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The Thousand Rivers Court
History of the Court
The Thousand Rivers Court dates back to the beginnings of the First Age, in the days after the Yozis were locked away in the prison that was Malfaes, when Gods and Exalted were bringing order and rule to their individual worlds. The Elemental Dragon of Water looked out into the East, at the growing Chaos of the various River Gods as they fought and warred over who had the greatest power and the most holy mandate, and was wroth. Focusing his presence on that part of Creation, a tidal wave of elemental fury, he stilled the warring Gods with his very presence and those who would not still he fought until they submitted. Then, once some semblance of Peace was restored, he set about creating an orderly and efficient Court.
First, the dragon gathered up the most powerful and personally mighty of the River Gods, crafting for them accoutrements out of the Essence of the Waters and bedecking them as the Heralds of the Thousand River Courts. The greatest of these, a potent water-god named Yellow River Walker, he renamed Yellow River King: making him the head of the court, and forcing him to swear featly to the Celestial Goddess of the Waters, the Courts Patron in Yu-Shan. The Heralds and the King, in turn, collected the celestial writs of their inferiors and vowed to protect the waterways of the River Province forevermore.
With his work complete, he went to bring order to great and terrible Gods of the Oceans.
The Court continued, in the same form that the Dragon had created it, for millennia during the Reign of the Solar Deliberative. Unlike some courts, the Thousand River Court kept largely together during the events of the Usurpation and until well into the Dragon-Blooded Shogunate, strong and united under the guidance of the Yellow River King. While the Court as a whole began to separate from the Shogunate, it did not fragments and fall apart as quickly as some others did and even to this day remains largely functional.
With the coming of the Great Contagion, however, any pretext of separation and impartiality fled and the various Gods of the Court began to deal with the peoples of the River Province as they would -- laws forbidding worship and interference with Creation were ignored. Many of the River Gods receive regular offerings from villages that depend on them for survival, and the greatest Gods of the Court receive the prayers and worship of the entire Scavenger Lands.
Indeed, the Thousand Rivers Court played an important part in one of the largest examples of the new relationship between Man and Gods in the Scavenger Lands, the Founding of the City of Great Forks. Even to this day, all of the Heralds of the Court have access to luxurious villas in the cities exclusive sections, and no God of the Thousand River Court has to beg for worship among the citizens of Great Forks.
The Yellow River King
The Yellow River King is the head of the Thousand River Court, and the God of the Yanaze and Yellow Rivers. A tall resplendent figure dressed in gold robes, with skin of light blue and long black hair that ripples like the waters of the river, eyes like sunlight rippling across water. He is as strong as a flood, as enduring as the water itself. You can know his favor by burnt sacrifices of precious things into the waters of the Yanaze, or blood sacrifices of ritual animals. On the other hand, anyone poisoning the Water of the Yanaze or Yellow Rivers risks his wrath. He is a patron of Sailors, especially River Boats, and the captain of a merchant ship might gain his favor by casting coins over the rim of his ship and calling out prayer words. He sometimes manifests in the lands of Creation as the captain of an Orichalcum Barge manned by Dolphin Spirits.
A patron to civilization and trade, he implicitly supports the Confederation of River but has no innate dislike of the Realm and offered the Province no help in its past wars against the powerful Realm. Of all the cities of the River Province, only Nexus knows his wrath -- their long history of tossing waste and refuse into his river, and their blatant disrespect has earned them a cold and sure anger. Yet the Emissary's might keeps the Yellow River King from unleashing his wrath upon the city, and so he is held at bay for now. The fact that many of the citizens of Nexus hold him in some disregard is another reason for his dislike of the city, and if another of the states of the Scavenger Lands were to make to invade Nexus, he might very well assist them if he believed they would be victorious. He sends dreams of glory, riches, women and such to various Generals and Soldiers in Lookshy even now, playing to their ambitions and dreams of glory to make his wishes of revenge come true.
Great Forks, while viewed favorably among all the Court, is most especially the apple of the Yellow River Kings eye, and he is on most good relations with the ruling triumvirate. The City benefits from such with regular floods of their slave and agriculture fields, helping keeping the land fertile and productive, as well as the protection of their merchant vessels on the two rivers he watches over -- he is not omniscient, but most bandits know not to touch a Great Forks merchant on the Yanaze. The Villa owned by the Yellow River King is among the grandest of any owned by the various Gods of the City, second only to the Palace of the Triumvirate and some of the other major gods of the City. Sometimes the Yellow River King will retire to Great Forks for months on end to escape the bustle of godly duties and enjoy the pleasurable environs of the City as best he is able, and of all the Gods of the Thousand Rivers Court only his wife visits the city more often (albiet for different reasons).
The Great Dragon of Water gave the Yellow River King a great Daiklave named Wavecrasher, which is the symbol of ruler ship of the Thousand River Court.
Each of the four Heralds of the Court are the patrons of the greatest Rivers of the River Province, holding the celestial writs of all Rivers that flow from their waters or that they otherwise hold dominance over.
Emerald Waters Queen
The Goddess of the Maruto River is a breathtakingly beautiful nymph with light blue skin and brown hair of fallen leaves. She has also been known to appear as a deer, or a water snake. Sly and duplicitous, skilled at concealing herself from view, she is an accomplished trickster. Those who worship her also hold her as a Goddess of Fertility, in addition to a patron of the Waterways. She rules over all of the minor waterways and bodies of water in the East, as well as the Maruto River itself, and of all the Gods of the Court only the Yellow River King surpasses her in power. Indeed, she was almost chosen to head over the Court herself -- yet, far from viewing her new Lord with jealously, the two of them fell in love and were wed shortly after the Creation of the Court.
Though she loves her husband dearly, she has always had a wandering eye and is well known for her numerous affairs and half-God children. Even during the First Age, she was notorious for such, and with the downfall of the Exalted she has set up entire lines of ruler ship in her domain. Indeed, the blue-skinned children of the Emerald Waters are a common sight in Great Forks, though they tend to be orphans as their fathers seldom survive the wrath of the Yellow River King. The Royal Families near the Maruto tend to fare better in this regard, as they are further from the eye of the Yellow River King.
Emerald Waters Queen is especially interested in the various First Age ruins that lie deep in the east, near the range of the Maruto, and anyone seeking them can expect to face the Water Trickster in one of her guises as she tests them to see if they are 'worthy' of achieving such honors. Thus, many of the ruins in the forests near the Maruto are less looted than they would otherwise be -- though the dangers of attempting to rob such caches are more dangerous as well. If one can meet her challenges, however, she is more than willing to allow one to walk away with whatever they can care. Any attempt to cart away a ships hold full of loot, however, invariably results in First Age Treasures at the bottom of the Maruto.
The Great Dragon of Water gave Emerald Waters Queen a jeweled pendent, which she wears around her neck.
The Red Wanderer
The God of the Avarice River is a strange God, connected to the Underworld and the City of Sijan, yet still essentially a living and fundamental portion of Creation. With the foundation of the Court, he was chosen as much for his great wisdom as he was for the importance of his waterway. In those few times when he deigns to show himself to mortals, he appears as a dark skinned almost skeletal man draped in the black robes of a Funerist from Sijan. He calmly strides across water as easily as the soil, and his eyes are deep and insightful, able to draw the essential truth of matters to the surface.
Patron to Sijan, it is the only place that he is -- or wishes to be -- worshipped, but even then it is more a bit of acknowledgement than actual worship. He does receive some few prayers as the ferryman between Life and Death, a largely ceremonial role. Some Deathspeakers of the Funerary Order undertake a pilgrimage up the Avarice River, dressing only in loose black robes and their silver bracers and pushing a tiny skiff up the river to its source. Those that return are invariably touched by the Strange Wisdom of the Red Wanderer and have more insight into Death and the Dying.
While some Uneducated folk of the Scavenger Lands mistake him for a friend of the Deathlords, he is actually mildly annoyed by their repeated attempts to take his wisdom and lore. Twice, he has had to fend off Abyssal Exalted seeking to plunder his libraries.
The Great Dragon of Water gave the Red Wanderer a sickle forged from the soul of a River God who had offended the Dragon a bit too much.
Dead Water Running
The Goddess of the Gray River, a visage of beauty with long white hair and almost marble-like gray skin that seems to have been smoothed into a glossy sheen through hundreds of years of tumbling in a riverbed. She is most well known among mortal men, however, not for her beauty but for her antipathy toward all the works of man. Were it not for the influence of her fellows on the Thousand River Court, most especially the Yellow River King, she would set all her power against every city that dared to exist within her reach. Fishing vessels would find no bounty on her waves, and she would send floods and hordes of river creatures (alligators are especially favored in her eyes) against any village while pounding any ship upon her waters with angry waves.
The further the Gray River travels from the influence of the Thousand River Court, however, the more dangerous its deity becomes to the casual traveler who is unfamiliar with ways to appease her -- which become more and more drastic the further you reach. The Marukani sacrifice a little bit of blood into the Gray River whenever they must cross, or when they put a boat onto it's surface, and that is sufficient for them. Anyone traveling into the Jungles of the South had best be prepared to give much more extravagant gifts, while the villages that grow up past the Jungle in the Southeast have an extensive raiding culture built up amongst each other for the purposes of gathering Sacrifices to avoid the Rivers wrath.
The reasons for the River Goddess's rage are unknown, except that they are fairly recent in origin -- she did not turn so against the works of man in the First Age, and no few ruins of cities and towns lurk along the banks of the Gray River to show this. Savants point to some event before the Great Contagion as the answer to her rage, but only the wisest of sages can point out in more detail the city of Rathess. Among these savants, the only proof they have is some vague hints of unease found in records from the Dragon-Blooded Garrison of Rathess prior to the Great Contagion and shortly before the River turned hostile. The Dragon-Blooded took little interest of these events, so any more details are hard to find, but these Savants are sure that the secret to her rage can be found in Rathess.
The Great Dragon of Water gave Dead Water Running a golden bracelet, but she has not been seen with it for hundreds of years.
Thousand Ice Tears
Youngest and weakest of the Heralds of the Thousand Rivers Courts, Thousand Ice Tears was once a mortal man before the Solar Exalted raised him up to Godhood as part of their ambitious plan to bridge the White Sea and the Inner Sea. Whatever name he once had is lost to the ages, and now he only faintly remembers a life before he was the ice-eyed lord of the River of Tears. He appears as a man with shock white hair covered in a rim of frost, eyes seemingly carved from ice itself, and cold pale skin that radiates chill. Anywhere he walks he leaves frost in his wake, and when the Court is not in session most of his time is spent in the upper reaches of the North where he resides with his Lover, Frilla, the Goddess of the White Sea.
Of all the Gods, Thousand Ice Tears is the one most connected with one of the mortal societies that live off the bounty of his river. While the Emerald Waters Queen is the great-grandmother of many of the rulers of societies near her banks, Thousand Ice Tears is actually one of the twelve Oligarchs that rules the Haslanti City States. Himself the Lord of the City of Tear, on both Banks of his River, he maintains a large merchant house that has more or less the monopoly on trade between the Haslanti States and the East. While he permits a good amount of competition, no one seriously thinks that they could edge him out and so most of the other Oligarchs just leave him to his river.
This position of rulership was one unusual for him, as after his ascendance to Godhood he had dwelled as Gods do and adjusted to his life and its new rules (assisted by the Emerald Waters Queen, who momentarily fancied him; he was too inexperienced with these matters to reject her firmly enough). However, after the Great Contagion and the March of the Fae, a part of his heart felt pity for the poor remnants around the edges of the White Sea and he took it upon himself to help them, becoming part of the founding impetus behind the Haslanti League (though only one of many). Now, with his lover and his people, he feels as though he has found happiness once again.
The Solar Exalted gave Thousand Ice Tears an suit of Black Jade Articulated Plate as his symbol of station, since he was not originally a Herald of the Court.
The Seat of the Court
The Thousand Rivers Court is one of the greatest courts of the River Province, receiving sacrifices and worship from all the River Province (and beyond!). It is formally mentioned, with burnt offerings given to it's King and Heralds, at every meeting of the Confederation of Rivers (even the Lookshy delegate ignores the Immaculate Faith that much, though he is always a Dragon-Blooded). While the rule of the court is divested in Five Gods, there are literally a hundred other gods who also attend the meetings in official capacity and hundreds of attendants and observers.
The Court meets five times a Year, on the island of Drigia, located in the middle of the Yanaze River about a hundred miles inland from the Inner Sea. Once simply an open-air court, with quickly constructed pillars and a cobbled-floor, a great complex of marble and stone had been constructed by the Gods even before the Fall of the First Age and it has grown even grander over the past centuries. Each of the Five Great Gods of the Court maintains their own private dwelling on Drigia, and many of the other Gods of the Court have a room or small space to call their own as well -- the greater their status in the court, the more spacious and impressive their home on the Island.
Mortals are not welcome on Drigia, which is guarded by a number of Lion Dogs and Water Spirits.