DARIA, goddess of the Wild Hunt
Youngest of the gods, daughter of Eristemus and Selene, Daria was born out of the need to restore Theeurth after the destruction wrought by the Wrath of the Gods. For long millennia, she wandered the wild places of the world, encouraging the regrowth of wood and field and of the animals who lived within them.
Long after her labors were done, she still walks the world, all but heedless of the Ban of the Gods. She loves the wild places, particularly the dark and primeval woods which have survived since before her birth, and she jealously guards them from the growth of civilization.
From time to time, she is possessed by a fey mood and on these nights, she rides forth behind a pack of great hounds, hunting anything that crosses her path. Wise mortals stay inside and stop up their ears when they hear the baying calls of the Wild Hunt.
Daria is revered by all those who dwell or travel in the wild places, but she is particularly popular with the elves. Rangers and barbarians find in her a kindred spirit, and the druids consider her to be as important to their faith as Calandra, her grandmother.
Daria is neutral good. However, good or not, she looks harshly on any who would cut down her woods or burn her meadows for farmland. She is jealous of her domain, and is as often worshiped out of fear as of love. All woodsmen know to appease her with sacrifice before taking their living from her woods.
Daria is most often depicted as a lithe, athletic woman in soft buckskin clothes dyed a woodland green, bearing a bow or hunting spear. Her hair is a silvery shade of blonde, and she wears it long across he shoulders. Among animals, she is normally represented by a great stag.
Daria guards the wild places of the world, endlessly wandering among her beloved trees and hills. She is rarely found in Meledrian, preferring instead to live on the mortal plane. Despite this, she interacts with mortals very rarely, and thus escapes the censure of the Ban of the Gods.
The White Stag – Greatest of all the deer of Theeurth, the White Stag is thought to be a member of the Celestial Host who serves Daria as messenger. However, the messages are never direct, never spoken. A glimpse of the White Stag is a rare event, and a hunter lucky enough to be so visited must make of the sight what he or she will. Most figures in legend hunt the White Stag, but most instead find themselves embarking on an important adventure.
THE CHURCH – The Druids
Daria’s priests are the druids, though that order is also loyal to Calandra, goddess of the Earth. They revere Daria as the ultimate expression of their own ideals – a oneness with the world created by the One.
There is no church of Daria, per se. The druids concern themselves with the tending of nature, as does their goddess. She communicates little with them, and they little with her. Nonetheless, a sign from the goddess is paid all the more heed by the druids for its exceptional rarity.
Druids do tend to the spiritual needs of the small populations living in their domains, but for the most part are at least as concerned with the spirits of the wilderness as with their mortal congregants.
Druids are an independent-minded bunch, and each group of druids (usually known as a "gathering") varies is size and structure from the next. Many are complete loners, living out a hermit-like solitude amid their beloved wilderness. Others gather together under a teacher or master to form extended families. Still others create large and complex hierarchies in order to protect some special location.
The one common thread among all these various gatherings is that each acknowledges the ultimate authority of the Archdruids to settle differences between them and to judge among them. A single archdruid reigns over a large geographical region, often an entire nation. All the Archdruids in the world acknowledge the ultimate (but distant) authority of the Great Druid, who resides somewhere in the High Forest at the heart of Vatheria.
Reverence – Nature is older than the gods, and the only chance for mortals to truly touch the face of the One. Nature must be treated with the reverence of a holy thing. Thus, nothing should be taken from Nature that is not needed, and everything taken should be used completely and with reverence.
Stillness – The wild places have much to teach. The wise are still. They listen, they watch, and they learn.
The druids’ most important celebration is Midwinter’s Day, when they believe that the cycle of creation and destruction, life and death begins anew. They believe that the world began on this day, and will also end on this day. Thus, the holy day is a dour one, a quiet contemplation of existence, marked by secretive rituals in deep forest glades and remote islands.
The preferred weapon of the Darians is any form of bow (not crossbow).