It began with the Deep Altar and priestesses. The Deep Altar because it sat galleries down in a cave complex, occupying a cavern that was an analogue of the Devourer of All’s own Eternal Cavern. Priestesses because men who made the journey to the Deep Altar did not return, The Silence Under The Hills being a demanding mistress who kept her lovers closer than life allowed.
After the destruction of the dwimmerweavers and their kin, including the bearers of the divine sparks, by those who thought dwimmerweavers were stealing power from the gods, the great project had to be begun all over again. This iteration the Mistress of Time chose to place her divine spark in the senior priestess serving the Deep Altar and pass it through that worthy’s female line. The wait began for the season to be ripe for the divine sparks to begin to breed and meld again.
The divine spark had the ability, when the bearer’s own higher brain functions had been suppressed by a dangerously poisonous cocktail of herbs, to allow the consciousness of the goddess to control the bearer’s body and thus to prophesise. When that became known the surrounding petty kings and great lords came offering riches in exchange for answers to their questions. Answers were given sparingly at first but the riches erected an altar on the surface and then a temple to house it. Riches and prominence brought more varied candidates for clerical service at the temple and men were permitted to join the clergy.
At first the seer was always an old woman, childbearing done for years when she received the divine spark, and used to bearing the titles of age and experience. Thus the first seers did not feel the sting of not being called by name. Then came the year when two seers died and the position fell to a young woman of child bearing age. It was expected that the Sun Emperor would come to claim his bride then but the man who would have been the Sun Emperor got himself killed in a bandit skirmish. The tincture for foreseeing was an abortifacient and it was decided that rather than give up the income from prophesy, the seer’s sister rather than the seer would bear the next generation. At the same time, the hierarchy that had developed around the temple would not bend to a young high priestess and so the seer no longer automatically became high priestess.
With the seer no longer in charge of the temple, the incumbents came under pressure to provide more foreseeings to the temple’s profit. That required ingestion of greater amounts of the tincture and that lead to the later seers experiencing a reduced lifespan.
By the time the Sun Emperor did come for his bride, he was performing a rescue.