The Pirates Of Atlantis
According to what the gods have told the Atlanteans, the world was once nothing but a vast nothingness filled with Chaos-stuff and a gigantic blue egg. The eggshell cracked, and from it emerged Tikarion and the other gods. Looking about themselves they were disgusted with the nothingness, so they took hold of the Chaos-stuff and formed it into land, and sea, and air. Eordica populated the new world with plants and animals, and she, Phestos, and Tikarion himself made the first men and women out of clay, stones, and sea-water. Phestos gave them fire, that they might make sacrifice to the gods, and crafts, that they might build their civilization.
But the gods’ work was not perfect. At times they differed with one another, or even quarrelled… and when that happened, imperfections entered into the world, becoming monsters, foul places, and other evils. One of the worst of these disputes, a fight between Ares and Helios, opened rifts in reality that allowed demons and evil creatures from other realities into the world to plague mankind. To this very day men have to deal with the consequences of the gods’ actions, sometimes with the gods’ help, sometimes not.
The center of the world and of the Universe is Mt. Oeranos, the vast Atlantean peak whereon the gods have their palaces. Each of the Ten Great Gods, and many of the minor ones, live there in utter luxury, served by sylphs, spirits, godlings, and other beings. Some of the gods have other homes (such as Poseidon’s palace under the waves, and the shadowy hall of Ares in Dardaros), but it is to their Oeranian palaces that they eventually return. Every day the gods come forth from their homes and go to the Haegalos, their vast meeting-hall, to discuss what needs to be done that day and respond to the prayers and petitions of mortals.
When Atlanteans die their souls go to Dardaros, the underworld realm ruled by Ares in his aspect as god of death. The godling Talor meets the soul as it leaves the dead body and escorts it to the Caverns of Lorr, where the soul must pass through several trials to win through to the underworld or be condemned to roam the world as a restless ghost. If possible, the deceased’s family includes with his funeral pyre items that may help with these tests, since by burning them at that time they allow the soul to use them. For example, one test involves winning past the gigantic fire-breathing spider Phelgarac, and the best way to do that is to bring it a drink of water from the cool river Nevos nearby. However, a soul’s hands can’t carry enough water to the spider, so the deceased’s family includes a wine goblet on his pyre. Another requires the soul to defeat Tenebos, the Hound of Shadows, in combat, so the pyre includes a dagger or sword.
After making his way through the Caves of Lorr, the soul is then escorted into Dardaros proper and comes before the throne of Ares to be judged. If a good man in life, he gets to spend eternity in the paradisical Sunlit Fields, and may be called upon to help the gods from time to time. If a sinner, he’s consigned to the flames and tortures of the Fiery Pit, from where the screams of the damned sometimes reach as far as the Fields. Particularly egregious sinners may find that the gods have devised special tortures for them. For example, Atlantean legend tells of the merchant Korreon, a miser so greedy and grasping that he cheated everyone he met if he could obtain so much as an additional coin. To punish him the gods have placed him in a room filled with unimaginable riches… and then made him unable to move. All he can do is stand there, weeping tears of frustration and anguish, surrounded by more wealth than he can dream of but unable to possess it.
GODS AND MEN
As the Ten Brothers’ parentage indicates, it’s not unknown for the gods to visit mortals, either openly or (more often) in disguise. Some gods enjoy this more than others, but all of them visit the world from time to time. Some come in search of adventure, some to test mankind, and some to find love. Several gods, such as Ares, Helios, Poseidon, and Tikarion, seem to fall in love with beautiful human women often, then use their powers to seduce them. While this is rather cavalier, and sometimes decried by offended mortals, it’s also responsible for the siring of most of Atlantis’s great heroes and thus is one of the foundations of her power.
At times mortals get to visit the lands of the divine, though this is rarer. A truly favored hero may be asked to a feast on Mt. Oeranos, while an unfortunate one might be sent on a quest to enter Dardaros to obtain something. Any journey to the realms of the gods, even by invitation, tends to be perilous for mortal men.
The gods are just “human” enough that sometimes men can get away with tricking or offending them. They’re vain, so flattery may soothe offense given by accident or win a boon. They’re proud, and so sometimes cannot resist a challenge, even from a mortal. And at times they’re even greedy, making it possible to buy their favor with gifts.
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