Ekwayla

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[edit] Worship

Big ekwayla.jpg
Ekwayla is the goddess of Gambling and Chance. Today Ekwayla's worship is mostly centered in the country of Paqwana, in Zoltar, a near theocracy dedicated to her worship. Most of her ceremonies are held via games of chance. Her name is generally invoked by worshipers whenever dice are thrown or cards are drawn. See Temple of Our Lady of Chance for information on the organization of her church.

[edit] History

In the time of great suffering, everyone lived and died under the constant threat of the profane tastes of the Death Knights. One small village in the Whitegrass Plains was no exception. Once a year, the dread knight Rethus came to the small village and demanded that the villagers choose one of their own to be sacrificed to him. Their deliberations amused him. The arguments, the back-biting as neighbor turned against neighbor; all of these things entertained him. Their pain was his enjoyment, so that he could then wreak havoc across his lands with a recharged will. The village never knew when in the year he would come, which meant they could never plan for the event. He would sit in judgment over the town for a week and a day. At sunset on the last day he would devour the one chosen by the villagers.

It was in the time between visits that a certain woman came to the village. She took a room in the inn and before you could blink began to make a nuisance of herself. She was an incorrigible drunk, a constant flirt, a liar to her bones, and a gambler of no caution. Within two weeks, no man in the inn would dice with her. Within two, no woman in the village would play cards with her. The innkeep tried to get her to pay her tab, but she would always be out at the time, or engaged at the time. Some days she would promise to pay him if the dice rolled his way; they never did. She was called Ekwayla.

So it was that when Rethus came to the village, and sat upon his throne, the village was not in turmoil. There was no fear or fighting or weeping or blame.

"We have just the woman, we are unanimous in this," the village chief told him.

They brought the gambler forward, trussed head to toe in rope. Fearing that his entertainment would not be had here, Rethus thought for a reason to deny their sacrifice. "She is not of your village, so you cannot choose her."

The chief of the village frowned, then spoke up "I have adopted her as my daughter. She is of this village and valid for the rules you have made."

Rethus frowned, "Do you all agree that this woman is one of yours? The daughter of your chief? If I were to kill your chief now, she would lead you. It is within my power to do so. Only our bargain has stayed my hand from your throats."

The villagers looked amongst themselves and were not swayed. They pushed the woman forward and demanded the Death Knight take his prize. Seeing that she would not be spared, the woman spoke for herself.

"Dark Lord," Ekwayla pleaded, "you are correct, I am not a member of this village. Although it appears I now have a father I never knew, I think that may be cheating the very fair bargain you seem to have made with these people.

"As I am only here in this village by the chance of fate, may I suggest a game of chance to determine my fate now? Untie me, let me roll my dice. If they roll against me, I will lay myself at your feet to do with me as you desire. If they roll favorably, however, you will take me and one other person. That way you will know these people won't just capture more people from surrounding villages. After all, if they would cheat your bargain once...."

Rethus considered the bargain. The village chief argued against it, while the woman told the chief that it was not her doing: fate would decide. Murmurs began amongst the villagers, but no arguments. No recriminations. The best potential for Rethus to regain his fun was with Ekwayla's bargain.

"Roll your dice woman. Let us see what the fates have to say."

The woman rolled her dice. The villagers watched in terror; Ekwayla never lost at dice. They began to eye one another, wondering who they would choose as the second. Rethus smiled. The dice stopped, the pips came up. The worst throw. Ekwayla hung her head in resignation.

"The fates are unkind it seems. Well, Dark Lord, I am yours to devour. I don't think you'll enjoy it much. I'm told I'm tough as old leather. But perhaps your teeth require the exercise.”

“Of course, if they don't... if you would prefer a better term; we could always raise the stakes...."

Rethus nodded, frustrated at the turn of events.

"Another roll then. If they roll against me, then you must devour me. You can also devour one other of your choosing. You point and they also will be devoured. However, if they roll for me, then I go free and the villagers must offer three of their own for your hungry maw."

The villagers railed against her. She was a known cheat! Now surely she would turn on them. They would have to sacrifice so many! Rethus heard and was pleased at their turmoil. Surely now Ekwayla would throw in her own favor. Buying her own life.

"Roll your dice. I hope that you are as tough as you say. Otherwise I will enjoy the crack of your bones."

The dice were thrown, the villagers held their breath. The dice finally stopped and again, it was the worst throw. The villagers quailed; the woman sighed with resignation. At least they would not have to turn on each other, but they would still lose one of their own. Rethus ground his considerable teeth. If he chose there would be no fighting. Barely any fear.

"Perhaps you are spoiled for choice now, mighty lord?" Ekwayla opined innocently. "There do appear to be many tasty villagers here. Perhaps you are thinking that only two will not be enough? Especially when one of them is as befouled as last month's refuse. Perhaps you're hoping to get more of the villagers. Perhaps you would once again like to raise the stakes?"

Rethus turned to the woman, waiting for more. "One final throw," she said. "If the dice go against me, then you may devour all but one person in the village. The villagers will choose the one to live. Perhaps I will get lucky and they will choose me!" She laughed at her own joke; the villagers did not share her mirth. They shouted and cursed her. They called to the Death Knight to simply devour her as he had always done. Rethus smiled. The arguments over death were amusing enough. The arguments over life? He could savor the arguments here for years.

"Done," he intoned.

"Do you not want to hear what happens if the dice roll for me?"

"You are not a lucky woman. And this time, I will roll. You will not win. What are your terms, if you must?"

"If I win this toss, then you get nothing. Not today, not tomorrow, never again. If I lose, you won't be able to use this village again anyway, so it's a fair wager. If I am victorious though, then no one in this village will suffer your privations again."

With that, Ekwayla threw her dice to Rethus. He caught them and considered for a moment. She was right, he wouldn't be able to use this village again regardless. But if he won.... He began to shake the dice in his hand, already tasting the sweet strife. The villagers clutched each other, averting their eyes. As the Death Knight shook the dice, the woman began to doubt her plan. She might have affected the roll if she had tossed, but letting Rethus throw would mean she was truly relying on the dice. In that moment she cried out to the gods. She begged them to let her go. To let these villagers, who had suffered for so long, finally be free. The rattle of the dice slowed to a crawl, space seemed to freeze and she heard an answer in her head. It was an answer without words, only with sensations and a sense of knowledge so complete it was as though someone had spoken to her. And with that, suddenly she could see the threads of happenstance. The whims of chance were suddenly so plain to her. As though she could reach out and weave those threads of chance to suit her needs. The rattle of dice became louder, the soft cries of the villagers became louder, the world regained itself. Ekwayla bent down and picked up a small, pointed rock. The Death Knight released the dice.

The woman stared at them, and even seeing the possible outcomes moving the threads was hard. The Death Knight was working against her, working to affect the dice. But he did not know what she was now, and did not exert his full will. The pips stopped and the highest roll stared up from the ground. The villagers could not believe it, they broke down into tears of relief. Cheers went up from the people. Ekwayla smiled, relief clear on her face.

Rethus would have none of it. He drew his weapon, scowling at the villagers. "You have cheated me for the last time. I will have my price in blood. Enough of this." As he raised his weapon, the woman threw her small pointed rock. The small rock struck as true as any bolt, burying itself in the Death Knight"s chest, ripping apart his heart. The villagers stared. It was an impossible throw, the chance of it striking true were infinitesimal. Ekwayla smiled.

The village chief looked at the corpse of the Death Knight. Already it was melting, coming apart and seeping into the ground. "He will rise again on the morrow. He will come for us. You have delayed our deaths, but our deaths are still coming."

"Then I will kill him again," said the woman. "And again. And again after that. As many times as it takes for him to realize that his bargain was fairly struck and that he lost. Nobody likes a stalemate. Or a sore loser. Isn't that right, father?"

The villagers laughed and cheered as they fell to their knees. The woman had come to them by chance. Perhaps it was fate, but now she was a goddess. Their Lady of Chance. And if they were lucky, never again would they know the cruel hand of the Death Knights. And so the villagers had no fear, because now they had a very good chance.

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