talona_symbol.jpg
Lady of Poison, Mistress of Disease,She of the Deadly Kiss, Mother of All Plagues
Pantheon Faerunian
Realm Cathrys/Palace of Poison Tears
Portfolio Disease, poison
Worshippers Assassins, druids, healers, rogues, those suffering from disease and illness
Domains Chaos, Evil, Suffering
Favored Weapon A scabrous hand (unarmed strike)

Talona

Talona is often depicted as a withered old crone with a scarred, tattooed face in religious texts. Where she walks, misfortune and death follow. She is an odd deity. Sages have described her as having the personality of a petulant, greedy child trapped in the body of a once-beautiful woman now scarred by horrific disease and ravaged by age: She is alternately desirous of attention at any cost like a small child and aloof like a wounded paramour who has been discarded by her love.

Talona’s ethos stresses that life and death are in balance, but that death is the more powerful and should be paid proper homage and respect. Life and death are balanced only because birthing and generation are so plentiful. Death is the true power, and the lesson that waits for all. lf it falls to the followers of Talona to drive home the point with the tip of a dagger, so be it.

Talona’s faithful are taught that if they respect death and the many ways the powers can deal it, that knowledge will allow them to live longer. If people think themselves invincible thanks to wealth or a swift swordarm or strong spells, the great equalizer of disease, Talona’s breath, will teach them respect and humility. Initiates to the faith are charged as follows: “Let pain be as pleasure to the faithful of Talona. She works upon you from within, and in weakness and wasting is her strength. She is forever and always with you, whomever you or the rest of the world believes in or serves. Let all living things learn respect from Talona and pay homage to her in goods and in fervent worship, and her dedicated priests will intercede for them so that Talona will not claim them—this time. Go and work in Talona’s name and let your doings be subtle or spectacular, but make them known as the will of the Mother of All Plagues.”

Talona’s power slowly wanes after each great plague in Faerûn. When she feels vulnerable in her position, she unleashes another wave of misery and disease-brought death and receives a torrent of prayers entreating her to spare the inhabitants of Faerûn from her withering touch. Her power then waxes again in an endless cycle of indifference, devastation, and appeasement. In particular, Talona’s power was ascendant during the destruction of Asram (after the erection of the Standing Stone), in the Year of the Clinging Death (75 DR), during the Rotting War (902 DR), in the Year of the Scourge (1150 DR), in the Year of the Empty Goblet and the Year of Beckoning Death (1252-1253 DR), and during the Great Plague of the Inner Sea (1317-1323 DR).

Some old texts of Talona refer to her as Kiputytto, but this is actually the name of a rival demipower who challenged Talona’s portfolio and lost. The battle between the two goddesses destroyed the Netherese survivor state of Asram in its wake. When Kiputytto attacked Talona, Talona plagued the ill-fated Asram in order to obtain the devotional power generated from the worship of its citizens, who hoped to appease Talona and lessen the effects of the disease. Kiputytto responded in kind in the same location, provoking a devastating series of increasingly virulent plagues (perhaps even magical in nature) that overloaded the curative resources of Asram’s various priesthoods and wiped out the entire population in less than a month. Even most of those who escaped the scourged area died soon after of disease. Shortly afterward, Talona won this devastating deific contest and murdered Kiputytto.

Representations of Talona’s symbol dated to before her battle with Kiputytto show it depicted as a flesh-colored equilateral triangle with point upward containing three teardrops arranged in a triangle with the uppermost black, the lower left purple, and the lower right green. Why the coloration was changed after her triumph over Kiputytto is one of the inner mysteries of the church not ever revealed to outsiders.

Those who actively worship Talona tend to gather in secret in the catacombs beneath cities or in wilderness ruins. Underground temples are often built above reeking, overflowing sewers or in humid grottoes overgrown with fungi and mold. Wilderness shrines are typically located in stagnant swamps and marshes rife with disease-laden mosquitoes and rich with the sickly sweet scent of decay. Twisted gargoyles carved to resemble mortals wracked with various diseases or poisons are positioned prominently throughout such structures.

Orders

Talona is not served by any military or knightly orders, but she is served by several secret cabals of rogues and other vermin The Plague Rats are an elite organization of thieves, assassins, and wererats active throughout the Western Heartlands and the North. Their secret base is believed to be located in the depths of the Rat Hills and to have connections to Undermountain. It was apparently unaffected by the great Conflagration in the Year of the Shield (1367 DR).

The Plague-mother’s Children

The Plague-mother’s Children is a guild of thugs active throughout Chondath and the Vilhon Reach. Formerly composed of crusaders dedicated to the extension of the Rotting War as the ultimate test of Talona’s favor, it has degenerated in recent years into an informal brotherhood of warriors and thieves who run extortion rackets throughout the region and threaten Talona’s wrath if they are not given their monetary due.

Priests

Aside from selling poisons, antidotes, and medicines, the Talontar travel Faerûn as quietly as possible, constantly seeking out new diseases and afflictions and spreading rumors so as to augment the reputation of Talona. What seems to motivate Talontar in their day-to-day behavior is a quest for respect: respect that is due Talona for her potentially devastating abilities and due them as her representatives in Faerûn. Throughout their careers, Talona’s priests work with magic and inoculations to build their personal immunities to various poisons and diseases. Thus protected, they treat the diseased, take employment as food tasters for paranoid rulers, wealthy merchants, and nobles, and bun those who have died from diseases. Whenever a realm or city-state casts out or punishes any Talontar, for any reason, priests of Talona work to cause a plague in that place to exact “Talona’s price” for such insults. Rumors have circulated that certain unscrupulous Talontar have occasionally chosen wealthy folk as targets for disease so that wealth and properties can be seized by the church upon the death of these wealthy owners— with the threat of contracting disease keeping rightful heirs and claimants at bay.

The Lady of Poisons attracts the cruel to her service; her priests tend to be self-sufficient, capable—and sadistic. Priests of Talona are known as Talontar, and members of the faith as a whole (laity and clergy) are called Talonites. Talontar are partial to ritual facial tattoos and scarification over their whole bodies. Priests of Talona, known as Malagents, wield poisoned daggers and serve as the adventuring and internal policing arm of the faith. Malagents of Talona are addressed as “Most Fatal Horror” and are sometimes — not to their faces — known as “Fatals” to other Talonites. Other priests of the Lady of Poisons are addressed as “Most Debilitating Holiness,” though senior clergy usually call their juniors “Young Venom,” regardless of their relative ages.

Priestly Vestments

All priests of Talona wear gray and green robes with ragged sleeves. These are washed but never repaired and in time become faded rags. Out of pride, most priests continue to wear their old, worn-out vestments until they are nearly naked. Old and high-ranking priests tend to have ritual scars and tattoos all over their bodies, and some even sport many body-piercings so that their torsos are studded with small rings linked with fine chains. Female clergy and laity alike often wear earrings and elbow-dangles of black metal wrought in the shape of talons.

If embarking on a possibly dangerous adventure or preparing to go into battle, Talontar favor black-and-purple armor adorned with spurs, horns, and spikes. They wear any armor in a pinch and prefer to wear as much armor as possible. Priests of Talona often carry the special ceremonial poison daggers of the faith. They have no compunction against using them in combat. Anyone other than a Talontar caught with such an item attracts the unwanted attentions of Talona to his or her health as well as her church’s wrath.

Ritual

The church of Talona observes thrice-daily prayers to the goddess (morning, highsun, and evening, though the timing of such rituals need not be precise), and daernuth (holy festivals) every 12 days. Festivals are events open to nondevotees, where such visitors are encouraged to pray and give offerings to Talona to spare themselves or loved ones from death, disease, wasting diseases, and the like. At such day-long celebrations, priests of Talona are always careful to show lepers and other victims of disfiguring diseases being cured by priestly magic before everyone and also to demonstrate their immunity to contracting disease by touching disease-carrying or filthy objects to the stillbloody ritual wounds of a Talontar (inflicted as during a private cicatrization ceremony). A long symphony of rolling drums, deep-voiced chanting, and glaur, shawm, and zulkoon music proclaims the power and veneration of Talona throughout the day, and minor priests busily sell poisons (for eliminating vermin, of course), antidotes, and medicines throughout the day, assisted by senior clergy who diagnose conditions (usually with great accuracy) and prescribe treatments in return for stiff fees.

Annually at the daernuth falling closet to Higharvestide, initiates of the faith are formally inducted into the priesthood. This ascension is marked by horrifying private ceremonies involving ritual scarring and sacred tattoos.

While he lived, Talona served Bhaal along with Loviatar, though Loviatar and Talona and are fierce rivals. Talona openly delights in any setbacks Loviatar experiences, and sometimes even aids good adventurers if she thinks they will damage Loviatar’s reputation. Talona has recently cultivated an alliance with Shar.

  • deities/talona.txt
  • Last modified: 2018/01/13 06:47
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