Endless Blue – Week 91 – Icthara, the Voracious   3 comments

Theology

Icthara, the Voracious

Live to eat; eat to live.  Consumption is the basic need of all living things, the act of taking in nutrition to keep the body alive.  It is the current of life, cyclical, that all things need to thrive.  Eat, eat again, eat more, and grow.  Feed, consume, gorge, for you never know when you might eat again.  Next time, it might be you serving as the meal.  Bottom feeder or apex predator, aquatic flora or Vastness aberration, all must obey the most primal of all urges: eat to survive.

All exists to sate the Endless Hunger.  Not just food, but the living are to consume all that can be digested: drink, drugs, even detritus.  She is the Goddess of Gluttony, not Pride.  The sunken bodies of the dead are as much a feast to Her as the freshest roe.  Even the ley line nexuses fall prey to Icthara’s ravening.  She sups upon their puissance; and like ambrosia, She greedily gobbles it down.

The Queen of the Feast single-mindedly travels across the water world’s seabeds, consuming everything in Her wake with equal relish.

Icthara, the Voracious, the Empress of Consumption, Queen of the Feast, the Endless Hunger

Alignment: Neutral Evil
Symbol: Two rows of three orange hooks, facing downward and inward.
Domains: Animal, Destruction, Evil, Magic, Travel
Preferred Unguis (weapon): Claw.
Clerical Unguis of Choice: Prey catcher (man catcher).
Cleric Alignment: Chaotic evil, neutral evil, lawful evil, true neutral.

Divine Visage

Images of Icthara both vary widely and remain consistent.  In all depictions, a humongous yet withering beast is described, gnarled in limb and gaunt in health.  It’s skin or shell sags, and has an orangish tinge.  But in truth, these beasts are not the Voracious but the transport for Icthara.  The Goddess herself is found inside the beast’s mouth, rooted there in place of the tongue.  Her avatar is that of a tongue louse, a parasitic arthropod that pincers and chokes the tongue or mandibles until they wither from blood loss.  She then devours the gnarled muscle and replaces it with Her magnificence.

There, nestled within the tongueless or jawless mouth of the beast, She deprives her mount of most of the nutrition it consumes.  This keeps Her mount in a constant state of hunger and forever foraging for more food that will never fill its empty belly.  The orangish tinge of Her mount’s flesh or shell is due to icterus, and caused by a build up of toxins in the blood from such incredibly high levels of consumption.  The endless quest for sustenance draws Icthara’s mount across the oceans of the Endless Blue like a zombie, forever seeking to slake the primal hunger within it.  She leaves desolation behind Her as She and Her mount gluttonously extract every morsel of nourishment possible, even to the point of consuming the bodies of Her mounts when they have finally succumbed to her parasitic nature.

The Church of Icthara

Icthara has no formal church.  Instead, Her altar is wherever food is served, thirst is quenched, or illicit medicine is subsumed.  Her clergy is where ever a culinist prepares his kelaguen, a packbreeder slaughters her livestock, or alchemists prepare their tinctures.  Every cook, vinter, and apothecary is an ersatz priest for the Empress of Consumption.  Priests that cultivate their connection with the Queen of the Feast gain Her favor and the honorific of Poisonnier, which in turn gives them exceptional esteem in the eyes of true Ictharans.  They are often found in the employ of governments or nobility, where their skills can be shown off on a regular basis (as is befitting Icthara).  Poisonniers can find succor in any tavern or restaurant and expect to have their basic needs of room and board provided for them as a sign of supplication for Icthara’s bounty.

Shrines and Ceremonies

Ictharans celebrate their worship on a daily basis.  Each of the five days of the week is dedicated to one of the religion’s methods of consumption.  Every meal of the day is prepared in accordance to one of these five principles, as it is not just the amount of food that is important, but also the method of consumption: Ardenter, Praeporpere, Nimis, Laute, and Studiose.

The first day of the week is Ardenter, and it is Icthara’s will that all methods of consumption be made eagerly, avidly, and quickly.  “Swallowing like a shark” is a common phrase for Ardenter eating, where gulping down food is only occasionally slowed by chewing.  Ardenter meals tend to be pre-portioned to just mouth-sized chunks, to aid in the process of “shoveling food down your gullet”.  Rarely is food sphereized on Ardenter, as a nod towards the more primitive times when meals where a frenzy of chum.

The next day is Praeporpere, wherein food is to be consumed too soon or at inappropriate times.  This is generally celebrated by the consumption of raw foods or foods that are not denatured enough by kelaguen.  Praeporpere meals are the “risky” meals, such as eating raw fugu flanks or indulging in repeated snacking during the day.

Nimis is the middle day of the week, and orthodox practitioners of Ictharanism feast on this day, eating excessive amounts and leaving great amounts of prepared food to go to waste.  Meals become more like buffets, with courses being prepared without expectation of them being desired.  The excess is to be left to rot or be fought over by scavengers.

Laute comes next, and on this day the choice of food and drink is made by its luxuriousness, exoticness, or costliness.  The rarest meats, the most succulent kelp, and especially imported foodstuffs from across Elqua are save for meals on Laute.

The final day is Studiose, and Ictharans spend the whole day preparing food in the most elaborate and fancy ways possible.  Emphasis is put upon the presentation of the meal, with more garnishes than actual food.  The resultant food spheres are often more colorful and selection vastly more varied on Studiose, and it is not unheard of to arrange those spheres into mosaics.

Allied Organizations

The parallel between Icthara with Her mount and the artifact the Ur’qwal’she with its pilots is hard to ignore — a massive beast of deific perfection cradling the tiny life within.  During the Kraken Occupation, many of the Ur’qwal’she engineers turned to Ictharans for help in secluding the Perfection in Form, hoping Her knowledge of oceanography would aid in hiding the Lumulan treasure.  Those Lumulus Poisonniers that aided the engineers ensured their silence by severing their own tongues.  It is said Icthara was so moved by this action that She ensured not a single one of them suffered at the whims of the Kraken.  Folk lore has rumored that consuming one of these sacred severed tongues allows the eater to commune with the Empress of Consumption, and erroneously believe this is why Lumulus consume their own shed chitin.

Icthara is in many ways the Matron Saint of Kelaguen.  Crops of ricelqua planted in Her honor are said to grow faster and more hardy, while acari fruit grow larger and more robustly.  As such, many of the Ictharan daily rites are an intrinsic part of culinist practices.

The Order of Anthozoa are an errant branch of coral shapers (xanthellaettes) that see their bending magic as detrimental to the health of the world.  They support Icthara’s feeding upon ley line nexuses as a means of reducing the damage other xanthellaettes wreak as they shape coral.

The Blue Dragoneers, a society of assassins that specializes in poisoning, often court Poisonniers into their ranks.  Poisonniers are often perfectly suited for delivering poisoned meals whose side effects appear more due to gluttony than butchery.

Poisonniers seeking rare meats and other delicacies can turn to the Vastness Hunters.  The taboo of consuming the flesh of aberrations can bring a premium to Poisonnier pockets and acclaim to their fame.

Opposed Organizations

Xanthellaettes generally detest Icthara, as She has come to represent the Lumulus, just as they have become linked to Ahto.  Her feeding upon ley lines is seen as detrimental to the “purity” of their coral magic.  However, Icthara will aid Xanthellaettes whenever possible, despite the xanthellaette’s grudges.

The Church of Olyhydra faults Icthara worship for its hedonistic indulgence in sensual eating.  Olyhydra emphasizes a more stoic, austere approach of outright denial of pleasurable things.

Relations with other Religions

Worshipers of the Source see Icthara as a parasite, a festering tick on the skin of the Source that is gorging itself on its animus vitae.  Believers of the Source contend that Icthara shows no respect for the Sea Mother, the Source of All Life, and charges that the Voracious’ dogma is a destructive current to follow.

Schisms

Gula of the Gluttony:  As Gula, Icthara loses the mount aspect of Her divine visage, and instead becomes simply so corpulent She can barely move under her own power.  She manipulates, cajoles, and forces the others of the Pantheon to do her bidding as a parasite would.

Nihilist Gyre:  A reformation faction that is antagonistic towards Icthara’s cavalier attitude that there is an endless supply of fish in the sea.  This cult that claims the Maelstrom is the work of Icthara, resulting from the damage Her predation and scavenging have done to the aquatic environment.

“There is no love purer than the love of eating;
When everything can be eaten, everything is loved…”
— an Ictharan table grace.

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