Deep Duerra, also known as Queen of the Invisible Art or the Axe Princess of Conquest, is the duergar (deep dwarves) goddess of psionics, conquest and expansion.
The legends of the duergar tell of the gray dwarves' greatest queen, a warrior queen named Duerra, who led her grim troops to numerous victories against the surface dwarves, the drow, the illithids, and other Underdark races. During her centuries long reign, the empire of the gray dwarves expanded to include vast reaches of the Underdark, including much of the territory that once composed Deep Shanatar, bringing the duergar to the pinnacle of their power. Tales of dubious authenticity also relate how Deep Duerra overran a city of mind flayers and wrested from them numerous powers of the mind. Supposedly Duerra's victory allowed the duergar to gain their current ability in psionics and enabled them to hold their own against the spells of the drow and the psionics of the illithids. Although much of Deep Duerra's empire has since fragmented and contracted, the gray dwarves still revere her uncompromising drive to expand duergar power throughout the Underdark.
Duerra is bombastic, arrogant, and imperious. She expects her every whim to be attended to instantly, and she is firmly convinced other own inalienable right to rule. The Queen of the Invisible Art is dismissive of wizardly magic, considering it inferior to the power of the mind. Duerra is always plotting, planning, and strategizing her next conquest. She is never satisfied with what she has already acquired, as it is the conquest, not the holding, that she enjoys. The Axe Princess is ruthless in her drive to ensure victory, and she has absolutely no tolerance for any being, mortal or divine, who does not live up to her standards. Likewise, Duerra considers no sacrifice too great if it offers greater benefits down the road. The Queen of the Invisible Art occasionally dispatches her avatar to aid in conflicts between the duergar and other psionic races, particularly aboleth and illithids. Duerra also dispatches an avatar when a city of gray dwarves has a golden opportunity to expand its territorial holdings at the expense of other races of the Underdark, but for whatever reason, the duergar rulership is reluctant to act on it.
Deep Duerra is venerated by gray dwarves skilled in the Invisible Art (psionics) as well as duergar warriors who seek to conquer much of the Underdark and chafe at the defensive mindset of Laduguer's priests. A few rare surface dwellers with wild talents have begun to call on the Queen of the Invisible Art as well for aid in understanding (and more importantly, concealing) their powers, which are viewed with suspicion and fear by most of the populace.
Deep Duerra's clerics are known below the surface as norothor ("those who seize enemy land"). Their recent efforts in the Underdark have made them the talk of underground way stations and trading communities. Within gray dwarven communities, perceptions of Duerra's church vary widely. Younger duergar admire the brashness and assertiveness her priests display. Older gray dwarves view Duerra's priests as impertinent upstarts who are likely to bring the combined wrath of the aboleth, drow, illithids, and other races of the Underdark down upon their heads.
The norothor nonetheless serve an important role in society, training young gray dwarves in the development of their natural psionic abilities, attending to and controlling the slaves who form the underclass of duergar society, and scouting and clearing out nearby tunnel systems that the community might grow. Lastly, their focus on the mental disciplines makes them ideal ambassadors to psionic races such as the ileitis and aboleths, though the inherent brashness of the faith means that many such missions end in utter disaster.
The clergy of Duerra consists primarily of gray dwarves, but a handful of gold dwarves, shield dwarves, and wild dwarves skilled in the Invisible Art secretly serve the Daul of Laduguer as well while remaining in or near their own communities.
VestmentsThe ceremonial garb of Duerra's priests includes ornate, gleaming chain mail (often treated with everbright or Mueshine) and dark blue velvet robes trimmed with the fur of surface animals. No headgear of any sort is worn, but a beautiful weapon, often bejeweled, is always borne. The holy symbol of the faith is a two-inch diameter silver orb, carved to resemble the skull of an illithid, with a large crack running across the top. A steel chain is usually threaded through the skull's ear holes so that it can be worn around the neck.
Outside of ceremonial functions, Duerran priests eschew their glittering mail for the drab chain or dwarven plate mail common to the duergar and a hooded, ankle-length gray-blue robe. The primary weapon of most priests is the battle axe, in deliberate imitation of their goddess, but Duerra's priests are also skilled in the use of weapons favored by most gray dwarves, including heavy and light crossbows, picks, short swords, spears, and war hammers.
HierarchyNovices of Duerra are known as the Close-minded. Full priests of the Queen of the Invisible Art are known as Mindaxes. In ascending order of rank, the titles used by Duerran priests are Psionic Blaster, Mind Thruster, Ego Whipper, Id Insinuator, Psychic Crusher, and Thought Conqueror. High Old Ones have unique individual titles but are collectively known as Axe Princesses/Princes of the Invisible Art.
TemplesDuerra's temples are hewn from solid rock and are always constructed in symmetric patterns designed to be architecturally pleasing to the observer and to muffle sound. On an elevated dais in the central chancel is an empty seat in the middle of the room. Called the Daul's Throne, the chair serves to remind the norothor that as Queen of the Invisible Art, Deep Duerra is always present and watching. Duerra's houses of worship serve as armories, barracks, and command centers for the senior priests who lead the temple army. Most are extensively fortified and well stocked with emergency supplies, weapons, and armor.
RitualsDeep Duerra's clerics pray for spells at night.
The Duerran church celebrates two holy days annually. The first, known as the Rallying, is celebrated on Midwinter eve. On this night, the followers of Duerra assemble to commemorate the triumphs and conquests of the previous year and to proclaim their intentions to seize new territory. Grim chants of war and the pounding of hammers against stone echo through the tunnels as the duergar work themselves into a grim fury. The culmination of such martial exaltations is the display of the newly seized skull of an enemy from another race whose territory will be besieged in the coming year.
The other holy day of the Duerran faith is celebrated on the 5th of Mirtul. On this day, skilled practitioners of the Invisible Art assemble in Duerran temples to join in the Melding, a psionic ritual in which the assembled minds of the gray dwarves contact Duerra herself. The duergar temporarily form a common mind that rivals that of the great Elder Brains of the illithids. It is from such Meldings that many insights leading to great advances in duergar technology and psionics have come.
Offerings to the Queen of the Invisible Art are made at both ceremonies; these typically include dirt or stone carried back from the borders of newly conquered territory, the brains of psionic individuals, or shattered skulls from members of any intelligent race.
The children of Laduguer shall conquer the earth and stone from which they sprang and the voids in which they dwell. The seizing of new lands, new wealth, and new servitors is the manifest destiny of those who mine the Nigh Below. Magic is weak, unreliable, and unsubtle when compared to the powers of the mind unless bequeathed and steadied by the will of the gods. By means of the Invisible Art, the duergar shall destroy or enslave all those reliant upon petty magics to survive.
Deep Duerra is a short stocky figure, thinner than "surface" dwarves. She has dull gray skin and has silver-gray hair (unlike most duergar, who are usually bald).
Immediately on her apotheosis, she was exiled by Moradin. Because of this, Deep Duerra had no friends among the Morndinsamman. Some myths claimed that Laduguer was her father, but the two didn't show any compassion towards each other. While they were nominally allies, they constantly plotted against one another. Over the past centuries with only small successes, Duerra came very close to attempting to depose Laduguer as the duergar prime deity. She was hated by the illithid god-brain Ilsensine for the many thefts of psionic energy and information from it.