The Coming of the Zioth

Zahira

by Diane Hutton and the DM

The Common View

Zahira is seen as a dangerous cult that welcomes the Zioth and embraces death. It is led by mysterious druid-like entities known as “True Zahirans.”63plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_big Appeared or occurred in:

Turn 63: The Swim to Shore

“Move to the sides,” Kreemon whispered. “Keep going forward.” He stopped briefly to check the water level before following his own advice. The water was getting deeper. In the center, it now reached up to the base of Kreemon's middle finger, when before it was only two knuckles deep. Either the water was rising, or the passage was sloping downward. Another minute of running and the water was ankle-deep, even on the edges, and at least a food deep in the middle.
There is quite a bit of legend surrounding these druids, such as their ability to appear out of nowhere, or the fact that they all look alike.

Zahirans claim to try to keep the balance57plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_big Appeared or occurred in:

Turn 57: Rielicca's Accusations

It was still dark when the group, one by one, woke to the sound of muffled conversations outside. Lutont and Johannes were already sitting by the door, eating some kind of hot wheat mush, when Kreemon got up. “They're waiting for all of you to come out,”
, though what that means exactly is unknown.

Followers

Zahira's followers are few and far between, scattered throughout the world. Villages where Zahira is the main religion are exceedingly rare, but when they exist, they are almost always on the borders of very large forests, and far from major cities or centers of production or trade.

Although it is a small religion, Zahirism is well-known. After all, they claim to hold the Key to the Zioth, and consider it a good thing. Many people are wary, suspicious or even fearful of the Zahirans, and will close their doors at the Symbol of Zahira, and many others are particularly hospitable to them.

The Symbol of Zahira is a half black and half white wheel with a yellow star in its center in place of a hub. It is often carved out of wood and worn on a necklace, embroidered onto clothing, or worn as a tattoo.

The Creation Myth

Zahira is the Creator, the Great Mother, the Mother From Whom All Things Came. She sprang full grown from the formless chaos to wander aimlessly for eons. Where she walked, her footprints left the stars as signs she had been by. In her loneliness she wept and created the lifeless moonchildren, but they were not enough. Her concern for life brought forth the sun, Haym, who became her consort, and his warmth brought life to her five sons. As time passed, her children became restless and bothersome, so she created Aerv as their plaything. As they grew older and wiser, she taught them to watch over Aerv and care for it, and showed each how to create new life, plants, animals and even beings intelligent enough to worship them.

Halkakplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_big The Five Moons

Five moons rise and set in the sky of Aerv, never crossing paths. At the end of the world, they will all wane together, and diminish to nothing for the Zioth.

Quite a lot of mythology centers around the moons. Zahirans' theology revolves around the Moon Children. The Moon Wanderers in the Shirahjat Cohilition migrate with the rising and setting of the moons in ways that only they fully understand.
was tall and handsome, with white hair and dark eyes. He created plants, birds and many animals, who lived in the skies and upon the open plains and valleys. After his brothers had created all they would, he created humans.

Tiropplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_big The Five Moons

Five moons rise and set in the sky of Aerv, never crossing paths. At the end of the world, they will all wane together, and diminish to nothing for the Zioth.

Quite a lot of mythology centers around the moons. Zahirans' theology revolves around the Moon Children. The Moon Wanderers in the Shirahjat Cohilition migrate with the rising and setting of the moons in ways that only they fully understand.
moved so quickly that one would only see a pale blue streak when he passed. When he had been shown the ways of creation, he made forests and waterways, lakes and oceans, and the creatures who lived in them. Then he created the winds and the seasons, and storms and insects, and all manner of fast-moving things.

Ilsapeich was slow moving and had brown skin and hair. He made the fires of the world, mountains and gems and minerals under the earth and the creatures who abode there.

Otplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_big The Five Moons

Five moons rise and set in the sky of Aerv, never crossing paths. At the end of the world, they will all wane together, and diminish to nothing for the Zioth.

Quite a lot of mythology centers around the moons. Zahirans' theology revolves around the Moon Children. The Moon Wanderers in the Shirahjat Cohilition migrate with the rising and setting of the moons in ways that only they fully understand.
was short and had red hair, and was quick and powerful. He coveted his father's light and warmth, but was unable to reproduce the fires that his brother Ilsapeich had already made. In his anger, which continues to affect his judgement until this day, he hid in the darkest regions of Zahira's works, and created monsters and beings whose sole purpose was to cause evil and mischief. His creatures loved the darkness, and many hated the other moonchildren.

Zabrigarplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_big The Five Moons

Five moons rise and set in the sky of Aerv, never crossing paths. At the end of the world, they will all wane together, and diminish to nothing for the Zioth.

Quite a lot of mythology centers around the moons. Zahirans' theology revolves around the Moon Children. The Moon Wanderers in the Shirahjat Cohilition migrate with the rising and setting of the moons in ways that only they fully understand.
was large, and stronger than any of his brothers. He dressed in ornamented black robes and flew high above creation, even while his brothers were still immersed in it. He created lizards and dragonsplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_big Dragons

Last updated for turn 216

There is a wide variety of stories about dragons. Some tell of majestic and benevolant beings who are willingly given tribute. Others tell of horrible, mindless creatures who think of nothing but destruction. Dragons in myth range in size from smaller than a blade of grass, to larger than Aerv itself.
, and the world's natural deserts and wastelands for them to play in.

The moonchildren57plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_big Appeared or occurred in:

Turn 57: Rielicca's Accusations

It was still dark when the group, one by one, woke to the sound of muffled conversations outside. Lutont and Johannes were already sitting by the door, eating some kind of hot wheat mush, when Kreemon got up. “They're waiting for all of you to come out,”
were content to watch creation for a while, but they soon were restless again, and they became destructive.

Halkakplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_big The Five Moons

Five moons rise and set in the sky of Aerv, never crossing paths. At the end of the world, they will all wane together, and diminish to nothing for the Zioth.

Quite a lot of mythology centers around the moons. Zahirans' theology revolves around the Moon Children. The Moon Wanderers in the Shirahjat Cohilition migrate with the rising and setting of the moons in ways that only they fully understand.
gave his creations the ability to reproduce rapidly, so that man and animals, and grasses and food-crops would overrun Aerv and would have to compete with each other for space and resources.

Tiropplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_big The Five Moons

Five moons rise and set in the sky of Aerv, never crossing paths. At the end of the world, they will all wane together, and diminish to nothing for the Zioth.

Quite a lot of mythology centers around the moons. Zahirans' theology revolves around the Moon Children. The Moon Wanderers in the Shirahjat Cohilition migrate with the rising and setting of the moons in ways that only they fully understand.
produced great storms from the waters, and made sharks and giant sea-creatures who would consume fish by the thousands, and he stirred up tornadoes to create havoc on Halkakplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_big The Five Moons

Five moons rise and set in the sky of Aerv, never crossing paths. At the end of the world, they will all wane together, and diminish to nothing for the Zioth.

Quite a lot of mythology centers around the moons. Zahirans' theology revolves around the Moon Children. The Moon Wanderers in the Shirahjat Cohilition migrate with the rising and setting of the moons in ways that only they fully understand.
's plains.

Ilsapeich shook the world with earthquakes, and caused his mountains to spew forth molten lava. He grew volcanic islands in Tiropplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_big The Five Moons

Five moons rise and set in the sky of Aerv, never crossing paths. At the end of the world, they will all wane together, and diminish to nothing for the Zioth.

Quite a lot of mythology centers around the moons. Zahirans' theology revolves around the Moon Children. The Moon Wanderers in the Shirahjat Cohilition migrate with the rising and setting of the moons in ways that only they fully understand.
's waters, and gathered together seashells to create reefs. He showed Man and dragonsplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_big Dragons

Last updated for turn 216

There is a wide variety of stories about dragons. Some tell of majestic and benevolant beings who are willingly given tribute. Others tell of horrible, mindless creatures who think of nothing but destruction. Dragons in myth range in size from smaller than a blade of grass, to larger than Aerv itself.
the gold and gems in his mountains, and thus created greed and envy, strife and war.

Otplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_big The Five Moons

Five moons rise and set in the sky of Aerv, never crossing paths. At the end of the world, they will all wane together, and diminish to nothing for the Zioth.

Quite a lot of mythology centers around the moons. Zahirans' theology revolves around the Moon Children. The Moon Wanderers in the Shirahjat Cohilition migrate with the rising and setting of the moons in ways that only they fully understand.
darkened the world until his father had to separate Otplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_big The Five Moons

Five moons rise and set in the sky of Aerv, never crossing paths. At the end of the world, they will all wane together, and diminish to nothing for the Zioth.

Quite a lot of mythology centers around the moons. Zahirans' theology revolves around the Moon Children. The Moon Wanderers in the Shirahjat Cohilition migrate with the rising and setting of the moons in ways that only they fully understand.
's darkness from his own light, creating day and night. Then Otplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_big The Five Moons

Five moons rise and set in the sky of Aerv, never crossing paths. At the end of the world, they will all wane together, and diminish to nothing for the Zioth.

Quite a lot of mythology centers around the moons. Zahirans' theology revolves around the Moon Children. The Moon Wanderers in the Shirahjat Cohilition migrate with the rising and setting of the moons in ways that only they fully understand.
gathered together the stars so they would appear only for him, at night. With darkness now on land, he was able to send armies of his monsters up upon the land to destroy his brothers' creations, and he would even send some out during the day, to increase the darkness and try to block out Haym's light. He succeeded mostly during the winter, when his father's power was weakest.

Zabrigarplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_big The Five Moons

Five moons rise and set in the sky of Aerv, never crossing paths. At the end of the world, they will all wane together, and diminish to nothing for the Zioth.

Quite a lot of mythology centers around the moons. Zahirans' theology revolves around the Moon Children. The Moon Wanderers in the Shirahjat Cohilition migrate with the rising and setting of the moons in ways that only they fully understand.
stole some of Ilsupeichplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_big The Five Moons

Five moons rise and set in the sky of Aerv, never crossing paths. At the end of the world, they will all wane together, and diminish to nothing for the Zioth.

Quite a lot of mythology centers around the moons. Zahirans' theology revolves around the Moon Children. The Moon Wanderers in the Shirahjat Cohilition migrate with the rising and setting of the moons in ways that only they fully understand.
's fire for his dragonsplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_big Dragons

Last updated for turn 216

There is a wide variety of stories about dragons. Some tell of majestic and benevolant beings who are willingly given tribute. Others tell of horrible, mindless creatures who think of nothing but destruction. Dragons in myth range in size from smaller than a blade of grass, to larger than Aerv itself.
, and gave them great strength and speed, and sent them out to cause destruction. To his lizards he gave sharp teeth and claws, and he kept Tiropplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_big The Five Moons

Five moons rise and set in the sky of Aerv, never crossing paths. At the end of the world, they will all wane together, and diminish to nothing for the Zioth.

Quite a lot of mythology centers around the moons. Zahirans' theology revolves around the Moon Children. The Moon Wanderers in the Shirahjat Cohilition migrate with the rising and setting of the moons in ways that only they fully understand.
's rain from entering his deserts so the lizards could rule uncontested.

Finally, Zahira had enough, so she exiled the moonchildren into the night sky, where they could watch over creation but could no longer affect it, but the damage had already been done. The Great Mother destroyed the world and recreated it, but it came to be just how her sons had left it. She destroyed Aerv many times, each time improving it very slightly, but confident that it would one day be complete, without good or evil, order or chaos. So as not to upset her sons, she would allow the world to continue on its course until none of them were looking, and would then, on the Zioth, destroy it.

To followers, the Zioth is known as the Great Death.

Attitude towards other religions

Followers of Zahira believe that all other gods sprang from her children or came from beyond, and are tolerated as inferior but powerful beings. They are connected to Aerv, and must be destroyed and rebuilt during the Zioth like everything else.

Followers do not worship the moonchildren or the inferior gods, but only Zahira and her consort. It is expedient to call upon the moons once in a while, but with the knowledge that the other moonchildren may become jealous.

Astronomy

Followers of Zahira are famous for being able to predict astronomical events, like combinations of new or full moons, lunar and solar eclipses, and comets.

True Zahirans

The leadership of the Zahiran cult consists of aloof men and women known as True Zahirans. Whether they are organized in any sort of hierarchy is difficult to tell from their behavior, as they all act as equals in public. They are a generally solemn bunch, not prone to light-hearted conversation. In the rare forest-side village where Zahiranism is prominent, an individual druid may stay for as long as several days, teaching the precepts of Zahira, and avoiding personal interaction. In areas where there are only a few closet Zahirans, a druid may visit at unexpected times to perform the same functions, but will rarely stay overnight.

Zahiran druids often exhibit strange behavior when among regular people, such as insisting that all windows in an inn remain open during their stay, regardless of season, or seizing and burying an animal that has just been cooked for dinner, even if it is the only food available to a poor family. Some druids may celebrate the birth of a goat before that of a human, or delay a funeral to mourn a fallen tree. These are only examples; no two druids seem to behave alike. They all have a close attachment to nature, and many act as if humanity was only an equal part in it.

Zahirans respect and honor their religious leaders, despite their unsocial behavior, because that is part of what it is to be Zahiran. There have been stories of extreme cases where villages turned against a druid, but those are rare. An interesting detail of those stories is that the druids continue to attend to the villages, even after one or several of their own has been murdered.

The druids of Zahira always seem to know when an important event has occurred. They often appear when a human or animal child is about to be born, or when a distant volcano has erupted, or when a local ship is lost at sea or arrives safely on shore. Druids walk out of the woods, either alone or in groups, or coming several at a time from different directions, and participate in the celebration or mourning appropriate to the occasion. They also appear on holidays, again alone or in groups, and may appear when summoned. Their appearance is always unpredictable, however. They appear more often when an event has occurred that relates to one of the moon-children, but such events may pass without any sign of a True Zahiran.

The True Zahirans appear to have nothing to do with each other. They don't communicate with each other while performing or assisting in religious rites, and even when they arrive in groups, they somehow seem to be travelling together only by the most unlikely of accidents.

The druids also seem to be interchangeable. A village may go years before seeing the same True Zahiran twice, and even then, they are rarely certain, because the he or she shows no sign of familiarity and so many of their faces look so much alike. There are stories of mothers running to them, crying that they'd found a long-lost child, only to be disappointed by a total lack of emotional response.

It is not known whether the True Zahirans are so impersonal only when tending to a village, or even when in the private company of other True Zahirans. There have been rare cases where people have seen a man who looked very much like a known True Zahiran, travelling with a party of normal Zahirans, or even non-Zahirans, and acting in a fashion that one would never expect of a druid of Zahira.

There appear to be as many female True Zahirans as male, although females are never seen pregnant or with small children.

Holidays

Every full moon is a minor holiday. In addition, the following specific rites are observed:

Halkak
  • 10/6 The Flight of the Birds.
  • 1/6 The Return of the Birds.
  • A wool cloth covered with hay is laid out for Halkakplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_big The Five Moons

    Five moons rise and set in the sky of Aerv, never crossing paths. At the end of the world, they will all wane together, and diminish to nothing for the Zioth.

    Quite a lot of mythology centers around the moons. Zahirans' theology revolves around the Moon Children. The Moon Wanderers in the Shirahjat Cohilition migrate with the rising and setting of the moons in ways that only they fully understand.
    to sit on during the naming ceremony of a new child on the first day of its second month of life. When a new animal is born, all animals of its type are given an extra portion of food.
Tirop
  • 12/7 The Winter Fast (some Zahirans fast on the third day of every week of winter).
  • 2/15 The Spring Festival.
  • 5/21 The Summer Fast.
  • 9/1 The Autumn Festival.
  • It is appropriate to curse Tiropplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_big The Five Moons

    Five moons rise and set in the sky of Aerv, never crossing paths. At the end of the world, they will all wane together, and diminish to nothing for the Zioth.

    Quite a lot of mythology centers around the moons. Zahirans' theology revolves around the Moon Children. The Moon Wanderers in the Shirahjat Cohilition migrate with the rising and setting of the moons in ways that only they fully understand.
    during an unusually destructive storm, or when one loses a family member or a great amount of wealth at sea, and one should praise Tiropplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_big The Five Moons

    Five moons rise and set in the sky of Aerv, never crossing paths. At the end of the world, they will all wane together, and diminish to nothing for the Zioth.

    Quite a lot of mythology centers around the moons. Zahirans' theology revolves around the Moon Children. The Moon Wanderers in the Shirahjat Cohilition migrate with the rising and setting of the moons in ways that only they fully understand.
    after a successful voyage.
  • A fast is observed the day after a sunken ship is discovered.
Ilsupeich
  • It is appropriate to devote an hour of feasting to Ilsupeichplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_big The Five Moons

    Five moons rise and set in the sky of Aerv, never crossing paths. At the end of the world, they will all wane together, and diminish to nothing for the Zioth.

    Quite a lot of mythology centers around the moons. Zahirans' theology revolves around the Moon Children. The Moon Wanderers in the Shirahjat Cohilition migrate with the rising and setting of the moons in ways that only they fully understand.
    upon seing a tall mountain for the first time in six months.
  • It is also appropriate to fast for the remainder of the night or day, neither eating nor drinking, upon witnessing a great earthquake or the eruption of a volcano.
Ot
  • It is appropriate to fast and pray to Zahira for help when one suspects Otplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_big The Five Moons

    Five moons rise and set in the sky of Aerv, never crossing paths. At the end of the world, they will all wane together, and diminish to nothing for the Zioth.

    Quite a lot of mythology centers around the moons. Zahirans' theology revolves around the Moon Children. The Moon Wanderers in the Shirahjat Cohilition migrate with the rising and setting of the moons in ways that only they fully understand.
    or one of his creatures has brought misfortune.
  • Every new moon of Otplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_big The Five Moons

    Five moons rise and set in the sky of Aerv, never crossing paths. At the end of the world, they will all wane together, and diminish to nothing for the Zioth.

    Quite a lot of mythology centers around the moons. Zahirans' theology revolves around the Moon Children. The Moon Wanderers in the Shirahjat Cohilition migrate with the rising and setting of the moons in ways that only they fully understand.
    is a celebration of the completeness of night.
  • A solar eclipse is considered the work of Otplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_big The Five Moons

    Five moons rise and set in the sky of Aerv, never crossing paths. At the end of the world, they will all wane together, and diminish to nothing for the Zioth.

    Quite a lot of mythology centers around the moons. Zahirans' theology revolves around the Moon Children. The Moon Wanderers in the Shirahjat Cohilition migrate with the rising and setting of the moons in ways that only they fully understand.
    , and is alternately celebrated as a feast or a fast. The alternation begins with a feast on the first witnessed eclipse.
Zabrigar
  • One is expected to thank Zabrigarplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_big The Five Moons

    Five moons rise and set in the sky of Aerv, never crossing paths. At the end of the world, they will all wane together, and diminish to nothing for the Zioth.

    Quite a lot of mythology centers around the moons. Zahirans' theology revolves around the Moon Children. The Moon Wanderers in the Shirahjat Cohilition migrate with the rising and setting of the moons in ways that only they fully understand.
    when finding a desert oasis.

Zahira and Haym do not have specific holidays attributed to them, but are worshipped on every full moon, and especially on the winter and summer solstice (10/15 and and 4/1)

Rules of the Church and the All Mother

  • Do not harm nature, but take what you must to live. If there is not enough, still spare some for those wild things that need it too.
  • If great harm has been done to the natural world, do what you can to balance it out. Replant destroyed forests, replenish game, etc.
  • Leave the dead alone, for that is Zahira's domain and she alone may deal with them. It is a delicate decision on where the soul is to go next.
  • Maintain the balance. Too much good is as bad as too much evil.
  • The cycle of life is normal. Everything is recycled in the next life until all reach Neutrality. [i.e. reincarnation beliefs. May come back as plant, animal or thinking being].
  • Moderation is the norm but it is allowed for you to have an occasional 'orgy' as long as you balance it with something akin to fasting or abstinence.

Common Phrases used by followers

  • “By the Four!” is sort of a swear phrase or exclamation phrase. “The four” refers to the four faces of Zahira.
  • “Everyone suffers the little death,” refers to normal death.
  • “There is nothing to fear from the big death.” (Zioth)
  • “If I die, then I will return, and come and go until Zahira proclaims a state of neutrality.”
  • “I'm not afraid of dying; I'm afraid of living.”57plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_big Appeared or occurred in:

    Turn 57: Rielicca's Accusations

    It was still dark when the group, one by one, woke to the sound of muffled conversations outside. Lutont and Johannes were already sitting by the door, eating some kind of hot wheat mush, when Kreemon got up. “They're waiting for all of you to come out,”
  • “Wheel bound” (as in, “He is one of the Wheel Bound.”)
  • “May your future deeds balance all” is said on parting or meeting.63plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_big Appeared or occurred in:

    Turn 63: The Swim to Shore

    “Move to the sides,” Kreemon whispered. “Keep going forward.” He stopped briefly to check the water level before following his own advice. The water was getting deeper. In the center, it now reached up to the base of Kreemon's middle finger, when before it was only two knuckles deep. Either the water was rising, or the passage was sloping downward. Another minute of running and the water was ankle-deep, even on the edges, and at least a food deep in the middle.
  • “And your feet ever find the Way.” (response to above.)
  • “The Big Death is coming.”
  • “If I die, then I will return.”