Tuesday, April 12, 2011

[The Realm] I is for Ilzara

Ilzara (Intermediate Goddess)

Ilzara is the Messenger of the Gods, the Celestial Psychopomp, the Guide of Souls, Guardian of the Dead, Queen of the Valkyries, the Wife of Tyrm, and the Mother of Iluna. Once an Angel in service to the Gods, Ilzara ascended to full divinity in gratitude for her service in the Elder Days, and has since been a favorite patron goddess of many. She and Tyrm were very close even before their ascension; they had many occasions to work together due to Tyrm’s duties as a war leader, as Ilzara passed information and orders on from the Gods to their warrior-angel and gathered the souls of fallen warriors. They were married soon after their ascension; their daughter, Iluna Silver-Moon, was born at the end of the War of Light and Darkness.

Ilzara has three very important duties in the family of the Great Good Gods:

Messenger of the Gods

She and her servants deliver messages for the Great Good Gods, to other gods, to demons, and to mortals. This is a very important task, as the gods are neither omniscient nor omnipotent, and thus cannot be everywhere and know everything. Nor are they telepathic over great distances. Thus, the gods have need for courageous and incorruptible messengers to deliver important messages to servants, friends, allies, and enemies alike. No gods or servants of the gods are faster than Ilzara and her servants; they move faster than the wind upon wings of light. No few of her servants have died to bring messages that the Gods of Chaos or Demons want unheard by the intended recipient or stolen for their own ears. While Qnath and his servants are the masters of divination, it is usually through the services of the servants of Ilzara, if not Ilzara herself, that the gods send word of their will to their mortal followers. While divinatory queries as to the future are usually answered by a servant of Qnath, questions that can be answered about the past or present are usually answered by a servant of Ilzara. These messages are usually presented in dreams or visions, though if important enough, the messenger might appear in spirit form to the recipient and those around them and deliver the message verbally. Finally, Ilzara’s servants also act as the heralds of the gods, standing before them to deliver pronunciations of the gods and act as intermediaries between the gods and mortals.

Divine messengers carry a distinctive rod, known as a kerukeion (from the Southlander tongue). This device is about three feet long (for human-sized figures), at the top an egg of adamant (to represent the Cosmic Egg), below a lemniscate (infinity symbol) parallel with the rod, and at the point below the lemniscate, a pair of wings. As heralds, the rod is a full-sized staff about six feet tall (again, when the figure is human-scaled), bearing the personal symbol or badge of the god for whom the herald works in between the wings.

Guide of the Dead

Ilzara and her servants are tasked with the retrieval of the souls of the faithful upon death, to see that they are brought before Qnath, Koram, and Galendar to be properly judged. Each class of death has a special Psychopomp, or guide, to take the immortal soul to the Straight Paths of Elysion and thence to the Hall of Judgment. The most notable such guides are those who gather the souls of fallen valiant Lawful warriors who die in battle. Known as the Valkyries to the Northlanders and, in general, in the Heartlands, these guides are angelic beings of beautiful female form, armed and armored complete with helms with wings of hawks, swans, or ravens. They are often, but not always winged, but can fly regardless; they also sometimes, but not always, ride flying horses, which might also be winged or not. Only those destined to die soon in battle can usually see Valkyries, unless they let themselves be seen otherwise. Other guides of the dead in service to Ilzara include the cherubs who guide the souls of children; the more common angelic type who handle death by accidents, plague, or illness; and the hale warrior angels who welcome a valiant warrior who dies outside of battle to the afterworld. The horrific “Angels of Death” of skeletal form dressed in black robes with great, blood-dripping scythes are sent only to those whose damnation is fore-ordained by the deeds of their own hands… such are still guided to the Hall of Judgment, usually by a circuitous route through Infernus or some other Hell, that they may get a taste of what is coming to them. Of course, if one’s soul is already promised to a demon, then said demon usually appears alone, ready to gather his loathsome harvest with no argument from Ilzara or her servants…

Guardian of the Dead

As the guide of the dead, she also functions as the guardian of the dead, as it is she and her servants who must guard the soul of the dead from demons, evil spirits, and other nasty beings who might seek to wrongly steal the soul away from the gods. Thus, her priests also serve as officiant at funerals, with the priest of the deceased patron god or goddess assisting (and often with clerics of Galendar, when the temple focuses on Redemption and Resurrection). Clerics of Ilzara also guard cemeteries, catacombs, and necropoleis against the intrusion of grave robbers, the rise of undead, the machinations of chaotic sorcerers, and worse things.

Spheres of Influence: Messenger of the Great Good Gods, Divination of Past and Present, Guide of the Dead, Guardian of the Dead, Mother of the Silver-Moon

Symbols: Kerukeion (see above), winged helm, winged boots or sandals

Animal: Swan, raven, winged horse

Raiment: Flowing white robes, winged helm, winged sandals

Weapons: Staff

Colors: White, silvery-blue

Place of Worship: Common temples of the Great Good Gods, cemeteries, catacombs, necropoleis, places where the wind blows freely and quickly

Holy Days: None especially

Ceremony: None exclusively; clerics of Ilzara serve the other priests of the Temple of the Great Good Gods as messengers, officiants at funerals, and guardians of the dead.

Sacrifice: In addition to the standard tithe to the Temple, once per month or as needed, one should give a secret to Ilzara by seeking solitude and speaking the secret aloud, that any nearby messenger might hear and deliver the secret to Ilzara. Those seeking to have their messages delivered to the gods (or mortal messages delivered to allies/friends/enemies, etc.) should promise or deliver further tithes of goods or services to the Temple; failure to deliver after promises made and messages delivered results in bad things happening!

Taboos: Never leave a message undelivered, even if it means your death; never desecrate a holy grave; always bury the dead, even those of your enemies

Special Spells Granted: Clerics who focus on the messenger aspect of the goddess and earn her respect through their service will gain access to the following spells (spell level): message (1), locate object (2), fly (3), freedom of movement (4), teleport (5), repulsion (6), and phase door (7). Clerics who focus on the guide of the dead aspect of the goddess and earn her respect through their service will gain access to the following spells (spell level): deathwatch (1), speak with dead (2), fly (3), freedom of movement (4), true seeing (5), astral projection (6), and trap the soul (7 - used to contain Chaotic souls only). Clerics who focus on the guardian of the dead aspect of the goddess and earn her respect through their service will gain access to the following spells (spell level): detect undead (1), consecrate (2), glyph of warding (3), death ward (4), disrupt undead (5), forbiddance (6), and spell turning (7). Generally heroic clerics might gain access to some or all of these spells. Each spell group is gained in order; thus a higher-level cleric who only gains Ilzara’s personal respect late in his career might only have access to the level 1 and level 2 special spells, even though he can cast third and fourth level spells.

Saint Exmin the Valkyrie

Her greatest servant, her Captain of the Valkyries, is Saint Exmin the Valkyrie, a once-mortal woman who, during her life, fought valiantly for the Great Good Gods and the cause of Law as a wandering paladin. Aged and doddering after a life dedicated to fighting the good fight, she refused to die in bed, and went forth to fight one last battle against a horde out of the East. She died on the battlefield, after defeating the leader of the nomads in single combat; though her wounds were not great, the enemy khan had poisoned his blade. Rather than die from festering wounds, she sought to have her shield-maiden finish her with a dagger that she might die from a blade in battle. But none of her weeping followers could do the deed. As Ilzara was already in attendance at the battle, she herself manifested in order to grant her life-long follower her greatest wish… and when she arrived in Elysion, she found that the Gods were ready to welcome her into their fold as a Saint in the cause of Law.

Exalted Sotillion

Her other major servant is Exalted Sotillion, the Maiden of Summer, Mistress of the South Wind. It is she who blows the great Celestial Oliphant to let the spirits of air and water know that summer has arrived. It is she who gathers the souls of the dead who die of heat stroke and other summer maladies. She appears as a beautiful maiden of fiery golden hair, diaphanous white gown, bare feet, and white-plumed wings, with a great golden halo.

Exalted Frantilla, Shield-Maiden of Koram

Finally, another important figure in Ilzara lore is that of Frantilla, the Shield-Maiden of Koram. Frantilla is the sister of Ilzara; for her great service to the gods, she was asked to join them when they left the Vault of Heaven to the Angels, and she remained loyal to them and their cause. Frantilla often joins Ilzara and Exmin to gather the soul of a king or great paladin in Koram’s service when they fall in battle.

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