Here's a lovely piece of lore for you to enjoy about the origins of the Pantheon Temple you've all been visiting.
This may or may not clear up some questions any of you have, but please remember that unless your characters find any of this information IC/in game, it is Out of Character knowledge only.
"Remind me why we're doing this blasted pilgrimage again?" Raygin asked gruffly as he stoked the fire before them.
Several fires were dotted around the small clearing, marking the hubs within the camp. Their particular group consisted of only a few individuals around a small fire. Raygin, a stoic dwarf that had been a firm follower of the Blackhammer until recently; Tiamara and Tyrell, sylvan siblings from the Kingdom of Arduin who were the charismatic faces that had led so many refugees to join them; and Ake, a quiet but passionate and emphatic nord that had roused the trio into organising and making real their current journey across Andorra.
It was the nord that replied to Raygin's question.
"This fight they want to have won't work," he told him with unwavering certainty. "The Ophidian Prince can't be defeated so easily. The gods have been angered so we must first appease them."
"Yes, this darkness will not leave our lands while the gods are against us. So pilgrims we must become, and we shall travel to the place overlooking the sands where a temple will be built in their honour. Each of the pantheons will be exalted, and we shall spend our time in prayer and reflection, as it should have been from the beginning." Tiamara smiled kindly to her friends.
Tyrell noticed Raygin's glance towards the cart nearby, upon which sat a solitary and well sealed wooden box.
"We will lay him to rest properly within the temple. And we will pay our dues as they are owed. It shall come together, my friend, if only we have faith. It is natural to doubt, but this is a trying time where our faith in the gods shall be truly tested."
Somewhat mollified once more, the dwarf nodded. "Aye, you're right. After all that's happened, how is one more battle going to solve everything?"
Ake nodded again, more deeply this time. "Exactly. Violence only begets more violence. But come. It's late, and we shall be leaving before the dawn breaks." That said, he rose from his position beside the fire and made his way towards his sleeping bag.
The camp was packed down as light began to filter across the skies the next morning, and the caravan of people and carts, no more than perhaps 50 in total, were moving on their way east once more. The caravan wound its way through Estallon and Elyria, then followed the border of the badlands and Arduin’s Redwoods. They ascended the mountains that serves as the north border to the desert, glad for the safe passage the strangely flat-topped mountain range offered.
Finally, a little over a week after leaving their homes on the western islands, they settled upon a place that was high up on the mountain border. There they found an abundance of resources and having brought most of their own tools and plans with them, work began immediately.
The Redwoods to the north provided them with a steady supply of food, and the heat of the badlands to the south prevented the nights becoming too cold, even at such altitudes. With conditions and their luck being good work progress quickly. The lack of creatures roaming the mountain tops aided to make them feel like they’d found the perfect safe haven for their temple to the gods of Adeasu.
Using a mixture of dwarven and sylvan architecture, the temple was sturdy but lofty and elegant in a way neither could have built on their own. Anchored pillars supported its base while spired towers reached for the skies. In one of the rooms a sarcophagus of stone sat in a prominent position. Within it was lay the carefully treated and wrapped body of the past King of the North; Kiánard Logan.
Once the building was completed, they began to outfit the rooms and antechambers of the temple. The place were Logan was laid to rest was left bare, partially out of respect and partially to allow for others to be placed there in the future. In the main hall above, great canvasses were meticulously crafted and positioned and the artists, artisans and cooks worked together to create various dyes. The pantheon was carefully depicted upon the canvasses. One for each race, except the halflings who had never raised their own gods.
The Hearth Fáma for the sylvans, Zanfriel for the humans, Thuirin and Dunduin for the dwarves, Maeve for the nords and in pride of place within the hall, the All Father, Mordan, who resided over all races of Adaesu.
Each one was beautifully represented and placed with purpose.
At long last, they felt like they were done and the pilgrims all gathered before their completed Pantheon Temple, faced with their four leaders and their own elation at finally getting closer to their goal.
“Now we’ve done the first stage, we must move on to the beginnings of perhaps the hardest part of our pilgrimage. Appeasing the gods themselves. To do so, we’ve decided that it is best if we bless this temple dedicated to the pantheon, beginning from the very foundations of the building,” Tyrell told the crowd, looking to his comrades to see them smiling and nodding in agreement and encouragement.
“We’ll begin with the foundations themselves before they are properly sealed, and progress through each room of the temple carrying out prayers and cleansing rites from each of the faiths we have represented here,” Tiamara explained, gesturing with a grand motion to the beautiful building that had been the culmination of their hard work.
Having already spent time gathering all that was needed, the quartet made sure that everyone was dressed simply, in plain cloth attire without shoes, and without carrying anything on their person. They then descended as a group into the very foundations of the temple. It was cold and dark save for a few standing torches and the light filtering through the hole left in the floor of the room above.
“We all must face hardships to test our faith in the gods, and this cold is nothing compared to what I know some of you have endured before.” Raygin’s gruff voice cut through the chattering of the crowd as they attempted to keep themselves warm. “Keep an eye on the young’uns, and let us get this over with so they ain’t here longer than they have to be.”
That said, they began to take up places and began to perform the first of the cleansing ceremonies.
It was not too long afterwards - before even the first was completed - that those within the room began to catch sight of movement at the edges of their vision. At first they brushed it off, unable to see anything when they turned to look. The movement was brief, flowing or skittering from one place to another. What began to unnerve them however, was the fact they were seeing the movement all around the room - along the floor, up and down the walls and across the ceiling. Even through empty space and sometimes disappearing through the walls and floor.
Then the voices began to fall away. Slowly. One by one. They began to fall silent and utterly still.
Panic spread quickly after that.
“They’re paralysed!” Someone exclaimed after abandoning their litany to check a friend who had become frozen in place. Upon touching them, each moved with ease, but none could move themselves.
“What is that thing?” Another cried. “It’s there! I know it’s there!”
The shadow slunk out of view as they turned to try and catch sight of it. Twisting and turning and scarpering away, quicker than they.
“What’s happening?” Tiamara cried, fear and confusion obvious in her voice as those around them began to swarm for the way out.
“Everyone calm down and get out, if you can! We’ll help those who ca-” Tyrell’s voice cut off mid-shout as the shadow/mist/darkness passed through him and left him completely immobilised.
“You won’t escape.” Ake stood over them, at the top of the ladder many were pushing forwards to reach. “It will stop you before you reach the ladder, so you may as well give up fighting each other.”
“Ake?” Raygin called out in alarm, angry at the fact there was nothing he could do to fight or defend against something that didn’t seem to be there. “What’s going on? Why is this happening?”
“It’s a sacrifice, Raygin. Don’t you recognise a sacrifice when it’s happening?” Ake taunted the dwarf.
“But why?” Raygin demanded.
“Because, my dear friend, there are still those of us that remember what it used to be like before you barbarians took over our islands. Before your beloved Kiánard Logan made refugees out of so many families and then gave away most of our land to the Morgath’ra outlanders!” The passion that Ake had been so well liked for came forward once more. However, unlike the many times they had seen it so far when he had spoken of the futility of the coming battles and how they needed to make peace with the gods, his passion ran deep with the heat of a simmering rage. One of the few remaining residents of the Zen Islands as they had been before the Kingdom of Arduin and the great House of Wolves had taken over it, Ake had held onto that anger and spent his time carefully planning.
"You were like family! The Gaelican's and House of Wolves treated everyone as their own!" The dwarf raged. "You're nothing but an iron breaker! Spitting on our hospitality!"
“I don't care about your hospitality! You shouldn’t have been on our land in the first place!” Ake retorted heatedly, lowering his guard somewhat now that the creature he’d summoned had reached Raygin. The dwarf, the last to be paralysed, stood now with that same angered expression and Ake laughed. “I lay a curse upon those that do battle this day! Uhtred, Overseer of Narrows Gully!” He made a grand gesture towards the people below him who were watching and listening to his every word now. “Take this as my sacrifice, and may those that seek to fight upon the sands below die by your will!”