10/16/2017

Arla Vanthessa

Arla is a Human Druid from Odess who has dedicated herself to balance.  She worships Jaraye as a goddess of transition.  She dresses and portrays herself as a travelling merchant's shopgirl in order to gain access areas and regions she might be held out of.

Arla has shoulder-length red-brown hair, which she keeps pinned back but only braids it loosely in several braids.  She has olive skin and freckles across her nose and cheeks.  Her eyes are brown.  She is fit but not overly large or muscular.

Arla is serious, but not reserved.  She is young for her role and her abilities, which makes her prone to outbursts of emotion at times, though she works towards an archdruid's neutral grace.


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10/10/2017

Free Cathia

When Simierlan led their campaign against the government of Cathia, it was actually a rebellion against an occupying government from across the sea.  The capital city that Simierlan sieged and took was the occupying force's regional seat of Qadia's government.  In the time since, Simierlan's followers have been able to take back most of the center country of Cathia, but some of the occupying force remains at the borders.

Free Cathia has no port access, which has limited the country's ability to trade, seek help, or expand their conflict against Qadia controlled Cathia.  The border with Odess is still mostly controlled by the occupying force, but that control thins in the north, near the Everglade.  Some intrepid adventurers have set out to cross in the Everglade and seek help from Odess and other kingdoms.

The stalemate between Cathia and Qadia holds because Qadia struggles to reinforce quickly across the ocean but Cathia cannot protect all of its territory while pushing onto new fronts.  It will take the intervention of another power or a significant build up of Qadian forces to settle the dispute.

A special title has been given to Cathian soldiers who have taken up the task of breaking the Qadian blockade to reach other nations.  They are known as Dawnbringers, and generally operate alone or in small groups in order to slip past Qadian forces.  The vast majority of these Dawnbringers are set to approach Odess, though few have made it that far at the current time.

The average citizen of Cathia is a farmer and lives a rural life.  Qadian forces eliminated a number of roving bands of Goblins, Gnolls, and Orcs, so animals and creatures from the Everglade are more feared than any one race.

There is a sightly higher concentration of Aasimar in Cathia, due to the country's association with Simierlan, Jaryae, and Vayr.  Aasimar are not common, by any means, but a number occupy positions of importance within the Cathian government and military.

The Cathian military leans towards infantry, though they do maintain a small horse cavalry force.  In general, they organize their units into 10, 100, and 1000 person units.  However, they employ a number of smaller guerrilla units which operate in disputed areas and do not tend towards any organized unit size.

The government of Free Cathia is a theocratic democracy.  Elected officials are expected to serve as spiritual guides for their fellow Cathians, reflecting the ideals of Simierlan.  Any citizen of Free Cathia is eligible to vote and towns vote for local councils, local councils vote for district councils, and district councils vote for national councils. No one ruler leads the council, both so that no single figure could be captured or ransomed and so that council actions are as egalitarian as possible.

8/26/2017

Dawnbringer Veyara Eloh

Veyara is a Aasimar Paladin of Lathander. Her rank within that order is Dawnbringer and she is driven into the underdark by visions from her deity, who warns that a terrible darkness is rising underground.

As an Aasimar, Veyara has several traits which reflect her divine parentage, including faintly golden skin and hair.  Her eyes are the color of topaz and glow with an intensity equal to the intensity of her mood.  Veyara's hair is cut close to her scalp on the sides and the top is worn in a long braid that reaches between her shoulder blades, though she often wears it forward over her left shoulder.  When her divine heritage shines through, Veyara can summon glowing wings of light of the same color as her eyes.

Her armor is the color of copper and has the rising sun of Lathander over the sternum.  The pauldrons of her armor are rounded with a light wing motif etched into them.  Her breastplate is wider at the top than at the waist, but not enough to have a full hourglass shape.  She wears long tassets with joints; these reach her knees.  Her greaves, sabatons, and cuisse are less remarkable, but matches the armor of her upperbody.  She carries a Sunblade, coincidentally named Dawnbringer.  Dawnbringer's light is similar to sunlight, but when Veyara's wings are visible, it takes on a faintly neon blue tinge.

Brave and determined, Veyara often wears a peaceful, confident smile.  She is fit and strong, but not bulky.

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8/16/2017

Jaryae's Child: Simerlan

Simerlan is Jaryae's divine child. As Goddess of Transitions and Joy, Jaryae chose to experience the process of pregnancy and childbirth, having an offspring with Vayr.  As both are demigods, their child was born mortal.

Simierlan was born at dawn on the day of Jaryae's festival, the Feast of Joy.  A sign of Simierlan's divine heritage, the child's gender was often in flux.  In moments in which Simierlan was closer to the nature of Jaryae, he appeared as a male Genasi of Radiant para-elemental Soul.  In the moments in which Simierlan was closer to the nature of Vayr, she appeared as a female Aasimar with golden skin and glowing elyes.

This could easily have left Simierlan as an outcast, but the god and goddess left servants with children of their own to watch over their child.  In the countryside of Cathia, the blended followers of Vayr and Jaryae built a commune.  It was mostly self-sufficient so Simierlan rarely needed experience something from the outside.  It was a peaceful existence with people who believed in them and felt no awkwardness over their transitive states.  Simierlan grew up comfortable with their genderfluid state, switching from one set of pronouns to the other depending on manifestation.  As Simierlan grew, they developed an increasing amount of control over these transitions.

In his male state, Simierlan made his first trip to a city at the age of 16.  There, he found new wonders and excitement.  Up until that time, he had never seen to many people of so many types.  On the second night of the trip, he snuck out of the lodgings his protectors had purchased.  He came to a poorer section of the city and discovered a slum for the first time in their experience.  The moment moved him, and involuntarily, they shifted forms.  Simierlan became female, and several of the city folk responded in horror and revulsion.  They lashed out at her, the first time their life that they had been treated so.

She managed to escape them and return to their protectors.  They described to her that this was indeed a part of the world and the occupied kingdom of Cathia.  In that moment, she decided: she would not let that injustice stand.  When they returned to the enclave, they began training.  Two years later, they returned to the city where they had first learned of injustice.  It began with a teen girl, dressed as a boy, defended against assailants by a woman in shining golden armor.  A man in similar golden armor raided a brothel staffed with slaves.  A month later, slavers were chased into the street and left for the guard.

The city pushed back against this vigilante.  First mobs hunted for them, then actual units of the guard.  Still Simierlan persisted.  Others, many of them rescued by the transforming warrior in golden armor, joined the cause and soon the city was in open revolt.  That drew the ire of Cathia's occupiers.  They mobilized a militia and sent it towards the city.

Simierlan met with them.  In her female guise, she listed their grievances and explained that when slavery and the abuse of women and the downtrodden was stopped, they would stand aside.  The government declined.  Faced against a superior force, Simierlan and their followers withdrew.

As Simierlan returned to their enclave, the militia followed.  At dawn, at the very gates of where Simierlan had grown up, innocent of the thing that had driven their life for more than two years, the two forces confronted one another.  At dusk, only Simierlan's forces remained.

Those who had rallied to Simierlan began expanding the compound to accommodate their increased numbers.  Many began training in arms and divine magics, calling themselves the Children of the Dawn, referencing the battle at the gates of Simierlan's home.

Over the next four decades, Simierlan and the Children of the Dawn would strike out again and again against injustice.  Slavers, thieves, and those who taught hatred would find themselves besieged within Cathia.  The government tried time and again to broker peace, but as long as they refused to outlaw and pursue those who preyed upon the weak and marginalized, Simierlan would not negotiate.

In secret, a second order of Simierlan's followers formed.  They called themselves the Children of the Dusk, and they worked to infiltrate and expose perpetrators of injustice wherever they hid.  And after decades of hunting, they found a source of corruption within the capital of occupied Cathia.

Simierlan rallied their forces.  The battle took almost two weeks, with both gender identities of Simierlan appearing many times and in many places on the battlefield.  In the end, the Child of the Heavens and the Children of the Dawn and Dusk stood triumphant but worn.  It was nearly midsummer and though Simierlan still looked young, they felt old.

So it was that at the Feast of Midsummer, at dusk, Simierlan passed from the mortal world without dying.  Simierlan is not a fully ascended Demigod, but is rather a heroic immortal residing beyond the Prime Material.  Paladins and Cerics of Simierlan actually gain their divine spells from power that Simierlan borrows from their divine parents.

Simierlan has two main orders of followers.  The Children of the Dawn are protectors, healers, and vocal leaders.  The Children of the Dusk are spies, hunters, and manipulators.  Both work towards the same goals: the protection of those who find themselves unjustly outcast. The Dawnborn work through the law and in the open, shining the light on injustice and setting an example for others.  The Duskborn are the other side of the coin, serving in the shadows to find those who profit from injustice and plot attacks on the downtrodden and marginalized.  These orders are mostly active in Cathia, though they have intentions of taking Simierlan's work beyond those borders.  Similarly, worship of Simierlan is mostly contained to Cathia.  Outside of Cathia, stories are told of Jaryae's pregnancy and child, but the stories trail off after the birth and the divine child is mostly unknown.

Simierlan's symbol is a circle divided side to side; one half is gold and the other black, but both sides have golden rays radiating from them.  Simierlan is Neutral Good, but Children of the Dawn are often Lawful Good and Children of the Dusk are often Chaotic Neutral.  It is important to note that Simierlan identifies with both genders; to this end, Simierlan uses the pronoun of whatever gender they are presenting as in the moment. When referring to the entire body of their life, the they pronoun is used for Simierlan.

The tenants of the Children of the Dawn are:
1. Carry the hope of the dawn with you.
2. Help the downtrodden and outcast wherever you find them.
3. Serve justice, even in the face of societal opposition.

The tenants of the Children of the Dusk are:
1. Find those who oppress, torment, and diminish others.
2. Drag those who use the dark to commit evil into the light.
3. Help those he need deliverance to find it.

8/11/2017

Alchos: The Little Maelstrom

As the Feast of Joy was celebrated throughout the Little Maelstrom, a great number of street shows played out on the corners and in storefronts.  Children, especially young Genasi, gathered in front of them watching and laughing.  In front of a textiles shop owned by Car’onna Dawntracker, Alchos sat atop an upturned crate.  Car'onna had paid for a popular puppetry group to tell tales, but for this Alchos had asked, virtually begged, to play the role of storyteller.

His eyes flashed as he spoke, "The Little Maelstrom has become a key feature of Glasswyn, capitol of Odess.  And for many Genasi, it has become the de facto capital of Genasi culture on Eodria, if not the whole world.  But it was not always so.  Would you like to know of what came before?"

Several of the children nodded.  One girl, a Magma Soul Genasi, only just old enough to have lost a tooth, giggled as Alchos started the story once more.

"Myths tell of a time when Genasi could not settle, constantly pulled by their nature, or by Nature, from place to place.  Some Genasi, particularly taken with our oral history, still remark on the wanderlust of Nature's Soul.  Several centuries ago, however, a small troupe of travelling Genasi came to Glasswyn."

Alchos gestured widely as the puppeteers portrayed the troupe.  One of each of the Elemental Souls was represented, as well as children who might have been of Para or Quasi-Elemental Soul.

"Now, there was no Little Maelstrom then.  The Royal Palace, the Cathedral of the Sun, the Royal Library, the Grove of Melora, and the Stonehaven District had already taken form.  But where the Little Maelstrom would one day stand, there was a large manor with sprawling grounds.  It was owned by a man named Nhurein Dhishi."

A large manor unfolded beyond the puppets, sprawling and draped in black.

"Of course, in most stories, the travelling troupe would be good and pure and Dhishi would be corrupt, ugly, and mean.  But it wasn't so.  The troupe was tired and broke the law by camping on the grounds of Dhishi's manor.  Dhishi was well respected in the community, but wanted to protect what he owned.  So he called for the guard.  The troupe was driven away."

The puppets boarded a caravan wagon, which left the stage, only to reappear on the other side as Alchos swung his gaze from one end of the stage to the other.

"They wandered once more, but a year to the day later, they settled in the same spot again.  Once more Dhishi called for the guard and they were scattered. But the next year there was another troupe. And another. For ten years, the Genasi returned, troupe upon troupe."

More and more puppets crowded the stage, threatening to overflow the space. The pushed and jostled against one another and the cut out of the great estate.  Suddenly, the figure of an androgynous Earth Soul Genasi appeared, adorned in flowing robes of green, brown, and gold.

"It could have come to a riot, and it nearly did, but for the efforts of a Genasi named Volaris Aevus.  They coordinated the troupes.  Kept them calm.  When the guards pushed the troupes off of the land of Dhishi's manor, Volaris kept the troupes in Glasswyn."

The puppets retreated to the sides of the stage, looking on as the Volaris puppet approached the Dhishi puppet.  Alchos mimed joining them in their wonder.

"Volaris met with Dhishi, explaining to the wealthy man that the Genasi were called to the land. That they would return again and again, in ever greater numbers.  That despite Nature's Soul, they had found a place to settle.  Dhishi, as was his right, was not pleased with this."

Some of the younger members of the crowd grumbled, but their elders hushed them, nodding at the truth of the statement.

"But he was a businessman and decided that there was an opportunity to be had in this.  For their part, Volaris latched onto the same opportunity.  Between the two of them, they came to an arrangement.  All business done on the lands of the manor would pay into a fund to maintain the grounds and manor.  Dhishi, and his line, would also be given first right to invest in any business opened on the grounds."

On stage, the beginnings of smaller buildings began to rise around the mansion.

"Volaris secured free right of development for the grounds and convinced Dhishi to allow the land to be free of price of title.  They shook on the deal and, together, spoke to the assembled troupes of Genasi.  Because Dhishi's land was privately owned, the kingdom allowed the arrangement."

The buildings pushed further upwards.  None was as tall as the mansion, but they were distinct now.  Small streamers of color began to unfurl, mimicking the stalls and tents that lined the real streets of the Little Maeltrom.

"The first buildings in the Little Maelstrom were caravan wagons staked into the grounds.  The first businesses were those of Genasi artisans who brought styles from their broad travels to Glasswyn, helping the city to grow more cosmopolitan."

Now puppets of all shapes and sizes bustled back and forth across the stage, with Dhishi and Volaris holding to the center.  Alchos smiled theatrically at the scene and let it play out for a time before speaking again.

"After decades of cooperation, Dhishi bequeathed the land to the city on the condition that the Genasi not be moved.  As he had no heirs, Dhishi left his manor to Volaris Aevus, who had guided the growth of the Little Maelstrom dutifully.  Aevus, in turn, left the manor to the people of the Maelstrom.  It still stands at the center of the Little Maelstrom, a place of festival and gathering."

Alchos gestured to the actual manor, standing several streets over.  He smiled once more and clapped his hands.

"The tale is a link to our history and a reminder that if we look for ways to compromise, to help all parties find their joy, we can often avoid violence and strife.  The Lady of Joy blessed Volaris for their willingness to find common ground.  It is something we can all aspire to."

As the viewers dispersed, some clapping, some talking, Alchos stood watching.  The little Magma Souled girl smiled at him, waved, then scampered off.  Alchos laughed and waved after her.

A hand came to rest lightly on Alchos' shoulder.  Without looking, he said, "Thank you, Car'onna.  This is always one of my favorite activities."

"Thank you, Alchos.  Now, come help me get ready for the dinner tonight."

They turned and began walking towards the Dhishi Mansion, where preparations for the night's feast were already underway.

7/18/2017

The Worship of Jaryae

Jaryae is a Demigoddess regarded as a Goddess by the people of Kedas.  Her worship is particularly strong in Odess, thanks to the large population of Genasi located in Glasswyn's Little Maelstrom district.  Jaryae is regarded as the Goddess of Joy and Transitions.  Many pray to her to ease the difficulty of painful transition, but others interpret her call to be one of finding the joy in transitions.

Jaryae was once a Genasi.  As Genasi are tied to the elemental planes, so too is Jaryae.  While her divine visage is not reflective of any one Genasi subrace (or Soul, as many Genasi refer to them), she does reflect them all.  True to her role as Goddess of Transitions, Jaryae is constantly in flux from one visage to another.  One moment, her hair might be fire, flickering and warm.  The next, her skin the color of granite, her voice grinding and resonant.  In another she hums with the energy of lightning and moves with the grace of wind.  Often she manifests features of two or more Souls at once.

Very rarely, Genasi are born with Souls that reflect the para-elemental planes, such as Ice or Magma, or the quasi-elemental planes, such as Ash or Lightning.  While some Genasi shun those with these souls as less pure, most worshipers consider them closer to Jaryae; they represent states of transition between elements, just as the goddess represents transition.  Some take this to the extreme, as well, regarding para and quasi-elemental Soul Genasi as the chosen children of Jaryae, though this is not a mainstream belief.  Still, cults have occasionally sprung up around particularly charismatic para or quasi-Elemental Genasi.

In her role as Goddess of Joy, Jaryae is often invoked at the beginnings of feasts and festivals.  She is said to bless music, plays, and sporting events, especially those which bring together large, happy crowds.  Many Genasi in the Maelstrom learn to sing or play an instrument as a part of their devotion to Jaryae.

Jaryae's most common symbol is a wheel of four colors: red, blue, white, and brown.  Each fades into the next.  Many of her worshipers fashion jewelry featuring rubies, opals, sapphires, and axinites.  While many of these pieces feature equal balances of the gems, some Genasi who are particularly proud of their elemental Souls will favor one gem slightly; rubies for fire, opals for air, sapphires for water, and axinites for earth.  Some quasi or para-elemental Genasi use other gems in order to represent their own elemental Souls.  Jaryae also has two lesser symbols; first is a harp and fife crossed atop a drum, and second is the laughing face of an androgynous humanoid.

Jaryae's main church has an order of Paladins and Clerics known as the Children of Transition or more colloquially the Transitioners.  This order often serves as the protectors of feasts and festivals, as well as funerals.  While many are not trained as bards, members of the order will often keep an instrument with them that they use to bring joyous sound to happy events.

The tenets of the Children of Transition are as follows:
1. Help loving joy to flower; do not allow those who delight in pain or suffering to take joy from others.
2. Ease the transition of those who are suffering.
3. Add to the song of life; do not allow the voices of the downtrodden to be stamped out.

There are small number of Druids who see their polymorphic powers as in line with Jaryae's perview of transition and worship her accordingly.  Similarly, a number of Half-Elves and good Half-Orcs (as well as other groups which mix two racial backgrounds) worship the goddess because of her acceptance of those who are between two states (or in their case, races).  Similarly, Jaryae is often worshiped by those who are transgender, genderfluid, or some other forms of genderqueer.  Jaryae is also sometimes worshiped by those undergoing puberty, midlife changes, or the decline of old age, hoping to ease or improve those transitional periods of life.

7/12/2017

Alchos: Labyrinth

The Royal Library of Odess was a maze in the open areas and moreso in the restricted stacks.  But few had access to the deepest levels, which were a literal labyrinth, designed to keep out those who might try to penetrate the records of the Odess Intelligence Service.  Alchos navigated it with ease, barely paying attention to Zephyr, who had come to him saying that the librarians in the records department had information to share with him.

He knocked twice, paused, then knocked three more times.  Zephyr, had it had eyes, would have rolled them, but settled for pushing the door open.  Inside several figures hustled about, from research desks to the stacks, putting notes into tubes that would take them to the levels above, moving into rooms held private for magical sendings.  At one bookcase, a large figure with a complex braid stood with her back to the door.  Zephyr stopped at her side and hummed.

She shelved the book she was looking over and glanced down to the elemental.  Seemingly realizing why he was there, she started and looked around to Alchos.  The Genasi smiled and waved. "Hey, Tami."

"Oh, Alchos!  You're here, good.  I found something on what you'd asked me to research," the Half-Orc responded, smoothing her dress.

"Fire away," responded Alchos, smiling.

She paused for a second, unused to such glibness from superiors. "Ok, I looked into the few words you recalled from your encounter. They didn't come up in virtually any of the languages regularly spoken in Odess."

"So they're a mystery?"

"Not exactly. A couple were similar to Ignan and Terran. One may have been drawn from... From Yuan-ti."

Tami paused, her face carefully neutral. Alchos rolled his shoulders uncomfortably.

"Honestly, that's a shaky connection. No one really speaks Yuan-ti. No one sane or who isn't a Yuan-ti, anyways."

"Ignan, Terran, and... Yuan-ti. Maybe the Ignan and Terran had to do with the souls of the Genasi?"

"That was my assumption as well. The words themselves lethu and lej... In Ignan, lathun is 'servitors.'  Terran uses ladge for 'individuals.' They clearly share some ancestral root for 'people' with modifying suffixes, which makes some sense. It is said the elementals once shared a home..."

She paused, rubbing her hands together. "Kelur is a Yuan-ti word for 'god.' I was unaware that those creatures of madness had gods as we know them, but perhaps they created it once they encountered those of us."

Alchos grimaced. "Jaryae, let this pass. I'd much rather the snake-folk stay a tale of the past."

Tami nodded.  "In any event, it seems the whole thing was a sort of ritual.  Something about their souls and a god.   Nothing good if it is related to the Yuan-ti."

Alchos nodded in agreement. "Nothing good."

Silenced stretched for a moment before Alchos sighed. "Keep researching, Tami.  This only confirms that we need to know what's going on. But be careful! If things get weird, if you even get a whiff of the idea that someone is following you over this information, go straight to Agent Shenre.  Goddess' mirth! Go straight to Master Bevelford."

Tami looked irritated but nodded.  Under her breath, Alchos heard her whisper, "I'm an operative of Odess Intelligence, too. I can take care of myself."

As he left, Alchos made a mental note to ask Melechae to look in on her.  Something is seriously wrong and we can't let it get any further ahead of us...