Poliel, also called the 'Mistress of Pestilence', was an ascendant goddess of disease. She was the sister and counterpart of Soliel, the Mistress of Healing. She was also known as the Grey Goddess and the Queen of Disease.
Poliel radiated such power that her form was almost indiscernible. She had long limbs suppurating with venom, a bare androgynous chest shrunken and frail, legs with too many joints, and her feet were three-toed and taloned, as large as an enkar'al's. Her eyes were the faintest of sparks, blurred and damped at the centre of black bowls, and her lips were cracked and oozing. An eye-burning acid fog of pestilence surrounded her.
Grand Temple of Poliel
The central square of G'danisban was home to Poliel's Grand Temple. The main hallway leading to the transept and the doorway to the altar chamber was known as the Aisle of Glory. Within the tiled altar chamber was a dais atop three broad, shallow steps. Centred on the dais was an altarstone. An eastern chamber behind the altar contained an empire's treasury of strange and exotic coins from around the world given as offerings by the temple's supplicants.
- Bridthok - Acolyte
- Septhune Anabhin - Acolyte
- Sradal Purthu - Acolyte
- Torahaval Delat - Priestess
In Memories of Ice
Hood told Quick Ben that Poliel aspired to the role of Consort in the newly created High House Chains. The Pannion Seer knew Poliel was on his side because he dreamt that while she caused the flesh of the Tenescowri to bloat and rot, she avoided harming his soldiers.
In The Bonehunters
Poliel became the ally and poisoned lover of the Crippled God, joining the House of Chains as Consort with a shared interest in misery, grief, and brokeness. As part of the alliance, the Chained One's grey Chaos magic infused her. She started the Bluetongue Plague on the Seven Cities continent from her Grand Temple in G'danisban, killing hundreds of thousands on the sub-continent and leaving its cities and settlements desolate. The plague became more virulent as it swept westward and the Malaz 14th Army mage, Nether, said the goddess was specially intent on hunting Malazans.
The Crippled God's T'lan Imass servants, The Unbound, kidnapped Felisin Younger and brought her to the City of the Fallen where she became the new Sha'ik. Poliel used the plague to harvest a "broken legion of the mad" for the reborn cult.
Poliel resided in her Grand Temple sitting upon a throne of twisted bone in place of the temple's shattered altar. Her power was so virulent it rotted the stone of the chamber around her. One by one she took the temple's terrified priests and priestesses as her mortal lovers, subjecting them to gruesome deaths in the process. Meanwhile, Brokeface and his mob of diseased hunters combed the city for Poliel's enemies.
Dujek Onearm and his Host were attempting to pacify Seven Cities after the Whirlwind rebellion when Poliel's plague struck. Identifying the source as the goddess' Grand Temple in G'danisban, he led a company of veterans on an assault of the temple to strike at the disease's heart. He expected to face no more than a High Priestess, but instead found the Goddess herself. The company was forced to retreat back to the Army's camp, but Dujek and the survivors were all wracked with plague. Only the feverish work of the Army's healers kept them alive.
Ganoes Paran arrived soon after and took command of the leaderless Host. He entered the city with Noto Boil, heading to the temple where he confronted the goddess. Paran's entrance interrupted the goddess as she chose Torahaval Delat to replace the recently departed Sribin as her next lover. Proclaiming that she did not fear Soletaken and unable to perceive his true nature, Poliel was stunned when the Master of the Deck pinned her to the world with a sliver of Otataral taken from Adjunct Lorn's sword. Paran departed with the words, "Mess with mortals, Poliel, and you pay."
In terrible pain and unable to escape, she felt the Crippled God's power flee her. She watched the Hounds of Shadow, as part of an agreement between Paran and Shadowthrone, arrive carrying Dejim Nebrahl as bait to lure the Deragoth to her temple. When the Hounds of Darkness shortly followed, she and the T'rolbarahl were both torn apart and her temple destroyed. Poliel's dying thoughts revealed that her efforts had sought to heal Burn much as a fever heals the sick.
Soliel was angered with Paran over her sister's death and Dujek ultimately perished from Poliel's plague.
In Dancer's Lament
In the period before the formation of the Malazan Empire, the primary religious festival of Li Heng on Quon Tali was a procession honoring the city's patron goddess, Burn. The procession was comprised of heavy platforms mainly carrying effigies of the sleeping Burn, but also including icons and shrines dedicated to other entities. These deities shared with Burn aspects related to "fate, futurity and the struggle of life and death", and included: Poliel; D'rek; Mowri; and the Queen of Dreams.
In Kellanved's Reach
Notes and references
- Gardens of the Moon, Glossary, UK MMPB p.706
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 15, US SFBC p.624
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 13
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 15, UK MMPB p.763
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 15, US SFBC p.616
- The Bonehunters, Prologue, UK MMPB p.27
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 15, US SFBC p.614-617
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 15, US SFBC p.604
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 15, UK MMPB p.748/749
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 18, US SFBC p.655
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 22, US SFBC p.783
- The Bonehunters, Glossary
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 15, US SFBC p.605/615/618/627
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 6
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 13, US SFBC p.518
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 13, US SFBC p.550-551
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 15, US SFBC p.605
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 15, US SFBC p.615-617
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 15, US SFBC p.613-614
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 13, US SFBC p.518-519
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 15, US SFBC p.617
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 15, US SFBC p.624-630
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 15, US SFBC p.630/633
- Dancer's Lament, Chapter 11, US HC p.206-207