A massive, everburning pillar of flame in the center of Pyre’s Hope. The flames light up the city for miles away, and on Pyre’s Eve they reach over a mile into the sky, lighting up the countryside for leagues. Fools believe it to be little but illusion, a divine joke or some such, but it is as hungry as any flame and will gladly burn anything placed into it.
What is the Pyre? Where did it come from?
The best answer that any sage can give is that the Pyre is an immensely powerful elemental entity, easily on par with the divine in terms of strength but unconnected to any divine agency or agenda. It is clearly sentient, and it has clear moral leanings and an almost-incomprehensible desire to maintain the city of Pyre’s Hope. It is not divine in nature; it neither answers nor listens to prayers, and it does not have any particular spiritual presence. It does not suffer Outsiders easily; even Inevitables and fire archons, beings that an entity composed of fire that is devoted to justice might treat with some clemency, find it difficult if not impossible to enter the city.
What does the Pyre do?
As one of the Powers, the Pyre shapes and molds the land around it. In this case, it has more or less created the city of Pyre’s Hope around it. (The Shadow might dispute that fact; to her her tell it, the whole city thing was her idea in the first place. Overall, however, the Pyre seems to have had slightly more influence over the nature of the place.) One theory holds that the Pyre has shaped every parcel of land it’s light has ever fallen upon. Considering that the flame can be seen hundreds of miles away on Pyre’s Eve, the Pyre has one of the largest domains of any known Power. Only the Light, patron of a far-off nation, can boast a larger domain in pure square mileage.
The Pyre also serves as the center of justice in Pyre’s Hope. The High Wardens hold court at the foot of the Pyre, sitting mere feet away from the immense conflagration. It is enormously difficult for a criminal to hold his nerve, staring into those leaping flames. “The Guilty Will Burn” is the motto of the Pyrewardens, and frequently they do.
Only one man in a hundred is spared by the flames, born aloft in a shining cocoon of white fire. Those wrongly judged are paid a king’s ransom by the law of the city, and many a Paladin (and Warlord and so on) got his start by such a baptism. (There is some question as to whether the Pyrewardens are simply that good at tracking criminals or the Pyre’s definition of innocence is on the harsh side, but few seriously entertain it.) The Pyre lets no man unchanged who enters its embrace; even those spared and comforted by the fires feel the impurities and dross in their souls being purged, burned away and forged anew.
The Wardens’ methods are quite harsh by the standards of some nations; Pyre’s Hope has no prisons (save holding cells as necessity demands). All crimes are subject to the judgement of the Pyrewardens, and anyone accused of any crime may willingly enter the Pyre and face its judgement in lieu of the harsh wisdom of the Wardens. Most who do not emerge intact. The Pyre will not always consume a foolish criminal, guilty of a lesser crime, but more than a few men have been borne aloft in torrents of searing flame while miles away their holdings and ill-gotten gains evaporated in a burst of fire.
That’s all well and good, but what can the Pyre do… for me?
The Pyre is a powerful spirit being, and as such it can occasionally be talked into granting a pact to an aspiring Warlock. Although not a demon himself (and, in fact, not on speaking terms with most Demons), the Pyre offers Infernal pacts. (Note that although the Pyre does not mind warlocks taking health from their vanquished (presumably Guilty) foes, he does not approve of the Life-Stealer’s methods. Instead, he offers his pact recipients additional training as a Pyrewarden (a yet-to-be-written™ Paragon Path)). Many of the High Wardens are either warlocks themselves or have entered into a pact with the Pyre for personal reasons.
The Pyre tacitly supports adventurers and explorers who are willing to diligently canvas his domain and purge the remaining pockets of chaos from the realm. It’s a big domain, and even with the Shadow’s aid, there are lots of pockets of chaos. Most of his wishes are communicated through the Wardens, but get his attention and the Pyre might just give you the quest of your lifetime.
Finally, if you’re looking to meet a phoenix or two, the Pyre can probably set you up. He knows a few, and they’re cool with hanging out with, you know, whoever he thinks is cool too.