- 1 Appendix II - Divinity and the Heavens
- 1.1 Foundations of Reality - The Great Elementals
- 1.2 Ancient Dreams - The Elder Gods
- 1.3 Mortals and Spirits - The Younger Gods
- 1.4 Messengers and Servants - The Celestial Bureaucracy
- 1.5 Shades of the Past - Ancestor Worship
- 1.6 Wielders of Immanence - Divine Power
- 1.7 The Heavenly Host of Younger Gods
- 1.8 The Cracked Shell - Fragments in Orbit
- 1.9 Eyes of the Heavens - The Sun and Moon
- 1.10 The Stars Beyond
Appendix II - Divinity and the Heavens
Nearly seven hundred years ago, the Dawn War ended with the final defeat of the Elder Gods, and the Zenith Era began. In the modern day, the legacy of the Elder Gods and the reverence of the Younger Gods remain significant, and the world of today is one that has been directly shaped by the 'divine' ministrations of the Dawn Age. Throughout this, the heavens themselves have remained intertwined with man's understanding of gods and immanence.
It would be possible to write at great length about the theological arguments and debates that surround the divine and creator beings of the world, but that is not the purpose of this gazetteer. Rather, the intent is to provide a useful overview.
Foundations of Reality - The Great Elementals
The four Great Elementals - Air, Earth, Fire and Water - hang in the sky, immense orbs that can be seen from the world. They lie dormant, unmoving, holding fixed positions regardless of orbits or other heavenly bodies. They are vast, slumbering giants who have retreated from the world they created to ponder the conundrum of life.
In the modern day, the Great Elementals are paid respect and hold an important place in understanding the origins of the world, but they are not truly worshipped. How could they be? These four creators forged the world and the planets and the sun, and made the elementals and primal spirits that tend to existence, but they could never manage to make True Life. Frustrated, they fell into slumber and from their dreams came forth the Elder Gods. It is commonly held that the Great Elementals hear no prayers, see nothing, are aware of nothing. When - or if - they will ever awaken is unknown, as is what they will think of the current state of the world.
A few cults do hold that the Elementals are, in fact, watching the world and aware of events; these rare groups offer worship and prayer to the god-worlds, but can offer no evidence to outsiders that their claims are true. No spirit or elemental can offer any insight into the state of the Great Elementals, and the Elder Gods apparently received no direction from their dreamer-parents after their conception.
There is one specific area where the nature of the Great Elementals does still hold a position of significance - science and scholarship. The Elementals represent the underlying fundamentals of reality itself, and there are great academic debates about what each 'element' truly means. Better understanding the nature of the four Elementals might lead to great leaps forward in science and knowledge.
In theory, were one able to cross the intervening void, one could alight upon a Great Elemental and walk upon its surface. To achieve such a journey would be a task of incredible scope, and not even the Elder Gods achieved such a thing.
Ancient Dreams - The Elder Gods
The Elder Gods are dead, gone, dust on the wind and whispers on the breeze. In the modern day, they are demons who lurk at the edge of reality, mutter subversions into the ears of cultists and prey on the weak-minded - but they are defeated, bitter and hateful at their loss under the sword of the righteous Younger Gods.
This, of course, ignores a great deal of the complexities behind who and what the Elders were, and what has befallen them now. As dreams of the Great Elementals, dreams so powerful that they gained form and consciousness, the Elders are driven by what theologians term the Divine Urge - that is to say, the urge to create True Life. In this way, they were initially holy in intention, obsessive half-real beings on a mission from the creators. There is some concern that their defeat would, in fact, be seen as an insult or crime by the Great Elementals were they to awaken.
Under the initial effects of the Divine Urge, the Elder Gods focused entirely on reworking the world to be hospitable to True Life, then with the creation of said life. This first involved reworking fundamental elements of reality and introducing new concepts, using languages of divine power, metaphysical tools and woven idea-nets threaded through creation. Following this period of construction and preparation came the explosion of True Life. They also created a number of Servitor species during this time, creatures forged and fused to aid the Elder Gods in their efforts. Servitors are not a result of the Divine Urge but rather the Elder Gods' own desires, and hence are considered different and separate from True Life.
However, as time continued and the bulk of the Divine Urge satisfied, the Elder Gods began to create more Servitors and to engage in stranger and more labyrinthine behaviour, often working according to concepts or patterns incomprehensible to the mortal species that now dwelt on the world. Their work done, the Elders seemed to care increasingly little for the True Life that they had made, often simply using such creatures and beings as pawns, raw resources or for even weirder purposes. It is theorised that once the Divine Urge faded, the Elder Gods simply lacked any remaining purpose, and this is what caused their descent into insanity - they were adrift, lacking a reason to exist.
One notable feature of the Elder Gods' rise and rule was that they were not, originally, as powerful as they eventually became. Rather, the earliest Elders bootstrapped themselves up with divine foci, immanence-weaving engines, augmentative world-rites and other methods, both large and small in scale. This proved critical during the Dawn War, as these enhancements were vulnerable to attack and sabotage by the Younger Gods, allowing them to reduce the mightiest Elders in power before bringing them low.
The Elder Gods can be divided into roughly two categories - greater and lesser. The greaters were the four original dreams of the Great Elementals - Shauku of Water, Ephras of Air, Gilam of Fire and Hashrukk of Earth. Below each of these were a myriad of lesser Elders, minor dreams and whimsical notions born of the sleeping Elementals and given form by their sheer reality-warping presence. The lessers were themselves powerful beings, especially once enhanced by the immanence-focusing infrastructure that the Elders had created - beings such as Hammasztu and the vile Kurgathim. Many lesser Elders were the patrons or creators of specific True and Servitor species, although they suffered the same descent into madness as the greaters.
Mortals and Spirits - The Younger Gods
The Younger Gods rose from the ranks of the spirits and mortals who stood against the Elder Gods in the Dawn War. Exactly how and why the Youngers rose up remains unclear to modern theologians. Some believe that the destruction of Elder immanence infrastructure released a wash of divine potential into the world, and that some of the Youngers were in the right place at the right time to absorb it. Others suggest that the creation of the Youngers was the work of the sleeping Great Elementals, a second wave of dreams that anchored themselves into hosts. Regardless of the truth, the Youngers all rose into existence across a period from the beginning of the Dawn War to just after it. No Younger Gods have been created since.
The other notable feature of the Younger Gods is that they have all left the physical world. The Elder Gods were all profoundly and manifestly real - even though they bent space and warped reality, they undeniably and physically existed, even if the changes wrought by their defeat may have altered that. The Youngers, however, hold divine power without physical presence. Without exception, every single Younger God excarnated during or shortly after the Dawn War - the last excarnation occurred within a century of the end of the War. While, when they were incarnate, the Younger Gods were obviously powerful and infused with divine might, the excarnation is believed to have been their true 'ascension'. The nature of excarnation is debated fiercely - it is not the same as simple death, because a number of potential Younger Gods were genuinely slain and did not become part of the Heavenly Host.
There is a rough divide between the Younger Gods who were once spirits and those who were once mortals, whether servitors or True Life. All Younger Gods remain remote from the world - their existence is confirmed by the Celestial Bureaucracy and those divine vessels who they grant power to, but Younger Gods do not generally intervene directly. They are believed, instead, to largely watch over their particular portfolios and guide in broad strokes from their distant, lofty perch. However, those Younger Gods from spirit origin can and do manifest avatars. These avatars are usually monstrous manifestations of raw primal power, tasked with a specific objective. They are not generally present to directly lead or give guidance, and most avatars recorded have not even been able (or possibly just not cared to) communicate. They often enact strange or precipitous events that presumably match the Younger God's agenda. Younger Gods from mortal origin either cannot or simply choose not to create avatars. Theological consensus is that the spirits' more fundamental connection with the world for which they were manifest caretakers has left them with a stronger link to it, even now, that they can exploit.
It is extremely difficult to directly list all the members of the Heavenly Host. The Dawn War raged across the world, and various Younger Gods emerged in many different regions; some Younger Gods are essentially unknown outside of their particular homeland. Making matters stranger still is that various Younger Gods appear to be admixtures of a number of different figures of the Dawn War, a number of aspects sharing most of a given portfolio but each being a specific and different person or being. In some cases, a given Younger God's aspects include both spirits and mortals. Picking out which of several conflicting tales may be true is essentially impossible, since they may all seem to be true complete with divine vessels, Celestial Bureaucracy servants and fierce rivalries with the other interpretations. As such, certain traits are shared by several Younger Gods whose veneration is scattered across the world, and they may all in fact be the same God. How this is supposed to work theologically is still subject to debate, but the Heavenly Host simply is, regardless of what mortal scholars argue should be the case.
Messengers and Servants - The Celestial Bureaucracy
The Heavenly Host is served and administrated by an otherworldly structure called the Celestial Bureaucracy, the Red and Blue Ministry, the River Unending or any number of other regional and cultural names. The Celestial Bureaucracy is made up of spirits, messenger beings and other, weirder entities that purport to serve the Younger Gods in ensuring that basic functions of existence continue and that the Youngers' will is carried out.
A large portion of the Celestial Bureaucracy appears to have been absorbed wholesale from the existing network of spirits that the Great Elementals had set to attending the world, lending credence to theological theories that the Younger Gods were themselves empowered by the Great Elementals. However, some wings of the Bureaucracy come from other, stranger levels of existence, including beings who were completely unknown prior to the point that Younger Gods began to excarnate. There is an argument that some heavenly attendants are the spiritual equivalent of worldly Servitors, made (possibly subconsciously) to fit the Host's needs and requirements.
Celestial Bureaucrats are known to interact far more with the world than the Youngers ever do, sometimes directly in the service of Younger Gods. However, even then, encounters with them remain rare in most lands. They can be more easily accessed with magic by those with the talent and knowledge, but by and large a great deal of worship and reverence of the Youngers are actually directed to petitioning the Bureaucracy on the basis that it is these spirits who functionally do a lot of the Youngers' work.
The Celestial Bureaucracy remains poorly understood by mortals; less remote than the Younger Gods, yet still largely the preserve of folklore and superstition. Stories often depict Bureaucrats as troublesome due to being, well, bureaucratic, as well as sometimes outright corrupt, but it's hard to tell how much this is a genuine depiction of the workings of the heavens.
Shades of the Past - Ancestor Worship
The worship and veneration of ancestors is an extremely important part of Drakkath spirituality. It is far beyond the scope of this gazetteer to try and chart the myriad different customs, traditions and cults of ancestor worship that are to be found in the Drakkath and beyond. Suffice to say that respect for those who have come before is key; many traditions and faiths hold that there are a number of heavenly or infernal places into which the souls of the dead travel, guided there by the relevant Younger Gods, there to undergo a continued existence. Some faiths hold that souls ultimately return to the wheel of life; others that they travel on to serve the Gods, or perhaps go beyond even they.
Wielders of Immanence - Divine Power
Mortals who serve as vessels for divine power do exist. Some are powerful figures amongst the clergy of the Younger Gods. Some are wanderers outside of any religious hierarchy. Some are seen as heretics or dissidents or dangerous iconoclasts. What they all share is an intense and traumatic experience of suffering.
The gods do not, it appears, deliver the power to wield immanence to the hands of mortals based on a particular adherence to their codes or status in their church. Even the highest of priests cannot 'learn' to become a wielder of divine magic. Rather, the inherent capability to wield such magic is accessed by trauma or suffering - and the experience has to meet certain, unknown parameters. There is no definite, reliable path to divine magic. A priest of Immar who suffers a near-death experience while travelling, suffering immense privation and driven to the edge of their capacity to survive, might emerge with the beginnings of the divine spark with them, made holy by the sacred nature of what they have undergone. Yet many more Immarites who die on the road benefit from no such revelation. The vast bulk of clergy will never know the touch of immanence.
As a result, divine power emerges more or less at random amongst the faithful. Some churches welcome the blessed into the highest ranks immediately; others stick to more rigid structures where simply manifesting the spark does not award rank, and may even attract suspicion from high priests who guard their influence carefully. Wielders of the divine are always considered valuable, however, as warriors and agents of the faith; their talent is best actively used rather than left fallow.
A few churches are known to offer the faithful terrible and demanding tribulations in an attempt to directly find those worthy of the divine spark and forcibly stoke the holy flame within them. Even those who survive such tribulations have no guarantee of becoming wielders of the divine. Additionally, wielders 'manufactured' through such religious rites and traditions tend to be less powerful in the long run. A priest of Toran who is the lone survivor of a terrible battle, who staggers through covered in wounds and pierced by arrows yet is triumphant and who feels the divine spark ignite with them, is likely to be a more potent vessel than the brotherhoods of clergy who survive the lethally dangerous Trial of Flame each year and come out with divine power.
Overall, divine magic remains relatively rare amongst even the largest church organisations, and highly valued. Some churches are capable of fielding significant numbers of spark-wielding agents, even putting substantial detachments of war-priests into battle, but there is no way to simply train in wielding the power of the divine, no sure way to acquire the power, no easy path to divine patronage.
The Heavenly Host of Younger Gods
In most regions of the world, the Younger Gods are worshipped as a group - that is to say, people pray to all of them or individual deities depending on their needs. Some may hold a particular god in higher reverence due to their role in life, or due to personal experience, but it is mostly only clergy and priests who devote themselves to only a single divinity. Even here, there are many temples, shrines and priests of the Heavenly Host as a whole, or of several gods who share a particular interest or are believed to be allied.
In the Drakkath region, the Younger Gods most commonly known of, worshipped and venerated are as follows.
The Silver Warder, Lord of Chains, The Prisoner in Silver, The Armourer, The Scribe
Rules Over: Warding, prisons, chains, armour, duty, oaths, contracts
Icons: A silver dragon's head, a silver dragon rampant, chains
Aasor is the only known Younger God that is claimed to have been a servitor in life - specifically a dragon, a mighty war-beast of silver and howling plasma. Aasor is widely worshipped as a warding and protective god, as well as an enforcer of laws and oaths that are broken. The primary centres of his faith are Pharam Sung and Huron. Aasorian priests are often also actual scribes and seek to hold positions that give them authority to oversee and authorise contracts and other legally binding agreements. Several ancient and terrible entities and catastrophies are buried and held in check by Aasorian rites, maintained by esoteric orders of Warder-worshippers.
The Lady of Death, the River of Crimson, the Hungering Jackal, the Final Measure, the Kind Sword, Lantern of the Ancestors
Rules Over: Death, transitions, truth, murder, mercy, memory; also rarely light and illumination
Icons: A candle, a lantern, a silver sword, a female mask, an elephant (usually made from ivory or bone)
Churaphrat is generally seen as a feminine aspected god of death, endings and the mind bereft of passions. While not widely loved, she is held in respect during times of death and loss; as well, her patronage over death is seen as symbolically stripping away all falsehoods and leaving only truth. Elephants are held as sacred to her, and a rare few cult centres hold elephants whose tusks are carved during their lifetime with the names of the dead in minute inscriptions. Churaphrat is also worshipped in a war-aspect that memorialises her contributions to the defence of Sukumvarang during the Dawn War, namely as the River of Crimson who used her own blood to wash away the enemy. The gnolls worship Churaphrat as a male aspect spirit, the Hungering Jackal. High Kyros had a Younger God near-identical to Churaphrat in their pantheon and have assumed the Drakkath name for their god, but the Kyrosi Churaphrat is described with different origins and in a more benevolent light.
The Great Wolf, the Ashen Hunter, the Flame of Hunger, Ivory Claw, Indigo Mouth, The Thief of Light, Den Mother, War-Father
Rules Over: Fire, ice, blood, battle, beasts, wilderness, wolves, passions wrought in colour, artistic extremes of emotion
Icons: A wolf, a flame, an indigo fang
The Great Wolf is a spirit-god of fierce flame and chill, of blood on the earth and on the snow. It is the Den Mother of the blood-tied, the War-Father of those who fight for their kin and clan. In the Dawn War it was chained by the Elder Gods when it turned on them, and the massive gouges in Ascaria's landscape are where its claws tore the earth. It stole half the spectrum of visible light and drooled raw indigo on the ground when it hid in the Indigo Marches. It cannot be tamed; it is hungry and demanding. Ascaria is where it is most fervently worshipped.
The Stone Father, the Old Sage, Strong-Back, Father of the Avalanche, Meteor-Grip, the Old Mason
Rules Over: Stone, earth, farming, mountains, determination, clear thought, masonry
Icons: A square of marble or polished stone, a series of spheres held aloft, a mountain
Grumand is an ancient spirit of earth, heralded as one of the firstborn spirits of the Great Elementals. Grumand is a powerful old being, and its aid of the rebellious mortals in the Dawn War was one of the major turning-points in the conflict against the Elder God Hashrukk. Grumand also supposedly tore the Great Rift in the far west to stop the advance of Shauku's horrors during the War, but in Ascaria this same act is attributed to the Stonebreaker, supposedly an ascended mortal Younger God who is not worshipped elsewhere.
The Traveller, the Revelation, the Lover, Sky-Walker, the Bronze Alchemist
Rules Over: Travel, change, fortitude, alchemy, the stars, the winds, roads, messages
Icons: A stylised wind, a crucible, an alignment of stars
The Younger God of journeys and change, Immar's faith largely lacks an overall hierarchy - the cult is widespread and made up of an itinerant priesthood. That said, there are more permanent structures in certain regions like Adhur, especially those sects of the faith concerned with alchemy and transformations. Immar is commonly seen as one of the instigators of the Dawn War, a figure who travelled far and wide to bring together the disparate peoples who would war against the Elder Gods. He is also often seen as Ishrak's mortal lover.
The Storm Lady, the Storm Hawk, Sea-Serpent, the Thunderous Voice, Mountain-Wrack
Rules Over: Storms, wind, air, seas, lightning
Icons: A lightning bolt, a hawk or eagle, a crested wave, a furious female visage
The Storm Lady is both terrifying and beloved, a goddess who warred ferociously during the Dawn War. It is unclear whether she was a mortal woman or a storm spirit originally, and this is the cause of a significant schism within her church. Worship of Ishrak is particularly prominent in High Kyros and the city-states of the White Bay. There are some very different versions of storm deities beyond the Drakkath, but Ishrak is often present even in far-flung pantheons as at least a sea deity. There is a heretical splinter of belief that asserts that Ishrak is actually one part of a dual being; that a sinister, corrupted mirror of her is at work over the Desolation, a hateful living storm that the goddess spat free from herself to purify her being when she excarnated.
The Lady of Dust and Ashes, She Who Waits, The Price of Time, The Inevitable, End-Of-Wars
Rules Over: Corrosion, dust, entropy, erosion, the weathering hand of time, struggle against overwhelming odds, luck
Icons: The hourglass, a weeping sword, a pyramid, a tattered banner
Ishurtar is said to be the child of Grumand and Ishrak, although it isn't clear whether she is a true Younger God or some sort of lesser aspect of Ishrak, Grumand or Churaphrat (or possibly all three). She was supposedly born late in the Dawn War, excarnating in the first decades of the Zenith Age - the last deity to ascend to the Host by a clearance of many years. In the Drakkath, she is largely only worshipped in the western regions. Some argue that Ishurtar is in fact the queen of the Host and its ruler, born as the natural result of the death and destruction that the Dawn War caused and symbolising the entire struggle against the Elder Gods for the fate of the world.
The Thorn, Black Blood of the Earth, the Carcass-Lady, Lady of Fallen Leaves, the Old Harvestman, the Midwife
Rules Over: Plants, animals, earth, blood, life and death, birth, rage
Icons: A red thorn, a black droplet, a curling autumn leaf, a scythe
Lliras is another potent old spirit from the Dawn Age, an ancient being of water and soil. She is associated with the wilds and all aspects of life, from birth to death; she is associated with the bloody feast-cycle of predators and prey, with the harvesting of fields' bounty, and the red-hot anger that spills blood on earth. The Thorn Circle hold her in very high regard, but she is widely revered across the entire Drakkath - and, indeed, beyond, because Lliras is unusual in having depictions that are remarkably constant across many continents.
The Overseer, the Weal-Raising Whip, Keeper of Agonies, the Weeping Eye, Lord of the Flies, Rot-Painter, Scribe of Viridian Fates
Rules Over: Plague, disease, rot, decay, the sea, deprivation, endurance, destiny
The Overseer of Disease is offered widespread supplication in hope that he will reign in the pestilences under his control, for Kevayek is the Keeper of Agonies who rules over disease and decay. He has a somewhat sinister reputation, since as a spirit he first aided and supported the Elder Gods before becoming a turncoat half-way through the Dawn War - still, he cannot be denied respect, and some call upon him for the strength and will to endure even the terrible tests that he sets upon mankind. Kevayeki doctrine holds that the Overseer seeks to improve and perfect mankind with these tribulations - that his plagues are, in fact, benevolent in intent. Strangely, at least in the Drakkath, Kevayek has gained a role specifically as a patron of bloodshed and deprivation at sea. Some sects also claim that he has a great tome in which every man's fate is written, detailing if they will die by one of the Overseer's diseases.
The Great Sorcerer, the Laughing One, Azure Magus, Sigil-Bearer, Golden Dragon
Rules Over: Magic, sorcery, change, madness, creativity
Icons: A golden dragon head, a blue mask, an indigo book or leaf
The patron deity of Naseria was once a mortal sorcerer of immense power, with a flock of followers forming something of a priesthood even before he ascended. Shown respect by many practitioners of magic, Naskha is considered to have a mischievous side that is rarely shown in the proud portrayals of the Naserians. Weirdly, Naskha appears to have been an actually blue person, and there are indications in his scriptures that the Great Sorcerer came to the world from somewhere else, called here during the Dawn War to aid in battle against the Elder Gods - some tales indicate he is the main source of arcane teachings in the world, and that before him, magi were few and had little understanding of their power. It is also said that he sometimes appeared in the guise of a great dragon-servitor of gold and other precious metals; this may be an aspect or a confusion with an unknown Younger God.
The Mask of Masks, He and She and It and They, The Storyteller, Herald of War and Woe, the Divine Comedian, the Quill of Truth and Lies, the Calling Voice, the Repository, the Library of Lore
Rules Over: Theatre, stories, songs and singers, acting, lies, truth, deception, masks
Icons: A series of masks around a central point, a feather, a horn
Pethio is not widely venerated in the Drakkath; in fact, he's barely known at all. Patron of the arts, of music, of stories, Pethio is also considered the Herald of War and Woe, a companion to Immar who delivered tidings of war and loss during the Dawn War. Some say that Pethio is the repository of all tales and stories in the world; that as soon as a story is told, it is recorded in Pethio's heavenly library. Some believe Pethio is the library, and that he originated as a spirit of knowledge in the Dawn Age; the stories that pitch his origin as a mortal seem more likely. Actors, storytellers and musicians are the most likely to know of and venerate Pethio, and his legacy is felt in certain common traditions amongst the artistic community; storytellers or actors wishing to work under a pseudonym tend to call themselves Pethio, and Pethian Verse is a particular form of poetic structure believed to have a sacred aspect, having been given to mankind by Pethio when he excarnated.
The Ember-Smith, the Breath and the Flame, Sword-Matriarch
Rules Over: Breath and internal energy, metal, embers, artifice
Icons: A forge-flame, an anvil, a clutch of swords
Phrenesia is a powerful matriarch of the Host of Heavens, at least in those western lands where she is revered. There are strong indications that she is an aspect of Solanthaar, or vice-versa. In the Drakkath, she is only really worshipped in Carthagia and Naseria, and barely known east of those lands. Her temples are often renowned for their libraries of hanging parchments on which the techniques of forge and foundry are written in finger-painted ash, recounting all manner of strange ores and minerals that exist and how they should be processed. Some sects believe Phrenesia was the first mortal to make a sword, and the forging and creation of swords remains an important and symbolic element of Phrenesic religious rites.
The Admiral of All Waters, the Sail-Ripper, Salt-Drinker
Rules Over: The sea, waves, naval combat, fishing
Qinjao is a patron of those who make their living on the sea; once a great mortal admiral during the Dawn War, he reputedly excarnated while held captive aboard an Elder Chariot in such a way that his physical body, the Chariot and the Elder God aboard it were all turned to salt, and that this is why the oceans are salty (despite there being clear indications they were salty before the reputed event ever happened). Qinjao was a Drakkath man in life, and his worship is largely restricted to the White Bay region; he is likely an aspect of the powerful naval god Tshunyak of far Vekath, who is considered the spouse of Ishrak in that land. Qinjao is sometimes held to be Ishrak's brother or possibly son.
Lady of the Sun, the Purifying Flame, the Flame of Truth, the Silver and Gold Judge, the Forge-Mother
Rules Over: Fire, the sun, war, metal, smithing, purity, truth; sometimes also invention and innovation
Solanthaar is a harsh, unrelenting goddess whose centre of worship is in Adhur, where the people revere her as a Younger God who was a mortal war-leader in the Dawn War. Outside of Adhur, however, the Silver and Gold Judge is generally viewed as the spirit of the sun itself. In this guise, she is often considered as the firstborn of the Great Elemental of Fire. Following an upsurge in the social status and importance of alchemists and scientists in Adhur, she has also increasingly become seen as a patron of the sciences, innovation and technological innovation. It is claimed that the design of the armaments used by her Adhuri templars was a divinely-inspired vision that an artificer of Adhur experienced. Some minor cults also worship her as the Flame of Truth, an aspect largely separate from the rest of her portfolio.
The Pattern of Blades, Mask of Dance and Murder, The Crimson Dancer, Walker of the Void
Rules Over: Dance, murder, patterns, cold, oblivion, seduction and passion, regicide
Icons: A mask over crossed blades, a geometric pattern in black and red, a black diamond
Temeshwun, Younger God of dance, murder and patterns, is said to have been a man from the culture that would become the Masked Kateni. During the Dawn War, Temeshwun slew many loyal-mad-kings who sided with the Elder Gods in the Dawn War, with his enticing dance and void-edged knives. There is some argument that he may be an aspect of Churaphrat, but the Lord of Dance and Murder is commonly worshipped as an equal figure, either lover or brother to the Lady of Death and Mercy. His worship has been imported from the Masked Kateni city-states into Naseria and the Western Reaches of the Drakkath, and in some areas his followers appear to have been systematically usurping what little influence the Pethians have; it is possible that his agenda will change to fold in wider symbols of culture and art than just dance and patterns.
The Great Prophet, the Shadow, the Void-Child, Old Seer
Rules Over: Shadows, darkness, knowledge, secrets, order, law, hidden justice, judgement, foresight
Icons: An eye within a triangle within a circle, an eye, a triangle within a circle, a quincunx
A strange god, rarely petitioned, the Eye is a deity of knowledge, secrets and darkness who reputedly sees all and accounts all things in its library of truth. There are very, very few cults of the Eye and they tend to be highly secretive, befitting the deity; even most depictions of the Host do not show the Eye, or little more than a brief, near-hidden symbol of it. Some believe the Eye is not, in fact, a Younger God at all, though theories on what it is vary. Nonetheless, it is sometimes venerated amongst vigilantes, enforcers of law, executioners, mages and those who seek concealed truths.
Tusk-Shatter, She Who Ate The Whole, The Loyal Hunter
Rules Over: Strength, survival, stone, sieges, battle, loyalty, hounds, hunting, hunger and feasts
Icons: A tusk, crossed tusks, a hound's head, a shattered wall
The exact gender of the Stonebreaker depends on the teller, but he or she is a boisterous, legendary figure in Ascaria, sometimes worshipped further afield as well. The Stonebreaker has two main aspects - one is of a life-embracing figure, a hunter at the head of loyal hounds, a feaster and a lover. The other is as a figure of immense strength, one who could shatter mountains and who broke the walls of the greatest Elder fortifications that faced the Younger Gods. The Stonebreaker is commonly invoked by siege engineers and soldiers during assaults on fortifications; he or she is also invoked by those taking on the kinds of absurd feasting challenges that involve eating to prove one's immense appetite.
The Dark Saviour, the Steel Prince, the Great Warrior, Walker Across The Sands, Crushing Fist
Rules Over: War, duels and personal struggles, order, blood, strength, survival, endurance
Icons: A black dragon's head, crossed axes
The Dark Saviour is the patron of Carthagia and strongly associated with a certain type of dragon-servitor as well; it is believed that Toran defeated and dominated a brood of black-armoured dragons during the Dawn War, and sent them back against the Elders who had created them. Beyond Carthagia, Toran receives worship from soldiers and warriors seeking the blessings of the Great Warrior. Having led his countrymen across the Myrmec desert and its terrible tribulations, it is said that the very throne Toran sat upon when he excarnated is the same throne that the Carthagian kings sit on today.
The Preacher to Dragons, Divine Horseman, the Fire That Rode As The Wind, Eternal Flame
Rules Over: War, strategy, horses, fire, light, conquest
The Preacher to Dragons is the patron of Huron and, like Toran, was probably directly involved in the collapse of the Drakkath Empire. Urazel was an inspirational war-leader during the Dawn War, and is renowned for his successful conversion of a great flight of dragons to the cause of the Younger Gods. By dint of the extensive Huronese priesthood, the Urazeli faith is a powerful political force, and Urazel receives supplication by many of those who undertake matters of war, who tend to horses and similar livestock and to those seeking protection against evil magic or darkness.
The Cracked Shell - Fragments in Orbit
The reach of the Elders went far beyond the ground, beyond even the clouds. During the Dawn Era, the unseen, arcane networks of concept and energy that were woven in and round the world were accompanied by a very physical encirclement. In the modern age, this orbital ring is largely forgotten by the people of the earth, and has become a shattered husk of its former glory. Still, parts of the orbital structure put in place by the Elders and their servitors can be seen by eye or telescope, and so amongst scholars and priests the Cracked Shell remains an element of lore and myth.
The purpose of the Shell, its long strings of metal and stone structure, its voidborn holds, seems to have been manifold; it was part of the immanence engine that empowered the Elders, offered them some sort of infrastructure for moving people and materials, gave them excellent surveillance of the planet and proved exceptionally potent during the Dawn War. The same arcane orbital platforms became a liability as the rebellion gained paced, however. More than one lesser Elder perished up there as a platform or segment of the network was rent apart by mortal or servitor saboteurs or, in one notable incident, a nascent Younger God went on the rampage - some actually claim this was the Eye as it turned from whatever it was into a divinity. And the Shell proved very fragile; it had not been designed to resist any sort of attack, and failures cascaded through the network, hurtling and out of control platforms slamming into others. Through the War, debris and detritus rained down from the skies in blazing trails of fire.
Even now, occasional fragments hurtle down, meteors leaving glowing star-metal at the bottom of craters. In theory, from what academics have observed, the Cracked Shell may still retain a few functional platforms. There may even be living beings still up there.
For most beyond the sharp edge of scholasticism, however, the Cracked Shell is just a collection of gleaming god-fragments in the heavens, the cage of the Elders that was shattered as the Youngers excarnated through it and tore a path to the heavens.
Eyes of the Heavens - The Sun and Moon
Scholars can see that there are many bodies in the heavens. Beyond the Cracked Shell there are the Great Elementals, the glimmering shapes of the forge-worlds and foundry-worlds that the Elementals used to work the raw materials that they would pour into the world itself, and of course the sun and the moon.
The moon is, in this age, a sad and dimmed husk of what it once was. The Great Elementals apparently created it as a mirror of the sun's light, a focusing tool that ensured that the elemental energies could bath the world according to their schedule even when the sun was hidden from one side or another. During the Dawn Age, the work of the Elder Gods in reworking reality's underlying nature ensured that this reflected energy flow was no longer needed. In the Dawn War itself, it is said that the spirit of the moon, or possibly a nascent Younger God of the moon, or another source now lost, attempted to use the moon's reflected light as a weapon or tool against the Elders. In retaliation, the Elders themselves punched a metaphysical spike into the moon and the massive well of elemental energy that had collected as a reservoir inside it, and drained it away.
The result was that the moon lost its essential nature; it became lustreless, just a grey sphere. Its once-smooth, pearly surface cracked and broke, revealing a dusty, drained ruin beneath. Now the moon's light is pale and lacking in life and vigour. Almost all the spirits associated with the moon and its maintenance were obliterated in the process.
The sun itself was specifically forged by the Great Elementals as a central energy-source, foundry-flame and reactor at the heart of the system. Wrought from a maelstrom of all four elements poured together, its light gave heat and life to the world, as they intended. However, from time to time the sun undergoes a strange phase of activity where one element becomes temporarily dominant, and no-one currently alive is entirely sure whether the Great Elementals intended for this to occur or whether it is a sign of long-term instability in the sun. When entering an elemental phase, the sun changes colour and appearance slightly - the element in question becomes dominant in the orb, bathing the world in its energies. During these times, strange phenomena occur. There are plants and animals that only bloom or appear during an elemental phase; weather systems that react in bizarre manners to the elemental infusion; and patterns of eldritch power that suddenly undergo strange transformations under the sun's eerie gaze.
The Stars Beyond
And what lies beyond even the sun and moon, beyond the anvil-world and the forge-world and the lathe-world, beyond the massive Great Elementals themselves?
Scholars can see that there are stars out there, innumerable in nature. Perhaps the Great Elementals made those two, but it seems unlikely; could they really have left so many failed stars behind them before they finally settled down to rest? So many foiled attempts to create life? Many thinkers hold that this expanse existed before the Great Elementals made the world, and that it was not their work. Perhaps, then, there is a greater force behind it all, but the people of the world have seen no sign of such. Perhaps the Younger Gods, now ascended, might have better answers if they were so inclined to give them.
It is known that there are worlds beyond this world; worlds that do not lie great distances away, but rather across the walls and barriers of reality. The heavens, the realms where the Elders now dwell and mutter, and farther, stranger places still. These, so it is said, are not the worlds around those distant stars. What strange life might lie across so immense a void? Only the void itself might have the answer to that.