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Dark Seldarine - F&P

The deities of the Dark Seldarine: Vhaeraun, Kiaransalee, Lolth, Selvetarm, Ghaunadaur, and Eilistraee.

The Dark Seldarine was the drow pantheon of gods.

MembersEdit

The pantheon consisted of:

  • Kiaransalee : Goddess of undead, vengeance[1]. Faded from existence when her name was deleted from the minds of all Torilians in 1377 DR, by a High Magic spell cast by Q'arlynd Melarn[9]. Her name came back to her followers' memory during the Sundering, and she was thus restored to life.[3]
  • Ghaunadaur :God of oozes, slimes, jellies, outcasts, ropers, rebels.[1] Left the Demonweb Pits (and presumably the drow pantheon itself) in 1379 DR[2]
  • Lolth (formerly Araushnee) : Goddess of spiders, evil, darkness, chaos, assassins, drow.[1]
  • Selvetarm : God of drow warriors[1]. Killed by a follower of Eilistraee in 1375 DR[10], but restored to life during the Sundering.[3]
  • Vhaeraun : God of thievery, drow males, evil activity on the surface[1]. Supposedly killed by Eilistraee in 1375 DR.[10] He too, like his sister, managed to return to life during the Sundering, and was fully restored in Flamerule 1489 DR.[3][7][4]

HistoryEdit

The Dark Seldarine was rather young as a pantheon, and it came into being only after Corellon's Descent, when the dark elves were cursed and turned into drow in -10,000 DR.

The Dawn AgeEdit

Originally, Lolth (as Araushnee) and her two children--Eilistraee and Vhaeraun--were dark elven deities part of the Seldarine. Ghaunadaur was a very ancient deity, rumored to have emerged from the primordial ooze itself. In that age, it was worshiped by the largest of slimes and other crawling creatures, many of which contained an alien intelligence.[1][11]

In -30,000 DR, Araushnee, with the help of her son Vhaeraun, gathered a host of evil deities opposed to the Seldarine (including Ghaunadaur), and convinced them to attack Arvandor, in an attempt to overthrow Corellon. She had planned for the assult to ultimately fail, as her actual goal was for his consort to be killed during the battle and to replace him as Coronal of Arvandor. She was almost successful in tricking Eilistraee into slaying her own father with a stray arrow, but the Weaver's conspiracy was ultimately thwarted by Sehanine Moonbow, and Corellon's life was saved. After her betrayal was revealed, Araushnee was banished by Corellon and turned into a tanar'ri, while Vhaeraun was simply exiled. Even though she was cleared from all guilt, Eilistraee chose to share her mother's and brother's punishment, because she knew that the drow would need her light in the times to come.[1][11]

The First FloweringEdit

Araushnee took the name of Lolth, and made the 66th layer of the Abyss, the Demonweb Pits, her new home. She had to struggle to gain control over the layer, fighting the power of both Ghaunadaur and of Kiaransalee.[11] The latter was a dark elven lich from the world of Threnody. After being banished by her consort, the king of Threnody, for her experiment on undeath, she fled with a group of loyal followers to continue with her research elsewhere. Eventually, Kiaransalee managed to raise an army of undead and exact revenge upon the inhabitants of her former world, rendering it lifeless, and to find home in the Abyss, where she ascended to divinity as a demipower. She wasn't however able to prevent Lolth from gaining control of the plane, and was subdued by the Spider Queen, reduced to an unwilling vassal.[1] Ghaunadaur, on the other hand, became the author of his own defeat, as his failure to destroy Lolth drove him to steal the intelligence from all the oozes that worshiped him in a fit of rage, leading to a great loss of followers, and therefore of power.[1]

Meanwhile, Eilistraee and Vhaeraun chose to wander on Toril, home of the dark elves (and of many other elven people, later). With time, Vhaeraun gained a strong influence in the southern Faerun, among the drow of Ilythiir, despite Eilistraee's striving against his and Ghaunadaur's corruption of the Ilythiiri. The Dark Maiden herself was patroness of the dark and green elves of Miyeritar, which became one of the greatest centers of magic and art of Faerun.[11][1][12]

Lolth's attention turned to Toril only when the moon elf Kethryllia Amarillis (founder of the house that brought her name) intruded into the Demonweb, reminding the Spider Queen of a way to regain more of her divinity by having the surface elves worship her once more. During a battle in defense of her city--Sharlarion--while wielding the dagger (imbued with scrying magic) that Ka'Narlist had given to Cornaith Moonflower long before (and that had become part of the treasures of Sharlarion), Kathryllia chased a demon to the Abyss. Lolth noticed the dagger and followed the magic to Ka'Narlist, deciding that he would make a fine consort. She planned to act through him and gain the worship of the dark elves, to exact revenge on Corellon through his own people.[11]

While Lolth was trying to establish an influence in Toril, in -17,600 DR, the Ever'Sakkatien (the first Sundering) caused the destruction of great part of Ilythiir (including its capital, Atorrnash), and the death of many followers of Vhaeraun (one of the main patrons of the empire) with it. The Masked Lord's influence ebbed with the loss of his worshipers, granting Lolth the opportunity to fill the void.[11]

The Crown WarsEdit

The Crown Wars had deep consequences on the detieis that would later form the Dark Seldarine, and especially dealt a major blow to Eilistraee and her faith. In −10,500 DR, the Dark Disaster—a magical cataclysm unleashed by the elves of Aryvandaar—caused the death of many of her people in Miyeritar, severely weakening the goddess' power[1]. Meanwhile, Lolth and Ghaunadaur gained great influence among the dark elves, culminating in -10,000 DR, when the Seldarine and the elves gathered at the Elven Court cursed and exiled all dark elves (including Eilistraee's followers), turning them into drow. This harsh punishment was motivated by the corruption that Lolth and the Balor Wendonai were spreading among the noble houses of Ilythiir, and by the worship of Lolth that had begun to spread among the Ilythiiri[13][14]. Ultimately, Eilistraee, Vhaeraun and Ghaunandaur could not rival Lolth's power, and the Spider Queen became the major deity of the dark elves. After this event, Lolth and Ghaunadaur started to persecute worshipers of rival deities, something that particularly impacted the Dark Maiden (and her already decimated followers), further marginalizing her influence for millennia.[1]

Post Crown Wars (-9000 DR to 1372 DR)Edit

After the descent of the drow, Lolth began to turn the drow into the instruments of her vengeance against Corellon, leading them to the Underdark, turning them against each other in endless infighting, and demanding utter submission. Vhaeraun strove to contrast her mother's influence and tyranny over the drow. He worked to shatter the order that she was trying to impose on them, and to make his people united again, so that they could take back all that they had lost after the Crown Wars and reclaim their rightful place in the Night Above.[1]

Eilistraee tried to be a mother goddess to her people and bring them the hope of a new life. She too fought to lead them back to the lands of light, but her goal was to help them to flourish and prosper in harmony with other races, free from Lolth's tyranny and the conflicts that dominated their lives.[1][15]Hers was an uphill battle, but despite the many hardships and setbacks, Eilistraee never gave up fighting for her people (although it was only in the centuries after Dalereckoning that her faith regained a degree of prominence in Faerûn).[1]

Ghaunadaur's worship ebbed too until the Age of Humanity, when more drow started to grew tired of Lolth's tyranny, and sought other deities, Ghaunadaur among them.[1][13]

Selvetarm, son of Vhaeraun and Zandilar the Dancer (an elven goddess worshiped by the elves of the Yuirwood), became part of the Dark Seldarine long after the Crown Wars. Seeing her people attacked by Lolth's minions, Zandilar sought out Vhaeraun and tried to seduce him, in order to gain his help against the Spider Queen. The Masked Lord however betrayed and imprisoned the elven goddess, who in turn would later manage to escape thanks to the help of Bast, a Mulhorandi demigoddess, but not before having conceived Selvetarm. Zandilar gave birth to Selvetarm shortly after having gained her freedom, and after having merged with Bast (forming Sharess) in order to save both herself and her son. Selvetarm walked alone for centuries, after having spurned both his parents, until he was found and befriended by his aunt Eilistraee, to whom her grew very close. Selvetarm came to admire her goodness and appreciate her teachings, and the goddess hoped that, by teaching him her ways and redeeming him, he could become an exemplar that would aid her in healing the rift between the dark elves and the Seldarine. However, said hope and friendship ended in the late 3rd century after Dalereckoning, when Lolth tricked Selvetarm into slaying Zanassu (a demon lord whom Lolth considered her rival, as he claimed to have power over spiders), by promising him that doing so would gain him the appreciation of the Dark Maiden. Selvetarm killed the demon, but was overwhelmed by the demonic essence and he fell wholly to evil, ending up as Lolth's champion. Spiteful Lolth did this to prevent her daughter gaining an ally among the Dark Seldarine.[1]

War of the Spider QueenEdit

In the Year of Wild Magic, 1372 DR, the goddess Lolth went into a state of hibernation, a period called the Silence of Lolth, with Selvetarm protecting her, as part of a plan to increase her power and separate her divine realm, the Demonweb Pits, from the Abyss. For about one year, she stopped granting spells to her followers and became effectively inactive, leading a considerable number of her followers to seek alternatives in the other deities of the Dark Seldarine, especially Eilistraee, Vhaeraun and Kiaransalee, who gained followers and influence.[16][17][18][19][20][21]

The drow of Menzoberranzan, through Triel Baenre, sent a group of powerful adventurers (initially Quenthel Baenre, Pharaun Mizzrym, Ryld Argith, Valas Hune and the Draegloth Jeggred Baenre) to discover the cause of Lolth's silence (or, as was then suspected, disfavor).[17]. Quenthel's company set out for Ched Nasad, to find out whether the Spider Queen's had only abandone Menzoberranzan, or all of her worshipers. The situation in the City of Webs was even worse, as the Vhaerunite and Jaezred Chaulssin were plotting from the shadow to take over the weakened city. Ched Nasad was destroyed in a failed coup attempt, and Quenthel's company were forced to escape through a portal which led them to the Anauroch (alongside Halisstra Melarn and Danifae Yauntyrr), without having gathered any useful information on Lolth's state.[17]

Hoping that another deity could directly see what had happened to the Spider Queen, the group of drow began searching for priests of Vhaeraun. They used a Shadow walk spell to quickly reach Cormanthor (where the Vhaeraunites were particularly active).[17][18] Around the same time, Menzoberranzan came under siege from the Duergar of Gracklstugh, the Tanarukks of Hellgate Keep and Menzoberranzan's own House Agrach Dyrr.[18]

In Uktar 1372 DR Quenthel's company finally managed to gain the collaboration of a cleric of Vhaeraun who could lead them to the Demonweb Pits with the help of his god. However, they were betrayed by their Vhaeraunite guide, who summoned the Masked Lord as part of a plan to attack the defenseless Lolth. Selvetarm appeared to battle Vhaeraun but both fell off the web and plummeted into the darkness below.[18]

Meanwhile Halisstra was separated from the main group and captured by the forces of Lord Dessaer of Elventree. She was befriended by Seyll Auzkovyn, a priestess of Eilistraee. While Halisstra tricked and killed Seyll in order to gain freedom, the message of Eilistraee and Seyll's faith in the Dark Maiden instilled doubt in her mind. She found and rejoined Quenthel's group for a time, only to later chose to abandon Lolth and flee with Ryld. She embraced Eilistraee's faith after being saved from a troll by another of the priestess of the goddess, Uluyara.[18][19]

The Dark Maiden chose Halisstra to wield the artifact known as the Crescent Blade, which could be used to kill Lolth before her awakening (in 1373 DR). Halisstra went on a mission to the Demonweb Pits, leading two fellow priestesses of the Dark Maiden, Uluyara and Feliane. There, she was met and defeated by Quenthel Baenre and her group (who had found a way into the Demonweb pits too), an event that led Halisstra to betray Eilistraee and convert back to the awakened Lolth. The Spider Queen, who had become a greater deity and absorbed Danifae, punished Halisstra's former heresy by turning her into the Lady Penitent, whose duty was to hunt those drow who tried to turn to other faiths. The Crescent Blade was left broken, lying in the Demonweb Pits. Lolth's rebirth also signed the end of the siege of Menzoberranzan, with the defeat of the assaulting forces.[19][20][21][10]

Even after Lolth emerged from her Silence, the deities of the Dark Seldarine continued battling for supremacy over the drow or, in Eilistraee's case, to free them from Lolth's renewed grasp.

Eilistraee and Lolth finally elected to play a divine game of sava in 1375 DR, with the future of the drow being at stake. After the end of the Silence of Lolth, working on the Spider Queen's side, Selvetarm ordered his Judicators to initiate a series of attacks against the shrines and temples of Eilistraee. At the same time, Vhaeraun was plotting against his sister and working to devise a method to slay her. As a result, his worshipers planned to cast a High Magic spell to allow Vhaeraun to enter his sister's realm and assassinate her. However, that kind of magic was very taxing, and would have required the sacrifice of the souls of the casters. Because of that, the followers of the Masked Lord started to kill various priestesses of Eilistraee and collect their souls in their masks (a technique which they called "soultheft"), in order to use them as a fuel for the ritual.[10]

Eventually, Qilué Veladorn, leader of the church of Eilistraee, managed to learn about their plan and started working to disrupt it, alongside the drow mage Q'arlynd Melarn ( Halisstra's brother, who had turned to the faith of Eilistraee). Q'arlynd's task was to take the place of one of the Vhaerunites and try to disrupt their ritual. Meanwhile, Eilistraee sought to recover the lost Crescent Blade; to that purpose, Cavatina Xarann, a Darksong Knight serving the Dark Dancer, went on a mission into the Demonweb Pits, where the sword was seen last.[10]

In the same year, Selvetarm made another move, trying to strike at the heart of his aunt's forces, as his followers attacked the Promenade of the Dark Maiden. However, his attempts ultimately failed: on Nightal 20 of the Year of Risen Elfkin, 1375 DR, the defenders of the Promenade (led by Qilué) bested the assailants,[10] while Cavatina killed the demigod himself in the Demonweb Pits (with the help of the Lady Penitent), using the Crescent Blade, which she had recovered almost intact.[22][10]

On the same date, Q'arlynd failed to accomplish his mission and Vhaeraun managed to enter his sister Eilistraee's realm to attempt to assassinate her. No mortal actually witnessed the battle that ensued, so what happened remained largely unknown. However, Eilistraee emerged from the battle alive, suggesting that Vhaeraun had failed and perished at the hand of his sister. After the event, Eilistraee was changed: she became a deity known as "the Masked Lady", holding both the Dark Maiden's and the Masked Lord's portfolios, and causing both their followers to cooperate, albeit uneasily.[22][10][note 2]

In 1377 DR Kiaransalee joined the game of sava, and her followers tried and alter the Underdark's natural faerzress magic to affect the ability for Drow to use teleportation or divination magic. After being assaulted by the forces of Kiaransalee, the followers of the Masked Lady retaliated by sieging the Acropolis of Thanatos and killing Kiaransalee's high priestesses. At the same time, other followers invoked the Elven High Magic discovered in the ruins of Miyeritar to remove Kiaransalee's name from the memory of all Torilians, leading to the death of the goddess.[9]

Between 1377 DR and 1379 DR, Ghaunadaur joined the conflict between Lolth and Eilistraee, focusing his attention on the latter[2] (who, through her chosen, had previously banished The Elder Eye's avatar from Toril[1]). As a result, his cultists attacked the Promenade in an attempt to destroy the prison—guarded by the followers of Eilistraee—that prevented their god from creeping into Toril. The attempt failed, but the inhabitants of the temple suffered heavy losses.[2]

Lolth also attempted to destroy Ghaunadaur, but he proved to be much more powerful than she had thought. However, Ghaunadaur ultimately chose to leave the Demonweb, and created his new divine realm in the Deep Caverns.[2]

Later, in Flamerule 1379 DR, Halisstra Melarn killed Qilué Veladorn, whose body was being inhabited by the Masked Lady (supposedly killing the goddess as well), while under the influence of Lolth's champion Wendonai.[2][note 3]

Meanwhile, another High Magic ritual performed by Q'arlynd Melarn transformed those drow not tainted by Wendonai's blood and the followers of Eilistraee back into their original dark elven form, and Corellon Larethian permitted the souls of Eilistraee's faithful and the newly transformed dark elves to enter Arvandor.[2]

The Second SunderingEdit

During the 1480s DR, the Overgod Ao separated the twin worlds Abeir and Toril once again and rewrote the Tablets of Fate (an artifact which contained the name of every deity of the pantheon and their portfolio), in an event known as the Sundering. Because of that, many deities of Toril who were considered dead or lost managed to return to life,[23] and after about a century of total supremacy, Lolth was forced to assist to the renewal of the Dark Seldarine:

  • Eilistraee and Vhaeraun managed to return to life in Flamerule 1489 DR, as separate entities, with the same power and portfolio that they had before 1375 DR (see note 3).[3][6][7] After the time spent as the Masked Lady, they reached deep reciprocal understanding, respect and even friendship: despite having very different ideals and modus operandi, all conflicts between the two siblings were no more.[24][7] Both deities personally let their return be known, manifesting through their avatars to their followers, who enthusiastically spread the word.[4] Eilistraee, in particular, was seen dancing and speaking to mortals in many places, especially along the Sword Coast. Waterdeep was one of the spots where the Dark Dancer was witnessed, as she danced in the moonlight, near the walls of the city, up the road to Amphail.[5]
  • Kiaransalee and Selvetarm were also restored to life during the Sundering[3]

AppendixEdit

NotesEdit

  1. As said here, in answer to this question, only the following lines of text in the last reference are to be considered canon: "After Flamerule 1489, Vhaeraun and Eilistraee are separate deities with the same powers and portfolios they had before 1375, but a new understanding, respect, and even friendship for each other. Some of their followers still war with each other, but the two deities do not. Thus far, Eilistraee’s teachings after the Sundering are the same as before the Sundering"
  2. The Grand History of the Realms explicitly says that Vhaeraun's assassination attempt failed and Eilistraee killed him, though his continued existence suggests otherwise. In one of his answers, Ed Greenwood suggests that Eilistraee actually spared her brother's life. The Dark Maiden defeated Vhaeraun with the indirect help of her ally Mystra, as the Weave frustrated the Masked Lord's magic while enhancing Eilistraee's. The goddess temporarily took her brother's portfolio, and trapped his sentience in the Weave, where it was enfolded in a dream by Mystra. The Lady of Mysteries did that to ensure that the two drow siblings would survive the cataclysm that she knew was coming—the Spellplague—in which she would be "killed" to renew the Weave, and magic would go wild.
  3. In the same answer mentioned in the previous note, Ed Greenwood hints that Eilistraee actually managed to survive Halisstra's attempt to kill her, albeit much weakened. When Qilué Veladorn was killed, since the Masked Lady was inhabiting her body, a great part of her power was dragged into the Weave with the Chosen's soul (the souls of Mystra's chosen often become "Voices in the Weave" after their death, as explained in the novel Spellstorm, and their memories and experiences are shared by Mystra). After that, for about a century, Eilistraee could only manfest herself as a floating black mask surrounded by moonlight, capable of silently communicating with mortals, but not of answering prayers or granting spells (except by direct touch). After Mystra and the Weave were completely restored in 1487 DR, the goddess of magic could finally give Eilistraee her own lost power, and do the same with Vhaeraun, after having awakened him from his dream.

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 Eric L. Boyd (1998). Demihuman Deities. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-1239-1.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Lisa Smedman (June 2008). Ascendancy of the Last. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 978-0-7869-4864-2.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Kim Mohan ed. (2015). Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 23, 108. ISBN 978-0786965809.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Ed Greenwood/The Hooded One (2015-04-17). Questions for Ed Greenwood (2015). Candlekeep Forum.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Ed Greenwood (June 7, 2016). Death Masks. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-6593-2
  6. 6.0 6.1 Ed Greenwood/The Hooded One (2015-04-16). Questions for Ed Greenwood (2015). Candlekeep Forum.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Ed Greenwood/The Hooded One (2015-11-14). Questions for Ed Greenwood (2015). Candlekeep Forum.
  8. Ed Greenwood (June 2015). Spellstorm. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 978-0786965717.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Lisa Smedman (September 2007). Storm of the Dead. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 978-0-7869-4701-0.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 10.7 Lisa Smedman (January 2007). Sacrifice of the Widow. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-4250-9.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 Elaine Cunningham (1999). Evermeet: Island of Elves. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-1354-1.
  12. Richard Baker, Ed Bonny, Travis Stout (February 2005). Lost Empires of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-3654-1.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  14. Steven E. Schend and Kevin Melka (1998). Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves. (TSR, Inc). ISBN 0-7069-0761-4.
  15. Ed Greenwood/The Hooded One (2006-04-13). Questions for Ed Greenwood (2006). Candlekeep Forum.
  16. Richard Lee Byers (August 2003). Dissolution. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-2944-8.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 Thomas M. Reid (December 2003). Insurrection. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-3033-0.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 18.4 Richard Baker (May 2003). Condemnation. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0786932023.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 Lisa Smedman (February 2005). Extinction. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-3596-0.
  20. 20.0 20.1 Philip Athans (August 2005). Annihilation. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-3752-1.
  21. 21.0 21.1 Paul S. Kemp (February 2006). Resurrection. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-3981-8.
  22. 22.0 22.1 Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 158–159. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  23. Kim Mohan ed. (2015). Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 978-0786965809.
  24. Ed Greenwood/The Hooded One (2015-11-11). Questions for Ed Greenwood (2015). Candlekeep Forum.

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