Monday, November 15, 2010

The Cult of Apollo

Apollo was the god of Troy and so too is he the god of Ilion.  As Aeneas brought the Lares to Italy so did Orontes bring the Farshooter to the Underworld.  They pray at his altars and sacrifice many shield-lizards on each of his feast days.  The cult of the Son of Leto is alive and well.

The stout sailors of Ilion take up the bow in his name.  Nowhere else in the Underworld can one find archers of their caliber.  They have learned they Farshooter's art and histories often claim they can leave whole ships depopulated before they come close enough to board.  These accounts are most likely exaggerated, and more than a few Ilionian ships have been captured by Thulian reavers.

The center of the cult is the fabulous marble temple that dominates Ilion.  Here the Brides of Apollo perform the various rites and dances that please the god.  They wear saffron colored garments and golden chastity belts decorated with rare and exotic jewels to symbolize their devotion to the Savior of the City.  They tend the Fuel-less Fire that is the lifeblood of the city and feed the sacred snakes that are the pets of Apollo.  These women are chosen by their ability to handle the snakes.  If the great basilisks devour the perspective maiden, then she was unworthy of Apollo's love.

Chief among these priestesses is the Pythia.  She, alone among their number, is allowed to wear white and go without a chastity belt.  It is said that if someone takes her maidenhead she will lose the powers granted to her by the Son of Leto.  There are those who say that she is bedded by Apollo once she becomes a priestess, but no mystes in the cult would ever say such blasphemy.  By breathing the smoke of the Fuel-less Fire, she can hear the voice of the god Apollo and relate his command to the litany of priests and male guardians who also inhabit the temple.

These priests protect the temple from would be ne'er-do-wells who seek to pilfer their various gems and golden statuary.  They are armed with strange sickle like swords and wear saffron like the Brides of Apollo.  They are rarely charged with sexual misconduct, but occasionally one is thrown into the Fuel-less Fire when a war goes foul.

Some claim that beneath the great temple is a frightening underworld.  Those who are initiated in the cult's inner circle are taken into these dark passages.  There they witness terrible turpitudes.  Some say that the depths beneath the temple are populated by strange half-formed snake creatures who bear a striking resemblance to human beings.  They have horridly man-like features and limbs but the inhuman stare and features of a serpent.  Their origin is the source of scandalous speculation, but most dismiss the possibility that they even exist.

Other cults exist within Ilion, and they too are rumored to have great underground chambers.  Some claim these even connect, but most assume this is rubbish.


  1. Nice write-up! Good mixture of history, Sword & Sorcery, and maybe awhiff of Sword & Sandal for flavor.

  2. Nice. Good nod to Tekumel.

    It also kind of brings to mind the statue transformation at the end of Conan: The Destroyer. A refined face concealing something ugly and monstrous.