The Dreaming God
Often considered to be the divine embodiment of the mind, Anhurish represents the power of human intellect and imagination. He is the inventor of the first spoken language, Qabbah Akeshad, and a divine patron of the arts - music, dance, song, poetry, and especially storytelling. He sends dreams, visions and inspirational ideas to mortal men, but he also has his darker aspects, being associated with the vices of substance abuse and addiction, as well as fear, deception, nightmares, madness and death.
Anhurish is one of the Old Gods, and the earliest named deitiy worshipped by the Akeshim people of the ancestral era. He is the firstborn child of the sun-father Shamharish and the world-mother Thalamme.
He and his younger siblings—Adhaya and Askerath—form a divine Trinity popularly called the Anhadhask. The seat of their power is the holy mountain of Arat Net Akesh, on the border of the Asharuri Savannah and the Akeshi Desert.
Along with his brothers, he is the parent-sibling-lover-child of the dark goddess Likkele, with whom he fathered the twin gods Anqhet and Wahwet. He is also the estranged father of the demigod Abbalin and the creator of his subordinate gods, the Dreamweavers.
Anhurish resides far above the world in a lavish palace on the surface of the moon, surrounded by a sycophantic court of lesser deities, spirits, monsters and ghosts. He is a mercurial being, lofty in his high habitation and inscrutable in his designs.
Worshipers of Anhurish tend to disagree on his precise nature. He is seen as being neither entirely benevolent like his younger brother Adhaya, nor utterly malevolent like his youngest brother Askerath. Instead he is cast in a more ambivalent light, being portrayed in myths and stories as a culture hero, a trickster, a manipulator or an ordinator of fate. He is the 'Eater of Hope, Author of Dreams', one of the more mysterious divine forces venerated by man.
Though his essential being is formless and without substance, Anhurish chooses to appear enfleshed in the semblance of a swarthy, slender figure of Akeshi ethnicity. He stands eight feet tall, broad of shoulder and lean of muscle, with skin as dark as ebony. Though his more-than-human stature would make him difficult to mistake for an ordinary man, he is set apart even further by his theriocephaly. His head is that of a white antelope. Moon-white fur covers his bovine face and his long neck down to the groove of his breast, where it meets his black skin. Ridged horns of glossy black spiral up from his head like the tines of a crown.
Perhaps even more distinctively than his animal head, Anhurish possesses three eyes; two in their proper place and a third set upon his brow. These three eyes gaze out from under heavy lids and thick bovine lashes, like veiled orbs of black jet. When the Dreaming God’s vision wanders afar, his eyes turn a milky white, the clouded stare of a blind man. When he partakes of his dream-smoke they become pools of quicksilver, shimmering mirrors reflecting strange landscapes. Only the god himself can know of the unworldly planes and dimensions he glimpses through those mercurial eyes.
The Moon God’s body is usually richly ornamented in fine vestments, precious metals and polished gemstones. Silver bangles adorn his willowy limbs and amulets set with turquoise and lapis-lazuli are strung about his neck. Voluminous garments drape his shoulders and lap. Jewels glimmer like a thousand stars upon the hem of his robe, rich with the colours of noon, twilight and midnight. This bejewelled raiment is called Annu Zilwab, the Sky Cloak. Whenever Anhurish descends into the skies of Thal, his cloak becomes a set of enormous feathered wings, their pinions glossy black and their span wider than any bird known to man.
The sound of the Dreaming God’s breathing fills his court like the ebb and flow of an ocean tide. When he deigns to speak, it is with the deep, lilting voice of a sage or a philosopher king, and it is always accompanied by an otherworldly echo. Though when he stands he looms over all in his presence, Anhurish is commonly depicted as being seated in repose upon a magnificent throne of silver and bone, graven in the image of sacred beasts, cushioned with velvet coverlets and exotic furs. This is Abd Marab, the White Throne. On the dais of his throne rests Drudah Hukhah, the Dream Hookah - an elegant vessel wrought of intricately patterned silver and obsidian glass. When he walks he carries Morn Qharev, the Black Staff, which may appear as a hunter's spear, a king's scepter or a traveller's walking stick.
It is difficult for men to ascertain the precise character of Anhurish as portrayed in scripture and legend. The prevalent belief is that he presides over all that is mysterious, in both the natural world and the human condition, especially as it pertains to the mind. His influence is chiefly apparent over all creatures in an altered state of consciousness, including dreamers, drunks and the drug-addled. At his caprice, he is said to endow the enlightened and the deluded alike with the supernatural gift of foresight. Mystics, seers and magicians invoke him when they work their craft, whether consciously or subconsciously. Those who desire true knowledge of the arcane pray that he might open their mind’s eye and allow them to see as he does.
The majority of his religious adherents hold that Anhurish created the human race together with his brothers. Some fanatical sects go as far as to credit him with the creation of the entire world and all the creatures living upon it. Pragmatic theosophists conjecture that the Old Gods merely cultivated the modern human race from an earlier species of animal, rather than outright creating them. The mystery cult of Drudarizim is particularly bizarre in its tenets, believing that the world itself is simply a dream in the mind of Anhurish, and that if he should ever stir completely from his dream-reverie, the world would cease to be.
Anhurish is, in a sense, the deity who represents the human imagination. He is the driving force behind the works of soothsayers, astrologers, magicians, philosophers, artists, artisans and storytellers. In the minds of men he stokes the fires of creativity from the embers of myth, legend and superstition. With the sparks he spreads dreams, nightmares, visions, omens, and subconscious suggestions.
Detractors and apostates would say this is all the better to keep his followers tractable, their heads in the clouds. It is in the moon god’s interests to arrest mankind in a state of mystic traditionalism, even at the expense of societal progress and discovery. On the other hand, the positive influences of his patronage are clearly evident, even to the skeptical.
Apostates, secularists and rival cults on the other hand are quick to denounce the faith of Anhurish. They accuse the moon god of being little more than a capricious parasite, deluding and exploiting the human race in order to fuel his own hedonistic desires. Though none can say whether he sustains himself on belief or merely derives pleasure from it, the cult imagery and iconography of Anhurish is undeniably that of hedonism. Even his own zealous servitors admit that Anhurish needs mortals to indulge in beliefs, hopes, wishes, prayers, stories and superstitions, otherwise he cannot influence them, whether for selfless good or selfish gain.
Hermetic orders attribute to Anhurish an enantiomorphic or dualistic nature as they do to all gods; in this respect, he (or she, or it) is the emotional dichotomy of hope in the positive extreme and fear in the negative extreme. Adhaya represents misery in opposition to hope, Askerath represents courage in opposition to fear, and Adhaya represents love in opposition to Askerath's hate, so that the dualism of the three becomes a trinity of dualities. This emphasizes the Hermetic belief that the three gods are simply three faces or facets of a triune godhead - the Anhadhask, or Elluah, the One.
The last and perhaps the least mysterious purview of Anhurish is his dominion over the dead, a privilege he shares with his siblings. As the ruler of slumber and dreaming, he commands the unconscious mind, and the souls of all people who die in their sleep belong to him. As the sender of visions and hallucinations, he influences the subconscious mind, and the souls of the deranged, the deluded, the enlightened and the clairvoyant are his to claim. Those who worshiped Anhurish in life also forfeit their souls to him in death. The Dreaming God is highly possessive of the souls that are his to claim, though he scarce concerns himself with their doings once they are under his dominion.
Anhurish draws his divine power from the worship of his followers and from creative expression. Wishes and hopes for the future fall under the auspices of the Moon God, as do fears and superstitions. Storytelling, poetry, the arts and other aesthetic works are attributed to the teachings of Anhurish. Because of this subliminal connection, mortals make a form of subconscious offering to him whenever they experience powerful thoughts and feelings related to hope, fear and creativity. Obviously prayers and sacrificial offerings made to Anhurish also empower him, albeit more directly.
The effusions of this worship (whether intentional or subconscious) are more than merely projected thoughts. They are in fact a kind of psycho-spiritual energy called Menhar (singular Menhu), produced from the Aztu or life-essence of each being. The Menhar float up insubstantially through the atmosphere, accumulating into plumes of ephemeral smoke or steam, undetectable by ordinary perception. The plumes are pulled into the lunar orbit, condensing into dewdrops upon the pale carpet of the Valley of Sleep, or contributing to the Waters of Sleep that flow through that valed savannah.
The Menhar droplets are painstakingly sifted from the grass or gathered up from the Waters of Sleep by Anhurish's devoted Moon Imps. Surrounded by the luxuries of his lunar palace, Anhurish himself boils the Menhar in an elaborate hookah pipe, smoking it along with the burning residue of Moongrass from the valley and opiates from the cloistered gardens of Yeshod. Breathing in the collective imaginings of mankind, the Dreaming God swoons in exultation of sensual and cerebral pleasure beyond human imagining, the pleasure of all that is not, never was and never shall be.
Like all spirit-beings and deities, Anhurish devours the Menhar gathered by his servants to sustain his physical manifestation and replenish his power. This is why Menhu is known as Anektalu Netwarad, the Food of the Gods. However, he also utilizes Menhu for another practical purpose, by converting the nourishing energy into Hekhu Netwarad, the Magic of the Gods. When he smokes the Menhar in his hookah pipe, he enters Hekhu-trances that allow him to look into the future, and make use of the knowledge gained by these divinations to manipulate the course of human events in his favour. He has directed fate and fortune in this manner for centuries, guiding the course of the smallest creatures and influencing the providence of entire civilizations. This ecstatic clairvoyance is the true source of his power, a secret he wisely guards from his fellow deities.
The exhalations of his Hekhu-trances appear as wisps of smoke-like Drudar (singular Drudah), suffused with phantasmal images, sounds and impressions; the raw stuff of dreams. The dream-smoke is quickly gathered into specially prepared vessels and refined by the Dreamweavers into more structured narratives and specific themes. Hateful or fearful echoes are woven into nightmares, while hopes and desires are used to create fantasies. The refined dreams are then let loose, where they drift their way down into the world below, returning to the minds of slumbering mortals. This is referred to in theosophical treatises as the Lunar Waterfall (Anhurat .
The traditional home of the gods is the Holy Mountain of Akesh (Arat Net Akesh in Qabbah Akeshad), in the geographical centre of the western continent. This isolated mountain borders the Akeshi Desert to the south and the Sharuri Savannah to the north, and acts as a drainage basin feeding the Akeshi and Sadaba rivers which flow eastward into, respectively, the Awernayon and Akeshanon lakes. Though it possesses pre-eminent status as the first home of the gods and ancestral humans, Arat Net Akesh is not remotely the largest mountain in the world, or even the region. It is in fact quite flat-topped and homogeneous in elevation. Despite this, it appears impressively monolithic due to being the only mountain in an otherwise flat landscape.
Nearby, where the Akeshi and Sadaba rivers diverge from their headwaters, is the ruined site of Net Shalem, the first city of the Old Gods. This was the capital of the once-mighty civilization of the Akeshim, the ancestors of modern man. Anhurish and his brothers ruled here in a golden age, until their mother Thalamme caused a great cataclysm that forced the Trinity to abandon the city.
Although Arat Net Akesh is the symbolic place of dwelling and meeting among the gods, Anhurish does not live there any more. His holy habitation is his namesake Anhur, the moon of Thal. Anhurish's lunar kingdom is a crater valley on the face of the moon called Wahad Elaamad, the Valley of Sleep. The crater encloses a paradisiacal savannah plain that serves as the afterlife for Lalaztar (spirits of the dead) who belong to the Dreaming God. This is a place of great beauty, both natural and architectural. The view above (or below, depending on one's perspective) is spectacular, with the world of Thal gleaming like a pearl in the starlit void.
At the centre of the Valley of Sleep, Anhurish dwells within an arabesque palace-city of marble, silver and platinum. Of its many names, the most oft-used is Nyn Anhurad, the House of the Moon. Ostentatious in its beauty and labyrinthian in its design, the palace is also home to the various deities, saints and spirits of Anhurish's lunar court. The Dreaming God hosts a never-ending party in the heart of Nyn Anhurad, and only those whose company Anhurish considers worthwhile are permitted to stay. Forever if they wish.
Another place associated with Anhurish is the Garden of Adyn (Aralur Adynad), a sacred paradise south of the great city of Balbylur. Adyn is enclosed by the four-headed Thalshufah River to the north and the Eridan Mountains to the south, forming a cozy vale covered in a dense canopy of cedar trees. It is forbidden for mortals to cross the Thalshufah into Adyn, and the garden is protected by man-eating Snake People in service to Anhurish. It is in the midst of Adyn that the aviform avatars of the Anhadhask meet every year on the day following the Harvest Moon Festival, to set forth the plans for their cult and their cold war on Balmadhuk.
Anhurish has a great many names, titles and epithets. Various cultures have their own interpretations of his nature, some closer to the truth than others. Many of these attributions emphasize his lunar character, and his eminent status as the eldest of the Anhadhask. Others focus on or isolate one of his lesser aspects, or reinterpret his role in a completely separate context.
As the inventor of the first spoken language, Qabbah Qamzu (later called Qabbah Akeshad), Anhurish essentially named himself and his brothers, as well as his own parents. Before he became a lunar deity, he named himself Asharur the Hunter, or Qamzu the Antelope. When he established his moon kingdom, he changed his name to Anhurish. The name Anhurish itself derives from Anhur, meaning Moon in Qabbah Akeshad. Linguistic systems derived from it generally preserve the name intact, or with minor corruptions (Anharasa, Anhuris, Anuris).
Colloquially, Anhurish is often referred to as Anhur Netwah (the Moon God), Drudahis Netwah (the Dreaming God), Qamzu Netwah (the Antelope God), Auyam (the Highest), Uklaham (Most Artful), Netwah Abdad Marab (God of the White Throne) or Iaham Iahad Netwar (Oldest of the Old Gods). He is variously worshipped as the God of Dreams (Drudar), Fate (Mabrah), Knowledge (Nusku), Inspiration (Murdutah), Mysticism (Meluhah), Mysteries (Ereshar), Secrets (Razar) and Arts (Uklar). He is also dreaded as the God of Nightmares (Mordrudar), Fear (Mygrah), Addiction (Ridhi), Madness (Lawaq), and Death (Math). Supplicants often use honorific prefixes before any of his names, calling their god Lord (Bal), Great (Am), White (Abd), Old (Iah), Wise (Iam), Artful (Uklahat) or Mysterious (Ereshahat). Consequently, formal cult titles for Anhurish can be exceedingly complicated. One may pray to him as Am Iam Anhurish Abd Qamzu Netwah Iaham Iahad Netwar (Great Wise Anhurish, The White Antelope God, Oldest of the Old Gods).
Most cultures retain Anhurish's status as a masculine deity, with three exceptions. The nomadic grassland tribes of the Yenatim regard the moon as a feminine influence, and therefore worship Anhurish in the aspect of Laukmu Sharura, the Wolf Huntress. The Order of the Lunar Firmament, a hermetic mystery cult, regard Anhurish as a hermaphroditic deity, female when the moon is waxing and male when it is waning, capable of conceiving life and of bearing life. Lastly, in the widespread faith of Anhadhaskizim, there exists a splinter cult known as the Padsha Elluyad, or the Cult of the One. This cult considers the gods Anhurish, Adhaya and Askerath to be three faces of the same deity, simply called Netwah (God), Anetwah (The God) or Elluah (the One), and also considers that deity to be inherently genderless and incomprehensibly perfect.
Two religious traditions omit Anhurish’s connection to the moon entirely. The Padsha Iaharad, oldest of the known human religions, represented Anhurish as Qamzu (the Antelope), Asharur (the Hunter), or Abba Nusku (Father of Knowledge), as he founded their faith before he became the god of the moon. Their descendants continue to honour this tradition, and many of the old ways have been passed down over the centuries with little alteration. Secondly, the Arkoszim worship Anhurish only in his aspect as Sur Lohashad, the King of Snakes, where he is largely unrelated to a lunar cult.
In religious and occult symbolism, Anhurish is associated with air and water, dusk and midnight, the cycles of the moon and the changing of the tides. The oldest cave paintings depict him as a chalk white antelope, or a charcoal black figure with a white antelope head, usually rearing a spear. The most common symbols used to represent Anhurish are the triangle, the third eye and the lunar disc or crescent, with the 'horns' of the crescent pointing skywards. The Padsha Anhurishad depict a white full moon encircled in a larger blue crescent moon, or a blue ocean wave inside a white crescent. Anhurish may also be signified by three eyes in a triangular configuration, or a single vertically oriented eye, which may symbolize the full moon. These eyes might also be represented as the three ravens of Anhurish; Nusku, Razah and Ullur.
In Anhadhaskizi iconography, Anhurish is represented together with his brothers as a white, silver or blue circle in the top corner of an upright triangle, with Adhaya represented by a gold, yellow or green circle in the left, and Askerath by a red, bronze or black circle in the right. In more elaborate icons, the circles are replaced by the symbols of the three brothers; Anhurish's being a crescent moon with upwards pointing horns, encircling a spearhead pointing in the same direction. Tripartite symbols feature prominently in the Cult of the Three, with the triangle being the most common. Other symbols used are the triskelion, the triquetra and the triple-knot.
The colours holy to Anhurish are lunar white and silver, as well as various shades of blue, turquoise, violet or indigo, and more rarely, black. These colours represent the firmament, both the clear blue day and the moonlit night. Solar gold is almost always excluded out of deference to Shamharish the Sun Father, who precedes even the Trinity. Still, gold is occasionally incorporated into the iconography of the Dreaming God. Very pale blue, green or yellow may be used as an aesthetic substitute for white.
Silver is also the god’s sacred metal for use in religious decoration, iconography and tribute. It is malleable and reflective like the waters of the sea, bright and pure like the light of the moon, and imperishable like the faith of the Dreaming God. Tin is often used as a poor man’s substitute for silver, while conversely, platinum is used by the wealthiest lunar devotees for their devotional ornamentation. In alchemy, quicksilver is considered to be related to Anhurish, and for this reason it is commonly known as Anhury or the Tears of Anhurish (Damtur Anhurishad). Other silvery-white metals can be used in representation, like antimony, gallium or palladium. The gemstones attributed to Anhurish are moonstone, pearl, aquamarine, amethyst and opal, while other traditional sacred substances include ivory, bone and white marble.
Anhurish’s traditional sacred number is ten (Esru), and the tenth month of the year (Esrub) is his month. Superstitious followers of the lunar deity see the number nine (Eswa) as unlucky, imperfect or evil, since it falls just short of ten. Despite this, the ninth month (Eswarab) is also associated with Anhurish, as it is the month of the harvest moon and hunter's moon. Three (Sulsha) is also a sacred number to the lunar deity, referencing his three eyes and his place in the trinity of the Anhadhask. The third day of the week, Anhuradé, is named in his honour. The third month, (Sulshab) is consecrated to the Trinity. Festival days of Anhurish include Anhurtur, the harvest moon festival; Sharurtur, the hunter’s moon festival; and Girrutur, the fire festival of the winter solstice, which he shares with Adhaya and formerly with Askerath.
Anhurish’s most sacred animals are the antelope and the snake. Idols, statues, sculptures and other such depictions dedicated to him usually portray one of these two animals, if not the Hunter or the Orn Lohash. More broadly, all birds, flying mammals and flying insects are seen as being subjects of the moon god. Chief among these are the raven, the eagle, the owl, the ibis, the bat, the moth and the dragonfly. Ravens, crows and other corvids are believed to the messengers of Anhurish’s omens, usually in a negative light. Canids are sometimes regarded as moon-worshippers, especially wolves, coyotes, jackals and foxes. The domestic dog is the familial representative of Anhurish, to contrast with Adhaya’s love of cats. Amphibians such as frogs and salamanders are also associated with Anhurish. Finally, the elephant and the hippopotamus are valued by followers of the moon god for their precious ivory. Hyenae, being of a nature that is feline and canine, are uniquely attributed to all three brothers, but more specifically to the god Galulah; son of Askerath, lover of Anhurish and friend of Adhaya.
Sacred trees of Anhurish include the willow, the elder, the elm, the white poplar, the lemon tree, and the sandalwood. Lily flowers and white lotuses represent the moon. The opium poppy is a sacred flower valued by lunar cults for its poppyseeds and hypnagogic extracts, and its opium oil is reserved for religious anointing. Cannabis is held in a similar regard as a mystic drug. Laukmaduma or Wolfsbane, when detoxified with ginger, is used in moon medicine, but it sees far more use as the poison of choice for assassins in service to lunar cults. Jasmine is burned for lunar incense rituals, and jasmine tea is a beverage associated with the priests of Anhurish and the Anhadhaskizim. Other sacred plant extracts include aloe vera, camphor oil, coconut milk, lemon juice and elm sap.
The Ten Veils of Anhurish
When Anhurish descends upon the world, he incarnates through one of his avatars. These are commonly called the Ten Veils of Anhurish (Esru Qhiyali Anhurishad), but only nine are known to man—including his traditional image, which he usually only wears when he is enthroned in the midst of his Moon Court or in the company of other gods. The nature and identity of the Qhiyal Esruat (Tenth Veil) has been a source of considerable religious conjecture, debate and theory for centuries. Of the nine known veils, the one Anhurish chooses to wear at any given time may have some specific purpose or significance, but just as often it can seem like a meaningless manifestation, the unknowable whim of an unknowable deity.
This avatar commonly appears to mortals in the dreamscapes of their mind. It is known simply as Qamzu, the Antelope, or Abd Qamzu, the White Antelope, and appears more or less as named; an albino antelope, sometimes with the third eye of Anhurish on its brow. Qamzu was the avatar that the spirit of Anhurish first manifested shortly after his birth. When he awoke alone in the sea and wandered ashore as a lost spirit, he chanced upon a herd of impala antelopes grazing in a savannah and instinctively took the form of a white impala calf, bleating for a mother. He spent a year living in this shape until he first encountered primitive human children at play, and took on the anthropomorphic form of Asharur.
Asharur the Hunter was the veil he first wore to communicate with humans, and he remained in this form until he was abandoned by his lover Likkele, after which he wore the older-looking veil he is now known for. Also called Damu the Boy and Qamzudamu the Antelope Calf, Asharur appears as a tall Akeshi youth, dark of skin, lithe of build, scarcely clothed in a swaddling cloth of black sea-kelp. His head remains that of a white antelope, albeit a young calf. Nevertheless, his horns are fully grown like an antelope buck’s. Sometimes he will opt for an entirely human semblance, in which case his head is that of a young boy with short black hair and dark eyes. In either case, the third eye upon his brow is absent as it was in his youth. Asharur brandishes a primitive spear with a bone spearhead, and he carries a quiver of elm-wood javelins on his back as well as a knife of elephant ivory slung at his waist. Sometimes he is accompanied by a pack of his supernatural hunting hounds.
Although once he considered the Hunter to be his true form, now Anhurish has little reason to revert to this juvenile state, preferring to embody the imposing majesty of the Dreaming God. However, he always wears the veil of Asharur when annually meeting with his brothers on the holy mountain of Arat Net Akesh, the very place he was conceived and the first seat of his cult. This is in deference to his mother Thalamme, who still sees the Anhadhask as her young children. He also appears as the Hunter on the night of the Hunter’s Moon, stalking his prey in the wilderness, his howling hounds in tow.
More rarely, Anhurish appears in the guise of his favoured pet, the Orn Lohash or Feathered Serpent. It resembles an enormous silver-scaled snake with a white feathered spine and a bird-like beaked head. Though it is wingless, the veil of the Orn Lohash swims through the air as if it were water. This avatar can be discerned from the real Orn Lohash not just by its ability to fly, as it also possesses the three eyes of Anhurish, and speaks with the Moon God’s deep, echoing voice. Anhurish generally chooses to wear this veil when delivering dire warnings to his faithful, or to frighten unbelievers into doing his will. It appears more often in dreams and nightmares than in waking life, and has a connection to the apocalyptic prophecies of the Padsha Anhurishad.
The third of the Moon God’s animal avatars is that of Sesharon the Dark Serenity, who is also Anhurnatur the Moon Bird, and Sur Natarad the King of Birds. This veil, appropriately enough, resembles a giant bird, yet one of no particular resemblance to any known avian species. Indeed, it seems more like the archetypal specimen of all aviforms, the ideal feathered flyer, the bird that all birds aspire to be. Its body is powerful and sleek, its neck long and graceful, its legs elegantly bowed. Bright blue eyes stare out from the elaborate teardrop markings circling them. The slender beak and talons are pale white, curved like razor-sharp silver scimitars. Most beautiful of all is the bird’s plumage, comprising lustrous feathers of iridescent blue and indigo. The crest of the head and neck, plumes of the tail and pinions of the wingspan are very elongated, trailing in the air like tassels. These feathers are navy blue at the base, bright violet at the tips, and speckled down the quill with an elaborate starry pattern.
The veil of Sesharon is rarely seen by mortals, and only appears consistently on the night of the harvest moon, whereupon it makes an aerial pilgrimage across the face of Thal, surveying its kingdom. It lands to roost somewhere in the sacred and forbidden valley of Adyn, where it waits for the avian avatar of Adhaya to arrive on the next day, and then for Askerath’s avatar to appear in the crimson light of the setting sun, so they might discuss matters of their cults and the affairs of mortal men.
Should he desire to be less conspicuous than his animalistic forms would permit, Anhurish appears as a middle-aged Akeshi man. In this veil, he is bald, dark-skinned and rake-thin. A white diamond jewel is set upon his brow, glimmering over hooded and milky eyes with no pupils to speak of. His tall frame is wrapped in a patterned cloak of blue, turquoise, indigo and violet. He carries a sturdy staff of polished ebony, which may appear either as a plain walking stick, a sceptre crested with a crescent moon or a hunter’s spear. He also carries his ivory knife in the folds of his cloak. He leaves no footprints where he treads, and his shadow is always pitch black and speckled with stars. He is often accompanied by his three ravens; Nusku, Razah and Ullur.
This veil is called Azifmut the Wayfarer, but more elaborately Azifmay Anhurad the Seeker of the Moon, or Azifmay Azishad the Seeker of the Stars. He is also called Azishat Seshat the Starry Shadowed, and Mathatar the Grim One. He travels from city to city, offering cryptic prophecies and telling strange stories to those who would listen. When Azifmut touches a chosen mortal with his right hand, he imparts the gift of prophetic vision. With the touch of his left hand, he curses a man with madness. From time to time, Anhurish accompanies his brother Adhaya wrapped in the veil of Azifmut, observing the Roaming God’s endeavours with detached curiosity.
A darker veil is Lanka Lossath, the Laughing Trickster. He appears similar to the veil of Azifmut, but younger—a man in the prime of his life—with long, dread-locked black hair, his waist girdled with black snake-skins. Wherever he walks, he is accompanied by slithering serpents, crawling lizards and other reptiles. His eyeteeth are fanged, his dark lips thin and his tongue forked, giving him a distinctly serpentine hiss. A gem of black obsidian glistens on his brow. He never speaks above a whisper, unless he is laughing. His eyes, which never blink, have solid black pupils.
Lanka Lossath is known by many other names; Morn Lohash the Black Serpent, Sur Lohashad the King of Snakes, Umud the Whisperer, Umud Dadad the Whisperer in the Dusk, or simply Morn Awam, the Black Man. As the name implies, Lanka Lossath is a trickster, who delights in sowing chaos wherever he goes, and laughs rapturously as he foments war and sparks revolutions. He shares the role of the divine trickster with his nephew Galulah and his messenger Maqhet. His brother Askerath is fonder than usual of Anhurish when he wears the veil of Lanka. Yet even the Conquering God would not presume that the Dreaming God has no ulterior motives hidden behind the mad, laughing face of the Laughing Trickster.
His last veil of human semblance is Laukmu Sharura the Wolf Huntress, also called Aruzar Nin the Azure Lady. This veil—being female—is unique among the lunar deity's avatars. Laukmu appears as a young woman with a stern yet beautiful face and very long white hair braided in the style of Yenatim women. She is garbed in the white robe of a philosopher, draped over the left shoulder and leaving her right shoulder and breast exposed. Skirting her thighs are the tails of slain wolves. Her dark skin is covered in swirling patterns of cyan body-paint and a painted crescent marks the place of the third eye. She carries a sturdy bow of yew and a quiver of stone-tipped arrows slung over her back. When she hunts, she is accompanied by the Hounds of Asharur, and sometimes the Moon God's twin sons, Anqhet and Wahwet, join her in the forms of dog-men.
Laukmu Sharura is an entirely beneficent avatar, appearing only to the most skilled, brave and clever of the Yenatim. She teaches both young men and women to hunt, if they are worthy of her instruction and have proven themselves in a vision-quest. The Yenatim consider Laukmu to be the lover of Kirhaur Obay the Hyena Drummer, an aspect of the god Galulah.
Men know one other veil of Anhurish, though they dread to speak of it. This is his avatar of vengeance, known as Mahhaq Morn Anhurad, the Winnower of the Black Moon; often abbreviated to Mahhaq. Whenever there is a natural lunar eclipse, Anhurish stalks the wilderness in this most fearsome of visages, meting out death to any mortal foolish enough to travel abroad under a moonless sky. Mahhaq appears as a humanoid skeleton of more than human stature, crested with the horned skull of an antelope, wrapped in a tight, translucent grey skin. Burning blue fires dance in the empty eye sockets, and a nest of snakes slither in the chest cavity. It carries a satchel of poisoned javelins, with which it slays those who would commit a crime or grievous insult against Anhurish, his servants or his cults.
The gods generally do not get along with one another, and Anhurish is no exception. As the eldest of the Anhadhask and the most far removed from worldly concerns, the Moon God considers himself to be the patriarch of the Old Gods, and the de-facto leader of the gods in general. Therefore he instinctively takes charge in circumstances which concern his family, and comports himself in a manner that makes it clear his word is the final word in any given matter. Though he is prone to argue with his brothers Adhaya and Askerath, he is accustomed to getting his own way in the end. From his perspective, he is setting an example for all that a deity should aspire to be, an example that he provides in the place of his exiled father.
Anhurish's relationship with his father was antagonistic from the very beginning. His conception by the Sun Father Shamharish on the World Mother Thalamme was the consequence of rape. When Shamharish learned of his unwilling consort's pregnancy, he saw the child as a threat to his primacy, and attempted to have Anhurish aborted. It was Thalamme who protected her son from his own father, hiding in the sea and delivering the baby deity there. Much later, when an older Anhurish confronted his father, Shamharish beat, bound and banished his son to the moon. The solar deity had two more sons whom he would dispose of in a similar manner. The middle child Adhaya, who was bured in the desert, and the youngest son Askerath, who was thrown into a volcano. After nearly a year, Anhurish rescued (and was rescued by) his siblings. They united their power and conspired to overthrow Shamharish. The three brothers confronted, subdued and castrated their father, cannibalized his body, and exiled his impotent spirit back to the sun from whence he came.
Although the Anhadhask is diplomatic enough to permit the worship of the Sun God, Anhurish truly loathes his terrible disappointment of a father, and yet much of the Dreaming God's machinations stem from an attempt to insinuate himself into Shamharish's position while distancing himself from Shamharish's mistakes. He has decided to become a far better ruler than his father ever was, by manipulating the world in subtle ways instead of outright dominating it. His dominion over the moon could be seen as an imitation of his solar father, but also allows him to watch over the whole world from his lofty perch. He positions himself above the divine politics of Arat Net Akesh rather than at their centre, and refuses to claim sovereignty over the gods by right of primogeniture.
The World Mother has something of a love-hate relationship with her children, or perhaps she sees it as tough-love. Though Thalamme loves her children dearly, and owes them her freedom from the brutal oppression of Shamharish, she cannot help but disapprove of the preferential treatment that Anhurish and his siblings have given to humanity. Thalamme's life-essence is Thalaztu, the World Spirit, which is both the nourishing font of all life and the common grave to which all life must return. From her point of view, humans are no different than any life-form on her planet, and should be exempt neither from the laws of nature or from the inevitable fate of Nurwanah Thalad, the cycle of life, death and rebirth. Extinction is as much a part of nature as evolution, and humanity should not be coddled and protected by their so-called 'gods', otherwise the delicate balance of Thal's ecosystem will fall prey to the whims of animals who think themselves the inheritors of the world.
Her sons, on the other hand, treat humans like their own personal pets. And when their mortal worshippers die, they snatch away the Aztar (spirits) and make them into Lalaztar (ghosts), thus disrupting the cycle of Thalaztu and stealing precious Aztu away from their mother. Thalamme is deeply disappointed with her children for this meddling—even Adhaya, who returns most of his souls to Thalaztu—and until they put down their toys, clean up the mess they've made and stop pretending to be gods, she refuses to give them any attention.
Anhurish cannot understand why his brother Adhaya would choose to spend eternity roaming the dusty roads of the world like some vagrant or pilgrim, wasting his time by easing the pain of mortals whose lives are as brief as dewdrops on a blade of grass. In the moon god’s eyes, Adhaya’s self-appointed work is endless, thankless and utterly pointless. Why his younger brother would seek to degrade himself in a manner unbefitting of a deity is beyond Anhurish, and Adhaya’s guilt-driven, passive-aggressive and apologetic attitude towards humanity only makes it all the more frustrating. The greater mass of men are not worthy of such devotion in the eyes of the Dreaming God. Certainly not the kind of devotion a lowly dog gives, whining at his master’s feet.
Despite these misgivings, Anhurish regards Adhaya as a trusted ally. Their relationship may be strained and even caustic at times, but at least it remains more or less intact. Their various plans and manipulations hardly interfere with one another, and they certainly don't oppose each other's interests in any significant way, at least not beyond having divergent perspectives on what their divine obligations should be. When push comes to shove amongst the gods of Thal, Anhurish considers a move against Adhaya to be a move against the Anhadhask itself, for which he responds in a suitably protective manner. Adhaya is likewise sure to be provoked into defending his brother against any would-be-aggressor.
Anhurish’s relationship with his youngest sibling is far more dysfunctional, though not outright antagonistic. Ever since Askalur became the bloodthirsty Askerath, Anhurish has wanted nothing to do with him. While he himself is hardly an unblemished paragon of virtue, the Moon God is utterly horrified by the depths to which his brother has sunk. Unlike Adhaya however, who tries to confront Askerath directly, Anhurish tends to avoid, evade and ignore. War is a messy and wasteful affair, one which the eldest brother is perfectly happy to turn his gaze away from. Especially when the youngest brother is busy cavorting in the midst of the slaughter-fields.
Askerath frightens and repulses Anhurish, to put it bluntly. It is also possible that Anhurish feels partially responsible for what his brother has become, it being the responsibility of the elder to mind the younger. That nausea is multiplied tenfold when the lunar deity has to face Askerath in person, because then he is forced to see his little brother Askalur staring up at him through the eyes of the beast he has become. Still, the Anhadhask remains officially unified, and the two brothers are quick to set aside their differences when matters of the Old Gods are brought to the forefront. Anhurish's disciples remains on friendly—if somewhat tense—terms with the cults of Askerath.
The goddess Likkele was created by Anhurish and his brothers to satisfy their curiosities. Being of a nature that is mother (due to being fashioned from the substance of Thalamme), sister, lover and daughter simultaneously, her relationship with the Old Gods is a complicated one. When she was newly made and knew little of the world, she naturally gravitated towards the eldest brother first, in awe of his wisdom and aloofness. Likkele became infatuated with Anhurish, or Asharur as he was known then. They shared a chaste and playful love with one another, residing together in the idyllic garden-valley of Adyn. Their dalliance was as much tutelary as it was romantic, but it ended abrupty when they experienced sexual union for the first time. Though she was as complicit in the deed as he, Likkele was still unprepared for the loss of her innocence, feeling that Asharur had taken advantage of their positions as teacher and follower. To exacerbate matters, she soon discovered that she was pregnant. After bearing twin sons, Anqhet and Wahwet, Likkele fled the garden of Adyn, abandoning their sons to Asharur. She vowed to never again be the submissive one in any relationship.
Likkele would love and abandon Adhaya next, and then do the same to Askerath, leaving the three brothers heartbroken. Of the three, only Anhurish seemed to be unmoved by her defiance. Though the Moon God has encountered the goddess many times since their relationship ended, he seems to be unconcerned with her, and acknowledges their past history dispassionately. Still, one can only wonder if his indifference is genuine or a facade. He is, after all, the god of deception.
Ketarenat the poet was Anhurish's only mortal lover. The daughter of an Akeshi chieftain, her love poetry was beautiful enough to woo the young Asharur and he was smitten with a passion that he had never known before. They became inseparable companions, and together had a demigod son, Abbanoah (who would later be known as Abbalin). The god promised that his beloved would never grow old or die, but he was unable to keep this promise. Ketarenat was among those who perished in the cataclysmic destruction of Net Shalem. Asharur managed to prevent her lifeforce from passing into the World Spirit, making her into one of the first Lalaztar. The lunar palace of Nyn Anhurad was created partially in tribute to Ketarenat. Her spirit, given new flesh, was housed there among the Saints of Anhurish, where she would hold a special place of honour among the elect of the Moon God.
Anhurish has but one other lover; his nephew Galulah, son of Askerath. Although the hyena-headed deity has long been venerated in the western faiths as the divine entertainer of the Lunar Court, there are scarce few instances in Anhadhaskizi scripture of the two male deities being represented as anything more than associates. Homoeroticism is generally shunned in Karanni society, although the Laws of the Three do not forbid such relations. This is less of a problem for the Yenatim, the only race who acknowledge the relationship between the Dreaming God and the Dancing God as an intimate one. In their belief system, Anhurish is depicted as the female Wolf Huntress, Laukmu Sharura. She is partnered in legends with Kirhaur Obay, the Hyena Drummer. Therefore the homosexual taboo is not a concern in their religion.
Anhurish has two divine sons, the twin gods Anqhet and Wahwet. He sired them upon the goddess Likkele when he himself was still Asharur the Hunter. They were abandoned by Likkele when she spurned Asharur. Remembering his own catastrophic relationship with his parents, Asharur was determined not to be a neglectful father and to raise his sons with a gentle hand. When he ascended to the moon to become Anhurish, Anqhet and Wahwet followed after him rather than remaining in the company of the other gods on Arat Net Akesh. They served as the Moon God's faithful attendants, loyal to him alone. Along with the Dreamweaver Maqhet, Anqhet and Wahwet have been granted dispensation over the dead belonging to their father.
The Court of the Moon
The Ananaqhim Anhurad are a diverse court of celestial beings in the attendance of their leader Anhurish. Counted among them are divine ministers and entertainers, dream-spirits, diminutive servitors and the saintly elect of the dead. The Ananaqhim are spirit beings with bodily manifestations, much like the gods themselves. They rarely leave their court, the Aqhi Anhurad, and therefore have little to no contact with mortals. Even the various cults of Anhurish know very little about their number and hierarchy, with only vague references to the Ananaqhim in sacred texts, litanies and prayers.
The Ananaqhim have little in common with political or legal courts in the strictest definition, being more akin to an exclusive assembly hosted by their god. The courtiers revel in the honour of their god's presence, but there is little decorum or discipline. Anhurish is a god of dreams, fantasies and desires, scarcely concerning himself with the meaningless rituals of formal etiquette. Disputes are rare and usually arbitrated by the Dreamweavers.
The Dreaming God's guests stand, sit or lie amidst a veritable sea of carpets, couches and cushions. They are free to roam the palace and the surrounding valley, enjoying the beauty of the gardens, drinking from the Waters of Sleep, indulging in whatever pleasures the palace can provide. At their leisure they may peruse the copious stores of knowledge recorded in the Lunar Library, or marvel at the precious artifacts in the Great Treasury, or examine the world below through the magnifying perspiculla of the Astral Orrery, or they may petition the baser services of the Forbidden Harem.
Anhurish often receives guests in the Lunar Court, whether they be dignitaries sent by the other gods, indentured mortal servants and high priests, or even Adhaya or Likkele themselves. By far the most common sight in the palace are the Moon Imp servants skittering about the palace and its court, tending to the needs of the privileged guests or gathering the dream-vapours which emanate from their torpid god.
Children of Anhurish
Anqhet, the Black Jackal
Wahwet, the White Wolf
Abbalin, the Fatherless
Patrons of Anhurish
Galulah, the Entertainer: Son of Askerath and Likkele
Mereyam, the Peacemaker: Daughter of Adhaya alone.
Pets of Anhurish
The Orn Lohash:
Nusku, Razah and Ullur:
The Hounds of Asharur:
Makumosali, the Storyteller:
Ketarenat, the Poet:
Omadza, the Architect: Anhurish’s chief architect. Considered to be the most brilliant, ingenious and enlightened man who ever lived, Omadza was abducted by Anhurish from his deathbed and given everlasting life in exchange for his service.
Aztulut, the Astronomer:
Hermetiod, the Mystic:
Bet Shaheraza, Queen of Songs:
Rafhab, the Artisan:
Mutep Medes, the Mathmetician:
Hotep Dormannah, the Artificer:
Akumno, the Mad Prophet:
The Elaami Azif are the spirits of those who died in slumber, and dwell in the Valley of Sleep on the moon. Though Anhurish is adamant about which souls rightfully belong to him, the lunar god concerns himself little with these shades of the dead once they are his to rule, leaving them to sleepwalk through eternity, roaming the plains of Wahad Elaamiyad and endless halls of Nyn Anhurad, stirring only to do the god’s bidding when he requires it of them.