The Brand Tradition / Ritual in Divine Tyranny | World Anvil

The Brand

Welcome to Divine Tyranny! In a world where all-powerful gods live among mortals and play with their life for their own entertainment, Archivist Cécile is doing her best to go unnoticed. Unfortunately, the warring water and forging gods are now interested in the archives... Come read about Cécile and the world in which she lives!
Introduction to the story | Cécile | The Archivists | Novel upcoming

Table of Contents

A divine glowing mark left on the skin of any mortal who a god has deigned to touch with their power. The ultimate proof of favour, desired by everyone—or at least, all those without common sense.  

The gods' power

Even when coming into the mortal realm, the gods, of course, still possess their immense power. This means that they have to constantly be wary of unveiling it in front of us, poor little mortals, and damaging us. At least if they're actually interested in any of us surviving meeting them, which is not a given. Most gods tend to find humans tiresome after a while...   Thankfully for humanity, the gods have agreed with each other on rules to follow while in the mortal realm, and this include not appearing in all their glory in front of crowds of mortals and immediately frying our brains. Thus, all gods have had to learn control when visiting the mortal realm. In theory.   In any case, that control is much harder to maintain when actual physical contact is occurring between them and one of us. Because of this, some divine power often escapes at the point of contact. Even if that power is not high enough to kill the mortal, it will leave behind a trace: the aptly named brand.

The brand

This brand appears as a golden glow just below the skin that is clearly visible to everyone. It cannot be hidden by clothes, but it will not glow through a wall. Once in a while, someone will try to layer clothing until they get to a thickness high enough to hide the brand, but this is hardly discreet. In addition, almost everyone is blissfully—and stupidly—admirative of the gods. Rather than see the good sense in hiding a brand, they consider any attempt to do so a high insult against the god who made it, and so entirely unthinkable.   Gods with low control—so almost all of them—or with high power levels cannot touch a mortal without leaving a brand. On the other hand, those with low power and adequate control or the oldest and most powerful and controlled gods will only leave brands when they feel like it. It is often done as a reward for mortals, as a visible proof of a contract or alliance, as a warning for other gods—especially effective when a brand is left by a dangerous god—or as a way to mess with the mortals by bringing them to the centre of mortals and immortals' attention alike.


Everyone finds brands extremely fascinating, and speculating about what action gave rise to a specific brand is always a great conversation topic, both in mortal and divine circles. Brands are most often left on hands and lips when a mortal is given the honour of kissing a god's hand as a show of fealty—and subservience—or on their head when a god pets them like a cute small animal.   More rarely, you'll see some people with a full body brand, which always betrays that a human has had sex with a god—and no matter their control, it is almost impossible for a god to have sex without leaving one.   While the recipients of such brands are highly honoured—understand envied—by other mortals, they do not tend to survive very long. After all, is it not natural for everyone who sees it to get curious and want to poke at the mortal, see what about them caught a god's attention? In the worst case, it is rival gods who see the branded mortal as an easy way to get back at the god who gave them the brand. The mortal better hope that their god is willing to actively defend them against all those threats...
Worship of a god by grandfailure on DepositPhotos

Opinion from the archives

All of this is not mere gossips but information extremely important for state security and humanity's survival. It is obvious that gods must be, if not worshipped, at least appeased, and this can certainly not be achieved if you happen to inadvertently insult their favourite mortal. And since gods are not very discerning in who they punish, all monarchs take good care in having all the information at their disposal before they take any decision that might anger one god. That way, they can at least take care to get the protection of another god before they do so.   This is where the royal archives come in. We're the ones who store and curate all information available about any topic linked to the gods. This includes the names of all people with brands, brand descriptions, and if they are known, the names of the gods who gave the brand and what action gave rise to it.   Some people are strangely reluctant with communicating that information, even when directly ordered to do so by the king. It is also not uncommon for them to lie. Therefore, we, the archivists, always mark those elements down as "unconfirmed" unless the god in question directly and publicly confirms them. But then, even gods lie about this to mess up with the actual god who made the brand. Lots of fun drama among archivists when we have to debate what to write.   The most interesting aspect of being an archivist is getting to do research for the royal court about gods and brands, and getting to influence what decision they make based on that. Although after making us go through all the trouble of finding the information, some people are strangely reluctant to actually follow our advice and will instead insist on us finding a way to justify them in their pre-made decision. And then we of course have to take the blame for any gods' displeasure.   Strangely, no one has yet to come to the obvious realisation that any kind of interaction with the gods at all is bad for their health...
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Author's Notes

Written as a bonus article for PanthersEye's unofficial fashionable treasure challenge.

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Jul 1, 2022 12:35

I'm really enjoying the stinging wit of the entire article and this world; and it's a really fun take on the fashionable treasure prompt. Very imaginative, and a lot of fun thoughts about it.     The divine possession turning badly picture is amazing; very evocative image there that. I'd love to know more about just how wrong it can go til people's skeletons burst out of their body.  

or at least, all those without common sense.
  Hah! That is a great line.  
Strangely, no one has yet to come to the obvious realisation that any kind of interaction with the gods at all is bad for their health...
  Bwhahahah! So good. It's this kind of humor that I'm really digging about this setting. And you picked a great image for the MC too - she looks highly sceptical of the gods and their BS already.   Death to the Divine Tyrants! :D

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Jul 1, 2022 21:58 by Amélie I. S. Debruyne

Thanks :D I'm glad you like the tone, I always feel as if I'm not making it snarky enough XD   I'll indeed have to write an article about possession at some point XD

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