Once, when the world was clad in blissful ignorance
once, when prayers were said with childish innocence
once, when gods were as one
once, when, pure as the sun
was the faith of a man, leather and hide wearing
about the well-being of his deities caring
he built them an adobe both simple and sweet,
a well secured place for them too meet.
To discuss matters - wordly, divine
to do what matters, for them and for you
to do what is right, in this holy shrine
every day every night, to keep his heart true.
The man’s name was Bear, for back then, then people were few, and needed no more names than one, and no titles. Back then, the gods also were simpler, for they did not need to shroud themselves in mystery, and the faith of the people was pure and unsoiled.
Bear’s heart delighted every time he saw a smile spread across someone’s features, and the whole day he laboured, hauling boulders and logs, and cutting them in shape, so that he might build dwellings for his friends, when the caves became too small and crowded. Of solid timber, tough oak and tender sandstone he built, of sun-baked brick and sun-dried thatch.
One day, through a forest deep he strode, a log on his shoulder, when he stumbled across Alivanah, the Lady of the Wind, the Singer of Learning, the Eternal Voyager, and great was his joy. Likewise, She was pleased, for She knew Bear, and knew he strived hard to learn new techniques and improve his works. So she bade him to come over.
Flattered and filled with joy, he accepted, and sat next to her, and watched the child-like figure with awe, as she was nibbling on an apple, naught but her eyes betraying her wisdom and age.
So they sat, and the day grew old, the sky dark and the air chill. Alivanah shuddered, and Bear offered her his fur tunic to warm herself. He talked little, but She made up for it, telling of places far and wide, and of strange people from other lands, and Bear delighted in her presence.
When she rose to depart, a tear ran down Bear’s cheek, and he asked: "Where do you live, where is your home, so that I may visit thee?"
And she smiled: "I wander all day, and don’t call any place my own." With these words, she leapt into the air, and the winds carried her off.
Bear cried, for great was his pity of the Lady: for all her works she has no roof above her, no place to rest her head? Little did he understand the ways of the gods, but love them he did, especially the child that sat next to him that day. Still crying, he wandered off.
On a hill close to the sun, where clear sparkling water gushed from the ground, and flowers and fruit trees were abundant, there he stood, and began his work - from far and wide he brought the most beautiful stones and strongest logs, and built a dwelling anyone at his village would have been proud of - with a chimney of red brick, walls of sturdy stone and roof of stout wood and thick shingles, it was beautiful to behold. In its center, there was a hall, supported by pillars of oak, and there he led the water into a pool strewn with white pebbles, and a great table, with a chair for every one of the gods, for if they came over for visit, Alivanah would need a place to seat them, and into every chair he carved the name of the deity, as he did on his dish and spoon.
When he was done, he strode off into the woods, hunting, for the Lady should dine better than chewing an apple picked on the side of her path. So he brought meat of elk and pheasant, sweet grapes and batatas, and the eggs of wild fowl and set them upon the table.
Finally, Bear returned to his village, for the last part he could not complete alone. Great was the surprise when his family saw him, for they deemed him lost. And Bear spoke: "Follow me, for we shall sing to the Gods." And they went.
All done, he called out to Alivanah to offer her his gift, and his voice, carried by the winds, reached her ears. Curious, she heeded the call, and delighted by the gifts she shed a single tear that spread all over the place and made everything sparkle in the purest shine.
This was the first home man built for a god.
This was the first time he offered food and drink as a sacrifice.
This was the the first time man sung in a blessed place, filled with love and devotion to a deity.
It was the first time a human was given the choice whether to enter the cycle of reincarnation or stay,and Bear chose, becoming the patron of masons and architects, guiding their quill and chisel.
Alivanah soon showed the gift to her fellows, and they too were pleased, and made it their meeting point to discuss matters of importance, and regardless of how heated a discussion became, none dared to misbehave in the place Alivanah called her home.
Thus it became the meeting place of the divine crowd, a festive hall and a symbol for the relationship between man and god.
And it became also far, far more…
As the ages passed, the gods grew apart in intent and heart,and ripe was the strife between husband and wife, between ally and peer, and Azar spread fear, for he was the Lord of War, the Steel-Clad Slayer, the Thousand-Bladed Scourge, and he set out, on the blood of his fellows to gorge, for he claimed that all other gods failed, and slew Devi, the patron of children, they in sorrow wailed…
Yet as he pursued Raelis, nature’s lady true, so she fled here, the armed menace behind her, none him to subdue.
Yet at the threshold of the temple, all gods overcame their fear and stood, united by Alivanah’s call, and the symbolism of this place, and Azar could not breach the walls, not slay them, and he beat his fists against the stones, until they were but bloody stumps, he gnawed at the logs, until his teeth fell out, he battered at the door with his horned helmet, until his brain splattered, his reign was ended…
Still the place became far more, as Raelis hid the half-divine offspring of her and her brothers before the fury of their fellows, and here, it was that Davia, Derren and Dorsti joined the pantheon of the Elders.
And all gods agreed - this place is sacred, this place is saintly, none shall be harmed here, none shall suffer.
So it stands today, difficult to find, a humble place, a simple home, untouched by the tooth of time.
Standing amongst an orchard of half-wild trees filled with songbirds and the hum of bees and colorful dances of butterflies, there it stands, a house of large stone blocks and bricks, as well as solid wood, all in natural colors, cracks and crevices filled with mud and moss. No marble, no gold statues and no pompous promenades point out that this might be a place of sanctity, but other things do: the place is surrealy serene, and the salubrious aura of this place heals and revitalizes all who approach.
The sun’s shine is always soft, the air fresh and moist, and everything seems to sparkle slightly.
A single black oak grows right next to the door, where Azar fell, leaves blue-black as steel, and at its foot, several candles flicker, lit by the gods in the memory of their mad brother.
Inside, the house is plain, the floor made of stone slabs, walls decorated with fur and simple pottery, all rooms arranged around a central hall with a pool, perhaps three feet deep.
At the door, on the clothes hanger, the coats of the diving visitors hang,and one can discern who is present at the moment - if the coat is black, with shining jewels for stars, then Rukh, the Lord of the Beyond, will most probably be resting by the fireplace, while if it is woven of flowers and leaves, berries and nuts, then Raelis is visiting the place that once has been her refuge.
*Sing to me, my angel of music: since the first song sounded through these halls, the gods made it a habit to invite a mortal to fill the chambers with music. This time, a young woman was chosen, her voice angel-like and soul pure.
Yet her mother, a devout atheist, is strongly opposed, and wants her back, here and now. Will the PCs dare to bring her letter to her daughter in the place most holy? How can they persuade the divine crowd to let her go?
*The final hope: so they did it, finally. The PCs have been too cocky for their own good and angered a minor deity, and now their only hope lies in seeking refuge in this place.
*A weapon better than all: to defeat a terrible foe, a terrible weapon is needed… what better than the Soul Scythe of Rukh? How sad that he never lets go of it.. except when he visits the temple. SO the goal is: to sneak in, steal the scythe,slay the foe and return it before he is finished drinking his coffee and munching cookies.
*Child support: After a night with a mysterious stranger, a female PC notices her belly swelling, and later, that the child born is truly unusual, bearing the mark of one of the gods. What now? Perhaps it would be good to present the child to its father - but where to find him? Yes, in the First Temple, to which no road leads and no map tells about.