Deva hail from a region to the south of Arkengard known as the Cradle of the World. According to legend, humanity first surfaced in the Cradle of the World during an event called the Worldnight, which was essentially an ice age that spanned millennia. The first humans appeared at the arrival of the Heavenly Host — intangible, celestial beings seeking respite from a great cosmological struggle. The greatest of their number were known as the Sacred Six and imbued crude matter of the world with the divine essence of the Host in order to take form. According to holy texts, the first generation with the divine essence was known as the Nephilim and were material manifestations of the Host themselves. The Nephilim were said to have interbred with lowly elemental demons inherent to the world, spawning the Titans and the Giants, while the trueborn children of the Nephilim were the Deva, the first of the humans. While the Deva were frailer than the Nephilim and their physical form would eventually decay, the Nephilim taught them the technique of preserving their divine essence at the moment of death to perpetuate into a new form suitable to that essence. As the Deva multiplied and diversified, not all of humanity retained this technique. “Deva” eventually became more of a title for members of bloodlines that have preserved this tradition specific to the Cradle.
A Deva whose essence is corrupt or impure at the end of one life is reborn into the next as a monstrous, soul drinking Rakshasa. Due to the outcast status of the Rakshasa in Deva society, most Rakshasa remain in their fallen status in a self-perpetuating cycle of hatred, grief, and regret. Redeemed or heroic Rakshasa are extremely rare, since most tend to rage in the wild steppes of the Cradle of the World terrorizing travelers and feeding on souls.
The majority of Devas live on a tiered plateau in the Cradle of the World known as Mount Celestia. Deva who attain higher states of being in their endless cycle of reincarnation move to higher parts of the plateau toward a more ascetic lifestyle. The highest point of Celestia lies shrouded in clouds and is called the Seat of the Nephilim, where only the most enlightened of Deva are worthy to be permitted. The highest concentration of Deva belong to the holy city of Astria. Deva who return as Rakshasa are exiled from most cities atop Celestia, although the rare repentant Rakshasa can be encountered. Although the Deva are quite secluded from the matters of the world at large, they are sought as councilors and oracles by both the Northern and Southern Churches, and rarely human pilgrims will attempt to climb Mount Celestia in search of spiritual awakening. The principle point of difference between the Deva and human keepers of the faith is that humans tend to be more focused on the Sacred Six as a digestible core religious concept while the Deva are more likely to recall and honor the many, many members of the Heavenly Host from their past lives.