Some things have a way of
dying out slowly. Magic is one of those things.
In the Age of Myths, magic was hated and
feared, mostly due to the still-cooling ashes of the
War of the Chosen. Those who
persisted in pursuing have been mobbed, murdered, and hunted throughout this
era. Some, however, still managed to not only survive,
but almost thrive. One such was a Shendar
known as Chadderelomach, a powerful mage.
Although far from the power of the Chosen,
Chadderelomach plotted to become a deity. In the climax of his career, three
temples were erected by his command, and hundreds flocked to him. However, men
are mortal, and his death brought about not only disunity among the ranks, but
even death and violence, until his little splash in the pond of history was
tainted with blood and forgotten.
Description. During the Age of Myths (3400 b.S. to 1655 b.S.) the wrath of many peoples in Sarvonia against everything magical grew. Mages were persecuted and eventually became scarce at most parts of the continent. However, it was also to be expected that in some parts of the world there would be attempts of those still capable in casting magic to follow in the footsteps of the Chosen, trying to make themselves the greatest power in existence. One such person lived in the uttermost south of the continent, making his home in the mighty cliffs east of Bardavos – and he was a Shendar originally hailing from Uderza, who we now know as Chadderelomach.
Chadderelomach was indeed a powerful mage, and in the course of his lifetime gathered a great following. It consisted primarily of men, who were displeased with the matriarchal society in which they lived and sought a leader to guide them towards a new freedom, a man who would value their faith. Chadderelomach, born to a Shendar mother and an unknown father (estimated life-time 1880-1790 b.S.) was a very charismatic human, and convinced members from diverse races that ventured as far south as his homelands that he was to become the overruling deity of the entire world.
For several years, Chadderelomach seemed to be achieving his dream, and three temples were erected in his name. The first one was a temple built in his own honour; the second was a temple to the local deities Foiros and Baveras, the Burning One and the Untamed One, both gods he sought to overcome; and the third temple was dedicated to his people, those that, according to his teachings, would earn great might themselves should he be accepted as their deity.
However, Chadderelomach, though seemingly unreachable and invincible for his followers during his lifetime, was very mortal. At ninety-two cycles of age, is is reported that he died in his sleep, still an active man. Three factions arose from his followers thereafter: Those who thought he had now become a god, those who believed that his second was to take his place, and then there were those who became disillusioned after his death.
The fighting among the factions was, for a time, completely political. Those who became disillusioned wanted the temples to be taken down or renovated to show more accepted mythology, those who were convinced that Chadderelomach had become a god demanded that the temples should be kept and tended in the master's honour, and the rest simply hung on the words of his high priest, a foreigner who was a powerful mage in his own right. The latter, who we know as Kaandrish, had nothing like the natural talent possessed by Chadderelomach, nor was he as responsible or charismatic a leader.
Finding himself being defeated politically, it was said that the high priest Kaandrish finally turned to demonic rites to gain more power. A more consistent theory, suggested by various indicators, perhaps is that Kaandrish managed to transform followers into monstrous slaves to show his might. In the end it is traded that two years after the death of Chadderelomach, at the same day and hour of the anniversary of his birth, there happened a great massacre. The people of the two lesser temples (dedicated to Foiros and Baveras and to the followers themselves), were killed, and even the buildings themselves were completely destroyed in some form of cataclysm, which we still fail to explain until this very day.
What seems to be sure though is that those who followed Kaandrish became increasingly scarce over the two years proceeding the destruction of the other two temples. Those who attempted to leave from his service were never seen again. It is suspected that they were killed by the high priest himself or that they fell prey to dark experiments of Kaandrish which involved the alteration of humans into disgusting beasts. What has happened to Kaandrish after the cataclysm is unsure. However, the last temple finally became silent and forgotten, buried in ages of old sand; the records of what happened to those inside seemingly lost forever.
The people of the Shendar generally
dressed in loose-fitting clothing, and the cult of Chadderelomach was no
different. The priests are said to have dressed only in ankle length robes, with
marks on both shoulders and the colour of the hem of the robe indicating their
rank. Very characteristic for the Chadderelomachan priests were especially the
enormous arm parts and sleeves at their robes, so that when they raised their
arms in prayer the dress would form a half circle.
The general followers of Chadderelomach did not normally attire themselves in any distinct manner compared to regular Shendar, with the exception of characteristic colours at the hems of their robes.
Practices. The practices of this cult are known only through legends given of them, and therefore much of it has been eliminated as only rumour. All information not so regarded has been recorded here.
The Chadderelomach Cult obviously followed the man bearing this very name. He is said to have initiated this religious community with heavy magical influences, trying to gather acolytes and believers around himself, who trusted in his godly abilities. A number of ranks were distributed throughout the cult, although the exact purpose of them remains to a great degree unknown. The ranking was obviously decided through two factors, namely magical ability and the degree of trust placed in them by Chadderelomach and his high priest.
It is apparent that some of the followers, given to fanaticism to a high degree, promised their lives to Chadderelomach, even though they were not powerful enough to hold any higher position. What could be uncovered by digging through the sources we have gained on the cult is that various followers saw it as an honour to be used by the great master in some kind of experiment, altered to become monstrous beasts. More than likely these beasts died shortly after they were altered, as some very odd bones have been found around the area where the temple of Chadderelomach supposedly was located.
Some have said that the temples, of which there were originally three, were constructed purely by magical means. A more likely theory is that they were constructed by manual labour, but with assistance of magic. Only a single room of the one remaining temple has been uncovered, and therefore, little can be proved or disproved at the moment.
Altering of the human form was apparently one of Chadderelomach's pet projects. It seems that only one successful alteration has come out of his research, that of his second, who took control of the cult after Chadderelomach's death and whom we know as the high priest Kaandrish. Whether or not this alteration was truly successful has not been ascertained though.
In advancing to a higher position within the ranks, it appears that those wishing to be promoted and having the approval of Chadderelomach or his high priest, were obligated to complete a set of magical and logical trials in each temple, beginning with the temple of the people, to the trials given at the temple of Chadderelomach. There exist many references in fragmentaric writings we have from this era with suggestions on how to train mind and body, often speaking of the great tests at the temples. It is also very likely that these trials often ended in the deaths of the participants, which were interpreted as sacrifices to the great Chadderelomach.
Symbols. Two visual symbols stand out very well throughout any mention made of the cult: the circle and the triangle. It is speculated that both symbols were taken from the popularity of these signs throughout local belief. Apparently, they indicated strength to this cult.
A figure representing four elements has been found as well. This symbol consists of a circle, with symbols at top, left, bottom, and right sides of it. From all of these points extends a triangle inward, with the bottom corners of all four triangles touching, leaving an open space in the center. Inside this is an unfamiliar rune, apparently indicative of Chadderelomach.
Other symbols include a cross, apparently used to signify the human body and health; an eight-sided figure used to signify the earth and/or warfare; and a square with a thick line from the top right corner to the bottom left, indicating imprisonment or death.
Temples. In their region, this cult constructed three temples: One to the general people, the followers, one to the local gods Foiros and Baveras, and one to Chadderelomach himself. From the information we managed to gather we know that under each temple was a set of rooms used for trials to determine the advancement of members. The number of main rooms in each temple is as follows: three rooms under the temple of the people, seeming to indicate a simple yet powerful form of government; seven rooms for the temple to the local deities, Foiros and Baveras, possibly symbolizing the number of days and therefore time itself. And finally there are twelve rooms somehow connected to the temple of Chadderelomach, three, it seems, for each element. Also, there have been indications of a so-called "Hall of the Elements“ in the largest temple, but references to this hall are very vague. Most of the rooms contained a puzzle, illusion, or some other magically or otherwise created adversity which one had to pass in order to gain advancement.
The individual temples have been described as follows:
The People's Temple
This temple is said to be a single story building of roughly 2.5 peds in height. It was built of wood, with distinguishable features. It is also said to have contained a room for study, and a room for simple magical practice, as well as the tests contained underneath.
The inside of this temple was said to be patterned after the common temples of the deities for which it was named. It was built primarily of stone, and is said to have reached a height of somewhere around 10 peds at its highest point. It was separated by a thick wall running through the middle. The exact construction is not known, but mentioned often in the stories surrounding it are a sloped roof, two large pillars, sometimes stated as being outside, sometimes inside, and a small figure of four dragons, one for each element. This is also rumoured to be the primary figure of the mysterious "Hall Of Elements".
The Chadderelomach Temple
Little is told of the main temple, except for the fact that it was a truly grand structure. It is said that people gave their lives in the construction of it as the requirements to build it were often beyond the capabilites of the workers. The Chadderelomach temple is the only temple that still remained until this day, being due north of where the people's temple was said to be located. A single room has been uncovered in recent years, but it gives little clue as to what the rest of the temple might hold. The one room is made of solid stone, one wall being of natural stone, rather than wrought stone. Among the information gathered, reference is given to a "Hall of Elements", said to contain figures of four dragons each with some kind of effect apparently perpetuated by magical means.
After Chadderelomach's death, three factions each claimed a temple, and inhabited it. The faction following Chadderelomach's high priest inhabited the temple to Chadderelomach, and the other two were destroyed by some unknown means, leaving little to no trace of their former presence.
This one remaining temple, which is also the main and most important one, has as of yet to be fully uncovered, and the contents, including information on much of the activities of the cult, will remain hidden within until it can be properly searched.
It was firmly believed by the followers of this cult that their leader,
Chadderelomach, was to become a deity at some point in time. However, exactly
how or to what effect was obviously not clear to them, as proved by the
separation of the followers after his death.
Importance. The Cult of Chadderelomach has no real historical or religious value today, at least this is supposed. Nothing performed by this cult has drastically altered anything involved with the area in which it existed, much less Santharia, or even Caelereth. It seems to have been covered with the sands of time and has only been recently brought back in the memories of the Santharians when a small part of the main temple had been unearthed. We’re also still unsure about the destiny of Chadderelomach’s successor, the high priest Kaandrish, and whether he pursued the dark experiments of his master or if he moved to another place of which we are still unaware of. Maybe we’ll learn more about the cult once researchers manage to advance in the inner chambers of the temple.
Information provided by Garrek Driel