Is it Freedom?
Gods and Goddesses
Long ago, so far in the past that even the eldest of dragons count it as mere myth, four powerful beings came into existence. Whether these creatures sprang from the primordial fundamental energies or came from another universe entirely, it’s not known. These four beings, The Four, Dragazk, Elasbi, Farad and Zarebi upon gazing upon the emptiness, pooled their energies: Dragazk formed the earth from towering peaks to deepest valley, Elasbi filled the deepest parts of the land with water, whilst Farad gave energy to the sky, causing the waters to freeze and flow from the mountains, and return with the rains. Finally, Zarebi put fires in the sky, warming the ground, eventually causing life to appear.
First of the thinking creatures, the Orcs appeared from the caves that Dragazk made, and upon seeing them lent them his strength and might allowing the Orcs to spread and colonise the lands, crafting monuments to Lord of the Mountain. Seeing the praise (and subsequent power granted by the Orcish priests to Dragazk), Elsabi became jealous and empowered the mighty oceans to gain shape and form, giving rise to the elves, who like their Mistress, became jealous and mercurial in temperament, often clashing with the Orcs in their coastal cities.
In an attempt to stabilise the rising hatred between the Elves and Orcs, Farad, ever the thinker created the race of Man, hoping by making them able to breed with both races, to enable them to seal the widening rift between not only the Elves and Orcs, but Dragazk and Elsabi as well. Zarebi, always apart from the other three, took some of the liquid rock of the Worldfire, and crafted them into the Gnomes, and filled them with her curiosity and passion.
Unfortunately, the creation of Man didn’t heal the rift, it actually increased it. By making Man compatible with all the races, Farad gave them an odd advantage – Wild Magic, Man’s inherently unstable nature allowing them to tap directly into the primordial energies without use of words and gestures. Over time, Man was able to pull semi-sentient beings from the raw substance of the various planes, the Elementals. As each race in the war learned how to call forth these beings, they discovered that their most powerful creations was tied closely to the element that they were most comfortable with – the Elves Water, the Orcs Earth, the Gnomes Fire, and Man, Air.
Over time, these creatures began to damage the landscape of Palonas itself, as more and more crucial material was used for the creation of ever larger Elementals, the Four stepped in (Elsabi reluctantly) and thickened the barriers between Palonas and the Elemental planes, greatly restricting the size and power of elementals that could be called through. Thoroughly disgusted, at this time Dragazk released his claim of patronage over the Orcs, and created a new race, forged from the metals of the Palonas itself, the Dwarves – who had the might of the Orcs, but leavened a stoicism that kept them calm and grounded through whatever disasters headed their way. The Dwarves themselves venerated Dragazk, and following his wishes, took no part in the First War.
After centuries of fighting, the war eventually devolved to stalemate, with neither the Orcs or the Elves (and their respective human allies) able to gain an advantage for long. During this time, Man interacted with Gnomes for the first time, and as Farad had intended, began to intermarry and for the first time, created a independently sustainable race, jokingly called Halflings by full blooded Men, came into being, with the name sticking.
After another century or so, one of the Elves, whose name is lost to history, through some artifice of magic, managed to link the energies of the elemental planes to that of Chaos itself, calling into Palonas the first demon to tread the mortal coil. This restarted the First War, which later became known as the Planar War, as the Orcs managed to partially duplicate the demon summoning process of the Elves, though they linked the fundamental Law to that of the elemental planes, calling forth the first devils.
Both the demons and devils, vastly smarter than the elementals both sides where used to employing, were able to cast spells themselves, and in rare circumstances, call forth more of their brethren to fight in the ever increasing battles.
Once again The Four stepped in, tightening the walls between the planes again, and allowing those mortals of pure heart to call forth The Fours immortal servants, the celestials. This balanced the sides in the war once more, however by this point, both of the key sides were heavily depleted in numbers, and by an unconscious mutual consent, the Orcs retreated back to the caves and the Elves fell back to their island fastness’. Whilst both sides would raid each other over time, it never approached the levels of the Planar War, and even the frequency of the raids decreased, as the Orcs regressed in technology and magical skill, as without Dragazk’s guidance, they found it difficult to maintain a stable society.
Millennia passed, and soon other intelligent beings began to appear: dragons and their kin, kobolds, goblins, rakshasa’s and so forth, and while their were other significant wars, none, including the Dragonwars (leading to the creation of the Dragonborn) became anything near to the intensity of the First War, nor the brutality of the Planar War.
Somewhere between the Second and Third Dragonwar, during which Orcs (along with goblins and kobolds) were used as troops by the various Dragonlords, the Orcs managed, through dedicated prayer and an mechanism not understood by the even The Four, managed to elevate the most powerful devil known to them, Thazk the Defiler, to full godhood, and while not as powerful as The Four, did stabilise the remnant of the Orcs into a nation once more, though they were little more than cave dwellers at this point.
This creation of minor deities occurred many times, most commonly to the larger than life heroes of Man, collectively referred to as The Saints (whether originally Man, Elf, Dwarf etc.,), and most recently a being, referred to only as The Unchained approximately 150 years ago.
Dragazk, Lord of the Mountain: The chief god of the dwarves
Elsabi, Queen of the Oceans: The ruling god of the Elves
Farad, The Old Man: Chief of the gods of Man
Zarebi, The Eternal Flame, Goddess of the Gnomes
The Tenants of the Ancestors, religious practices of the Dragonborn