Gone are the glorious days of the Gorgon Empire, after the demise of Visara the Dreadful. Their armies, their culture, customs and knowledge now lay scattered across Nyxheim in clustered Hives. Some Hives lay within the underbelly of major metropoli while others adopt the more traditional natural terrain. Two of them, Grimrah and Eternacht, remain the beacon of their civilization.
Despite their fall, the Gorgons are still a formidable people who have been hardened with the rigors of the past. The race has produced fierce warriors, powerful spellcasters, seductive assassins, master builders, diplomats, artists, merchants and excellence in various calibres. Even if they are looked upon with contempt for the crimes of their elders, the Gorgons are a proud race who would die gloriously in battle than surrender to the outside world.
Gorgons are grouped under three common Genetic variants:
Khajiras- These are half-blood Gorgons originating from a pairing having one Gorgon parent and another parent of any other race. These people will take on the dominant traits of the non-Gorgon race and retain specific gorgon features, such as a forked tongue, fangs, and a tail. These traits are different for each individual, but every Khajira will possess some broken patches of scales on their flesh. Khajiras may be either male or female, but tend to have androgynous features. To be a Khajira is not an offense to the Gorgon race, and they are regarded equally. Khajira are frequently found in cross-cultural roles and some can adapt well to Human or Elf societies if they venture from their hive.
Zaira- Zaira are the heirs of the appearance that their Gorgon ancestors were famous for: Almond pupils, forked tongues and a long spear-tipped tail. A Zaira is most easily distinguishable by their skin, which can vary between earthy orange hues, stone blues, and marble whites. A Zaira's scales are so small that they do not stand out up close, though they cover the entirety of the body, and are very smooth. Zairas typically stand anywhere between two to three meters high. Zairas are hermaphrodites, containing both the male and female sexual anatomy, with internal testes due to low body temperature. Their physical appearance is typically androgynous with variations depending on physical activity.
Basilisks- Basilisks are atypical Gorgons who maintain a close relationship with feral emotions. These Gorgons are large, cold-blooded hunters who have discarded their more gentle natures to better hone their ferocious skills. They appear as large, limbed serpents with very little humanoid features, and boast a serpents tail rather than legs. Among the Gorgons, the Basalisks are those who are dedicated entirely to war and glory, and as such follow a strict code, harsh training, and a brutal daily regiment. Basilisks are capable of mating, but are expressly forbidden from raising children.
An average Gorgon will undoubtedly dwarf a human in both height and weight. Their frames are tall and muscled and they possess scales of various colors. From the base of their spine grows a long, slender tail almost skeletal in appearance with a bladed tip that is used for balance, swimming and combat. Their fingers adorn strong, sharp claws for better dexterity, climbing and attack power.
Not all Gorgons have hair made of a nest of serpents; it is a rare trait which was once common to Queens of the Hives, but has not surfaced in many centuries. Gorgon hair is stronger than human hair, and is therefore often worn long and tied due to its difficulty to cut. Only Zairas and Khajiras grow hair, and only on their heads. A Basilisk instead sports thick scales across its entire body.
The dental anatomy of a Gorgon is complex. They possess molars, premolars and canines which are slightly sharper than those in more herbivorous humanoid due to a diet primarily consisting of meat, however, they also possess a special pair of elongated and grooved upper incisors which can fold against the roof of the mouth with a levering action, dedicated to poisoning prey. The Basilisks also sport a jaw which can unhinge to swallow larger prey.
During Pregnancy, a Gorgon's breast tissue, typically flat, will grow in size for the milk it must provide for the new youth. This will continue for the year following the Gorgon child's birth, at which point they will begin to eat solid foods.
Keen sense of smell/taste:Gorgons possess uniquely strong chemoreceptors in pits on their tongue, in their
mouths, along their upper and lower lips and beneath their eyes apart from the usual location in the nose. This enables them to 'taste' the presence of other creatures by breathing in.
Keen sense of sight/petrification ability/hypnosis: Basilisks are able to see in infra-red (heat) apart from the normal spectrum of light which makes them avid hunters during the night, the presence or absence of light meaning nothing to them.
Though not all Gorgons' eyes are keen enough to petrify an object, Basilisks can accomplish a "stunning" effect to varying degrees based on their individual skill, rendering a vulnerable prey item paralyzed. Zaira however contain a unique tapetum behind their eye which produces a relaxing feeling if stared into. Zaira are capable of, to some degree, hypnotizing a victim if they keep eye contact for an extended period. Khajira may inherit either Stunsight or Hypnotising Gaze.
The Royal Line of Gorgons possess an ability left from their greatest ancestors, the Stonesight. It is a magical ability of great strain which allows a Royal Gorgon to transform their victim into a stone statue with prolonged eye contact (about three minutes for full petrification). The stone begins at the toes and fingers, and continues up the trunk of the body towards the head, first superficially, and then viscerally. After three years, their soul will have leaked from the statue, and they will be dead. It is interesting to note that a persons character may determine the contents of their body; the industrious and economical containing iron, the courageous and war-forged containing silver, and the philosophical containing mostly gold inside of their statues. Pricking a statue with a needle of Bloodgold may heal a petrified man if his soul yet remains.
Enhanced regeneration: Gorgons have a high healing factor; minor cuts and wounds are sealed within a few minutes; however, muscle and nerve damage must take hours to heal. Severed limbs will take days or even weeks to completely regenerate. So long as a Gorgon does not bleed out, and there are sufficient nutrients available, a Gorgon can potentially recover fully from any wound which does not damage the spinal column or cerebellum.
Enhanced durability: Gorgon scales, and the shells of their eggs, are made of a strong compound which forms as a polymer on their bodies. This makes their skin very tough and difficult to puncture. Arrows and puncturing weapons such as Rapiers and Spears are ineffective against basilisks altogether. Swords, Axes, and War-hammers are much more effective, as heavy weapons may still break bones and organs, and their skin is susceptible to cutting. Zaira are less protected, and without wearing armor, can be pierced by a sharp arrow or sword.
Strength/agility/speed: A Basilisks strong and compact muscle allows for incredible feats of physical strength, able to lift nearly five times their own weight and apply incredible force on their own. Zaira are much less strong, as they develop very proportionally in muscle mass, but only to allow for a greater range of movement and less weight, enhancing their agility and acrobatic ability. Khajiras vary from the effect but usually grow a higher percentage of fast-twitch muscles for quicker reaction times and short bursts of speed.
Venom/Gorgon Blood/Narcotic/Natural Immunity/Anti-petrification: A gorgon's venom is very much like that of a serpent. A Basalisk's venom is especially strong, a chilling mixture that paralyzes its foe slowly as if freezing them from the inside out, and must be treated with haste. An especially powerful Basalisk's venom will react with oxygen to dissolve through wood, stone and metal. A Zaira's venom is not as powerful but has a similar effect, though only a powerful Zaira's venom can kill their foe.
Gorgon Blood is very special in relation to their venom, as a Gorgon's blood naturally contains chemicals to counteract their own venom. If one manages to slay a Gorgon that has bitten them and drink their blood, they will be saved from a grim fate.
Metamorphosis: When Gorgons are injured beyond the realms of their regeneration, or if they choose to meditate and tap into their mind to unlock new potential, they undergo a metamorphosis which places them in their Unhatched state. Nestled within their eggs, their bodies undergo changes whether to renew themselves or to further strengthen themselves. This state may take an incubation time of a few months to several hundred years based on the individual gorgon. In cases of injuries, the duration of the incubation will be determined by the extent of the injury and the extent of the "repair" needed. Even without injury, Gorgons will enter incubation as a regular survival mechanism linked to their biological clocks so that they are able to adapt to periodic alterations in their environment or as a form of strengthening themselves.
Though they are physiologically omnivorous, Gorgons are mostly carnivores. Gorgons do not savor the meat of a creature simply on culinary terms; rather, the more difficult the hunt, the sweeter the flesh. It is not uncommon that Gorgons will dine on the other sentient races of Nyxheim. During wartime, it was not imperative for Gorgon soldiers to receive supplies from settlements because they could simply take their food from the battlefield, providing a strategic advantage. Gorgons have also been known to take part in cannibalism, however such an act is considered a sacred meal, and requires specific rituals. Today, Gorgon diet consists of raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and some root-crops alongside hunted meats, agriculture becoming necessary in order to avoid the overhunting of animals, a more recent Gorgon philosophy. Blood is used in several culinary applications, such as in soups, puddings, and solid forms, though rarely sipped raw, and often used in Eternacht's street-food.
Gorgons do not hunt only for food. Although food is the consequence of hunting, it is also a ritual past-time, and a celebration of heritage. It is as important to Gorgons that hunting is sustainable, and so it is taboo to hunt during certain periods. This was decreed in Eternacht during the reign of Queen Vaermis, known for many innovations to the Gorgon life-style during the reawakening of the Gorgons, seeing greater value in prosperity than in blind pride.
Gorgons have a lifespan of 500 years for higher-ranks while lower-ranks never live beyond 100 years. Queens may live for a 800 years. Their lifespan contains four cycles: the first cycle is where incubation occurs (1/100 of their lifespan), the second cycle is where the hatchling grows till it reaches puberty (15/100 of their lifespan), the third cycle is during and after puberty till young adulthood (34/100 of their lifespan) and the last cycle is when the Gorgon matures into an adult and reaches an extremely old age (50/100 of their lifespan). A Gorgon will not age if they are undergoing Metamorphosis, and can remain in such a state for hundreds of years before awakening in better health than when they began.
A pregnancy with a Gorgon fetus lasts at least thirteen months, during which time the fetus is within the mother's womb. Most of its development takes place outside of the mother.
The first cycle: (The best eggs hatch last.) The incubation period is most crucial because this is when the Gorgon's body turns from a mere fetus into a hatchling, a pre-pubescent form of the Gorgon. Usually many of the genes in the Gorgon DNA take considerable time to develop. If the mother is not of Gorgon-origin and has given a live birth, the fetus will enter the stage of metamorphosis instinctually and hatch normally after it has been incubated.
Hatchlings are born with sight and are able to stand, walk and run within the first month of hatching. They also have a voracious appetite during the first year of their life since they begin teething early, and begin to eat solid foods after eleven months out of their shells. Gorgon Hatchlings may have small scale protrusions from their heads resembling horns, which fall off as they grow.
The second cycle: A pre-pubescent stage of youth, in which all Gorgons resemble each other very closely. Gorgons are very independent as Children, capable of leaving home for a few days on their own without concern, though this is partially due to Hive societies. As they near puberty, they feel a mental pull along with an abnormally high appetite and libido which prepares them to take the next step in becoming a passionate Zaira or an insipid Basilisk.
The third cycle: This stage marks the activation of their genes, where their genes are physically expressed in their bodies. The transition (puberty) is marked by physical and behavioral changes where their genes manifest. The Gorgons identify with similar genetic traits among their race which they spend their entire lives with. During this period, Gorgons will continuously enter periods of incubation and shed their skin as their genes continue to mutate and adapt, refining their biological factors. Zaira will begin to grow taller, with more pronounced and sharp features and a deepening of their skin-tones, and growing their tails. Basalisks grow very quickly, losing their hair, growing sharper scales and eventually entering a month long metamorphosis in which their legs join to form a tail. Khajira do not gain any further Gorgon traits from here-in, instead following the gender-based development of their other race.
The last cycle: Gorgon's enter their last cycle near the third fourth of their lives. Their skin pales, their scales grow slightly sharper, and their hair silvers. The Elders no longer hunt, but are expected to act as matriarch to their friends and neighbors, and lead rituals. A Basilisk almost never lives to grow so old, and commits a ritual suicide upon the first signs of old age, surrounded by friends and recognized for the blood they have spilt in the name of the Gorgons.
Totality and Unity: Gorgons in the past, as their first biological imperative, valued their Hives more than they valued their individual lives. The life of the Hive and their Queen came before them and they exhausted all of their energies in safeguarding them. Today, this biologic programming has waned to the point that some may completely ignore it. Gorgons tend to have a high sense of respect and fear for their Queen; after all, she is their progenitor. The population of the Hive serves as their collective wealth. In some larger hives, Gorgons have abandoned their elitist instincts and created economic alliances with other cultures to further their own development in the hopes of rebuilding themselves. Above all, Gorgons feel a strong sense of honor to their race, which is deeply rooted in legend and tradition.
Survival of the fittest: With the above-mentioned primary imperative, all Gorgons possess a second imperative to maintain their physical strength and excellence. Upon the ascension of Queen Vaermis of Eternacht, Gorgon society took up the Natural Virtues of the Hunt, a paradigm insistent upon personal responsibility. A Gorgon show courage and hunt without fear or hesitation, must show wisdom in collecting their prey without error, must show moderation by knowing when not to hunt and let the land replenish, and must show justice in respecting another's prey and property.
Mating instincts: The third biological imperative is the need to breed and expand their race. Their sexual nature is often aggressive but it has been described by other races as an attractive quality. Despite their violent nature, Gorgons treat the act of copulation as a sacred ritual; when two Gorgons mate, they strive to satisfy their sexual urges as well as their partner's. Mating is competitive, with Gorgons taking part in challenges and feats of strength if a conflict for a mate arises. During sex, as Gorgons are hermaphrodites, the partners attempt to dominate each other. The stronger Gorgon will be able to force her partner's male sex organ into her female ones and pin them down, and so physical pregnancy is considered a bragging right. Both mates becoming pregnant at the same time is considered dangerous and unwholesome, although a single pregnancy bearing twins is an incredible blessing and a great honor.
Cannibalism: Cannibalism is a sacred right and not to be taken lightly. If it is done improperly, the punishment can be grave. A Gorgon must never consume his dead brethren on the battlefield, nor those who have not finished puberty. When two Gorgons face a conflict of interest, a challenge to the death may be initiated, and the winner may consume the raw flesh of the defeated. To eat a Gorgon is to gain strength, but to be eaten is a dishonor on the family of the losing party.
Love, Friendship and Loyalty: Gorgons are not considered amorous due to their violent nature, but they do in fact have their own philosophy on the subject of Love. Gorgons have an incredible capacity to care for one another, and without the restraints of jealousy, and so familial units have consisted with up to five Gorgons all mated to each other. Marriage between Gorgons is not a declaration of love so much as one of great respect and admiration, so much so as to only devote ones reproduction to their chosen. Still, such unions are celebrated with the greatest of enthusiasm, especially between high-standing members of society. The acting queen will take a harem devoted to producing the finest qualities in her princes.
Beauty: Gorgon's appreciate beauty for its emotional satisfaction. Beauty is often rooted in the most primal of Gorgon instincts, violence, and sex, and tied to ancestral and deity worship. Beauty is concerned less with transforming the environment towards the Gorgon, but transforming the Gorgon to the environment. As such, beauty and art is typically avant-garde, abstract, bright and primitive.
The Blood Price: This is a common term in Gorgon societies. The Blood Price has been defined by Gorgons as the "actual worth of something" which refers to the amount of lives given for it or the amount of blood shed for it. If one commits a crime of greater value than their own life, that criminal in Gorgon society may be allowed to protect the honor of his family by willingly paying the Blood Price through public ritual suicide. The Blood Price acts as a means of determining justice, as well as determining how a Gorgon counts his Honor.
Habitat & Architecture:
Gorgons occupied the subterranean aspects of the world, living in both cold and hot climates with relative ease. Their caves often stretched for miles beneath the earth and at times inhabited mountainous terrain to build a stronghold. They were always keen on expanding their territory and though it lacked human landmarks, Gorgons were able to differentiate between terrain belonging to different Hives. Their lands often encompassed windswept fields, deep and lush valleys, overgrown forests but in rare cases even vast deserts, icy tundras and sea cliffs.
The structure of their early homes depend entirely upon where they resided but often the materials they used came from nature herself. Rocks, stones, clay, wood, bones, animal hides and in some cases metals were used to form a house-like structure. At times the homes were carved right out of the rock or naturally formed caves. The higher-ranked Gorgons had beautiful and large homes to better suit their status. Their slaves had simpler homes that could be taken down quickly to support a nomadic lifestyle in their territory. Later, these homes developed into large, domed palaces made of liquified rock and volcanic ash shaped into whatever they fancied.
In major metropolis today, Gorgons have merged their architecture into classical architecture. Their homes consist of high arched domes and stone pillars made from stone and glass.
The empire's currency in the past were humans or creatures of other races, fabrics, metals and other shiny objects such as gemstones and jewels.
Humans and other races were used as slaves to serve their masters, to work in the fields, to breed and to ultimately be used as food. Races such as Elves, Efferii and Dragonkin were more coveted because of their unique traits whether they were useful for breeding, working, a delicacy on the dinner table or even to increase the reputation of their owner. These creatures were either taken during raids or were held hostage after a battle.
Fabrics were another commodity that the Gorgons highly valued; a commodity which has expanded into a large fabric-trade today. Ever since their first touch of silk and satin, Gorgons enjoyed clothing themselves in these sensual cloths as they were used less for covering up and more for decorative purposes. They had found ways to make these fabrics themselves; weaving cloths has become a widely practiced skill among the lower-class due to its high demand, as well as an opportunity to achieve higher citizenship status.
Metals have a use that no Gorgon can deny. They were used for making weapons, tools, construction materials and any other thing they could come up with. Later they noticed that different metals had different properties and further exploited this resource to their advantage but not more-so than humans. Mining and exploring is another practised skill that is useful in the Hive as is forging and crafting weapons. Gorgons tend to craft their weapons from the heat of the lava pools deep in their caves.
Gorgons had a simple bartering system in their economy and any goods produced, hunted or foraged were subject to this trade if anything of equal worth could be offered. Apart from objects of worth, certain skills were also of great worth such as weaving cloths, mining, forging weapons, etc. Today, Gorgons tend to adopt the currency of the society they live in; however, one monetary value has been distinctly linked to the serpent-folk. The humans call it the Blood Gold, Red Gold or Dragon Gold from the way it shimmers and changes colour from gold to red in light (a quality attributed to dragon scales). This mystic gold is alchemized by Gorgons themselves and is attributed to induce a sense of greed and covetedness in its owner. Gorgons, especially merchant Gorgons, are taught to handle it without being cursed. One who does not have this knowledge will be cursed with greed, forever devoting their life to Blood Gold's collection if not stopped.
Outside of industry and black marketing, Gorgon services frequent espionage, assassination, and prostitution. Gorgon Khajira are especially known for the former two, being able to blend in well with human and elvish societies. Gorgons of Eternacht and Grimrah will keep slaves they may sell sexually, but very few Gorgons will prostitute themselves or their own kind, as it is a grim injustice.
A "Hive"(a classic social structure of Gorgons which persists today in human societies) is divided into four social levels: slaves, lower-class, upper-class and nobles.
Slaves are denied any rights in the Hive and are looked upon as livestock or crude living resources. They usually encompass one third of a Hive's population and are comprised mostly of Humans and Elves. Slaves live in large, spacious pens and are deprived of their privacy unless bought by higher-ranked Gorgons for their households. That said, Slaves are expected to be well fed and rested in order to produce effective work. Today, Slaves have living conditions close to those of lower-class Gorgons, though they hold no political rights, money, or property, and must be kept painted or preferably branded with a family crest by their owners at all times.
Lower-class Gorgons are in the full service of the Hive and carry out duties such as hunting, patrolling the territory, guarding the Hive, cleaning, general construction work, taking care of the young and the slaves among other miscellaneous things. In return they are allowed to satisfy their three biological imperatives and pursued them in service to the Hive while also being given sufficient time to indulge in the finer arts and recreational activities. There is a growing reform towards education in low-class areas of Gorgon society, however, opportunity for advancement in class remains difficult.
Upper-class Gorgons enjoy a more privileged life. These Gorgons occupy areas of management, ownership, education and higher thinking, tasked with creative challenge over rudimentary work. These Gorgons include Master Hunters, artisans, business owners, State employed Sorcerers, and Heros of the battlefield. Any low class Gorgon can achieve Upper Class status, but only by proving themselves as a diamond in the rough.
Nobles comprise a fraction of the entire Hive population. These Gorgons are hand selected by the Queen as the highest rank in their respective fields and achievements, and comprise the government officials who are trusted to advise her. The nobility also includes the Royal Family. These are the Gorgons rulers, diplomats, and politicians.
Rise in social level is purely based on one's own merits and achievements; however, younglings have an advantage in that they fall under the social class of their parents as a birthright, but must prove themselves to retain their position.
To a Gorgon the entire Hive is considered to be an extended family. The common term used to refer to each other is "Sister" while older Gorgons are called "Mother." If one takes the male role during a pregnancy with their mate, it is appropriate to call them "Father" during this period as a sign of recognition. Even the Queen is referred to as "Mother" by the Gorgons. Within a Hive are several Houses governed by house elders who serve as matriarchs. There have been instances where Gorgons mate with a single partner for life but this limits the size of the family due to reproductive constraints. When an elder is lost from their number, a new Gorgon from the same household may fill the vacancy if accepted by the others. Strong families are created through this method which form the backbone of the Hive.
As the young hatchlings grow strong and able, their training in survival begins. They are taught how to track and hunt for prey, how to climb, how to swim, how to burrow, how to fight and how to fashion crude weapons from anything found in their environment. Their bodies are tested to their limits. For the initial years before entering puberty, the young hatchlings are given an intensive course in how to stay alive by the other Gorgons. After they have reached puberty, the young Gorgons are given their real training based on which society they reside on and their roles in the Hive. A Gorgon's secondary education is tailored to their talents and available opportunities.
Culture & Arts:
The Womb: The Womb was a profound symbol for the Gorgons and from it is derived most of their philosophy. The Womb gives birth to life in its cradle and it also has the power to take away that life thus forming a cycle of rebirth and renewal. The two arms represent opposite yet equal forces (individuals, destinies, acts, thoughts) which ultimately come down to join together as one path thus further symbolizing the totality and unity of their Hive. The symbol for the Womb is the most important rune for their magick because that is where Gorgons draw their power from. This Symbol is frequently painted on the faces of Gorgon's who have given birth. Fertile female slaves have also been branded in the past to mark them as breeding stock so that they were not eaten like those unmarked.
Body art: Body art is considered to be not just decorative but also spiritual in its aspects. The body is treated as a canvas, an object to celebrate and to paint with the satisfaction of its senses. Gorgons anoint themselves in special designs to boost their fertility, to strengthen them for their long and harsh years and to connect them to each other under one Hive. The body art may be in the form of special dyes, tattooed ink or even branding. A triangle pointed downwards across the brow and towards the chin is a sign of motherhood. A downwards facing triangle at the forehead means pregnancy. Two fangs underneath the eyes are a sign of respect worn when one sees a friend die in combat.
Clothing: Clothing among Gorgons is divided by class and occupation. Those who mostly wear red deal in blood, either in the spilling of it or the collection: assassins, slave owners, mercenaries and those who deal in sex. Blue is the color of merchants, street magicians, and those who deal in simple properties. Gold is the color of politicians, nobles and honored elders. Gorgon fashion is dominated by sharp colors, long silks and bold patterns, especially of the symbol of the womb-- a downward facing triangle. Horns are worn decoratively upon the head, carved from stone and handed down from parents-- often distinguishing familial lines.
Fertility rituals: Gorgons follow the moon's different phases and celebrate their fertility rituals accordingly just when a new moon arises. To them this symbolizes the renewal of the cycles of one's growth and it is during this time that a coupling can be made. It is a time of great celebration and communal feasting where one's libido is extremely high and public throes of passion are encouraged. It is an almost euphoric ordeal focussed around a central pit where the participants satisfy each other and themselves to the sounds of music and the smell of exotic drugs and perfumes.
Cannibalism: Cannibalism is an act that is sacred in the Hive because of its spiritual properties. To consume another of your kind enables you to take their energies, their power and their potential into yourself. Gorgons believe that this boosts their vitality by mixing and enhancing their essences, thus leading to a prolonged and healthier life.
Promiscuity: Sex and gratification of their senses is not considered an obscene act. Instead it is celebrated and encouraged. Gorgons are very sensual creatures and they love using their bodies in new ways, exploring their limits whether towards pleasure or pain.
Enslavement: Enslavement is a common practice where inferior races are taken in as objects whether to breed, to work or to feed their masters. Enslavement is also common within their race where lesser Gorgons submit to more powerful ones. It is sometimes a common practice that a debtor Gorgon would voluntarily enter a life of slavery for a period of fifty to one hundred years, after which his debt would be payed and he would receive a higher citizenship status.
Paintings, music, dances, folk tales and any other forms of expression: Their history is a part of their culture and as a result old tales and new are passed down from generation to generation through recording the events and achievements in paintings, songs, dances or stories told around a campfire. These forms of passing knowledge are encouraged as well as recording it in books and scrolls. However, these expressions are not just limited to knowledge. They are performed for the simplest of things such as a joyous occasion or the passing of seasons, or even felling a great beast.
Gorgons speak their own unique language which is different from the tongues of other races with some speculation of a Noldor origin. Early Gorgonic was a simple language using clear and concise words and simple constructs; the tongue today is more elaborate and even poetic. Gorgonic names often had "S" and "V" sounds in honor of Visara, their creator, and last names were unique and peculiar in their origins. A Gorgon's last name or household name arose either from a special skill the house was renowned for, where in the territory the house was located, an individual skill, achievement or even an embarrassing situation that she was involved in; Skull-basher, Blood-drinker, Dragon-slayer, The Whip, etc were some names.
Shifts in societies have lead to inclusion of names from various other cultures and tongues. Present Parsel is a language that was built from assimilating bits and pieces from interactions with other races which is why some of the words sound similar or have similar origins.
Gorgons worshipped Visara the Dreadful, their supreme monarch and progenitor, in the past world along with indulging in ancestral worship. Visara's untimely demise and her ascension into the afterlife created a time of social and religious turmoil; various Queens, her daughters, fought for the right to rule the Gorgon empire and the once singular Hive was divided into several, smaller Hives scattered across the continents. When the empire was on the verge of collapse, Visara's high priests and priestesses abolished her worship and all statues and religious manuscripts of their ancestors were burnt to ashes in the act called the "Eternachti Heresy." From the fires of revolution, two new powers emerged which remain firmly rooted in Gorgon culture till the present day: the Imperium Gorgos and the Hekklesiarchy. The Imperium Gorgos is the political power of the Gorgon empire re-established by two of Visara's daughters who struck an alliance and massacred many of their sisters in the mass genocide that nearly rendered their race extinct. The Queens of the rogue Hives were given an option to accept them as their supreme monarchs or to follow the fate of their mothers and sisters. Many paid obeisance while many others still rebelled till the point it was futile. The might of the new empire was undeniable. Eventually the two sisters split their people; the older and more wiser sister, Vaermis, remained in Eternacht while the younger and more ambitious sister, Laevis, journeyed across the worlds with her people to Kyrheim and settled in Grimrah. The two arms of the Imperium Gorgos still remain connected through the work of Hekklesiarchy.
The Hekklesiarchy is the body of religious and magickal knowledge in the Imperium that strives to protect, maintain and further religion and magick in Gorgon societies. It also acts to prevent heresy to the Imperium by monitoring the many sub-Hives distributed across the worlds. After the Eternachti Heresy, the high priests and priestesses developed a new religion and source of magick for their people. This source was then further sub-divided into the many branches of magick that the Hekklesiarchy endorses. Their new religion worships abstract and malevolent younger Gods who require tithes in forms of supplication. They act as the silent religious police of Imperium's society, to be revered and feared.
Today, idol worship is Henotheistic. Each Gorgon is responsible for worshiping his or her own Goddess, while accepting the existence and practices of the other Goddesses. There are at least two dozen deities worshipped in all, but of the dreaded pantheon of Gods, three are worshipped above the rest: they are the Trios Mirrdae ("Three Mothers"), Ophion the World-Serpent and Sicarius.
The Trios Mirrdae are three faceless women who are act as a unified symbol.
Some manuscripts tell that they are three forms of one goddess in different stages of her life. The three represent the cycles of the female form from menstruation (Unos the virgin), pregnancy (Duos the mother) menopause (Privas the wise crone). This is a cycle of renewal and a natural phase of life. They are actively worshipped by the Sorroritas, as well as many Gorgons, and their symbols include the womb-chalice and the trinity. Duos is said to be the mother of Ophion the World-Serpent.
Ophion the World-Serpent is said to have ensued the creation of the worlds. After hatching from his egg, he wrapped it tightly in his coils until it broke into three shells. These three shells became the three different worlds that we
all know today. After creation, he coiled himself about the foundation of the worlds, slumbering till the day they would meet their end and he would return the lands back into the sea. Manuscripts tell that the large waves, earthquakes, whirlpools and sea storms are caused by the quivering of the Serpent's coils or when he rolls over in his sleep. They say that he sleeps in a dream-like trance, crossing between their physical world and the Dreaming, guiding the lost souls to their demise. The many Reapers of the Dreaming are thought to be his sons. Ophion's symbol is the unborn serpent in its egg and he is actively worshipped by the Arbites. He is the only wholly male God to be revered by the Gorgons.
Sicarius is the chaotic war-goddess of craft, charm, mischief and excess. He appreciates both craft of mind and craft of form and enjoys trickery and cunning. He also harbors a deep obsession with opulence in the form of power. It's not surprising that he is a God that many Baslilisks worship. Sicarius is said to be the Father of Ophion and consequently the patriarch of all that fall under his domain. He is said to be a God of inspiration yet he is based on desires more than logic, is passionate and reliant on instincts. He has many faces and many shapes but is characterised by a handsome horned male wearing a grotesque suit of armour; his smile is said to curdle the blood of his enemies and his war-cries are reflected in the rumbling thunder above. He is actively worshipped by the Sons of Sicarius. Although hermaphroditic, Sicarius is often refered to as male or Father for fathering Ophion.
Others Gods and Goddesses involve the more personal aspects of life. Others include Savalti, goddess of visual arts and preserving images, Nalagath, goddess of craftsmanship, honor, and patron to the artisans, Grismark, goddess of ritual suicides and slavery, and Silmaki, goddess of hunting and preserver of meats. These are not openly worshipped or publicly revered, but privately meditated upon. The houses of Gorgons may contain a small shrine to one of these lesser deities.
Magick is the domain of the Hekklesiarchy who govern its uses and endorse its many branches. In the beginning of the Imperium, a new source of magick was found to fuel spells. This was the power of souls outside of the casters. Mystics believe that the soul contains vast amounts of energies that can be harnessed given the proper conditions, and this can be evidenced by the degeneration of ones soul when magic is used without divine blessing. Through the extraction of a soul from a living being through that beings blood, the soul can be transferred to an object which can then be used as a medium for casting. After this revelation, the sacrificial practices and cannibalistic rituals reached a new peak and were strictly for the purposes of magick. This also originated the term "Blood-price" which became the price value of sacrifices.
Blood is often collected in a womb-chalice (a physical representation of the womb) which acts as the locus for energies from the sacrifice. The blood is then 'birthed' over an object by an experienced practitioner. Certain objects tend to contain souls better than others, such as precious gemstones, high conductivity metals, and mirrors, which others like wood and sedimentary stone do not hold a soul very well, as the souls tend to leak from the material like water from a cracked bucket. Often fresh 'souls' are sacrificed to fuel spells and the certain properties of the soul denote varying strengths for the spell, for example, a small animal, like a rabbit's soul, is quite weak as it is easy to obtain and relatively insignificant, while a mans soul is quite effective, thus is the Blood Price, the value of ones soul. Some Gorgons prefer the magickal enlightenment from Muses which is within acceptable limitations of the Hekklesiarchy; however, allying with a Daeva is considered to be the greatest heresy towards their new Gods and is punishable by death or, worse, through penance.
The Hekklesiarchy has many branches with specific purposes. (In decreasing order of size).
Their largest branch is the Sorroritas, a sisterhood of Gorgons fiercely committed to the worship of the Trios Mirrdae. Younger sisters take a vow of chastity until they become "Mothers", at which point they bear children to increase their numbers. The Sorroritas engage in the branch of magick that governs the flow of life-forces. Through studying this, they are able to pervert life to new levels through transmogrification, necromancy and visceromancy. They also partake in fertility rituals and old forms of fertility magick. The Sorroritas operate many secret monasteries and abbeys where they study the secrets of the past in seclusion to the rest of the world. A militant sub-order of the Sorroritas is the Brides of Sicarius, a group of magickally-endowed, shape-shifting battle-sisters who partake in assassinations and espionage. They forgo their vows of chastity so that their tasks are unhindered.
The second branch are the Sons of Sicarius, a purely millitant order. What good would the Imperium be without power to back it up? Her power stems from the millions of warriors forming the pillars atop which her foundations lay. But do not be fooled; they are not savages or hordes of brutes. The Sons of Sicarius are knights of various precepts falling under one of many Preceptors. They take much delight in the art of war like their patron God and serve as mercenaries or soldiers for various human corporations that the Imperium is allied with.
The third branch are the Arbites who are a sect of psionically-endowed individuals. Although psions are present in every other sect, the Arbites are unique in the sense that they have vastly superior brain functions compared to the rest of these psions. The Arbites are mystics who are able to peer into the dreaming through use of their powers, to see life and death and the passing of souls, to predict the future (and flay minds!). Couple this with their exotic martial arts and fighting ability and it is without question why they were chosen to become the law enforcing arm of the Imperium. They have their own beliefs, customs and practices unique from other sects which is shrouded in mystery even from the Imperium herself. One thing they they seem to have an abundance of is information, even more so than the Brides of Sicarius, which they contribute back to the Imperium.
All history before the Eternachti Heresy has been with-held and suppressed on the orders of the Imperium. Traces of Gorgon history still remain in the libraries of the Elves and the Angels but are difficult to decipher due to their incomplete nature.-- Royal Seal 12:36, July 20, 2013 (UTC)
What the Gorgons know if their history is recorded not in factual text, but in legend, myth, and poem, passed down orally from generation to generation. Though the nature of the truths of these stories is uncertain, what is certain to every Gorgon is the many truths to be learned in their repetition.
The complete legend, the "Parserillium" as they know it, is compiled in three parts. Its first chapter, "Ophionizë", deals in the creation of the worlds. The second chapter, "Visarizë", and longest, handles the creation of the first Gorgon Empire, and its downfall. The final chapter, "Vaermizë," details how the society Gorgons know today came to be from the Chaos of their defeat.
"Thus I have heard, that in the beginning there was nothing, and from this nothingness hatched Ophion, who felt the nothingness from whence he came and entered, and felt no warmth, and so wrapped his coils around his empty shell. From its broken shards came warmth, and light, and from its three largest pieces formed the lands. And Ophion looked upon the warmth of the lands and curled around them into a slumber, content to recieve their comfort, until the day the lands grow cold again, and the waters turn stagnant, and the rocks turn to dust, so that Ophion will consume the world in its death."
"And I have heard that from the warm earth was born the first of the living beings, and of them, were three who were honorable to the lands and the rocks. Firstly was one who was most like Ophion, a woman of power and grace, who loved the earth and its warmth, who was at balance with the cycle of nature, and her name was Visara. Her brothers were Ruthark, one born of the hot fires in the deepest pits of the world, and Caria, whose beauty shone like the gems and precious metals hidden among the rocks.
And I have heard that the unbalanced fire and vain metals of the earth betrayed their mother Gaia, and only Visara, the balanced, remained. So it is, that the Red Dragons and the Incubi are filled with greed and hate, and do not have honor. Shun these traitors of the earth, take from them their spoils, and their glory. Make not conquest nor love with them, else the Gods curse your children, and hex your very existence with tragedy.
And I have heard that it was Visara who took her mother Gaia and encased her in an egg, of nourishment and protection, that she might one day rise and grace us again. Visara, who looked upon the world and sought to fill it with her own image, that it might be excellent, and worthy of their mistress, made love with the various creatures and beasts, the men and the magical creatures who populated the second world, and from them did she give birth to all World-Eaters, of whom none were identical. And this populace of World-Eaters was mighty, and pledged fealty to their birthmother. The lands were kind to the Old Ones, who feasted on the flesh of beasts, and who honored their sacrifice in the Good Ways. And it was decadent.
And I have heard that from the lands the World-Eaters feasted arrived the Elves, the Bright Ones, who trespassed and built and did not honor the land as the World-Eaters did. And so the World-Eaters hunted the elves, and feasted upon them, as a warning, that the others should not pollute their sacred hunting grounds. The Bright Ones met this warning with greater impudence, claiming lands which did not belong to them, using their devices to prevent the World-Eaters from hunting and inhabiting the sacred caves. The Bright Ones grew hot with anger and greed, just as the treacherous brethren of Visara, and she met their demands with sacred war. The World-Eaters lead by Visara knew the great balancing force of War for the first time, and glorified themselves in battle and bloodshed for nearly three generations, slaughtering the Bright Ones and killing their Kings.
And I have heard that from other lands came two Lunar Gods, one known as Christable, and other, Oronwë. The first, a woman as fearsome as Visara, taught the cold ones great magicks of blinding light, and weapons of long flat steel which carved at the flesh of the World-Eaters as the rapier could not, and needles of gold with which she healed those turned to the Earth by Visara's gaze. It was with these new powers that the Bright Ones took back victory from the World-Eaters, who found their numbers thinned. The darkness was pierced, and the great empire of the World-Eaters was tattered under the foreign might.
And I have heard, that from the hunting grounds where once the World-Eaters prospered, Visara and her children were forced to another place not of the earth, the Otherworldly Cliffs, inhospitable, and cold. But Oronwë, mate to Christable, and King of the Bright Ones, challenged Visara on the cliffs. And so their battle went on for three days without rest, neither making a single lash on the other, until Visara caught Oronwë by his wrist, and sunk her teeth into his bone. As Oronwë reared back, he could feel the slow death coursing through his veins, but this was not enough for Visara, who widened her eyes so that he would turn to stone and honor the earth. But Oronwë lifted his sword, Nidhoggr, the killer of World-Eaters, whose blade was like a mirror, and Visara looked into her own gaze and was instantly rendered a statue of volcanic glass. Oronwë fell shortly after, sword in hand, having died in most honorable combat of his wound, and now sits upon a throne of silver, cutting the teeth and claws of World-Eaters with debt on their deaths."
"And I have heard that there, nestled among the rocks of a world unfamiliar to them, came a great despair at the loss of their God-Queen. Like glass underfoot, the World-Eaters minds were as crumbled dissonant wails. Will had been taken from their thoughts, and like animals, sister killed sister and mother shed the blood of daughter for a thousand years. Blood coated the cliffs and fell from the sky as an everlasting winter of death and rebirth, killing and mating without concern for either.
And I have heard that like a miracle there came a clarity, and a star fell from the carpet of the everlasting night sky, and from this starlight the World-Eaters witnessed themselves for the first time in many centuries, reborn, and familiar, a single race of a common appearance, a superior being. The star split in two and became two Queens, who brought forth the word of the Gods. No longer World-Eaters, but Gorgons.
And I have heard that Vaermis and Laevis took with each of them half of the Gorgon sisters on an exodus from the Cliffs, to places that were lush and warm and full of the life that we once cared for, on a continent that smelled faintly of the old home."