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Sphinx Culture

Culture of the Divine Messengers

Golden sands and verdant fields wrap around monoliths and mausoleums of colored stones and shining gems. Every building seems to stretch towards the sun, reaching beyond the reach of mortals to the heights of immortals. Tucked in its own realm away from the physical world and the divine, the Southern Library and its people thrive in a fertile land, full of both opportunity and History.   One of the Divine Races, the Sphinxes are one of the longest lived races in Isekai. Tasked by the gods Sotark and Ivala to preserve the knowledge and information of the world, the Sphinxes created an archive of their studies on the threshold between the realms of the world, allowing them to open gates and serve as messengers as well as knowledge keepers.   These people have a divine duty that influences all aspects of their lives, from their history to their architecture, and even their interactions with other races in the world. For eons, they traveled the world an studied, learning of the physical world and the divine realms the Southern Library touched. Once the Elder Races appeared, the influence of the Sphinxes on the world disappeared, but their history and culture remained in hiding.

Culture

Culture and cultural heritage

The gods and the Divine Races often got to see the burgeoning culture of the Sphinxes, their dimension similar to a verdant river delta, the sands meeting the lush valleys and fields. The Sphinxes invested heavily in history and preservation, two areas that they believed to be their divine task. Each of the Sphinxes were created by Sotark and Ivala to be different, yet all were beholden to the way of life as designed by their parents.   Because of this deeply held belief, it is rare to find Sphinxes outside of their homeland in the Southern Library. With the creation of the Elder Races and the Silence of the Gods, the Southern Library became a hidden realm meant to hide and hold the history and secrets of the world not meant for mortal eyes.  

Beliefs

All races in Isekai have a set of beliefs that they consider their law. Sphinxes see their law as a divine duty, one that must be followed always.  
  1. Sphinxes shall seek knowledge of everything, as an endless cycle they will learn and understand those things which are not meant for others to know and they shall safeguard knowledge so that it never falls out of reach even if it falls out of memory.
  2. Sphinxes shall render knowledge only to those that prove themselves capable of using knowledge. The apathetic have no need of knowledge but those that commit effort, body, and mind shall always triumph.
  3. Organization is next to godliness. Vast stores of wealth, magic, knowledge, or power are all useless without the ability to use them and understand what is already possessed.
  4. The gods are mysterious. They have their own ways and the Sphinxes shall ever be their heralds, their decisions may surpass perfection by mortal standards but they are always made after a fashion of individuality which is the highest of virtues.
  These beliefs have dictated nearly every facet of the lives of Sphinxes and their cultures, including their deep need to find and preserve history. The divine duties granted to them are central to their way of life and nothing will ever change that.  

History

Southern Library
The Southern Library is a name that refers to the in-between plane of the Sphinxes but it is also the name of the initial structure built in this plane. A multi-tiered pyramid, this structure was massive, created to be used by the Sphinxes in their normal forms. An entrance at the top provided stairways into the various levels of the pyramid, creating places to not only store their research, but also a variety of rooms that could be used for normal activities and housing.
The Sphinxes have a long and noble history, one full of the pursuit of knowledge and understanding. As the third of the Divine Races to find their place in the world, these people have been granted a special place as not only one of the immortals, but ones that were able to witness the growth and change of the world they call home. The place of the Sphinxes gave them great ties to the gods, even after the divine chose to leave the mortals to their own devices.  

Exploration

Within months of their appearance in the world, the Sphinxes set to work fulfilling the divine duty granted to them by Sotark and Ivala. While a small handful stayed with Ivala to learn all they could from her, the rest ventured out into the world to begin their study. For millennia, these people traversed the physical world, keeping notes that would one day become volumes of history.   Once the initial study of Isekai completed, the Sphinxes chose to build their home on the threshold between the physical world and the realms of the divine. This would be known as the Southern Library, the most complete repository of knowledge in the world, outside of the divine realms, and the location of the gates between various realms.   As the early stages of the great library were complete, the Sphinxes began their travels to the various realms of the gods, once again studying and taking notes on all they could to populate the volumes in their library. For nearly 700,000 years their studies would continue, each of the Celestial Realms a new experience to behold. When their studies completed here, they returned to catalog and organize the library, believing their histories complete, but the appearance of the Elder Races would once again draw their path to exploration.  

The Elder Races

The creation of the Elder Races brought the first true mortals to the world. While the Metallic Dragons were mortal, their long lives made them nearly an immortal. The Sphinxes wished to study the new children of the gods but chose not to be as open with their studies as they had in the past. They chose to hide their identities, using magic to blend in with those around them. The
Second Great Exploration took much more time this way, but it kept the knowledge of the Sphinxes safe.   The Elder Races eventually brought with them children of their own, those of Fey ancestry and of the Animal Kingdom. It is with these animal races that the Sphinxes best found their match, the peoples that they could easily hide amongst with the least amount of change to what Ivala had created. This kinship would bring new peoples to the Southern Library that would redefine the culture surrounding the Sphinxes.  

Canines & Felines

Canines and Felines were the first mortals to be welcomed into the Southern Library freely and permanently, although for separate reasons. The Sphinxes felt some kinship with the Felines as both could hold cat-like forms that allowed them to walk through the physical world. Once the Felines were known to the mortals, Sphinxes commonly chose to change forms to be reminiscent of a Cato so that they could more easily walk amongst mortals.   Canines were more of an oddity as they chose to worship the Sphinxes as demi-gods or those of divine power. While not a stretch of the truth, the Sphinxes found this deep-seated belief as almost endearing as mortals of such short lifespans could know no difference. In many cases, Canines that stumbled upon the Southern Library were welcomed to serve as aides and assistants throughout the plane, doing whatever was necessary to help the divine duty of the Sphinxes.  

Eldritch War

As the millennia continued forward, the Sphinxes continued to observe History, even when the horrors of the Eldritch War unleashed upon the land. They sealed the gates from the physical world to their realm, separating themselves from the mortals who fought the Eldritch creatures. As if through a looking glass, they watch the world, recording history and protecting their tomes, sometimes listening to the musing of the gods when they spoke of the perils below.   Those few Canines and Felines that called the Southern Library home left to aid their peoples, but the Sphinxes held fast to their divine duties, vowing not to allow such deep knowledge into the creatures that did not belong to this world.
Encompassed species
Related Myths
Languages spoken
Related Locations

History of the Sphinxes

Languages

Through their research into other peoples and planes, Sphinxes have come to be well-versed in a variety of languages, but their own language, Astral, remains a bit of a mystery to most. This language was created as a derivative of Celestial, the language of the gods, but few other than the Sphinxes know it. It is meant to be a language of prophecy and secret, one that may have been taught to the Sphinxes by Ivala so that they may better keep information from the wrong hands, but few would dare confirm such a theory about the Goddess of Secrets.  
Astral
Language | Nov 1, 2022

The Astral language is considered both rare and mystical, associated with fortune-telling and the fate of mortal life and on occasion prophecies.

 

Relations with Other Races

Sphinxes rarely interact with other races and have chosen to stay hidden since the earliest days of the Elder Races. That being said, Sphinxes do have a significant number of interactions with Canines and Felines because of cultural oddities on all sides that cause these interactions.   It is quite common to find Canines that worship Sphinxes as near-omnipotent demi-gods with divine powers. Those Canines of pure heart and intentions may find themselves within the Southern Library serving as stewards and companions for those that call the library home.   Felines have other ties to Sphinxes as, upon the Felines' appearance into the world, Sphinxes used forms resembling that of a Cato to go out into the world without alerting various populations to their true identity. With their astute senses, Felines quickly found this out but allowed Sphinxes to continue with the deception as long as they are welcomed into the Southern Library.  

Religious Observance

The Pantheons of Isekai are of extreme importance to all races and cultures, no matter their differences or difficulties. Even so, the Sphinxes have a much greater tie to the divine as they have served as the messengers of the gods since their inception, researching the Celestial Realms and creating gateways that allow gods and mortals alike to travel between the various realms. Divinity and belief are a central part of daily life for the Sphinxes, allowing them to be one of the few races that continue to have such ties after the Silence of the Gods.   With the divine surrounding them, the Sphinxes still have great ties to their creators, Sotark and Ivala. It is these two who granted the Sphinxes their divine mission and their place amongst the Divine Races, a position of immortal power that few in the world have. Even as the gods removed themselves from the lands of Isekai, the Sphinxes still walk the world, gaining and storing knowledge and secrets of Isekai, just as their creators had intended.
 
While Lycana granted her children great choice and Olik granted his great magic, we have granted you something much greater. Knowledge, and the ability to gain such, is to be held above all else. It is why we crafted you in the image that we did, magnificent beings of great intellect and even greater patience.
Ivala, Goddess of Secrets
 
May the true depth of your knowledge be as mysterious as the gods for few deserve the truth that you can share.
Sotark, God of Music


Comments

Author's Notes

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Master Dazzlinkat
K.S. Bishoff
15 Sep, 2022 14:19

This was fantastic. And I love the big red button for your chronicle.

Here is my Challenge article! HROKENTORM   Come vist my worlds PANGORIO for exciting tales, world lore, and RPG adventures! HYPNOSIUM is my new historical fantasy world!
15 Sep, 2022 16:19

Wonderfully crafted RiverFang. This what such a delight to read. I have not yet made it through the entire timeline, but yours has inspired me to get back to work on mine. Thanks for being such a wonderful pillar of our community.

As always, it would be appreciated if you would stop by my challenge article The Storm Giant Empire and leave some feedback.   If you are looking for things to read from summer camp there is also my Summer Camp 2022 Reading Challenge.. Happy worldbuilding.
15 Sep, 2022 16:24

I've still got some work to do on the timeline but thanks for the kind words <3

Co-creator of the fantasy worlds Isekai & Seireitei
Co-creator of the TTRPG System Storybook
Sage RandoScorpio
RandoScorpio
19 Sep, 2022 02:21

That timeline though. Wow, I was overwhelmed for you after hearing about how long the Sphinxes were around but it looks fantastic.   Good luck with the challenge!!


Check out my Spooktober Story! 31 prompts in a single story, including drowning a Verti! (bonus articles for extra world building spice are being added!)
19 Sep, 2022 23:19

What a overall fantastic article filled with details and infomation!, overall a great article Riverfang!

Master sunnybirdboi
Icarus Crow Prati
26 Sep, 2022 16:34

I love the concept of canine and feline sphinxes!

Have a sunny day! ~ Icarus
Grandmaster tlcassis
Tlcassis Polgara | Arrhynsia
30 Sep, 2022 12:51

I really like this article and found the sprinkling of humor to be very engaging! I like the style, but would suggest that you should consider upping your font size for your normal text or darkening the color. That font doesn't have a high contrast with your background, and at computer reading distance it would probably be hard to read for some folks. (ok - it was hard to read for me, but I'm probably not alone...)

Humans! My shortlisted competition entry for "On the Shoulders of Giants"   My Short stories for Spooktober
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