Ash storms cross Red Jade Canyon frequently and unpredictably. They blow up from the burning south, picking up volcanic ash and debris as they cross the mountains, gusting like hurricanes. The buildings of Red Jade Canyon are built of stone and metal to resist not only the wind, but the flames – for sometimes the ash storms can ignite, raining fire from the skies.
Ieska is the goddess of these storms. Understand them and you will understand her.
Ieska’s dominion runs from the southern end of the mountains, where they melt into magma or the Wyld, all the way to the northern edge of the Burning Sands, where her storms finally lose their might and only a few flakes of ash remain. (The volcanoes on the other edge of the Burning Sands have their own god, whom Ieska shuns.) She has worshippers all along this distance who venerate her in an attempt to avoid the rains of fire.
When the Fair Folk came to tear down the walls of Creation, Ieska defended her territory with such ferocity that even the spawn of chaos balked. They threw behemoths at her; she charred their flesh to ash and carved their bones into the very ore that is now mined out of the canyon. This very ground is where she stood and wielded her furious power until the Fair Folk were finally driven out. The local spirit courts were cowed into obedience by her acts, and now work only as she wills or behind her back – all but Kushi, who seems annoyingly beyond fear. The fact that she saved them all is no small feather in her cap either. She considers herself above the reach of Yu-Shan here, and in this fallen age she may be correct.
More recently – about fifteen years ago – she was approached as an ally by Rendanishak. He knew of her power and influence, and saw that she valued this place over others. What he offered her in return is uncertain. She seems to respect him, and withholds the worst of her fury while in his palace. It was a long and turbulent road to their current alliance, but her presence in the ruling councils is an undeniable part of why the citizens respect Rendanishak’s rule. It is also undeniable that his public shows of respect for her have increased the quality of her worship in this canyon.
Ieska has three forms. One is that of a beautiful woman with light-brown skin just into her prime, covered in jewelry and multicolored silks. Her eyes and cheeks are touched with color, and her lips are stained red. Her irises are black as coal. The second form is that of a great furnace-beast with thick hide and a gullet blazing red-hot. Her third form is that of the storm itself.
Ieska is temperamental, as fits her heavenly assignment, bursting into anger when provoked. She is also haughty and demanding of the puny mortals who swarm over her mountains. She claims that their constant prayers for mercy and compassion aggravate her, and that were it not for the essence they provide her she would tell them all to be silent. She speaks with authority or not at all, and she is prone to speech. When questioned on most matters she is belligerently secretive.
The saving grace of Ieska’s personality is a tenderness for children. Every young one caught out in the ash storms that sweep Red Jade Canyon, every infant in the path of a flaming tornado, every runaway who foolishly ran off into the mountains, has miraculously found its way home safely. Nearly every family owes at least one child to Ieska, and she does not let them forget. Despite all her bluster, though, no heavenly mandate keeps her from harming the young. Her burning heart has a compassionate spot for tiny souls.
Intimacies: “Burn those who would defy me” (Definitive), “The Fair Folk are the foes of us all” (Major), “Children” (Positive), “Those who make demands of me” (Negative), “Kushi needs to shut up.”
Mortal pursuits are below Ieska, or so she says. In truth, she has more in common with them than she would like to say. She knows her territory well, though only as one might see it from above. She dances well. Ieska is a smith by nature, working in volcanoes and in the hottest parts of her storms, shaping only the most stubborn of materials. She understands politics but despises it, making her somewhat less effective in such dealings.
She is a powerful and terrifying combatant. If the burning might of her glare is not enough to humble her foe, she calls the storm about her, blinding her foes, and drawing a short blazing bow from it that fires arrows of obsidian and magma for nearly a kilometer. Those foolish enough to close with her will surely bear scars from her burning fingertips as she rakes their face and throat. Against larger foes, or those who face her in the fiery mountains, she laughs and calls the volcano.
Ieska’s mount is a terrifying beast, a god of death by burning. Its flaming breath and sharp hooves warn others away even outside of combat. She rarely leaves it on the ground, giving it free reign to gallop through the clouds instead.
- Dakho, firey dragon-horse that draws Ieska through the skies. Predatory, persistent, untameable.
- Vin, the sky god with whom she battles for territory in the heavens. Ostentatious, booming, insufferable.
- Satha, goddess of travel and forewarning, who tries to save travellers from Ieska’s storms. Bold, conceited, adventurous.
- Entasilkhaho, Ieska’s high priestess in the valley. Arrogant, opinionated, pious.
- Does Rendanishak hold anything else over Ieska, or does she work with him out of mutual respect?
- Why does Ieska spend so much time in this canyon? Is it merely sentimental reasons, or is some part of her power ensconced here?
- What will Ieska do when she realizes that Lady Shafallika‘s power comes from the Fair Folk?