The Beasts of the Shadows
This is the story of the goddess Iomedae:
Iomedae (eye-OH-ma-day) was born a mortal in Cheliax. As a paladin of Arazni, she rose to prominence in the era of the Shining Crusade, in which she led the Knights of Ozem in a series of victories over the Whispering Tyrant. Success in the Test of the Starstonea short time later granted the valiant swordswoman a spark of divinity and the direct attention of Aroden, who took her on as his herald, replacing the fallen Arazni. She became a proactive force under the Last Azlanti’s watchful eye, aggressively seeking out the enemies of humanity. When Aroden died, Iomedae inherited most of Aroden’s remaining followers. Now out from under the shadow of her patron, she has proven she needs no mentor to guide her, no elder deity to help her find her place—she is valor, glory, honor, justice, and strength, and is unafraid to point her sword at the greatest evils facing the world.
Though born in Cheliax, she is worshiped by many people outside that land, and once the direct threat of the Worldwound is ended she plans to wipe her homeland free of its diabolical taint. At just over 900 years old, Iomedae is the youngest of the major deities of Golarion, and only in the last century has she been able to reach her full potential as an independent deity in her own right. Despite her youth and this late start, she has been instrumental in fighting evil in the world, starting with her mortal participation in the imprisoning of the Whispering Tyrant and most recently with her patronage of the Mendev crusades to battle the expansion of the Worldwound. She is a righteous knight, spreading the good word and crushing evil with the force of her presence and her mighty sword. Though skilled in war, she does not see herself as a war-deity; she would rather convince evildoers to lay down their arms in honorable surrender than cut them down in the midst of battle, but she is fearless and willing to fight for what she believes in. She is a missionary and crusader, bringing benign sovereignty to the good and merciful justice to the evil. She loathes incorrigible evil, fiend-spawn, traitors, and those who abuse good in the name of “greater” good. As the only major ascended deity who is female, the Inheritor has a unique perspective when it comes to a woman’s role in the world. She has abandoned none of her femininity in her pursuit of justice; she is not a masculine deity who happens to be a woman—she is a warrior woman, strong and supple like a tempered steel sword, able to bend without breaking. She doesn’t stand for old-fashioned deities like Erastil and Torag telling her what a woman’s role should be, nor does she let Cayden Cailean disrespect her like some common bar wench. Her church is a haven for women seeking freedom from oppression by men, whether slave-masters, pimps, or cruel husbands, and many of these have gone on to prove themselves warriors in their own rights or earn positions of influence in her church. Iomedae appears as a fierce Chelish mistress of the sword, complete with full battle armor, heraldic markings, and resplendent shield. Iomedae’s avatar is a majestic woman in white and gold, fully armored, carrying a shield and longsword; when she is roused to battle her white cloak turns red and her golden armor turns the silver-gray of adamantine. The light from her shield blinds all evil, the force of her aura causing the corrupt to weaken and collapse.
Iomedae manifests in the form of mundane objects reshaping into sword-like forms, mysterious white or golden lights on a person or object, or a compass-like pull on a longsword or other long metal weapon. Common folk in need of a weapon to defend themselves may happen upon an old, rusty blade that still has the strength of a new weapon and grows shinier the more it is used in the name of justice and honor. She is associated with lions, horses, eagles, griffons, and hippogriffs. The Inheritor shows her displeasure by flickering lights, causing weapons to suffer damage when used against inferior materials, and by metallic gold or silver items becoming dull and heavy. In the rare cases where one of her paladins turns from good and embraces evil, it is said that the first sign of this betrayal is the traitor’s cloak turning black and his shining metal armor and sword turning to dull lead. Formal raiment is a white cassock with gold or yellow trim and matching mitre; most followers prefer these colors and wear them in their day-to-day garments. Pious adventurers usually wear a narrow chasuble in the goddess’s colors; some (particularly those in Mendev) carry a white and gold banner with her symbol when at war. Most ceremonies involve the use of a sword; even the naming of a child requires touching the hilt of a sword. These weapons are always suitable for combat, though some become extensively decorated after decades of use; to the faithful, a sword that isn’t serviceable as a weapon is useless.
It is traditional for a young priest of the Inheritor to receive a gift of a sword when she leaves the temple to enact the goddess’s will; in some cases this is a weapon once used by a senior priest or other hero of the church. There are many blades that have been passed down several times in this way, as Iomedae believes it is wasteful to bury a perfectly good weapon with the dead; the only time a fallen hero is buried with his weapon is if it was broken or if there is unusual magic tying it to him, and even in these cases the weapons have been known to turn up in the hands of those in great need as if plucked from the tombs by the goddess herself. So great is the church’s fixation on swords that even wedding rings for those married in the church are usually engraved with a sword as a sign of devotion and fidelity.
The church has no tradition to forbid burying a person in armor, though doing so is rare, as the church teaches that an afterlife without constant battle is the reward for all righteous souls who pursued honor and justice in life. Most faithful who are wealthy enough to own armor usually bequeath it to close relatives or their favorite temples so that it may find use in the goddess’s name even after they are gone. It is common for the faithful to bury a small token sword (often just an inch long and usually made of copper, tin, brass, or bronze) with their dead, believing that the sword will watch over the departed in the afterlife; in effect, the sword will fight battles on behalf of the good soul so that person can remain at rest. In poorer communities they bury paper or wood stamped or branded with a sword symbol.
Iomedae is lawful good and her portfolio is valor, justice, rulership, and honor. Her favored weapon is the longsword.