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
tails waving smoothly behind him.
“Wei Shi Lindon. Would you like to
know how to kill the Dreadgods?”
- The 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
- The 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. Drags along a huge sword. Aspects: Earth. Cult: Abyssal Palace
- The 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 — 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)
The dreadgods are entities of hunger madra. Subject One says that all hunger on Cradle is connected — it’s all one (see Reaper). Each of the five Dreadgods hold a certain amount of power, and when one dies that beast’s power is distributed to the others. So, if Subject One dies, his power goes to the other four monsters, unless someone else successfully takes his power.
Speaking of the Dread Wars, roughly 500 years ago, when Monarchs battled dreadgods:
They crushed the beast of earth, and then they discovered what we did. When one of the beasts dies, the others inherit its power until it is reborn. They become smarter. Stronger. And the hunger takes hold. “The beasts devoured the rest of the Monarchs, and for a while, I could live through their eyes.” (Reaper ch 21)
From the author, Will Wight:
Some Dreadgods are more intelligent than the others. The Silent King is always aware, he's always self aware, and he's the smartest one. And the Weeping Dragon actually is the second most self aware. The Bleeding Phoenix is third. And the Wandering Titan is just kind of an idiot.
*See full article Hunger madra
- Dreadgods always want more and more. They’re never satisfied, always craving. They cycle hunger aura into powerful 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 roughly 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, Researcher
About 2500 years ago, roughly, Subject One was a researcher exploring hunger aura and dreadbeasts. Because his work had unintended consequences, Dreadgods came into the world, the result of experiments conducted in the Labyrinth. The researchers were attempting to control the planetary problem of corruptive hunger aura, itself the unnatural by-product of bottomless need, greed, and ambition, at the Monarch scale. They also wanted to create a viable hunger madra Remnant to use when Soulsmithing. According to Fisher Gesha, 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)
Their progenitor, the original, from which they were all formed. Subject One.
-Bloodline, ch 13
The experiment failed. The big unintended consequence is the rise of Dreadgods. However, hunger madra bindings were also born of this research, apparently. Subject One is called “The Father of Hunger Madra”
For some reason — probably because of the voracious nature of hunger madra — each dreadbeast quickly grew beyond control, eventually escaping the researchers and entering 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.
(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. (-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 known 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.
A Monarch cannot withstand a Dreadgod. In the apocalyptic Dread Wars, the previous generation of Monarchs was all but eradicated, with only two out of twelve surviving a combined attack on the Wandering Titan, who 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)
- See also Ashwind Continent History
Each Dreadgod cult 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, Living Lightning, Stone Spires, etc. etc.
- Redmoon Hall, with their Blood Shadows in a thousand different forms. The 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)
In the epilogue of book 6, Reigan Shen recruits the four cults to his cause, to represent him in the upcoming Uncrowned King Tournament. He is scheming for the power of the dreadgods, and world domination.