Hypnos & Thanatos

hypnosandthanatosTwin brothers Hypnos and Thanatos are the gods of sleep and death. Originally two mortals, they slayed the previous ruler of the underworld in the time of the Old Ones, a power hungry demon whose name has been lost to time, and split the duties between them. They were so enraged as the injustice and cruelty the demon committed in its time as ruler of the underworld they insisted no one may know its name afterward, even going so far as to kill those that would try to speak or write it (after having given them fair warning). When the elven tempest god Deep Sashelas caused his own son Xolotl to be swallowed up by a great earthquake thanks to his temper, the Twins took pity on Xolotl and made him the Guardian of the Gates, the one who keeps souls in and mortals out. Recently, Xolotl allowed a mortal to enter to retrieve the soul of his lost love and caused a great disturbance in the underworld. Thanatos retrieved the soul and put the underworld to rest, but Xolotl lost many of his powers and now struggles to regain the Twin’s trust and favor. The twins tend to get along with nature gods, who understand that death is just part of the natural process. Surprisingly, many life gods are also counted among their allies as they both oppose the undead. They tend to be neutral to deities of the knowledge, light, and trickery domains, though they have been known to quarrel with trickster gods if their “fun” goes too far. Their biggest rivals however, tend to be war and tempest deities, some of whom think nothing of killing thousands on a whim. They reside under the Great Mountain and only rarely leave it.

Hypnos acts as the guide on the path to the underworld. He visits people in their sleep to decide whether it is time for their soul to move on, or if they still have purpose in the world of the living. If he decides that a soul has reached the end of its life, he will guide it with kindness to the underworld. If it is not yet their time, he offers the gifts of rest and healing. He is the more patient and compassionate of the brothers. His symbol is a winged hourglass. It is said that the old and infirm hope to see Hypnos before they die, and to die quietly in one’s sleep surrounded by loved ones is the greatest gift Hypnos can give. He is said to grant prophetic dreams, but such a thing has happened so rarely it is barely more than a legend.

Thanatos acts as the ruler of the underworld. It is his responsibility to judge the souls that are brought before him. He looks at every deed, both good and bad, that the individual has done in their time among the living to decide whether they deserve the gift of paradise or the punishment of something decidedly less pleasant. He is known to be quick tempered and callous compared to his twin. His symbol is a winged upside down torch. The dead are brought to a rough room under the Great Mountain, where Thanatos sits, larger-than-life, on a throne of skulls. Here he pulls visions of the deceased’s life to pass judgment upon them, and the soul watches their lives play out before them.

Their followers are expected to oppose murder and unjust killing of sentient beings. They also stand against anything that might be seen as an affront to their deities’ authority, such as creating undead or unnaturally extending ones lifespan. Followers of the twins tend to show utmost respect to the deceased, even enemies, as they believe that their Lords are the only ones truly capable of judging them. They might bury their foes after a fight or see to it that the remains are returned to a loved one. They communicate with their followers through dreams and visions, and it is very rare they are seen in the mortal realm. Paladins and clerics of the Twins will collect the weapons of their foes, or claws or teeth of beasts they kill, and leave them in the temples as offerings to the gods. The temples often hold an armory of such weapons, kept locked tightly to prevent them from ever again being used to inflict cruelty. Priests wear robes of black with large wing-like capes along the back and a necklace in the shape of an hourglass, some even wearing actual miniature hourglasses. The temples are simple and often carved in to hillsides or underground, with a structure above or outside to allow entrance. They are always lit exclusively with torches, and an ornate gate allows entrance, symbolic of the gates of death. Most temples have guard dogs, as a symbol of Xolotl, though as the demi-god is little known, many modern worshipers do not know of the significance. Their holy days are the rare solar and lunar eclipses. Those worshipers who study the skies and divination are revered for their ability to predict these events. When these eclipses occur, worshipers will drop everything and head to a graveyard or other resting place. They see eclipses as a sign of their gods reminding them to ensure the souls of the departed are at rest, and so will repair gravestones and mausoleums or will take on a quest to put spirits to rest. Their holy days are the rare solar and lunar eclipses. Those worshipers who study the skies and divination are revered for their ability to predict these events. When these eclipses occur, worshipers will drop everything and head to a graveyard or other resting place. They see eclipses as a sign of their gods reminding them to ensure the souls of the departed are at rest, and so will repair gravestones and mausoleums or will take on a quest to put spirits to rest. Their holy days are the rare solar and lunar eclipses. Those worshipers who study the skies and divination are revered for their ability to predict these events. When these eclipses occur, worshipers will drop everything and head to a graveyard or other resting place. They see eclipses as a sign of their gods reminding them to ensure the souls of the departed have moved on, and so will repair gravestones and mausoleums or will take on a quest to put spirits to rest.