The Lilitai who first came to Thet carried with them an evolution of the pantheon of the Ksreskézai, into which they had added three deities of their own invention, one of which pre-dates their relationship with the Ksreskézai. This religious system was generally known as Sarthíanika
, or "the Way of Sarthía
," and is variously called Lilitic Polytheism
by modern researchers.
Rostería (IPA: /rɒstɚiːaː/) was the principal goddess of the Telai that the Ksreskézai originally captured and studied (the crew of a ship called the Rotomem
). These Telai founded the basis of the Lilitai through genetic engineering. At first, the goddess was viewed as the hope of the Telaian prisoners, but with time this decayed. The quiet, secluded shrines hidden in the sewers and abandoned corners of the Ksreskézaian thaumatological laboratories lost their detail and furnishings as her children lost memory of her over the decades of their imprisonment there. Three generations of proto-Lilitai grew up thus, each becoming more complacent and given over to the strange beasts that twisted their genomes. Rostería became less trusted, and more of a bandit figure. The emotions of her believers—the grandparents of the last test subjects—became the emotions of the goddess herself: bitter, lonely, and resistant.
This Goddess survives in the culture of the early Thessian Lilitai as Róstyaëkía
, the devouring written scream. The first Lilitai saw their great-grandparents' writings in the hospitals and laboratories, and as they had entered the much more aggressively-religious society of the Ksreskézai, assumed that the love of Rostería had driven the followers mad—it was a simple corruption to make. She remained respected as someone who would calm a wronged soul, and grant it perseverance, but could not act to correct what had been done.
The overwhelming majority of gods with whom the first Lilitai on Thet filled their heads were, however, rooted directly in the myths of their keepers, the Ksreskézai.
The religion of the Ksreskézai was not rooted on the common idea of two poles, or even on two poles plus a balance (to form a holy trinity) but on a set of mutually perpendicular axes which described a person's short-term fate. Every possible combination of these axes also had a deity associated therewith, creating a very complex combinatorial grid amongst the eight basis gods:
This set of 34 emotional principles played a very important role in the daily lives of the Ksreskézai, who saw many of the ideas above as sinful and to be avoided. The mage-priests of their people gave faces and forms to the temperaments, and described them in complicated and wondrous ways; many of them being fantastic, horrible demons deserving a spot in in the annals of Lovecraft.
However, the majority of the Oksete didn't know them all that well; they simply had no choice but to respect the spirits who possessed them with strange emotional fervours and caused them to act against perfect logic. It was natural that the Lilitai would carry much of this eternal opera of the soul with them, away from the Empire's ruins and onto other worlds.
As aides to the imperial families and other nobles, many of the Lilitai were better-versed in the Egypt-like complexities of their owners' religion. This was critical to the survival of Róstyaëkía, as the magicians and the well-educated were the only Ksreskézaian demographics who reified the emotional temperaments into monsters and deities with form. The devouring written scream fits naturally into such a pantheon.
Central deities in the Lilitic pantheon and their origins.
Whereas the average Okse believed that the spirits were summoned to the heart by circumstance and drove the believer to act, the aristocracy maintained that these spirits were not merely energies, but conscious, semi-rational agents that strove
to manipulate the believer for their own ends, by creating circumstances and then filling the believer's soul with the relevant essence, thereby causing action. In both models, the essence/spirit is felt by the experiencer as emotion, and it is the believer's choice whether or not to resist—although the educated acknowledge that this in itself is an act of refuge-seeking with another of the gods. Róstyaëkía, then, was an extreme manner of self-control and restraint that relied on mad scrivenings—quite different from the saviour of the Telaí which she once was.
Amongst the Lilitai, the Hogedepí holocaust of the Ksreskézai left them with the impression that Murekíha, Dútéa, and Ighokhéa (though these were not their contemporary names) had overcome their differences to overthrow the other gods, and, perhaps, had even starved them, since it seemed like, in the Ksreskézaian ruins, there would never be anything other than despair ever again; the world was gone. It was only after they left and began exploring former Ksreskézaian colonies that, as a culture, they began to pay attention to the value of vitality and everyday life and started living in the present.
In order to explain this shift, the Lilitai concluded that the emotional gods were almost-corporeal entities that traversed a space parallel to their own, and that the space around the Ksreskézaian homeworld had been damaged by the gluttony of the Dútéan goddesses and could no longer be traversed by the Tshayéan goddesses, if they were even still alive. This paralleled the truth that the extinction itself had been implemented by the sabotage of the magical field around Ksreskézo, necessitating the evacuation of the surviving Lilitai. Over time more elaborate narratives and justifications appeared, such as Sarthía
's famous Faltúbilis, Ítossífa!
(Sing, O All-Seeing Sky!) which mythologizes the first two years of Lilitic nomadism.