Atheria: The Ancient Gods

   The core of religion in Kharidath and the Mri Desert is the Oath of Remembrance – a promise made to the fallen gods who had – through their valiant battle against the Dralithar and the sacrifice of their immortality – bought escape and life for the remnants of their peoples. After the gate was sealed, in recognition of that sacrifice, some of the survivors swore that they and their descendants would remember and revere them in perpetuity. That promise proved to be binding. It has remained at the core of the culture and faith of their descendants for six thousand years.

   The Lost Pantheon of Mri theoretically includes all the gods of the ancient world. In practice, a fair number are genuinely lost. Whether their priests and followers fell with their gods in battle against the hordes of the Dralithar, escaped to some world other than Atheria, or (quite likely) simply failed to join in the Oath, and thus left the remembrance of their gods to whatever scattering of names, titles, and tales which those who did could recall, nothing remains of them except a collection of fragments (all of which have been dutifully recorded, and are regularly recited, in the Litany of Memory). There is a Litany of Betrayal as well – a list of those gods who allied themselves with the Dralithar and thus purchased their own survival (at least those that the other Gods did not kill may have survived), but that Litany is known only to the oldest priests and inscribed only in hidden places: for the most part the (three, four, or seven?) betrayers have been blotted from memory.

   The ancient gods were mostly deified mortals: apparently the Ancient Realm allowed mortals to attain godhood, or some passable facsimile thereof. This has never happened on Atheria.

   Oddly enough, thanks to the use of the “Superstition” modifier, and the general limitations on higher-level magic on Atheria, the fact that their gods are dead – and they know it – hasn’t actually limited the priests of Kharidath much.

   The better-remembered gods of the Lost Pantheon include:

   Aurin Stormlord, Lord of the Dark Will: An evil god of the sea and the depths of the unconscious mind, who brought destructive storms and tides and possessed great powers over the minds of others. During the war against the Dralithar Aurin held the seas against its minions, granting the other continents of the ancient realm time to prepare. No one knows exactly when Aurin fell, but his final storm overwhelmed much of the corrupted land.

   Azoth the Alchemist, Master of Wizardry. Azoth passed on much of his power to Almin, greatest wizard of the ancient world, when he fell in battle against the Dralithar, allowing Almin to open the gates which allowed the surviving mortal population of the ancient world to escape.

   Bareen, goddess of Coins, Luck, and Merchants. Bareen focused on supporting the mortal priests of the gods, but the exact circumstances of her death remain unknown.

   Dallr, god of Guardians and Strength. Another early casualty of the war.

   Dorgos Ulhar, Lord of Barbarians, Patron of War, Rage, Plunder, and Pointless Violence. Dorgos was the patron of uncivilized and unsophisticated warriors rather then the true animalistic barbarians of Atheria. Dorgos was one of the earliest gods to recognize the threat of the Dralithar, and delayed its initial onslaught considerably with his acts of random destruction directed against its minions. His death was also the first demonstration that a serious war against the gods was underway.

   Eldath, god of Home and Family, was a gentle and popular god. While there is a good deal of information available about him, the circumstances of his death are unrecorded.

   Gallia, the goddess of Love, Children, and Beauty attempted to turn the Betrayers against the Dralithar – and was succeeding until the Dralithar discovered her attempt and struck her down.

   The Hidden One, Mistress of Occult and Hidden Lore, Patroness of all Magic. When her power was no longer needed to support the magics of her mortal allies, the Hidden One channeled all the magic of the world, plus her own essence and that of the goddess Launa, into a global binding designed to contain the hordes of the Dralithar for an age. Her surviving priests felt her passing even across the planes: the extent of her success remains unknown.

   Ilarion, god of Healing and Self-Sacrifice. Ilarion continuously passed among the mortals opposing the Dralithar, healing them and granting them strength to continue, and was lost when one of the ancient kingdoms fell despite his aid.

   Kyyr the Grim, god of Law and Oaths.

   Launa, the Goddess of Spring, the Earth Mother and Patroness of Common Men had few powers of use in warfare – but sacrificed herself to become a part of the binding woven by the Hidden One, granting it the powers of healing and self-renewal, the better to contain the hordes and destructive power of the Dralithar.

   Lurue, goddess of Shapeshifters and Beastmen.

   Madai the Shipmaster, Master of the Winds and Patron of Travellers, guided the ships of those who prayed to him safely through Aurin’s storms. Madai may have escaped the fall of the ancient realm: while he indeed fell in battle, he was known to have imbued portions of his essence in helms that allowed his followers to sail their ships between worlds – and which may have provided a seed for his resurrection.

   Masque, the undependable and dark-natured god of Trickery, Illusions, and Thieves successfully infiltrated the Betrayers, slew one of them, and brought back vital information to the other gods. Masque was apparently slain in battle with mortal champions of the Dralithar, but – given his nature – may well have escaped or somehow faked his demise.

   Narhn’vyr, Judge of the Dead. One of the most distant and unpopular gods of the ancient world, Narhn’vyr supported the war by delaying the deaths of those fighting against the Dralithar, allowing them to be healed of normally-mortal wounds. In the end, he chose to open the gates of the realms of the dead to the unfettered power of The Dragon, choosing transformation over annihilation for both himself and the unnumbered dead.

   Neiki, goddess of Animals, Nature, and the Deep Wilderness. Neiki apparently perished while rescuing more species of her animals, which she was guiding to safety along the hidden paths between the Thousand Scales of the Dragon.

   Nor, god of Justice and Fate. Nor drew on the power of The Dragon – and thus sacrificed himself by falling back into the chaos of the beginning – to both set the paths through destiny which would allow the survivors of the ancient realm to escape and to ensure the success – or at least the temporary success – of the Hidden One’s attempt to bind the Dralithar.

   Onier, master of Wards, Runes, and Inscriptions and Patron of Literature. Onier’s priests were traditionally teachers, scribes, and loremasters, and were responsible for preserving much of what little is known about the ancient realm. Sadly, Onier’s protective spells could delay the Dralithar, but not stop it. When he fell, he invested his power in enhancing protective spells throughout the ancient realm, helping those still fighting to continue their resistance.

   Parath the Beast is believed to have invested fragments of his, her, or it’s godhood in a selection of deadly beasts. While many aspects of Parath perished fighting the unending hordes of the Dralithar, it is believed that others escaped. One or more may even have accompanied the founders to Atheria.

   Rey, Sword-of-Light, Lord of the Sun and Sky, He-Who’s-Radiance-Drives-Back-The-Dark. A solar deity who’s light was unendurable to the forces of darkness, Rey was one of the oldest and most powerful of the ancient gods. He held back the hordes of the Dralither in a quarter of the world singlehandedly for months, and lent his support to the other gods across the world during the hours of the day when his power was at its peak. The manner of his fall is not known – but one day the sun failed to rise.

   Sarrvaylen, the malevolent Master of Chaos and Transformations, Lord of the Wheel of Incarnations, Patron of Lesser Dragons, and Father of Monsters, delighted in the chaos that the Dralithar brought at first, but soon realized that the Dralithar intended annihilation, rather than razing what existed to allow new things to arise. Sarrvaylen threw his creatures into battle at the side of the forces of light, and died destroying two of the Betrayers – although he promised that, in keeping with his nature, he would someday rise again. If so, he has never come to Atheria.

   Suthek Firelord, An evil god of the Earth, Night, and Plagues who had assumed the mastery of Fire, Reptiles, and Lesser Dragons from a rival, Suthek honored his commitments to those who called upon him properly, as well as an ancient promise to Rey, unleashing terrible storms of fire, earthquake, and destruction against the Dralithar. When Rey fell, Suthek assumed command of the gods as he had desired for eons, shattering the continents of the ancient world to engulf the hordes of the Dralithar in bottomless seas of fire. Of course, as the incarnation of Earth and Fire, such tactics wounded Suthek as badly as they wounded the enemy.

   Thorn, god of Holy Warriors, Swords, Necessary Violence, and Sticking to your Duty (no matter how painful it becomes), died attempting to seal the gateway from which the power of the Dralithar was pouring into the ancient world. Apparently Thorn never did have an elaborate theology; he merely demanded adherence to a strict code of conduct.

   Uriena, goddess of the Dawn, Bringer of Hope, and Guide to Enlightenment was one of the more mysterious goddesses of the ancient world. Perhaps fittingly, her fate remains unknown.

   Vaniomen Mastersmith, God of Craftsmanship, Technology, and Planning, was the first casualty of the open war; his murder revealed the schemes of the Betrayers to the other gods – and crippled their ability to create deific-level weaponry.

   Viatarel of the Dark Stars, Goddess of Blood and Vengeance, The Dark Mother, Lady of Torment, was patron of torturers and of those who sacrifice love upon the altar of ambition or hatred – those who turn from love to marry for wealth or power, those who disown embarrassing children or turn them into weapons against their enemies, those who give offerings to the powers of evil in exchange for the granting of their desires. In the face of annihilation, Viatarel remained true to her own nature – bestowing her power upon those who sought vengeance against the Dralithar until their sheer endless demands drained the power from the emptiness of her own heart and brought her to her own peace.

   Sadly, despite all efforts at purity, there have been six thousand years of copying, recopying, and linguistic drift since the Oath was sworn. While its magic remains imperishable and binding, it promised only memory of the deities and their sacrifices – not accuracy as to the names and details.

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