Old and New Gods - Part III.

Non-Imperial Deities of the Fourth Age

‘Immaruu faleact Arkon iirat!’ (approx.: ‘Arkon’s light shall shine on your path!’)

- Oghre religious chant

‘I piss on your gods! When I’m done with you, your spirit can go tell them just that!’

- Ran’Garr, Orc mercenary


Naturally, Imperial gods are not the only ones worshiped in the Riven Realms. Religious beliefs and deities are as diverse as the inhabitants of the lands themselves.

Of the relatively new arrivals to the continent of Xeryn, the Dragonlords and their followers indulge in the most pragmatic of religious practices. The Dragon Cult is one that idolizes prowess and persistence above all other virtues, though the balance between the service of communities and enlightened self-interest is also a key tenet. Simply put, the Dragonlands and the Cult welcome all hard working folk who are willing to serve their country at the best of their abilities. Though the Dragonlords are regarded as transcended beings or deities by their followers, the truly divine source is referred to as the Flame - the source of all life and all magic. The stronger the Flame in someone is, the greater potential they have, but all beings carry in them the seed of greatness - it is their will and actions that dictate how they can nurture or poison it. The Dragonlords forbade their followers to worship them as gods but the Cult associates dragonkind with pure, powerful inner Flames and thus are seen as paragons everyone should aspire to become.

The Orcs were godless from the beginning despite all the efforts of the Twelve to convert them to follow the Triumvirate. As their very creation and existence is intimately connected to the spirits of the dead, their belief system revolves around these same specters and the idea that by living a life of battle and courage, their own souls return to their rightful place in the afterlife instead haunting this world. When someone dies a craven or without honor, their souls is thought to remain behind in the Riven Realms, trapped in torment and damnation forever. Shamans can communicate with such spirits and make them divulge information or even manifest briefly to scare or hurt their enemies. This spirit faith is propagated by shamans and meshes surprisingly well with Orcish warrior culture.

Other races, like the nomadic Kal-rish, worship a single god. In the case of these goatmen, the god is Kal-dai-Ruhk, Great Spirit of the Eternal Wastes. The Ashlanders of the Plains of Despair made contact with the newcomer nomads and adopted this same god, though they call him Kalarruk. In their beliefs, every living thing starts out as dust and comes to life only after Kalarruk breathes on them. When the breath of the god runs out, so does their life and so they return to dust. The savage Sharduk used to have a whole pantheon of gods, scholars claim, yet only brought a few of those over the Eastern Ocean to Xeryn. Chief among these is Magar the Reaver, a barbaric god for barbaric times in whose name countless atrocities are committed day by day. The Sadirar tribesmen of the West turned to the worship of the elements after the Calamity and personified them as great spirits. The four major tribes each dedicate themselves solely to one element but respect the others, too, living in a relatively harmonious co-existence. Smaller tribes under these follow great spirits that are tied to an element and belong to exceptional ancestors. The Bandul tribesmen of the Bronze Desert used to follow elemental spirits as well, but a systematic hunt of their desert seers since Imperial occupation began slowly eradicated their religion over the centuries. Only in hidden enclaves do a handful of them still pray and pay sacrifice to their wasteland spirits these days.

The desert-dwelling people of the province of Tark have a dualistic religion, mirroring their relationship with the land they inhabit. While Amon is the God of the Sun and Light, his brother, Inubis, is God of the Moon and Darkness. Both of them can be deadly in their own right, so Tarkians used to fear and revere them in equal measure. Since Imperial occupation began, however, Inubis became much more prominent thanks to being closer to the Triumvirate in spheres and powers. Dajmahans of the Lands of Endless Rain have a faith revolving around the idea of Sha, an energy that makes up the universe and facilitates life. More philosophy and a way of life than simply a religion, the Shalimi (Way of the Sha) permeates everything Dajmahans do. The Sha represents all that is natural and wholesome. When corrupted by the evil of men or malevolent spirits, the Sha (of a place or a person) becomes sick and corrupting itself. Such deeds lead to Tabuul, that is, practices shunned and forbidden in Dajmaha. The realm has no priests, instead, a ruling class of sorceresses in the great ziggurat cities play the roles of religious leaders.

Curiously, the few Oghres who have come to Xeryn brought with themselves the worship of a god called Arkon to their new home in the Riven Realms, who is speculated to be an Elder God of yore. Some scholars theorize that this deity can not be the same god as Arcus, Elder God of War, Light, and Justice, but a lesser deity that took his identity. Others deem it possible that perhaps one of the ancient creator gods somehow remained in the world still after the tragic events of the Calamity. Whatever the reality, Oghre priests and paladins possess mighty divine magic that seems to indicate that Arkon is very, very real indeed.

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