Naajay’s town was ruled by an iron-fisted dictator who established a warrior over-class who enforced a brutal regime. All others who dwelled within the city or its villages were required to toil in the dictator’s mine or fields for 10 hours a day for four days for no pay or reward. They then had one day to work for themselves, though there was no real paid work available and so all either worked in the mines for barely enough food to avoid starvation or else tried to cultivate gardens in whatever small patch of dirt they could lay claim to. The population tried to resist at first, but with increasingly heavy-handed crackdowns, they soon acquiesced.
Naajay took to sneaking out after curfew and painting wondrous murals at the mine entrances, market square, and other places they’d be seen by much of the populace. Her work was always beautiful and never overtly political. She’d paint a bouquet of flowers or a mother embracing a son or a sunrise. Every day a work detail would be forced to paint over her work and warriors would hunt for her – torturing and killing any who even had art supplies.
Naajay started working on ever more elaborate and large pieces. Eventually, she was caught just before dawn whilst working on a wondrous painting of a sunrise that filled the side of one of the largest buildings in her town. The dictator watched as his torturers nailed her to her artwork and cut open her chest and abdomen, exposing her insides to the world as she slowly died.
The townspeople were enraged by her treatment and refused to work, gathering in the square to keep vigil. A few tried to rescue her but were cut down by the dictator and his men. Knowing that the All-Father had raised a single mortal from each race other than the Varan and the Banja to godhood, the townsfolk started praying to him to ascend Naajay and wreck vengenace against the dictator.
As Naajay’s final breath left her body, The All-Father appeared in a halo of light and divinity. He gently picked her from the wall and cradled her in his arms. The All-Father spoke and was heard by all Varan across existence. He proclaimed Naajay the Goddess of the Varan, to be honoured henceforth as The Painter.
The All-Father and Naajay were enveloped in a blinding light and when the crowd’s vision cleared, Naajay stood there alone and uninjured. The dictator cowered at her feet begging for his life. Naajay granted him his wish and said to the crowd that she would punish any who take his life. Then she turned and cupped his chin in her hand, lifting his face to look at her. Without warning, she plunged two outstretched fingers into his eyes, firmly holding his face still as he writhed and screamed. Miraculously, when she pulled her fingers back out, his eyes were intact but from that day forth whenever he looked at any living thing, he saw all the suffering it had ever experienced and felt it as if it was his own.