Dreadgods are the most powerful and destructive living beings on Cradle. Dreadgod Cults follow them, causing more havoc. They are the prime cause of death among Monarchs. They are virtually immortal. However, there is a way they can be done away with, explained in book 10, Reaper.
Four Five Beasts
Elder Whisper sat on his haunches,
tails waving smoothly behind him.
“Wei Shi Lindon. Would you like to
know how to kill the Dreadgods?”
- Weeping Dragon — A blue serpentine dragon that travels on thunderstorms, and sleeps on miles-long beds of clouds. Aspects: Storm. Techniques: Living Lightning. Cult: The Stormcallers
- Silent King — White Tiger crowned in a halo. Dream aspects. Cult: Silent Servants
- The Wandering Titan — A stone warrior with the shell of a tortoise and the tail of a monkey. Aspects: Earth. Cult: Abyssal Palace
- Bleeding Phoenix — Huge crimson phoenix with wings large enough to stretch across the horizon. Blood madra aspects. If it’s cut, it reforms itself from blood droplets. Cult: Redmoon Hall
- Subject One-- Subject One is/was a Researcher turned subject. He’s also a Dreadgod, although few people know it. The first one. The Father of Hunger Madra. The Slumbering Wraith. The Devourer. (Bloodline, ch 20; Reaper, ch 1, 21, 24)
The last chunk of masonry rolled away, revealing a towering stone door. It was carved with the image of a gaunt, sunken human with many grasping hands, its eyes hollow and mouth open unnaturally wide. This was Subject One, at least as he had appeared long ago. A Dreadgod, though few knew that. The man who had become warped by hunger aura. The origin of their bloodline.’ (Bloodline, ch 20)
- Dreadgods always want more and more. They’re never satisfied, always craving, because they cycle unnatural hunger aura into hunger madra. Neither are naturally occurring. (Reaper, ch 21)
- Wei Shi Lindon’s prosthetic arm gives him a good sense of the nature of hunger madra.
“He studied the arm. What he called hunger wasn't just that. It felt similar to hunger, but it was more textured, with deeper layers. He felt ambition, greed, gluttony, an endless desire to reach for more and more.” (Skysworn, ch 12)
- There is an important relationship between hunger aura, hunger madra, Dreadbeasts, Dreadgods, and the overweening ambitions of Monarchs.
“Anything from the Arelius founder should predate the introduction of hunger madra to this labyrinth. Did he anticipate this, or was he protecting against other threats? A puzzle for you!” (Reaper, ch 11, Eithan)
About 2000-2500 years ago, Li Markuth was the Grand Patriarch and original founder of the Li clan in Sacred Valley. He saw the newly minted Dreadgods escape from the Labyrinth in Sacred Valley (perhaps through the vast Nethergate door). When he returned as an avenging immortal in book 1, Markuth asked, “Tell me, have the Four Beasts come home?” (Unsouled, ch 9).
- Lindon reflected that no one had left the valley in one hundred generations (Unsouled, ch 11), so that would add up to about 2500 years ago, roughly.
Subject One / Hunger Aura Researcher
See more detail at Subject One — the original researcher who became a Dreadgod.
Roughly about 2500 years ago, Dreadgods came into the world, the result of research and experimentation conducted in the Labyrinth, perhaps in an attempt to control the planetary problem of corruptive hunger aura, itself the unnatural by-product of bottomless need, greed, and ambition. But the notes Lindon found in book 2 in the Transcendent Ruins explain a little more:
“These notes reference an origin for this madra, a single source from which they got all their samples. They were trying to breed sacred beasts that left Remnants of this aspect, but they never made it. At least, not by the time these notes were written.” (Skysworn ch 7)
Each Dreadgod was originally an unremarkable Dreadbeast when the research team tried to manipulate it, so it could leave a Remnant that soulsmiths could use (dreadbeasts cannot leave a Remnant because their spirit is mashed into flesh). Instead, the experiment failed. The big unintended consequence is the rise of Dreadgods. However, hunger madra was also born of this research, apparently. This type of madra never existed before. Subject One is called “The Father of Hunger Madra”
For some reason — probably because of the voracious nature of hunger madra — the dreadbeast quickly grew beyond its peers. It eventually escaped the researchers and entered the outside world.
Subject One was the first one to become a Dreadgod because he put the hunger binding into his own body, but he had been the scientist. Thus, the researcher became the subject. Subject One is confined deep in the Labyrinth at Sacred Valley. The other four Dreadgods did escape, but they always strive to come back to the Labyrinth, rich in hunger aura, and to Subject One.
(See more details at Dreadbeasts page and Reaper, ch 21). Dreadbeasts were not created by Subject One’s research team. They existed long before Dreadgods, even back before Ozmanthus Arelius created his broom. They came into the world when hunger aura did, which came into the world when gluttonous greed and ambition did. So go figure. . .
He never lost his admiration for those who kept the world clean, and one of the most hideous plagues in the world was the population of dreadbeasts that roamed the countryside, feeding and spewing out more of their kind. With his weapons, he would clean the countryside. He found an ancient labyrinth, built by the original Court of Seven before their ascension. He researched their understanding, growing in knowledge and power. And he built weapons. (-Reaper, ch 2)
Entrances to Labyrinth
The Labyrinth entrances / gates are carved with images of the four dreadgods as a warning to all intruders. (Skysworn, ch 2)
Doors in Sacred Valley
The Dreadgods are connected to the four holy peaks of Sacred Valley and to the ancient Labyrinth beneath the valley, that spans the Ashwind continent and runs beneath the Trackless Sea. There are several entrances to the labyrinth around the continent, doors marked with symbols of Dreadgods. Sacred Valley has two entrances to the Labyrinth. The easiest to access is the Nethergate, at the base of Yoma Mountain. That gate opens once every ten years, allowing access to nearby rooms only. The second gate in Sacred Valley is near Heaven’s Glory School. It is through the Ancestor’s Tomb, high on Mount Samara.
In book 1, Li Markuth referred to the Dreadgods as 'the Four Beasts' when he returned to Sacred Valley, in Unsouled. He had lived in Sacred Valley when the Dreadgods first escaped confinement, about 2000 years ago — based on inference from several different passages in Unsouled.
A Monarch cannot withstand a Dreadgod. In the Dread War , the previous generation of Monarchs was all but eradicated, with only 2 out of 12 surviving following a combined attack on the Wandering Titan, which woke up the rest of his brothers.
“They are...disasters. Four monsters, big enough to blot out the sky, hungry for destruction, and so powerful that the most advanced sacred artists in the world have to join forces to drive them off. Drive them off, you understand. None of the Dreadgods have ever been killed.” “They're sacred beasts?” “Corrupted ones. Like the dreadbeasts of the Desolate Wilds, they were warped and twisted by their own powers.” “They're scattered all over the world. They burrow into a secure location and wait for decades...but when they wake up, they're hungry. Fortunately for humanity, no two have woken at the same time in centuries. But the last time they did, they destroyed the original Blackflame Empire.” Skysworn Cradle Book 4, (pp. 106-107)
Each of the four Dreadgod Cults is comprised of parasitic sacred artists who follow their dreadful monster and benefit from the destruction it creates. The Paths of each different cult uses aspects from their Dreadgods, borrowing power from them to create Blood Shadows and Living Lightning, etc. etc.
- Redmoon Hall, with their Blood Shadows in a thousand different forms. Bleeding Phoenix
- Abyssal Palace, their faces concealed beneath hoods and stony masks. Wandering Titan
- Silent Servants, whose mouths are bound. Silent King
- Stormcallers, who ring their arms in scripts that crackle with lightning. Weeping Dragon
The cults of the four Dreadgods (-Underlord, epilogue)