The Seas of Arnesia
Zerala, the Black Sovereign
General Domains: Civilization, Law, Order, Ambition, Secrets
Arnesian Domains: Ports, Gallows, Captains
Other Names: Erathis, Vecna, Lawgiver, the Lady of the Midnight Crossroads
Holy Symbols: A gauntlet-wearing hand bearing an open eye
Astral Realm: Hestavar, Civilization’s Paragon
Divine Servitors: Sphinx
Zerala is the deity of civilization, of law and order made manifest, and the secrets necessary to keep civilization from fraying apart. Hers is the sound of commerce and trade, of the bustling masses going about their lives, the forceful decrees of judges, the passionate pleas of orators, and the whispers of spies. Her power is felt with the bang of a gavel and the swing of a headman’s ax, the ordered flow of people and goods, and the hewing of trees and baking of earth for the creation of timber and brick. Her followers seek to expand and maintain the forces of civilization and order.
Zerala is the preeminent god of cities and kingdoms- even though she has shrines within every House of the Nine, many cities also build great temples dedicated to her. These structures often end up serving a utilitarian function, becoming courthouses, senates, parliaments, civic centers, or sometimes police garrisons and jails. Prayers are offered to Zerala at nearly all state functions and meetings, particularly inaugurations and coronations, as well before and after trials. She is also a favorite deity among spies and information brokers, and many secret cults of Zerala double as official intelligence agencies.
Primal cultures have little use for Zerala, for obvious reasons, but some do honor her occasionally. Typically this occurs during meetings between tribes or during the naming of a new chief. Zerala also has a strong association with lions and eagles, and so tribes who take these beasts as their totems might pay her service from time to time.
Law and the orderly maintenance of power are Zerala’s primary concerns, not so much what those laws say or how that power is used. As such, Zerala’s followers are just as likely to be tyrants, demagogues, and slavers as they are noble kings or democratic bodies. Her followers can easily resort to oppressive tactics and censorship if they feel it in the interest of the state, and many are not adverse to keeping secrets or out right deception in order to maintain the status quo. These zealots typically clash with followers of Eflyn and other forces interested in maintaining the wild places of the world.
Among the best known of Zerala’s followers are the Azora, an order of clerics and paladins dedicated to the spread and protection of civilization in general. They serve as neutral parties in political disputes, acting as negotiators, arbiters, and diplomats between towns, cities, and even kingdoms. Their agents also serve as supplements to city regiments and as spies and crusaders against barbarian incursions.
Zerala’s astral realm is the Hestavar, Civilization’s Paragon, a magnificent city the size of a small continent. Its winding streets are home to the tallest structures, the largest markets, and the most complex infrastructure in the cosmos. Beings from all across creation gather in Hestavar to trade, negotiate, and scheme, from angels and devils to elementals, fey, and shadow creatures. None save perhaps (and only perhaps) demons are barred from entering Civilization’s Paragon, but all must obey the city’s complex network of laws while there. These laws are created and often administered by Zerala’s divine servitors, the sphinxes, who serve as the city’s ruling senate and supreme authority figures.
Zerala is the best deity to worship because
she is the light of civilization, the builder of cities, and the power of the rule of law. Her followers seek to tame the savage regions of the world, bring enlightenment to the ignorant, and peace to the chaotic. Their mission is one of supreme purpose and importance, and they do not waver in their dedication, even when their lives are on the line.
Zerala is the worst deity to worship because
she is fanatical in her mission at best, and an oppressive tyrant at worst. Zerala and her followers believe themselves superior to all others, and proceed to build elaborate power structures to justify their arrogance. They violate liberties at will and mire the weak and unconnected with piles of bureaucracy and red tape.