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Demonic pseudo-deities of the Underdark

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Demonic pseudo-deities of the Underdark

PostAuthor: Orleron » Fri Jun 18, 2004 4:34 pm

Here will be a description of underdark demon lords that act as gods. Most of them are spawn of Alifanitax, as written in the History of the Underdark threads.

This content is player-created and will be credited to the ones who turned it in.
"Truth has no form."
--Idries Shah

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PostAuthor: Orleron » Fri Jun 18, 2004 4:35 pm

A Brief Synopsis of the Cult of Qinoxitl
By Jentus, Kharakuro Sage (makeshiftwings)

Tonight's entry in my cataloguing of the known ta'nari assemblies is the Cult of Qinoxitl. The origins of Qinoxitl and details of her rise to pseudo-godhood are somewhat shrouded in mystery (due in no small part to the actions of her own cult, some would say). Her history, such as it can be pieced together from various accounts, follows.

Many years ago, the glabrezu Alifanitax maintained a tremendous harem of Vasharan and Kharakuro women. A lustful and decadent demon, he spawned a host of cambion offspring. Though many of the women of his harem were proud to serve the demon lord even until they were eaten, others found it a wretched existence and sought escape. From most accounts, Qinoxitl's mother fled Alifanitax's harem shortly after becoming impregnated. Details of this woman are vague, but she was most likely a Vasharan, and most likely quite mad, judging by what little is told of her and madness being a common side effect of prolonged close contact with ta'nari. Her name and family history are unknown, and to most of Qinoxitl's cult, she is referred to only as "The Vessel" and regarded as relatively unimportant.

A common myth of Qinoxitl's origin states that her mother was actually pregnant with quintuplets, and that Qinoxitl herself devoured the other four children in the womb (some go on to say she was then forced to eat her way out of her mother's own belly when the woman died in some deserted tunnel in the Underdark). This belief is shown in her cult's references to Qinoxitl as "The Five-Angled Path", "The Pentagonal Mind", etc. Many of her followers also refer to her as "he/she", denoting an uncertain gender, but most outside the cult regard Qinoxitl as generally female, and for the sake of clarity I shall continue to refer to her as such. Though anything is possible when dealing with demons, I suspect that much of this history is simple exaggeration on the part of her followers. However, reports from those who have spoken with Qinoxitl seem to detail that she does have several distinct personalities, and seems to bear some masculine physical qualities, but this author would assume these are an aftereffect of a madness inherited from her mother and the mutation caused by demonic blood.

The much more verifiable history of Qinoxitl begins as she grows to adulthood in the remote Vasharan village of Ezdelin. It was here that she became widely known as a powerful diviner and prophet of disaster, as well as acquiring a reputation for being quite mad and prone to sudden chaotic impulses. A marked oddity in the character of Qinoxitl that differentiates her from other ta'nari and cambion, even those that exhibit similar signs of madness, is her fixation with such philosophical quandaries as the meaning of her own existence and the reason for the multiverse. There are tales of Qinoxitl's inviting great minds among the Vasharan and Kharakuro (some claim she has been visited by the mind flayers as well) to her tower for philosophical debate; some leaving with great riches and rewards, but most being eaten alive if she is unhappy. Philosophies aside though, she still exhibited much of the usual ta'nari traits, such as an inclination to conquer and a desire for power.

The Cult of Qinoxitl grew up around her, and is still a rather small affair based around her tower in Ezdelin. Qinoxitl is regarded by her cult as a deity of Hidden Meanings, Spiritual Enlightenment, Dark Secrets, and ultimately the "One Truth", a sort of philosophical answer to the meaning of everything that her cultists (and presumably Qinoxitl herself) believe, once understood, will allow the immediate sudden understanding of all existence, and by some theories, cause the entirety of the multiverse to cease to exist. By those outside her cult (and some within), Qinoxitl is widely regarded as a deity of Madness, Circular Logic, Unknowable Thoughts, Confusion, and Things Best Left Buried.

In recent years, Qinoxitl has stopped her expansion and conquering of the Underdark and sunken deeper into her madness, spending all of her time seeking the "One Truth" and raving about the meaning of existence. The other demon lords have largely left her alone. Her cultists say this is because Qinoxitl possesses some deadly secret about all the other demon lords that could be their undoing, but it is more likely that they all regard her as mad and harmless for the time being while they fend off larger threats to their power.

The mantra of the Cult of Qinoxitl could best be described as "enlightenment no matter the cost", as shown by some of the more extreme measures taken by some of her cultists, such as dangerously bargaining with the dead and demons for answers, boring holes into their own heads, and mimicking the mind flayers by devouring the brains of others. The Cultists also espouse a desire to experience all of the sensations that life has to offer, particularly the negative ones, under a belief that pain and situations that the body tries to avoid are the multiverse's attempts to hide some secret truth from them. To most outsiders the experiences they seek out seem bizarre and unnecessarily dangerous, and why they seem to focus mostly on negative experiences is left to conjecture. Rumors circulate of people that have been abducted by the Cult and taken to their tower for "answers". Some emerge the next day, confused and reporting being asked nonsensical questions over a pleasant dinner; others are found weeks later, sometimes dead and cut apart, sometimes raving mad in an alley shrieking about what they had seen. Many observers share the opinion that the greatest threat to the Cult is itself, as many cultists have brought themselves to an early grave through ritualistic self-abuse, starvation, unusual surgeries, magical experimentation, and imprudent dealings with dangerous creatures. Stories are told of many cultists found dead in front of some cryptic text or summoning chamber, their faces frozen in an expression of absolute terror or elation, as if they had experienced something so incredible that their mind simply shut down. These people are of course venerated by the other Cultists, and many attempts are made to figure out what exactly it was that the person discovered.

In a radical departure from the progenitor Alifanitax's followers, many of Qinoxitl's cultists take on vows of abstinence, fasting, or poverty in an effort to transcend the shackles of physical comfort and free their mind and spirit for higher pursuits. Some extremists of her cult have even engaged in odd experiments in attempts to understand more alien cultures, like the weak morality of surfacers and the celestials, occasionally taking temporary vows of Honesty or Sacrifice or other such surface virtues, to emulate their behavior and seek a deeper understanding of the multiverse. Some cultists have been known to refuse to speak for months at a time, or speak only in rhyme or even backwards.

The Cult often seeks out and venerates the insane, under the belief that great wisdom and insight can be found in madness. Many of her cultists seem to follow Qinoxitl's descent into madness themselves as they progress through the ranks of her clergy. According to many, this insanity comes from experiencing things no mortal mind should know; but these are the very things her Cult seeks out and glorifies.

To many outsiders, the Cult of Qinoxitl is regarded as a collection of madmen and lost souls. But many also seek out their services, for they have a reputation for being accurate, though cryptic, prophets and diviners. They do not give information freely to members outside the Cult however, often demanding great and bloody sacrifice for Qinoxitl for important information, or accepting a trade of some secret or obscure knowledge for more minor information. Qinoxitl herself and her five high clerics have penned volume upon volume of cryptic, incoherent text, which her cult studies rigorously, trying endlessly to find hidden meaning upon meaning in the chaotic words. To close this passage, I shall transcribe a section from one such volume, entitled "The Interim Blasphemies of the Five Crowned Serpent", as translated from the original Abyssal as far as I am able:

"And on that night, given seventeen and six stars aligned in a broken path as was KNOWN and CHOSEN to be, the circle that is a snake coiled and coiled. Blinking tears of ash and spite it looked upon itself once and then a third time, saying, 'Gnih Tonte Y Sgnih Tllam Ai!' and proceeded to swim into a nightmare stream. Various elite of the maggot kingdom SAW this and bowed LOW enough that the earth trembled in spasms of delight and anguish. This, as all things, is a lie."
"Truth has no form."
--Idries Shah

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PostAuthor: Orleron » Thu Oct 20, 2005 4:44 pm

The Dead Dreamer
By Silver Dreams


The Path of Ascendant Dreams is a cult whose beginnings lie in the endless war fought deep in the caverns of Avlissian Underdark. After the Demonspawn Wars, in the time known as Invader Period, races of otherworldy aberrations begun to make inroads on the populations of Vasharan and Kharakuro. Illithids and Eye Tyrants brought their eldritch powers to the battle of supremacy, and their presence was noted.
The near-god demon king Kimonicticus understood the power and threat the alien beings presented, and he conceived an experimental weapon to harness that power. He fused a piece of his own flesh to a captive mind flayer and beholder and sought to create a being that would serve him while possessing the powers of both races. Thus was born the being now known simply as the Dead Dreamer.

Kimonicticus' experiment was both a failure and a success. The demonic aberrant being he created possessed great power, but its mind was warped from beginning. It proved too unstable for even Kimonicticus to control, and so he secretly made sure it would fall in a battle against the demon king's enemies. In a cataclysmic confrontation between the hybrid monster and some powerful spawn of Alifanitax, a part of the Underdark collapsed. The dying Dreamer crawled into bottom of an underground lake, and there it stayed.

However, the demonic spark of Kimonicticus would not die so easily. In the deep darkness of the lake, the monster lie halfway between life and death. It dreamed of alien visions, of battle, and still it remained faithful to its 'father' Kimonicticus. It grew in the lake, and unable to move, it sent out mental probes to whoever would hear them.

The first to hear the silent call of the monster started the cult now known as the Path of Ascendant Dreams. A lone Vasharan whose name is unimportant found the lake, drank its waters, and slept by its shore. He saw the dreams of the Dreamer, and was immediately driven insane. His sanity could not cope with the alien visions of the hybrid monster's sleep. However, before he died, he wrote the six stone tablets that would begin the cult of the Dreamer. Stumbling to a Vasharan village, he left the tablets for the people to read, and shambled off to die.

Now that the monster knew how to reach the minds of those nearby, it reached out and grasped receptive minds around it. Now and then a lone kharakuro or vasharan would be touched the dreams and become and cleric of the beast. For some, it was a result of voluntary meditation. For some, it was simply bad luck.

The clerics of the Dreamer cult have only one goal. They wish to find the lost lake where their god sleeps and awaken it. It is their belief that the awakening of the Dead Dreamer will bring about a new golden age where Kimonicticus and his kin will cast out the gods of Avlis and rule in their stead. Of course, the chosen of the Dreamer will be honored and elevated for bringing this enlightenment to the world. This is why the cult of Kimonicticus tolerates the Dreamer cult, and even finds it useful.

The cult, however, has many problems. The location of the Lake is not known to anyone. There are rumors of secret priests who tend the dreaming demigod, and some even say the original writer of the Six Tablets of Dreaming still lives somewhere. Nobody knows how to awaken the god even if he could be found. The Tablets are supposed to provide the answer, but there are as many interpretations of them as there are worshipers. The most common one is that the one who finds the true name of the beast will be able to awaken it.

It is also not easy to walk on the Path of Ascendant Dreams. Every night in their sleep the clerics dream the Dreams of their god. Visions of glorious battles and strange creatures fill their minds. For weaker ones, this is too much. Suicides are not unusual for novice priests. Those who are strong enough seem often quiet and thoughtful, even philosophical.
However, the benefits of service are real. The Dreamer provides his clerics with divine magic. The small cult draws both Vasharan, Kharakuro and even some aberration clerics. The cult is almost unknown outside Underdark. The Dreamer simply cannot reach through all the rock and soil except on some especially unholy nights.

The question remains: Are those who walk the Path of Ascendant Dreams harbingers of demonic apocalypse on Avlis, or merely deluded victims of an elder horror that refuses to die – and which should never have even existed?

Priest Alignment: Neutral Evil – most shreds or morality of the priests are blown away by the strange visions they experience every night in their sleep. Some wish to inflict the blessing/curse of the Dreams to unwilling victims. Fortunately, this rarely works.

Domains: Dead Dreamer provides its followers with following clerical domains. A typical follower has one of the first three and one of the last three domains:
Evil: The beast's essence is inherently evil.
Magic: The Dreamer's alien powers warp reality at will.
Knowledge: Cult searches constantly for lost secrets.
Death: The Dreamer is half-dead, half-alive.
Animal: Mainly for the ability to polymorph into an aberration.

The Deity: The Dreamer itself is now a huge bowl of aberrant flesh deep at the bottom of the lake. It roughly resembles a giant Illithid elder brain. However, on top of it there is a fanged mouth. Huge tentacles sprout from the brain matter at random, and each ends in a beholder-like eye. This is only known through the Dream-visions, since no cultist actually knows where the lake is.

Classes: Almost all clerics have at least one level of psion, since those with mental powers are most likely to hear the Dreamer.
"Truth has no form."
--Idries Shah

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