The Dead Gods are entities that everyone on Innworld believes dead, yet many people know multiple gods existed a long time ago.
There are six primary Dead Gods, who attempted to form pacts with those of those from Earth, who gained power at the Summer Solstice, from Emerrhain's manipulation of Aaron:
- Tamaroth - The Man with the Beard - God of Leaders and Rulers. Advises Laken Godart.
- Emerrhain - The Wise Man - God of Scholars, Magic and Studies. Advises Aaron Vanwell.
- Kasigna - The Three Women in One - Goddess of Death and the Afterlife.
- Norechl - The Lost Thing - The God of the Lost, the Forgotten and Seekers.
- Laedonius Deviy - The Dancing Man - God of Dance and Love.
- Cauwine - The Young Huntress - Goddess of War and Youth.
The Shadows Things
Multiple Lesser Dead Gods that are so weak that their form has been lost and their minds fragmented. While weaker then The Six, they are still dangerous as they too want to improve from their desperate fate.
People in Innworld know that the gods are dead, and have been so for tens of thousands of years. As such, they no longer pray to gods, but the exclamation "Dead Gods!" is a common expression of disbelief or surprise among many Innworlders. The first recorded exclamation within the story was uttered by Zevara. Pisces and Ceria often swear that way as well.
Pisces educated Erin about the gods being extinct: “Miracles were a function of faith and belief in gods. And the gods no longer exist.” [...] “The gods are dead. So too are the ancient ways of faith and miracle.” The people of the Blighted Kingdom are also aware that the Gods are dead, as they told Tom.
Ryoka did research on the gods in Magnolia's library and found no reference to any god by name - Not one, in over ten thousand years of history, as far as I can tell. [... ] Oh, there are hints — references to someone trying to bring back the [Cleric] class, a faded relic here and there, but no gods are ever referenced directly. They’re dead.
NOT Common Knowledge
- The Leveling System was created by the Gods, according to the Frost Faeries, which was shown when they ordered it to stop offering levels to Ryoka. Neither Ryoka nor Mrsha apparently heard them spilling that secret.
- Klbkch told Ryoka about the a Sleeping God in Rhir, which is something that only the Antinium know about: “We fled from a God, Ryoka Griffin. There is a God buried in Rhir. And it is trying to wake up.” Given that the Antinium had to flee from it, and given how Rhir has been plagued by Blight, Black Goo, Crelers and many other things seemingly appearing from nowhere, it has been speculated that this Buried God is quite malevolent. How the Demons and Antinium (who both appeared in recent millennia on Rhir as well) are related to the same God, is unknown. Aside from Xrn and Klbkch (and probably the Queens and Wrymvr), the only people that were shown to know of this secret are Ryoka, Magnolia, Ressa and Laken.
- It is shown that Rhir's Sleeping God is somewhere at the center of Hell, and not only is it hinted that his Dark Dreams are the cause of terrible monsters, like Crelers, but that it is his voice that is heard announcing everything related to the Leveling System.
- When Ryoka tells Teriarch about Rhir's Sleeping God he says “And you are wrong about one thing. Rhir. That is not a—your understanding is incomplete." implying that it isn't technically a god.
- Earthworlders are swearing by god without proclaiming him dead. This annoyed Klbkch and Ryoka, but most people either don't take offense or notice.
- Only the narrator knows that Pawn created a new God on the day he heard Erin's stories about Earth's Christianity. Pawn then started an Antinium religion for which Klbkch nearly killed him, given the strained relationship he has with Rhir's Buried God. However, Pawn quickly focused his faith onto a safe place called Heaven and denounced the existence of deities. Aside from the involved Antinium, nobody seems to pay any attention to this new cult.
- Tamaroth is hinted to be a god, as he is referred to as "The G— of Rulers." on Erin's Ancient Mithril Coin. The only ones who may be aware of this connection (or not) are Erin and Pelt. Teriarch who is old enough to either have encountered Gods in his youth or hear tales of them, swears by Tamaroth's beard.
- Something terrible lurks in the beyond, and [Witches] have lost their sight behind the veil of death. When summoned as a ghost, Califor refused to return to the land of death for fear that He will eat her, and spoke out a warning of Him who is coming for the land of the living, hungering after having devoured the land of death. Only the [Witches] of Riverfarm are aware of Califor's dark prophesy - and among them, only Wiskeria was told His name.
Apparitions during the Winter Solstice
The following series of ghostly apparitions may or may not be connected to the matter of Dead Gods, but the Tamaroth connection makes it seem plausible that they are.
Tamaroth and two of his colleagues (one hunched over, tall and with a book; the other vaguely not-handsome but charismatic) appeared in Erin Solstice's inn at the Winter's Solstice. Erin emptied her food storages to serve the famished-looking travelers, and Tamaroth made allusions to others who couldn't make it to the inn: “They are lost as we are, but do not fear. We will meet again in time. That is a certainty, and they do not fear the storm.” [...] “Do not worry. They will come in time. As for names… it would be pointless to ask. Few remember my name, let alone the others.” Then, they offered her three gifts in trade of her soul:
- Tamaroth offered the Umbrella made from the Sun's Light, to burn away fears and untruths among other benefits
- The hunched man with the book offered the Hangman's Rope, a tool to escape your enemies and live. It is implied that as long as you hang from the rope, you can survive indefinitely.
- The dancing charismatic man offered the white Horn of Friendship, to call all of her friends. Ryoka was able to hear the horn from somewhere near Riverfarm when Erin used it in Liscor, giving evidence to the claim her friends would hear it no matter where in the world they were.
Erin took none of their gifts but found an Ancient Mithril Coin after the strangers left, and dimly remembered the encounter like she would a dream.
The same night, Ryoka was also haunted by 3 strange women while she returned from her delivery run to Invrisil: An old woman, a young woman and a thing appeared at her fire, and one of these companions offered to return her two lost fingers as a gift. Ryoka fled the women, barely escaping them with her life. She threw her moving fingers into her campfire and also burned her scarf that had been touched and turned into something evil as well.
Later mentions and speculations
Other Earthers aside from Erin and Ryoka also were confirmed to have met people on midwinters day, and might have received gifts, as well. Many Earthers however didn't see those visitors, as it seems easily possible to fend them off: you should be behind stone and iron before the night is deepest (according to Ivolethe, hinting that the apparitions might be restricted like the Fairies themselves) and "keep the fire lit. The night is not over." (according to Tamaroth. It was demonstrated that the entities could be fended off with fire because they would first suck away that light and warmth before moving on to the living).
- Proven: Laken Godart has regularly (and reluctantly) received counsel on being an [Emperor] from Tamaroth, having been tricked into taking his hand. His insider knowledge allowed Laken to claim land via totems, elevate his people to better classes, and prepare for being judged by the nobility of Izril.
- Proven: Aaron Vanwell was taught how to reach the Evermote Room by Emerrhain, god of knowledge. Emerrhain then used the pact he made with Aaron to force the young to cast a ritual on the Summer Solstice. That ritual sent a message to all electronics from Earth saying that the gods are alive. Aaron continues to receive lessons from Emmerhain, only during the full moon.
- Proven: Dev the [Explorer] encountered a stranger while camping outdoors alone in the middle of winter in Baleros. He believed the woman to be a bhoot (ghost/devil) and refused to take her hand or receive what was offered; the stranger then vanished into thin air.
- Proven: Luan Khumalo encountered a woman while rowing his boat at sea in the middle of winter. He later believed the woman to have been a nightmare, but was still glad that he didn't take her hand. He later encountered the Dancing Man during the Summer Solstice and refused to take his hand as well.