Once the mightiest, the old Cynodean Empire is now a decadent and dying country. Long time ago, the young king Skander was the ruler of a small barbarian kingdom. He freed the land from the Snakesmen which venerated the Lizard-god. Then campaign after campaign, he created a powerful empire, up to what is know Quasquetuk. Soon after his death, this continental Empire began to collapse, but stayed for centuries both a strong country and a reference for all what is now the borderlands. Queen Bathzabbai is the current and probably last queen of Cynodea, but her power is feeble over the land. The warlords of her Elite Hobgoblin guard are probably richer than her, but she still got an incredible capacity to divide them and use their intrigues as a tool of power.
The Empire had a flourishing agriculture, being like a gigantic oasis filled with irrigation canals, producing crop and rice, fruits and honey in incredible quantities. But these canals needed a constant attention, yearly works to keep distributes water and a strong social cohesion. With the decadence of the nobility, priesthood and society, they progressively filled in. Year after year, the cultivated land turned to a waste, then the south winds gathered sable and all the country but small oasis turned back to a desert. Peasants went back to nomadism and pastoralism, people leaved the cities which are now gigantic, luxurious, but lowly populated towns.
Ruined cities and monuments guarded by banshees and other monsters are a common trait of Cynodean landscape. Nomadic tribes travels in the desert lands, but avoid these places. Even in towns, old palaces shattering in ruins are very common. Even when inhabited, most of them have lost and haunted parts where no one still goes.
The Cynodean Triad
The Cynodean religion was once lead by a triad of deities : Kronides, Krusorappis and Pallathene. All Cynodean priests are members of sects of initiates. They never appear publicly without wearing a mask of their deity.
Kronides is the storm god, but alos the god of war and justice. He’s depicted as a severe and wild man, with long hair and beard. His symbol is the lance of lightning, his color is blue and his day, the fourth of each week. The old general Madhya is the high priest of Kronides and also the Empire high judge, sealer of laws. He’s tired and melancholic, seeing his Empire vanishing and Chaos growing day after day, so he may help any force in support of the Law; he has been accused to have ties with Melrosian crusaders, who already sized a large part of the former empire, but until now, this is a lie, as his patriotism stop him to treat with them.
Krusorappis is both the deity of healing, astronomy and the messenger of the gods. He’s depicted as a very young man and his symbol is the star. He’s also considered to be the protector of Halfling slaves, which have a harsh life in Cynodea, and is veneered by other demi-humans as well, like elves and dwarves nomads of the desert. Erichton is the Krusorappis high priest and the queen’s personnal astrologer. His predictions are considered to be very serious; the fact’s is also secretly the queen spymaster is probably a part of his success. He hopes the Empire will return to its former power and possess the only accurate genealogy of Skander descendants, which he keep secret in case of queen’s death.
Pallathene is the goddess of birth, death and seasons. She’s depicted as beautiful women, her symbol is the sickle and a festival is gift for her each season change. Anesidora is the high priestess of Pallathene. She tries to keep good relationship with all other cults, including Sharrukin. Since a few years, she retired from the capital to live in her splendid sanctuary of Akron, a north town of Cynodea. Some suspects she plan to create an independent city-state with her famous Maiden Guard.
The cult of Sharrukin
But the cult of the Cynodean triad is now entered in total decadence, apart in some cities were old-fashioned intellectuals try to keep it alive. The chaotic cult of Sharrukin, the horned deity, is far much favored by people, aristocracy and the queen herself. Sharrukin priests spread the idea that the end of world is near and only human sacrifices to their deity can keep a little more time to live. Sharukkin himself is described as an horrible horned and tentacled creature, which has been long time sleeping under the earth but is now about to awake and eat the world.
This end-of-the-world idea results of a mix of fatalism and decadence, as along with this cult came the raising use of drugs and narcotics. One a warrior class, the aristocracy live in endless orgies, standing on their hobgoblin guards to keep slaves on trade, a situation which made hobgoblins officers the real rulers of the land. The priests of other cults are still allowed to worship their gods, but each year fewer people pay attention to them. Even commoners fall into the influence of this decadence, some of them offering their own sons and girls into sacrifice for drugs and ranks into the initiate’s sect of Sharrukin.
The beasts cult
Among the nomad tribesmen, even when they settled in cities for generations, the most religion is still the beast cults. These initiates circles have spread throughout the Borderlands since the highness of Cynodean Empire and are as common as hidden. Initiates and priests wear animal-headed masks and never admit publicly they’re members of the cult. Treason of the secret is supposed to be a death threat. In practices, the alimentary customs of practices makes that everybody knows around them, but the silence law is strictly enforced. Among the beast cults are the Bee, the Boar, the Camel the Cat, the Dog, the Fish, the Fox, the Hawk and the Singing Bird, nut the most common are still the Bear, the Lion and the Wolf, who have spread outside of Cynodea.
All these cults are rumored to be linked to lycanthropes. One of them is particularly active nowadays in the spheres of powers as well as in most town thieves’ guild: it’s the Fox secret cult, which could be effectively run by a family of werefoxes.