Like all else supernal in the universe, the goddess Maorth is a product of the Collision – created from the energies of chaos. Whether or not she started her existence as a death goddess is subject to scholarly debate, but for her 12000 years of existence, she has been regarded as one by all the cultures that have associated with her in any way.
She takes many forms, but the one she is frequently depicted is a young girl with cherubic features, a mop of unruly hair, wearing a long black shift. Another guise is that of a tall woman, ebon of hue, face concealed by a featureless mask. In her hands she holds a bleeding heart, and an hourglass. Her symbol, which doesn’t vary between cultures, is a heart grasped in a skeletal hand.
The young girl guise is thought to be representative of Maorth’s mordant humour by many scholars. That a deity that signifies the end of life in the form of something at the beginning of theirs is symbolic of the contempt that supernals hold most mortal races in.
Maorth’s demesne is the Estate of Kamonva. This is a huge house surrounded by an insurmountable wall that the goddess places in the world wherever whim and necessity take her. Ordinarily, Maorth keeps the Estate in the middle reaches of Hjoll but at times will bring her home onto Fels.
It is not known what Kamonva is or what it means. The goddess herself does not tell.
It is a manse of countless rooms linked by lightless corridors, voiced only by sighs, and cold deathly winds. Maorth dwells in a chamber at the very heart of the Estate. This is a broad circular room in which rages the Blackfire, the unholy dark conflagration that is emblematic of the goddess and death itself. The Blackfire absorbs all light and warmth that touches is, and any flesh that touches it is rendered skeletal.
Surrounding Maorth’s adytum is the Grove of Miosyne. This is a large arboretum nourished by raindrops of liquid death, illuminated by light the colour of old blood. The plants that grow here are found nowhere else, and to touch them without Maorth’s let is to become sustenance for them. The exact nature of the Grove has been debated, as has the meaning of Miosyne, but again, Maorth is silent.
To enter uninvited into the Estate is to court an eternity of imprisonment, lost in the darkling maze of halls and chambers, forever bereft of fellow human company. As the goddess makes it exceedingly difficult to even find her Estate, let alone enter it unbidden, this fate is reserved for the most resourceful and daring of explorers.
And like all supernal beings, she is known by many names, with Maorth as the one used by the folk of the Three Rivers. Her most common epithet is She Who is the End, as to die is to figuratively meet Maorth in the folklore and superstitions of those who fear her. In reality, few ever encounter her, as she secludes herself from worldly affairs.
Life and Death
Maorth alone holds the secrets to life and death, and is responsible for every undead being. All necromancy works through her. She wrote a necromantic work which outlined how a corpse may be reanimated, but this was stolen from a tomb recently. The tomb was of a devout to the goddess Etesi, which led many to believe that Etesi and Maorth are one and the same, though this is not true. What is true is that the two share many traits and have allied on occasion.
Maorth is dreaded and placated in oaths more than she is worshipped, though this was not always the case. In the early days of the Three Rivers, she had a thriving cult of followers and priests, all willing to do her dark bidding. This cult was centred around the city of Quscec in the land of Orlanda north of the Khuyor Desert. Her temple was known far and wide as the Blackfire Abbey.
Both Quscec and the Abbey still stand, though the former is mostly ruins, haunted by legions of undead. However, a knot of Maorth’s faithful followers still hold on, keeping her worship adamantly.
Knowledge of Maorth, and veneration of her, are both rare south of the Khuyor Desert. Those that do profess faith to her are usually branded as witches and mercilessly hunted down. Nonetheless, small gatherings devoted to her do occur, and in secret.
Although Maorth keeps herself apart from the everyday workings of Fels, her orchestrated actions led to the destruction of two great civilisations in the north of the Three Rivers. One was the obliteration of the Empire of Girsadea, which once occupied Orlanda and the lands about it, and the second was the ruination of the lands of Marnopyre, a small continent to the immediate east of the northern Three Rivers.
On both occasions, she selected a champion to perform these deeds, as with all supernals, Maorth cannot directly interfere in worldly affairs due to the terms of the Mellifluity, a covenant that prevents direct divine intervention. The last Empress of Girsadea, Sosophra Ikananyar, was elevated to avatar status by Maorth, imbued with divine power, and given the remit to conquer all she could see. This she did, laying waste to most lands north of the Khuyor Desert.
In response, Cydain and the other gods empowered their own champions and finally brought Sosophra and her destruction to heel. The erstwhile avatar was laid to rest in the Tombs of the Timeless, a pocket Abode surrounded by extraworld stone and out of reach to her mistress Maorth.
It has been whispered that her body was resurrected by another, hoping to use Sosophra as a vessel for renewed dreams of conquest.
It is also been whispered that Maorth has chosen another avatar and seeks to despoil the lands of the living once more.
©1996-present Peter (Booth) Greenwell - texts and images CC BY-SA 4.0
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