Anilya the Everbright, is venerated by a small, but growing, number of Santharian mages as the Patron of Magic and the most powerful fire mage who ever lived. The cult surrounding her reverence, known as the Everbright Cult, believes that she lived during the Age of Myths, around 2000 b.S. Many of the facts concerning her historical existence is lost in myth, but a small number of mages, particularly of the School of Fire, has held on to her legend for many centuries. Anilya is believed to bestow powerful indulgences to those who invoke her in the name of fire and who practice magic in particularly destructive ways. This has no doubt helped the spread of her cult. She is remembered today as an important historical figure within the Ximaxian magi culture and she is honoured with a statue of her that stands within the grand halls of the Tower of Flame.
Image description. The legendary fire mage and patron of magic, Anilya the Everbright, amidst the flames she used to control. Picture by Seeker.
Historically, Anilya's racial heritage is not fully known. Sages have
long debated whether she was a fully blooded human
or born of Volkek-Oshra stock. The
images of her give little clue as in most statues and engravings shown of
Anilya, her face is typically overshadowed with a cowl. A few rare images, such
as one seemingly drawn with haste in the pages of an old tome in the Fire
Tower's library, show a decidedly human
appearance with no cowl. The orcen sages, of
course, claim her orcen heritage. Scholars today have struck a balance between
the two and have given more credence to the theory that Anilya was probably of
both races - a half-orc. For the humans and
Ximax, this satisfies both of their claims.
Much speculation also exists as to the Everbright's place of birth. Most consider her to be from Ximax. Her orcen followers like to say that she was born under the caverns where the tribe makes their home. Many humans favour the story that she was born a commoner in the streets to paupers. All the legends do not deny that where she came from, Anilya developed an inborn talent in fire magic that manifested itself when she was a young girl. Again, the compromise is made, and today most believe that Anilya was probably born in Ximax to an orcen and human parent. Whether the union was an amicable one can likely never be known. Sages say that at that point in history, when Ximax was a young city, half-orc children were unheard of. This rarity, of course, only adds to Anilya's uniqueness and broadens her cult base among humans and orcs.
Anilya is depicted in most images found around
Ximax as a tall woman wreathed
in flaming robes, as if she herself stands amidst a great pyre of flame. She
holds before herself, in various poses, a staff made of
fire. The staff also symbolizes the elite sect
of guardians known as the Fire Daughters, a group her cult says that she
founded. The battle poses that Anilya assumes are taken from various accounts of
her life. The largest image, an engraving in stone in the
caverns underneath Ximax,
is over four peds in height. It shows Anilya (titled in the image as simply "The
Everbright") with arms outstretched, and a great gout of flame erupting from her
hands. Her face is twisted in a great fury, with eyes wide and her mouth curled
in a snarl. The unfortunate victims of this powerful spell are an assortment of
inhuman creatures possessed of horns, great claws and gaping maws of pointed
fangs. The creatures cringe and cower with their silent faces awash in pain and
terror. Anilya's robes swirl about her as if blown by a gust of
wind, her power disrupting the very weather
Historical accounts of Anilya's appearance, aside from her tribal heritage, vary greatly. One account comes from a scholar who is said to have lived 150 years after Anilya's death, and who claimed to have spoken to one of Anilya's students. The scholar, a Ximaxian mage named Oldartus Renfus, wrote that Anilya was of a...
"...dark complexion, of noble beauty, and tall among women. She had a countenance as that of a royal princess. She was proud and stern, never smiling and always looked down upon those of lower status. She dressed in simple robes that were white and pure. She never displayed more than a mere style of life than that of a common woman. She lived among the city to and fro among the bustling crowds. She never stood out among the rabble, save her beautiful face that rarely met the eyes of those who spoke to her."
In this account, Renfus fails to mention Anilya's great
demonstrations of power or her "flaming" robes, often depicted in contemporary
images. Nor does Anilya's staff make mention. It is told as if she never
experienced the fiery transformation, but
remained a pauper girl. The account does give her a flattering appearance as
compared to a peasant or commoner, but hardly the image of a powerful
mage of fire. Renfus' account, of course,
is dismissed by followers of her cult, who refuse to believe that the Everbright
walked among the disk looking as a pauper, although a beautiful one. Also,
followers of Renfus note that he lived many years after her death and that he
documented third and fourth hand information. Interestingly enough, many of
those who oppose the reverence of Anilya often use Renfus' depiction as truth to
balance the other more fantastic myths.
Mythology. Anilya Completes the Tower of Flame. Anilya's first demonstration of power is said to have fantastically transformed her physical body in a truly wondrous way. The story goes that in the final stages of the construction of the Flame Tower of Ximax, the gathered mages were greatly taxed as much of their power was being used. It took the skill and power of a hundred fire mages, it is said, to raise the tower. The fire and heat generated could be seen and felt for many strals distant. The gathered mages, including the archmage Gral the Powerful, failed to complete the tower and collapsed from exhaustion. The next sequence of events, as told by the Everbright cult, tells how Anilya finished the tower herself, with no previous experience or skills in magic. Interestingly enough, the cult story does not mention Gral the Powerful. He is, however, mentioned in most all other chronicles not related to the Everbright cult.
The Sundering of Mar'malog.
Anilya the Everbright is known for many wondrous acts of power. Her help in
finishing the Flame Tower of Ximax is but one
popular story that has been told for centuries. She is known for another
equally, if not more fantastic, story of how she slew single-handedly the
sea dragon known as Mar'malog. Word of
the dragon's terror reached Ximax from the
region now known as Manthria. Anilya wasted
no time in taking action. The story goes on to say that she summoned a mighty
fire phoenix and rode the creature to the
far southern lands where she faced the dragon in a contest of wits and
magic. In the end, Anilya used her great powers
to slay the beast where its body sank to the bottom of the gulf. A popular
Manthrian folktale says that the bones of
Mar'malog can still be found under the water, blackened and burnt from Anilya's
magic. Some sages attribute this account as
being written early in Anilya's veneration where her worshipers often favoured
her as nearly god-like. Her legend has become more mild over the years as more
scholars attempt to display Anilya as a great teacher mage and not the gifted
one her followers believe her to have been.
The Daughters of Fire. The myth of the Daughters of Fire is well known among the fire mages of Ximax. It is said that Anilya took it upon herself to slay a thousand demons. When a mad cleric's summoning went horribly wrong, causing a score of demons to erupt from the Netherworld, Anilya gathered a few of her young students to slay the beasts. These girls, most of them novice mages, stood bravely with their teacher as the black, vile demons drew close to render them to pieces. Anilya shouted a powerful incantation and herself and her students became encircled in flames several peds high. Each one carried a staff that also burst into flame. The women tore through the demonic horde, slaying each one, leaving thousands of piles of ashes. Anilya herself slew the largest demon, said to have been Tsalokath herself, and drove her back to the Netherworld screaming in pain. Afterwards, Anilya and her group of female students were lauded as heroes and given the task of protecting Ximax hence forth. This was the founding event of the Fire Daughters, the elite Volkek-Oshra group of guardians who stand vigil over the Flame Tower of Ximax until this very day.
There was a historical account of a similar event happening around 2200 b.S., however some scholars have said that only as many as five demons were accidentally summoned and it happened years before Anilya's birth. Still, history and myth often become intermixed and over time one can never know the true sequence of events.
Lore. Everbright's Prayer. The following is a prayer dedicated to Anilya. Her cult tells that the prayer was first written when the group began form a more organized following. The author of the prayer is lost in history. Tradition among the cult has it that the prayer should be spoken aloud by those gathered in worship to Anilya's memory. The prayer is also written under the stone relief carving of Anilya, entitled "The Everbright", located in the Volkek-Oshra catacombs.
Anilya's ability to manipulate such vast amounts of power when she finished the
Tower of Flame has given her the title of "Gifted". She is said to have had no
prior experience or training in fire magic before this event and simply
performed the "miracle" on her own.
The story of Anilya's building of the Flame Tower and of her slaying of the sea dragon was widespread and told with different versions over the years. The myths especially became popular among the fire magi themselves who saw in Anilya a hero and fine example of a fire mage. Her followers say that by invoking the name of Anilya, one's own magic becomes stronger and more effective. And by using magic to slay evil beasts and men, something Anilya was said to do regularly, a magi earns favour with the Everbright and is granted her wisdom. In addition, she has found favor among the common folk who invoke her name when they require strength to overcome a personal challenge. This has led to some well known sayings such as "Feel the Everbright!" or "The Everbright be with you as you face your troubles." Anilya's legend speaks of her commoner roots and thus many non-magi respect the patron as well.
The use of staves as a focus was made popular by the Anilya legend. It is said that she used a flaming staff as a focus in her casting and that she enchanted the weapon in a single day giving it powers far above that of anything known on the Disk. Some of her followers go so far as to say that the staff of the Archmage of the Crimson Tower was Anilya's own. She gifted it to the tower before her death, it is said. The cult claims that the staff still possesses Anilya's own cár'áll and that she will show herself to the truly devout follower and grant them a boon in power for a short time.
The cult has a larger following of women magi, moreso than men, probably because Anilya was female and taught her skills strictly to women and girls. It is said that Anilya distrusted men, finding them less than capable than women. This belief probably stems from the myth of Anilya rising up the Flame Tower alone while the men lay helpless around her. The founding of the Fire Daughters was one result of this philosophy. Of course, not all magi believe this, especially those who see Gral the Powerful as a greater mage, though he has not the myths surrounding him as Anilya does. Nevertheless, every Volkek-Oshra Fire Daughter is taught to venerate the Everbright.
Becoming a Patron. Anilya the Everbright was well known for not only the larger than life miracles, but also for many of the smaller deeds she performed that endeared her to many people. She taught for many years at Ximax and passed along much of her skill to many students. It has been said that never before or since has practitioners of fire magic been so powerful or learned. It is said that after Anilya's death, many of her students became teachers themselves and some were elevated to archmages. Many sages have credited this influence to Anilya alone.
Some 300 years after Anilya's death, a story began to circulate how she once gave fire to a poor town in eastern Xaramon. The story began in a now long forgotten town in which Anilya passed through on a caravan. The townsfolk were poor as their crops had suffered a shortage that year. Many were hungry and most homes had little wood for their fires. Anilya visited each home and sparked a large fire in each hearth that burned all winter long. Not only were the village folk warm, but they had a fire with which to cook their rations. This tale of benevolence helped spread Anilya's fame even further in the province and beyond.
Another story goes that Anilya enjoyed music and especially loved elvish songs. The elves of the Sanhorrhim tribe say that long ago, a woman mage used to visit them soon after the elves began their silversmith trade. The mage, said by some scholars to have been Anilya, was impressed with the elven seafarer songs. Anilya was especially taken by the silver made instruments used by the elves when they played the songs in a loud and energetic manner. Anilya asked to be taught how to play and after some months, she brought the instrument back to Ximax. She played the instrument daily and many of her students and followers borrowed the practice. Many years after Anilya's death, a human magi named Brom Kunce composed a song in honor of the Everbright entitled "Silver Rings the Fire". To this day, the song has survived and is often played during celebrations of Anilya's life.
Celebrations. The cult's celebrations in the name of the Everbright are not widely known. Initially, the cult had come to fear the persecution from the followers of the Twelvern fire deities and stands accused of giving Anilya a higher standing than the gods. Only those temples with mostly human followers allowed this persecution as the elven worshipers are not known to really take much care in such petty affairs. Today, the persecution is largely gone, with Anilya's cult being tolerated and accepted in most regions.
Slaying of the Blue
One celebration is known to occur in the fourth day of Rising Sun and continue for seven days. This day is significant as it is believed that Anilya slew the dragon Mar'malog. On this day, called Slaying of the Blue, all of her followers are encouraged to visit a large body of water, or a river, and hunt and slay a drake. The blue drake is a favoured hunt as they are commonly found in and among rivers and lakes in Southern Santharia. By slaying one using fire magic, the follower gains an appreciation of what Anilya did.
Another celebration is called the "Fire Below". This is mainly a celebration among the Fire Daughters. The women assemble around a deep fire pit, sometimes with a single rope crossing over it. Ideally, this celebration is held atop a volcano. The Hèckran volcano has been used in the past. The Daughters remain at the pit practicing their combat maneuvers and telling stories for three days. They go without food or water and wear only a simple loincloth and wrap around their chest. The area grows quite hot and coupled with the intense training exercise, it is a test of endurance.
The followers of Anilya the Everbright are mostly
human and Volkek-Oshra. It is
said that she was a half-orc, with a
Volkek-Oshra father and a
human mother. She doesn't interact with elves
at all as most elves know little about her much less would venerate her. Her
followers are largely organized in Ximax,
although her cult has spread to many areas of Southern
Sarvonia. She is considered the Patron of
Magic by her followers,
and more specifically, she stands as a special personal patron to many of those
who practice fire magic.
Traditionally, clerics of the Twelvern fire gods have not received the legend of Anilya very well. Her exploits tend to overshadow those of the fire gods and their followers. Also, Anilya has never been associated with any one god as her myths elevates her to near god-like herself. As such, the Everbright's followers never mingle with Twelvern clergy and it is considered heresy for a fire follower of any kind to venerate Anilya rather than Foiros. However, some clerics have fought this and gone so far as to associate Anilya with Foiros, saying that she was his own wayward daughter who broke from the Twelvern. Given Anilya's myths, some scholars have argued that by integrating her with the Twelvern is to gain another god in their pantheon. The Everbright cult dismisses this philosophy saying that Anilya stands alone and achieved her powers and status without the help of a god. Some sages point out that the veneration of Anilya comes very close to being a religious practice itself. (I have removed the statement saying that Ximaxian mages are not religious to clear that whole issue.)
The Everbright cult believes that regular respect must be made to her only existing possession: the staff of the Archmage of the Crimson Tower. A simple bow to the staff and a short, thoughtful saying is needed to help one gain her wisdom. Some would call this a prayer, but the cult dismisses such a term. Also, it is said that Anilya favoured red gems as a focus and it was important for any cult follower to obtain one to keep as a reminder of her power.
Of course, fire itself is deemed by the cult to house Anilya's cár'áll. By casting fire magic, and by invoking her name, one actually gains a bit of Anilya's power in their spells making them more destructive and effective. The more one has control over fire, the closer one comes to Anilya's level of power, although no one has been known to live up to her legend.