26 August 2007

The Anari (IV) - Hara's Avatars

The fourth instalment in our series on the Powers of Light concerns the Avatars that look to Hara for rulership and guidance, and that serve as his personal representatives, governing specific domains under his overall span of control within Anuru.

Avatar of Elven Magic

Annistara’s tale is not dissimilar to that of her countrywoman, Miros; a wizard of extraordinary skill and power, she loomed large in the battles between the monsters of Bardan and the peoples of Harad in the eons of warfare that preceded the Age of Wisdom. Unlike Miros, however, Annistara was a battle mage, adept at combining arcane forces with blows, making her particularly effective against Bardan’s many magic-using minions. Annistara eventually attained the power to travel the Universe through her own arcane power; and her first act upon so doing was to seek out Miros, and offer to serve Hara. Hara agreed, and Annistara ascended to join the Anari. While there is no specific cult dedicated to her worship, Annistara serves as the focus for all Elves who go into battle wielding the sword in one hand, and the elemental arcane forces of the universe in the other.

Alignment: Lawful Good
Sphere(s): Elven magic, Elven magi
Sigil: A shield quartered, violet and white; twice crossed arrows in white; over all, a scarlet machilocated lightning bolt

Preferred hues: Violet, white and scarlet
Preferred weapon: Longbow / Longsword
Worshippers’ alignment: Non-chaotic, non-evil; arcane spellcasters only
Domains: Knowledge, Luck, Magic, Mind

Avatar of Nature

Csaeleyan is one of the original Minions of Light, created by the Anari shortly after the forging of Anuru. She is one of the Forest Maidens, the Skogrfljodr (as they are called in the ancient Yonarri tongue) that are mentioned in one of the oldest writings known to the Kindred: the Seventh Rune of the Tarinas Valtakirjas, the “Tales from the Book of the Powers”. According to legend, Csaeleyan, the Princess of the Woodlands, stood first among the Forest Maidens, an eldritch being of immense power and beauty, with skin, eyes and hair the verdant hue of the forests in springtime. So lovely was she that Maelgorm, one of the Avatars of Bardan, called by the Kindred the “King of Winter”, fell enamoured of her, and stole her away from the woodlands to his frozen fortress at the top of the world. The tale of her rescue by the Esudi hero Eldukaris covers several chapters of the Tarinas Valtakirjas, and features prominently in the Tales of the Wyrm.

Csaeleyan appears exactly as she is described in the tales; a lovely maiden of the Haradi, all emerald in hue, who walks the woodlands unseen, waxing and waning with the forests. All animals, and all of the Forest Maidens pay her heed and homage. She has a significant following among the Wilder Elves, who revere her for her wisdom and her power over nature, and she is widely worshipped by druids and Rangers as well.

Alignment: Neutral
Sphere(s): Nature, neutral forest creatures, druids, neutral rangers
Sigil: An oak in winter on a silver (mithral) field; an oak leaf superimposed, with a white Elven star, upper left
Preferred hues: Forest green
Preferred weapon: Sickle
Worshippers’ alignment: N, LN, NG, LG
Domains: Animal, Earth, Plant, Weather

Avatar of Elven Battle

Feynillor Freagan’s tale is a simple one. A captain in the personal retinue of Yarchian, High King of Harad, Feynillor stood in the line of battle at the Field of Oldarran against the onrushing hordes of the Uruqua. When Yarchian and his companion Jawartan, the Great Silver Wyrm, fell beneath the swords of the enemy, Feynillor led his turma to their aid. When all of his soldiers had been killed, he stood alone between the fire demons and his fallen king, and dared them to cross blades with him. Such was the battle fury upon him that he stayed the foe in their onslaught, and so allowed Jawartan, though mortally wounded, to escape with the body of the fallen King. Seeing this, the enemy howled, and rushed forward; but the dragon had escaped. Feynillor took up the fallen king’s sword and faced them alone, and was the last Elf ever to wield the Alurenqua. Although he was at the last hewn down, and the great sword, forged by Tîor himself, broke as he fell, Feynillor died with his head pillowed upon a mountain of fallen foes. And so, while he is not the focus of any specific following per se, Feynillor Freagan is venerated by all Elves who chose to oppose the forces of darkness by force of arms.

Alignment: Chaotic Good
Sphere(s): Elven battle, Elven warriors
Sigil: A black machilocated wall on a white shield; twice crossed arrows over; a white griffon, dexter, rampant, armée bow and sword
Preferred hues: White, black and gold
Preferred weapon: Elven greatsword
Worshippers’ alignment: Any Good
Domains: Competition, Glory, Pact, War

Avatar of the Wildwood

Istravenya may be one of the strangest members of either the Anari or the Uruqua. Although in outward form she more or less resembles a Wilder Elf, she is actually not a mortal or even an entirely corporeal being, but rather a quasi-physical embodiment of the uncontrollable ferocity of nature.

Istravenya came into being in the last years before the Age of Wisdom, when the Elves were falling back before the assaults of the Uruqua, and Miros had not yet brought the arcane knowledge of the dragons to their aid. Hard-pressed even to maintain their own strongholds, the people of Harad were forced to abandon the woodlands to the fires and fangs of the hordes of darkness. Countless trees were consumed and their inhabitants slain in their multitudes. Despairing of external rescue, the combined spirits of the great forests coalesced into a single being – an expression of pure force that took (and still takes) Kindred form, moving with blinding speed through the woodlands, appearing to strike at and destroy the enemies of the forests, and disappearing again.

Istravenya appears, variously, as a white and emerald streak of light beneath the trees; a common forest animal grown to ridiculously enormous dimensions, with glaring white eyes; or a maiden of the Wilder Elves (albeit an odd-looking one, naked and with mottled white and emerald flesh, wild, flowing brown hair, and eyes of blinding white). When armed, she wields a greatsword forged entirely of ravening white and emerald fire, that either slays whatever it strikes on contact, or transforms its target into some sort of forest plant or animal. Istravenya is the focus of a small cult consisting mostly of Wilder Elves and some druids, although most denizens of the forest, and all Elves everywhere, respect her much as they would respect a dangerous wild animal or a sudden summer storm. Her followers tend to be fanatical protectors of the woodlands, and have been known to offer Istravenya sacrifices consisting of individuals captured while harming the forests, who are staked out and left to nature’s tender mercies.

Alignment: Chaotic Neutral (Good)
Sphere(s): Druids, Elves, plants and animals
Sigil: Stylized black tree blooming on a white field
Preferred hues: white, emerald

Preferred weapon: Nature magic, natural weapons, pure force
Worshippers’ alignment: N, CN, NG, CG
Domains: Animal, Cold, Fire, Plant

Queen of the Fey

Shanyreet is among the eldest of the dryads, one of the most powerful ever to walk the Earth. Her origins are unknown, although legend has it that she was the daughter of Csaeleyan and Eldukaris (although no Kindred record mentions such a liaison). Shanyreet resembles an archetypal tree-dryad, appearing in the form of a maiden of the Haradi, albeit one with unnaturally brown skin and hair. She customarily dresses in similar tones, favouring long, flowing garments of natural materials, and she moves through the woodlands with all of the usual grace of her people. Unlike most dryads, when on Anuru, Shanyreet is capable of treating any oak tree as her own, although she begins to wane and fade if she ventures more than one mile from an oak; too long away from one, and she eventually winks out and returns to the Outer Planes. She has no significant following among the Kindred, but she is much beloved of the Fey races, and is the focus of their devotion. Forest-dwelling humanoids and centauroids also tend to revere her, as do the Wood Elves.

Alignment: Neutral Good
Sphere(s): Fey
Sigil: A towering fir on an oval white field, the whole upon a silver (mithral) shield, surrounded by three Elven stars
Preferred hues: Forest brown and gold
Preferred weapon: Club
Worshippers’ alignment: N, NG, CN, CG
Domains: Healing, Luck, Magic, Plant