LE Greater Deity
Aliases: The Lingering Ache, the King of Poison, the Viridian, End of Empires, the Spiteful, the Revolutionary (worshipers only), the Red Claw (druids only)
Portfolio: Anarchy, Envy, Poisons, Ruins, Societal Collapse, Survivalism
Favored Weapon: shortspear
Domains: Animal, Death, Law, Liberation, Plant
Tenets: Atrophy, Biology, Botany, Envy, Kindness, Narcissism, Poisons, Spite, Subversion, Weakness
As a result of his relative weakness amongst deities and his expansive populist leanings, the unholy symbol of Ivaidin flaunts neither a particularly ostentatious or costly design, commonly formed by a simple branch of wood and a bit of stone. Ivaidin’s only requirements of style stipulate that the symbol’s form exists as an upside-down wooden triangle tipped at its inverted apex with stone and that it stays in crude form, un-worked by hand, preferably from debris of something previously destroyed by his worshipers.
This symbolization embodies the hierarchy of power that drives Ivaidin and his clergy to strive for what they do not possess while adversely promoting their hatred of that very same power. Accordingly, the symbol’s quick decay over time (particularly through the rigors of battle) exhibits the same quality, value, and durability as Ivaidin’s affliction.
Envy acts, in many ways, like a creeping vine. It slowly, gradually covers the stony edifice of civilization. And, if not confronted early, this vine will grow thick and strong, transforming the image of the stone quite drastically. Ultimately, the foliage becomes the only thing to catch the observer’s eye, blocking the original – often times intricate and beautiful – work of masonry.
A creeper can always be removed but, by that obscuring point in time, it’s largely too late. The vine’s roots have sunken deep into the stone making a complete eliminate of the plant impossible without damaging the edifice permanently. Notwithstanding the eradication of the plant, its bloomed flowers will have already released seeds that seek alternative works of suitable stone to perpetuate the plant’s covetous nature.
Ivaidin is in many ways like this vine. His influence, subtle and gradual, completely infiltrates wherever his worshipers take root: brother turning on brother, subject on lord, lord on king. And, sooner or later, the unchecked growth of Ivaidin’s touch has completely entrapped everyone in a cycle of paranoia and self-loathing that can only end with the current order being toppled.
The call of the King of Poison resonates with the bitterly downtrodden and resentful outsiders of all stripes. Ivaidin tells these people that their plight is far from their fault and that the socially accepted, who repeatedly spit upon them, are suppressing the natural talents and abilities of the persecuted for fear of losing their own power. No matter the reason; no matter the cause; he whispers thoughts of rebellion, of tearing down the norm so that a new order may rise from the ashes, a fair order, decided by strength of arms and intellect alone. And if the regime grows unfair once more, he will be prepared to support another revolution.
As with many deities, followers can largely be divided into two commensurate halves: the moderate (worshipers) and the fanatic (advocates). The modest, legal versions of Ivaidin’s sects in most countries are known as the Jungle Cloisters. While they recognize the dark aspects of their deity, they also cheerfully point out that he often reacts to a copious amount of unmistakable wrongs.
The Cloisters seek pacifistic reform soliciting the benefit of the mighty to be shared with the meek. In an ironic twist, they will occasionally ally with Adaska’s clergy, though alliances rarely last long as neither side fancies the arrangement.
Concessions for this religion exist in most communities since mankind shares the belief that fairer treatment of people will soothe the resentment Ivaidin embodies and quell the anarchy of Gehenna. Indeed, one might say, he actually serves to keep Ivaidin’s jealousy safely sealed and managed rather than truly serving the daeva.
Leaders tend to take up positions of mediocre power in governmental offices to influence societal opinions toward change. Unfortunately, this aspect of leadership causes Ivaidin’s faithful to not have a place of worship. Instead, they dedicate time once a day to makeshift altars in their homes. As a mild consequence for the lack of congregations, attire selection becomes exclusively self-motivated and apparel trends vary as greatly as his followers.
Advocates, Direct Followers, and Minions
common: drow, kobold
uncommon: amoraq, human
rare: arden, dwarf
The fanatical followers of Ivaidin are a collection of hidden cults and druidic circles, known collectively as the Poisoned. They seek only one thing: to ensure that only the deserving hold power and happiness, usually at the expense of whomever is in charge at the moment. It should also be noted that while they are known by many names, they usually take Poisoned without complaint and often as a compliment. After all, their own peaceful ambitions were poisoned by the strong and by luck’s fickle whims. Now all they have is their anger from the various injustices inflicted upon them. Thus, it should come as little wonder that the true Poisoned tend to be those races whose cultures are outsiders or the oppressed.
Drow, whose egocentric society is largely based around ambition and the trampling of opponents, provides an ideal environment for the Red Claw’s ever-reaching presence. As a fact of life in drow society, upheavals generate a multitude of opportunities to nurture jealousy, allowing it to thrive more readily than any other atmosphere. The ebony skinned creatures naturally come to Ivaidin to deal with their society’s inherent unfairness. Furthermore, drow interest in ecological stability of the darklands and their nigh-universal resentment toward elves cement Ivaidin as the first-place holder for their common pantheons.
Unbeknownst to the drow, another self-absorbed race has emerged as an apparent rival for Ivaidin’s attention. Kobolds, though being fairly content with their lot in life, do fall upon hard times; and through the distress of their unfortunate luck, whether by loss of acquisitions or unfair trade practices, these groups of dragon-like creatures grow to despise their less criminal neighbors who, in their minds, live an incredibly easy life. The perception that their peers never have to evade justice to gain desires and never have to fear retribution for simple pleasures only solidifies the kobolds’ myopic view of the world around them, causing them to devote themselves wholly to the Spiteful.
A group, somewhat less common than the aforementioned cultures, appears on the outskirts of most other societies. Many amoraq possess a great deal of bitterness over the cruel fate bestowed upon them, not only for a lack of a homeland, but for an unfair, lifelong struggle against their animalistic rage, the beast. Ivaidin’s clergy consoles them, exposing the truth, “the problem lies not within yourself, but within others for not recognizing your true nature, your wrathful being, the power of a natural warrior and predator.” These Poisoned amoraq believe in a manifest destiny to claw their way back into sapience, to enjoy the creature they carry within themselves, and to become revered, even feared for it.
Following the amoraq, quite distantly, are humans and their relatively open, free cultures. The injustices of these people are not focused upon, rather the call of Ivaidin concedes to spread as Jungle Cloisters. A wider, more subtle approach produces greater results. The few poisoned malcontents that do surface rightly prosper since recruitment of followers is considerably easy with so many worshipers available.
The final class of recruits, though few and far between, is more noticeable for when they do turn up they expose some of the most vicious qualities of the Poisoned. The first of these two are arden survivors of destroyed warrens. They find life to be quite jarring, if not unbearable, from losing their families. As a result of their loss, the bitter jealousies of those who still have homes work to intensify an already spiteful envy. These emboldened Poisoned devote their lives to destroying as many happy, productive relationships as possible.
Comparable motives to the arden, dwarven revolutionaries plot to overthrow, dismantle, and eventually eradicate their own governments. In any event, these dwarves have divergent reasons for falling. All dwarves possess a racial hatred of Ivaidin due to both his anarchic influences and his savage representation of nature. Yet, when a dwarf begins to bitterly curse a superior behind his back, a tiny voice in the back of his mind begins to wonder if the End of Empires is truly such a loathsome being. To their credit, few dwarves decide to give into temptation, but those who do surrender become some of the most atrocious Poisoned known to man.
Perhaps unique among all the deities, Ivaidin is a victim of his portfolio. His body is an infinite source of exotic and strange poisons. Sadly, he is not immune to their effects. While he is in no danger of death or even serious illness, he is certainly far weaker than he could be, always suffering from some symptom or another such as nausea, dehydration, or malaise.
This unfortunate attribute translates to his avatars. He usually appears as a meek, elderly human: body stooped over from obvious pain, hair grayed as a winter’s sky, eyes and skin polluted with the sickly yellow of jaundice. Beware! Appearances can be deceptive. Those who underestimate him do so at their own peril. The pathetic cough he often accentuates his speech with is largely an act and his walking stick is actually an extremely powerful artifact.
The First Branch of the Strangler Fig can be used to call up an army of floral monsters at a moment’s notice. Those foolish enough to strike a deity find Ivaidin is still the master of his body. A simple brush of his hand delivers a lethal cocktail of the worst toxins in existence. Depending upon how merciful he feels, Ivaidin will either cause the victim to die instantly by stopping his heartbeat or to cause an excruciatingly long and painful death as each of the victim’s internal organs shuts down over the course of several weeks, obviously starting with paralysis of the limbs and jaw so the doomed cannot move or scream for help.
Ivaidin’s woeful tragedy is truly a grand fall from grace. He was born as the eldest fraternal brother to a set of twins. The honor of being his counterpart and greatest enemy lies at the feet of his sister Adaska. While both from the same blood neither could be further apart. Unlike his sister, Ivaidin lacked in self-confidence, boasting frequently in attempts to convince others of his superiority; a superiority he himself did not believe. Most ignored his insecurities.
At first, he held their apathy without regard, but time has a way of gnawing at a person. Slowly Ivaidin began to resent his peers, becoming frustrated with their indifference. He shoved them away and turned his doubts inward by throwing himself into his duties and faith to prove (more to himself than anyone) that he was a worthy contender for the leadership role of the Eluen-cuthpar.
Thus, it was no surprise when his sister was chosen as the Pure, leader of the Eluen-cuthpar, and not himself that Ivaidin did not take the news particularly well. Furthermore, when he found out that he was not even considered for the position, Ivaidin fell – and his path to the bottom was ever so quick. It was at this point that his ambition turned to jealousy. The shift was so absolute, so complete, that he would grow to embody such feelings.
And why not? He had worked night and day for recognition, for success, and the “naturally talented” person got the position that he had earned? He blamed the Eluen-cuthpar and his sister for his troubles, and began spending long nights devising elaborate revenges against his erstwhile kindred.
Eventually came the day of Adaska’s ascension. She refused to kill Kellandra and to adhere to the tenets of her faith. Ivaidin, ever eager to prove his supremacy over his sister, finished the job without hesitation and became the Pure as Kellandra’s and his sister’s blood spilled from his hands.
With this new found leadership, it did not take long for Ivaidin to develop a reputation as a populist, frankly because he was one. He was finally in position to extract his vengeance. Those long nights devoted to the study of the wilderness and the Feywyld finally paid off. Discreetly, he took “preventative measures” against his fellow high ranking clergy. The knowledge of poisons and the skill to use such toxins, in which he had so precariously developed over his former years, came into play. By the time he was caught, nine of the other twelve leaders had been meticulously murdered.
Ivaidin died alone, unrepentant.
In the relative blink of an eye, he was drawn to Gehenna. His jealousy so grandiose that he nearly skipped this higher realm in his descent, but it was not meant to be. In the present age, Ivaidin remains driven by his desires; but he has since transformed its focus and manifestation to encompass all things. His original sin of simple jealousy has now evolved into authentic envy.
Nevertheless, his role as ruler of Gehenna is not altogether grim. His weakened condition has given him an insight, a potent strength over other daeva and elohim. He remembers what it was like to have mortal frailties, and with that comes empathy for mortals. He treats his followers, especially his petitioners, with great kindness, considering them more as valued friends and allies than minions. Naturally, this tends to fuel the fires of envy amongst the petitioners of Gehenna as he tends to play favorites, albeit unintentionally.
Gehenna is the representative of Evil favoring Law among the Realms of Transience, and perhaps ironically, among the most changed in form since its lord took dominion. Before Ivaidin set foot on Gehenna, it was a barren wasteland covered with noticeably active volcanoes, ruins of cities, and hard blackened rock. An occasional cave with cool springs and edible fungi offered the only reprieve from the outside world. Gehenna enforced its sins through these pockets of extreme bounty in an otherwise desolate landscape, forcing the petitioners into tribes of haves and have-nots.
The haves were forced into guarding their beneficial pockets on a daily basis, if not hourly. Regrettably, these caves were never very defensible, causing ownership to change hands frequently. Tribes were constantly breaking apart only to reform with new leaders. Those who took charge were always filled with the most jealousy, coveting the treasures of the caves. This entire concept bolstered the plane’s sinful core.
Upon his arrival, Ivaidin chose not to join (or more likely lead) a petitioner tribe. However, the sorry state of the plane touched what was left of the fallen paladin’s conscience. He foresaw a benign yet more effective manner of existence.
Utilizing the demonic contacts of his mortal life, he secured an audience with Hell’s overlord Rai. Ivaidin’s dutiful work ethic and fresh vision for Gehenna pleased Rai, so he granted Ivaidin’s request, at a cost. Ivaidin hesitantly accepted this condition, allowing the poisons of his former life to be infused with his essence. In return, he gained the ability to journey to-and-from the Feywyld.
A select group of petitioners accompanied Ivaidin on his first trip into the Feywyld. They sought out a primal tree, one that served as an embodiment of floral life for it would be envious enough to take root in the volcanic soil of Gehenna. The group came upon a primal strangler fig, a tropical species that uses other trees as scaffolding for its own growth, often killing its host in the process. From this plant Ivaidin took a single sturdy branch for himself and a seed that would soon be the very first flora to have prospered on Gehenna.
His scheme worked; Gehenna was quickly covered in a great humid jungle and established Ivaidin as its undisputed ruler. The majority of its plant life became poisonous as a result of his participation, yet the petitioners complained little as they were largely immune to toxins. Today, Gehenna is an incredibly dense jungle, stopped only by the aforementioned volcanoes and ruins, both of which the jungle appreciates. The volcanoes produce fertile soil and the ruins offer a structure for expanded growth.
At a glance this rainforest offers little insight into Gehenna’s true savagery, but if one delves a bit deeper they will discover that every living thing participates in a particularly warped cycle of the food chain. Apex predators do not exist. Instead, every predator is prey and every prey is predator. Inhabiting devils, monstrous fauna, savage tribes of petitioners, even the wandering lord himself are at risk – and those who are slain find themselves feeding the undergrowth as fertilizer.
And plenty of plant food is needed, for there is no greater menagerie of carnivorous plants outside of Gehenna. Counting its species is exhaustive, whether calculating its mundane types such as the Venus flytrap or the pitcher plant, or tallying its complex and mobile aberrations, many of which have evolved on this very plane. For instance, the abomination known as the yellow musk creeper formed from an incidental crossing of paths with an undead from the Abyss. Even the terrifying mu spore was first birthed to this tangled forestry.
Truly, this life is not easy; however, it is a life worth living, according to the petitioner tribes. In their mortal lives, these people learned through bitter experiences that happiness invariably came at the cost to someone else. Gehenna supports this “fact” as everything worth having must be taken from someone or something. And for petitioners, this plane offers greatness through pride of survival, desire to greedily hoard, wrath of callous taking, and gluttonous rewards for those able to sustain control.
In an ironic twist of fate, such corruption actually helps the tribes. Genuinely altruistic members reincarnate and the leaders who cease to care for everyone but themselves are quickly taken to the Realms of Corruption before they can damage the unity and cohesiveness of their tribes permanently. Indeed, the few large tribes in existence have actually been around since Ivaidin’s ascension. Thus, the overall politics of Gehenna remain stable, which seems strange for a place built around forceful acquisitions.
Gehenna’s stability, more than anything, explains why Ivaidin does not notice or suspect Quah’s influence. Ivaidin’s attention is broad and the fates of single petitioners have no consequence to him. Fortunately for Thepa, his ignorance is a great mercy, for what sort of damage might the daeva of envy inflict upon the world should he turn his jealous gaze upon the Creator of all things?
Artwork provided by Sandara
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