TAZ THING: Seven Divines
There were seven divines upon the world.
The first among them was Davenport, also called “the Captain” – God of Hope and Leadership, patron of sailors and explorers, whose domain was illusions. Temples to Davenport sprung up first at crossroads and ports, places of rest between destinations, the priesthood providing shelter and supplies to travelers. Maps were particularly sacred items to followers of Davenport; his holy sigil was a ship’s compass. Small shrines to him became common in inns across the world, allowing for those passing through to pray for fair weather, strong winds, and good fortune at sea. His favor was often gifted to those in trouble, desperate prayers called out in stormy seas or harsh blizzards; travelers would often describe the sudden appearance of a short man with a torch in the distance, his voice and features impossible to discern, but whose light led them to safety.
The second was Lucretia, also called “the Journal-Keeper” – God of Protection and Family, patron of historians and martyrs, whose domain was abjuration. Her temples were stark, domed buildings, and they rose first in major cities and population centers, then in crisis areas and conflict zones. Her priesthood, clad in blue and white, were dedicated to the protection of life from suffering, and took many responsibilities upon themselves: first responders to disasters, coordinators of long-term relief efforts, chroniclers of history, and absolvers of sin and sadness. Relieving another of their burdens, physical or emotional, was considered a holy sacrament for her followers. Martyrs were revered, particularly those who lived despite the burdens they bore, but Lucretia’s favor was specific – her divine grace granted only to those who sacrificed of themselves for the sake of others without thought of reward. Her holy sigil was a silver bracer, worn on the dominant hand, bearing four triangles.
The third was Magnus, also called “the Rough One” – God of Strength and Courage, patron of warriors and craftsmen, whose domain was martial. His temples (sturdy but humble structures, more of wood than stone) rose first in the Roost of Ravens, and spread quickly up and down the coast. Magnus often answered prayers, but he was not one for displays of power. He granted grace to the weak, rather than the strong, and to the fearful rather than the courageous – his power gifted where it would do the most good. “Blessed by Magnus” became a common turn of phrase, its meaning dependent on the region: unlucky, admired, or merely overly earnest. His priesthood were well-trained in carpentry, considered his most holy trade, but contained craftsmen and women of all kinds. They rarely traveled, content to serve their local communities. They blessed new families, built public works, and railed against injustice and corruption – rebellion, it was often said, was Magnus’ unspoken domain. His holy sigil was a ring, worn on the finger or on a chain around the neck, bearing etchings of a hammer, a shield, and a dog.
The fourth was Merle, also called “the Peacemaker” – God of Compassion and Revelry, patron of skeptics and healers, whose domain was nature. Shrines to Merle existed in nearly every tavern, encouraging offerings in exchange for “Party Points;” blessings which protected one’s lucidity and decision-making, and lessened hangovers. His temples were often mistaken for taverns themselves, though many were often built with courtyards or atriums open to the sea air – beaches were a favorite place for his followers to congregate. Priests of Merle were selected very carefully as vessels for his grace; those who held grudges, or who were selective in their mercy, would never find themselves wearing his garb. Forgiveness was a core part of their doctrine. Those who were wronged were expected to forgive, and those who did the wronging were expected to accept responsibility for their actions and make recompense as best they could. His clerics often served as mediators for disagreements, and his temples functioned as hospitals and dispensaries as much as public houses. His holy sigil was a book with a wood-block cover bearing the image of an owl perched atop a bottle.
The fifth was Taako, also called “the Wizard” – God of Mischief and Magic, patron of chefs and lost children, whose domain was transmutation. Any commercial kitchen worth its salt had a small shrine to Taako somewhere inside; it was considered good luck to pray to him before a busy night. But those who engaged in transmutational cooking prayed to him most fervently; one of Taako’s most common favors was protection from poison. His temples were large and ostentatious, the interiors draped in silks and tapestries and filled with the smell of food. His priests were caterers and caregivers, devoted to the study and craft of both magic and cooking. They provided food to the community; free for the poor and the hungry, at a price for the rich and well-to-do. They took on Taako’s penchant for trickery as well – pranks and jokes were prized among his followers, as well as personal beauty. The truth of his heart, though, was in their most holy sacrament: the protection of orphans. No child was turned away from a house of Taako. His temples became orphanages wherever they arose. Special emphasis was placed on the young and unwanted, who were fed and sheltered and taught his trades for as long as they wished to stay. His holy sigil was a pendant, bearing on one side the image of an umbrella and on the other a wide-brimmed hat – his priesthood’s signature vestment.
The sixth was Lup, also called “the Resplendent” – God of Fire and Empathy, patron of arcanists and adventurers, whose domain was evocation. Shrines to Lup were made with candles or braziers, and her temples (never far from a house of Taako) always contained perpetual bonfires. Offerings to her were always burned, the more extravagant the better – towns would often use the demolition of a condemned building as an opportunity to ask for her favor. But Lup wasn’t easy to please, and certain things were required to be granted her boon; a sense of humor, a willingness for excess, a rejection of cynicism, and a total dedication to friends and family. Moreso even than Magnus, Lup demanded moral certainty – certain lines could not be crossed, under any circumstances. (Though one of the key texts of her priesthood tells the tale of how Lup herself had nearly broken her own vow, once; it was a cautionary tale, meant to impress the dangers of desperation and so-called “hard decisions.”) Priests of Lup were not mediators like those of Merle, or devoted to protection like those of Lucretia, but hers were finely tuned to the understanding of others; they may stand against something while empathizing with its creation. Her holy sigil was a torch, ever-burning with a cold, smokeless flame.
The last was Barold, also called “the Lover” – God of Love and Devotion, patron of scientists and the curious, whose domain was necromancy. Temples to Barold (colloquially called “Halls of Winter”) were always near to houses of Lup, connected as they were through an unbreakable bond. His priests, clad in red robes and denim trousers, would bless weddings, perform last rites, and engage in what was termed “bright necromancy” – allowing the living to speak with the departed, or usher unwilling souls to their final resting place, or bless their remains to prevent any future meddling from less savory magic. Curiosity was encouraged, but to be engaged with responsibly: necromantic magic of all kinds was not a toy, or a means to power, but a tool to be used for the good of others, and with the consent of the dead. His doctrine stressed connection and dedication to another as sacred, “anchors” from which divine grace flowed into all things. Barold’s favor was granted not to those who devoted themselves to knowledge, but to people, wholly and entirely – as with Magnus, “blessed by Barold” became a common phrase, referring to those who were head-over-heels in love. Barold’s holy sigil was a coin; one side bearing his profile, the other bearing his beloved Lup’s.
There were seven divines upon the world, though they walked upon it no more.
And their influence would never be extinguished.