The Village of Eternal Night
“My lady, my lady, my dear Lady Death,
Sing me to sleep but spare me my breath.
My mother, my mother, my mother, she’s sworn
To leave in my place so I’ll see the morn.”
—Old Vastrean nursery rhyme
|The Night Maiden|
|Patron of||Death, dusk, sleep, stillness, winter, the undead|
|Symbol||The Black Gates|
|Followers||Necromancers, undertakers, hospice workers|
Mirevan (pronounced “mee-ray-VAHN”), often called Lady Death or simply Death due to her cosmic role, is the goddess of death, sleep, and nightfall. All mortals greet her at the Black Gates at the end of their lives, though some even outside her priesthood claim to have seen or spoken with her after surviving near-death experiences.
Mirevan is one of the oldest surviving gods of Taralthon, and it is theorized that she may have been the first of Cabricernus’ divine works, as the creation of life necessitated the presence of an overseer of death. Others posit that Mirevan and Cabricernus might have simultaneously come into existence at the birth of the universe, which would make her the only god not shaped by the Forgemaster’s hammer (aside from Cabricernus himself, of course). Regardless of the exact circumstances of her origin, Mirevan has stood at the Black Gates for at least as long as mortal life has existed, venerated and feared in equal measure by the people of the world.
According to the archdevil Pandora, Mirevan was born from two otherworldly primordial beings called Night and Chaos. She was meant to be sacrificed as penance for her weakness, but was saved by an escaped slave who had stolen a part of the primal fire. Together, they fled to the world-seed that would become the cosmos and became its first gods.
The life of a mortal soul is measured in the breaths of its material body, and when a mortal breathes their last, their soul is expelled from their physical form. Unburdened by the weight of a body and untethered from the earth, the departed soul drifts outward through the Firmament and leaves the realm of Tayvanse entirely, crossing into the space between the material and celestial worlds. It is here that the Winds of Fate and Prophecy come to escort the soul to the Black Gates, where the Lady Death waits to receive them.
From the deceased’s perspective, this happens in the blink of an eye—enough time to catch only the barest glimpse of Saelise above and the Firmament below before they see Mirevan and the Black Gates of Death before them. Depending on the knowledge and experience possessed by the newly-dead mortal as well as the circumstances of their death, they may not realize where they are or why they are here, and the first part of Mirevan’s duty is to ensure that they understand these things.
After this, Mirevan commands the Gates to open, creating a temporary portal between her land in Saelise and whatever place has been designated as the soul’s afterlife. Regardless of the deceased’s wishes, the portal inevitably pulls untethered souls toward and through it, and once the soul has completely passed on to the other side, the Gates draw themselves shut.
Except in very rare cases, Mirevan has no control over which afterlife a soul is sent to. Mortal souls are claimed by gods or archdevils, and the claimant’s domain in Saelise or Malvernse is the soul’s destination. The souls of the drowned, for example, are usually claimed by the goddess Qayalise and delivered to her Stormlands; if a mortal made a pact with the archdevil Belial in life, they will be sent to the Fourth Circle of Hell. Mirevan only claims the souls of those who are unclaimed by any other, and the vast majority of those are sent directly to the Great Crucible to be melted down and remade.
Although there are stories of mortals who have stood outside the Black Gates and persuaded Mirevan to send them back to Tayvanse—through trickery, bargains, or earnest pleas—there is no concrete proof that any of these stories have actually happened. Mirevan’s priests teach that all souls are equal in her eyes, no matter who they were in life, and that indeed the concerns of the living are entirely beneath her notice. As far as anyone knows, the only beings who return to Taralthon from Mirevan’s domain are the undead.
Most gods are limited to the form taken by their divine essence when they were born, but Mirevan is not bound by such restrictions. When she interacts with mortals, whether they be recently deceased or members of her clergy, her appearance changes depending on the mortal’s species and culture. Humans from Vastrea often see her as a pale, slim human woman with ankle-length dark hair, while the sun elves of the Silversand Deserts tend to see an ashen-skinned elf clad in black-and-gold robes.
Only one living mortal has seen Mirevan’s true form: a black humanoid shade with no features save for bright white eyes—not seeming to illuminate anything and yet physically painful to look upon, like the sun—and a huge, gaping mouth that opens into a lightless void.
Mirevan has little business with the other gods of the world, usually only seeing brief glimpses of them through the Black Gates as she opens them to perform her duties. She seems to be as indifferent towards them as she is towards everything else: no great enmities or alliances have ever existed between her and any other deity, and she is one of the few gods born during Antidea who has never taken a lover.