Before the God’s Death
Known by sages to be among the most idyllic of afterlives that could be achieved by the living, the realm of Dionysus was the picture of an Arcadian ideal. The time after time of the denizens here were once spent cultivating grapes, drinking, singing and performing the wild rituals that once typified the worship of the Divine Drunk. Life was untroubled by hurt, want or illness and the size of the realm swelled to accommodate whatever number of followers were in residence there. There were no rulers or rules beyond the rites practiced by the cult. Each person was free to do as they liked, as long as they did not constrain or harm another.
Imposing and nearly the size of a city, the temple of Dionysus was built atop the divine mountain known as Nysa, the halls where the god himself was raised by the Hyades. Painted garish shades of purple and gold, it is heavily adorned with banners stitched from the hides of tigers, bulls and leopards and the heady scent of incense and wine waft from the great doors even when they are sealed. The highest point of the realm, it was visible from wherever one stood. Surrounding the gentle slopes of the temple grounds were untold acres of vineyards and farmland necessary to produce the amount of wine and kykeon for the many festivals and rituals performed in the power’s honor. The rolling hills had a few small towns, used to bring the bounty of the land to the temple above. Eventually the countryside gives way to a dense, but bountiful forest, full of beasts and plants sacred to deity. Newly arrived souls wander in from these woods from the haze of death. Beyond being the well-spring of new petitioners, the woods were used as a retreat for rituals, and as a source of timber, food and sacred materials.
The inhabitants of Nysa were made up on those who worshiped him in life; people of the wilds, farmers, mystics, former slaves and vagabonds. They were joined by those creatures favored by the deity, such as Satyrs, Nymphs & Centaurs. His once mortal priesthood known as the Maenads if female, or Sileni if male, acted as the organizing element (such as it was) of the cult and were referred to collectively as the Thiasus. Above in esteem than even the Thiasus were the demigod children of the deity itself, all of whom were given honorary positions at the top of his cult. During times of revelry or feasts, the Thiasoi traveled throughout the land and gathered the worshipers, bringing them to either one of the abodes of the God’s children, or to the steps of the temple-manse itself.