log in
The Lilitai
The religion and its origin
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 and Sarthianism by modern scholarship.

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 over generations the detail of this image was eroded, leaving behind a hollow symbol. 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 who twisted their genomes. Faith in Rostería declined, and the oldest parts of the oral history of the Slokdtabasa relate her as a bandit, taking hope and returning disappointment, although this bitter depiction does not seem to have ever been canonical. Despite this, Rostería was not abandoned. The emotions of her believers—the grandparents of the last test subjects—became the emotions of the goddess herself: disobedient, quarrelsome, and lonely.

This Goddess survives through to the early Thessian period as Róstyaëkía, the devouring written scream. According to Sarthía, during the Vendashro, the first Lilitai came across their great-grandparents' aggrieved graffiti in the hospitals and laboratories. These explorers speculated that their ancestors had been driven mad by the promises of Rostería during assimilation into the stricter, more religious environment of the Ksreskézai. While this interpretation was found to be baseless, it considerably influenced Rostería's popular image. 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 combinatorial grid amongst the eight basis gods: Healing, Harming, Self, Others, Control, Disorder, Hope, and Despair. Secondary sources from the first century LILPO give us these identities:

Healing Harming Self Others Control Disorder Hope
Despair Distrust ? Depression Rejection Entrapment Ruin ?
Hope Health Vengefulness3 Self-Love Trust Perseverance Joy
Disorder Equivocation Chaos Recklessness Mutiny Balance
Control Succour4 Denial Discipline1 Despotism
Others Devotion2 Malice Mind
Self Self-forgiveness Sacrifice
Harming Life
1 Realised as "Manipulation" in the Lilitic pantheon.
2 Realised as "Love" in the Lilitic pantheon.
3 Translated more literally as "harbouring vendettas."
4 Protection and acceptance.

Of the two missing second-order deities, Hope–Despair is speculated to have been a dualistic expression of wavering hope and desperation, and Harming–Despair could have been Spitefulness, which would be readily confused with Harming–Hope (Vengefulness). No explanation is present in the source material explaining why these two were absent from the original list, and it may have simply been an oversight, or it may reflect the later syncretism in the emergence of Úravéa and Alestéa in the Sarthian mode. If so, then Hope–Despair likely hewed closer to Equivocation, perhaps being a keeper of secrets.

This set of 36 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 the Ksreskézai gave faces and forms to the temperaments, and described them in complicated and wondrous ways, some of which they would relate to the masses in sermons. We are told they were credited with having horrific visages, and that when these descriptions fostered nightmares in the readers, it would be taken as evidence of their truth. These portrayals were largely private knowledge of the priesthood, and the surviving records of them come to us via those Slokdtabasa who were closest to the religious orders or to royal patrons, who would also be privy to such theological detail.

Being ignorant of this information, the majority of the Oksete 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.

Demographics of the first-generation Lilitai disproportionately skewed toward those who were emotionally detached from their keepers, normally resided in major population centres near the capital city Tévopío, and were either able to resist suicidal urges for some reason, or were near others who were. Consequently, the survivors were largely made up of aides to imperial and merchant houses that employed multiple Slokdtabasa and those who otherwise had professional responsibilities. It is likely these groups played a key role in ensuring that Rostería survived, as they would have been better able to retain and relate the oral history of the Rotomemi. It is somewhat ironic that they are also responsible for generating the image of Róstyaëkía, which was more in-line with the fantastical bestiary of esoteric Oksian theology.

Surviving Ksreskézaian (Dútéan) Deities
Despair (Dútéa)
Manipulation (Telméa)
Cruelty (Múrekíha)
Obsession (Ighokhéa)

Reborn Dútéan Deities
Equivocation (Úravéa)
Harming (Alestéa)

Tshayéan Deities
Perseverance (Moiléa)
Protection (Neptarléa)
Love (Améa)
Healing (Poaléa)
Life (Zeltetéa)
Self (Uvíha)
Others (Lítréa)
Mind (Ithovíha)
Hope (Tshayéa)

Non-Ksreskézaian Deities
The Suffering Mother (Rostyaekía)

The suffix –la is sometimes added on to the names, as in Améa-la, Uvíha-la, etc. This is used to explicitly personify them; –la is normally added onto a name to indicate a third person woman with that name. –stilla, meaning "goddess", may also sometimes be used.
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 Telai 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! (It Sings, O All-Seeing Sky!) which mythologizes the first two years of Lilitic nomadism.

Later syncresis

Temples and shrines built by the Lilitai were not commonly devoted to one Stilla, but rather to an axis of stillai organised around a single motif or theme that had practical value as a religious institution. (A notable exception to this is the building in which the Memory of the City itself is housed, which was originally a temple dedicated solely to Úravéa.) These syncreses had little if any presence in Sarthía's writings and likely began as primarily a practical consideration for the limited space aboard the ships of the fleet, particularly after the first Illeran colony; during the colony itself, shrines were numerous and could be devoted to extremely specific and personal causes that aligned with the sculptors' theological needs and idiosyncrasies. By the time the Lilitai arrived on Thet, nine new deities had arisen from these combinations, serving particular social roles:

SyncresisDivine ConstituentsTheological PositionDomain
TsoiléaTshayéa–Uvíha–NeptarléaZízellikafunerary, harvest
KedosithéaDútéa–Moiléa–RôstyaëkíaDarikapostpartum depression
NagendéaRôstyaëkía–PoaléaFeplemikatenacity rewarded
SarekwíaZeltetéa–Ithovíha–TshayéaVanshúka (Thelstillidika)inspiration amidst crisis

These stillinarai are sometimes thought of as aspects of the central deity, which has been identified in bold in the table above for each entry.