Gods Of The Empire

The First Four Gods of the Universe

The Heavenly God and the Heavenly Goddess, and the Earthly God and the Earthly Goddess, were the first four gods in the Universe, and the parents of the Celestial and Terrestrial gods. Mankind has never known their influence, however, for they slew one another in the primordial war before the Dawn of the Empire, and vanished from the Universe entirely, leaving their children to inherit the World and the World Beyond the World.

Gods of the Divine Court

Born of the First Four Gods in the Universe, the gods of the Empire were once members of two feuding tribes, waging the terrible and destructive Primordial War with one another. With the death of their parents, however, they grew sick of war, and with the marriage of the eldest among them, they came together to form one pantheon, the Divine Court. But despite their unity, the old division among them remains, for their very divine natures are tied to their origins in the Heavens and the Earth. Though they coexist as one extended family now, their individual peculiarities remain.

The Celestial Gods

The Celestial gods are the children of the Heavenly God and the Heavenly Goddess, born of the unfettered sky, and they embody the majesty and might of the Heavens. Though they look down upon the world from above, their interest and singular focus is ever on the world below, where their mortal followers and descendants dwell.

The Radiant Lady of the Sun, Kagayaki

Radiant Kagayaki is the eldest of the Celestial Gods. At the Dawn of the Empire, she ruled as the first Empress alongside her husband Senkō, the Shining Lord of Steel, and founded the Imperial line. She is fiery and passionate, but her hot temper is cooled by a deep well of compassion.

Her home is the Burning Dawn Palace, a magnificent and sprawling castle of paper and wood, with floors of polished bronze. Pillars of smoldering teak support a high and airy roof of smokeless flame. This palace hangs in the sky in the World Beyond the World, and is visible to mortals in the World as the sun itself. Though the Burning Dawn Palace is Kagayaki's domain, Senkō dwells there with her, and it is there that they sit in state when the Divine Court comes together.

The Many-Faced Lord of the Moon, Komoretsu

Many-Faced Komoretsu is a dark and secretive god, whose countenance changes like the phases of the moon. Second eldest of the Celestial gods, he is the patient master of the night-time sky, and privy to countless hidden truths. In the Divine Court he plays the role of both villain and spymaster, because it suits him wear both faces and pursue himself endlessly.

Komoretsu is the founder of the Musankumo Clan and the progenitor of the Komoretsu Family. However, even the Lord of the Moon is not without his secret weaknesses, for though he married a mortal woman who numbered among his followers, he conducted several affairs, most notably with his closest companion, Shinjugawa, and with Kyōmen, the Mirror-Veiled Lady of the Lake. The latter of these cost him dearly, for when the Lord of the Moon lay with the Lady of the Lake, their union threw the night sky into chaos, scattering omens and distorting the Heavenly order of the constellations. Tezō was conceived that night, and all of the ill luck that could not manifest in the sky fell upon him instead, and has followed his family line ever since.

White Bone Grotto is the name given to Komoretsu's home in the World Beyond the World, though few but the Many-Faced God himself know its location or nature. It is said that the Grotto is a stronghold carved of marble and ivory, hidden away behind the pale face of the moon and wrapped in a cloak of endless midnight cut from the fabric of the first starless sky, where every secret ever hidden away may be found— but such stories have never been proven.

The Thunder-Voiced Lord of the Storm, Natsurai

Thunder-Voiced Natsurai is the third eldest of the Celestial gods, and a tempestuous and mighty warrior. Quick to anger and slow to forget, he turns his implacable and violent resolve against the enemies of the Divine Court with the fury of a typhoon. Having found someone whose stormy temperament closely matches his own, he has long been engaged in a turbulent affair with the Foam-Wreathed Lady of the Sea, Murakimizu. He is the founder of the Akaishi Clan and the progenitor of the Natsurai Family.

Natsurai's home in the World Beyond the World is Thunderhead Fortress, a mighty and imposing keep of iron and dull grey stone built inside a perpetually storming cloudhead. Thunder reverberates from the pounding of drums along the fortress' walls, and lightning crackles constantly off of every roof-peak and battlement. Shrouded in cloud and suspended over the summit of a perilous and remote mountain, Thunderhead Fortress is practically inaccessible from the Mortal World. It remains among the most-witnessed of the divine dwelling places, however, for when the twisted servants of the Leech encroach upon the Empire in great and terrible numbers, Thunderhead Fortress will sometimes appear over the battlefield, raining crackling thunderbolts down upon the enemy and inspiring the Lord of the Storm's mortal followers to battle on.

The Far-Striding Lady of the Wind, Nishikaze

Youngest of the Celestial gods, Far-Striding Nishikaze is a wild figure of boundless curiosity. Her constant desire is for motion, for she abhors stillness and stagnation. Far gentler and more compassionate than her older brother, she is often a calming influence on the Lord of the Storm, but when roused her own anger can be no small thing. She is the founder of the Yoruukusai Clan and the Nishikaze Family.

Clever and persuasive, Nishikaze is the only god to recruit a gaijin divinity to the ranks of the Divine Court: Ezen Yalzarsan, the Vulture-Hearted Lord of Steppe and Sky, creator of the Tasir and Nishikaze's consort.

Restless as she is, Nishikaze makes no fixed home in the World Beyond the World as other gods do. Instead, wherever she camps, Eight Winds Hall appears, a low, broad house of latticed wood and hanging silks and furs. Intricately patterned carpets cover the bare earth to serve as a floor around a large and roaring fire that spirals smoke into the air through a hole in the roof, and a cool breeze blows through the open flaps of the hall's entrances, refreshing those within. Whenever the Lady of the Wind breaks camp once more, the entire hall dissolves back into the mirage from which it was formed.

The Terrestrial Gods

The Terrestrial gods are the children the Earthly God and the Earthly Goddess, born of the land, and embody the enduring power of the Earth. They are as diverse as the land from which they are born, and are less tied to each other than the Celestial Gods are.

The Shining Lord of Steel, Senkō

Eldest of the Terrestrial gods, Shining Senkō is a cunning and powerful god concerned with craft and governance. Though virtuous, he relies often on his guile and artifice to win the day, and could be a far crueller god were his stratagems not tempered by wisdom. At the Dawn of the Empire, he ruled as the first Emperor alongside his wife, Kagayaki, the Radiant Lady of the Sun, and founded the Imperial line.

Senkō's keep is Flashing Tower Palace, a sprawling and luxurious complex of buildings built into a ring of hills. Seven towers rise from the Palace, each pillared with intricately carved wood; at the summit of each tower, the ultimate roof is clad in polished steel that glints like diamonds in the sun, visible for miles around. At the Dawn of the Empire, Senkō and Kagayaki dwelt there together, and a great city grew up around the palace during their rule, for Senkō built his home not in the World Beyond the World, but in the mortal realm. When Waheiji their son came of age, Flashing Tower Palace became his own home, and his divine parents went to dwell in Kagayki's palace in the Heavens. Since then, Flashing Tower Palace has been the seat of the Imperial line, and a part of the Waheiji birthright.

The Iron-Hearted Lord of the Plain, Naibuki

Second eldest of the Terrestrial gods, Iron-Hearted Naibuki is a grim and stoic master of strategy and battle. Though dedicated to war, his belligerence is balanced by a strong sense of nobility and justice, and his code of honor is perpetuated in his sacred text, To Command, which codified the tenets of Bushidō. He is the founder of the Hōkiba Clan, and the progenitor of the Naibuki Family.

Naibuki dwells in the World Beyond the World in Iron Harvest Keep, a mighty stronghold built in the middle of a vast and rolling plain, where his servants train and march endlessly after death, ever-ready to serve as their lord's army, guarding the Empire against spiritual forces that would seek to invade.

The Craft-Wise Lady of the Shore, Saiu

Third eldest of the Terrestrial gods, Craft-Wise Saiu is gracious and graceful. Delighted by creation, she is the progenitor of countless arts, as well as of the systems of respect and courtesy that endure to this day. Though pride in her work may sharpen her tongue, she strives always to be a pillar of civility.

Saiu is the founder of the Sumihane Clan and the progenitor of the Saiu Family. Her marriage to one of Hakato's followers has been the source of many tales of romance and chivalry, and Saiu takes care that it should remain so, ever disturbed by the suggestion that, according to the bargain struck between Terrestrial and Celestial Gods at the Dawn of the Empire, she could by rights have been required to wed the Leech, eldest among the children of the Heavenly God and Goddess.

Shimmering Pearl Estate is Saiu's home in the World Beyond the World, a sumptuous tangle of buildings on a cliff overlooking the sea, airy and full of light and music. Artworks of inestimable value grace the estate's halls, and the buildings are constructed of rare wood inlaid with mother-of-pearl and jade.

The Clear-Eyed Lord of the Mountain, Kakusei

Fourth eldest of the Terrestrial gods, Clear-Eyed Kakusei is enigmatic and withdrawn. He is prone to solitude and contemplation, for he has the gift of prophetic insight which grows ever dimmer the more directly he himself is involved with the events he foresees. Contemplative and unhurried, his every action is measured and deliberate, weighed against the potential futures it might spawn. He is the founder of the Shuhōken Clan, but though the monks of the Illuminated Order bear his name, they do not descend from him.

Kakusei makes his home in the World Beyond the World in the Seven Star Observatory, an austere temple-complex high in the mountains connected to his clan's lands. This complex was not built, but cut from the living rock of the mountain peak, and stands with no seam or join of any kind, a single, solid piece connected to the bones of the earth. Much of Seven Star Observatory is open to the sky, and the Lord of the Mountain spends long hours observing the movements of the Heavens there.

Beyond the Lord of the Mountain, the Observatory is also home to much of the Kakusei Illuminated Order, and though remote and set apart from the mortal world, those aspirants deemed worthy of joining the order still manage to find their way there, though few know that the secluded and private parts of the complex are home to the founder of their clan.

The Gentle-Handed Lord of the Forest, Wamori

Youngest of the Terrestrial Gods, Gentle-Handed Wamori is thoughtful and observant. Intrigued by the nature of the spirit, he knows much of the World Beyond the World, and the more he comes to know, the more he sympathises with those he has met. Peaceful in temperament, he avoids violence where possible, unless commanded by the strength of his convictions to defend those who cannot defend themselves. He is the founder of the Negurakori Clan and the progenitor of the Wamori Family.

Shadowed Grove Manor is Wamori's home in the World Beyond the World, a stout building among the trees at the heart of a dark wood. No living tree was displaced to make the building; instead, trees so ancient as to be petrified were cut for the Manor's beams, and the whole building grew up about the towering oaks of the grove, which continue to grow within the Manor's embrace, passing through floor and roof to punctuate the interior like living pillars. Within, the Manor consists of a vast and sprawling library supported by living quarters, and the wisdom of the ages may be found there.

The Outsider: The Vulture-Hearted Lord of Steppe and Sky, Ezen Yalzarsan

Neither Terrestrial nor Celestial, Ezen Yalzarsan is wholly unlike the gods native to the Empire. Born of Mother Black Earth and Father Blue Sky, he was once one of three brothers claiming influence over the entirety of the vast steppes of their homeland, making no division between Heavens and Earth. When the Yorukuusai encountered his followers, the Tasir, he became fascinated by their wind goddess, and agreed he and his would cooperate with the outlanders while they were guests in his lands, in exchange for their aid against the fallen servants of his brother, Ezen Ayangakhol. When the Tasir formally joined the Yorukuusai upon their departure from the steppe, he became the consort of Far-Striding Nishikaze.

A god of death and rebirth, Ezen Yalzarsan was once a harsh and warlike master who drove his descendants across the steppe in search of battle, and whose vultures followed along behind to feast on the courageous dead afterward, carrying their souls back to his grasp and consigning the weak to torments. Since becoming the consort of Nishikaze, his harshest aspects have been lessened somewhat; now he ferries the souls of his followers back to the Wheel while devouring only the enemies of his people. Few outside of the Yorukuusai pray to him, for many still consider his ways foreign and barbaric, but though only the Tasir are his direct creations, he will protect and assist any soul that asks, if they dare to do so.

Wilder even than his consort, Ezen Yalzarsan claims no roof but the sky above, though he dwells with Nishikaze in Eight Winds Hall when they travel together.

Other Gods of the Empire

The Foam-Wreathed Lady of the Sea, Murakimizu

Though not a goddes of the land, Foam-Wreathed Murakimizu is closer to being a Terrestrial than she is to being anything else. Mercurial and occasionally bloodthirsty, she is neither related to nor affiliated with the members of the Divine Court, for their concern is with the Empire, and the sea knows no masters and no borders. The only exception is the Thunder-Voiced Lord of the Storm, who is the wildest of the gods of the Divine Court, and her long-standing lover, though their affair is tempestuous.

Though she has never founded a clan of her own, she is the adopted patron of the Clan of Spice, for their daring prowess upon the open sea has earned them her favor.

Crashing Reef Citadel is Murakimizu's home in the World Beyond the World, hidden away beneath the waves. It is a vast hall built of living coral and wood from countless sunken ships, decorated with all the wealth ever lost at sea, walls inlaid with pearls and shining under the light filtered down from above. At night the palace glows green and blue as the living walls themselves come alight.

The Mirror-Veiled Lady of the Lake, Kyōmen

Mirror-Veiled Kyōmen is subtle and deceptive, while presenting an appearance of placid openness. Her motives are largely inscrutable, though she does not seem malevolent. She is largely solitary, but in the past she conducted a lengthy and ill-fated affair with the Many-Faced Lord of the Moon. Though seemingly compatible, neither was a good match for the other, and their child, Tezō, was born cursed for Komoretsu's infidelity.

Like her one-time lover, Kyōmen shares little of her home, which is said to lie beneath a great lake in the World Beyond the World.

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