Shazira (shah-ZEER-ah), from the ancient Tarsian word for “night”, is one of the three primary Tarsian deities (the others being Irthani and Praathi.
Shazira is the Queen of Night and Darkness, a force of self-interest and supreme order in the world that eternally struggles with the forces of weakness (Irthani), all under the watchful eyes of neutral Praathi. All three of the deities are representatives of the order of the universe (Law), being birthed from chaos but shaping the universe according to their nature.
Shazira is primarily associated with Darkness, Evil, and Fire.
The worship of the Three Queens (as the deities came to be known) dates back to the early days of the Tarsian city-state. At one time the Tarsians worshiped an entire pantheon of gods, each with its own sphere of influence. Eventually the many gods were subsumed into the primary three Queens, the names of the older gods attributed to mere Kakodaimoni (demons) and Eudaimoni (angels).
Irthani and Shazira are nearly polar opposites—their struggle terms the Wheel of Ages. The struggle is both preserved and controlled by the presence of balance in the form of Praathi.
The worship of the Queens is prescribed and codified into law in Tarsas. Indeed, the country is ruled by the Temple that is in ascendance according to the Harbingers. Each year, during the summer solstice (15 Longday), omens are read to determine The Ascendency for the coming year. Whichever of the Queens is ruled Ascendant, her Temple will rule Tarsas until ruled otherwise by the Harbingers.
The Harbingers are a highly secretive sect that choose their members at birth through the reading of omens (of course). Harbingers are raised in the sect and are held to be sacrosanct and above the influence of the temples. They are beholden only to the omens and signs through which they interpret the will and state of the universe.
All three goddesses are proponents of Law, and there schism and denominational-ism are frowned upon and stamped out fiercely. All other gods are simply lesser beings. All other worship is lesser worship.
The religion of the Queens does not address sorcery or its use in any way.
Appearances and Emissaries
Shazira appears in various stories and to her chosen followers in one of several forms:
- A beautiful, obsidian-skinned woman with flaming hair wielding twin scimitars of flame
- A hooded figure with smoke for a face and a long-hafted axe
- A great raven with a blood-red beak.
Upon death, humans go to meet the judgement of Praathi, who will judge based upon your worship and upon your deeds. Those that deserve it will go to Neraka with Shazira. Others will go to Ja’hana to reside with Irthani. Those that fit into neither category will stay in the Void with Praathi.
Shazira resides in the plane of Neraka with her emissaries, the Kakodaimoni. A Kakodaimon is a malevolent spirit, formed from the souls of those sent to Neraka in the afterlife. Often these spirits take on the form of monstrous human beings with the heads and claws of animals and great, bat-like wings.
Some of the great Kakodaimoni:
Worship of Shazira
Followers of Shazira believe in the pursuit of self-interest above all else, save order and law. It is important to establish order that embraces self-interest in order to have a dynamic society, a society that thrives and moves and does not remain stagnant and weak. By pursuing self-interest, those that depend upon others naturally eliminate themselves from the pattern, making life better for all.
Blasphemy is the rejection of the self and of order—or perversions of the same.
Other gods exist and may be gods—but they are lesser and unworthy of notice.
Worshipers and Clergy
Both men and women may serve Shazira as priests.
Priests of Shazira are expected to shave their heads in submission to her will. They also wear flowing black robes with black garments beneath. The head of the Temple, known as the “Flame of the Goddess” (or just The Flame) wears robes trimmed in red. The head of all Temples (and head of State when Ascendant) is referred to as “The Blade of the Goddess” and wears black robes, trimmed in red and gold. All clergy also wear the symbol of the flaming sword as a pendant.
The Temple welcomes the worship from any human who would seek the path of self-enlightenment and strength. Shazira is not concerned with the lives of non-humans.
Temples and Shrines
Worship of the Tarsian gods has not spread very far outside of that country. However, with Tarsas, worship of each of the three primary deities waxes and wanes according to Ascendency. When Ascendant, temples to Praathi are frequently full and in use. Shrines multiply. When in decline, shrines dwindle and attendance dwindles—usually due to social (and physical) punishment by the Ascendant Shazira Temples.
Temples to Shazira tend to be ornate and ostentatious. When possible, they are crafted from igneous stone—obsidian and basalt, preferably. All maintain a prayer sanctuary, complete with carven images on columns, statuary, and mosaics depicting Kacodaimoni cavorting or battling Eudaimoni.
Shrines tend to be small altars of flame, made from igneous stone.
There are no holy texts or writs in the worship of any of the Queens. Traditions have been passed from priest to priest since the days of the The Scattering. No single revelation has been declared. No one is sure of the source of the religion, save that it must be divinely inspired to have persevered.
Followers of Shazira tend to have private prayers at each sundown or midnight.
Each 15 Longnight (winter solstice), is a long debauch in celebration of the longest night. 15 Longday is spent in meditation (shortest night).
It is also law in Tarsas that all will attend the Ascendant Temple in their area on each Contemplation day.
Certain devout followers of Shazira perform daily rituals to receive special blessings from the goddess. While gazing into a flame, heat the blade of a knife and sacrifice a small creature to the will of Shazira, snuffing out its light into the darkness of death. Let its blood sizzle in the flames. Gain a +4 profane bonus vs. fire effects and darkvision 60’.
Blood and Fire figure heavily into the worship of Shazira (see Obediences above). Blood sacrifice and cremation rites are common occurrences.