Saltmarsh Journal

Journals for the Saltmarsh RPG Campaign

Deities of Anaria

The Myth of the Coming of Helim

In the beginning, the dragons held sway over the whole of the land.  Men lived in caves, or deep in the forests, or in the frozen north where the dragons could not venture.  Then Helim came down from the heavens, cloaked in flames, avatar of the sun, to free men from their power.  He landed on the Plateau of Anoth with his followers, and the whole plateau burned at his coming, so that even to this day the land remembers the heat of his passings and molten rock still pours forth from the mountains.

Helim fought the dragons and no armour could withstand his flaming sword.  But the dragons were cunning and lore-wise, and wove mighty spells to entrap him.  His brother Khardak was cunning too and he sought the secrets of the dragon lore, and learned them, and he too became lore-wise, and sundered their traps with his words.

The war lasted many ages, and the earth was rent under it, and neither side could master the other, until at last Tamra, the wife of Helim, and a lover of all the was green and beautiful upon the earth and that was being destroyed by the war came to the dragons and proposed a treaty with them, that the earth should be divided between them.  And thus it was, and both sides swore might oaths that they should never break, and Helim and his people received the northern lands, and the dragons received the southern lands, which were warmer and pleased them more.

Then Helim reigned as the first High King, and his realm stretched from sea to sea across all the land.  And from his palace of a thousand spires at Anoth he could see all across his domain.  Tamra his wife went forth and planted a thousand gardens.  And Shandar their daughter took up her father’s sword and was commander of his armies, and extended his realm even beyond the shores and upon the seas.  Beautiful she was, and deadly in arms, and she shone with a light of burnished silver.

Now one of Helim’s companions was a mighty warrior, named Ethalar, second only to Helim in might and force of arms.  And Shandar loved Ethalar, and took him as her husband, and together they carried the arms of Helim across the world.

At first their days were filled with joy, but in time a cloud grew across the heart of Shandar, and she perceived that her father did not give Ethalar the honour that she felt was due to him.  Helim now considered that the High Kingdom was complete, but Shandar and Ethalar thought that now, in the height of their power, they could challenge the dragons once again for control of the whole of the world.  Helim refused to countenance breaking an oath that he had sworn on his sword, and so a cloud grew across the heart of Shandar.  Slowly her heart grew blacker and blacker.  In the end she could not withstand the promptings of her hatred and envy.  One evening, singing to her father, she wove a mighty spell that caused him to fall into a deep slumber.  While he slept she took him and cut him into three parts, each of which she then hid in an eagle’s egg.  One part she buried in the garden of the palace, one part she threw into the southern sea and one part she cast into the wind, to be carried far from the world.

Great was the consternation when Helim vanished, for light and warmth were taken from the world.  Shandar had assumed that she could provide both, but her light was but a reflection of her father’s, and provided no warmth, and even the light started to fade once he was gone.  Ethalar, who knew nothing of her treachery or malice, became High King in Helim’s place, but darkness came upon the High Kingdom, and nothing would grow for Tamra wept for her husband and her tears formed four rivers that poured from the land of Anoth.  In the time of darkness, the dragons broke their oaths, for they thought that with Helim gone they were voided, and moreover they did not fear Ethalar as they had Helim.  War cam again upon the High Kingdom, and the days of Ethalar were ever full of blood, but his spear was sharp and the High Kingdom not as weak as the dragons had thought, and they did not prevail, but nor were they beaten.

In amid all of this, a water spirit called Tolandra, who inhabited the southern sea, came across an egg at the bottom of the sea that was so hot that the sea around it boiled from it’s heat.  Communing with the egg, she discovered that it held the heart of Helim, bound by spells that entrapped it there.  Talking to Helim, she bargained with him, that she would release him if he would make her his wife, and elevate her to the height of his power.  Helim, knowing that the his people needed him, and would perish without him, swore an oath to agree to her demands, and so she broke the egg and freed him.

The blaze of his power was such that the Southern Sea boiled to dust in an instant.  Light broke across the world again, and all paused in their fighting.  Shandar, seeing the light of her father, told Ethalar of her deeds and then fled from Anoth with him into the east.  Helim gathered his brothers Khardak and Zalatun to him, and told them of his betrayal.  Seizing their weapons, they pursued Ethalar and Shandar.  Seeing their pursuit, Ethalar demanded that they stop, but Shandar, fearing the wrath of her father, fled and hid in the farthest reaches of the world.  Khardak and Zalatun dragged Ethalar in chains before Helim.  Ethalar protested his innocence of Shandar’s betrayal, but Helim would have him punished for her deeds, and for usurping his throne.  At Zalatun’s request, he was banished into the east for his usurpation.

Meanwhile, Tamra’s joy at seeing Helim return was turned to dust when he announced that he must wed Tolandra as part of the price for his rescue.  Turning her back upon him, she announced that henceforth nothing would grow upon the earth, and all that grew at her command would wither and perish.

Now Helim was still only one third of his former self, and therefore he resigned his throne and command of the high kingdom to his brother Khardak.  And Khardak fought the dragons with much guile, and captured many of them, and in the end the treaty was restored, but that is another tale.

But Khardak was proud and dark, and his reign hung heavily upon his subjects.  the land was dark and barren – a place of grey rock and sand.  In the end, Zalatun his brother rebelled against him, and overthrew him, and became High King in his place.  And his son Arkalan wooed Tamra, and for love of him she permitted the plants to grow again.  And their daughter was Viyala, for their love was not true, but was borne of despair and loss and sorrow.

Then Helim saw that the High Kingdom was broken by his oaths and resolved to make it whole again.  He been searching this time for the other parts of his body to the exclusion of all else, but now he forsoke his search.  Calling Tolandra and Tamra to him, he proposed a compromise, so that for half of each year, he would be married to each of them and repose with them. Tamra, who had suffered and suffered still, even more for the hurts she had done the world, agreed with him, but Tolandra rejected the compromise for she only saw loss for herself in it and was proud and saw no need to compromise, even for the good of the world.  But Helim’s heart was set, and he held that the good of the world was a better thing than to keep his oath.  And so now he spends half the year under the earth with Tamra, still searching for the egg that was buried, and she is happy and the world is verdant and green.  And half the year she would spend with Tolandra, but she is proud, and refuses him.  She retreated back into the seas and for half the year she rages and seethes, for she is too proud to allow Helim to see her, but cannot forget the joy she once knew with him.

 

 

The main deities of the High Kingdom are the High Gods – the standard 12 Lords (and Ladies) that are worshipped throughout the High Kingdom and wherever the Lordlings hold sway. The Five Elder Gods are known, but not actively worshipped.

The 12 Lords and Ladies are Helim, Tolanda, Ethalar, Tamra, Zalatun, Khardak, Arkalan, Viyala, Shandar, Alantra, Myara and Selemlis.

Helim, Lord of the Sun, is the patron deity of the High Kingdom. His priests are used as heralds and arbiters of inter-city strife. The symbol of Helim is the circle. All lordlings (and other nobles) worship Helim for he is the source of the their power and authority, although they may also worship other lords as well. Helim is Lord of the South.

Tolanda, Lady of the Waters, is goddess of the sea and rivers. There is a temple to her in every port and fishing village and no ship would sail without her blessing. Her clerics are ever-present and most ships will carry at least an acolyte of her cult.

Ethalar, Lord of the Winds is the major deity in the eastern plains, but also here on the western shore. While Tolandar controls all below; Ethalar controls all above. Whereas the horsemen of the steppe worship him as a the source of power, on the coast he is seen as a primal force to be placated; capricious and fast changing that can give and take in minutes. His temples are found frequently. In a village it will normally just be an open space at the top of a nearby hill, while in a city it will be a circular platform at the top of a tall tower. Ethalar is Lord of the East.

Tamra, Lady of Life is the goddess of growth and plants. She is worshipped everywhere, for without her gifts there would be no life.

Zalatun is the Lord of Truth, Death and Fate. He is also the guardian of cemeteries and graveyards. As Lord of Fate, oaths are sworn in Zalatun’s name and there is no escaping his justice.

Khardak is the Lord of Darkness, the Underworld and Eternity. He is worshipped by some underground races. He is the personification of the earth, and Tamra is his daughter/wife. He is blind to the needs of his worshippers and his cult preaches a fatalistic acceptance of disasters and tribulations, which will then be rewarded in the afterlife. Khardak is Lord of the North.

Arkalan is the Master of War, son of Zalatun and Tamra. His cult is favoured by soldiers and mercenaries. His is the way of mastery and excellence. He teaches acceptance of fate and duty, but also how one may change one’s fate by striving and achieving. He is also worshipped by craftsmen of all kinds.

Viyala is the Mistress of Love, goddess of passion and emotion. In the Archipelago she is worshipped in many places as the primary deity.  In the cities of the high kingdom she has a good following amongst the more hedonistic of the nobility, and also amongst those that serve their vices. Amongst other races and in other places though, she is a terrifying avatar of the violence inherent in uncontrolled passions and rage – a warning of what can happen when the constraints of society are abandoned.

Shandar is the Goddess of the Moon and Secrets. She is worshipped by thieves, spies and assassins and all whose work takes place in the shadows. Her cult is normally secretive and hidden, especially in areas like the Empire that venerate Helim. She is also the goddess of knowledge, especially knowledge that is hoarded and kept secret. Shandar has four distinct aspects aligned to the phases of the moon. Shandar the Dark is aligned with new moon and is normally shown carrying a sword. She is associated with betrayal, lies, death and destruction. Shandar the Maiden is aligned with the waxing moon. She is shown with moon horns in her hair and is associated with excellence, obedience and fighting prowess. Shandar the Giver is aligned the full moon and carries the cup of life. Opponents claim that she does not really give true life, merely the false appearance of life. Shandar the Holder is aligned with the waning moon and is shown with a closed book. She is the keeper of secrets and hoarder of knowledge.

Shandar the Holder is openly worshipped in the High Kingdom, especially in centres of learning or by sages. Shandar the Maiden may also be worshipped by some mercenary companies, especially those made up of women. Worship of Shandar the Dark is normally only carried on in secret, as is worship of Shandar the Giver, although all temples will contain shrines to all four aspects. Worshippers normally emphasise the more acceptable aspects though.

Selemlis, Lord of Trade, Travel and Wealth. Selemlis is a new lord, one who is popular with the humans of the High Kingdom. The lordlings hold him and his worshippers in distain, for he does not fit into their value system. The priests of Helim say that he was not always one of the twelve, but that he replaced another who was destroyed by Malloth so completely that even his name has been eaten. Selemlis is Lord of the West.

Alantra, Lady of Mercy, is the goddess of tender love, devotion, innocence and mercy. Her priests and priestess are healers and mediators who seek to resolve conflict peacefully. To harm a priest or priestess of Alantra is to invite the despite of all the great gods and their followers. Even savage trolls will normally hold the person of a devotee of Alantra invoilate.

Myara is the Goddess of Harmony and Peace. Her priests uphold the rule of law and the status quo. Harmony should not be confused with justice – she knows that sometimes Harmony requires harsh measures, whereas justice can lead to anarchy. She is also goddess of the home and hearth, which should be the source of all harmony.

In addition to these there is the Thirteenth Lord, Malloth. Malloth is Lord of Decay. This is not the normal process of decay, which is actually one of regeneration and rebirth, but the process of entropy. Zalatun represents death, but Malloth represents utter destruction – the return to primal chaos. No one in their right mind worships Malloth.

The Five Elder Gods predate even the High Gods, and represent more primitive, elemental powers.

In addition to the gods, there are many spirits who exist in the same ethereal world as the gods but do not match them for power. These spirits are often tied to a certain place or thing for which they are the guardian spirit. They may grant magic to mortals in return for power or service.

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