In Central Genertela, there are about 140k Issaries cultists and about 90k Etyries cultists. Both cults are active outside of their home areas, and can be considered “frenemies”- they are both associated cults and are commercial rivals.
Issaries is famed for his neutrality. His cult forms a Neutral Ground where trade and negotiation between strangers and even enemies can take place. His mule caravans travel across Dragon Pass, Prax, the Manirian Road, bringing goods from all across the world.
Etyries is Issaries’ daughter, but serves as the messenger of the Red Goddess. Unlike her father, Etyries serves the needs of the Lunar Empire, and her neutrality is often questioned by the foes of the Red Goddess. Her cult dominates trade within Peloria, especially within the Lunar Heartlands, and her caravans can be found traveling across Pent and Fronela, as well as across Dragon Pass.
The relationship between these cults is complex. They are associated, and often share a temple ground. Mirin’s Cross and Furthest have trade grounds shared by the cults, where Issaries caravans from the Holy Country offload and are taken up by Eytries merchants for transport into the Heartlands. Within the Lunar Empire, the Etyries cult is clearly favored by imperial rulers – however, the cults themselves remain cordial with each other.
Is the Etyries’ Ibex Moon Society now not canon? and is Etyries still divided into [subdenominations of] Etyries communicator and Etyries Pathfinder? No. None of the Issaries Inc era material concerning the Lunar Empire is.
Etyries has the special Rune spells of Exchange Spells, Path Watch, and Reflection. She cannot create Neutral Ground like Issaries.
Etyries is the Lunar goddess of traders, not of marketplaces or neutral grounds for trade. Her cultists are not neutral—they are agents of the Lunar Empire, buying and selling goods on behalf of their rulers, nobles, financiers, or temples.
Within the Lunar Empire, traditional Issaries markets remain places where strangers and foreigners can trade with each other. However, these markets are overseen by the local Etyries priest, and disputes between merchants are resolved by the cult.
Issaries and Etyries are associated deities. Although Issaries temples tend to have competing networks, they also often cooperate and even overlap with the Etyries temples.
And although sensible Issaries merchants are no better than Neutral towards the Seven Mothers, they work closely with their Etyries counterparts (sharing markets, temples, networks, etc.). It is not out of the ordinary for an Issaries caravan to hire on an Etyries initiate when traveling through the Lunar Provinces, just as any sensible Etyries caravan hires on an Issaries initiate when traveling through Sartar or the Holy Country.
Just by numbers alone, you can figure out the networks. Assuming that in the Lunar Heartlands, there are likely 4 Etyries initiates for every Issaries initiate, not including foreign merchants. In the Provinces, there are more than 2 Issaries initiates for every Etyries initiates, not including foreign merchants. And then out in Sartar or the Holy Country, nearly all the Etyries merchants are foreigners.
But of course, foreign merchants do business, maintain warehouses, and even live the lands they trade with. Just look at the Mith family operations in Balazar.
So within the Lunar Heartlands, the Etyries merchants are buying and selling on behalf of the rulers, temples, or their own networks. The few Issaries cultists are maintaining the market grounds, but that’s not where the real action is taking place. Biturian Vorash travels to Glamour to sell Truestone, obtained at a great price. He doesn’t sell it at the market – he sells it to Falabur, an Etyries priest who provides for the Imperial Court. And then Falabur proudly shows it to the Tharkalists, who have it made into a hat decoration.
How does Argan Argar fits into this arrangement? Argan Argar is the Lord of Surface Darkness, and is the gateway for outsiders to interact with troll communities. His cult is involved in trade (e.g., the Night Caravans and the Argan Argar Chain), but that is more for historical and material reasons than core magic or myth. His magic is largely about making it easier and safer for trolls to interact with humans (Create Shadow, Suppress Lodril, and Safe) and vice versa.
Argan Argan cultists can and do trade with outsiders at Issaries markets and neutral grounds. There’s good money for the Issaries initiate who is willing to set up neutral grounds for Argan Argar. You just need to be good with bugs and not startle easily!
And how does Lokarnos fit in? Lokarnos carries stuff. Wagons carrying food, resources, supplies, etc. But his cult gets tied into Issaries and Etyries, or directly for Yelm and Polaris.
Was Lokarnos in the old Dara Happan empire supplanted by Etyries with the coming of the Lunar Empire? Not really. Lokarnos was not originally a trade god – he was a wagon god, of Horse People origin.
Issaries also has very good relations with the Malkioni. After all, his son married Malkion’s granddaughter! And many Seshnegi and Manirian nobles claim him as an ancestor.
I would imagine that an Issaries merchant could not join Etyries as an associated cult, because, at the end of the day and beyond merchantile concerns, Issaries is a Lightbringer, opposed to Chaos, and one of Orlanth’s most trusted allies.
Etyries and Issaries have a lot more overlap than you are giving credit for.
It is super easy for an Etyries initiate to join Issaries. They are associated cults, share many of the same runes, and are involved in a lot of the same activities.
Let me repeat: Issaries does not have an issue with Etyries, although individual initiates of either cult may have some pretty big issue with the other. Etyries has the Moon Rune, not the Chaos Rune. And Issaries is neutral in most of Orlanth’s fights – that’s a precondition for his magic.
Issaries as a Lightbinger. The Lightbringers are interesting. Rune levels of a Lightbringer cult MUST answer a legitimate Lightbringers Summons or lose all Rune points and other benefits of their god.
But beyond that they have no specific obligation to each other. Obviously an Issaries priest is subject to a Command Priest spell cast by his tribal king or by the Prince of Sartar, but that’s about it. An Issaries cultist is expected to stay neutral EXCEPT when the Lightbringers Summons has been properly issued.
I actually think this is part of the Lightbringers power. They are not kin or a tribe. They are not a warlord and his companions. They are a group of powers that are united to end the Greater Darkness and restore the world. Of them, only Orlanth is an elemental deity. We get Truth and Stasis, Illusion and Disorder, Life, Harmony and Motion, the Man Rune, and Magic and Spirit. The only thing we are missing is Death – but that is perhaps hidden in Air, and is Orlanth’s great threat. But as they seek to restore the world, perhaps Death must be sheathed.