Thursday, February 23, 2012

Legends of Partholon: Death's Jester, Rakhir

If you see him in a dungeon, go the other way.
Names & Titles: Rakhir, the Red God, Death's Jester, the Devil Clown, Rictus Mortis, the Clown Prince of Chaos

Symbols & Depiction: Rakhir is imagined as a skull-faced jester in red and black. A skull with a jester's cap or even a harlequin pattern of red & black can be used to signify him.

Prestige: One of the few chaotic gods recognized in the Tyrhennean pantheon, he is regarded as the jester in Valkas' court. He is associated with death and the underworld, and the most absurd and tragic deaths are considered evidence of his uniquely sick sense of humor.

Veneration: There are special coins minted in Tyrhennea, stamped with Rakhir's likeness, that are reserved for offerings at graveyard shrines. As a patron of the dead, he is privy to their lost knowledge, and may be petitioned to reveal what he knows. Such revelations inevitably come in the form of riddles and puzzles, or more subtly as absurd (and even horrible) accidents that inspire insight.

Ancient Delian pottery has been discovered which depicts a skull-faced archer dressed in ragged red and black, shooting down warriors and kings. Gravesites in the distant north sometimes feature a human skull affixed with ram's horns, or statues depicting such a form, often with onyx and ruby gems in the eyes.

They're usually underground,and less cheerful.
Ancient ruins from the height of Agha-yin's dominion occasionally feature a "bone chapel," a temple or shrine dedicated to Rakhir, whose architecture incorporate real skulls and bones. The tradition was continued in ancient Arkhemea, and bone chapels have been commissioned by a handful of Tyrhennean emperors and aristocrats over the last two centuries.  

Legends: Rakhir is said to be charged by Valkas with enforcing the Law of Death, that the dead remain dead, and remain confined to their tombs and the netherworld. Unfortunately, it amuses Rakhir to see this law broken, and so long ago he gave mankind the forbidden knowledge to raise the dead. He is also said to interpret his duties rather loosely, so that the dead are permitted to haunt graveyards and tombs, and wherever their bodies lay unburied.

He appears in the tales of other gods and mortal heroes as a foil, where he may taunt them with valuable knowledge concealed by riddles. He is also depicted playing pranks with dire consequences, which may be as simple as slaying a hero's friend or loved one in a tragic accident, or something that appears quite harmless but leads to great and terrible things. The devastating war that destroyed the ancient kingdom of Ilion began with a prank Rakhir played on the goddess Yuna.

Rakhir has fathered three sons, all considered demigods: the Red Death, the Black Jester, and the Fire Clown. Each has been prophecied at least once either to conquer or destroy the world.

Artifacts: Rakhir is sometimes depicted carrying a kind of scepter bearing the likeness of his head. Many sorcerers believe it is his symbol of authority over the dead, or of his license to jest, jape, and defy the gods. Of course, any mortal who discovered such an object must question whether the Devil Clown has carelessly misplaced his scepter, or has merely set in motion one of his grisly pranks.

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