View Full Version : [Pantheon]The Builders of the world
2004-11-08, 04:39 PM
Theme: Elemental gods.
Technically, this is only a part of the whole pantheon for this fantasy world, but between a bout of flu and other, less unpleasant, distractions, this is all I had time for right now. A continuation might come sometime in the future, perhaps if someone requests it.
If you ask "What world?" the only answer you'll be getting from me is "A fantasy world. No, it doesn't have a fancy name, since its inhabitants never gave it one. After all, we also call our own, real-life world simply the world, and not The Mushlands or Bob."
So without further ado, here's the intro text. More coming later.
EDIT: Oh, and credits are where credits due. As some of you might recognize, "Nyctalynth" (originally spelled with only one "y", IIRC) as a proper name comes from Wizardry 7: Crusaders of the Dark Savant. However, as you'll see once we get there, Nyctalynth here has absolutely nothing to do with that game, where it's the name of a city); I just always liked the way the word sounds, and have decided a long time ago to use it in something like this.
If you would learn of the gods, Initiate, firstly you must realize a few truths that the unlearned masses fail to acknowledge. Blame them not for their ignorance, for simple folks need the truths of religion to be simple, even if the wise can and do distinguish between nuances lost on most people.
The first such truth is that there is one single host of the Divine Folk, not several as half-learned travellers returning from the Elvenlands claim. The Gods govern the whole of our material world, and their power is unchallanged. How could two or more hosts of different Gods exist at the same time, both hosts encompassing the entirety of creation, and both having power unparalleled, even by the other host? Surely, such thing is impossible. Aye, there are differences in the practice of religion between us and the Elves, and based on our extremely limited knowledge, there must also have been differences between our and the Elves’ ancestors, and the Dwarven folk ere the demise of their original, great civilization; but know that in all differences, the various people only expressed their own mortal differences, while the reigning divine host was the same. The elves call Nyctalynth by the name of Lithiron; and the dwarves used the name of Torzúm, and they described her and her demesne differently; and yet, all three names belong properly to the Protecting and Healing Night; and the same holds for all other of the Godly Folk.
Second, the Gods are not bound by flesh and bone like us; to them, it is like clothes are to us, and changing it takes them as little effort as for us to change our garments. Therefore, it is foolish to ask „What do the Gods look like?”, or „How does Ruk appear before our eyes?”; for the answer is: „They appear exactly as they want to, and that depends on their moods, their intentions, and on whom they are appearing before.” Aye, their effigies are often formed in one particular manner or the other: Nyctalynth is often depicted as a beautiful woman, or Salamnas as the golden statue of a youth; but there are dozens and hundreds of other shapes and forms in which Nyctalynth and Salamnas have appeared before mortal eyes in the past; and indeed, they also have other customary depictions even amongst us. Also, know that the Elven folk display them differently: Nyctalynth often as a tall male archer dressed in an armour of luminous bark, and savage Kelebrar as a great wolf with burning mane. Surely this must mean that the Gods prefer – if indeed we can speak of preference in this matter – to manifest before the elves in other shapes; one less reason to speak of them as if they had a definite appearance. Nevertheless, I shall mention some of their most common manifestations, but read my words knowing that these descriptions are incomplete by their very nature.
Thirdly, you must realize that the Gods’ do not rank themselves as we rank them. Amongst us, perhaps no God is held in such great reverence as Nyctalynth; and yet, it would be foolish to think the she is any sort of ruler or leader among her host. Similarly, the clergy here in the Clanndeire often teach that the Gods are divided into two groups, the Gods of the Elements, and the Gods of the Living; but such teaching is erroneous, for the Gods are not sheep that can be separated into flocks by their color. For example, while it is true that the Master Forgers are lords of the material elements of the world, they nevertheless consider themselves Gods first, and Master Forgers only second. It would be preposterous to assume that they only deal with the lifeless elements, for life and matter are intertwined, and the fate of one also determines the fate of the other. Therefore, if you look at any happening in our world, the wise man sees the hands of the Master Forgers in these events just as heavily as the hands of any other god; and similarly, the so-called „Gods of Living” care much for sky and earth, water and fire; for without these elements of the world, their own domain would also be undone.
And finally, make note that the Gods are not equal, and neither do they all call themselves Gods. There are lesser and greater among the Divine Host, and every ruler among them has their own host of lesser followers. However, it is known that sometimes these followers might grow in power and importance and be allowed into the ranks of the Gods Proper, such as it happened to the Master Smith. Because of these distinctions, it would be well-nigh impossible to speak of the Gods and the Gods only, for Godhood in only a concept in our mortal eyes. Nevertheless, I will attempt to speak of all the greater Gods, and also of those lesser ones whose importance – at least in our own eyes – exceeds that of the rest.
2004-11-09, 05:08 PM
It is known that among the Gods the most ancient order is that of the Old Builders, and so it is fitting that I too shall talk about them first. The Builders, heavenly labourers led by their six Masters are those beings who have forged the world out of the raw elements, building the grand amphitheatre in which the stuff of life could be planted. Even today, they are the masters of lifeless matter, and therefore many craftsmen revere them. In some lands, they are only thought of as the Gods of the elements in their pure and unshaped form, and in some more barbaric others, they alone are revered at all, and the Gods of the Living are unheard of. Here in the Clanndeire, however, as well as in the Kingdom of Gladehammer and in the Elven lands, it is believed that their influence spreads over not only the raw matter, but also over all manner of work that relates to their respective elements, and over all items and artifacts made from them. Ruk, for example, excercises his influence not only over earth and rock, but also over cultivated farmlands and works of masonry. Therefore, he is revered not only by elementalist shamans in savage lands, but also by many farmers and masons; and even overland travellers might pray to him to incur his goodwill and his help in finding their way by the landmarks of hills and mountains, all Ruk’s works.
At the beginning of creation, the Masters of the Old Builders were five, but their ranks have increased since by one. I will tell more about them soon, but for now, know that their names are: Ruk, Lissnast, Olnealan, Heeloh, Nomm, and Kantrar. While all Gods take great interest in the happenings of the world, and while they are often bonded in manifold alliances and embroiled in manifold disputes, these six always maintain some space between their group as a whole, and the rest of the Gods. Sure, they might have many common interests with other Gods, and they might often have arguments between themselves, but they always maintain a bond amongst themselves which to an extent sets them apart from their brethrens; and indeed, they have always set aside their differences to present a unified opinion in matters if critical importance.
Shunning the everyday company of other Gods, the Old Builders have created for themselves their own common realm, the Forum of Craft. The Forum is where they regularly convene to discuss matters amongst themselves, and the place is kept locked to all other Gods, except when they decide to invite one or the other for a particular reason. It is rumoured that the Forum was also built by the Builders to serve as a fortress, should it come to pass that Gods would go to war with Gods; and the darker of these rumours also allege that it is the Builders themselves who will start this war over such conflicts that they have foreseen, but are as yet unconceivable for us mortals; however, such rumours are only ever uttered by fringe cults of various stripes, and there is no known base to them.
Though a place of seclusion, mortal eyes still have seen the Forum of Craft in the past. Sometimes, apparently much more often than other Gods, devout followers of the Builders – great craftsmen of the civilized lands, and barbarian elementalist shamans – are summoned to that place for audience. Based on their accounts, the Forum appears to our eyes as a great many-leveled hexagonal square, forming a depression, shallow in the middle and steeper around the edges, as steps descend from its high perimeters to the central plane at the the bottom; and this forum is decorated by the works of all the Builders. The ground is covered in marbles and other noble stones; ponds, canals and fountains weave a web of flowing pure water; great pillars hold up crystal balls filled with never-quenched flames; and shields of polished metals reflect the light manifold. Beyond the square stand six great palaces, held up by many pillars and wreathed in their respective elements, serving as abode for the Builders during their visits to the Forum; and marvellous workshops huddle around the palaces; and yet, these workshops and smithies are said to be but minute imitations of those immense forges and smithies that stand deep within the Builders’ own, private realms, far removed from the Forum.
Below stands a brief description of the six Masters, and some of the more prominent of their vassals:
2004-11-09, 07:09 PM
Ruk is the Builder of rock and earth, the sculptor of hills, mountains and caverns, and the ruler of all realms of the underground. Some of the names he is known as among different peoples are the Old Miner, the King Under the Mountains, the First Builder, and the Guarded (or in some places, Grudging) Treasurer.
Ruk lords over everything that’s made of earth, rock, or minerals, and over everything that’s buried underground. He is perhaps most devoutly thought of amongst miners, who usually pray to him daily before descending underground, and once again in gratitude when they emerge from there. Among miners searching for gems, precious stones or various minerals, it is also customary to offer sacrifices, usually either a small percentage of the day’s finds, or a larger part from whatever accidental treasures they have come across without looking for it. Such sacrifices are usually collected on altars set up by the local mining community – it might be a simple wooden table, or it might be a large, elaborate stone altar carved by local sculptors and blessed by a priest. The offers are collected from the altar once in a while, and are then either donated to charity, offered free to jewellers, or are gathered up and thrown into a chasm or closed-down mine shaft in the vicinity. Miners also often possess some small charm to appease him, usually either some sort unused mining tool (most commonly a hammer) displayed in the miner’s home, or a miniature figurine of a similar tool warn as a pendant. Yet others wear one or several small pebbles drilled through and hung from a necklace or bracelet, a tradition originating from among the elemental shamans of barbarian tribes. It’s said that these shamans have an elaborate system detailing what types of stones should be prepared in what way to ensure Ruk’s favour in different matters, but so far only a few remote mining settlements are known to have adopted this system, and even they only in the form of simplified superstition.
Another group of craftsmen who pay great homage to Ruk are masons, builders and architects of all sorts. In some place in the countyside, even the last shoddy adobe house has a fist-sized piece of hard rock dug beneath the earthen floor in one corner to guarantee that the house will be sturdy and that it will be spared of earthquakes and landslides. In more sophisticated lands, castles, palaces, cathedrals, and all other sorts of great buildings of stone have a shrine dedicated to Ruk. It might be a tiny altar the size of a stool in a hidden corner, or it might be a great statue placed as the centerpiece of a hall; and it might even be in the form of raw, uncut rock. It is also customary that at the commencement of a greater construction, the ground and the building stones are blessed in a ceremony. This ceremony varies from land to land, but it often involves pouring oil, wine or some other liquid either onto the ground, or over stones which will be used in the foundation or the entrance. Architects and masons, perhaps because they are less exposed to mortal danger, tend to be more reserved than miners in the wearing of symbols and such. Nevertheless, some of the more religious (or superstitious) architects might wear a pendant or amulet depicting some symbol of construction, planning or stability, such as a compass.
Peasants and field workers also respect Ruk, but usually with fewer material trappings. Prayers for fertile soil, small rock mounds in fields, and maybe offerings from the harvest are common.
As for Ruk himself, he is usually depicted as a robust man with short grey beard. In the glorious Kingdom of Gladehammer, he is almost always pictured as having a giant’s proportions, clad in an armor of rock, his hair and beard flowing int the wind, wielding a great hammer or pickaxe – but then again, ALL of the Old Builders tend to be depicted after this fashion in Gladehammer, only with cosmetic differences to differentiate them.
However, there also exist many other depictions, and many accounts which describe him differently. Sometimes he is a small, gnome-like but taut figure with a long beard, who appears in mines and caves. Other times, he is a great creature of inhuman shape, a mass of rock and roots, throbbing mineral veins and dozens of eyes of rough diamond, writhing tenctacles of living stone sprawling along the walls, ceiling and floors in the deepest caverns, or on the shadowy bottom of untresspassable gorges. And at yet other times, most commonly when beheld in his native realm or as a prophetic dream, a stone pillar of immense proportions that projects a deep, snorous, echoing rumble.
Like all other Old Builders, Ruk has a host of lesser divine beings in his service, who oversee parts of his domain or labour in the workshops of his home realm, that immense complex of dark halls, bottomless caverns and limitless stretches of sheer rock, all sprawling beneath the crown of ranges upon majestic ranges of mountains.
The best-known of all of Ruk’s servants is of course Kantrar, who used to be in charge of all metals until, with the rise of the speaking people who first mined and worked metal in the mortal realms, he gained his independence and his place as a Master Builder, now equal to Ruk and youngest of the Masters; but of him, more will be said later.
Also highly respected among mortals is Likatukhuk, the Worker of all gems and gemstones. Often appearing as a dimunitive figure of bright eyes, long, bony fingers, and teeth carved of gemstones, he is the patron God of jewellers and gemcutters; but many wealthy merchants, and even more thieves and burglars also offer him regular prayers. His worship is almost exclusively limited to the wealthy classes – understandably, since a peasant or ordinary craftsman has precious little to do with gems in all his life. As a result, public worship of Likatukhuk is hardly existent, limited to a single shrine in the Grand Cathedral of Gladehammer, some three or four other known shrines in the known civilized and barbarian lands, and a few sites in the Elvenlands. Mostly, he is worshipped privately and through his effigy, usually a small humanoid figure carved of jade or some other precious stone and adorned with as many gems and jewels as the owner can afford. While strictly speaking he doesn't have much to do with such things, Likatukhuk is also considered to bring luck and profit. This association is somewhat understandable - having gemstones in one's possession, especially in larger quantities, does imply a significant deal of luck and wealth.
Another one of Ruk’s host is Grizzim, who carves the caves and caverns into the ground. His work is not so much respected as often encountered, even though the Elves do give him some credit, and we can assume he must have been a lot more important to the Dwarves in ancient days. He has no known following, and is hardly ever known to appear to mortals. When he does, he would appear as some animal native to caves, a peculiar stalagtite formation, or a whispering, disembodied voice born in the moving air in deep tunnels. Also, he is the mate of Loabham, the Unseen River, who herself is the servant of Olnealan, Master of all waters.
2004-12-07, 06:51 PM
Lissnast is the Builder of Fire, and the Fueler of all the Builders’ foundries and forges, and in some lands he is also called the Desert Runner, the Sun’s Robe, and by other names, too.
Lissnast feeds the fires of the other Builders’ forges and workshops, and he governs the destructive element in the mortal lands. Most people fear, rather than admire him, and in fact, most of his worship revolves around placating him and avoiding his wrath, rather then incurring his favours. Also, for this very reason, the largest organized groups of followers are to be found among the barbarians and their elementalist shamans.
The most notable exception to the above is the respect that metalworkers pay Lissnast, those people for whom fire is as much a tool as the metal they shape itself. It is customary among all sorts of blacksmiths and weaponmakers to load a new furnace full with dry timber and fire it up, letting the wood burn away as a tribute to Lissnast without using the furnace. Sometimes, they might also make a small figurine from straw and hang it from a crossbeam to ward their workshops and houses from fire, a practice that’s also being followed by many other people here in the Clanndeire.
While most look at Lissnast as a destroyer and consumer of others’ work, it has been recorded by travelers that the nomadic Sand Elves of the Sea of Sand hold him in great honour, calling him the Camp Warden and the Desert Runner, and accompany the lighting of every campfire with a prayer. While no human people are known to have any similar practices, it makes sense that those who live in the desert, and have to endure its deadly cold night after night, would think of the Builder of Fire as a preserver, rather than a destroyer of life.
It is not customary among the Clans to praise Lissnast in any formalized manner, and perhaps it is because of this that we do not have any commonplace depictions of him. In the Gladehammer style, he is a mighty warrior with flowing red hair and beard, holding a blazing torch or a fiery blade, and often mounted on a shapeless steed of flames. Records of mortals meeting him, however, usually describe him as a pillar of blinding fire, sustaining itself without fuel. It does make sense that he should manifest in that manner inside his own realm, since little of solid matter, however adamant, could long survive in that raging inferno, where lakes of brimstone and lava geysirs alternate with towers and palaces of flames whose walls and floors can only support ethereal creatures without a solid body.
Best known and most feared of Lissnast’s servants is Sreel the Restless, the Firelighter, who is overviewer of all fires on the mortal plane. He is a capricious and cruel power, who takes pleasure in burning things down without regard to the balance of the material world. In fact, some apocryhpal texts claim that Sreel was too rebellious to work in Lissnast’s workshops, and was banished altogether into the mortal world, no longer allowed to return to the divine planes; and that this is the source of his bitterness against those who inhabit this world. It is because of Sreel that we plead to Lissnast in the Lithurgy of the Builders, asking him to keep his wayward servant on a short leash. Whenever depicted in a physical form, Sreel is always a golden yellow humanoid creature with gaunt limbs, great bat-like wings and a hooked nose, grinning as he dances in a burning house or forest.
Another one of Lissnast’s retainers is the mysterious Lihhnir, the Feeder of the Cold Flame. He is, more than any other of his people, and perhaps even moreso than Lissnast himself, is reserved, patient, and tempers his power with discretion. This might be because he spends little time in Lissnast’s domain, preferring to wander about the divine planes and hold many a council with other divine beings, mostly the cohorts Heeloh, the Builder of Air, and also with Nomm himself. In fact, it is said that he is now much closer in thought and action to Nomm than to Lissnast, and that he will announce his change of loyalty at the next great council of the Gods, though Lissnast, his mind as fiery and violent as the element under his control, will hardly consent to it peacefully.
Lihhnir weaves the flames of Coldfire, that mystic substance which is almost in such hight demand among wizards and alchemists as Nomm’s Void Crystals themselves. Coldfire, when encountered on this plane, feels chilling to the touch, and plays in dazzling yet solemn colours of blue, green and violet. Discussing the magical uses of this exceedingly rare material is beyond the scope of this treatise, but let it be said that Coldfire is thought to be an important and secret component in many works of all the Builders, and that Nomm the Old uses much greater quantities of it than any of his companions. It should also be said that some rare volumes guarded in Elven libraries describe the journey of some great Elven discoverers, and they mention a land of ice and snow far to the north and beyond the Sea of Rains where Lihhnir’s Coldfire plays freely on the velvet black sky, producing arcane patterns from which the priests of the primitive fisherfolk of that land attempt to scry to future.
While relatively little is known of Lihhnir’s activities beyond the creation of Coldfire, he seems to appear in front of mortals surprisingly often. This is possibly because so many sages of the arcane are continually trying to find new sources of Coldfire, or perhaps because Lihhnir has taken on the task of communicating with mortals in lieu of the much more reclusive Nomm; the exact reason is not known, but the fact remains. In such encounters, he almost always dons the form of a human-sized man wearing a long black cloak and a deep hood obscuring his face, with lively rivulets of Coldfire seeping out from among his folds in a myriad colourful flames. It is also thought by some Elven scholars, however, that the aforementioned spectre of celestial Coldfire in the extreme north is in fact a physical manifestation of Lihhnir, implying that this divine worker would have a more or less permanent abode on the mortal plane.
Third of the best-known servants of Lissnast is Hornim, also known as the River of Fire. Hornim is the creator is lava and magma, and it is the blow of his mighty hammer that sunders Ruk’s mountains, creating volcanoes. He often goes roaming in Ruk’s realm, seeking the Old Miner’s permission to engage in his craft; for Hornim is aware of the necessity to keep balance in nature, and only wreaks havoc in the mortal lands when he is sanctioned to do so by Lissnast, and often seeks Ruk’s consent as well. He is a silent, reserved God who rarely has business with mortals, and when he does, he does not yield to mortal pleas. There aren’t any reliable accounts of him taking a physical shape, but it is said in the folk lore of some nations that if one visits an area where molten rock has flown and solidified so recently that no plants have taken root again yet, one might sometimes hear a whispering voice by pressing one’s ears against the solidified ripples. If this is true, then the whispering most likely belongs to Hornim.
Furthermore, it is also said in some books of divine lore, that Hornim bears a neverlasting grudge against Loabham, the Unseen River. It is written that they play a neverending game of cat-and-mouse in the deepest underground caves of Grizzim, trying to evaporate or chill down each other’s rivers and stream. It is not written who Grizzim sides with in this endless contest, – even though he is believed to be a close mate of Loabham, - but it appears that he profits from this animosity, since the other two Gods both help him in carving and expanding his underground realm.
2004-12-08, 06:16 PM
Olnealan is the Builder of Water, also called the Fish King, the Unbreathing, and the Mariner, even though the latter name is also used to describe Merneet. He is the Builder of all seas, oceans, lakes and rivers, as well as rains and all mannerof precipitation. Furthermore, it is said that the Necromancers and the Alchemists consider him to have power over the body of breathing and walking creatures.
As might be expected, Olnealan is most highly revered amongst sailors, fishermen and river boatsmen. Being a superstitious lot, it is perhaps impossible to sum up all the various practices of worship and sacrifice among such people, – indeed, the saying that „All ships have their own religion, and all boatswains are cardinals” is not entirely without foundation, - but I will attempt to mention the most widespread ones. For one, it is well known that whenever a sailing ship leaves port, it is customary for all sailors to make an incision upon their palms or fingers with a knife, – on some ships, a separate knife or dagger is kept for this specific use, - letting a drop of blood fall overboard and into the sea so as to ensure that Olnealan won’t take more blood from the crew. Also, all seagoing ships have a small shrine onboard – sometimes a proper shine in the cargo hold, sometimes a figurine or even a single coin nailed to a mast, and sometimes the steering wheel is simply blessed by a priest in port – and whenever a ship survives some ordeal at sea, be that a storm or an attack by pirates, it is expected of the captain to give thanks by touching or kissing the shrine in a small ceremony. Another, less widespread practice amongst sailor is to carry a small pouch or box filled with earth from their home country, so that if they should die at sea, Olnealan will not keep them in his realm but return their souls to where they belong.
Fishermen mostly revere Olnealan through prayer, and through sacrificial offerings from their catch. Sometimes, fishing communities might prefer to sell their fish, and set aside a part of the profit for the building of a shrine, or even a small temple dedicated to the Fish King. They always do this with great eagerness, and it’s common for such shrines and temples to be the most highly decorated and richest-looking buildings in the whole fishing village. The centrepiece of such shrines is usually the statue of either a boat or a fish, often made from copper or blue marble. It is said that in the Elvenlands, some prosperous towns and cities located on rich rivers or by the shores of the Sea of Rains have shrines made after the Elvish fashion that far surpass our own in luxury. There are descriptions of one such shrine, in which a life-sized fishing boat carved of dark blue wood is suspended in the air by magic, and a great net of woven silver and gold hangs down from its side, filled with lifelike statuettes of exotic fishes, crabs and other denizens of the deep, all wrought from the rarest and noblest materials from rare woods to gemstones, and even crystal filled with shimmering Coldfire.
Another group of people besides sailors and fishermen who keep Olnealan in high regard are farmers, who pray to him for good weather and rain, whenever each is most needed. They hold him in equally high regard as they do Ruk and Heeloh, and many village shrines - small altars, or sometimes simple effigies holding a plate the villagers place the offerings of grain, fruit, vegetables and corn on during harvest - are dedicated to all three gods together.
It is said that Olnealan dislikes taking on a human form, – or, indeed, any form on dry land, - so the only credible accounts of him come from mariners and explorers, and those of his devout followers who are granted an audience or a vision during their lives. In sailors’ stories, he is usually described in one of two forms – a giant fish, whale or sea serpent who is greater than even thirty galleons prow to aft and who can talk in the languages of man and elf in a great booming voice (and most depictions of Olnealan here in the Clanndeire or in the Elven lands follow one of these images), or a great waterspout, forming miraculously even in the stillest weather. Nevertheless, he is depicted in the Gladehammer tradition as a powerful but ageless man, bald and without a beard, but with shimmering blue eyes, riding a great fish and holding a weapon made of the jaw of some underwater creature in his hand.
Olnealan makes his home on the Plane of Water, where his one single, majestic palace reaches from the pitch black basement of the deeps to high above the water level. It is an immense, water-filled labyrinth of halls, corridors and staircases, so great that while its northern walls might be besieged by the raging waves in the heart of a cyclone, it’s southern walls might be overlooking a stretch of sea as calm and flat as a mirror.
Most often encountered – if not the most powerful – of Olnealan’s host is Lirn the Wanderer, also called the Rivermaid, and sometimes the Nymph. Lirn cuts the paths of all rivers into the ground, and she takes care of all people who travel on, or make their living from rivers or riversides. She is a kindly God, but now and again she is seized by fits of anger, and at such times she stirs floods to destroy homes and farmlands. When in a peaceful mood, however, she takes great care of those who pray to her, and she also likes to go among the mortal men in disguise. At such times she always appears as a woman, sometimes one whose appearance and speech makes her appear as a foreigner, though her age and looks she likes to change wildly, never appearing in the same image twice. On rarer occasions, she dons a luminous, unearthly appearance instead, becoming a vaguely feminine creature whose body is also composed of reeds, fronds and the parts of various fish; though she only ever appears thus at night, and only near certain spots of one river or another which are especially precious to her.
Lirn has two siblings, – if the Divine folk have such relations indeed, - Loabham, and Rion. Loabham, also called the Unseen River, is the governess of all underground bodies of water. A shy god, she prefers spelunking with Grizzim, rather then minding the business of the mortal people dwelling above the ground; and therefore, her worship is quite rare. Druids and explorers of the underground sometimes build small altars to her on the shores of subterranean rivers and streams. The same druids and explorers also tell tales of strange, gently glowing formations of rocks and stalagtites in hard-to-access places like subterranean islands and small caves locked away from the rest of world by water-filled tunnels; and they say that one can experience blurred, indistinct visions of dark currents and silent whirlpools when staying near these formations. Some sages propose that these glowing rocks are shrines built to Loabham by an as yet undiscovered, intelligent race of subterranean water-dwellers; it sounds more likely, however, that they are physical manifestations of the Goddess, or perhaps some sort of divine artifact created and used by her.
Lirn’s other sibling is Rion, the Warden of lakes. Rion is less outgoing than his sister, only appearing to converse with mortals when he is called through prayer in a time of need; he prefers to spend most of the time without a physical incarnation. When he does manifest, though, he most often takes the form of a young man whose body is transparent like the clearest water. Other descriptions also exist, according to which Rion sometimes appears as a water-worn spire of rock, covered with moss and adorned with gemstones, emerging from below the surface of a lake. „Rion’s treasure” or „Rion’s loot” is adventurers’ cant for gemstones – and generally all sorts of treasures – retrieved from lakes, since it’s believed that this God takes great pleasure in hoarding precious things within his realm, and a somewhat lesser pleasure in giving them up to people daring and skillful enough to take it. Whether such tales are true or not cannot be told for sure, even though they might derive from many rural community’s customs which revolve around throwing various precious stones and coins into nearby lakes upon important events such as weddings or childbirth.
Another of Olnealan’s vassal is Ybloh, the Green Emperor, who holds court on the bottom of the sea. Rumoured to be a secret brother to Olnealan, - or, according to some other writings, the bastard son of Ruk, - Ybloh is a powerful God, even though his authority is harder to define than that of, say, Lirn or Rion.
For one, Ybloh is the master of all animals and plants that leave in the depths where sunshine fails to penetrate. Glowing fish with thousands of murderous teeth, sea serpents long enough to encircle an island, giant squids, crabs the size of a palace, and other, unseen horrors wait on him at his court, the mighty, sunken ruins of the Temple of Lanoriach, the great cathedral that was lost during the youth of the world.
But Ybloh’s greatest source of power does not lie in his living servants, but rather in the unliving. For he is also the Lord of the Drowned, and every soul that is lost at sea is claimed by him, lured to Lanoriach by the ghostly lights of Ybloh’s servants, and there they must remain, until Olnealan himself intervenes on their behalf, taking them to the Plane of Water to serve him, or returning them to their lands of birth, if he can divine where it lies. Many souls, however, remain unnoticed by Olnealan, and these souls must serve Ybloh until he releases them at his leisure.
Furthermore, Ybloh is charged by Olnealan to keep stores of all materials that ever flow in the sea. In the cellars of Lanoriach, there are great barrels filled with salt and mud, blood and magical wines, and many different samples of crystal-clear water; and also poisons the likes of which are not known in the dry lands. Sometimes, if mortals draw the direst of Olnealan’s wrath to themselves, Ybloh is bid to open some of his barrels; and the poison from them travels the deep currents and seeps through Ruk’s soil through myriads of tiny rivulets, and through Loabham’s passageways; and they render the lands of the offending mortals sick, salty, and infertile. And at other times, Ybloh is commanded to open his barrels of wine, and his magical wines cause all lands in their path to bloom with life and bountiful harvest. However, Olnealan hardly ever undertakes such actions on his own without consulting Ruk first; and when he does, bitterness and argument between the two Builders soon follows.
None has ever laid living eyes on Ybloh and returned; and the dead souls forcefully drawn into the material world by Necromancers are, as a rule, insane; but if their testimony is to be believed, the Green Emperor is unique among the Gods for having a physical body that he can’t shed. In these hardly reliable accounts, he is described as an immense growth of rock, flesh and and plant; an immeasurable mass whose centre is an underwater mountain overgrown with mosses and weeds and headless, tailless, writhing bands of scaly fish tissue, and thousands upon thousands of tentacles grow from this body, some made of plants, some of flesh, others of living rock, all crisscrossing each other among the crumbling pillars and walls of Lanoriach, and disappearing into the black water.
Yet another of Olnealan’s host is Merneet, the Mariner. Merneet is often described as a watery spirit of adventure, exploration and daring voyage for fame, riches, and the thrill of discovery. He knows all the currents and eddies in all the seas, rivers and lakes; and he knows every shore, every island, every shipwreck and every sunken treasure. He is a lively and gay spirit with little patience for grand plans and serious thought, who much prefers travelling the highways of water in the forms of various fishes, dolphins, albatrosses, and even in the shape of a young, golden-haired human driving his barque before the winds. He often appears to explorers and adventurers on the sea, or in a harbour in human disguise, ravishing them with tales of treasure and virgin lands beyond the horizon, setting their hearts on fire with a burning passion to leave behind the ground and set sail for undiscovered lands. If a ship finds itself in trouble in on the high seas, the crew will pray to Merneet as much, - of not more, - than to Olnealan, for it is commonly known that he often appears in a bird’s or dolphin’s guise to imperilled sailors, leading them to a safe haven. On a somewhat less benevolent note, he is also patron spirit of pirates and buccaneers, who seek a different kind of treasure and fortune; for Merneet concerns himself not with the morality of good or evil, only with the thrill of adventure and travelling on the seas.
Lastly of Olnealan’s host, we must speak of her whom the desert-dwelling Sand Elves call Rithill. In their own worship of the gods, Rithill is the only divine creature associated with water, for the Sand Elves know not of Olnealan, Lirn or Rion. For them, Rithill is the water of the desert oasis, the rain, and – at least in the farthest eastern reaches of the desert, where the Sand Elves still maintain the earliest, most primitive forms of their culture, - they also call her the Hidden Water, and revere her more than any other god, Nyctalynth included.
However, Rithill’s name is not known amongst any other people, and therefore, some sages have speculated that Rithill is in fact Olnealan, while others claim that she is an ancient elemental Demon or some similar power.
2004-12-09, 11:24 AM
Heeloh is the Builder of Air and winds, also called Windlord, the Eagle King, and the High Crown. The endless sky is Heeloh’s court, and all flying creatures, and all winds are his servants.
Heeloh commands all the winds, the ones that hinder or help sailors as well as the ones that take Olnealan’s rains to the fields; and thus, he is revered by sailors and farmers alike. It is common to step aboard a ship and spot a small totem, crafted from woven hair and feathers, hanging from the top of a mast. Such totems, originating from the traditions of shamans of distant lands, are offered to Heeloh to ensure a favourable wind during the voyage. Right next to these totems, usually affixed with the same nail, - though it could be place in other locations, too, - there always another charm, too: a small web or bag filled with pebbles, pieces of cork and fish scales. While the feathered totem is used to draw Heeloh’s attention and goodwill, this charm is suposed to ward off storms and evil winds.
Farmers also pray to Heeloh to ask for good weather, but their practice of setting up altars has been already mentioned above.
We should also mention that the Elves call Heeloh by the name of Lamnias, and hold him in great respect, much more so than any other Builder, perhaps excepting Ruk. They build numerous great cathedrals to Lamnias in the tree cities of the deeper reaches of the Elvenlands, majestic structures grown from living branches that weave like latticework, letting through the breeze. Furthermore it is recorded that Elven priest-sorcerors often build magical devices to control the weather, even though we cannot really determine whether these artifacts are divine or rather arcane in their nature – the Elves mix and combine these two forms of the supernatural in ways beyond our understanding. We do know, however, that they are tall, slender pillars rising from the ground above the highest treetops, topped with what look like great forks or a musician’s tuning fork, only much larger. Numerous enchantments are placed upon these pillartops including prayers and blessings as well as magical runes and arcane foci. The Elves claim that these devices can permanently or intermittently change the weather of the surrounding area in any way the builder desires, and that laying down a network of such pillars over long distances in a proper layout can even create new trade winds to carry merchant ships across the seas from one continent to the other.
Heeloh is said to sometimes take on the form of a bird – sometimes and eagle or hawk, sometimes a crow, or a singing bird – to spy out the events of the mortal lands. At other times, when he wishes to manifest in a form of power, he becomes a great, glowing whirlwind in the night, or a dragon-shaped cloud illuminated by a hidden crimson light. Naturally, other depictions also exist. In Gladehammer, he is portrayed as a knight wearing a mail and robe of infinitely fine chain links that billow in the air; and there also exists an ancient stone tablet, believed by some sages to originate from the Dwarves, which depict a great, six-winged creature, a half-bird, half-dragon with a vaguely human head; and some historians claim that this too is an old image of Heeloh.
Heeloh’s home, the Plane of Air, is described by those who have seen it as a mighty cloudscape, with valleys, mountains and palaces of billowing cloud. Some say that this land is not truely limitless, and that it is possible to reach its edge, where an archipelago of smaller clouds follows, and beyond that a neverending stretch of empty air, bound only by a horizon of red and green lights, and two small, cold suns shining on the zenith and the nadir. Yet others say that the interior of the clouds is a grey swirling of dormant thunder, where flashes of lightning cast momentary shadows of weird creatures.
Foremost of Heeloh’s servants is Hathna, Warden of the Invisible Pathways. Hathna is Heeloh’s lieutenant, and she grants or denies the passage of other Builders through Heeloth’s realm at will, for her word carries Heeloh’s full trust and authority in this matter. If Olnealan wishes to send rains, or Lissnast smoke through the sky, they must petition Hathna for permission to do so. She is said to be fair and wise in such matters, and it is believed that in some cases she has even argued against or simply overridden Heeloh’s will, always convincing the Builder of her right later. Busy as she must be, it is little wonder there’s no account of her ever coming amongst mortal in a physical shape. Nevertheless, the Grand Cathedral of Gladehammer has an altar dedicated to her, and a stained glass window above the altar which depicts her as a shieldmaiden wearing armor, with stern eyes and long brown hair flowing on the wind.
Another vassal of the Builder of Air is Rawkcheerp, the Bird Lord, who is king over all birds and bats in the mortal realms. Rawkcheerp has only few mentions in canonical scriptures, but many more in children’s tales and the old sagas of some nomadic tribes. In such tales and sagas, he is a miraculous creature, his body made up of the parts of all existing species of birds. He flies up and down the Builders’ home realms and the mortal lands in this shape, engaging in light-hearted, silly conversation with creatures of much greater seriousness and power, always solving deep and grave problems through accident and luck.
2004-12-09, 01:14 PM
The youngest of the Builders, Kantrar is the Builder of Metals. He has many names among many peoples, some of which are the Blacksmith, the Cunning Craftsman, and the Patron of the Industrious. We know that the Dwarves called him Mobruk-Klumad, which in their largely lost language means The Strength That Is In Iron, and that they revered him more than any other gods, save Ruk.
Kantrar was not always a Builder. Back when the Builders set about creating the physical world, he was a high-ranking servant of Ruk, tasked with overseeing the hidden treasures of the underworld, that is, all the metals and gemstones. He commanded many lesser spirits, among them Salamnas and Likatukhuk.
When the first mortal souls became incarnate in the world, things have started to change. As these earliest, now long-extinct cultures gradually started building their cities and carving out their place in the world, they began to dig into the earth and retrieve its treasures; and soon after, they have learned the ways of smithing and smelting. As metals became more and more important to the mortal peoples, so did Kantrar’s importance grow among the vassals of Ruk, until he stood directly below the First Builder in his hierarchy; and some gods started to whisper that Kantrar should be allowed to become a Builder himself.
The exact proceedings are not recorded with clarity in any scripture, but it is commonly believed that the Gods of the Living, following chiefly the advice of Nyctalynth, Queen of Night, have supported this motion against the will of Ruk, and some of the other Builders. Be that as it may, it came to pass that Kantrar was pronounced a Builder, and the Forum of Craft was rebuilt to accomodate his arrival. At that time, Kantrar took many of his servants with him, though a few, such as Likatukhuk, decided to remain in Ruk’s service.
Of all the Builders, Kantrar concerns himself most with the affairs of mortals, quite understandably, since he became a Builder through their actions. As a result, he is also the most outspoken and the most argumentative amongst the Builders, and he never shies away from confrontations and arguments with his brothers in matters he cares about. He also bears a great amount of goodwill towards the mortal peoples, and hardly ever leaves their prayers unanswered.
All human nations venerate Kantrar highly, since our very existence is built upon the foundations of mining, smithing and using iron and other metals. Verily, there must be no blacksmith’s shop in the world which doesn’t have a small totem or amulet dedicated to Kantrar in it – often a hammer or tong as richly decorated as the blacksmith can afford (quite often plated or studded with sterling silver, if the blacksmith is wealthy enough), or an iron mask mounted on the wall. Weaponsmiths also follow this tradition, but instead of a work tool, they often display a highly polished sword, or even a full suit of armour that incorporates a black iron mask into the helmet. Kantrar also has a great number of altars dedicated to him in uncountable shrines, temples and cathedrals thorough the lands. These altars are quote often made in the shape of an anvil, and plated with steel (unless they are made wholly of that material), and in many places, the lithurgy of Kantrar’s worship calls for the ringing of the altar with a hammer during certain parts of the ceremony.
Naturally, users of metal tools also give thanks to Kantrar. Quite often, especially among simple folks, this reverence is simple, but heartfelt, and a certain simple rune, believed to originally come from Dwarven writing, is carved into probably every single shovel, spade, scythe and plough that one might come across during one’s life. Most soldiers, mercenaries and adventurers also carve this rune into their weapons, quite often into the handle or the pommel out of practical considerations.
Kantrar makes his home in the Fortress of Steel, that is also called the Plane of Metal by sages. An immense labyrinth of halls, throne rooms, corridors, smithies and workshops, it is said to be remarkably similar to Ruk’s realm in style, with the obvious difference that every wall, pillar, floor and ceiling is made of steel, raw iron ore, or other metals. Some regions of it are as cold as death itself, while in others the very walls glow red-hot from the heat of the many furnaces. It is said that there is a direct gateway from the Fortress of Steel to Lissnast’s home, for Kantras has a constant need of the Fire God’s flames and servants in his smithies. It is also written in several canonical scriptures that when an industrious and devout smith dies, he is given the choice to travel to Nyctalynth’s realm like all other souls, or to make the Fortress of Steel as his residence forever after, for Kantrar maintains luxurious halls and well-equipped workshops for those mortals who serve him well in life.
When Kantrar wants to walk among mortals unnoticed, he usually dons the body a blacksmith; and a great smith with flowing apron and a mighty hammer raised high above the anvil is also how he is represented in Gladehammer. Here in the Clanndeire, however, another depiction is customary, one that feeds from numerous accounts. In these accounts, Kantrar manifests as a vaguely human figure of great proportions, sometimes fifteen or twenty feet tall, made of living metal, covered with a jumble of sharp corners and edges, and glittering veins along the limbs, holding a great, similarly angular and deformed cudgel of iron in one hand. Yet other accounts, coming from adventurers, describe his manifestation as a tremendous, beastly jaw with fangs of jagged steel, guarding subterranean passageways and caverns whose walls are covered with deposits of metals.
The most highly revered vassal of Kantrar is Salamnas, the Worker of gold. He is often depicted as a youth of about sixteen to twenty years, his curly hair and fair skin filled with the lustre of pure gold, and such is his lifesized gold statue in the Grand Cathedral of Gladehammer, as well. Smaller statuettes of the same shape are widely spread in Gladehammer and the Clanndeire, and are highly sought after by every merchant and businessman wealthy enough to afford one – and every thief skillful enough to acquire one, - for they are thought to guarantee financial success in any endeavour the owner indulges in.
Silversong is believed to be Salamnas’ sister, and as her name suggests, – for she has no other, proper name among humans, even though the Elves call her Aiblinn, - she is the Worker of silver. Common folks tend to revere her less than Salamnas, for silver is thought of as a less noble material than gold, but the Elves hold her in much higher regard. They say that Aiblinn takes form in the moonlight and in the white leaves and bark of several tree species in the Elvenlands, and they have many small silver statues of her - representing her as a lithe horse, - just as humans keep statuettes of Salamnas.
The third of Kantrar’s host, and the last one who is commonly mentioned in writings, is the spirit called Adamant. What metal he holds sway over, if any, is unknown; but he seems to be a spirit of lesser power, more of a servant than a vassal; and indeed, some think that, unlike greater Workers, he is bound to a physical body – even though his body can travel with his between the mortal lands and the Fortress of Steel, and even to the realms of other Builders.
Adamant is always described as a great statue of a human shape, similar to one of Kantrar’s manifestations, but more finely wrought in the form of an armor-wearing human. He is made a dark, almost pitch-black metal with a red-and-blue hue to it, which is completely impervious to damage. It cannot be sundered or chipped by weapons, it cannot be melt by fire, and it cannot be rusted by water. Few stories exist of him, and they all describe him as a mute, unyielding guardian of treasure rooms hidden deep underground, or in Kantrar’s realm. There also exists an ancient lay, the Fall of the Moradhrim, which takes place in times unrecorded, and which revolves around a powerful but arrogant mortal race’s rebellion against the Gods; and in this lay, a similarly described but unnamed creature acts as a messenger of the Gods, and as the single-handed destroyer of many Moradhrim cities.
2004-12-09, 02:27 PM
Even though we mortals can have no conception of what time was like before the creation of the world, it is known that Nomm is called Oldest, even by the other builders. Here in the mortal realms, he is also called the Wise, the Immeasurable, and the Father of Darkness and Light. Amongst wizards of all all kinds, he has further names, such as Fountain of Power, and Emperor of Magic.
It is hard to say what element is under Nomm’s power, for this element does not naturally appear anywhere on the mortal plane; but for a lack of better word, it is sometimes called the Void, and at other times Manna, Ether, or the Element of Magic. It is a little understood element, but it is known that light and darkness, shadow and lightning are all made in the Void, and from the stuff of the Void.
Some sages speculate that the Void existed before any other elements, and some think that the Gods of the Living, and perhaps even all Gods of Matter, Nomm himself included, have spawned from it, and yet others believe that the Void was the anchor and the foundation on which all the other elements were placed during the creation of the world; but there is no way to know for sure. All that is certain is that Nomm works his element beyond the boundaries of the physical world, and that his creations have great potency to create, alter and destroy, and that mortal wizards and alchemists desire them more than anything else.
Nomm is the most silent and reserved of all the Builders; so reserved, in fact, that he doesn’t even consider himself to be one of them, even though he is usually present at the Forum of Craft during times of council. Because of his remoteness, few mortals revere him with the exception of wizards and a few reclusive sects of mystics; and the forms of his worship are closely kept secrets of these groups. In fact, a rumour exists that the practices of wizards are not so much forms of worship, but rather attempts find open pathways into the Void and ways of claiming its contents without Nomm’s consent.
Be that as it may, it is known that Nomm’s vassals are few but powerful, and each one of them is entrusted with very specific tasks in the running of the Void.
First among these vassals is Clear-Eye. Clear-Eye’s single task is to visit the realms of the other Builders whenever necessary, and to requisition various rare and mystical materials from them which are necessary for Nomm to weave his works. According to an old apocryphal text penned by an archmage before the time of Gladehammer, Clear-Eye first takes a mystic rock, the Seeing Heart, from Ruk’s domain, and takes it to Heeloh’s realm, where one of Heeloh’s servants purifies the rock into a wholly transparent crystal. Then Clear-Eye visits all the other Builders, taking pure water and the material called Blackflow from Olnealan, Coldfire and Whitherflame from Lissnast, and True Gold from Kantrar; and then she takes these materials to Nomm, who uses them to create his artifacts. The best-known of these artifacts are the so-called Voidspheres, crystal spheres containing the pure essence of Void. It is said that these spheres give Nomm and the other Builders, as well as the Gods of the Living, power to create things that even they would be too weak to create otherwise; and it is well-known that no wizard would hesitate to brave Nomm’s wrath for a single one of these spheres, for they allow mortals to reach out for the powers of Demigods, perhaps even Immortality.
Nomm’s second servant is Lightbringer, the proud and powerful Worker whom Nomm has lent to Lissnast at the beginning of the world, for only Lightbringer could ignite the fires of Lissnast’s realm for the first time. Lightbringer has his own private workshops within the Void that even Nomm doesn’t enter, and here it is that he draws pure, liquid light from the fabric of the Void, which he then instills in Nomm’s crystal spheres and other divine artifacts. It is said that the Sun of the mortal lands was the first such crystal sphere ever created, and that Lightbringer’s newer works are even more luminous and powerful, so much so that Nomm keeps most of them locked away in his vaults, for a single one of them could wreak untellable havoc on our world.
Lihhnir has been mentioned before, and his name is included here because of his newly-found attraction to Nomm; however, he is not one of Nomm’s servants proper at thistime, so no more shall be said of him here.
The spirit called Secret Labourer is the third of Nomm’s host. She is perhaps the least-known Divine Worker of all, for it is said that no one, not even other Builders, nor Clear-Eye or Lightbringer has ever seen her; for she hides deep within the Void, and her divine form is such that she only reveals herself to Nomm. It is said that her job is to gather up the raw, pure Void and weave it into strands, some of which then Nomm uses for his creations, others of which are allowed to flow out of Nommm’s realm, forming the invisible tapestry which dictates the ways of the mortal world. If this is true, then it is perhaps for the better that Secret Labourer is hidden away from all; for anyone tampering with her work might very well alter our world at will, or even undo it completely.
For the sake of completeness, it must be remarked that according to the teaching of the Mandalian Apostles who lived many centuries ago, Nomm used to have a fourth servant at the beginning of time. The Apostles taught that this fourth servant was charged with the creation of darkness, but she has eventually rebelled, and founded the Court of the Gods of the Living, where she still rules as Nyctalynth, Queen of Night. But remember, dear reader, that the Mandalian Apostles have been denounced as heretics, and following their teachings is forbidden.
2004-12-09, 02:36 PM
This, dear reader, is the extent of my inventory for now. Many of Gods are not mentioned herein; no word is said of Harmar the Crusader, of savage Kelebrar, or of Nyctalynth herself. Neither have I mentioned the Lieutenant of the Gods, who keeps the Silent Army locked away behind the iron doors of the Grey Armory; nor the Prince of Miracles, this strange newcomer to the Divine Host, who is causing so much upheaval among mortal practitioners of the arcane in our days. They, and others must go unmentioned for the time being, until I – Nyctalynth willing - will be able to resume work on my treatise. However, the roster of the Builders of the World is now as complete as any Initiate might want, and so, I take my leave.
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