Monday, July 31, 2017

Of Lords and Ladies: The Elven Religion (IAURISM)


OF LORDS & LADIES:
THE ELVEN RELIGION (IAURISM)

The story of the elves, as does many creation myths, with the Mother.

In the elven tongue, she is called Ontaria by the Iaur and Aemilia by the Sylvanar, respectively. Her name translates to "mother" or "begetter" and she is the ultimate creator god in the elven religion. And she is believed to have been the first star.

When she washed away the sins of the clay people and fled,  the Mother left behind her sons. Eldest among them was Iaur who created the elves. He saw the creation of the Twilight Realms and was so enraptured with the beauty of the Dawn that he decided to make it his home. In the Forest of Iaur, he built the Starry Vale for the young elven race and guided them from his palace, Silverhome.

In Silverhome, he lived alongside his consorts and his children, who would lead to his ruin and abandonment of the mortal world.


Traditionally, Iaur is depicted as a beautiful elf with long raven black hair, bright blue eyes and wearing either long robes of blue, red and gold. In modern depiction, he has taken on a more militant appearance with silver plate armor, a long sword and shield with a blue banner. He is also often depicted with four black wings.

Personality-wise, Iaur is known to be a champion and advocate for the beautiful, the true and the good. His unequaled mastery of the arts, as an extension of his appreciation, has been passed down as gifts to his mortal children: the mastery of music, sculpture & paint, the expertise in glass/metal works & architecture, and their inherent talent and mastery with the arcane arts has allowed the elves to build wonders that are the envy of the world.


Lord Iaur's appreciation for beauty is admirable but has consequences. He had many beautiful companions and concubines. Their beauty blinded his judgement and allowed them the opportunity to undermine his rule. Their envy drove them to dark and dangerous extremes.

His eldest wife, Lady Rin-Varna, is a goddess of love, life, and light. She is the loremaster and creator of the written language of the elves. It is she that taught the early elves the art of elven rune magic that allowed them to live undisturbed the strange creatures of the Twilight. She is the mother of Kuron and Hurin.

Kuron is a female warrior goddess associated with the hunt and the wild. She is often depicted as teaching martial skills to the elves, such as the mastery of the blade and bow. She had friction with her father for eschewing the finery of his court but was a loyal daughter. Her brother, Hurin, on the other hand, while embracing the finery and manners of court, took great pleasure in embarrassing his father by participating in debauchery from overindulging in fine food, drink and flesh to throwing never-ending and frivolous parties. His libertine attitude earned him reprimands from his father that rebuked by undermining his father by participating in the fey court. While he helped the fey court conspire against his father, he is no one's true ally, and instead takes pleasure in the artistry of deception and betrayal. These "jokes and japes" that he played would allow the twin concubines

The twin sisters, Gwath-Yara and Kytix, were a beautiful pair of grey-skinned elves and they were envious of the attention that Iaur paid his first wife Rin-Varna. They conspired to kill their romantic rival and become the favorites of Iaur so that one day they or their children would rule. Sensing their growing disdain for the court of Silverhome, Hurin, in the form of his fey court alter-ego Masq, sought to help them breed discord for their father by gathering enemies against them.

An army of dark fey, allied with the twin sisters, were led to the Starry Vale and lay siege to Silverhome. They were not ready for war and Hurin had fooled his sister Kuron into an argument with their father and she had left with her warriors on a long hunt abroad in the fey realm. This left Iaur to fight the dark forces while Rin-Varna guarded his people in the walls of Silverhome.

The dark fey had underestimated the might and magic of Iaur, especially in his own home, and his wrath towards their ugliness and evil manifested in a terrible manner:

He turned the dream-like glamor of his realm into phantom nightmares that tore at their minds and bodies and each swing of his blade penetrated the dark horde like the rays of the sun. Still, his fey enemies were joined by more powerful foes: the patron gods of giants, orcs, and goblins, as well as several demon lords, joined in their invasion. He struck down many of them but their numbers and strength overwhelmed him and he found himself transforming into a great feathered serpent as he wrestled with them in the vale in a deathgrip. Without aid, they would overcome even his power and he would die...

Meanwhile, the wicked consorts, Gwath-Yara and Kytix, hid inside Silverhome with Rin-Varna until they could spring their own trap. The elves loyal to them, the Gwathnir (shadow elves), attacked Silverhome from within and the twins attacked and poisoned Rin-Varna herself. When Hurin realized his mother's life was in danger, having been watching the battle from afar, his love for her overcame his desire to sow discord. He summoned Kuron back to Silverhome.

Her hunters easily turned the tide of battle and helped free Iaur. They sent Iaur's enemies, maimed and humiliated, fleeing but promising vengeance. They then defeated and captured the twin sisters, forcing the Gwathnir to surrender, but it was too late for Rin-Varna. She lay dying...

For their betrayal, Iaur punished the sisters and their followers gravely. He banished the Gwathnir and all of their kin, the dark elves, to live in shadow. From that moment onward, the light would sting their eyes, and they would dwell beneath the rock of the mortal plane until they redeemed themselves for their crimes.

Before they could be punished, Iaur pleaded with the twins for a cure for his beloved's sickness. Hurin heart grew heavy with guilt and disgust, as they laughed at Iaur's sorrows and refused to save his mother's life. The two were put in a cell until Iaur could figure out how to get the cure for them and while he attended to his wife. And so Hurin went to their cell and them an offer: the first to share the cure would be completely forgiven for their crimes.

The two sisters turned on each other, Gwath-Yara transforming into a great black spider hybrid and Kytix into a great white spider hybrid, as Gwath-Yara attempted to share the cure and Kytix attempted to stop her sister from betraying her. In their struggle, they broke free from the cell and their fight did great damage to the already ruined palace. Iaur intervened long enough to separate them and Gwath-Yara told him the cure. Hurin had lied. He had not told Iaur of the deal and neither were rewarded. When Iaur heard they had poisoned his queen with spider's venom and, disgusted with their current forms and betrayal of each other, he instead punished them by making their arachnid forms permanent and casting them both into the pits of the Underworld. From there, they manipulate the Gwathnir so that they can escape their imprisonment below.

Iaur saved his queen and together, not long after, they led the surviving elves to material plane to create a new home on the isle of Saesun, home to the metallic dragons, and to protect their home forevermore

They fates of the daughter of Gwath-Yara and son of Kytix are also an important store in elf lore.

Gwath-Yara's daughter Nyeera was Iaur's favorite child for she was the most beautiful, most talented musically, and, despite her mother's treachery, the most kind and compassionate lady in all of Silverhome. When the Gwathnir were cast out of Starry Vale, it was Nyeera who pleaded on their behalf, and convinced Iaur to give them the chance for redemption. It is Nyeera who hears the prayers of the Gwathnir that suffer in the society of the World-Below and it is Nyeera that gives them hope in the form of psalms that promise redemption among the lowliest of the dark elves.

Her half-brother and cousin Assarr, son of Kytix, was the most respected member of the court but he had inherited treachery and wickedness. His morals twisted by his mother, Assarr sought to overthrow his father Iaur and take Nyeera as his bride & queen. Hurin saw the way that his half-brother looked at his half-sister and he knew that he had impure desires. He told his mother that he worried for Nyeera's safety but Assarr's reputation in the court was sterling and crystal-- clean. She brushed off the concern and accused him of being envious of his brother.

One night, while Nyeera walked in the blossoming garden under a red moon, Assarr approached her and confessed his love. Nyeera rebuked him, as mercifully as she could, and begged him to forgive her and to turn his heart's designs elsewhere. He grew furious, having never been refused before, and attacked Nyeera. Luckily, Hurin had been watching from nearby and came to Nyeera's defense. He summoned his sister Kuron once more and together they chased Assarr out of the garden, through the halls of the palace, and into the throneroom of Iaur. The wicked god threw himself upon his hands and knees and begged for his father's protection.

Assarr claimed that Hurin had taken his form and attacked Nyeera to frame him and that Kuron had tried to kill him. But Hurin pointed out the falsehoods in his story and that the blood upon the white-haired lord's lips was not his own. In his lustful attack, he had bitten Nyeera's neck. Rin-Varna banished Assarr and cursed him:

From that day onward, Assarr recoiled from the sun and was filled with unending lust for blood. He made his new kingdom in the Twilight Realm of Dusk and hunted mortals on the material plane. His sons and daughters were the first vampire lords of Narya and their children haunt the night, cursed by their ancestor's desire, to seek out pleasure in the blood of the living.

As a last note, it is important to remember most known version of the elven religion are written by the Iaurdin, who left Saesun at the dawn of the second epoch and their religion, as well as their gods, reflects their values. The Sylanar, the elves who stayed behind on Saesun, often envision the gods in a more naturalistic way as embodiment of natural forces and include the druidic gods, like Silvanus, in their versions of elven myths.

Like the Iaurdin, the Sylvanar value beauty, but in more natural and liberated form compared to the heavily constructed and controlled beauty of Iaurdin society.



Friday, July 28, 2017

Faiths of Sublanarya: House Fortuna: Moira the Spinner, Glamora of the Weal and Dysrae of the Woe

Some old tales speak of fate taking the form of three women: the spinner of fate, the drawer of lots and the inevitable shearer. It is said when a person is born, the spinner spins out their life like a thread. She sets their fate in motion. The drawer of lots duty was to help measure out the life's thread and to tie knots where they would make important choices. Lastly, the shearer's purpose and her pleasure was choosing when to cut life's short. Together these three daughters of the primordial Nyx determined fate for the peoples of Narya. Those are the old stories. Others say all three are one goddess: Moira the Spinner of Fate.


Much like Erys, Moira is often depicted as Grimnir's sister but her true origins have been lost to the sands of time. She is the one who wields the spinning wheel of fate but whether or not these threads can be manipulated are debatable. For one, her very continued existence is debated and some believe her daughters are the result of the Mending tearing her in half.

As for fate, it is argued that, perhaps, when a person is born, they are destined for certain outcomes but perhaps these outcomes can be changed. Some believe that you must take risks to change those outcomes and, to some that is where luck comes in...

In the border between Terra Nada and Mechanis, there is a place that some would describe as a temple, others would describe as a casino and most would describe as the final resting place of many gamblers. This place is called House Fortuna and this where fates are rewritten. This massive golden complex rises of the sand and lures in souls and beings from across the planes. Angels, demons, devil, gods and mortals can all be found here playing games with the souls of mortals and the fates of many at stake. The mistresses of the house are Moira's daughter's Glamora and Dyrae.

Glamora AKA Lady Luck favors the bold, the daring and the reckless. She rewards those who takes risks, often tilting fate in their favor, but, while she admires the skilled and cunning, those who cheat too often or without challenging themselves often find themselves on her bad side. Lady Luck is the roll of the dice when a gambler gambles and a risk-taker takes risks. While she is known to show favor towards her adherents, she is most often neutral in the outcome. She loves a game and is known to especially manifest, leaving the confines of House Fortuna, when the stakes are highest. She finds no greater beauty in the universe than when fate is tempted.

While she is associated with good fortunes, she is neither good nor evil, and would say she favors neither. Her sister Dysrae is associated with bad fortunes and, while she favors neither good nor evil, she certainly enjoys the suffering of others.

Dysrae AKA Miss-Fortune hears the prayers of those who wish ill upon others and manifests when fate turns against the proud and the powerful as well as the humble and the meak. She takes pleasure the more luck turns against the hapless and loves to see the downfall of the high and mighty. She has little sympathy or care. She is the cruel needling whisper, the bitter words, and the envious heart of the immortal and mortal plane alike.

While her sister prefers an iconically glamorous form that borders on the gaudy, with lots of materials, dice & coin imagery, and gold, gems and sequins, like a show-girl or magician, Dysrae prefers simpler dress but often takes the form of a red haired noblewoman. In this form, she is mentioned as witnessing many murders and betrayals at the noble lords of Thule.

Both gods, as well as their mother, are often found depicted in gambling houses, thieves guilds and other places where good fortune, as well as bad, are called upon.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Faiths of Sublanarya: Saint Umber, The Nameless God and the Lost Crusade

"Aye, sir. I seen it. I seen it with me own eyes. I've seen them.

There was a storm, a storm so bad we was lost for weeks. Lot of good swabbies fell o'board, we ran out of chow and grog and the captain, oh the poor captain he went mad. The clouds and fog were so thick we ha'nt seen a spot of sunshine or blue-sky in days. The captain was at the wheel. The ship ran aground in the frozen wastes; he landed her just north of the Devil's Bident and it was the bitterest cold, sir. We was bundled up tighter than sausages but we still felt the old man death nipping at our fingers and noses. We should've seen about turning the ship around, sir, but, sir...

The captain had gone ashore. The poor fool.

I was his first mate, sir. I had no choice. I took a row boat and a few men ashore. The land there is so dead that, over the whistle of the wind, the only sounds were us: each foot step crunching on the frozen ground, each shiver chattering our bones, and each raspy breath we took seemed to stop just out of our field of vision.  Still, it weren't too hard to figure out. We found the captain's trail. We found the other rowboat, we found his footsteps, we found his clothes-- the captain was surely dead but we pressed on a little farther into the biting wind.

There's nothing up there. Just empty wastes and ice and, or rather sir, or so we thought. We saw an outline of somebody out in the cold darkness. Lantern held high, I called out for the captain, sir. They walked forward sir and, for a moment, there was hope. But as we stood there, silently, staring in the darkness, we heard clacking of joints and clinking of chain, and we knew something was wrong.

It weren't the captain, sir. It was a soldier, a legionnaire, sir, a knight of the Imperium. 'cept they was long dead. When the lantern lit their face, we saw there was no skin or flesh or anything, so to speak, to talk to. Just a skull. The men fled, mad, back the way we came. I froze there, just for a moment, just long enough to see them.

To see that there were hundreds sir, no thousands, an army, sir! An army of the dead!" An account by Captain Lou Bluetooth recorded by the Imperian bishop Deacano

The Legend of the Lost Crusade begins not in the frozen wastes of the Hold or in the valleys or mountains of the Imperium but in the desert kingdoms of northern Ptah-Hamut and Nadjabad with the Bloody Crusade in the 64th century CE.

An order of Imperian knights calling themselves the Bleeding Cross, a splinter off from the templar order of the Red Star, were led by the insistence of the Imperator and their order's leader, a holy general by the name of Waldar Dux. The general led his order across the Zafarian Sea and into the south-western continent on a crusade to retrieve stolen artifacts that, long before the Imperians ever arrived in Sublanarya, the Hamutians and Zafarians had taken from ancient temples of the Nameless God. General Dux's zealous conquest met heavy resistance and he died upon the battlefield. A young commander, Umber Rubela, rose to take his place and managed to salvage the crusade. After many victories, they failed to find the artifacts they had sacrificed so many lives to find and return to their homes. Instead, they found loyalty and exaltation for Umber, who the revered as a living saint.

Umber showed incredibly foresight, fortune and vision, all seen as gifts from the Unnamed God, and is victories were seen as miracles. His men saw him as the next prophet, the successor to Croma, and that he should take the imperian throne for himself. He gathered many followers and took his forces back to the imperian capitol. The imperator prepared for civil war but it did not come.

Instead, St. Umber asked for audience with the imperator. He explained to the ruler that he had a vision that they were to build a new kingdom in the northern wastes of the Hold and that he was to rule the empire jointly with his holiness. He would establish a second capitol in the north called Penumbra. The imperator and his advisors saw the young soldier's vision as madness and rejected his request for their support. He left the palace, in peace, and, disregarding their skepticism, he took his forces into the Hold and northward on what Umber called "The Dawn Crusade".

Tens of thousands of priests, holy knights,and acolytes of the prophet's vision followed him on this journey across the Shield Mountains. They were never seen again.

The truth behind the prophet's powers was discovered long after his crusade left the imperium's lands. He was born into a powerful cult within the templars that worshiped a sacrilegious aspect of the Nameless One known as samael or "the goat".

He had acquired unsavory powers and his intention was to undermine the empire to "reveal the truth" behind their god's faith.

Umber believed that all interpretations of their lord, even the cult's, were blasphemous. He led General Dux to his downfall so that he could take control of their crusade and guide it down the path that he saw.


A path where he could conquer death and prepare for the return of the Morning Star as his only true, loving and loyal servant.

The Hold is a mysterious and dangerous wasteland. There have been no good maps, save those performed by mariners of the coastlines, and it was believed that crusade had become lost and met some terrible fate beyond the mountains that guard civilization from the savagery of the Hold. There are rumors, stories and speculation that says otherwise.

The biggest obstacle of colonizing the far north is the unbearable cold. No mortals could survive in those cold and barren wastes. They are empty of liquid water or food. And the freezing temperatures are so deadly that exposure would kill any person within minutes. There were many theories on how they could survive: magic, divine or arcane, could allow them to overcome the freezing cold. Or perhaps they could find an ancient dwarven city or cavern that would guard them from it and provide subterranean vittles. But the truth is far more terrible.

The barbarians of the Hold, those who were friendly enough to trade with dwarves that live in the Shield mountains, told spooky stories of walking dead wearing white with red crosses began traveling down to imperian ears. Countless civilizations were said to have ruins in the Hold and so accounts of undead were not uncommon in the Hold but the red crosses on white cloth were the dress of the Bleeding Crosses.

A terrible and worrying legend was born: far in the north, where the sky is darkened by thick clouds and the no mortal treads, there is a city of the dead, the city of Penumbra, a capitol for an undead kingdom. The legend says that they are ruled by a saint used a dark ritual to make himself and his followers immortal so that they could survive in the isolation of the frozen north. There this undying empire waits, faithful and grateful, for the return of their god.

The Nameless God
Title(s)
The Unnamed, The Lord, the Forgotten, the Morning Star, The Betrayed

Pantheon(s)
New Gods

Power Level
??? Deity

Alignment
?????

Symbol
A six pointed star with an eye in the center of an overlapping cross

Portfolio
Humanity, creation, righteousness, loyalty, piety

Domains
Life, War, Death

Worshipers
Humans, dwarves, rebels agains the iaurdin empire, imperians, xalhoteccans,
 
Favored Weapon
All weapons

Saint Umber Rubela
Title(s)
The Servant, The Northern Imperator, The Lost Saint, The Ever-Faithful, The Saint of the Undead

Pantheon(s)
New Gods

Power Level
Lesser Deity

Alignment
Lawful Evil

Symbol
A skull with a cross on the brow

Portfolio
Undeath, truth, loyalty, zealotry, conquest

Domains
War, Death

Worshipers
Undead, necromancers, heretics of the Imperian, barbarians of the Hold, lords of Lacrimosa
 
Favored Weapon
Axes and swords