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 Religion of the wood

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Sedalion
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PostSubject: Religion of the wood   Tue Oct 23, 2018 1:40 pm

The spirits according to Elves
The Elves of the Deep, Dark Wood believe that all life sprang from the spirit well known as the LifeTree. The first emerge from the LifeTree was the Sprite Mistress, and with her considerable power, created the beings known as Fey kind, including the Elves. The next to leave the confines of the LifeTree was the Rivermaiden, and she took the Elves as her own, above all other Fey. Dietra, goddess of magic, left the LifeTree next, and the three Goddesses nurtured and guided the various fey kind toward a bright future.

The Rivermaiden is the very aspect of the Elves, a mysterious and aloof spirit. She, like her Elven children, is chaotic and wild, almost elemental. She is also known to be an oracle, and elves believe the future can be seen in the slow moving rivers of the Wood.

The Sprite Mistress is the spirit of air, and the mother of fey kind. Many elves think of her as their creator spirit, and some journey to the Ley line to attempt to commune with her. She is the gentle breeze of the Wood, and there is wisdom in her whispers. Elves say she is the life breath of all living things.

Dietra, the Goddess of magic, is the only spirit aspect shared by men and elves. She is the goddess of Half Elves and it is believed that the strange Black Cats are her agents in the world. Elven myth claims that upon her leaving the LifeTree, she took flight and became the moon. Those that studied her mysteries learned the secretes of Magic, and recorded them in the earliest Grimoires, and Elven mages prospered from her wisdom.

However, not all things that sprang from the LifeTree were good and creative. The DeathKing, the Inevitable End, came to the world through the LifeTree. Though he did not promote suffering, in fact the Darklings contest that the spirit is the patron of those who would suffer for others, he did bring death to the elves. Upon learning of this, the Rivermaiden cried for the first time, creating the rain. Elves do not actively worship DeathKing, but some do make superstitious offerings to him, especially to ease suffering or ward against his death causing gaze.

Also from the LifeTree was the DoomLord. Some claim that the DoomLord was the first DemonKing, and claimed the offshoot race of elves that would become Darklings as slaves. The only deity in the Elven pantheon shunned fully by Elves, DoomLord has a small following of Darklings, who see him as the voice that must be obeyed, and the harbinger of ruin.

The Mistress of Shadow is also worshiped by the Darklings, a different interpretation of the Goddess of magic. In darkling belief, the ShadowLady came to them after they were freed of the DemonKings, offering them a place in the Deep, Dark Wood. Darklings see the Mistress of Shadow as their hope for redemption. She is the Goddess of the Darklings, moody and mysterious as their strangely tragic race.

In the Wood there is no focused religion of spirit worship. There are priests of these god-like beings, but no structured religion. The Court of Spirits is the ruling group of spirits in the Wood. They are interpreted differently by the many races of the Hollow, and take on a completely different aspect when consorting with these races. Each race has a different name for the spirit in question, and may have a different take on what the spirit represents.

It is not know why the spirits are separated in this matter. For instance, to an elf the spirit known to humans as Sessia, is the Sprite Mistress. To men Sessia is a goddess of the Air, to the Elves the mother of all fey kind. Whereas these concepts are not apparently interlinked, it is believed that the same spirit is responsible for both aspects. This may be the cause of the lack of power some of the spirit priest command. Whatever their aspect, the spirit’s holy symbol remains the same.

The spirits according to man
By and large, Humans do not worship the spirits of the Deep, Dark Wood. Whereas there are a small number of individuals who are very devoted to the gods, there are no official churches. Scattered throughout the hollow is a number of Shrines to the various gods, each equally useful for Elf or Man.

With the coming of the Ankh, organized religion as a whole as spread through the world. Clerics of the Ankh do not directly oppose the spirits of the Deep, Dark Wood, but often find themselves at odds with them. The carefree nature of the spirits does not work well in the structured lifestyles that many Clerics of the Ankh see as proper for humanity.

The lack of organization of these “cults” generally means that no two individuals worship or even cast Divine spells the same way. Where the Elven aspects are fairly orthodox, the Human aspects are as wild and varied as humans themselves. This has also lent to the fact that relatively little is known about the human aspects, as each worshiper interprets the basic nature of the spirit in their own unique way.

This is not to say that all worshippers are wild and unpredictable. In fact, very few are. Nor does it mean that their spells are weaker or stronger. It is difficult to say which god is the most powerful, but followers of the spirits tend to have stranger abilities, where the Priests of the Ankh tend to have more spells. The Followers of the spirits are also known to be weak against the Undead.

Perhaps the strangest of situations is that of the Half Elves. As the racial aspect of the spirits only answers those of the appropriate race, Half Elves are a unique circumstance. For the most part, Half Elves follow the aspects of their human heritage. The exception is LifeMother, who is the Rivermaiden to the Half Elves, just like their Elven heritage. Why this is is unknown.

Chief amongst Human beliefs in the Deep, Dark Wood is the God of Earth, Saim Hann. A god of the harvests, Saim Hann rewards those who work hard. He is considered the husband of LifeMother, the goddess of life and sacrifice. Martyrs are revered by follows of the LifeMother, and she is known to ease the suffering of the innocent.
Brother of Saim Hann is Fenox, God of fire. The Spirit of creativity and passion, Fennox is a god of artists, anarchists, and the sun. Sessia, goddess of air, is the daughter of Saim Hann and LifeMother, and the keeper of the dead. She represents freedom, hope and the wind.

There are also a number of small, superstitious rituals associated with the spirits. In this way does the common man tend to honor the gods. Using pumpkins to ward evil spirits, sprinkling salt into the breeze, burning straw or incense and casting silver into streams are all examples of these small rituals.

The Ankh
The coming of the Ankh was first prophesized by the slave known as Na. A youthful and energetic man, Na was slave to the brutal race known as Orcs. Orcs held a large empire in the southeast of the budding human lands, and were aggressively expanding. With armies of slaves, untold magical powers and unnatural physical power, the Orc Empire exterminated many lesser races and grew to an unparalleled size.

Na spoke of the great power in the heavens that created man. He spoke that it was not Man’s Destiny to slave for other creatures, but to rule the lands alone. Na claimed that agents of this mighty power came to him, as he gathered water for his masters, and presented him with a symbol for humanity to rally behind; the Ankh.

As Na preached about this mysterious creator, a belief in the symbol spread. Town after town people heard the rumors of someone speaking against their captivity. Before long, Orc overseers came to Na’s hut, intent on silencing a trivial rumor monger. Moments later, Na emerged from the hut, bloodied by victorious, and the first priest of the Ankh was anointed.

Followers of the Ankh grew like wildfire. Before the Orcs could truly mobilize against the mass revolt, several cities were overrun- the leaders of the peasant mobs glowing with unearthly power. Books were written, the Testament of the Ankh, filled with the Manifest Destiny of Mankind, and a new way of life.

In the span of decades, the massive Orc Empire dwindled to a smattering of cities, not even the oldest or largest of the old empire. With the martyrdom of Na at the gates of Grush’ta, the religion took a permanent hold on the people. The Priests of the Ankh pursued the remnants of the Orcs to the Middle Gate Mountains, and when the terrain got to difficult to follow; they erected great bastions to keep them in those frigid peaks. There the Orc race met its end at the claws of Dragons, Manticores, and the various other beasts of the world’s edge.

Many thousands of years have past, and many priests of the Ankh have rewritten the Testament to try to reach a “better understanding” of the words of Na. However, it cannot be denied that the Lord of Light is a presence in the world. Unlike the priests of other religions, the Priests of the Ankh have a vigorous divine presence, and a great spiritual power.

Priests of the Ankh have a deep hatred for the undead, and though the words of the Testament were unclear at the time:” No man shall allow the dead to rule over him. Blessed be the truly dead, forever in the Ankh’s light they shall be.” As the undead were unknown to man at this time, these words were greatly misinterpreted many times, until the rise of the Empire of the Unliving.

The Ankh is the symbol of this god of humanity and light. It has gone by many names including the Holy, the Sacred, Lord of Light, Absolutor and Humanity’s shield. Na never attempted to name the god, and though the Testament claims that he had regular contact with the Ankh’s agents, he never named or described them.

In the Wood, there are reasonable few worshipers of the Ankh. Many are the superstitions there, and most people will worship spirits, gods and the Ankh nearly interchangeably. The main religious stronghold of the Ankh is Davia, the location of both the High Temple of the Ankh, and the Warden house of the Order of Pentacles, the Paladin order in the Hollow.

It should be noted that in the other countries of the world, the Ankh is the principle deity, with only a handful of minor spirits or gods worshiped on the side.
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