Of the original pantheon, only Pisrek remains. The rest are those that have become powerful spiritual entities since the fall, their life forces bonded to the essence of Barine. Some have transformed to immortal forms that still walk Barine; others have ascended to intangible states of being.
The people of Barine believe in three possible afterlives: the eternal wandering, the eternal storm, the eternal rest. Proper rites must be administered for a spirit to enter the eternal rest, a peaceful afterlife similar to the concept of heaven. Spirits who cannot be administered proper rites are damned to eternal wandering, a form of purgatory where the spirit is a kind of impotent observer. The eternal storm is for those that have been sacrificed to Bar’graf.
Thousands of years ago, Pisrek was able, through deceit, to take down the entire pantheon, good and evil. His followers summoned terrible beasts to Barine that wrought great destruction, relentlessly conquering in his name. Several souls fought heroically and tirelessly against Pisrek and achieved divinity in their own right. These gods, with the mortals, engaged in celestial war against Pisrek, and for over a century land was traded back and forth without either side gaining the upper hand. This continued for a few hundred years until Pisrek tricked and humiliated the goddess Naressa who left the realm in shame and is now said to wander the astral sea; her presence has not been felt since. Without the goddess of community binding civilization together, Pisrek was able to bring forth the dark mists that drove the last shards of civilization out of their homelands and up into the mountains.
The toxic hallucinogenic mists degrade all sense of civilization and cause great madness. Eventually, the mists rose to cover all but the tallest peak, Nai-La-Ona, of the Eternal Spires in the far South; atop which, Beli’avari seeded the great forest of Barine in defiance of the elements. The mists finally stopped about a mile from the sealed forest walls, and this small ring of hardly-habitable land was where the remaining strands of civilization gathered, only a handful of the many races of Barine remained. Their trials were not over though. With most of the technology and arcane knowledge lost to the dark lands, the remaining Barians found themselves much lower on the food chain, and the beasts of nature, apparently unaffected by the mists, threatened to end civilization once and for all.
Seeing their plight, Beli’avari struck a deal with the Barians over 50 generations ago; he would subdue the beasts, but every autumn they would need to offer up their best and bravest as a display of fealty to fight the beasts in The Festival of Leaves. There is no higher honor than to be chosen to sacrifice oneself by fighting bravely in the Festival. Those cowardly few who run, suffer the ultimate shame and are exiled to the dark lands where they will surely die without rites and suffer the eternal wandering. The Barians have remained content to persist this way largely due to one caveat: should they ever defeat the beasts of the Festival, the head trainer and the surviving warriors will be allowed entrance to the forest of Nai-La-Ona; which many believe will unlock the secret driving back the mists.
It is not uncommon for Barians to enter the mist, sometimes compelled to for cultural rites, other times in attempt to salvage what was lost to the dark lands. Trips into the mist often cause horrific hallucinations and repeated trips often cause disfiguring mutations and irreversible madness.