Greater (native): Gorethar | O'Ma | Dru'El | Toran | Mikon | Forian | Valok | Aarilax | Maleki
Greater (foreign): Clangeddin | Titania | Corellon Larethian | Tobin | Ptah | Gruumsh | Blibdoolpoolp
Intermediate: Andrinor | Angadar | Dagath | Ingoren | Mishlekh
Lesser: Berryn | Dra'Nar | Dre'Ana | Fegall | Hurine | Senath | Skern | Ti'si'faan | Verossa | Vorin | Wilsash | Yeraiah
Demi: Aryeh Gidol | Balgar | Bobil | Cha'reth | Evrak | Harpinger | Kelvos | Keros | Lesa | Naren | Paragus | Pelar | Ra-Ghul | Stephanus | The'ton | Xenon | Zhitaril
Symbol: Knife and Bow.
Colors: Red and Brown.
Alignment: Neutral Evil
Worshippers' Alignment: Any
Area of Control: Survival
Clerical Domains: Animal, Plant, Strength, Travel
The word “survive” literally means “to live longer than others.” “Survival” is the word often used to describe the set of skills needed in harsh, wilderness climates, where successful employment of such skills can indeed allow one to live longer than one’s peers. It is in such harsh climes, be it the tundra of Tyedu, the steaming jungles of Jechran, the unforgiving Wastelands, or elsewhere in Negaria, that one may encounter followers of Keros.
Keros is one of those deities, like Verossa and Ingoren, who is often prayed to when people want them to refrain from acting. Just as sailors may beseech Ingoren or Verossa to not cause a tidal wave or a storm, Kerosians beseech the Lord of the Fittest to not subject them to a harsh test of survival. Keros is a god who delights in testing and judging his worshippers; those who pass are rewarded with survival and perhaps a boon; those who fail are punished, commonly with death. Those unfamiliar with surviving in the wilderness think of it as a combination of skill and luck. Kerosians pride themselves on mastering the former, because for them, the latter is not a roll of chance, but the hand of Keros, and his hand can be fickle.
There is no formal, organized Church of Keros, because in the places where most of his worshippers can be found people are too busy trying to eke out a living day to day to concern themselves with such things as titles and hierarchies. Keros has no bibles or scriptures; his teachings which are handed down are the skills and information needed to survive in the places where his worshippers live. Keros's druids are just as, if not more common, than priests or shamans. Those who are granted divine power by Keros are often the advisor to a tribal chieftain; in some cases they lead the tribe themselves. Kerosians are practical; they look out for themselves first, their followers/parishioners second (for Keros seeks to have as many followers as he can, the more he can judge for fitness), and others third. There are typically few power struggles among the priests and druids of Keros, for in the end, Keros himself will weed out those who are unworthy to lead. Most would not describe Kerosians as generous – if withholding information will lead to one surviving over one’s rivals and possibly receiving Keros’ favor, then a Kerosian will keep that information to himself.
Keros began as a Tyeduan spirit-god who was worshipped in a single village in the southwestern region of that nation. Keros was a harsh spirit-god for a harsh land, and demanded sacrifices to be appeased. Typically, his tribe sacrificed animals they had hunted. But when times were rough, and it was thought that Keros was especially angry, they would sacrifice humans, either captives from other tribes, or in dire circumstances, some of their own people.
One day a band of soldiers from Cytheria entered Tyedu, scouting the tundra for resources. They happened upon the village. It had been a rough year for the villagers, and to appease Keros they were about to sacrifice some of their children. The soldiers, worshippers of O'Ma, were disgusted by what they saw. They slaughtered all of the men in the tribe, and took the women and children back to Cytheria, where they were placed with Kurathene families to be integrated into the empire.
A lone druid villager was on a hunting trip when the Cytherian soldiers attacked his village. He returned to find his village razed, the menfolk slain, and the women and children gone. This druid, named Resh-Nar, then received a vision from Keros. The Lord of the Fittest, weakened by the loss of his followers, bid Resh-Nar to wander Tyedu, converting other tribes to worship him. For twenty years he crisscrossed the tundra, telling all who would listen his story. Many tribes near Tyedu’s southern border were fueled by anti-Kurathene sentiment, and willingly converted. Other tribes had similar spirit-gods, or had worshipped a spirit-god that had died, and were also easily swayed to pray to Keros. In this way Keros gained enough followers to attain demigod status.
Once Keros became a demigod, he sent a vision to Resh-Nar once more. The druid, who by now had become the High Shaman of the religion, was commanded to head south, to gain even more followers. So Resh-Nar hiked southeast, across the mountains and into Jechran. Though unable to supplant Yeraiah or Dre'Ana, he convinced many of the female-dominated tribes to worship Keros as a secondary or supplemental deity. But another group in Jechran made Keros their patron god – castoff males. In some of the harsher climates in that nation, older males who are no longer considered useful to the tribe are ejected, and sent out into the jungle to fend for themselves. Most quickly perish, but a lucky few manage to band together and eke out a life in the wilderness. These all-male groups worship Keros, depending upon his druids, shamans and rangers to teach them survival techniques.
Another twenty years passed, and for a third time High Shaman Resh-Nar received a vision from the Lord of the Fittest. This time he was ordered to go even further south, that Keros may have followers across Negaria. It is said that Resh-Nar continued to wander the southern nations, preaching to any and all who will listen, until another vision led him to establish a shrine at the east coast of M'Chek.
Keros, the Avariel, and the Drangonari
Though Keros is not well-known in southern Negaria, some of his actions have had a profound effect on races living in the region. When Keros was first elevated to demigodhood, Angadar approached him and took him under his wing. He told Keros that if he wanted to make an impression upon the mortals of Negaria, not to mention the other gods and goddesses, he needed to do something impressive, a feat that would display his newfound godly powers to all. Angadar pointed out the avariel race; their home city of Toostan-of-the-Clouds had just been annihilated by Angadar’s drangonari elves. Angadar argued that this was proof that the few avariel who remained did not deserve to survive. Keros agreed, and laid down a strict judgement, doubly cursing the avariel; not only did he weaken their bodies so that they could no longer fly, he also took from them their fertility, so that they could no longer reproduce.
The avariel did not know how or why they had been cursed. Queen Adathi and the few remaining avariel tried to lift the curse without success. They appealed to the Healers of Cha’reth for help. Two high priestesses of Cha'reth, Eldraea and Rika Vandor, came upon the wandering Resh-Nar one day. Through speaking with him they realized that it had been Keros who had bestowed the curse. They were able to convince Resh-Nar that Angadar had tricked Keros into cursing the avariel. The two priestesses told Resh-Nar that they were willing to sacrifice their own fertility, in return for Keros lifting the curse.
Resh-Nar beseeched his god. Keros realized that he had been used by Angadar, but he was loath to admit his mistake. So he removed only part of the curse, restoring their strength and allowing the avariel to procreate again. However, as punishment for their loss against the drangonari, avariel still cannot fly to this day.
Keros then turned his eye towards Angadar’s creations. Seeing the avariel and drangonari as two races directly pitted against each other for survival, he thought it only fair to level the playing field. So Keros took the wings from all drangonari elves. Even those drangonari who have been able to regain their wings are unable to fly.
Many people assume that the bow in Keros’ holy symbol is the kind used to shoot arrows, for hunting. Newer, more stylized versions of the symbol depict it as such, especially the further south one goes in Negaria. However, the bow was originally the kind used in a bow drill to start fires.
It is thought that Keros lives in the Gray Waste. He does not have a home there, but endlessly wanders the plane, preying on newly arrived souls, similar to the way his nomadic followers on Negaria follow herds of prey animals.