The World of Arrea
Ascension of Ahrlin
The formation of a religion
It’s not every day that a religion is formed in the world. The machinations of people and gods do, however, occasionally gift the worlds with a new source of divine authority. Just such an event transpired on Arrea when a group of heroes endeavored to stop the manifestation of the three-faced god Triad.
Among these adventurers was a paladin of Arthom named Ahrlin Aragon Ameratha. Ahrlin was unique in a number of ways, but his most unique attribute was his divinity. You see, Ahrlin’s father was the god Arthom. This simple, incredible fact was revealed slowly to the paladin over the course of his rather brief life on Arrea. The story of the heroes’ triumph over Triad is well known and not worth recounting in these pages. Less known (indeed unknown to all but a handful of people) is the true story of Ahrlin’s rise from mortal man to immortal god.
The reason for the secrecy with regard to the true account of the heroes triumph over Triad is complicated. I will, however, endeavor to explain. Among Ahrlin’s companions in those fateful days was an insular white elf by the name of Kelugth. Kelugth’s academic excellence and magical prowess were matched only by his desire to be left alone in peace. Ahrlin’s most steadfast companions were Kelugth and Jarus Marn, eventual founder of the Marn School in Xraxus. They, along with a host of others, adventured all over Arrea in what is now known to scholars as “The Seal of Ages Campaign”. During the course of these adventures, Ahrlin, as many adventurers are inclined to do, kept a journal of his experiences. All of the companions knew of the journal, and not one of them was the least bit curious as to its contents. Occupied by their own motivations, the companions were satisfied to allow Ahrlin his private memoir.
At the campaign’s finale, the companions faced off against the worldly manifestation of Triad. Companion after companion fell to the god, while swords rang and spells exploded. Seeing the end of this battle approaching, and with no apparent chance for victory, Ahrlin experienced an epiphany. The full truth of his nature was revealed to him in an instant. His deity, his father, Arthom, spoke to him in his hour of most desperate need. Ahrlin had within him the ability to transcend the material world and join his father in the pantheon of immortals. To make this transition, Ahrlin need only release that portion of his spirit that sat, subjugated, beneath his mortal soul 1. Of course, there would be complications. As Triad’s tireless assault pounded down on the paladin, he trained his gaze on his stalwart companions, now lying motionless on the cold stone floor of the temple. The release of his immortal soul would not only free him from the material world, but it would also destroy all of his friends. Additionally, Ahrlin hoped, it could destroy Triad. In that instant, realizing that his entire worldly existence had pointed him toward this moment, Ahrlin let his immortality free. To an observer on a ship miles from the island-temple, the moment would have come with a blinding flash of glorious, pure, white light. But there were no observers. There would be no witnesses to this event. All of Ahrlin’s friends were dead or dying, and the three-faced god’s moment of ultimate triumph was at hand. Instead, Triad’s flame on Arrea was extinguished by the avalanche of divine power that rolled over the temple. The entire temple complex was washed of Triad’s malevolent stench. But the heroes’ time on Arrea had ended. Or had it?
Waking some time later, Kelugth trained his gaze on the room he now occupied. He sighed and almost smiled when he realized he was on the sofa in his laboratory high on Arrea’s northern pole. He wasn’t sure what had transpired, but he had a notion. You see, in addition to being a mage of some repute, Kelugth was also a cleric. As a worshipper of Kadinastis (indeed he was one of his Chosen on Arrea), Kelugth had an excellent grasp on divinity. He was aware of Ahrlin’s unraveling personal mystery with regard to his “father”, and he was also well schooled on the interactions of the gods in the multiverse. Some simple divination magic confirmed what he suspected; the rest of his companions were all alive and well in their respective homes. Except, of course, for Ahrlin. Kelugth was fairly certain what had happened to his paladin friend, and he would no doubt confirm his suspicions with clerical magic at a later time. About this time, no more than a few minutes after gaining consciousness, Kelugth remembered something important. Something more than important, something potentially world altering. Now, Kelugth wasn’t necessarily against world altering events, but these events could negatively alter his world. And he would have none of that.
Among the many memories of the adventures shared by the heroes, Kelugth clearly remembered Ahrlin studiously writing in his journal. He had never had any interest in the tome, as the ramblings of the too-pleasant paladin were no doubt beneath what he would consider engaging. And, having no reason to question Ahrlin’s motives, Kelugth had nothing to gain by pouring over the private thoughts of his companion. But all of those stories, all of those notes, all of those names, were probably (hopefully!) still sitting on the deck of the ship that brought the companions to the temple complex where the final battle with Triad occurred. Discretion, Kelugth knew, was not one of Ahrlin’s strengths. He had to get that journal. A few spells later, Kelugth was standing on the beach of some gods-forsaken island. A hundred yards away sat the vessel that had taken the companions to Triad’s doorstep. The ship had run aground here. Climbing aboard the ship, the mage took a direct route to where he remembered Ahrlin hiding the journal before leaving for their final encounter with Triad. “Thank the gods”, Kelugth said aloud as he reached beneath a deck board on the ship and felt the leather cover of Ahrlin’s journal. Taking a moment to study the book’s outer covering, the wizard decided to have a seat on the ship’s deck and thumb through the diary.
Hours passed as the elf-mage let memories of passed adventures wash over his mind. From the first entry, Kelugth was captivated. Ahrlin’s description of his fellows after their first meeting left the mage smiling. Kelugth startled himself with the sound of his own laughter after reading the entry describing the smiting of a friend-turned-traitor. There were many wonderful memories in the book. But there were also entries describing those companions that were lost along the way. So many entries of sorrow that, for the first time, Kelugth actually took inventory of the cost in lives of their campaign to defeat Triad. Intertwined within the stories of friendship and adventure was the story of Ahrlin’s divinity. The paladin had held back nothing. It was all laid out there for the world to learn.
For some time, Kelugth had been struggling with one aspect of his status as one of Kadinastis’ Chosen. His god required little of his Chosen on Arrea. He did, however, ask that they spread the use of magic amongst the people of the world and foster a positive attitude about the Art. Never one to make a spectacle of himself, Kelugth was less than vigorous in attending to this particular responsibility. Now, however, the mage saw an opportunity to make up for lost time. After carefully copying Ahrlin’s journal in its entirety, Kelugth would do just as his paladin friend requested in its last paragraph. He would spread the word of the works and deeds carried out by the companions. Along the way, Kelugth would add to the journal his own writings, detailing how Kadinastis aided the group on their quest to defeat the tyrannical three-faced god. These addenda, as they were, would become the stuff of songs and stories, just as would Ahrlin’s journal. But first, Kelugth made a few important changes. To protect the identities of those described in Ahrlin’s journal, Kelugth changed all names. He also modified dates to proscribe any future sage from tracking down the actual persons involved. When this was completed to his satisfaction, Kelugth paid a visit to Xraxus. His time with Jarus was brief, but the two enjoyed sharing stories. As the two parted company, Kelugth left the soldier a gift: the first “copy” of Ahrlin’s journal. All names and dates were changed, but Jarus could easily see who the real characters of this story were. He smiled broadly when he read Ahrlin’s description of his powerful fighting style. And he roared with laughter at the sheltered paladin’s “suspicions” with regard to his various indiscretions. Those were some good times.
Alas, Kelugth’s good deed, as it were, planted the seeds for a new religion on Arrea. Worship of Ahrlin bloomed slowly, first among worshipers of Arthom, and later among those who admired the virtues that the paladin-turned-god represented. Not surprisingly, Kelugth’s own interests were also served. Kadinastis rose in the collective consciousness of the people of Arrea as songs and stories of the god’s efforts during the fight against Triad became popular among bards and poets.
1 Arthom created Ahrlin for just this eventuality. He realized that Triad’s prison was weakening to the point of collapse and that he had to do something to prevent the evil deity from gaining power on the prime material plane [see 2 below] and plunging the world into chaos. Arthom created Ahrlin with a spark of divinity within his mortal shell. He locked the spark deep within and made it inaccessible until Ahrlin was in the vicinity of Triad. The release of the divinity spark caught Triad by surprise, destroying its material form and banishing the savage god to the far realm.
2 Deities in Arrea are unable to take form on the prime material plane since the end of the Godswar. At the end of the Godswar, Orlon the overgod decreed that the gods could no longer manifest on the prime material plane. Since Triad’s prison originated on the island of Ches and Triad was imprisoned before the banishment of the gods, he would be released upon the world unless someone destroyed Triad’s material form before he gained too much power.