Xanthe, The Stinging Briar
Xanthe was once a married mortal woman of world renown beauty and grace who attracted the covetous eyes of many men, including a god – a god whose name has been lost to the passage of time. Her husband was a soldier and had left to fight in a great battle, leaving her alone to tend to the house. Appearing before her as an elven man, he tempted her every night for thirty nights until finally she succumb to his advances, having forgotten her absent husband in her loneliness.
He left with the promises he would return, but the gods are fickle, and he soon forgot about his enamoured conquest, Xanthe later bearing him a son who she named in his honour. Instead it was her husband who returned first, bloody from victory, only to find his wife with a young half-elven child. Enraged at her betrayal, he dashed the babes head against the wall and scarred half of her face terribly before throwing her to the mercy of the wilderness.
She cursed him bitterly, hands still red with the blood of her beloved son, and her anguish was so great that she threw herself from the highest point she could find – now known as Wailing Peak. It was then that her god turned his attention back to her, and was so enraged at what had happened to his lover and his child that he struck her husband down with a plague that ravaged the land for years afterwards. Then he breathed life back into her soul, imbuing her with his own divine essence, intending for her to be his godly concubine. However she blamed him too for the death of her son, for he had not returned or protected them. With heavenly power he had not meant to give in his eagerness, she cast him into a thousand pieces, colouring the sky with a host of blood-red stars so that he may know her pain. She took her place as a goddess of vengeance, but also of love and lust – a duality reflected in her still scarred face.
Xanthe appears to the faithful as stunningly beautiful human woman with silver-gold hair that falls over the right side of her face. Her left eye is a deep silvery-purple and her lips are plump and red. Short and curvaceous, she wears gowns of bright, almost acidic colours that both enthrall the eye and sting if looked at directly for too long. To the unfortunate, she is very different. Instead her hair is swept across the left side of her face, showing her horrific scarring. Her eye is milky pale and blind, her lips twisted upwards in a constant mocking grin.
Her clergy is mixed, and far spread, having attracted worshippers from every outlook and situation in life. Her churches are usually elaborate and beautiful, with chapel brothels but also surprisingly areas for women to give birth safely and take refuge – one of Xanthe’s only strict tenants for her faithful is that they are to never harm a child or a woman in distress lest they draw her limitless ire onto themselves. Worship is throughout the year, with periodic offerings to ensure enemies are punished and luck in love is assured, but the main festival of the Xanthen calendar is during the late autumn months, when the sanguine stars that are said to be her ex-lover are at their brightest. For the thirty nights to represent her seduction, her worshippers engage in wild bonfires and feasts, it is said her influence is strongest here and it is a wise move to settle any scores with Xanthe followers before the events start.