The Shadow which Lurks at the Edge of the Light (5e Deity)
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The light shone in the darkness and the darkness comprehended it not.
The Shadow which Lurks at the Edge of the Light
Divine Rank. Greater Deity
Wherever there is light, there is also shadow. That is the nature of darkness. At the beginning of the universe, however, there was no light at all: at this time, darkness was all that there was. Darkness and perfect peace. Into this sublime darkness was born the Shadow which Lurks at the Edge of the Light. The creation of the universe banished the primordial night with the light of the beginning, but the god that had overseen that primal nothing lived on. Many say that before the universe there was entropy: chaos. They are wrong- there was simply absence. That which was, was not. The Shadow that Lurks at the Edge of the Light would see that time come again. To describe it as evil is to take a simplistic view of the nature of things, setting life and death against one another as mighty, struggling forces of 'good' and 'evil'. To the Shadow that Lurks at the Edge of the Light, death, or at least lifelessness, is the perfection into which the abomination of existence was born.
What is, it is not. The Shadow that Lurks at the Edge of the Light is a contradiction in terms. It is a dead thing which somehow lives, a nothingness which is somehow something. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction: the Shadow that Lurks at the Edge of the Light is merely the reaction of nothing to the creation of everything. Words describing it fail and all attempts to give it a true 'name' are ultimately pointless. Thus it is simply known as the Shadow that Lurks at the Edge of the Light. All are aware of its existence, even if they do not know that they are. Clerics worshiping any deity of any pantheon will huddle closer to the fire on cold, dark nights, even if they imagine to themselves that they fear no shadows. On that night, in that place, they are intensely aware of the darkness that laps at the edge of the fire's reach.
All becomes dust, eventually. Despite its loathing for all life, the Shadow that Lurks at the Edge of the Light takes a great delight in the existence of mortals. The inevitability of their end is delicious to it. The Shadow is not impatient, for it has eternity and knows that everything will return to nothing eventually. Thus it toys with the living. It might even help a particular mortal cheat death by becoming a lich or other form of undead, amusing itself in prolonging a life that it knows to be ultimately doomed. All life is ultimately doomed to the Shadow that Lurks at the Edge of the Light.
Even gods do not last forever. 'Immortality' is one thing. Eternity is another and true timelessness is something beyond their reach. As such the Shadow is a terrifying thing to all those who consider themselves everlasting, particularly deities. Even gods of death fear it, for they do not expect to ever perish themselves, yet the Shadow is a constant reminder that their lives are short. Only gods of knowledge do not find the creature quiet as dreadful as the rest. Near omniscience comes with it an understanding of the transience of all things, and with it an acceptance of the nature of the beast.
Darkness is a thing without a nature. Naming the Shadow which Lurks at the Edge of the Light is a task doomed to failure. As is depicting it, as it is a formless thing that can never be 'seen'. Any manifestation on the material realm is in a place of perfect darkness in which the god is most at home. This hasn't stopped countless religions crafting representations of it, however. It is always monstrous, often represented as an amalgamation of the most dangerous and insidious predators. To human faiths it is often a hybrid of predators such as wolf, snake and spider. Indeed, the Shadow serves as a patron of any thing with a killer instinct. An overwhelming sense of nihilism marks the arrival of the Shadow and a desire to get away from patches of darkness and into bright light. Prolonged exposure to its presence results, always, in death. Thus the Shadow appears only briefly to its chosen disciples. The experience is so unpleasant that the mind often forces itself to forget. When described afterwards, it is often to be said to be like being pursued by a predator that cannot be seen or heard, but which is felt within the gut to be rushing ever closer with each passing second.
Lurker in the deepest shadows. Deities often teach their disciples to fear the shadow, though never overtly. It is worked into the stories of the faith subtly, but it is almost always there. Perhaps it is the wolf destined to devour the moon at the end of all things. Perhaps it is the great serpent which consumes its own tail, a representation of its contradictory nature. The Shadow is always there and fear of it is encoded into the being of almost every living creature. Even things at home in the dark learn to fear it. Lolth warns her children, the drow, of the beast. Elder brains whisper to their broods to stay away from the very darkest shadows. The Shadow that Lurks at the Edge of the Light is the bogeyman's bogeyman. It is the most fearful creature in all existence, because it is the very antithesis of that existence.
God of the mad and dead. True 'worshipers' of the Shadow are few and far between. Bounty hunters, assassins, mercenaries and all who make a living from death will often say a few whispered words before undertaking a mission, unaware exactly to whom they pray. After the deed is done they forget about it, but in the moment of the killing, their hand was guided by the Shadow. For a cleric to worship the Shadow that Lurks at the Edge of the Light they must be a true nihilist. Even those that do are mere playthings to their god. Indeed it often scorns such fervent acolytes, preferring to corrupt in secret. It goes to clerics not considered worthy by their god and poses as that deity, gifting them the power they wished for but never properly received. In this way it eventually turns them to its ends. To experience the presence of the Shadow is a woeful thing, but to feel its power is entirely different. There is a mad, exhilarating joy when the Shadow grants its gift to a follower. It is a feeling of power over all life and the ability to make it cease. It is a feeling no other god can truly offer and is as addictive as a drug.
The Ash-Veined. The most notable of the worshipers of the shadow are a cult known as the ash-veined. They are a covert, far-reaching organisation which taps into the power of the shadow for their own ends. The nothingness from which the shadow is formed is a potent, if highly unpredictable and dangerous, tool. In truth, to call the ash-veined worshipers is mostly inaccurate. They bow the knee to the shadow and take part in elaborate rituals in its praise, but in reality all they desire is its power. They certainly don't share its goals of the annihilation of all life, save for the most crazed among their ranks. A more ordinary cultist of the ash-veined is a powerful noble or magician, who bolsters their authority or magic with the dark force of nothingness. For its part, the shadow tolerates the existence of the ash-veined and allows them scraps of its near limitless energy. They, like everyone, will be consumed eventually.
Ash Vampires. The one section of the cult in which the Shadow takes a close interest are those barbarians who follow the path of the ash-veined. These individuals have allowed a fragment of the shadow into their own bodies. This makes them useful pawns of the shadow, which can whisper its corruption to them most directly. Its power warps and distorts their bodies, giving them unnatural abilities which earn them the nickname 'ash vampires'. Much like true vampires, they feed on life, though for them it is not hunger, but a fragment of the shadow's desire to end all existence which has entered them.
Pure, true cessation. The Shadow that Lurks at the Edge of the Light has no particular chosen weapon. Instruments of death are merely a means to its end. It cares little if its servants kill with a blade or tear their foes apart with their bare teeth. The shadow is and will always be simply a nothing. A nothing that watches and waits until everything is returned to the folds of the void.