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Offline Zyrphath

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Maedhros
« on: July 30, 2016, 02:38:40 AM »
Maedhros, the Black Emperor


From the very Maw of the Abyss, arise, not God of Death anymore, born anew like a fireless phoenix, the Black Flame that eats all Light.


The Divine

Realm

Eldanar

Alignment

| Lawful   Good
| Neutral  Good
| Chaotic  Good
| Lawful   Neutral
| True     Neutral
| Chaotic  Neutral
| Lawful   Evil
| Neutral  Evil
| Chaotic  Evil

Spheres of Influence

Evil, Shadow, Control.

Persona

Maedhros is a very ambitious god, an all-powerful creature of shadow with a "might makes right" philosophy tempered with a calculating intellect. Maedhros was at the height of his power during an event known as The Sundering, where he commanded a massive army of darkness and challenged the good gods for dominion over Entar. Entar was torn asunder during the conflict, and the mortal races were almost wiped from existence.

Prior to The Sundering, Maedhros had been the God of Death. He was more aggressive than his passive usurper, Hirin, but he was still feared and respected by mortals, and honored like any other god. But Maedhros was not satisfied, and in an ambitious attempt to take over the realm of the gods, he unbalanced the forces of good and evil and waged war against Aldaron.

Maedhros influenced several orcish warlords, and sicced them on Loriath, the ancestral home of the elves. Thousands died in the conflict, and even the landscape of Entar was left scarred.  Maedhros' victory seemed assured until Aldaron himself arose to challenge the Dark One. They fought an epic battle, but Aldaron eventually emerged as the victor. In the aftermath, Maedhros was disconnected from the mortal plane, Loriath was destroyed, and the Dark One became the Fallen One.

The mortal races, who had been taxed heavily by the Fallen One's brutal tactics, immediately turned their backs on Maedhros. Thousands of priests of Maedhros were executed, and those few that survived either fled or denounced their faith. The ancient religion was all but extinguished.

Or so the mortals thought.

Maedhros was disconnected from his station as the God of Death, but still alive, living in the Abyss. The Abyss is a realm of void and shadow, a desolate and ancient place that even the gods fear. Maedhros languished there for a century, until, utilizing the strange powers of the Abyss, he escaped sometime during the Second Age.

Finding followers among the dejected dark elves of Shar'oloth, Maedhros consolidated his power for several centuries. Unlike the good gods, he offered his followers tangible rewards: power in life, and if he succeeded in reclaiming his throne, glory in death. As a result, about five hundred years ago, Maedhros re-emerged as the God of Shadow. No longer the same brutish warmonger he was during The Sundering, Maedhros had grown wiser, more manipulative, and far more insidious during his banishment. Many (especially his followers) now believe he is stronger than ever.

Maedhros is still the eternal nemesis of Aldaron. The God of Darkness represents personal ambition, and man's desire for conquest, whereas the God of Light represents charity and humility. Their conflict symbolizes the conflict inherit in all men, that of desire versus conscience. Unsurprisingly, the battle between Maedhros and Aldaron is a popular subject in Entar's literature and art, and the event holds great spiritual significance for the followers of both gods.

Power

The faith magic Maedhros grants his followers is primarily focused on the element of shadow. It should be noted that shadow, in terms of magic, encompasses far more than the simple absence of light. It represents cold, loneliness, and fear- it is the absence of other elements, and a powerful symbol for evil.

Many of Maedhros' followers, especially those that have not taken the vow of silence, use their connection to shadow to augment their natural stealthiness. Also, any weapon blessed by an elder of the priesthood will become imbued with a magical poison, making even the smallest wound deadly. Due to this, wielders of Maedhros' magic often become adept burglars, thieves, and especially assassins.

The truly devout are able to delve deeper into the Fallen One's mysterious essence, and actually command and create shadow, rather than simply utilize it. These individuals may be able to blind their enemies, hide themselves from view, or cover large areas in darkness, among other things. And yet others dive into Maedhros' controlling, manipulative aspect, granting them powers akin to mentalism. They may be able to charm weak-willed individual into doing their bidding, or even manipulate the souls and minds of living beings.

Clearly, Maedhros offers great power for those willing to pay the price.


Iconography

Avatar

After the Dark One's undoing, many temples to Maedhros were destroyed, along with the relics they contained. Also, it should be noted that Maedhros' faithful have been traditionally leery of portraying their shadowy, unseen lord in art or icon. As a result, very few images of Maedhros exist today. Those that remain are incredibly incongruent. Sometimes he's depicted as a beautiful, dark elven lord. Sometimes he's an ethereal, vaguely humanoid figure. Sometimes he's just a pair of glimmering eyes, adrift in a sea of black... the only common aspect of Maedhros, it seems, is his connection to darkness and shadow, and his mysterious and unsettling aura.

Symbols

A black dagger pointing downward, a black, balanced scale, an eclipsed sun

Colors

Jet black

Sacred Objects

Obsidian is a favored material among the servants of Maehdros. It is dark, extremely sharp, and ideal for making daggers, the preferred weapon of many nightblades and duskblades. Sometimes other objects are carved from it, usually religious icons that can be used to channel powerful faith magic. The mandrastimune tongue is also considered sacred to Maehdros' followers. They protect the language zealously, killing non-believers that learn it without hesitation. Many priests of Maehdros use incantations or scrolls written in mandrastimune for their prayers, allowing them to commune with the Dark One and summon his might more effectively.

Sacred Texts

Any sacred books dedicated to Maehdros that may have existed before The Sundering have since been destroyed. And although the elders of Maehdros are prolific writers, they are usually too involved in secular affairs to write anything of deep religious significance. The closest thing the Cabals have to a sacred book is a strange collection of scrolls written by the Elder Lonitaril. Lonitaril came into Maehdros' service shortly after the Dark One escaped the clutches of the Abyss. Elder Lonitaril claims to have spoken with the god in person, and recorded their conversations in what has become known as The Lonitaril Papers.

Many modern-day followers of Maehdros doubt Lonitaril's claims of direct communication with the Dark One. His work is still appreciated, however, as a succinct, clear look at Maehdros' mind, and serves as a guide for how the Dark One's servants should conduct themselves. The Lonitaril Papers were originally written on one hundred separate scrolls. They were later compiled into larger tomes, but scribes made sure to denote where one scroll ended and the other began. As a result, The Lonitaril Papers are now divided into one hundred different "canons".

Very few copies of The Lonitaril Papers exist, and those that do are written in mandrastimune- it is considered heretical to translate them into any other language.


Followers

Favor

Maedhros favors the ambitious- like-minded mortals that share his same desire for conquest and control. He is notoriously difficult to please, but in general, Maedhros seems to help those that help themselves. Because of this, he is often revered by particularly abominable thieves and criminals.

Maedhros is also a highly vindictive god, constantly seeking revenge against Aldaron, Kailthis, Faelyn, Hirin, and the other gods that challenged him during The Sundering. Due to this, his priests and priestesses often perform ritual sacrifices in an attempt to curry the favor of their dark god. Those that have turned their backs on Maedhros, as well as priests from opposing sects, are frequently captured and sacrificed. The preferred tools for the ceremony are an obsidian dagger and a basalt altar, implements that even the humblest shrine to Maedhros are generally equipped with. Killing a priest of Aldaron is said to be particularly pleasing to the Fallen One.

Maedhros is also a creature of darkness. If one wants to commune with him, or otherwise gain his attention, they should spend some time meditating in a place shrouded in shadow. It is rumored that some of the elders of the priesthood of Maedhros have never seen the sun their entire lives, spending all their days submerged in the essence of their god.

In return for their allegiance to the Fallen One, followers of Maedhros receive great power. Sometimes this power is spiritual, a special connection with Maedhros, or the ability to utilize the Fallen One's faith magic. More often, however, this power is political or financial. Maedhros' priesthood is a ancient, well-connected organization, and those that please them can find an endless underworld of potential (albeit ill-gotten) power unlocked.

Disfavor

Maedhros despises the weak and considers them useless. This, of course, is in sharp contrast to Aldaron, who is generally depicted as the defender of the destitute and downtrodden. Due to Maedhros' hatred for the feeble and meek, his priesthood is rife with backstabbing and secret murders. This is not seen as a negative thing, however- it is simply the Fallen One's will to weed out the weak elements, and therefore encourage strength.

Just as the priesthood of Maedhros can bring great prosperity, so can they bring grave misfortune. Centuries of careful plotting and scheming have given the servants of the Fallen One vast political and economic resources, and they are famous for the skilled assassins they have among their ranks. Those that seek to battle, expose, or otherwise challenge the priesthood of Maedhros often find themselves robbed of their reputation, their livelihood, and perhaps even their lives.

And, finally, Maedhros may choose to blind mortals that he finds particularly interesting. Blindness can be considered either a great blessing or a great curse, depending on the context. When an elder of the priesthood of Maedhros loses his eyesight, it is generally assumed to be a reward for his piety- he now gets to spend his entire life in darkness and shadow, steeped in the essence of his chosen deity.

But when some one outside the priesthood is struck blind, it is widely believed to be a mark of Maedhros' contempt. This includes individuals blinded due to injury, a birth defect, or even just old age. Sometimes, however, the elders carry out the will of Maedhros themselves- ritual blinding is a common punishment for heretics. It should be noted here that, since blindness is generally considered a mark of Maedhros' wrath, the blind are particularly honored by priests of Aldaron. They assume that the individual must've done something to offend or oppose Maedhros, which makes them hero to Aldaron's devout. Blind men are always welcome in temples to Aldaron, and blind clerics are not uncommon among the clergy.

The Faithful

After Maedhros' banishment, the priesthood of Maedhros was severely fragmented. Most of the temples in Entar were completely destroyed, while others were forced into hiding. Those that remained faithful to the Fallen One formed secretive, tight-knit groups called Cabals. The only widely-known Cabal in Entar exists in Elenion, in the last remaining temple to Maedhros. This Cabal, known as the Cabal Nolidesti ("nolidesti" is mandrastimune for "facade" or "false") is just a front organization, a pretty picture depicting the priesthood of Maedhros as non-violent and passive. This, of course, is designed to conceal the priesthood's true nature from the general public. The most powerful Cabal is actually centered around Shar'oloth and is called the Cabal Veridesti (mandrastimune for "true").

Other powerful Cabals include the Cabal Sanguirune ("blood", honored for the high number of ritual murders they've committed over the years), and the Cabal Kolnoretti ("deep", named after the subterranean fortress they maintain deep beneath Entar's crust). They occupy bases in Tarsis and Xak Tsirioth, respectively. Many smaller Cabals are scattered throughout Entar, hidden away in natural cave formations or abandoned tombs.

The Cabals operate autonomously, pursuing their own goals in an opportunistic, cut-throat fashion befitting followers of Maedhros. Sometimes they coordinate their efforts by sending letters written in mandrastimune. Mandrastimune is an ancient elven language that predates even Loriath. Much of its spoken form was lost over the centuries. It exists only in the names of the various Cabals, and in its highly complicated and esoteric written form. It is said that only followers of Maedhros can read it.

Followers of Maedhros are divided by those who have taken the vow of silence, and those who have not. Those who have are called "servants". They are the official priests of Maedhros, spending their entire lives in silence and communicating only through letters and notes written in mandrastimune. They often wield powerful faith magic specific to their chosen god. Particularly powerful servants can sometimes become "elders". The term "elder" is something of a misnomer- they are not chosen based on their age, but instead on their devotion, power, experience, and individual merit. In order to become an elder, the applicant must undergo a ceremony where his or her tongue is cut out, in order to make sure his or her vow will never be broken. Whether servants or elders, all priests and priestess wear heavy black robes and veils of black lace, silk or leather. Their preferred weapon is an obsidian dagger, which they use for prayer, ritual sacrifice, and self-defense.

Taking the vow of silence into consideration, it should not be particularly surprising that the followers of Maedhros practice silent worship. Temples to Maedhros, in fact, are usually deathly still, unnaturally quiet, and (of course) very, very dark. Almost always located below ground level, there is generally no more light than is necessary to navigate the temple. The temples are always built of dark, heavy, light-absorbing stone, such as dark granite, basalt, diorite and obsidian.
Aside from the priesthood itself, each Cabal is supported by a number of followers who have not taken the vow of silence. They are often able to wield faith magic themselves (though it is typically not as powerful as that of the servants or elders), and generally dress in dark clothing while visiting temples. Dark elf followers are referred to as nightblades, and are ranked according to their individual "usefulness". Followers of other races are known as duskblades, and are a little less respected.

Most nightblades and duskblades follow Maedhros in order to further their own ambitions and goals. They still help the Cabal, however- "freeloaders" do not exist within the priesthood. This is for two reasons. Firstly, anything that will help the Cabal, generally speaking, will help the individual. If a nightblade or duskblade is asked to perform some specific duty, they will usually be handsomely compensated for it. The second reason for the nightblades' devotion is fear- anyone not actively contributing to the Cabal will be viewed as weak, and quickly eliminated.

The average nightblade or duskblade's most important duty is to serve as liaison between the secluded Cabal and the outside world. Whether they spend most of their time on the surface, or safe within the temple, all of Maedhros' followers serve this function in some capacity. Common duties involve bringing news from the outside world, delivering letters, or spying on the Cabal's enemies. Occasionally, more capable nightblades or duskblades are tapped to perform assassinations or to bribe officials. The followers of Maedhros fulfill their orders quickly and efficiently, for they know that failure will result in their excommunication and death.

Prominence

After The Sundering, Maedhros was demonized throughout all of Entar. All of his temples, with the exception of  the Cabal Nolidesti in Elenion, were either destroyed or forced underground. The priesthood of Maedhros has effectively been in hiding for the last several centuries, and it is easily the smallest religious group in Entar, even though they have a considerable following among the dark elves. They are still powerful, however, and survive through stealth, subterfuge, and coercion.


Quote

"It came to pass that a certain servant of a Maehdros had committed a fairly serious indiscretion. He had fallen and suffered some injury, breaking his vow in his cries of pain. He was rescued and tended to, and I spent one day and one night in communion with our Dark Lord. I sought His advice on how the young servant should atone for his mistakes.

"Surely," I asked, "the magnitude of his crimes against You can be overlooked in favor of his usefulness to the Cabal? In favor of his youth? In favor of the seriousness of his injury?"

The Dark Lord was most displeased at my impertinence, and answered: "His injuries were of bone and flesh, and are of no great interest to Me. I suffered the pain of the Abyss, and emerged stronger for't; none shall ever serve Me that succumb to lesser pains."

And with this I understood, and exited the divine darkness.

The next day I cut out the heretic's tongue, and opened his flesh upon the altar. Maehdros had spoken: He would not accept the weak into His service."
-Excerpt from The Lonitaril Papers, Canon 86


Credits

  • Original Concept and Write-up: Two-Moons
  • Revised Edition: Zyrphath & Davin
« Last Edit: July 30, 2016, 06:53:20 PM by Davin Ragal »
Tome of Darkness


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Offline Davin Ragal

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Re: Maedhros
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2016, 07:04:49 PM »
I think this is looking very good