The Powers that be are divided into three Hosts. These divisions go back to before the God’s War and were settled and fixed by it. Each host is known by assorted names that are often used interchangeably:
The Dread Powers That Be, called The Three, called The Dread Host
The Shadow Powers That Be, called The Five, called The Shadow Host
The Bright Powers That Be, called The Seven, called The Bright Host
There are often partnerships among the Powers That Be in various actions and activities – typically, these come in groups of three. For example, each of the Heritages have three Powers That Be that were their source. These groups may cross lines – this is especially true with the Shadow Powers That Be.
The Seven are all immensely powerful, and each has taken a given City within the Empire as their own, though their worship can be found in all of the great Cities – but not always in Towns or Villages. They are a diverse lot in terms of personality, but one thing does remain highly noticeable: most of them tend to present a feminine aspect to the world. It does not mean they only appear that way, nor that such defines them, merely that it is the most common. Mansa and Qetza only ever present themselves in a masculine way. The rest can be variable.
Many years ago, The Seven led a Rebellion and overthrew the previous Powers That Be (The Three, then called The Five) and since then have essentially been the Powers That Be of the World. At the time the Seven were the Nine, and the war cost them two of their number, whose presence is still felt, and others whose names alone are all that remains.
Each of them is enormously powerful, and each stands alone as a deity – a Host is more like a collective than a pantheon, all of them having equal import, value, and power, with individual arguments and particular desires in play. There is no King of the Powers That Be among the Hosts, though Belial would have you think there is.
The Seven are aloof, snarky, unserious, and demanding that people recognize them for the Powers they are. They like to show off, to be larger than life, and all of them are secretly desperate for attention and praise and worship. This little bit applies to all the Powers: they need worship, for it is the lifeblood that sustains them. They love games and stratagems, and do not have a view as narrow as mortals.
The Five are also called the Shadow Powers That Be, for they chose not to take part in the God’s War and rebel, preferring instead to merely defend their areas of interest. Each has a secret place on and in the world that they hold as their own, and guard. The Five are not often spoke of openly in major cities, as they are even less trusted than the Seven. The Five were caught between the Seven and The Three in the God’s War, sometimes on one side, sometimes on another, but were often called on by other Powers That Be when something needed to happen. Alfey’s death at the stalks of a gross of beholders shattered the uneasy neutrality of the Five – who were once the Seven and lost two of their number in the God’s War, just as all the others did. To hear it told, they have lost even more long before that. Alfey was much beloved, the patron of Elfin.
There is no other set of deities who are as constantly involved in the affairs of the world as the Five. They are found as easily walking along a road as a weary traveler as they are standing beside a King as an advisor. Antelle, my Lady, will move her Inn from place to place, and serve as hostess and innkeeper to those she finds of interest. Paria is said to be always watching, always listening, always present, and yet never a part of anything. The Five have unique quirks to their personalities, and are opposed to the rise of the Three, and hate what was done during the God’s War. They are very certain of themselves. Of the Shadow Powers That Be, the least active is Melane. The most active are Antelle and Paria. The Shadow Powers That Be limit who can serve them by gender, with Antelle and Paria favoring trans folk, and Melane favoring non-binary people.
Lamia and Gallae are lovers. Lamia is occasionally mistaken as a man for showing a masculine aspect, though she tends to be quite firm about disliking that.
The Dread Host were once the masters of the world, the leaders of all the Powers That Be. They tend to enjoy blood sacrifice and are the creators of the Goblins and the Grendels and many of the monstrosities in the world.
The Dread Host are Chained. Bound by fetters real and unreal, split into three parts of Flesh (The Shell), Mind and Heart (The Numen), and Soul and Spirit (The Anima), then confined to small and dark places none have been able to discern, each part bound separately, differently, and far apart; while the power around them keeps them from acting with the same level of ease as the others, they have still grown strong in the centuries of their exile from the faith of The Foes, and are still able to have an effect in the world, and Belial is ever threatening to break free. Where once they discounted some of the Spirits of the World, they will never do so again.
The Three were the old Powers That Be, whose rule of the land was utter and total and whose malevolence and cruelty knew neither bound nor limit. The Three were once the Five, and two of their number were slain during the God’s War, after they, in turn, slew two each from the Shadow and Bright hosts.
The Three are always actively seeking to restore the natural order of things, because people need strong leaders and only they can provide, protect, and preserve the world the way it is supposed to be – the way it was before the Bright Powers That Be overthrew them unjustly. The Dread Powers That Be and their servants are the acknowledged bad guys. For all these years, the Bright Peoples have fought to ensure that the Dread Powers That Be never rise again, and that their servants are given neither quarter nor space, for their goals are subjugation and domination and conformity. The Dread Powers That Be names are never spoken. There are four of them these days, but they are called The Three because one is barely known, and new, and has a peculiar hidden history. They are considered to be absolute evil, and they were overthrown by The Seven, the Bright Powers That Be.
The Five only get along well with Lamia and Paria of the Shadow Host – they merely put up with the others when needed.
During the God’s War, the Dread Powers took those who were loyal to them, and from them they created the Foes, whose evil has been our bane ever since. Chief among these are the Imps. They are incalculable in number, and one on one they are more than a match for a typical person, despite their diminutive size. They are small, ugly winged people whose bodies are too dense to fly any great distance, and they are people who have turned the world into their playground the fashioning of the Underdark – massive complexes and delvings that spread out from Agartha throughout the land and give access into the Empire. Next among them, though they would have you think they are first, are the Goblins. Said to be so far removed from what they once were that they can barely still interact with other people, Goblins are a persistent and ongoing danger and risk to all peoples. Yes, it is true that there are tales of Goblins who are not like these others staging rebellion from within Antilia, but here we are concerned with those who serve the Dread Host.
They have a base in the South, a massive city teeming like an insect hive with the most vile and horrible of the servants, the Goblins. Goblins do not only live there, though — they are creatures of the night, hiding in shadows and roaming out there. It is Lemuria, and as such is ruled by “the Dark Lord”, whom none alive have ever seen the face of. “The Dark Lord” is always armored in black armor, like a chitinous shell, a faceless mask and cruel seeming twisted and sharp spikes jutting out from it. He goes by Bane, but his real name is Chadwick Beckerson. He is surrounded by the Fascians, the high Clerics and nobility of Lemuria, always in white, hooded, and anonymous.
After them come the Grendels, and the Thyrs, and many would even argue the Kobolds. However, I am friends with the Kobold King, and I can assure you they are not in service there – well, save perhaps for a few lured into it. The Grendels and Thyrs, however, like Goblins, are mostly in service to the Dread Powers, and share in a delight of conquest and the nature of their origins. While Imps do not, the others all eat meat, and are not particular what kind.
The Dread Powers That Be have asserted deep and abiding Dominance over the Dread peoples, and while some have resisted them, the vast majority are wholly bent to their will and created for the express purpose of destroying the Bright Lands.