The power beneath the Earthsea is said to be more powerful than any other, but the Overlords are unfocused and follow a thousand different obscure agendas. The Disciples of the Overlords dare not expose themselves directly to the conflicting commands of their masters and instead use the poor as intermediaries. These unfortunates are quickly driven insane by the process, which the disciples prefer as it keeps them from manipulating the message. The Overlord priests know a secret ritual to transform living victims into the ‘Drown’, a process with few volunteers.
Each word of the name can well describe one aspect of the religion. Octopus is a creature more alien to man (and elves, etc.) than certainly any mammal, and even the lizardmen and others. They are incomprehensible, and thus maddening. Completely alien, and so uncaring of humans fate. Overlords shows the view this religion has of itself. Its leaders serve the Deep Monsters, and their goal is subjugation of the world.
Their domain is stolen from its rightful steward (Danalin), or at least subverted. So the Overlords are both reckless and insecure in their powers, and thus rarely subtle; they never use a breeze when a typhoon is available.
Baptism is common to many religions but the Overlord Cultists hold the victim underwater past immersion, through the struggle, and until the floating body has become filled and heavy with the sacred waters. Then they let go and the corpse rises as the undead drown.
Dirge of the Drown
How curious the light behaves
Reflecting off the dancing waves.
Oh how my very being craves
A view from down below.
Suspended in my watery lair,
I would not need to gasp for air,
For I’m no longer human there
Beneath the icy flow.
It’s peaceful there, but I have found
I still can hear the distant sound
Of voices of the souls who drowned
And left loved ones to mourn.
The lonely wails transmit the pain
Of those who just could not remain
So journeyed to the unknown plane
Of dead souls and unborn.
But in this world there still exist
Survivors who will always miss
The passion of their lovers’ kiss
That warmed them night and day.
Though here above the vast, cold sea,
My heart is without tragedy,
For I have someone dear to me
Who hasn’t passed away.
Never let that be untrue
For I could not bear thoughts of you
Trapped underneath the ocean blue
Deprived of your last breath.
No harm to you would I condone,
For I’d be left here on my own
To face this tragic world alone,
A fate far worse than death.
Temple of the Overlords
It lay at the heart of the temple, a strange amalgam of pearl and coral, a thing touched by the power of the Overlords. A living thing, it was constantly rippling, the way a stormy sea ripples, and we could hear its ripples in our minds, the music of distant waves. From the moment when I saw it, I knew I shouldn’t have come, but some other part of me rejoiced, drawn to its lure like a moth is drawn to a flame.
The priests held gatherings at the beginning of each week, open for all. Newcomers would need to be taken to the chamber with the coral, while the rest of us knew the way, even the ones who’d only been there once before. From the moment we stepped into the environs of the temple, we could feel the faint whisper of the waves guiding us towards the temple’s pulsing heart. Outsiders always felt unnerved as they approached the heart, unable to tell why, only subconsciously noticing the slight wave in our shoulders, our bodies picking up the rhythm of the chamber.
We would gather around the coral and dance and laugh and celebrate, seeing strange visions of a vast kingdom now drowned beneath the sea. As the hours passed, the dance would grow faster and faster and the music would grow wilder and wilder. But the music played only in our heads, an intoxicating storm that was sweeter than any nectar. We were drunk on the coral, ready to do anything, and more than one child was conceived with a total stranger on those nights. Sometimes the priests would join our celebration, but most of the time they would just stand aside, watching and waiting.
These nights always left me exhausted, my body in pain after I neglecting its limits. I worried about going too far—every year, there were some who’d die of the exhaustion—and occasionally I tried to stay away. But the music of the waves would always haunt my dreams. A faint echo remained infuriatingly just beyond hearing. The visions I would have after a good temple night! I was an artist, a poet, and nothing inspired me more. Nothing compared to the poems I composed after listening to the corals. Was it more for the sake of myself or my art? I’m not sure, but I always found myself returning after a while.
One of the priestesses seemed to take a special interest in me when I returned after an exceptionally long absence. She never said anything, but I could feel her thoughtful eyes upon me as I danced. I would catch the occasional whisper as she discussed me with the others, though I never made out any exact words.
After several such nights, something in the music crazed me as never before. My dance was wild, my visions feverish, my body screaming in ever-increasing agony as the night progressed. I could see the others growing tired and leaving, but I could not bring myself to stop, could not leave the coral that suddenly sang for me alone. I could see in the dance of the others that they did not hear the same tune as I: their rhythm and their steps were all wrong. So when they left I ignored them, knowing that they were deaf to the true music of the temple.
Then, when I was alone save for her, the priestess came and joined my dance. Her dance was perfect, in complete harmony with the waves, and I watched her, enthralled by the beauty I suddenly saw in her. I sought to imitate her elegance, but my own clumsiness was apparent to me. She did not seem to mind, for she only smiled. She took my hand and led me to a part of the temple I had never seen before. I paid no heed to my surroundings—the ecstasy of the coral was nothing compared to the pleasure of her attention, every muscle in my body shivering each time she looked at me. I was lost in her, the details of her body like a vast, deep valley I could never climb out of.
It never crossed my mind to protest as we came to the pool and she pushed me into the water. I felt something grabbing my arms and legs and pulling me down, but the priestess smiled at me, and her happiness was all that I cared for. I opened my mouth to sing a song of praise for her, and it was only then that I realized I was underwater, water filling my mouth and my lungs. For a brief moment, panic filled me and broke the spell. I screamed, and the priestess only smiled in return.
The priestess still smiles at me, in a strange amused way that I have a hard time deciphering. It has become hard to think at things, after the drowning. It is much easier to kill those the priestess tells me to kill.
For a moment, I thought I felt a distant memory when I crushed the skull of the first people the priestess told me to slay. She saw my confusion and laughed in her angelic voice. With a happy gleam in her eye, she told me that the corpses at my feet were those of my wife and children. I looked between her and the bodies. There was a momentary feeling of recall, but the words and images bore no meaning. I shrugged and stepped over the corpses. We left, her musical laughter echoing in my ears.
Now I am the bodyguard of the priestess Laerlith. For as long as she is happy with me, the music of the waves will never leave me. That is all that matters.
Chaotic Evil/Neutral Evil/Chaotic Neutral
They called him an affective dreamer. It was a horrible attunement with magic that few were cursed with; what he dreamed became real.
When he was 12, Hemah saw salamanders playing on the wet stones. They were like living pieces of painted mercury, tiny dragons who had an entire primordial world underneath the dock behind his home. They hissed at Hemah, as if confidence alone could prevent him from squashing them.
That night the hisses came again, but lower, echoing through the small stone house. Slick painted demons broke through the walls. With forked tongues, they scuttled through the shadows and grabbed Hemah’s parents, dragging them from the house.
He slept through it all. In the morning, the neighbors’ screams woke him. Most of the house had collapsed, only his room remained standing. The neighbor’s wife was a round woman with a voice so high she seemed to squeal like the pigs she and her husband raised. She rushed in and threw herself on Hemah, checking to make sure he was okay. They told him to close his eyes before they led him out of his room, but he looked.
Claw marks, blood, everything was broken… and his parents were missing. They searched everywhere for them, but couldn’t find them, but Hemah knew where they were. He led the pig farmer and his wife to the river behind their home and looked beneath the dock. That’s where they found Hemah’s parents’ broken bodies, their mouths stuffed with so much mud their throats had exploded.
Since then, everyone who has gotten close to Hemah has died, not that those who don’t know him do much better. One morning, he awoke to find the entire population of the small village he was passing through was simply gone. Sometimes creatures are created that live well after he awakes. People are killed, women are raped. Men are made into puppets for the night, forced to play out scenes from Hemah’s subconscious over and over again.
Some say Hemah isn’t a mage, he only dreamt he was once and he hasn’t forgotten the dream. Others wonder if the Overlords found Hemah and caused his dreams, or if Hemah dreamt of the Overlords and created them. What is known is that as dangerous as Hemah is awake, he is even more dangerous asleep.
Saverous was an ex-tribesman captured by the Bannor after the fall of the Burnt Priest. He served as the vessel for a demon of great power during the Burnt Priest’s brief reign of terror. After escaping his captors he eventually found his way to lands dominated by the Overlords. Realizing his latent power, the speakers performed a ritual to fill the vessel of Saverous with a spirit of the Old Ones. Saverous has been given the form of a huge undead Drown wielding a bone spear tipped with a glowing green point.
Dwelling beneath the waves, the powerful krakens will only answer to the summons of the Cultists. Once they are summoned, they can travel across the seas, fulfilling their masters’ demands.
The kraken’s swimming was slow, leisurely. Thoughts took a while to cross from one edge of its immense brain to the other, the movements of its tentacles almost independent of its mind. Somewhere, far away on the surface, it could faintly sense a distant call which it couldn’t resist. But it was not yet in any rush, instinctively knowing that the caller would need time to prepare.
In a lazy motion, one of its tentacles made a slow wave around it, dozens of the small fish surrounding it getting caught in the suction cups. It brought the tentacle back to one of its mouths, dined on its snack. A huge swarm of fish followed it wherever it went—countless of them would end up as its meal, but even more would get to dine on its bigger catches. The swarm stretched back for tens of miles, twice as far as the kraken itself.
Gradually it started getting closer to the surface, could feel the call growing more and more demanding. The fish dispersed in fright and then reassembled as the kraken began swimming faster, faster than it usually ever did. The alien presence was now a burning sun buried in its brain, no longer willing to tolerate any delay. For all of its size, dwarfing small islands, the kraken was only a servant for the true lords of the sea.
When the chosen of the Overlords called, it would obey and serve with all its might.
“Freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom to protest one’s government. All are meaningless without freedom of thought.”
—Sayrin Nures, Speaker of the Tide
“I was adjusting the mainsail, getting ready to head home after a long day at sea, when suddenly I felt it. A terrible presence situated thousands of feet beneath us. I thought I was going mad, until I saw my expression mirrored on the faces of my crew. Something was down there, and had I known then what it was, I’d have headed for the shore and never sailed out again.”
—Reaghar Yor, fisherman
“Come to me……
Bring your sword, bring your wife,
bring adoration, bring me your life.
You are mine, fall in line,
only in death will you wake.
Cattle and Swine, I will dine
on your mind, honey and cake.
never to cease, never to end,
never to question, always to bend.
Come to me……”
—Whispers of Mindbender Chlototh the Wicked.
I have not been able to discern how the Cultists choose their Zealots. Sometimes it is a vagrant, sometimes the son or daughter of a noble, and everyone in between seems eligible. He is abducted and taken to temple, usually on the night of the full moon. The hands and feet are bound. Sleep is induced. Some sects use various herbal concoctions; this one simply strangled the man until he passed out. He is laid in a shallow pool, submerged partially in sea water.
All night the Cultists gather around, listening for anything he might say in this sleep. This becomes the Zealot’s new name. It is etched onto a clay jar, which is filled with sea water. I observed the names on some of these. “The Leviathan Trembles But Does Not Awaken,” read one. “Pour the Blood of the Slaves Into the Styx,” another. The victim tonight seemed to hear nothing, for he was silent as he slept, nearly until dawn. Should this be the case, the victim is drowned and serves in the undead army of the Overlords. Fortunately for this man, or perhaps not, he at last called out screaming, “The distant one has watching eyes!”
The Cultists nodded to each other and pulled the man from the water. When he saw them holding him, he cringed. They spoke not to him, but dragged him to the back of the temple. I was unable to follow, but observed the Zealot days later in sea colored robes. He had bloodshot eyes, and moved through the crowd in the town marketplace engaged in a constant dialogue with himself.
—From Chapter 7 of Reflections on the State Cults, by Elder Methyl of the Luonnotar