The Temple of Ayeshastra
The story of Ayeshastra begins with the temple. Centuries ago, early dev civilization was just a smattering of villages connected by a spider web of pathways. Back then the Shola mountain was uninhabited, and the only creatures to roam the area were the legendary eight gryphons. Magic was barely a word back then, yet the gryphons enchanted everyone. They each lived in different environments, but when they travelled between regions, they always crossed over the Shola mountains. It was said to be the one place someone could see all eight gryphons. Devs who occupied the surrounding area followed them and built new settlements along the rivers. They called themselves the Shola after the mountain that became their home. It was decades later when they became better at practicing light magic that they saw what they believed brought the gryphons here. As with the other people of Adijari, the devs were becoming aware of the great forces around the. They were starting to better understand their connection with light and their ability to manipulate it. They were also able to communicate with the many spirits of Adijari. Honing their skills in light magic allowed them to see the invisible nexus of light above Shola. Their name for this phenomenon dependied on their beliefs and the spirits they aligned with. Stories of this nexus circulated and brought more devs to settle in the area to learn and grow with one another. Generations later, as the nexus brought more settlements and cultural development, the sight of the nexus was not enough. The goal now was to reach it. Yet several ventures to build a pathway to the sky were sabotaged. With devs aligned to different tribes, disciplines, and spirits, each was afraid to allow others to reach the nexus first. Politics locked up the endeavors for years, not just between devs, but between the spirits they worshipped. Because there were so many involved, no one was able to hoodwink their rivals long enough to reach the nexus. After decades of disagreement, consultation, attempted and successful trickery, the communal study and desire lead to a pact. They would jointly build a temple with a spire that would reach the invisible star. Devs of different sects and spirit allegiances would work together to reach the zenith for the good of all devs. News of this rising establishment of dev power spread. To protect the rising temple from heretical devs and other people, the original dev settlers, the Shola, assumed the task of protecting the site. Spirits worked together to bestow boons upon the builders, and especially upon the Shola to help them protect it. Now unencumbered by worry due to the Shola's protection, the people and spirits were able to devote themselves completely to the task. Ambition grew as well, especially for the spirits who saw this as a way to strengthen their connection to the devs and physical plane. They built a structure to completion, learned and became more powerful from the process, then destroyed it to build it better than before. Each incarnation was bigger and better, and took a longer time to build than the last. This happened seven times over, and what was meant to take three years took one hundred and one. Mortals who laid the first stone passed long before the final marbles were carved. Even some spirits passed in this time. When it was finished, the temple of Ayeshastra brought a new level of evolution to Adijari. They had not only reached the invisible star, but were able to harness its power. Through a complex spell process, devs of the temple could now draw that gathering light through the spire and transmute it into a thick liquid. It was called ismat oil and it was the purpose of the city to harvest this oil and distribute it throughout the dev lands. It led to a unity among dev nations that came to be the Ismat empire. Furthermore, mortals could now connect to their spirits of the temple with greater ease than before. But this achievement brought a curse upon itself too. The Shola people who took on the task of protecting the temple while it was being built, and received power from the spirits for doing so only expected to do so for three years, not one hundred and one. Every time they brought their case to the spirits during the building period, the spirits resolved it by granting them more power. The Shola's culture became more and more centered around protection. Engaged in perpetual violence, their tenure exponentially increased, and with more magic in their bones than they were ever meant to have, they mutated into giants. They became addicted to the act of violence, and in the final years of the temple's construction, they invaded settlements far from the temple that were not even threats, and made enemies for Ayeshastra and for the empire as a whole. When the temple was complete, the Shola people demanded the right to continue to guard their homeland, and to as much ismat oil as they desired. There was a stark difference between the beautiful temple and the once peaceful Shola. They had possessed the power given to them for so long that the spirits could not take it back. The spirits were in shock to have allowed this to happen to their first allies, but also knew that to give them what they wanted was to destroy everything they had built. The turmoil from this was felt across the different realms, attracting Simha the Lion God of War, who for reasons known only to him, was searching for new devotees outside of the qui-lahk people he was more suited too. The ruling temple spirits and devs were reluctant to hear this foreign spirit, but out of desperation, and because they sensed solar and lunar energy within him, they listened. Simha proposed to be the new guardian spirit of Ayeshastra. He would grant his strength to all who pledged to protect Ayeshastra. He proclaimed that he would have no power in government except to advise in matters of security. All who devoted themselves in this way would undergo a ritual that grant them power from him, but also make Ismat useless to them. The authority of devs and spirits of the temple agreed, on the condition that he expel the Shola people from the land. Simha, with an army of a thousand, battled the Shola people for months before successfully driving them out. The mighty Shola vowed vengeance against the spirits and devs who betrayed them. Simha wished to go after and eradicate them for this, but he was beholden to the authority of Ayeshastra who reeled him in out of guilt for what they had done to the Shola. Since then, Ayeshastra has further united the dev people. The distribution of Ismal oil has led to wonders of their own. But the Shola and other enemies of the dev know that the temple of Ayeshastra is a cornerstone of the empire. They seek to destroy it to deal the ultimate blow against the empire.