So it is Told
(An excerpt from the soon to be ready for publishing The Theocracy of the White Ziggurat.)
The people of Agaran were once primitive barbarians, living in poverty and in constant fear of attack. Their valley was a frequent target for raiders and would-be conquerors, and despite their greatest efforts there came a day when their future had never looked so dark. Drought and famine plagued the land, children died in the womb, and herds of livestock began to fall ill. The people begged the gods for salvation, and only one heard their cry. Ashun, wisest of the gods, took pity upon the people of Agaran and made wells and springs flow anew. Fields flourished, diseases vanished, and in return Ashun commanded the people to build a temple unto him which would become the cradle of their new nation.
In time, their work was done, and they looked up and beheld the fruit of their labor, and the glory of Ashun. An immense ziggurat, cut from stone of gleaming white, rose from the barren floor of the valley, and at its very top stood the oldest and most wizened of priests. The voice of the people rose as one and the heavens opened up, spilling light and thunder from the sky as Ashun gave his blessing to this new and glorious center of civilization.
Armies were formed to secure the borders of this new realm. People spread out in all directions, armed with new weapons with which to battle the atrocities which awaited them in the wilderness. New and fertile farmlands were discovered, as well as veins of precious metals and other resources. Villages soon rose up and the common folk began to rise above the squalor they had known for so long.
But all is not as well as it would seem. Horrific beasts stalk the land, and nefarious cults gather to pay tribute and sacrifice to foul and impure demons. There are many who desire the new found wealth of Agaran. Tribes of warlike humanoids gather in the wastes, and bandits and raiders plague villagers and travelers alike. Horrific and unnatural creatures walk the earth. Reports from individuals and communities who have encountered such abominations vary widely. Others tell of tentacled horrors, multi-headed beasts, twisted giants, and other creatures that defy description. It is said that many of these beings are in league with Demons, or are Demons themselves in corporeal form.
The high priests of The White Ziggurat claim to be doing all that they can, but even as villages petition them for aid the priesthood continues to order the construction of enormous and costly temples. The common folk are beginning to question their motives, but those that speak of such things too loudly are often sent to labor camps, never to be seen again by honest folk.
“He of The Many Eyes”
Considered to be the most powerful of all the gods, Ashun is depicted as a sun whose surface is covered with unblinking eyes. He keeps watch over the earth, seeing all but rarely intervening except on behalf of his most loyal and obedient servants. It is Ashun who decided to pass the knowledge of the gods on to man. The people of Agaran consider Ashun to be vastly superior to the other gods, and forbid the worship of any deity but him.
“The Eater of Souls”
Some believe that those who die must stand before the gods and receive their judgment. It is Zulga who enforces this judgment. The souls of the worthy will ascend to the heavens in her arms, and the souls of the damned will spend eternity in the hellish torment of her belly. Zulga is depicted as either a beautiful yet completely hairless young woman or as a vast and amorphous blob, depending on what role she must play, and it is said that when a man approaches death she will come to him in dreams, revealing his eternal fate through her chosen form.
“The Banished One”
Rigam is worshiped only by mysterious, exclusive orders and secretive bands of cultists. He appears in the form of various common beasts, a punishment bestowed upon him by the other gods for a crime which mortal men are neither capable nor worthy of comprehending. Doomed to walk the earth for all eternity, he causes trouble and wickedness wherever he goes. Some believe he possess the secrets of ancient and destructive magic, while others say he has lost all of his power save for his immortality, but in general he is considered the bringer of bad luck in all of its forms.
“The Mouthless Crone”
Inara is said to appear to the devout as a mouthless old woman, hunched and frail. She is said to know every secret kept by mortals, and because she has no mouth she can never be forced to reveal them. Instead she keeps them to herself, using her knowledge to mysterious ends and granting it to those who pray to her in visions and portents.
When the people have displeased the gods, it is Mogram who often carries out their punishment through disease, earthquakes, pestilence, drought, and other tribulations. Keeping in his good favor is said to cause him to focus his wrath elsewhere, and when disasters befall the land the people will often pray for his mercy. If he listens, they will be spared the worst of things.
It is believed by the people of Agaran that demons were once mortal men who committed unspeakable crimes against humanity. Their deaths came none too soon, and their souls agonized for countless centuries in the belly of Zulga before the goddess could stand the taste of them no longer. She spit them out onto the earth, where they now conspire to corrupt and destroy all that they see.
Men who worship these diabolic entities come in many varieties. Cults have been discovered consisting of soldiers, farmers, and all manner of common folk. They are commonly led by sorcerers and priests, who seek to use the demon for their own nefarious agendas. Demon cults gather in ancient ruins, remote canyons, and other out of the way places where there will be no witnesses to the dark blasphemies they commit in service to their masters.