Thieves & Kings
Cosmology of the Multiverse
“Every culture has metaphysical beliefs. It is therefore appropriate that everyone familiarize themselves with the beliefs of the world they live in, lest it eat your soul, and you wander aimlessly for all eternity.”
The following is written from the perspective of the scholarly theologians of Argoth, and allows the majority of the people, who believe in something, to possess a gateway into the mysteries of the multiverse.
Kelestia : The Nature of Everything
Kelestia is everything that exists, the sum total of all realities. Most of the religious movements of the western world share a common set of metaphysical beliefs. The origin and nature of Kelestia are not in dispute, since most educated members of society share the same general views. Areas of disagreement lie elsewhere. Different sources of divine revelation agree on the stories of creation, and all the major (and most minor) gods have revealed the same basic ideology to their followers.
Kelestia is not governed solely by physical laws of space and time. While each of the realms within this “multiverse” have their own master set of rules, there is also a set of laws governing the activities of all the Dominions. Realms of reality might be inaccessible to others of its own universe, but because of the warping of Kelestia, it is possible to reach realms in alternate universes using higher dimensional paths, referred to as “… travel in the Nth Dimension…” in various ancient texts. Those who access these routes often refer to it as “… walking in shadow…”, “… crossing the Void…” or “… taking the cenotaph road…”.
The Kethiran Family
The world of Kethira, on which Argoth is located, is the nexus of a series of seven worlds, with Kethira as something of a crossroads between them. This series of worlds is known as the Kethiran Family. While these links can be generally shifting and vague, there are a number of set connecting points, often referred to as “Places of Power”, where magic operates at a heightened level.
Most of the Gods of Argoth live in the higher levels of this family, on something of a “half-world”, divided into realms known as “… the Outer Planes…”, a place of shifting loyalties and borders, where each god or goddess rules a “kingdom”, and the lesser, or minor demi-gods rule over “baronies” and “lordships” of their own. There is a constant state of war, good against evil, law against chaos.
Libram of the Pantheon
Around TR 120, the basic beliefs of all Argoth was collected into a single volume, known as the “Libram of the Pantheon”, by Nala-Uroh of the fallen city of Elkall-Anuz. Uroh based his efforts on earlier, now lost works, and the Libram is approved as doctrine by most churches.
The Natal Wars
First, Uroh writes, there was universal chaos; time and space had no meaning, reality was not fixed. From this arose the “First Gods”, the so-called “Immutable Ones”, who were the only beings able to exist in this chaos. Principles of power rather than conventional gods, they made war upon each other, threatening to tear back asunder that which had formed. One result was the creation of the “Lesser Gods” to serve these First Gods and do battle on their behalf. It is these lesser gods that we now worship in the multiverse.
Finally, when it became apparent that the cosmos itself was being torn asunder by the war, the First Gods made peace. Each would have their own realm, and participate in the governorship of the whole. This peace has resulted in the Kelestia that we more or less understand and live in. Peace was not yet achieved, however, for the Lesser Gods, released from their service,began to battle each other for their own domains.
The Concordat of the Illimitable Tome
The First Gods watched, knowing that Kelestia could only be changed by them, not destroyed in the War of the Lesser Gods. These new gods were able to reproduce themselves, but they were not invulnerable and could slay each other. After many had been destroyed, the survivors entered into the Ke’lha-Hy-Var-Hyrak, also known as the “Concordat of the Illimitable Tome”. The Concordat created laws to govern the ways in which the gods could intervene in the affairs of the mortals, and to govern the ways in which they could compete for governance and supremacy. The complexity of these laws is cited as the main reason that the ways of the gods are often inexplicable to men. When a deity intercedes to aid an impious scoundrel after denying the pleas of a loyal saint, observers may well shrug their shoulders and say, “’Tis the Concordat and not the Will of the gods…”.
In the course of the wars, many new races and creatures, the sapient mortals among them, had been created. The origin of the creatures of the mortal planes is far from certain. Most believe that the mortal races sprang from the way in which the First Gods made peace. If this was the case, the lesser races have almost certainly existed almost as long as the gods, and at one time were nearly their equals.
They had been allowed free access to knowledge (the ultimate power) but had also been placed under various compulsions to serve the gods. The mortal creatures lacked the wisdom to control their knowledge. The gods concluded that the greatest danger they faced was the spread of knowledge among those who lacked restraint. The gods chose Magos, the Gray Voyager to maintain the Var-Hyvrak (or The Illimitable Tome ), wherein would be written all knowledge. Much was hidden from the mortal races.
The Nature of the Gods
The motives of the gods vary. The kind of universe desired by Moch, the Destroyer, is different from the one wanted by Amalthea, the Bringer of Life Renewed. Their problem is that they cannot simply destroy each other without risking all their destructions. The Kethiran Family, in which they seem trapped, is not great enough for all of them. Hence, the Concordat limits the actions which they might take.
Conflict between the gods is now more or less confined to the mortal and semi-mortal Outer Planes and Kethira. Each has withdrawn to their own realms, from which they attempt to influence the mortality of Kethira to fight their wars for them. The Outer Planes are the most active battlefield, where the hallowed agents of each god fight border clashes all across their realms, with even the gods sometimes taking part. This is the situation that has existed since the Concordat.
Tales of the Lesser Gods
A large body of myth is shared by the major religions of Kethira. There are countless extracts of interesting and fundamental activities and encounters of the gods and their agents, though various churches interpret them in their own ways. TO many, the form and message of myth is more important than its truth. Some, however, believe every word is the revelation of their gods, and literal truth is beyond question. However true they might be, the legends cannot be substantiated by normal means. Many have occurred long before there were any records kept by mortals, some before such races even existed. The order of events is often confused. Most theologians regard some details as irrelevant, although fundamentalists occasionally try to construct timelines.
The Wars of Dawn
When the First Gods had withdrawn from conflict, some gods still battled, knowing no other way. This was the time of the war of the lesser gods, before the Concordat. The battles for supremacy were fought openly and with little thought of mercy; gods fell, were imprisoned and even slain. There were acts of great heroism and cowardice in this epic and tragic time. Gradually, as their numbers dwindled, and they were able to make a peace. This was an age of great tales.
The Eldest God
First, it is said, there was The Seeming. Of the lesser gods, the Lord of Dreams grew first from chaos. While the other gods waged the war in the “…worlds between the worlds…”, The Seeming journeyed the mortal planes and perceived the perils of Elves and the Dwarves as they waged war on each other. He did not create them, but rather gave them the affinities they have today, as preparation for the difficult times to come.
While the wars raged between the lesser gods, The Seeming prepared the places for the lesser races. Perceiving the majority of Kethira would be taken by men, he set aside the Feywild for the elves and made it a “perfect kingdom” for this people. He then encouraged the dwarves to delve deeply into the earth, creating their own “blessed realm” away from man and hidden from the greedy. He then led these people into their new realms, and preserved them by appointing their own chief people as demigods to watch over them. He then disappeared as the dream he was.
Moch and the Bukrai
The origins of the “… Orb That Cannot be Viewed… ", are lost to the time when the First Gods had not made peace. The Bukrai, is a pure sphere of black nothingness, said to be a gate to the planes where the essence of he First Gods dwell. Why they left such an artifact is unknown. Perhaps it is a window through which they can perceive the planes and the doings of gods and men. Perhaps, as is often held, the Bukrai is actually one of the Immutable Ones, the so-called “Mad God”, imprisoned within the sphere for the good of all creation. Whatever its nature, for aeons, the lesser gods were aware of its existence, never fully understanding it s nature, nor daring to delve too closely to its powers.
There came a time when Moch, who was not then as he is now, was besieged within his stronghold by three gods and their armies. It seemed certain that the God of Destruction would himself be destroyed and perish. Moch spent the last of his power in a mighty attack to break the siege and escape. Fleeing through the Shadow Planes, he came upon the “… Eighth Plane…”, the lifeless husk of a world upon which the Bukrai lay. There he seized the orb.
By the powers of the Bukrai, Moch was able to retaliate and utterly consume his three enemies, but he too was lost. Gazing within the sphere, he was forever changed. He was warned by the oldest and wisest of the gods, The Seeming, to “…Restore the dark orb of the Bukrai, and I shall grant thee forgetfulness, for he that takes it for his own, shall know no peace, though he may be the master of many souls, shall his own become forfeit…”.
But Moch spurned the advice, and turned his back on the other gods to study the Bukrai and learn its secrets. The Seeming further prophesied, “… Now is heralded the end, for as he grows, shall grow the Shadow and all the strength of man and beast and god shall not prevail…”.
Soon after, The Seeming vanished from the thoughts of man, calling many of his chosen folk to follow. The other gods made no attempt to recover the Bukrai, for Magos warned that the time was not right. Since the seizure, Moch has changed into a remorseless creature of pure destruction, growing more and more chaotic and even violating the Concordat from time to time.
Agrik and Larani
In the age before the Concordat, the greatest rivalry was between Larani, the Celestial Paladin and Agrik, the Harbinger. Larani valued the freedoms and joys of mankind, and Agrik treasured their control and power above all else. The armies of Agrik, led by fiery demonic hordes, pillaged the worlds and fought with the knights of the Shieldmaiden. Demons, demigods and mortals have all been slain in the conflict, and worlds lain to waste.
Anhu and Dhivu
There came an impasse in the war and Larani resolved to turn the tide. Calling upon the craft of her ally Ilmarinen, the Creator, she created a new champion to her cause. This she called the god Anhu, the first of the dragons. Anhu was a mighty, graceful creature, fueled by the fires of Sirrion, the Flowing Flame and able to ride the winds of mortality on majestic wings.
Larani won Anhu’s loyalty by love, and sent him forth to assault Agrik’s forces with her enemy’s own flames. Anhu breathed upon the Towers of Balgashang itself, chief fortress of Agrik, and the warlord was afraid, for he did not possess the ken or ability fight the fires of heaven.
Agrik, however, decided he did not desire the fall of Balgashang, and accessing his own soul, created a creature which was the mirror image of Anhu, which he named Dhivu. But where Anhu was a creature of pure elemental flame, Dhivu was pure destructive energy and her strength was darkness. Agrik placed a compulsion upon her and sent her forth to battle Anhu.
Once she came upon the fields of battle, away from the compulsions of Agrik, Dhivu gazed upon Anhu, and forgot the chains of her compulsion and was set free. Anhu and Dhivu gazed upon each other and perceived beauty. The great dragons betrayed their creators and fled into the mortal worlds. The burning fires and icy void of their consummation was painful. Each touch destroyed them both, and when they were done, they lay lifelessly entwined. Then Alya, the Lady of Peace, the gentle maiden of Valour, took mercy upon them and shed tears above them. She brought forth the eggs of dragonkind, and set them safe upon the mortal worlds. Anhu she set amongst the stars, and Dhivu she revived, placing her deep within the earth, to best watch over her children and keep watch. Every thousand years, they change places, for they can never meet again. And their seed grew and prospered.
The Duel of Khamar
After Anhu and Dhivu failed to resolve the issue , Agrik evolved his own plan. He went to a place called Khamar and lay there in ambush for Larani. Leaping forth with his mighty mace, he surprised the goddess, saying, “… Now breathe thy last, sister, for I am become Death, the Bane of Worlds…”. The battle lasted long, and Khamar was devastated, but eventually Agrik smote Larani and near slew her. But Amalthea loved the Lady of Paladins, and used her healing tears to restore her. The Shieldmaiden recovered, taking, for the first time, her aspect of the “Terrible Lady of the Flowing Red”. Her anger was great and , with Avarkiel her great sword, she cut the claws from Agrik’s hand. Larani was about to slay Agrik, but Amalthea interceded, saying, “… By the life I gave thee, stay thy hand…”, and Larani deferred to her saviour and went so far as to offer Agrik his hand back, but Agrik denied her, saying, “… Shall I take thy hand as token of thy victory. For that will come. Though the worlds expire, and stagnant peace prevail a thousand thousand aeons shall I remember by this wound…”. Amalthea moved to heal the wounds, but Agrik spurned her, saying, “…And how better may I recall this day of infamy, than to carry the mark of my betrayal…”.
The Sundered Claws and the Blood of Fire
As Agrik stood brooding at the ruins of Khamar after the departure of the two goddesses, Ilmarinen, the Creator came to him and spoke. “A bargain I shall make with thee, my brother. Look upon the ground, thous didst shed eight drops of divine blood. With my cunning, if thou desirest, shall I make sons in thy own image, loyal to do thy will.”
Agrik had never had allies in whom he could trust, and was suspicious, saying, “How shall I know this is no assassin;s plot, craven one, for who shall love the mightiest of all the gods?” To this, Ilmarinen answered, “Trust whomever thou will immodest one. Have thou the craft to bring forth such as I describe? For my part, I have need of thy lost talons, I do this not for love of thee. You may fear what thou will. I have offered thee true. Decide.”.
After brief reflection, the bargain was made. Ilmarinen used his crafts upon the blood and birthed the V’Hir, fiery demons in his image., as loyal to him as sons. Agrik immediately ordered his demons to slay Ilmarinen, but they would not. Ilmarinen explained, “Am I then so foolish? Thy sons shall be as slaves in all but this; Never shall they harm their maker, nor as I command, shall they ever perish. Now keep or break thy bargain.”.
Agrik gazed upon his children, and although they had only penultimate loyalty to him by blood, he admired them. Reluctantly, he surrendered his claws.
The Children of Ilmarinen
From the earliest times, the crafts of Ilmarinen were great. Of all the gods, he possessed the greatest knowledge of the mortal races, save only for the demigods of the Elder races of dwarf and elf. Other gods would come to him, saying, “… make for me an army of thy craft…”, or “…build me a creature that can walk in shadow and do my bidding…”. Always he demanded the same payment of the gods; “Give to me willingly a portion of thy godly blood as price, and what thou desirest is thyne…”. As time passed, Ilmarinen amassed a variety of divine blood, and from these he made his own creatures. The gods were a little concerned about Ilmarinen’s strange creatures, but they seemed nothing more than harmless curiosities.
Ilmarinen had long coveted a portion of Agrik’s divine essence to complete some treasured project. When he acquired the sundred claws, his plans were made. After the Concordat, he journeyed to a sacred vault, located “…located on two worlds…”, and there made his home. He mad e a myriad of strange creatures, some to serve him, and some to teach him the inscrutable mysteries of divine essence ( very elusive concept), and some to simply glorify his own art. Ilmarinen has since withdrawn from most of the affairs of the gods, brooding over his own obscure purposes. Only rarely does he act, and his creatures are found across the planes, a tribute to his crafts, but something even the gods sometimes see as a mockery of their own essence.
Aurora and the Thief of Heaven
Aurora, the Nameless was always a creature vain of her own form, and jealous of her possessions. Once, after the time of the Concordat, Naveh, the Lord of Shadows openly desired to be with her. He stole many treasures to enrich her hoards, and went to her saying, “… Lie with me.”. But Naveh was vague of form, frightening to behold, and Aurora was cruel to him, saying, “Not in the darkest depths of the places between the worlds could I bear thy visage…”. Naveh was so much in love with the goddess of love, that he used his great skills to carve a mask, the “Shinkra-Akra”. Carved from the jewel-heart of a vast mountain in the heart of the Elemental Plane of Earth. In the form of a skull, and symbolizing the transient nature of things, he felt it might allow them to be together. Once more she spurned him, and Naveh swore revenge.
The Thief of Heaven crept into Aurora’s palace, and her Crimson Chamber itself, and stole her favored pet, the beautiful black cat Dekejis, whom he blinded and castrated and left for her to find. Aurora was furious, and cried, “… thou hast marred the perfect beauty of my favored feline…”, and cast out the cat and demanded recompense from Naveh. But Naveh said, “… the price is paid for there is a lesson for thee in this…”. Aurora sought arbitration from Sirrion, the Flowing Flame, who replied that Naveh was correct, in that there was indeed a lesson equal in value to Aurora’s injury. This gave the goddess pause, and the dispute was allowed to die with no further violence.
Naveh, meanwhile, took pity on Dekejis and took him in, promising rewards to compensate for his injuries. Placing red jewels where his eyes had been, Naveh granted it the ability to see through darkness and illusions. He also promised him opportunities to consume the genitals of mortal victims which would eventually restore his own lost organs. The truth of this promise has yet to be realized.
The Kephiran Mark of the Seven Worlds
Generally speaking, the inhabitants of Argoth possess a common metaphysical set of beliefs, and follow a pantheistic tradition, which numbers about twenty-four (24) major deities, and possibly hundreds of minor powers. Simply put, they believe that the Gods made the world, formed the various races in their respective images, and then placed them on Kethira to see what would happen. It is held that the gods have some concern regarding their creations, else why would they send priests to teach everyone about what they think? What the Gods agendas may be, however, is what all the conflict is about, and in the end, no one seems certain what they might have planned, or are not sharing the truth for whatever reason.
That the gods of Argoth take an active interest in the world is unquestioned. The relatively recent “Time of Troubles” is a prime example that the gods channel their efforts through their priests, and intervene in the affairs of mortals. They plot, war, intrigue, and ally among themselves, often involving the elemental and darker powers from the outer planes. It should be remembered, that several of the powers were once very mortal, and rose to their position through various means, but the spark of mortality remains, and they are as passionate and driven as the most capable of adventurers.
The Deities of Argoth.
Alya – The Lady of Peace
Agrik – The Harbinger
Amalthea – Bringer of Life Renewed
Amora – The Maid of Misfortune
Aurora – The Nameless
Enkara – The Frostmaiden
Galana – Lady of the Forest
Hydania – Queen of the Oceans
Invis – Mistress of the Night
Ilmarinen – The Creator
Korg – Father of the Fields
Kraven – The Beastlord
Kurse – The Corruptor
Larani – The Celestial Paladin
Lorassa – Lady of the Mists
Magos – The Gray Voyager
Moch – The Destroyer
Naveh – Lord of Shadows
Neroth – The Pitiless One
Nolom – The Shining One
Ohmar – Lord of all Songs
Sarrok – The Gray Slayer
Shiloh – Lady Luck
Silvanos – Mistress of the Sky
Sirrion – The Flowing Flame
Torre – Our Lady of Joy
Minor Religions : Apart from the previous deities mentioned, there are hundreds of lesser divine and semi-divine entities who are revered by various, usually tribal, Argothians.
Demigods and Demonlords : Demigods are of two types, those who serve by choice or compulsion, one of the greater deities mentioned above, and those who serve no other power. A god does not have to actually exist to be worshiped, nor does an existing god require adherents. Argothians are generally a superstitious folk, believing in the existence of some type of spirits in every living, and many non-living things. The barbarian nations all possess their own mythologies. Some believe the Earthmasters were gods. Very few believe in nothing.
Some of the most powerful demons and devils have found ways to amass power from mortals much in the way of the gods, and although these demon-lords tend to be cruel, sadistic, and unreliable, some beings see them a s a quick means to power. Fiend-worshiping cults are always very small and localized, with few followers and a tendency to disintegrate in the face of opposition. Still, some demon-lords have managed to establish themselves as a minor god, receiving dedicated worship in established temples.
These beings all tend to make a pact with a demon or a devil, promising worship and sacrifice in exchange for power, usually expressed through divine spell-casting abilities. The agreement usually entails the condemnation of the worshiper’s soul under the control of the fiend in question, upon their death. While seemingly stacked in the favor of the fiend, the reality is that regular sacrifices can placate it, and the mortal spends a great deal of their time trying to find ways around the contracts they have signed, or a means to counter-enslave the fiend as the mortal gains power and position in the mortal planes.
Some demigods of Argoth, include;
Droskar – The Dark Smith
Lolth – Queen of Spiders
The Earth Dragon
The Forgotten God
Torag – The Bright Smith
Warphit – The Undergod