Do you believe in motherhood, apple pie and Chevrolet? Do you believe in truth, justice and the American dream? If so, then Deridean might just be the god for you. The Councilor was the Superman of the gods, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound and outrace speeding bullets. If the gods had been into spandex, Deridean would have worn a cape.
He didn’t start out that way. In the Age of Beginnings, he was golden Finbardin’s right hand man, the one with Heaven’s ear. Finbardin didn’t make a move without consulting his Councilor, which always infuriated Harnor. Deridean didn’t have the best sense of humor and carried the weight of the world on his shoulders. I think Lindivar’s murder must have played a huge part in shaping his personality. The three of them, Deridean, Aeriel and Lindivar were brothers and sisters (don’t get me started, I’ve talked about those odd, so-called sibling relationships elsewhere), with dominion over truth and wisdom, peace and free will, and light respectively, but Lindivar’s death threw a wrench into well laid plans. Aeriel took up Lindivar’s mantle and became mistress of Arra, the Sun of Heaven. Now, this was a lot for her to pick up in addition to her other duties and Deridean wanted to help any way he could, resulting in his over-developed sense of responsibility.
He even went so far as to build the Twin Towers of Light and Life, an ostentatious name for the skyscrapers on the Plains of Blessing. Standing on the shores of the Mere of Gems, the towers were even taller than the Spires of Thought, giving Harnor yet another reason to grumble. It was really more space than the two of them needed, but the towers were Deridean’s way of consoling his sister after Lindivar’s death. Even later, when Aeriel took up with Pugnar (now that was a real May-December romance) and let him move in, there was more than enough room. Each had a penthouse suite, Deridean in the Tower of Life and her in the Tower of Light, which made more sense than the other way around since Aeriel had taken over for Lindivar, and used the lower floors for storage, I guess. At the foot of Deridean’s tower was a pretty decked out stable for his mount, Faldax, quite possibly the finest horse that ever was. Faldax could have won your Triple Crown easily and the Councilor used to gallop him across the Heavens at breakneck speed with his blue crystal spear Vendellena leveled like a lance, making him popular with the knight crowd during the Age of Man. In Renk, the Knights of Abornis, named for a pious servant of Deridean who wielded a powerful crystal that was either Deridean’s frozen teardrop or an Elven relic from Elder Days or just a pretty hunk of quartz mined in the Highpeaks, were as popular as Budweiser’s Superbowl commercials.
Finbardin leveraged Deridean’s talents to his advantage and left the design of the Elder Races, all ninety-eight of them, in his capable hands. Finbardin didn’t dictate the number, Deridean came up with number ninety-eight all by his lonesome, thinking it the perfect number of races to represent the full range of godly gifts, not one more or one less would do. Myself, I think he overshot his goal by a wide margin. Sixty-eight, or even thirty-eight, would have been more than enough as far as I’m concerned. I can’t name half of them and I’ve studied Sangrar more than anyone ever has (or ever will). Neither could Kandol, and, Solare burn me, he lived through it all.
The Zygaleans were an example of an Elder Race gone wrong. They were amphibious frog-men, able to live on land or in the sea, but called neither home. Weak in both sorcery and earth magik (one of Deridean’s bright ideas), they were most blessed by Aeriel and took the notion of independence to such an extreme that they refused to live with one another. Well, Lillandra’s gift could only take you so far and even on Sangrar, procreating without physical contact wasn’t possible for any organism more sophisticated than an amoeba (except for gods who regularly practiced asexual reproduction). By the time of the Darkening, there weren’t many more Zygaleans than there’d been when the Firstborn had found the Secondborn. If you think the Zygaleans interesting, then read this paragraph again, because you won’t find any mention of them in The Tale. Many of the ninety-eight didn’t make the cut.
The whole episode between Deridean and Harnor concerning the dragons was interesting. I heard the Lord of the Spires’ side, from Tarik, more times than I can count, but I still side with the Councilor. Dragons would have been too powerful an Elder Race. Had Deridean given in to Harnor, the Balance would have found a way to compensate. What if Maldoks had climbed out of the primordial pool? By design, no Elder Race had a large measure of sorrow, Deridean forgot One-Eye’s gift entirely, but Dragons might have changed that. You might think it luck, but Sudnar hadn’t been born yet, so I’ll give credit where it’s due and thank Deridean for his foresight. After all, he was the god of wisdom, he should have known those sorts of things.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I find it ironic that Deridean, the god of truth, claimed Norath as his daughter. The Seeress had quite a reputation, but not for honesty. To her, the truth was a weapon used freely to manipulate the Prophecies, yet for all her effort, she remained blind as a bat to the greater truth of the Greater Realm. Seeress shmeeress! Punxsutawney Phil was a better prognosticator than her.
In Sangrithar, Deridean never had a strong presence. Before and after the curse, Thar who was Umbar always got top billing in the empire by the sea. In the early years, Umbar shared the spotlight with the Maiden and others, like golden Finbardin who had temple in every nation and in virtually every city, as you’d expect for the King of Heaven. The Councilor had a small shrine in Dynrael Quarter, near the temples of the Vanara. Even those new kids on the block were far more popular than Deridean ever was in Sangrithar. In other countries, Endiron and Jeheris, for example, Deridean’s temples were grander, places of prominence befitting golden Finbardin’s most valued advisor.
Surprisingly, Deridean became the most popular god on Tyrnavalle after Hali’s time. It didn’t happen right away, at first the settlers from Fanar stuck with tradition and offered prayers mostly to Umbar (old habits were hard to break). In the thirteenth century (Renk time), barbarians swept down from Fanar under the command of Pelavin the Conqueror and captured the northern half of Tyrnavalle. Their reign lasted close to three hundred years, until Murtav, a priest of Deridean, at the time a relatively unimportant and not well known god, vanquished them. After that, it was Deridean, Deridean, Deridean all the time, with Aeriel coming in a distant second. In the newly freed city of Renk, which Murtav made home after expelling the foreigners (if that term was still accurate after ruling so long), they erected a massive temple to Deridean that dwarfed all others.
As Renk recovered from the barbarian occupation and grew strong again, so did the cult, excuse me, religion of Deridean. After Murtav’s victory, the faith was growing by leaps and bounds and so did Deridean’s stature. How did the people of Renk love him? Let me see if I can count the ways. God of Truth and Justice – check, check. Deridean the Councilor – check. Councilor of the Craeylu (accurate, but obscure. Most people lumped all the old gods together, (the Vanara were the new gods) and called them the Elder Gods because they were really old) – check. Deridean the wise and wonderful – double check. Patron of Abornis, Lord of the Herd (intended as a way to honor Faldax, this one never really caught on except with the horses and they weren’t talking), Architect of the Elder Races (too heavy on the Elder Days to catch fire), God of Might (this one didn’t make Deridean’s brother-in-law very happy, Pugnar thought as lord of the arena, that this one should be his) – check, check, check and check.
Nearly six hundred years later, the temple was nearly destroyed during the siege of Renk, when Eleord the druid was blasted out the sky by the archmage leading Bayor’s army. Eleord had pretended to take his windsail out for a spin (he had these really nifty boots of levitation he used with a sheet of canvas and hinged planks that folded up nicely) when he was actually spying on the besieging army, but wasn’t half as clever as he thought. When the lighting struck him, he fell hundreds of feet and crashed through the temple’s roof. The roof was repaired after the Bayorians were turned back at great expense, and thereafter flying over the city was allowed by permit only. If you had boots of levitation, a ring of flying or sprouted wings, it was worth your while to visit city hall before take-off; the fines were hefty.