|Vrimak depicted in the common Anaxial-era style.|
Vrimak first flew through the skies when the world was young. He was the Bright Eagle Lord, who carried the All-Seeing Eye within his talons. He did not land, for he was a creation of the Pure Light, and could fly even when asleep.
It was only when he looked down, and saw Avarnia, goddess of ancient Jarasan. Her beauty was unmatched in all the world, and not even the glories of the sky could match her grace. Vrimak descended through the sky, descended through the air, until his talons touched the ground.
Vrimak romanced Avarnia, and their children filled the land of Jarasan. From the running birds, to the soaring birds, the land was bountiful, and Vrimak returned to the sky, taking Avarnia with him as his bride.
As children of the High Flyer, all of Jarasan worshipped birds. The men rode upon the greatest of the Tall Birds, and were mighty hunters and warriors; the women danced among the plump birds, and provided life to the land. All was good until the serpent came.
The serpent slithered across the land, devouring all that was good. All that flew retreated to the sky to be with Vrimak, leaving only the Tall Birds, and the people.
As the people despaired, a man came amongst them. He proclaimed himself child of the All-Seeing Eye, and carried fire within his breast. He bound the serpent up with earth and shovels, but the serpent was clever, and hid inside the man, although no one knew.
All of Jarasan thanked the man, who called himself Murharzarm. He gave the people the gift of worship, allowing them to fly up to reach the sky to meet with the gods. Murharzarm was so worthy that the gods themselves descended from the sky to pay him homage. Even great Vrimak roosted upon Murharzarm's arm, declaring him to be his successor, the second Bright Eagle Lord, and that all should follow him.
One of Vrimak's children was not like the others. Where they were bright and glorious, she was dark and spiteful. Where they bore feathers of great beauty, she wore nothing like a worm. She was called Mahaquata, and had long since left the gaze of her father. When she saw Murharzarm who had tamed the serpent, she was angry, as she always was when someone could do what she could not. She met with others, such as Blows From Within and the Armless Howler, and conspired with them.
They took everything that was wrong, and evil, and impure, and created a weapon. They then entered the home of Murharzarm, and while Mahaquata distracted her father, the others plunged their weapon into Murharzarm's chest.
When Murharzarm died, everything went wrong.
Vrimak returned to the sky, despairing at the corruption of his kin. The conspirators fled in shame and horror of what they did, and all the people of Murharzarm fell upon each other in fear. The serpent, BernEel Arashagern, now freed once again, burst its boundaries to devour the world.
Fortunately, Murharzarm had a son, Jethsarum. He had been trained by his father in the arts of rulership, trained by his uncle the Red Planet in the arts of war, and trained by Vrimak in the arts of devotion. He bound BernEel Arashagern as his father did, and when the serpent tried to escape, used violence to force it to stay.
He was elected by the people as the next Bright Eagle Lord, in his father's place, and he ruled justly. But the serpent had a mother, the Mother of All Serpents, she of the blue blood and dark heart. She would crush and devour all of the world in vengeance, so Jethsarum sent his people to live on the great ship with others, while he went to face her. He died, but saved the world in doing so, so made Vrimak proud.
After Jethsarum's death, the master of the great ship assumed the role of leader, although no one ever proclaimed him Bright Eagle Lord. When they saw it was safe to return, the gods of Jarasan took the people within their claws, and departed the ship. They found the ancient city of Verapur within the lands, and Vrimak sent his son Tholm to roost within its temple. Jethsarum now had a statue before the temple of Vrimak, to bless the city, and protect it from serpents. Verapur was the jewel of the world, and the lords of east and west both came to grace it with their presence.
But goodness never stays. Although Verapur was bright, the world was not. Kestinoros, the newly crowned Bright Eagle Lord and descendent of Jethsarum, saw this when he spoke with Tholm, Vrimak's messenger. He saw the monsters coming from the north, the children of Mahaquata and worse things, and they were bringing with them a castle of ice.
Kestinoros sought the greatest soldiers in the world to war against these monsters, that he called the Erkarkest, but the others refused. They did not fear what they could not see, and would not risk danger. Knowing that Jarasan could not hold out alone, Kestinoros sent his people south, with Tholm to protect them, while he took his soldiers north to face the Erkarkest.
When Kestinoros did not return, the people knew that they were doomed, and went to Tholm, to beg for his protection. Tholm spoke with his father, Vrimak, who descended downwards once more. At first, people were frightened by his brightness, but then they saw him darken with sorrow. His wings turned black, his beak became obsidian, until only his burning eyes remained visible, as his wings mantled everyone. This was Vrimak the Night Eagle, who would protect his people with sorrow, as the world outside turned to ice and ash.
By the time the Erkarkest were gone, and Vrimak had lifted his wings once more, the people were lost. They did not know their faces from those of their neighbour, and had forgotten how to worship vrimak. They followed whatever lords and gods would protect them, and Vrimak no longer shone, nor carried the All-Seeing Eye.
It was only much later, when the people were labouring under many horse worshippers, when they discovered who they were. A man came amongst them, who called himself Avivath the spearman. He fled the horse worshippers, who intended to kill him, for he knew of the Truth. He showed the people of the land about Vrimak and Tholm and showed them how to worship the gods correctly. In one hand he bore the All-Seeing Eye, that he called Antirius; and in the other he carried the Roost of Tholm, upon which the Hawk God perched. He renamed the land Kestinaddi, after the Roost. He named a youth as the Bright Eagle Lord, and the land became well.
When the All-Seeing Eye returned to the Sky, Vrimak took it once again in his talons, and carried it from west to east, only stopping once, when the people of the land called on Avarnia to woo him once more, that they might birth a perfect god once more from the cosmic egg.
Ever since then, the people of Kestinaddi have risen and fallen, with even the name changing to Rinliddi, but Vrimak has remained in the skies.
Nature of the Cult
|Lunar-style statue of Vrimak|
After death, his worshippers know that they will join with the birds of the sky world, becoming magnificent of plumage, and beings of pure fire.
Vrimak is depicted as either a bird, or as man with the head and wings of a bird. While many Rinliddi families depict Vrimak as their ancestral bird, he is most commonly seen as the golden Sun Eagle of Peloria. He is often on fire, as befits a sky god, and sometimes bears the All-Seeing Eye within his talons or hands.
Plentonius identified the fourteenth figure of the first row of the Gods Wall with Vrimak, although later scholars have claimed this is his son Tholm (who Plentonius identified as figure seventeen of that row.)
Vrimak is the source of the Bird Rune, a specialization of the Beast Rune. He is also strongly associated with the Sky Rune.
Vrimak is the Lord of the Above, the Bearer of the All-Seeing Eye, and the Wings of Shining Heaven.
His initiates are known to use the Sky Rune to illuminate their surroundings, make their swords burst into flames, reveal hidden things with the rays of the sun, see in darkness, and terrify creatures of darkness. Unusually for Solar cults, they may also use their Sky Rune to scare and burn horses.
Worshippers who are powerful in the Sky Rune Affinity are loyal, honest, and pure.
Vrimak is the Father of Birds, the God of Eagles, and the High Flyer. He is the source of the Bird Rune, and his initiates can make a very broad use of its powers. His initiates are known to use the Bird Rune to speak to and command birds, grow mighty wings, change their head into that of a hawk, spot enemies at a distance, breed fine hawks, heal birds, and to summon and command lesser bird gods.
Worshippers who are powerful in the Bird Rune Affinity are just and merciless.
Particular Likes and Dislikes
Vrimak is friendly with most other gods of fire and the sky. Especially honoured is Murharzarm and his father the All-Seeing Eye (who the Dara Happans call Yelm), who Vrimak bestowed his favour. It is common for noblemen of Rinliddi blood to worship both Vrimak and Murharzarm. Also favoured is Shargash, god of the Red Planet, and uncle of Jethsarum. He is better known to the Rinliddi as Vaskaru the warrior.
The darkness is hated by Vrimak, in part because it was his daughter who brought it into existence. His worshippers will rarely have non-violent relations with any creature or worshipper of darkness.
The greatest foe of Vrimak are the serpents, that is viewed with the same vehemence other cults save for Chaos. The serpents include water gods, dragons, and other vile and low creatures.
Cult Organization and Holy Places
|Rural Rinliddi shrine to Vrimak|
All priests acknowledge the Bright Eagle Lord, Vrimak's representative in the world, as their superior. This position is normally synonymous with that of the Emperor of Dara Happa, but on occasions when Dara Happa has been seduced by darkness or serpents, Rinliddi has remained pure, and a new Bright Eagle Lord has been chosen by the gods.
Vrimak's temples are circular towers, guarding a paradisal garden within, where birds of all kinds congregate in harmony.
The greatest of these towers is in Diavizzi, and is said to enclose the roost of Tholm when it is not being held by the current Bright Eagle Lord. The high priest of Diavizzi knows the truth, that the temple itself is in fact Tholm's roost, and that each supplicant who wishes to beome the Bright Eagle Lord must visit the temple to commune with Tholm and Vrimak.
Vrimak's priests, also known as Resplendent Ones for their brightly decorated feathered robes, are now a common sight in the cities of First Blessed. Where once they donned their garments in secret, fearing Pentan or Dara Happan reprisal, the Resplendent Ones now perform their ritual dances upon the re-sanctified temples of Vrimak.
Holy Days and Sacrifices
Vrimak has four major holy days, taking place on the equinoxes and solstices. On the Ninth day of Sacred Time, Vrimak's cult holds Egg Day, celebrating when Vrimak hatched from the cosmic egg to oversee the world. The festivities involve grand feasts, usually consisting of egg dishes sweetened with dried fruit.
On the eighth day of the sixth week of Youth Season (Fireday of Harmony Week in Fire Season) is the Summer Solstice, marking Vrimak's High Holy Day. This day has largely been eclipsed by Yelm's celebration, but Vrimak's temples are still open for Zenith Day, marking the point when Vrimak reached the apex of the sky on his flight. Feathered sashes are given out to the masses, and even during the most solemn of Yelm festivities, the people can be seen covered in the brightly coloured garments.
On the second day of the first week of Harvest Season (The Waterday of Stasis Week in Earth Season), the Rindliddi celebrate Nest Day, when Avarnia romanced Vrimak, and the celestial couple became one. On this day, Rinliddi woman are allowed to ask men to marry them, in what one Dara Happan emissary described as "Near Ulerian levels of debauchery."
The fifth day of the first week of Dying Season is called Mantling Day (The Fireday of Illusion Weak in Dark Season.) As the Winter Solstice, the day is sacred to the Night Eagle aspect of Vrimak, and commemorates when he wrapped his wings around the desperate exiles from ancient Jarasan. (The Dara Happans claim this is a misidentification of the Roof of Manarlavus) On this day, the Rinliddi try to stay indoors when possible, and weep for those brave enough to stand against the glacier.
- A Prospective initiate must have a Sky Rune or Bird Rune rating of at least 1w.
- While most Vrimak initiates are men, women are not technically forbidden from the cult, and numbers of them have been increasing since the rise of the Red Moon.
Most temples to Vrimak are centred around the worship of one or more of his children. Here are some of the more common subcults found in Rinliddi:
Jethsarum is the High Heat, son of Murharzarm, nephew of Shargash, and slayer of serpents. When the Serpent tried to devour the world, he used the rituals of his father, and the spear of his uncle to bind it into impotence. When the Mother of All Serpents came, he stood with his uncle to defy her, while the good people fled. His cult provides the Enemy of Serpents Feat.
Vrimak became the Night Eagle when all was lost, and the world grew dark. He took his wings and mantled the survivors of the serpents, of the Erkarkest, and other horrors. He kept them safe, when only his eyes could provide light. Worshippers can use their Sky Rune affinity to be the light in darkness.
|Pre-Jenarong era statuette of Veng|
Tholm is the Descender Hawk, the god of falconry, and is visible as the rays of the sun. He is the intermediary between Vrimak and humanity, and much of Rinliddi can trace their descent from him. His worshippers can use their Bird Rune to become a hawk.
Veng is the god of Avilry, trained by Shargash in the arts of war. He rides upon the ancient augner birds, and has been persecuted since before the dawn. Only with the coming of the Red Goddess has his temples been reopened, and only with her blessing have the augners been reborn. His worshippers can use their Bird Rune affinity to hatch augners, and to aid riding them.
- An initiate of Vrimak with a rating of 11W in their Divine Rune Affinity may dedicate themselves completely to Vrimak and become a devotee.
- Devotees are subject to the usual restrictions.
Devotees of Vrimak may perform magical feats: repetitions of his mythic deeds. Some feats are universal to the Vrimak cult, others are associated with a particular subcult.
Within his talons, Vrimak grasps the sun, the great All-Seeing Eye. His foes cower and prostrate themselves beneath it, for they cannot hide their foulness from his sight. Any who are impure who approach him will find themselves cleansed and burned by its brightness, but while holding the All-Seeing Eye, Vrimak cannot ignore what he sees, even when it drives him to despair.
As the dancer in the skies, Vrimak is the the lord of flight. He gave wings to the planets so that they might dance around him; he raised his lover Avarnia to the skies, so that they would no longer be apart; and when the Erkarkest were revealed, he stripped them of their wings and drove them to the ground. All who fly do so at Vrimak's whim, and any who displease him, he may send plummeting downwards, while raising up those he blesses.
Enemy of Serpents
Jethsarum was the great enemy of Serpents. He bound BernEel Arashagern, the Arcos River; and confronted the mother of all serpents. With his spear Entika, he could strike the secret parts, and make their life blood run free. While he stands against them, they cannot ignore him. While he wields his spear, they cannot fight others. And so he is their greatest enemy.
Lesser Bird Gods
All birds, even the least worthy, have a spark of the divine within them. The divine ancestors of the birds still dwell within the sky world, and worshippers of Vrimak can summon and command many of them.
|Ivory Kestarthi charm|
The Kestarthi are the last children of Vrimak and Arvania, who ascended with their parents to the Sky World to provide beauty. The strongest Kestarthi are minor gods in their own right, and descended once again to aid the people of Rinliddi by carrying the words of Vrimak to them.
In their native Sky World, the Keskarthi resemble birds of every kind, made of living flame. Many of them can also take the form of a Rinliddi nobleman, but with the head and wings of a bird.
The Dara Happans count the Kestarthi as one of the many hosts of Certami.
The Erkarkest are the evil false-birds, who aided Mahaquata to slay the glorious sun. For their crimes, they were stripped of their wings, and sent to crawl upon the ground like serpents. Despairing over their blasphemy, they crawled into the forbidden places, and are fit only to be hunted and killed.
The God Learners, on hearing of the Erkarkest, proclaimed the Durulz of Maniria to be their descendent. Despite this the Rinliddi use the name much as others would use demon, monster, or krjalki; and include bats, trolls, and even pentans as forms of Erkarkest.