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07 March 2012 @ 05:54 am
Fictional Facts of the Phoenix Empire Part seven - Gods of the Youh'Kai  
As promised, here's the installment about the Gods of the Youh'Kai. The upcoming stories will make all the more sense now. ^^
Please enjoy, and as always feel free to ask if there's anything left unclear.

The Youh’Kai have a pantheon of related deities that love and hate each other, who scheme and fight and bicker much like any large family. Though their gods have clearly defined duties, they have complex personalities to say the least, including some one could classify as psychotic. The Youh’Kai are fierce and passionate people coming from a tribal culture, and their pantheon reflects much of that. Youh’Kai gods are fierce, passionate and occasionally vengeful, and while mostly rather dark in their stories, all of them seem to be able to laugh about themselves. Legends about the lives of the Gods are plentiful, and serve as an important oral tradition and propagation of moral values among the Youh’Kai.

The Youh’Kai are generally very pious people, and almost every one will have at least a small shrine at home or carry one or more tokens of their chosen deity. Most Youh’Kai will pick a god they feel connected to and see themselves under his protection and guidance, though this dedication is often changed several times over the course of a Youh’Kai’s life.

There are small chapels to most of the important Youh’Kai gods in any given city with a sizable alien population, but large temples are very rare. If at all, the larger complexes are monasteries devoted to one or several of their gods, and are located far away from any major settlement.

Much like their human counterparts, Priests of Youh’Kai gods can conjure miracles, but those miracles bear the ferocity and bloodthirstiness (other say the sick humor) of their gods.

An important part of Youh’Kai religious history is the ‘War in Heavens’, a legend about a war between the gods that happened before the birth of the lesser races like the Youh’Kai and humanity. Little detail is known about this war, but apparently some gods betrayed the others, and a bitter war was waged between the two fractions. It is unclear which side won, if any, or if the war is truly over. The only commonly quoted fact is that we currently are living in some sort of armistice between the gods, and that the war might break loose any time again.

There are countless gods in the belief system of the Youh’Kai, but only a handful of truly relevant ones, most of which will be described below.

All those gods describes will have two ‘areas of expertise’ mentioned, which will be the themes and motives most people will associate with that deity. A third, lesser known association will occasionally be added, mostly to explain (humans) why sometimes a rather gruesome deity can be held in high esteem by the Youh’Kai.
When talking about Youh’Kai gods, it has to be mentioned that the Youh’Kai put much less emphasis on gender than humans. So if a deity is called a ‘goddess’ below, it only means that most of her depictions are in female form. There will always be imagery showing the god genderless or in the opposing gender, and there is no association between the predominant gender of the deity and the gender of his or her priests.

Ai’Nakara, the Lawgiver
God of Judgment, Propriety and Valor

Ai’Nakara is the first god of the Youh’Kai, both father and chieftain to all of them. Known for his furious rages, he is a harsh but fair master, and even though other gods often disagree with him, his rule is undisputed. He was the one who created the first light (the first fire in some legends), thus revealing the wrongdoings of the oath-breaker gods that led to the War in Heavens.
He gave laws to the people of the Youh’Kai that are unquestionable even today, and they still stand written on the stones of the stelae field in front of the Mar’Tecla mountain on Far’Gesh the way he put them down.
While the High Chief of Far’Gesh might be the closest thing the Youh’Kai have to a military and worldly leader, the Far’Gesh High Priest of Ai’Nakara is the undisputed and deeply respected moral authority of the race.
Iconography: Elderly, muscular Youh’Kai, holding a (red) flame in his folded hands.
Common followers: chieftains, judges, generals, teachers, policemen

Nach’Tarr, the merciful one
God of Death, Secrets and Deliverance

For a culture that evolved living in the endless caves of their home world, it is unusual to revere the god of darkness as a positive deity. But Nach’Tarr is, if not exactly beloved, deeply respected and revered, second in importance only to Ai’Nakara. His main duty is to gather up the souls of the dead and lead them into the underworld, where they will exist in peace and harmony until the end of time. Similarly, he gathers up all things lost and forgotten, and cares for them as kindly as he would care for the souls of the dead. He is the master of all monsters and things that hide in the dark, and will protect his followers from them if they are worthy.
In stories, he is usually shown as implacably calm, patient, almost omniscient and rarely speaking. Mostly, he appears in legends to calm his raging elder brother Ai’Nakara, and to act as voice of reason and compassion. When they disagree, he often concedes the short-term victory to Ai’Nakara, knowing full well that he will literally have the last say. He is also famous for being the one god who has never lied.
Legends know of only one occasion where he was tempted to go into the underworld and bring back one of the dead, when his youngest daughter Lûn died in the War in Heavens. But even then did he uphold his own rules, reinforcing the image of being the most reliable of all gods.
Iconography: Slender, dark-skinned male Youh’Kai (often without markings on his bone ridges or no ridges at all) of no discernible age, in a hooded black cloak or a cloud of darkness. Occasionally large, black wings. Often, he is described as being exotically handsome and kind beyond reason.
Common followers: Sinners, spies, assassins, hospice workers

God of War, Strength and Passion

The middle brother to Ai’Nakara and Nach’Tarr, Cor’Garun is a boastful and proud deity, generous and demanding at the same time. He is of a quick temper, as easy to anger as he is to amuse, and quite easily goaded into foolish actions. He is, though, a sly warrior and great hunter, a relentless fighter and man of great personal honor.
In legends, he rarely takes an active role, but his sons are all over the place. Each of his countless sons take the name of a cherished Warrior’s attribute, i.e. Strength, Fury, Perseverance, Dexterity, Courage, Stamina, etc. They always come up in small groups, usually looking for trouble, and if not sent on a path with a proper cause will usually be the villains of the story. If Cor’Garun appears himself, it is either to slay a mythical beast that Nach’Tarr is hiding or to avenge some perceived insult against the explicit orders of Ai’Nakara.
Iconography: Middle-aged, heavily muscled male Youh’Kai, bare-chested with two daggers, occasionally four arms and four daggers. Often described as moderately handsome but with an irresistible sexual allure, he is said to have sired more demigods with mortals than all other gods together. His sons are all young, athletic males, also bare-chested and each one sporting a different weapon.
Common followers: Warriors, gladiators, hunters, serial seducers, troublemakers, rapists

God of Wisdom, Contemplation and Inspiration

During the War in Heavens, young T’swane found out that his mother, the goddess of wisdom and knowledge, was one of the oath-breaker gods. Furious with anger and shame about her betrayal, he slew her. But even he didn’t know how to truly kill a god, so he bound her essence to her skull, and kept it in chains by his side ever since.
Still tormented by the fact that he had to kill his beloved mother, he is often portrayed as feeling unprepared for his duties as god of wisdom, and is often seen torturing the skull of his mother for insights he thinks she is still hiding from him.

Iconography: A young, three-eyed Youh’Kai male in simple robes and white (brown) wings, carrying a skull in chains.
Common followers: teachers, artists, chieftains

Goddess of Crafting, Science and Brilliance

Almost as proud and temperamental as Cor’Garun, Sia’Dar is brilliant, cocky and boasts the sharpest tongue among the Youh’Kai gods. Her fights with Cor’Garun about whether his strength or her weapons were more important to the outcome of a fight are legendary, as is her complete lack of patience. While she is a kind and generous goddess to those who work hard, she is famous for not suffering fools or leeches. Many entreating her for help have found themselves cursed when Sia’Dar thought they were trying to take the easy way out.
Iconography: A sinewy muscular Youh’Kai female with short hair in leather apron, a smith’s hammer (rarely: a welding torch, a sonic screwdriver) in her belt, often with crossed arms and some kind of pen behind her ear
Common followers: Craftsmen, Scientists, students, builders, artists

The Masked One, the Curious One
God of lies, arts and progress

As if the Youh’Kai pantheon hadn’t enough shitstirrers with Cor’Garun and his brood, the Masked One is the true trickster god among the Youh’Kai deities. Neither one of the good guys nor truly a villain, legend has it that he has fought on both sides of the War in Heavens, simultaneously. While the sons of Cor’Garun seek mischief out of boredom, the Masked One seems to have an agenda of his own. Often, he seems to attack encrusted notions of ‘propriety’ or an obsolete status quo. He is the one who kicks complacent gods into action when they have become too accustomed to the way they were doing things.
His relation to the other gods is unknown, but they all refer to him as ‘uncle’.
There are no temples or priests of the Masked One, at least none that anyone would know. And those who know sure won’t tell.
Iconography: rarely ever depicted, as he can look like anyone or anything at any given time. Occasionally, in images of the whole Youh’Kai pantheon, you will find one other god depicted twice in exactly the same manner. No way of telling which of them is the Masked One.
Common followers: Officially no one, and even if - would you believe them? Probably most artists and actors, though.

Lûn, the lost one
Goddess of healing, nature and compassion

When the War in Heavens raged worst, the Gods on either side deployed weapons so unimaginable they wounded the universe itself. Faced with then end of all things, the youngest and fairest daughter of Nach’Tarr, Lûn, gave up her immortality and sacrificed her eternal life in an attempt to heal the damage her brothers had done. For the first time ever, one of the Gods truly died, and her sacrifice shocked the remaining gods into an armistice that holds true until today. Some fear that the armistice has been broken with the Siege of Far’Gesh in 4998, but so far no one knows for sure.
Today, there are no priests of Lûn, and no temples, as prayers to her remain unanswered. Her sisters Ynagra and Khastai try to fill the void as good as they can, but the lost goddess is missed at every turn.
Iconography: Petite pale Youh’Kai female, white(blue) hair, naked but wrapped in her giant white(blue) wings. Often a (bloody) tear running from one of her eyes. In depictions of the whole pantheon, she is usually symbolized by an empty seat or a single white (bloodied) feather lying in the foreground.
Common followers: only very few followers these days, if any.

Goddess of Pain, Memory and Truth

It is said that the first victim in any war is the truth. And the War in Heavens was no exception to that rule.
Right after the revelation of their betrayal, the oath breaker gods captured the second daughter of Nach’Tarr, the goddess of truth, and tried to kill her, hoping to hide their misdeeds forever. But even they couldn’t kill her, and so they bound her to the rocks of the ever burning plain of Arr’Rat’tak. But much to their dismay, she didn’t despair. Instead, she laughed at them, yelling insults. While the flames ate away her skin, she realized that they also ate away the last illusions she had, and even though she could not free herself from the chains holding her down, neither could anyone move her again. Truth could now forever be found, easily, by anyone who cared to search for it.
While Khastai priests with their countless self-mutilations and -modifications unnerve even the most stoic Youh’Kai, they hold an important part in their culture. Every important milestone of a Youh’Kai is traditionally marked on his bone-ridges, a procedure that is traumatically painful under the best of circumstances. Creating those markings is a prerogative of the priests of Khastai, and even though ‘modern’ Youh’Kai more and more tend to take no such markings or substitute much less painful tattoos, only the marks left by a servant of Khastai will carry true weight.
Iconography: Stocky, female Youh’Kai, chained (to a rock) and wreathed in flames, often flayed, wide-eyed and laughing. Occasionally with plucked and / or charred wings.
Common followers: crazy people

Goddess of devotion, protection and sacrifice

Quiet and gentle Ynagra is the eldest of the three daughters of Nach’Tarr, and is the only vaguely domestic deity of the Youh’Kai. Little is known about her other than that she fulfills her duties with utmost care and reliability. Though well-liked by all other gods, she is generally considered of little importance and is only consulted for her ability to sense dangers to come.
The only legend that prominently features Ynagra, though, is a stark warning to those who would underestimate her power and explains why even the mightiest chieftains listen when a priest of Ynagra cares to raise his voice.
It was in the days after the War in Heavens, when the Sons of Cor’Garun moved through the lands looking for a new diversion. A group of young women had taken refuge in Ynagra’s home, and she had sworn to protect them. Soon enough, the Sons of Cor’Garun came knocking at Ynagra’s door, demanding entrance. Knowing what they would to the girls in her charge, Ynagra refused. Angered, the Sons demanded her to hand over the women at least, but Ynagra refused again. Furious, the Sons of Cor’Garun attacked her - but she stood her ground, alone, armed with nothing but a broom. A full day and night, the Sons of Cor’Garun assailed her, but no weapon and no tactic was able to get them past her. Finally, with the first light of the new day, they conceded defeat and slinked home, the only time ever the Sons of Cor’Garun were defeated in battle.
Iconography: A Youh’Kai woman with long dark hair, often braided, slender dark wings. Traditionally carrying an in’tla (a sort of spherical brazier hanging by a chain from a long stick, used to carry the embers from one hearth fire to another when tribes migrated), nowadays more often shown holding a broom with a bloodied handle for obvious reasons.
Common followers: lovers, mothers, nurses, housekeepers, suicide bombers, oracles

triptyxtriptyx on March 12th, 2012 01:36 am (UTC)
Is it bad that I would follow Nach’Tarr or The Masked One? >:D >:D >:D

But I also like Sia’Dar very much!! :D :D :D

Thank you very much for this information! *reads again* :)
triptyxtriptyx on March 12th, 2012 06:19 pm (UTC)

“M’leah serves Khastai.” K’lua stated.

“She does?” Thomar looked honestly impressed. “Wow, that’s great. She never told me which god she was going for.”

Makes me laugh even more now!!! :D :D :D

It sounds like Thomar is one of those crazy people who would worship Khastai is so proud of his friends career choice! :D :D :D
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on March 13th, 2012 06:36 pm (UTC)
He, thanks so much for reading and commenting, dear!

As I said, there's quite a few bits and pieces in other stories that will make more sense once you know more about the Youh'Kai gods - we developed them years ago, so several 'weird' things those Aliens did are quite understandable now.

An my personal favourite would be Nach'Tarr, I just love how he is so cool and kind at the same time. I really hope we'll see the day where he deals with his daughters... he's the coolest dad in the entire universe.
Beryllrynthjan on March 13th, 2012 06:28 am (UTC)
My personal favourite is Khastai. If we had a house shrine it would be to her. She is just such a fucking cool bitch!
Clodiametelliclodiametelli on March 16th, 2012 05:09 am (UTC)
An impressive pantheon of dark deities. I can imagine a complex mythology/theology being built around them over the milennia.
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on March 16th, 2012 09:31 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

They are a dark and pretty dysfunctional bunch, those gods, but I really, really look forward to have them appear in person in our stories. So very much looking forward to that day!