Zahir

Zahir
Lady Sin; Mistress of the Oldest Professsion; Nighthair; Seductress

Symbol: A pale woman's face, half-covered by black hair.
Home Plane: Baator
Alignment: Lawful Evil
Portfolio: Desire, Ambition, Seduction, Domination, Night
Worshipers: Courtesans, ladder-climbers, lotharios and seductresses
Cleric Alignments: Neutral Evil, Lawful Evil, Lawful Neutral
Domains: Charm (Lust), Darkness (Night), Evil, Law (Slavery).
Favored Weapon: Whip

Physical Description:
The goddess Zahir appears as a beautiful, pale woman with long black hair of the deepest black, like a starless night, and wearing a shimmering red dress. She has a captivating presence, and her red eyes flash with promises of pleasures to come.

Description of Nature, Personality, and Dogma:
Zahir is a goddess of power-seekers. She represents an insidious type of evil, the type that is well aware of the "good" people in the world that would seek to stop her. Therefore, her clerics and followers work within the boundaries of the law, though interpreting it in their favor. They are often philanthropists and generally work to better the society that they live in, though only in ways that elevate themselves in some fashion, however subtly.

Many people believe that Zahir's followers are hedonists and associate them with sex and pleasure, and it is true that many of them fill the roles of prostitutes, brothel masters and mistresses and courtesans. However, to them, sex is but a means to an end, used as a weapon or a tool for power. Personal power and advancement are the ultimate aims of Zahir's worshipers, with no regard for societal morals or taboos. The morals and taboos in question are anathema to Zahir and her followers, and she encourages them to undermine these hindrances to her preferred methods for personal power whenever the opportunity arises.

Clergy, Places of Worship, Important Rituals, and Servitor Races:
Zahir is rather demanding of her clerics. First, her clerics must be involved in the sex trade in some fashion, either as prostitutes or courtesans, madames or pimps or panders, or slavers. Politicians are also allowed. Most of Zahir's clergy are female, though not all, Since she requires that her clerics be able to ignore the needs of their bodies, especially the lures of the flesh, so that they can instead focus on those things that are truly important to Zahir: power and influence. Her clerics must never forget that sex is simply a means to an end rather than an end in itself, and because of this most of her clerics are quiet intelligent. When Zahir finds a particular cleric worthy of her power, she will appear to that worshiper in a dream, taking the form of the cleric's most desirable mate, and attempt to seduce the potential cleric while offering a choice between either love and passion or power. If the cleric chooses power, then they awake with the ability to use clerical magic; otherwise, they awaken feeling exhausted, with no benefits of sleep, and continue with their lives as normal.

Many temples of Zahir are brothels. However the larger cathedrals located outside of the bounds of cities are generally grand affairs made of obsidian or black marble, where worship of the night and alliances with devils are made.

The single most important ritual to Zahir is the slow and thorough seduction of a pure, innocent soul. All of Zahir's worshipers are required to perform such a seduction at least once in their lives, though the relative purity of the soul in question is up to a fairly liberal interpretation. Corrupting the person so seduced as well pleases Zahir greatly, but is not necessarily required.

Erinyes are Zahir's special servitors, as are other infernal creatures that dabble in seduction. She also has a special affinity with harpies, and those harpies that follow her have great beauty, defying the stereotype of their race, as well as seductive voices. Hags are also known to serve Zahir, their shapechanging ways allowing them to gain great power, but unlike harpies, Zahir never grants hags beauty, which they ever seek, but can never attain.

History and Relations:
Zahir was once human, but has since become a corrupted expression of dark ambition personified. She is said to have begun her life as a common odalisque among hundreds in the harem of one of the greatest sultans of Therafim's history. In time, she eventually dominated his every waking moment, becoming his ultimate zahir, or object of obsession, until finally his realm was in ruins, and she left the great sultan a broken man, taking up with another, even more powerful ruler. This process continued, leading to the downfall of many nations, until finally Zahir was caught up by the gods, who identified that she was no longer able to live safely among mortals, and was given the power she always sought but could never attain, which also filled her with the power of unbridled desire, which she could bestow upon her followers. It is said that to this day Zahir can still never truly be satisfied, but finds temporary respite in the offerings of her mortal followers.

Zahir's portfolio often puts her at odds with other gods of darkness, especially Bellakadina, who regards Zahir with unrestrained jealousy and rivalry, a feeling which is quite mutual. Her position concerning sex and selfishness earns her and her followers the ire of any deity with love, communities, or families in their portfolio, especially Nimbus, Lydia, Pit, Slum, and the Small Ones.

Favored Offerings and Justifications for Direct Intervention:
Being the deity that she is, a suitable offering for Zahir is the blood of a corrupted virgin, obtained without killing the virgin in question. Also more than acceptable are the tears of a person who had power, but is now in the depths of despair, his or her will crushed and dominated utterly by one of Zahir's worshipers. Lesser offerings include silks, perfumes, and other fine things that represent at once the life of luxury desired by her worshipers, and also the trappings of the bordello.

Usually Zahir does not dabble in the affairs of her followers, Since she does not wish to attract the ire of older and more powerful gods. However, she can be enticed to do so if it is to assist in the seduction of an especially innocent, pure soul, especially one associated with great wealth, position, or prestige.