10 August 2007

The Anari (II) – Vara

A little while ago, I covered the first two of the Anari – Bræa and Tîan – in the first instalment of what will eventually become a comprehensive look at the Powers of Anuru.

Now for the second part – the next of the divine siblings among the Anari, the eldest of the Gemini Sophum, the Wise Twins – Vara.

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The Compassionate One

Vara, the third sister of the Anari after Bræa and Tîan, is the elder sibling of Hara. The twins are not identical, but were formed from the union of the Forces of Anā and Ūru at the same instant, and share the same quiet wisdom. But while Hara turned his fearsome intellect to the mastery of magic and the movements of stars in the Heavens, Vara strove instead to understand the deepest mysteries of the Earth. Thus where Hara’s mastery of the most profound arcane lore evoked in him a lust to impart his knowledge, at first to the Minions of Light, and later to the Children of Bræa, Vara’s studies and investigations drove her to love all of the creatures of the world, whether of dark or of light; and to take pity on their mortality, and their brief span of time in a life that was often brutal, painful, and short.

It was Vara who first bent the magicks of the Universe to repair the ravages inflicted on the mortal bodies of the Children and the Animals, by fate, by each other, and even by time. And so, although she since passed her powers on to her principle Servants in the realm of healing, those in these latter days who seek only weal still venerate Vara, calling her Misericordia, the Compassionate One, in the langue of the Elves; or in the Old Tongue of the Dwarves, Ágýmana, The Healer.
But to the Yonarri, who mistrusted her as the bringer of an easy death, she was called Mjotuðr, The Fate-Giver; and she was thought to be in league with Tvalt, Master of the Long Hall. For to the Yonarri, as to their descendents, the bearded wild men of Jarla, nothing was feared so greatly as death coming to a warrior in his bed, brought by a woman’s hand.

Alignment: Neutral Good
Sphere(s): Compassion, Healers
Sigil: White Hand and a gold star on a grey field
Preferred hues: White and gold
Preferred weapon: Open hand / staff
Worshippers’ alignment: Any Good
Domains: Creation, Good, Healing, Liberation, Purification, Water
Church: Major (2): The White Hand (Mirabilis); and The Healing Hand (humans)


THANOS, Lord of the Waters
Greater Servant

As the seas were the first of the many parts of the Earth to be created, so was Thanos the first of Vara’s Servants. He has many forms, but the oldest and most terrifying is his true appearance: that of a white-capped wave, taller than a mountain, crowned with clouds and jagged spears of lightning. But this form is seldom seen; he appears, more commonly, like a Storm Giant of the Waters, mightier than a titan, with a fish’s tail, and the wings of a manta; and he bears a razor trident, with which he can summon storms.
Thanos, like the ocean, is a being of pure chaos; but in his obedience to his mistress, he is also merciful, giving life as well as taking it. He heeds the supplications of all who live beneath the seas, or travel on its surface, and does what he can to aid those distressed by the mindless might of the waters; yet even he is not omnipotent, and cannot reverse the verdict of the waves. Therefore sailors venerate him; not to bribe him, or even to seek his blessing, but to join Thanos in his respect, and love, for the only true omnipotence upon Anuru: that of the endless waters of the world.

Alignment: Chaotic Good
Sphere(s): Oceans, Water, Sailors, Sea Creatures
Sigil: Black waves over a white trident on an ocean-blue field
Preferred hues: White and ocean blue
Preferred weapon: Trident
Worshippers’ alignment: Any Good
Domains: Animal, Knowledge, Liberation, Mysticism, Water
Church: Minor (mostly humans)

VARANETH, Lady of Mercy
Greater Servant

Varaneth was the second of Vara’s Servants to be appointed. A maiden of the Haradi, nameless, black-haired and beautiful, orphaned by the horrific wars between her people and the monsters of Bardan during the Age of Making, she was scarred by rapine and murder at an early age; and, fleeing her burning home, concealed herself in a wood. The murderers – blind, shambling atrocities spawned in some sunless pit beneath the cellars of the world – betook themselves to the same forest to refresh themselves. The nameless child came upon them in their sleep, and would have slain them where they lay; yet she saw that they, too, were sore wounded; and so, in her pity at their wounds, but also at the foul perversions of the flesh visited upon them by their dark master, she made poultices, and bound their wounds, and brought them fresh water; and still, when they woke and saw that she was of the enemy, they slew her.

Yet Vara had herself been witness to the battle, and she sought out the spirit of the nameless child of Harad in the Long Halls of Tvalt; and Vara bespoke her, saying, “Who art thou, that layest only the hand of kindness upon thine enemies, when by rights thou shouldst have slain them?

And the spirit of the maiden answered, “I have no name; and as for thy question, I bound their wounds, and would do so again, though they slew me; for are they not mortal too, bound like me to the wheel of the world, and thus deserving of my love and aid?”

Hearing this, Vara said, “Nameless art thou no more; for thou art the true embodiment of the spirit that I wouldst fain send unto the Earth, for its healing; and therefore I name you Varaneth, which is Spirit of Vara; and I offer you my hand, and an eternity of labour in my service, bringing mercy even unto them that merit it not.”

And Varaneth took her mistress’ hand, and together they left the domain of Tvalt; but as they departed the Long Halls, Varaneth was heard to whisper, “Especially unto them that merit it not.”

Alignment: Chaotic Good
Sphere(s): Mercy, Healers
Sigil: White Hand and a gold star on a grey field
Preferred hues: White and gold
Preferred weapon: Rope or lasso
Worshippers’ alignment: Any Good
Domains: Death, Dream, Healing, Liberation, Purification
Church: None (isolated followers only)

XARDA, Lady of Healing
Lesser Servant

The origins of Xarda are ancient, but not mystical; one of the Minions of the Light, she was venerate by her brethren because she wielded a power unknown to her fellow Anari: with one hand she could bring a peaceful, restful slumber to any creature upon Anuru, and even unto the mightiest of the Minions, of dark or of light; and with the other, she could heal any wound, purge the body of any poison, repair any torn flesh, or quell any malady to which flesh was susceptible. Because of these powers, Vara sought her out, and made her one of her Servants.
Since the Age of Wisdom, Xarda has been the deity of Healing; and her followers share some of her immense powers of healing, including that of peaceful restfulness and slumber to those they touch. Her acolytes report that she appears as a woman of the Esudi, red-haired, and clad in a white cloak; but her temples oft depict her as she was before she became Vara’s Servant: as a winged Minion of the Light, gazing down upon the afflicted under her care.

Alignment: Neutral Good
Sphere(s): Healing, Healers, Midwives
Sigil: White Hand and a gold star on a grey field
Preferred hues: White and gold
Preferred weapon: Staff, Touch of Slumber
Worshippers’ alignment: Any Good
Domains: Creation, Healing, Mind, Purification, Strength
Church: Minor (Mostly humans, some Elves, Halflings and Dwarves; Healers)



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Note 1: This image depicts the cherrywood statue of Xarda, which is located behind the Altar in the ruined nave of the Temple of the White Hand in Bymill, where Gwen was taken by her kidnapper, and from which the Party had to rescue her. But that is a story for another day.
Note 2: Traditionally, the sigil of the followers of Vara, Varaneth and Xarda was nothing more than the White Hand. This symbol came to be seen as tainted in latter years, when the Knights of the Order of the Hand deposed the Vendicar in Ekhan, and took over the Empire whilst under the control of the Theocracy of the Hand. The brutality of the Theocracy was such that it sparked rebellion and led to the Schism (see my post on The Healing Hand, below), splitting the followers of the Hand into two groups: those who remained true to the Theocracy (and who retained the simple sigil of the White Hand on a black field); and those who accepted repentence and atonement, and who now employ the modified sigil of a smaller White Hand on a grey field, adorned with a golden star as the mark of their rejection of worldly wealth and authority.
Those who remain true to the Theocracy accepted exile to Mirabilis, and they continue to use the White Hand; but they have placed it on a field of red, to signify the blood that the Knights of the Hand have shed to defend their faith.