Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Center Cannot Hold: The Cult of Shraxes, Imprisoned Demon Princess

Shraxes, Imprisoned Demon Princess

Titles: Lady of Wishes, The Whisperer, The Caged Temptress
Areas of Concern: Wishes, Freedom, Cages, Deception
Favored Animals: Turkeys, Scorpions, Snakes and Spiders
Holy Symbol: A pair of red eyes within a cast iron cage
Worshippers: Prisoners, Slaves, the desperate, Demon Cultists
Domains: Liberation, Magic, Rune, Demons, Trickery
Favored Weapon: Spiked Chain

Long ago, there was a Prince without a Kingdom.  Empires had taken everything away from him.  His war seemingly lost, he found himself exiled to a island at the center of the world.  In truth it was the skull of a long dead god, and that God had become forgotten long before the Prince had even been born.  It was there, at the Sleeping Straits, he decided that he would begin again.  The Prince decided he would build a new Kingdom, at that skull in the Sleeping Straits, there he would found a new City.

So the Prince went to ask the God of Cities, the Singer of the Song, if she would sing for him a city that could rise upon that skull.  The Singer of the Song tried, but found no word right for such a place.  "It is a place that doesn't want a City.  Would that I could, I would will the Song into being- but that place's song has no want for a city.  It needs to be persuaded."

Frustrated, the Prince thanked her and moved along.  He kept going, until he found the Twins- the Summer Rose rising up new life while the Black Rose kept her quiet and brought down those whose time had come.  "I wish to build a city upon the Sleeping Straits.  A City at the center of the World.  But that place wants no City.  It fights me at each direction.  Can you help me?"

"Will a City bring you love?"  The Summer Rose asked.  "Can it make the world a better place?  I can give your heart and life warmth, but cold stone and bone are long dead.  Such things speak not to me."

The Black Rose furrowed her brow.  She remained silent.  When the Prince entreated again, and then again for a third time, only then did she speak.  "Any City there is doomed from the start.  Leave it be."

The Prince shook his head and refused.  "Either I make this happen or I will die."

The Black Rose shook her head.  She said no more, but the Prince remembered her stare.  She looked at him sadly as the Prince moved on.  

The Prince then decided to do what most do not seek to do.  Desperate, he found none of the Gods willing to help him.  The ground he wanted to found a City upon was cursed ground.  Either they could not or would not help him work the miracle he needed.  So the Prince braved the storms of ocean and sea, he strode the aether betwixt worlds and wandered far to find the one being who would help him.  

Her name was Shraxes, a demon princess known for her capacity to give tainted wishes.  The whisperer, master of temptations.  The Prince made a deal with Shraxes.  She granted his wish and founded a city where no one else would dare.  

At the end of the tale, however, is what the Prince did to repay Shraxes.  The tale claims he bound her down.  Instead of giving her back her due, the Prince tricked her.  He trapped her, binding her in a cage she could never escape.  He buried her, trapped in her cage, deep beneath his city.  Shraxes became trapped deep down beneath Crux.  

The Prince walked away from that.  But he had been changed, some say cursed.  And that he still lives, alive because of the broken oath he had taken with a demon.

* * * * *

Those who call to Shraxes do so in desperation.  Even Shraxes when imprisoned still can exert her influence on those who pray to her.  Her followers oppose the use of any punishment or imprisonment.  More than a one slave revolt can find its origin with her cult.  Her followers also include the guilty as well as the innocent.  Grifters and others who offer one-sided deals, often taking advantage of the desperate, also are her creatures.

The Cult of Shraxes was illegal to worship until very recently.  Ith doesn't ban the worship of any religion, so her cult has spread through Ith.  In Ainesia, Shraxes became associated with Kisian Philosophy that drove the revolution.  The Cult enjoys its current legal status, having established a yearly festival in honor of their demonic matron.  Called the Wish Festival, every attempt is made to try and ask Shraxes for a wish or free her of her bonds.  Whether or not either happens, remains unclear.

Shraxes has taken up the symbols of her imprisonment for her cult.  A cage with her red eyes is her holy symbol, while a spiked chain is her holy weapon.  Shraxes is always depicted as busty female humanoid with purple skin and demonic horns, often made of stained glass.  Her eyes glow red, and her left hand is bound by cold iron and silver. She towers over most humans, almost the height of a giant.

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