Just in time for Halloween....
Principle Gods of Death:
Profile: dreams, fortune telling, visions, third sight, insects
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Profile: death, passing on, destroyer of undead, harbinger
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
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
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