Goddess of Wrath
Favored Weapons: Greataxe, Throwing Axe
Mortal understanding of Akarai is split into two main aspects.
Akarai, Lady of Madness
She is the most violent of the War Gods. She will never allow an insult to go unpunished – any provocation may unleash her temper. For Akarai, violence is the solution to all problems. She is variously portrayed in this role as a pale, white-haired woman wielding a large axe or a ghost-white minotaur with blood red eyes. In some cultures, she is known to be pictured as a woman riding a bull or gorgon. In all depictions, however, destruction lies in her wake.
The Lady of Madness was said to have been born with a lust for blood, her teeth dripping with it as she was brought into the Dannenbrock. She burst forth fully grown, armed and armored, and immediately began combat with Kath. When he would not draw his sword against her, she turned to Kern, then Mishya and finally Gromm. Her rage unsated, she turned her axe on her father Vuul. Her axe swung, her blows only occasionally deflected by Vuul's ranseur, covering all who were around in blood. Had Vuul not been an immortal, Akarai would have slain him and taken his place as the Lady of Blood on that day. She was quickly banished from the Dannenbrock by the combined might of the rest of the gods.
Akarai wandered the surface of the earth killing indiscriminately. It is said that whole races of beings were wiped out by her axe before the ascension of the elves. Her swath of destruction caught the attention of Gathal, Master of Chaos. Her destruction appealed to him and he sought her to be his bride. Together, he said, they would be able to tip the balance in their favor and set Athor and his wives in their place, beneath his hoof. Lusting for power nearly as much as she did for destruction and death, she accepted the hoofed one's offer and set herself at his axe-hand. Hylarr, Gathal's former lover, was jealous of his affections for this lowly woman. She vowed on Uhel's hammer to oppose her and thwart her at every turn.
It is said that Akarai began to become more and more like her lover Gathal as together they sowed the seeds of madness and destruction. Her ghost-white hair turned into a mane and her feet transformed into hooves as horns sprouted from her head. Her pale features turned more and more bestial as the fury in her settled into her now blood-red eyes. Reveling that her new form brought her the the fear she felt she deserved, she asked Gathal to make it so that she could become as fearsome as him. Before he could grant his bride her wish, Hylarr began to weave her web of subtlety and deception, and she was able to send Gathal off and she assumed his form in order to place a curse upon Akarai. Not able to see through her disguise, Akarai believed the ritual to be from Gathal and that it would permanently grant her his terrible visage; instead Hylarr cursed the berserker queen out of jealousy for the Lord of Destruction's affection. Akarai can now only bear the image of the ghost-white minotaur whenever she is in the home of Gathal. Discovering the deception, Akarai flew into a rage leveling half of Gathal's mansion.
In much of the world, she is worshiped either by the insane or the reckless. Her followers are known for merciless slaughter on the battlefield and most know better than to insult any bearing her symbol. Many associate her with the curse of lycanthropy, as the feral nature of the beasts and the insanity caused by their disease bear striking resemblance to the madness of her followers. Many cosmopolitan cities have temples for her, but only to sate her lust for power so that she will stay her hand from corrupting the population. She is also worshiped by the incredibly desperate; those who are about to fall in battle may attempt to invoke her favor in the hopes that her madness will save them. It rarely does, but still she lends them her strength because often the defeated will take down several more foes before succumbing to their blades. The Lady of Madness is indiscriminate in who she lets follow her. To her all can be tools of destruction in her hands. She loves to break the mind of her followers before she grants them the power to break the bodies of others. She only asks one thing of her followers, that they give themselves over fully to her. They are required to give her their minds and she will empower their bodies.
Followers of the Lady of Madness follow very simple rules. Lose your mind; gain your body. The mind you lose, they say, is worth far less than the body you gain. This new body is then given over to the Lady as well, because to be a tool with which she can wreak her madness and destruction. The only other tenet is that no quarter may be given or taken and that no insult is to be left unavenged. Priests of Madness are known to cut themselves in wild displays of devotion to their goddess or to consume quantities of hallucinogens to induce the madness of their matron. The Lady's symbol is a cow skull, often over an axe or dripping in blood.
Akarai, the Axe Maiden
The Axe Maiden is the daughter of Alyssa, born solely of the goddess's passion for Gromm. From her womb, Akarai came forth as a child. Alyssa claimed to all that she was the child of Gromm and that, as such, the girl must be trained to become a warrior in his manner. Alyssa used all her guile and allure to convince Gromm to take the child and train her along with his other children. Akarai sparred and trained with Keth, Kern, Mishya and Brandt. Her potential was great, but her discipline was lacking. She relied too much on her strength and not enough on her mind to guide her axe. She became lost in each battle, gaining strength as she lost her awareness. The others hoped that their influence on her would calm her spirit, but secretly her "father" nurtured it. He loved his children, but they were too bound by rules and martial style. He trained Akarai to harness her rage, to channel it so that she would control it without it controlling her.Dra, Avaruum and Ianadale all fought for her affections. She set a challenge before all of them: whoever could defeat her in battle could have her hand. First Dra entered the ring, but his club was no match for her axe. Ianadale's staff also came short. Avaruum, who had no training with his dagger, was defeated before he was even able to unsheathe it. Kern opted to stow his bow and fight her with his scimitar, believing that defeating her in hand-to-hand combat would win her heart. He was right, or would have been right had he won the contest. Akarai bore him low and accepted his surrender. Her offer still stands, but none have been able to achieve it, though Kern and Ianadale continue to try.
As the Axe Maiden, Akarai is much like her adopted father and the two often work together to see after the barbarian tribes of the wilds. Where he demands victory, Akarai is more likely to "bet on the dark horse". She prefers to offer aid to the least likely, making them a dominant warrior on the field. She loves to see the surprise on the opponents' faces when a foe they thought weak to suddenly gains incredible strength and resolve. She often waits until the last moment to bless the downtrodden warrior, though her calculations aren't always correct. Losing a follower doesn't bother the Axe Maiden too much. There will always be more battles and there will always be more weak warriors in need of her strength.
While wandering the Prime seeking out warriors in need of her aid, Akarai met a firbolg warrior engaged in battle against a horde of bugbears. He had challenged them for the sheer thrill of it, to test his own mettle, to see if he was capable. Akarai watched and waited as his sword liberated the bugbears of arms and heads and blood. The Axe Maiden was entirely impressed by this man's fervor in battle and, when the final bugbear was slain, she challenged him to single combat. Not knowing who she was, the warrior accepted. The battle was pitched and furious and lasted for days. In the end it was the Maiden, not the unnamed warrior, who was defeated. As she lay with his sword poised over her neck, the warrior realized who his opponent was. Akarai swore at that time that she would marry this man, named Ulym, and she brought him back to the Dannenbrock to await a ceremony from her mother Alyssa. Avaruum, jealous that this mortal had won her affections, went to Shalokar and convinced him to fool the goddess into killing this man. One night, as Akarai waited on her betrothed to come to her bed, Shalokar worked his deception. As Ulym entered her chamber, Akarai saw the evil Avaruum (for Shalokar liked his trickery to be ironic) and she drew her axe and swung. Unarmed and unprepared, Ulym fell to her axe and the illusion was dispelled. In a fit of rage and tears, Akarai fled the Dannenbrock and swore never to return. Her home there is dwelt in only by her furies.
The Axe Maiden and her followers have no fear of death. When Akarai left the Dannenbrock, she visited Chatalize in the underworld. The two, as misfits in the home of the minors, became fast friends. Chatalize and Akarai developed a kinship over being the last and first ones the newly deceased often see: Akarai as they leave and Chatalize as they arrive. Chatalize often makes request to Akarai to give aid to a warrior whose time has not yet come, or to withhold her power from those whose thread of life was at an end. Akarai's followers believe that, when they die, it is because both Akarai and Chatalize have decided to accept them to their home.
As the Axe Maiden and protege of Gromm, Akarai is often portrayed as a red haired woman with dark skin holding aloft her axe. Occasionally, she is portrayed as a roan minotaur, or as a woman riding a roan bull.
The articles of faith for the Axe Maiden are simple: recognize that, without her aid, you are powerless. It is her strength that carries victory from the jaws of defeat. However, Akarai doesn't give aid to the hopeless, so one must be capable enough to gain her attention. Seek to master the rage within so that, when the time is right, it can be channeled to subdue a foe. Priests of the Maiden pray to her while seeking the momentary solace between bouts of divine rage. Her symbol is a cow skull, sometimes set on the head of an axe.
Akarai, collected beliefs
Both cults of Akarai accept some mutual stories about their goddess. Both believe that their goddess does not dwell on the Dannenbrock with the other minors, though for different reasons. The followers of the Lady say it's because she dwells with Gathal in the Abyss while followers of the Maiden believe that she simply wanders the Prime or dwells with Chatalize in the underworld. Also, both cults recognize the existence of the other as a legitimate worship of the goddess, but they each hold that they worship the true form.
In both sets of mythology, Akarai's mind is split and she becomes almost two separate beings. The Maiden is driven mad by one of Shalokar tricks and her mind breaks; she was forced to kill Ulym and, unable to contain her sorrow, split her mind into the Maiden and the Lady. The Lady of Madness, the followers of the Axe Maiden say, is a counterfeit of her true self. To the followers of the Lady of Madness, it was Hylar's curse that split their goddess's mind. When she cursed her to hold two forms, the woman and the minotaur, the transformation extended to her mind. Now, when she is in her "rightful" form, that is the ghost white minotaur, she keeps her mind as the Lady of Madness, Mistress to Gathal, Lord of Chaos, and only when she cannot be with her lord she reverts to her weak, human form and her weak, human mind.
Avatar: Akarai's avatars are Furies, ghost-like spirits who sometimes appear to her followers and fuel their anger or drive them mad.
Sacred Animal: Ox or auroch