Chief Deities of the Verentian Empire
Ardastra: Death goddess and moon goddess, Ardastra is a triple-breasted vampire-witch. She sends out demons to haunt men's dreams, or hunts them down at night with a pack of hell creatures.
She is frequently depicted as the loser in a match against the forthright Arigais, whose machismo is undaunted by her wiles.
Arigais: Champion, son of Maladun and Riga, patron of athletes and gladiators. Arigais is the personification of fitness and health. A dedication is made to him before any athletic event, and shrines to him are ubiquitous in the Empire's various gladiator and athlete schools.
His largest temple is in Ascalis, but large temples also exist in Bourdonne and Girlide.
Ather: An old Sea god not much worshipped any more since the rise of Lodretta's cult. He is still remembered by sailors and honored at many harborside establishments, but he has no priesthood.
Clister: God of the Underworld and Master Assassin. Clister gained the latter appellation when members of his cult began the practice during the political unrest of the Succession Wars.
Clister is often depicted as a large black cat. His cult has a strong presence in Bourdonne, but Clister is also the patron of Ventria.
Hattedran: Messenger, god of eloquence, wisdom, and patron of merchants and roads. His shrines are built on roadsides, at marketplaces, and at embassies. Hattedran is extremely popular among the urban populace, and invoked to bring wealth and fortune.
Hattedran is the patron god of the city of Tirreter.
Maletta: Goddess of learning and knowledge, she is patron of the city of Maldonne. Statues are erected of her to adorn the public spaces of large schools and libraries.
Her cult also enjoys great popularity in Tirreter.
Maladun: Sky god borrowed from the Goerthans. Although ostensibly the chief god of the Verentian cult, Maladun has never acquired great popularity in Sevalia. Most peasants still worship the old Ellicarian moon deities, and Sardians have their civic patron deities.
Maladun's temple adorns the prominent position in Ascalis. He occupies the central position of the Temple of the Imperial Cult, and also has a temple within the Selatrien (the Emperor's City).
Mard/Paxar: War gods. Paxar is no longer popular, though still remembered. Mard, the son of Maladun, has been adopted as the official patron of the Verentian army. Indeed, the name Mardas is a popular one among warriors.
Riga: Mother goddess, wife of Maladun. Riga is not particularly popular among Verentians, as she rarely makes her presence felt.
Sabister: Smith-God. Sabister's cult is extinct, but vestiges of his worship manifest themselves in various smith guild traditions.
Selenea: Fertility goddess, twin sister of Seleter. Selenea is said to dwell in the forests of Rivardea, and is pictured riding a great deer.
Seleter: The twin brother of Selenea, with whom he dwells freely in the forests of Sevalia. Seleter is a fertility god, the patron of wine-makers, and often invoked as a means of attaining peak sexual performance (particularly among city-bred men).
Images of Seleter are often painted on the insides of wine shops and bedrooms.
Silaxar: God of the Sun. Each winter he travels to Braghan, and each spring he returns. He is patron of legislation and justice, and personifies Solar civilization. He is patron deity of the Aurelian region.
Visetta: Love goddess, goddess of manners and grace and patron of both polite and worldly society. Though married to Sabister, she has had affairs with several deities and many mortal men.
"Let the heat of the blood rise, let the loins be set afire, and let the howls of pleasure begin... Hoorah!"
Visetta is the patron goddess of Euridea and the wicked city of Bourdonne, from whence her reputation is gained.
Organization of the Verentian Temple
The priesthood works for the Imperial government and its members carry out religious festivals and ceremonies officially sanctioned by the state. The Verentian Temple operates on two levels equivalent to the Darian (high-caste priests of the State Religion) and the Grivellian Sadarias (common priests of the Popular Religion).
State priests organize themselves into societies according to shared beliefs and inclinations. The chief religious officer of the state is the Lord Pontifex (addressed as Verede Verentis), who resides at the Capital. Below him are the Lesser Pontifices (addressed as Rede Aurelia, Rede Lirsalis, etc.) assigned at the province level. In Verentian temples, each deity has its own priest, who is attended by a recitor, a monitor and a musician, and below them the initates and vestals whose tasks are to carry out daily observances and to supervise the festivals.
Also, no temple would be complete without its residential augurs and haurispices. These members have the special duties of performing divinatory castings in response to questions of anyone who cares to ask.
The center of Aristing civilization and knowledge, the lands of the Verentians and Sardians have always been the site of numerous mixtures of conflicting cultures. The mix of deities comprising their pantheon attests to a complex history. Verentians have only a begrudging respect for their deities, however, and apply their brand of politics even to their organized religion.
Public ceremonies are practiced once a week, on Templeday, when no one works. Burnt offerings are made at the temples and some prayers are uttered, but in general these places are not where Verentians get their religious fulfilment. In public ceremonies, a great deal of socializing takes place.
Verentians practise their true religion in private with either their family or their tight social groups. Such gatherings are intense, psychically charged experiences in which a true link and transmittal of energy occurs. Private religious practices in Verentis are unstructured and occur at intervals which suit the specific groups.
Verentians pray facing the Sea of Rue, a practice borrowed from the Goerthans. Since most Verentians cannot pinpoint the exact location of the sea, they simply face east.
Emperors Birthday: Varies with the Emperor. Darintis VII's birthday is the day before Selenessa of Selendes.
Founding Day: The founding of the empire is celebrated on Arigassa of Vabelurn.
Victory Day: Also called Vardelines, this day, Paxarassa of Larenelis, is the celebration of the successes of the empire against her greatest enemies.
New Year Festival: The Verentian year begins on the first day of Forendes. The holiday lasts until Selenessa of Forendes, the Vernal Equinox.
Midsummer: A festival in honor of Silaxar, lasts from Selenssa to Silassa during the month of Orinella; a bonfire is extinguished and relit on each templeday during the month. Much merriment is had.
First-Fruits: On the first day of harvest, offerings is made to all of the gods.
Harvest Festival: At the end of the harvest, offerings are made to Selenea and Seleter.
Night of the Dead: After the ploughing and sowing of crops (on Fendrossa of Fabelurn), the dead come out to steal their share. The priests venture into the fields to perform rituals of protection and warding, to ensure a good crop. Meanwhile, the seers make predictions for the harvest.
Longest Night: Winter solstice, which occurs on Selenessa of Clisenelis, is the festival of rebirth.