“Pain racks my body, I cough up blood, my vision is blurred, and I have not been able to keep any food down all day. Truly does Odara love me.” – High Priest Anthellon, shortly before his death.
Odara is the goddess of disease, poison, suffering, puzzles, cyphers, natural decay, and revenge. She is also one of the two Azkonian nature deities.
Titles: Plague Bringer, Mother of Sickness, Source of all Questions, Final Rest, Harbinger of Vengeance
Holy Animal: Sphinx–the creature of questions.
Odara is one of the lesser powers aligned under Belendor. Where sickness lays heavy upon those already suffering, her hand is at fault. Suffering for something gives it meaning. Venomous animals and those that spread sickness are sacred. Vengeance for wrongs that have been dealt to them is every creature’s duty.
Odara during her rare appearances, manifests as a tall thin woman. Her beautiful face is marred by pox scars and a sneering disdain. Her hair is thick, long, and dark and seems to move on its own. Her most consistent feature is sickly, green-colored eyes. She often has many layers to the things she says, and rewards those who seek the deeper meanings in her words. Odara also delights in leaving puzzles and cyphers, and will reward those dedicated to finding the meaning hidden in her cryptic messages.
In the past, followers of Odara and Misigoth have gotten along well and often worked together. Undead tend to be carriers of foul diseases in their rotting bodies and Odara respects this. However, in recent cycles, Odarans have begun attacking Misigothians. The reasons for this are not fully known to most mortals, but, the quarrel between the gods has caused outbreaks of plague and undeath across Azkon. It could perhaps be related to the manner in which the current incarnation of Odara ascended. She was once a paladin who fell in love with a necromancer, perhaps killed by his hand. When Misigoth was restored during the Second God War, he tricked the people of the town of Bryden’s Ferry into trapping his former beloved and turning her into Odara, where she now serves unwillingly. Odara tends to get along well with the other Lords of Darkness, though at times she opposes the use of fire as a weapon, as it can cleanse the plagues and sicknesses she so loves.
Odara is also one of the two goddesses of nature. Where Dania represents the more benevolent aspects, Odara represents the darker, crueller aspects of nature. Recently, an order of Dania’s followers, the Branchwraiths, were coaxed away from their goddess into the service of Odara. No one is entirely certain how this happened, but, in changing their allegiance, the Branchwraiths have become crueller, darker, and more terrifying.
Followers of Odara share the following basic tenets of the faith:
- Without suffering life has no meaning.
- Take vengeance against all who slight you.
- Disease brings about the greatest suffering.
- Bringing suffering upon others is a prayer to Odara.
- A quick, painless death is no mercy.
- Animals that bring disease or carry poison are to be treasured.
- Each sickness is a child of Odara.
- Hide your places of worship in plain sight, and leave clues to find them. Odara’s chosen will show up to join you if they are well done, or you will draw the attention of those who would see you harmed because your puzzles are not deceptive enough.
The most common of followers of Odara are apothecaries who sell more poison than anything else, as well as those that are already afflicted with a disease and seek to spread it to others. Priests of Odara often keep their faith secret and often instigate mobs against Houses of Healing when sickness strikes. Devout followers often ritually ingest small amounts of poison, this often has the side effect of rendering them immune to most types of toxins.
The most favoured of Odara’s servants carry many diseases, but suffer none of their ill effects. Templars who serve her often refer to themselves as Plague Knights and seem to feel no pain. They are known to coat their weapons in foul toxins to better bring pain and suffering to those they fight. Some of the braver priests of Odara try to tame hydras to protect her temples. Not only are these fearsome beasts venomous, but their venom causes extreme, debilitating pain. Other creatures that are sacred to Odara’s faithful include: plague rats, venomous serpents, and a variety of insects that are known to carry disease.
Odara’s newest faithful are known as the Branchwraiths. The Branchwraiths epitomize the vengeful and unpredictable fury of nature. They are the early winter storms and scorpions and hornets. They seek out those who would despoil nature and harm it and exact terrible vengeance.. They abhor large settlements and consider them to be dangerous. Any town larger than 250 people will be avoided at all costs. Many Branchwraiths train in stealth as well as nature or spirit magic and strike unseen from the trees only to fade away before being seen by their foes. They particularly dislike anyone who sees nature as something to be tamed and exploited for natural resources. Branchwraiths often wander, but communities of them are fierce and terrifying when their homes and lands are threatened. They will remorselessly kill anyone who crosses them and leave their bodies to rot and feed the creatures of the forest.
Approbation and Displeasure:
Actions/ideas that please Odara:
- Taking revenge for any slight against yourself or Odara
- Releasing plague animals into a settlement
- Embracing your own suffering
- Murder by poison
- Giving someone enough aid to postpone but not stop their death
- Contracting a disease and purposefully spreading it
- Befouling a House of Healing
- Breaking a quarantine
- Solving Cyphers
- Watching others struggle to solve a puzzle
- Killing trespassers and letting their bodies nourish the forest
Actions/ideas that displease Odara (and may result in loss of magical abilities):
- Failing to take revenge when it is deserved
- Curing any sort of sickness (even your own)
- Showing mercy to any
- Easing another’s suffering, unless it is to cause them greater suffering
- Killing a sacred animal
- Abiding by a quarantine
- Helping others solve a cypher
- Refusing to solve a puzzle
Holy Places and Holy Days
Temples and shrines to Odara are always hidden away. Usually in larger cities shrines are disguised as apothecaries or potion shops. Temples are much rarer than shrines and always smell faintly of sickness and are usually dark places lit only by a few candles.
No day of the week is particularly holy to Odara, save in times of plague or great sickness, then everyday is treated as holy by her followers. Odara’s holiday is in the heart of summer just a few weeks before midsummer. It is known as Withermorn. Devout followers of Odara will find a sacrifice to slowly poison to death over the course of the whole day, trying to get the death as close to midnight as possible. Common folk observe the Withermorn by asking that Odara spare them any sickness in the coming year.
Once a year, Odara’s most clever of priests create chests with puzzles to unlock them and put gold and other useful things inside. They simply drop the chest, and leave them to be solved. If the puzzle has not been solved in a moon, Odara instructs her followers to go and spread sickness at those locations. Some say that the plague that raged through the Peaks and Valzenn was caused by puzzles left unsolved.
Sickness and the desire for revenge have existed almost for as long as creation itself. The last true temple of Odara that was found out and destroyed was in the Hazon empire nearly fifty years ago.
While Odara has many children, her favorite and most lethal contagion is called Odara’s Kiss. Rare and feared across the land, villages have been known to burn the houses of those who might be infected, with the occupants still inside. Just the rumor of this disease has caused widespread panic in the past. Very rarely, when a person suffering a sickness prays to Odara for relief, the symptoms and sickness will seemingly vanish overnight only to be replaced by a driving wanderlust. This relief is known as Odara’s Mercy. Though their sickness no longer causes them suffering, they wander and infect those they meet, spreading foul disease.
Correct Worship and Rites/Rituals/Requirements
Followers of Odara typically engage in:
- At some point in the evening reflect upon the suffering that you have enjoyed this day, while whispering prayers to Odara.
- Ingest a small amount of poison or take care of one of Odara’s favoured animals.
- Attempting to foster sickness in an otherwise healthy settlement.
- Ritual sacrifices are done by binding the victim to a shrine or altar of Odara and slowly forcing them to ingest small amounts of poison that will eventually cause their death.
- Creating new puzzles and cyphers to honor Odara
- Defending one’s home and hearth. Vengeance upon those who attack a follower of Odara in their own home is swift, bloody, and terrible.