Gods of Old
Long before the world came into existence, there lived three Old Gods. But, as they began to fade, they regretted never having created anything worthwhile and feared being forgotten. With the last of themselves, they created a pantheon of six siblings that would do what they never had:
Ebris to guide the siblings.
Drea to create a world teaming with life.
Brisa to rule the unpredictable seas.
Leander to help souls find their place in the afterlife.
Astra to aid in matters of the heart.
Theodric to steer the living through their conflicts.
For thousands of years, the mortals worshiped their gods and goddesses, but with each generation, fewer believed in their existence. Ebris, like his creators, feared being forgotten, and pushed his siblings to do more for their worshipers. Drea, Brisa, Leander, Astra, and Theodric went along with their brother’s requests out of respect for him, but everything changed when Ebris ordered the continuation of the Ostran War.
Theodric began the conflict to reward the Ostran Emperor by extending his territory, but with every victory meant to end the war, Ebris forced Theodric to press forward until the entire east was embroiled in the bloody conflict. It wasn’t until the mortals assumed the war was a sign the gods had abandoned them that Ebris ordered its end.
Ebris ripped Theodric’s power away, calling him reckless and impulsive. None of the siblings dared stop Ebris for fear he would turn on them next. But, while no one crossed Ebris, the ordeal ruined their trust of one another. The gods and goddesses began to work as separate entities instead of one, and it wasn’t long until the disconnect caused mortals to turn away from their creators completely.
Realm of Theodric, God of War
A dirt path led away from the circular stone temple at the edge of Theodric’s realm, winding through a grassy field, and up a hill. A gray stone mansion at the top was surrounded by a circular wall. Passing under the entryway, the packed dirt gave way to fine black gravel that circled the interior courtyard. Turrets capped the corners of the twenty-eight room mansion.
Most of the rooms were covered in dust, and used for storage. Two bedrooms and a bathroom were used on the second floor by Theodric and his advisor, but the war room was occupied most frequently. High windows covered the back wall with seats beneath each. On either side of the doors hung an array of weapons—swords, guns, throwing knives—and, to the right, maps were tacked from the ceiling down. Books and scrolls lined shelves. The war table stood useless in the middle of the room. Theodric moved the colored glass pieces across the black base out of habit now instead of necessity.
Even in times of peace, Theodric was preparing for the moment that harmony shattered, but without his full power, he was no longer able to see things like he needed to. Hundreds of spies were scattered across the world to keep him updated. Three hundred male sacrifices were left living inside the outer wall. A sacrificial bride had never made it out of the main chamber of the temple.
Behind the mansion stretched a wide forest. Animals were no longer present, but a small brook laced through trees. Upstream, a waterfall spilled over the edge of rocky cliffs, filling a pool and feeding the brook. A mountain range began at the edge of the tree line, and didn’t stop until it reached the Between—a dark abyss holding the six god and goddess realms together. The threat of being banished into the nothingness was usually more than enough for Ebris to keep everyone in line.
Realm of Astra, Goddess of Love
White and gray columns held up a balcony that ran the entire length of Astra’s two-story square palace. A frosted pink and white skylight shone down on the double staircase in the foyer. Crystal chandeliers hung in each of the two-hundred rooms, and someone was always playing a musical instrument. It could be heard almost anywhere with sheer curtains billowing from glassless windows.
Despite the lack of belief, Astra would visit the mortals on a regular basis. Her walled-in temple was surrounded by six sets of four pillars. The five alcoves belonging to her siblings were each set at the top of a separate staircase inside. An infinity symbol carved from marble served as her altar before the pit with a wide, single-wick candle at its center. A river flowed near the entrance with paddleboats waiting by the dock. Flowering trees grew across the hilly landscape. A stone path lined with always-blooming cherry blossoms could be followed throughout the realm.
Most residents preferred to spend time in the common areas: pillows covering the flat roof to enjoy the stars at night or the atrium that opened to the entire first floor with a deep-set pool at its center. With seventy-five servants remaining along with seven husbands, there was always company to be found in either place. While Astra loved each of her sacrifices equally, she hadn’t truly accepted any husbands in the last nine hundred years. If the men chose to stay, she honored their sacrifice and encouraged them to find love elsewhere in the household.
Realm of Leander, God of Death
A muted sun shone down on the white, rocky landscape of the Netherworld. Opaque peaks protruded from the ground, casting shimmering blue and yellow shadows over the ground. The air felt frozen with the lack of life—still and unforgiving. Few sacrifices made it longer than a week before asking to move on.
The front side of the largest mountain was a castle made entirely of opal. With delicate carvings and pointed towers, it was something one would expect from a storybook. Inside, were sweeping staircases, detailed ceilings, and elegant archways. While no decorations hung on the glimmering walls, each room was covered in rich area rugs and comfortable furniture. A warm, green fire burned without kindling in Leander’s private fireplaces. Living alone, he never bothered to light the others.
The backside of the mountain held a more ominous purpose. A wide, black river cut Leander’s realm in half, keeping the waiting souls on their side of the realm. Leander was able to walk across the surface untouched to reach the dead, but if one of the crystalline souls tried to cross, they would be forever trapped beneath the swirling water with all of Drea’s failed, monstrous creations.
On the opposite shore, onyx pillars stretched up between two mountains on the other side, showing the souls what they most wanted to see. While they were usually calm while waiting, albeit confused, a riot sometimes broke out if the shore became overcrowded. Leander did his best to usher the souls through the looming archway to the afterlife in an orderly fashion, but it was particularly difficult in times of war.
Realm of Brisa, Goddess of the Sea
Against every myth ever told about Brisa’s queendom, it was not at the bottom of the sea. The stories, however, were right about it being a palace of glass. The exterior was made of a million panes held together with bronzed metal. A fountain at its front fed a lake around the building. The water filled the inside of the glass enclosure, mirroring the walls and ceiling. Interior walls offered privacy and kept out unwanted moisture. Bright white pillars held the solid structure up at its center. Hallways branched off the circular common room, providing rooms to Brisa and her household—now less than fifty men and women.
A rectangular slate temple with a curved roof stood nearby. Cattails sprung up along the white pebbles scatted around the perimeter. Inside, gleaming blue tile scrolled across the walls, forming wave after wave. A banner of pearls and shells covered the altar across from the sacrificial pit. Two semicircle railings stood on either side of the pit, leaving a straight line of site through to the glass entryway.
Most of Brisa’s queendom was covered in sprawling fields and gentle, rocky hills. Small ponds dotted the land, but a single river flowed through the property. The riverbed spilt in two; one branch of the river fed the Black River in Death’s kingdom, and the other dropped off into a waterfall at the edge of the War God’s kingdom.
Realm of Drea, Goddess of Life
The realm of the Goddess of Life was home to all manner of living things. Insects hummed over flowers surrounding a large stone cabin, and birds sang in the sweeping trees. Thin vines crept along the mortar, turning the exterior walls into a maze of gray and green. Lily pads floated above fish and frogs in clear pools. Further from the house, the neatly designed gardens gave way to a sea of trees where rabbits and deer roamed freely along with other herbivores.
With only fifteen rooms in the cabin, Drea’s one hundred sacrifices lived in a row of smaller stone houses behind the main garden. There, the women kept a vegetable garden and small orchards for their personal use. Domesticated animals were also permitted as long they hurt nothing and no one. Sacrificial husbands stayed in the main house, but the last one asked to pass on years ago. A new husband hadn’t been offered in decades.
The round temple hadn’t been used for more than Drea’s passing to the mortal realm or visiting her siblings for almost thirty years. Behind the stained glass door, ferns spread along the walls. Climbing flowers curled along the floral designs carved into green granite walls. Her altar was hidden beneath the overgrown roots of the tree planted behind. Mice now nested in the flower boxes hanging outside the windows, and birds in the eaves. With the lack of prayer, Drea had no intention of destroying thriving life to honor her connection to the mortals.
Amber R. Duell’s novel Fragile Chaos‘ release date is July 11th of this year! Bi-weekly blurbs about the Realm of the Gods and Goddesses within the novel by Tiphaine, a French artist and cartographer, will be posted here with more chances to win prizes along the way. The second map fragment, The Realm of Drea, will be posted on January 15th.
Realm of Ebris, King of the Gods
While the brilliance of Ebris’ earthly temples had diminished greatly, the one mirrored in the realm of the King of the Gods’ was as pristine as it did the day it was created.
Ribbed pillars surrounded a smooth marble exterior. Light shone into the temple through an enormous domed skylight, and the gold walls gleamed as brightly as the sun.
The walk from the temple to the eight hundred room castle led through elaborately designed shrubbery, manicured lawns, and gardens brimming with colorful flora. A symmetrical courtyard boasted a dozen fountains with a gazebo showcased at the center.
Inside the castle, gold mosaics covered every ceiling, spreading down the walls to meet with embedded diamonds. The windows in the wing leading to the throne room comprised of stained glass. The sunlight used the reds, yellows, and blues to paint a vivid design on the opposite wall, continuing into the throne room with twenty foot ceilings.
Nearly five hundred wives still remained in Ebris’ realm along with over two thousand servants. The male servants slept six to a room while the wives slept two. There were exceptions of course; four favorite wives had their own chambers, and the six lead servants only had to share with one other person. One hundred rooms were set aside for recreational purposes—a ballroom, painting rooms, libraries—while a dozen rooms were off limits to anyone other than Ebris.
Everyone was encouraged to associate with each other as they saw fit as long as no one ever forgot who was in charge.