Nine deities dominate the world of Chalandris: Three primary and six secondary, but although they differ in significance, all nine are roughly equal in power. The primary deities are Gideon, the Lord of Light; Belial, the Deceiver; and Chalandris, the Spirit of the World – being also the world’s namesake. The secondary deities are Viviane, Queen of the May; Oberon, King of the Green; Morrigan, the Destroyer; Lilith, Mistress of Shadow; Samael, the Dreadful; and Bethany, the White Lady.
The nine deities differ most significantly in the degrees to which they embrace or reject the two Ineffable Urges: Evil and Passion. A particular deity may embrace one and reject the other, embrace or reject both, embrace or reject one and remain ambivalent about the other, or be ambivalent regarding both. The nine deities of the World of Chalandris embody each possible combination of these choices. Therefore, three of the deities embrace Passion and three reject it. Another three are ambivalent regarding passion. Similarly, three deities embrace Evil and three reject it. Another three remain ambivalent toward it.
These are The Nine. Each with their unique combination of Evil and Passion, they all seek to promote their view in the world, cooperating with those they have common cause against those they naturally oppose. With conflicting views regarding both Evil and Passion, sometimes deities that might be motivated to help each other to promote Passion may well be opposed to each other in the promotion of Evil, and the permutations o those conflicts are eternal. Being incorporeal, the deities cannot confront each other or do anything to each other directly. The only manner in which the deities can promote themselves over the deities they oppose is to work with mortal beings in the world who support them and their cause.
But of course it’s not as straightforward as that because there is a tremendous difference between the deities as they truly exist and the deities as mortal beings perceive them to be. Limited perception and the distortion of time have combined to completely mangle the truth. What mortal beings have, in the absence of Truth is Faith, and as we are about to see, Faith in the World of Chalandris is another thing entirely.
During the time at the start of The First Cycle: No Redemption for the Wicked, two faiths dominate the world of Chalandris: The Golden Rule and The Greenway, each of which bearing little more than a passing resemblance to the truth. In addition, these two faiths largely mimic each other in mirror-fashion, with the ‘righteously good’ deities of one faith becoming the ‘insidiously evil’ deities of the other. This establishes the two faiths in direct opposition to each other, and while the opposition has never erupted into bloodshed during recorded history, it is part of the doctrine of both faiths that they did do battle long ago. Each faith teaches that they were the victors of that ancient struggle and that the other faith is a resurgence of heresy. The origins of the respective faiths are lost to antiquity, but each faith believes it is the oldest and ‘true’ faith and the other is a more recent ‘heresy’.
The Two Faiths
THE GOLDEN RULE:
Belief: Those who adopt The Golden Rule as their faith call themselves ‘Believers’, adopted from the doctrine that to have a happy life in the Hereafter one must “believe in the Golden Rule”. The Golden Rule recognizes four “celestial luminaries”, two divine and two infernal.
The Divine God and Goddess:
“Believers” believe that Gideon, the Lord of Light and Bethany, the White Lady rule all of existence. “Believers” also believe that the deities revered by followers of The Greenway, Oberon and Viviane, are actually evil and hiding their true identities, which are Bacchus, the Horned God and Morrigan, the Destroyer. Thus, “believers” revile Oberon and Viviane because they believe them to be evil and followers of The Greenway are either horribly misled or an active part of the deception.
The Infernal God and Goddess:
Structure: The Golden Rule is modeled very loosely upon the Roman Catholic Church. Organized according to a hierarchical structure, the faith is led by a single authority called The Supreme Hierophant who is advised by an enclave of Golden Prelates who function similarly to Roman Catholic Cardinals. Each of the Golden Prelates oversees a number of Reverend Lords who are responsible for the administration of a particular territory, like a Roman Catholic Archbishop.
Worship: “Believers” worship by invoking blessings from the Lord of Light in a prayer recited each morning at Daybreak, invoking blessings from the White Lady in another prayer recited at Evenfall, and attend services whenever possible at their local church. Days are sacred to “believers”, but there is no particularly sacred day of the week as all days are meant to be treasured and treated with equal reverence. “Believers” are only expected to attend one service per week, but may attend as many as they like. Services are held each day for this purpose.
Belief: Those who adopt The Greenway as their faith call themselves ‘Followers’, adopted from the doctrine that to have a happy life in the Hereafter one must “follow The Greenway”. Like The Golden Rule, The Greenway also recognizes four “celestial luminaries”, two divine and two infernal.
The Divine God and Goddess:
“Followers” believe that Oberon, King o’ the Green and Viviane, Queen of the May rule all of existence. “Followers” also believe that the deities revered by followers of The Golden Rule, namely Gideon and Bethany, are actually evil and hiding their true identities, which are Belial, the Deceiver and Lilith, the Dark Mistress. Thus, “followers” revile Gideon and Bethany because they believe them to be evil and believers in The Golden Rule are either horribly misled or an active part of the deception.
The Infernal God and Goddess:
Structure:The Greenway is modeled very loosely after an amalgam of Druidism and pagan worship, taking great license with both. The faith is not particularly organized, but has strong roots in tradition rather than explicit doctrine. Most services take place outside, weather permitting, and even inclement weather will not cause important festivals and observances to be cancelled unless the weather is unusually severe. There is no hierarchical structure, but in most areas there are recognized Elders who are well-steeped in the lore and tradition of the faith. Festivals and Observances are usually led by a Greenfriar, someone who is familiar with the leading of Festivals and Observances, and a Greenfriar may or may not also be an Elder.
Worship: “Followers” worship by invoking blessings from the King o’ the Green and Queen of the May throughout the day. Rather than memorizing specific prayers, “followers” incorporate these invocations into their conversation in an informal manner. Whether the King or Queen is the deity invoked is determined by the nature of the blessing. Generally, things that relate to the essence or nature of a thing will result in an invocation of the May Queen and things that relate to the laws of nature or the unfolding of events will be directed to King Oberon. Seasons are sacred to “followers” and they believe that the King and Queen ascend in the spring to reign through the summer. Then, their power wanes in the autumn and the power of Belial and Lilith rise to bring a cold end to the growing season. It is believed that Oberon will always rise each year with the spring stars, celebrating his victory by remarrying his Queen, with the fruits of their union creating the good harvests to follow throughout the coming year.
The Nine Deities of Chalandris are significantly hampered in their struggles against each other by the fact that the two dominant faiths on Chalandris have diverged so far from reality. The mortal beings they attempt to influence have increasing difficulty understanding the promptings they receive from the deities they are trying to worship, and some deities have lost worshipers entirely. While this might be good news for a deity who is opposed to such a deity, it’s not such good news for a deity who is hard-pressed and looking for allies among The Nine if one of their natural allies has no worshipers left in the world.
The First Cycle
The primary conflict in The First Cycle: No Redemption for the Wicked deals with an attempt by one of the deities to set the situation right. The method undertaken by the deity, the world events that are set in motion, and the people who find themselves embroiled in those events, sets the stage for Machiavellian schemes and brutal bloodshed. And it is in the midst of these events that the central character begins her own quest of self-discovery.
The Second Cycle
In The Second Cycle: Vengeance of The Chosen, one of the deities newly restored to their rightful recognition sees a need to reassert their authority over an aspect of life on Chalandris they have been unable to influence for countless centuries. The consolidation of that deity’s power draws a young noblewoman into this struggle and changes her life forever – and forever is a very long time.