reckoning, Wishupar has a living form as well as a divine aspect.

Profile: Keeper of the Beast Spirit, lord of the wilds
Alignment: neutrality
   Wolfon is the beast lord, the creator of true beasts and the master of the feral. He is the embodiment of all that is wild. In the dawn of time, the myths of the Idean Codices tell of how Wolfon grew infatuated with the moon goddess, Selene, and would pursue her throughout the night, howling as he did, and as his beasts now do in the present. As always, Selene’s son Zingar and husband Naril would drive him away.
   Beastmen of many sorts, especially the Vyrkasha, and therianthropes of all types favor the worship of Wolfon. Such worship is druidic in nature.

Profile: hunters, rangers, justice, survival, instinct
Alignment: neutrality
   Zingar is also a god of the Middle Kingdoms, said to be a brother to Death and Slithotep. His mortal crypt can be found in the Slithotendan Mountains. Throughout Niras and the northern lands he is the god of the hunt and the spirit of the beast. His divine aspect said to materialize on key days of sacred hunting, and suring the solstices. Zingar’s cult is a quiet menagerie of professional hunters, rangers (especially the rangers of Kom’Huandyr) and dedicated priests. The priests of Zingar are chosen only from among those who actually witness the divine aspect of Zingar, the Wild Hunt.
   Zingar manifests as an immense being, horned and centauroid, flanked by a horde of baying wolves. He has appeared as a quiet elvish ranger on occasion, but under the moon light he is always the wild hunt form.

All text copyright 2011 by Nicholas Torbin Bergquist, all rights reserved

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Museums and Curiosities: Dragoon, Arizona's Amerind Foundation and "The Thing?"

There's a local mummy in my home turf of Cochise County, Arizona called "The Thing?" and it's part of a roadside attraction that has long been the marker point that says, "you are halfway to Tucson, an welcome to the blip on the radar called Dragoon. Please stop in for some ice cream and trinkets." Anyway, it's worth a stop for anyone who likes cheese, wants to see what is almost certainly a fake but very famous mummy, and enjoys a modern descendant from the old "Cabinets of Curiosity" era. Not far from this roadside spectacle is a real museum and archive in the form of the Amerind Foundation, which is well worth a visit, and far more enlightening. Unfortunately the Amerind Foundation is not conveniently located alongside I-10 and it is not equipped with a Dairy Queen, but it is a much richer and more meaningful experience, so if you pass through that area (it's called Texas Canyon, west of Wilcox in the canyon just before the downslope of I-10 heading toward Benson) stop on in for a real treat.

Here, let me spoil it for you:

The Amerind Foundation:

The whole area is absolutely gorgeous, and worth visiting for the scenary alone, so even if museums aren't your thing, stopping in just for the view and the hiking is a worthwhile reason.

Halloween Countdown #3: Creepy Cryptids

I love mummies, and I do love reading about cryptids, although I wouldn't consider myself anything more than an "amused skeptic." The wife rather prides herself on her cryptozoological interest, however, so I never (openly) mock cryptid interests unless the science is obviously bad or absent (as is usually the case with most self-professed cryptozoologists). That said, there's nothing more entertaining than weird dead bodies pulled out of the sea...found in curiosity cabinets....and of course the best cryptid pictures were never real at all....!

Ages of Lingusia: Gods of the Middle Kingdoms Part I

Principle Gods of Life and Order

Profile: fatherhood, earth, farming, oxen, community
Alignment: lawful
   Amasyr is a benevolent god of harvests, agriculture and the weather. He is revered principally in the southlands and among rural farm shrines throughout the Middle Kingdoms. He is described in the myths as husband to Enki.
While Enki is the goddess of the water, sky, clouds and weather, the elements that bring life to the land, Amasyr is the lord of the earth, mountains, plants and those who farm and till for the bounty of the soil. Amasyr is described by his small but dedicated monastic followers are the very essence of the earth, the caverns in her depths, the grottos by the sea, and nurturing soil of the plants. In a curious turn-about, the essence of the goddess is the domain of Amasyr, her care-taker.
   Amasyr is a surprisingly docile god, a venerable deity whose worship began long ago among the most ancient of pastoral farming communities and has continued strong in to the present. He is the patron of those masculine elements in such duties as parenting, fatherhood, and the integrity of the family and community. He is a curious anathema in a pantheon of violent male gods struggling in opposition to one another.
   Amasyr is also a bit of an enigma to religious scholars. His first written reference in the Idean codices does not appear until the description of his marriage to Enki, prior to which is he never once mentioned. Amasyr’s presence in ancient, stone-age communities has been established by the antiquarians of Midas, and the Palomar University, for his religious symbol has been found in ancient ruins dating to the time before written texts, however. This in itself is a conundrum, for most priesthoods (especially Enki’s and Naril’s) contend that the mortal world began with the first written word in the Idean Codex of Creation, penned by the representative god or goddess of whichever priest is making the argument on this claim at any given time.
   The priests of Amasyr dwell in remote monastic temples, and follow a life of quiet dedication to their god. Each priests is expected to go out in to their communities after they spend a time learning the doctrine of their order, and provide a moral and just compass to their communities. They tend to stay far away from larger cities, and provide instead for smaller towns and villages.

Profile: forgers, weapons and armor, metalworking, dwarves
Alignment: lawful
   Ashturak is a human and dwarven god of craftsmen, smiths and architects. He is a pragmatic god, said to dwell deep within a vast celestial mountain range that can be reached through a special passage in the eastern mountains of Amech. Ashturak is rather famously depicted in murals riding a Pegasus.
Ashturak is the ancient lord of the Cosmic Forge, the massive instrument which in the Codex of Creation is said to have been used by Ga’thika herself to create the world. Ashturak is himself said to have struck the first blow on his great anvil, and the sparks which shot forth from the Cosmic Forge became the first of the dwarves.
   Ashturak is worshipped as a creator god among the dwarves, as a patron of craftsmen in most human lands, and an enigmatic mountain lord among the northerners. His greatest temple is in Hyrkan’ien, the Imperial capitol, where the venerable Suethendur high-priest Aurangabad presides over the ceremonies of creation. His priesthood consists mostly of silver and iron dwarves, though an occasional human or other crafty soul will feel the calling of this creator deity and join the ranks. They are a militant knighthood in their own right, and within Hyrkania the Order of the Forge is a knighthood comprised entirely of suethendur dwarves, the most elite of which ride stout pegasi as mounts.
   The forger god is not only revered for his knowledge of metal working among the Middle Kingdoms, but it is said that he was first brought to man by the dwarves in the deep north, where he has long been considered the god of all things important.
Appearance: Ashturak always appears as a venerable and powerful dwarf before a great forge. His immense hammer is capable of shattering anything it strikes, and his temper is cooled only by his lust to create new and more powerful weaponry. It is said that his tomb is somewhere in the heart of the eastern Ashturak’s Mountains, named after this god in his honor. Within the region of his tomb, a cavenous expanse that is said to border his celestial kingdom is said to exist, and it is from here that many of the great magical weapons of the world were created.

Profile: water, sailors, fertility, motherhood, kings, Octzel
Alignment: lawful
   Enki is the goddess of the sea, patron of sailors and protector of Octzel, where her cult is strongest. Enki has variable roles, but she is regarded as a powerful female goddess and this lends to the matrilineal focus of Octzellan society, in contrast with the patrilineal approach of Hyrkania. Her greatest temple is located off the coast of Capitol Octzel, where hundreds of priests maintain a prestigious college of learning as well as offering some famously spectacular ceremonial events.
Enki is recognized throughout the Middle Kingdoms as a goddess of good fortune, a patron of sailors, royalty, weather and crops. She is the bringer of spring, and in the kingdom of Octzel her sacred holiday is the time of the spring equinox. Enki is especially important in Octzel, where she is the civic goddess of the land, patron of the kingdom and protector of its people. She is said to be married in the celestial kingdoms to Amasyr, and that their children include the gods Seth, Ogron, and Trimelin.
   In the Idean Codices, Enki appears in the Myth-Tale volumes as a younger goddess, who was born after the creation of the world. She is identified as the daughter of Naril and Selene, and is said to be the sister to Temina, Slithotep, Death and Dalroth.
   The Church of Enki encompasses a series of priesthoods dedicated to Enki and her children, though Amasyr’s monasteries are considered separate from Enki’s ecclesiastics. Most all of Enki’s priests are women, but a few dedicated men are encouraged to join. The priests are important members of the community, and can be found in many roles, including teachers, advisors, midwives, missionaries, scribes and recorders. The priests who lead the most adventurous lives are the missionaries, and a disproportionate number of these hardy souls are men.
   A subset of the priesthood are the order of the Temple Guardians, special priests who are trained in martial combat and serve as crusaders and protectors of the church and the goddess. The Temple Guardians are rarely found outside of their training grounds and the temples, but when a militant soul is needed for a special task, it is from these ranks that the warrior priest is taken.
Appearance: Enki is pictured often, both In murals, paintings, and statues throughout Octzel. She is seen as a serene goddess of pure beauty, holding her sacred trident in one hand and the Codex of Law in the other.

Profile: rebirth, pharaohs of Galon, Engineers and Architects
Alignment: lawful
   This god is worshipped only in the southernmost reaches of Galvonar in Galonia proper. Galon was believed to be a mortal who rose to the ranks of demigod and became patron of his land and descendants. All pharaohs since his reign have looked to the spiritual guidance of the first Pharaoh. Architects in the land revere Galon for his impressive contributions to the field of engineering in his day.

Profile: healing, protection, Samaritans, sacrifice, caring
Alignment: lawful
   Hellia is a living goddess in this era. She is a benevolent healer and said to be a demigoddess by those who meet her. A small order of knights hospitalers have sworn to serve her, and she is followed by many who would learn at her feet. Her very touch can heal and even restore the dead. She wanders the Middle Kingdoms; it is prophecied that she will be killed as a martyr during the Dark War, though none know it yet.
Hellia is an odd goddess, whose focus is divided between healing the sick and wounded, but tempering that with the inevitability of death. She is as likely to be seen as the cause of a malady or illness, set upon those whose fortune was too great and sudden as she is to be responsible for the miraculous cures and and healing powers of her best priests. If a plague starts, Hella is said to be evening the balance. If a plague is stopped, Hellia is being merciful.
   Hellia’s curatoriums are most commonly found in larger cities, where disease and illness propogate faster. Her priests also wander the land as teachers and healers, seeking to offer wisdom, philosophy and advice along with healing.
Appearance: Hellia is portrayed in images and through statues as a blind goddess who carries her sacred staff of healing. A serpent entwines the staff and her left hand, while she grasps the Ankh of Life firmly in her right hand.

Profile: thieves, tricksters, charlatans, messengers, dead          
Alignment: lawful
   This transitional god represents messengers, tricksters and well-intended individuals who serve order through less than ethical channels. His role in the pantheon is one of communication, as the divine messenger of the gods. He is brother to the Nameless One, and together they are the only two gods who serve as pathfinders for the souls of the dead.
Hermes is another ancient god who appears in the pantheon of the Middle Kingdoms late in the game. He is one of the gods of the afterlife, though he is free to move between all realms. Hermes serves as a messenger to the gods, and is presented as a sort of master of gossip in the myth tales, for he sees and hears all. Hermes is also a guide to the lands of the dead and beyond, and it is his job to help wayward souls find their way to the afterlife.
   Hermes also became a patron of thieves, tricksters and other suspicious individuals. His tales speak of his own errant nature, as well as his persistent compassion for mortals, who would fall victim to the hand of Death. He is said to have taught men how to be crafty, that they might have a fair shot at avoiding death, and so he became the patron of thieves and tricksters.
   Venerated in the Northron Kingdoms as well for his role as messenger of the gods, Herme is often called the harbinger of ill omen by the northmen.
   Hermes appears as a young, athletic man with winged shoes and helm. He is readily identified by extra dimensional travelers from certain other realms as a god who moves through more than one prime material plane, which is true, for Hermes is the messenger of all gods, and knows the pathways of all realms, in to the infinite realm of the Countless Primes.

Profile: time, infinity, the cosmos, planar travel, sequences
Alignment: Lawful
   Huuarl is an enigmatic lord of time and space, a deity with few followers outside of scholars of esoteric studies who are aware of this quiet deity’s existence. In the mythology Huuarl is said to have existed even before the fabled primordial Mysteries, though he was never regarded as one of their kind for unknown reasons. Huuarl has also been variably described as an animating force which chooses hosts to act as care-takers, and that Huuarl is the most recent individual chosen to oversee time and space.
The Timelord and keeper of Infinity, Huuarl and his priests are entrenched in a never-ending war against the destructive chaos cults such as the Nihilists and the Cult of the Kraken. Huuarl is said to be a brother to Damortus, and that they committed to the defense of eternity in their youth, a promise made to the Earth Mother Ga’Thika herself.
   Huuarl’s cult is comprised of clerics and mages called chronomancers. The chronomancers have a small but dedicated membership, which is concentrated in Hyrkania, Sylvias, and Galonia. In Octzel, a Temple of the Golden Traveler can be found outside of the Capitol, Octzel, which is dedicated to Huuarl, as well. Their members are associates of the elvish Protectorate, and they have been known to fight fiercely against the cults they oppose.
   The order of Huuarl is said to take its mandate from a codex that is not part of the Idean collection held by the Temple of Naril, a book, allegedly written centuries before the first codex was ever penned. The book outlines the sacred and celestial mechanics of the universe, the secret of time, and the mechanisms and spells by which travel through time is possible. The order guards these books well.
   Priests of Huuarl are guarded, secretive, and rarely even divulge their faith to others. They are usually both mages and clerics, and often become mystic theurges.
Appearance: Huuarl is pictured as a lean, golden-skinned man of indeterminate years, sometimes robed, and always watchful. He carries the two artifacts of his faith, the Hourglass of Infinity, and the Gauntlet of Passage.

Profile: luck, bad luck, blue orcs, fate, fortune, fools, curses, harlots, sailors 
Alignment: neutrality
   Mitra is the goddess of fortune both good and ill and the oft maligned sister of Enki. She is seen as a champion of the underdogs of society, and is considered a patron of the downtrodden for this reason. She has a mysterious ancient temple deep within the woods of her namesake, and regional cults of orcs worship her, curiously, though such cults are regarded as a curiosity among the chaos kin.
   Mitra is also seen as a patron of sailors who will often offer prayers to her for a safe voyage, as well as harlots and courtesans who look to shrines in her honor for success and safety.
Appearance: Mitra appears as a stern but beautiful woman with long, curly black hair in a light blue shift, playing songs upon an eerie harp (her sacred harp) and singing songs of fortune, both great and terrible.  

(East: Naq’ril; North: Narul)
Profile: fire, mankind, goodness, chivalry, honor, duty, law
Alignment: lawful
   The sun god and lord of civilization. His largest following is in Hyrkania, and his principle order is the Solarian Knights, an order of paladins. Naril is regarded as a good of righteousness and the embodiment of goodness and justice in life. His priesthood is somewhat dogmatic and militant, however, though they are justified by such actions given the encompassing theat of the chaos gods.
   Hyrkania has adopted Naril’s religion as the official religion of the Empire in recent centuries, and it has become the dominant theocratic voice of the land. The church of the Middle Gods is the second most regarded voice of the gods, though it is looked on with some disdain by the church of Naril for harboring many deities regarded as profane by the official church teachings.
   The high priest of the cult of Naril goes by the title of the Sacrimori. The current Sacrimori of Hyrkania is the high priestess Eminata Himanari; she is seen as the sacred consort to the sun god, and acts as the theological advisor to the Emperor.
Appearance: Naril appears as an armored warrior, giant, with golden skin bathed in light so right that to look upon him is instantly blinding. Beings of chaos are driven from his presence in pain and fire, and his army of angelic seraphim and spirit einheriar create his heavenly armies.

Profile: forests, woodland beings, druids, seasons, artists
Alignment: neutrality
   The lord of the woodlands, patron of druids and benefactor of the natural world, Niras is known for being the namesake of one of Hyrkania’s largest forestlands. He is a haunted soul according to the myths, with a callous dislike of all things civilized. Niras is believed to dwell in the heart of the Weirding, and to have long ago been a mortal who was ascended to godhood for his caretaking of the World Tree.
Appearance: Niras is depicted as an ancient and wizened druid hierophant, and occasionally as a treant. He is said to appear before his followers as a treant on special occasions and rituals.

Profile: practice of magic, learning, the truth, scholars and wizards         
Alignment: lawful
   Nistur is the sacred god of magic and learning, seen as synonymous with one another in the Hyrkanian Empire. His cult is known as the Order of the White Stag, with the stag being symbolic of Nistur himself, a flighty beast that contains the hidden mysteries and nourishment the mind craves. The largest temple to Nistur can be found in Eastonia, though a prominent temple can also be found in Hyrkan’ien.
Appearance: Nistur is portrayed as an elderly and wizened man who carries his sacred relic, the Staff of Knowledge with him. His eyes are bright points of light, and his body is a vessel which can barely contain an infinite bounty of mana.

Profile: night time, darkness
Alignment: unaligned
   Although Nyctaris is a little-known goddess, she is believed by many to be one of the first goddesses, sister to Nistur the sun and daughter of T’Kothos and Gathika. While some priests revere her for her position in the sky as the keeper of the darkness when her brother rests beneath the edge of the world, very few priests actually choose her as their patron deity.
   Nyctaris has been largely uninvolved in most of the myth-tales handed down, and she is only occasionally mentioned in the Idean Codices.
Appearance: Nyctaris appears as a fair-skinned woman with incredibly long night-black hair, dressed usually in deep blue robes decorated with brilliant stars.
Artifact: Nyctaris was said to have imbued a robe with the essence of night, a magi’s robe and cowl which could envelope the wearer in the darkness of space. The Robe of Nyctaris allows the wearer to remain totally concealed while it is worn, and renders the wearer invisible at night.

Profile: winds, weather, change, crops, seasons, glythanyu
Alignment: lawful
   Ogron is another god said to be the son of Enki and Amasyr, a rural agrarian deity regarded as beneficial to healthy crops, good weather and fair seasons. He was regionally adopted by the grey orcs of Ocentash as a beneficial deity as well as being very popular throughout the Middle Kingdoms.
Appearance: Ogron is pictured as a huge humanoid, of no particular giant-kin origin, dwelling high in the mountain peaks. Octzellan fables claim that he dwells in the highest peaks of the Cimmeran mountains, and this is half-right, for the most venerable and ancient of shrines to Ogron can be found there, instead.

Profile: love, seduction, lovers, sex, jealousy, obsession, bards
Alignment: neutrality
   Phonatas is an elvish goddess of love and intimacy, regarded as a fertility goddess who transposed herself in to the human cosmology from the elvish pantheon, eventually becoming a more universal goddess. She is seemingly benign, but her dedicated priesthood is well known for interfering in politics through subtle emotional manipulation, though on occasion they will take action more directly. The cult of Phonatas opposes warfare and violence whenever possible, though it does not hesitate to resort to such if necessary to avert a greater threat.
   Cult parlors to the goddess can be found in the major cities of the world; sylvan enclaves dedicated to the goddess can be found in remote forestlands, cared for by dedicated nymphs, dryads and satyrs.
Appearance: Phonatas is usually depicted as a nude woman rising from a lake, her hair blending in to the water. Those dedicated servants who have summoned her for aid must do so by casting their divination before a pool of water, from which the goddess will rise.

The Seraphim
Profile: variable
Alignment: lawful
The seraphim are actually a large host of divine minions who serve the celestial kingdoms of the gods. These beings are the counterparts to the demonic devonin, and are not usually worshipped by any individuals, though they may be called upon for specific spells and instances. There are many seraphim, some of which are listed as follows. Like devonin, seraphim can materialize on the mortal plane when called upon; prior to the reckoning, they could only manifest to try to balance an act of chaos against an act of order. In the present era, such rules have been cast aside, and brave seraphim take on mortal forms to try and avert the dire efforts of the minions of chaos.
Some of the Seraphim: This list is by no means complete:
Eholim: The angelic servants of the sun, keepers of the eternal flame.
Einheriar: The eternal warriors of light, the army of the apocalypse.
Piscrael: Lord of the Seraphim, general of the Einheriar.
Archamnios: The spirit of battle.
Gamnaes: Slayer of enemies.
Dremnesal: The spirit of perseverance.
Critaere: The spirit of creation.
Minhara: Protector of the heart and soul.
Magenta: The servant of Time.
Dryleah: The servant of the woodlands.
Incenar: The spirit of flames and loss.
Masros: The hunter of evil.
Thanadan: The protector of the gates of Death.
Erizahn: The androgynous patron of love.
Chamnios: The destroyer of demons.
Diaban: The patron of knowledge and lore.
Alasmian: The patron of trade and commerce.
Delistray: The all-seeing observer, record keeper.
Cordone: The patron of sorcerers and wizards.
Aspriel: Patron of the land, keeper of the mountains.
Glaumfiel: The patron of the waters and water voyages.
Hemanial: Patron of suffering and caretaker of the ill.
Eristar: The patron of dreams and the astral.
Esilenta: The patron of storms and rain.
Sekaryth: The mistress of  Set, patron of lies and Queen of the Nine Hells.
Elcorala: The embodiment of blind justice.
 The Mysteries of the Seraphim: The seraphim are practically a miniature pantheon in their own right, each spirit slaved to the service of one or more greater gods. Those most ancient of scholars who have studied the mysteries of the Prehunate Empire have found evidence to suggest that in those ancient prehuman days, the most loyal prehunates of the day were rewarded for their dedication to the gods with a small portion of divinity, and were given the roles of the Seraphim. Others speculate the seraphim are taken from divine races which exist beyond the mortal plane, and that some have never even set foot on the mortal plane before their appointment. There are nine hundred and ninety nine seraphim listed in the Idean Codices and more recent texts that are living, and another four hundred and twenty seven that are recorded as fallen or slain; since a fallen seraphim is replaced almost immediately, then it is possible that both notions on the origin of the seraphim might be right.

(East: Khovaris; Dwarves, North: Sin)
Profile: Moon, birth, women, elves, night
Alignment: lawful
   Goddess of the moon and wife to Naril; in the myths they had a falling out as a result of their sons Dalroth and Slithotep, who became enamoured with the darkness of chaos. She is a venerated goddess of the elves.
Selene was one of the first of the modern pantheon of gods to be granted life by Ga’Thika. Created as the wife of Naril, the Sun God, they were tasked with birthing the many younger gods. In the myths, Selene was said to have been fooled by an avatar of chaos, which masqueraded as Naril, and as a result, she gave birth to Dalroth, the progenitor of the Courts of Chaos. In turn, when she later gave birth to Slithotep, Dalroth too it upon himself to corrupt his younger brother and drive him to insanity. Naril, obsessed with his quests, failed to intervene until it was too late. When he realized the abominations these sons had become, he sought to destroy them, but Selene would not allow it and fled with her infants in to the night. Thus doe Selene occupy the night sky, always pursued by Naril in the day. It is said that on days when you can see the moon and sun in the daytime sky, that the two have made amends for a short time, and festivals are held.
   Though Selene would not have Naril injure her children, she nonetheless grew to despise Dalroth for his evil, and she became determined to amend his deviant ways. Likewise, she sought to heal Slithotep of his madness, though this proved fruitless. Because of these aspects, Selene has always placed the duty upon her followers to cure the mentally ill, and to bring the corrupt, evil, and criminal to justice.
   Selene is also known to be the creator of elves. In the time of creation, it is said that men were crafted in the image of her husband, and she crafted the fae folk in her own likeness. The fae creatures of the world were nestled within her womb, the seelie lands often called the Weirding, and when time came for her to give birth to her creations, she loved them so dearly that she could only part with the elvish kin before changing her mind. It is this tale that is said to explain why the elves and lesser fae kin are closer to men in their ways than the seelie kind which still dwell somewhere between the nether regions of the faerie lands of the Weirding and the prime material plane.
Appearance: Selene appears as a beautiful elvish woman with flowing, silken hair that runs to her feet, and glows with the radiance of the moon. She dresses in a light white dress sewn of star dust, and is said to dwell in a palace on the moon, which many celestial scholars claim is the gate land to the Faerie Kingdoms.

Profile: civics, city-building, irrigation, seasons, laws
Alignment: lawful
   Seth is a giant-kin god of culture and learning as well as patron of the community. He has a close following in Ocentash and among the grey orcs, curiously. Said to be a son of Enki and Amasyr.
Seth is the son of Mitra and Amasyr, a benevolent god of the weather, crops, communities, law, and seasonal change. Seth’s priests are not an adventurous lot, usually instead overseering the harvesting of crops, ceremonies of the solstice, and protection of farms and farmlands. Seth is reknowned for being a very old deity, even if he is also seen as the son of a major civic goddess, and his place as patron of farmlands dates back to ancient times.
   Centuries ago, the grey orcs of Ocentash were devastated in a war with the old kings of Ocentash and the surviors, mostly women and children, were forced to recant their chaotic lives and swear an oath of fealty to Seth. The leader of these ancient glythanyu was Mogrul, and he took his oath seriously. Ever since, the grey orcs of Ocentash have been fierce zealots of the god, and left their subterranean realms to dwell on the surface long ago. Paladins and monks of Seth are usually from the monastic order of Seth found in the Macabeth Mountains, and are usually grey orcs.
Appearance: Seth is seen as a venerable farmer, sometimes even as a grey orc (in orcish depictions), who dresses as a simple man. Stories of Seth appearing to common folk as an old man with a wagon that has broken a wheel, or with a sick mule are common. The tales say that if you help him, he grants you luck or advice, but those who scorn the one in need find that their crops will fail and misfortune looms.

Profile: bards, lorecraft, tale-telling, singing
Alignment: lawful
   Temina is the fabled lore-keeper of the gods and considered a patron of muses, bards, librarians and is also the patron of the sacred Idean Codices. She is pictured as a fair high elf woman of great beauty, wisdom, and talent.

All text Copyright 2011 by Nicholas Torbin Bergquist, all rights reserved