As we've mentioned, the people who have come to the Island have lost many of their most important memories, for reasons unclear to us. To save what's left of our ancient culture, an author, an initiate Accur named Taid Utrik, with Jarl Torismund's assistants entrusted to him, asked questions of many various kinds of people, asking them everything they remembered and documenting everything they told him.
It turned out that one man remembered nothing but the stories he was told as a child. Another, who had even forgotten how to hold an axe, remembered something about the Gottlung ruler Ardarich, whom his ancestor once served. The third told him about numerous laws, for it seems he was a desperate robber - perhaps even a murderer.
Thus by questioning all of the jarl's people who had managed to survive, as well as many other refugees, we are gradually recovering the history of our people, and along with it the history of other people, including the not-so-friendly Khoors.
What is curious, though, is that everyone we have spoken to remembers their religious beliefs and faith to an impeccable extent — and the gods standing over the world in all their inescapable fury. And with excellent assuredness and agreement in the details, yet without the possibility of collusion, we remember the various names of our gods and how they are to be worshiped. Each and every refugee knows what sacrifices are beloved by which gods, and they remember many rituals performed in the past, and continue to carefully adhere to custom, despite the unpredictable difficulties this often causes.
We will leave this fact unconsidered for a time and simply try to impartially recount everything we now know about our divine pantheon, may their wrath pass from us, and about other details of our religion.
Our world, Sparksvaard, rests upon the branches of the World Tree. We do not presently know who created it, but we do know how it will end.
One day Svefnii, the Sleeping God, will awaken and plunge the universe into the chaos of a new Godmassacre, like that which occurred in days gone by. The simple mortals known as Lungs cannot hope to survive a Godmassacre.
This will be the end of our world.
The World Tree is a tree of immense size. The worlds of Elgverden – all the worlds of the inhabitable universe – are borne upon its branches. It is believed that the branches of this tree can be seen in each of the worlds, but at the very least, they can be seen in the world of people, Sparksvaard.
One of the branches has been found at Abell.
We know of the following worlds making up Elgverden:
Izenlen, the highest world, the ‘frozen’ world of the gods.
Sparksvaard, the middle world; the world of people.
Smertverden, the world of darkness and winter; the realm of the Dead Maiden, Jodenande.
Terrskellen, the gate of the World of the Sleeper; the wall between Smertvergen and Risterverden.
Risterverden, the World of Trembling, the Lower World, World of the Sleeper, the Hammer, and the Sword.
The World Tree, as we read in surviving ancient texts (or more properly, as the most educated of the Accurs have managed to translate), feeds on the ‘blood of the worlds’. The world is growing weaker. The Tree is fading, withering, and must be nourished, or the Sleeper, also called Svefnibrann and the Sleeping Fire, bound up in the roots of the tree, will break free and unleash his Godmassacre.
A Spark is the intangible source of life implanted in material bodies by The Forgotten Creator and Source of Being. It is the ethereal essence that lives on when the person it is a part of dies. In other words: the soul.
Every person (or Lung) has a Spark.
A Lung is a person endowed with a Spark.
The Spark is a piece of the Ancestral, Inextinguishable Flame placed in a person by The Creator. It is absent from the New Gods, except the Sleeping God. Therefore Spark is the currency and sustenance of the gods. The Spark is what gives them their power.
And the Spark is the aim of their struggles and warfare. The gods use a codex of rules and conditions unknown to us to divide up the Sparks amongst themselves. For example, the Spark of one who perishes in the night goes to Velent – but not always. Sparks from heroes slain in battle go to the Sleeping God – but there are exceptions. And so on.
The Sparks of those slain without a dedication to a particular god – or under circumstances not covered by their agreement amongst themselves – are given to the Guide, or the Ferryman.
The ancient, forgotten gods who created the Holurs. They were exterminated in the Godmassacre.
The young or ‘new gods’ who are now worshiped in Sparksvaard, the world of people. They include:
The Sleeping God and Gloom, Amate and Velent, Jodenande and Jomfrutotte, Terskell and the Three, Sófaþek-king and the Guide, Kallente, and Aori. These are all the gods who survived the Godmassacre and the final battle with the Sleeping God, which is known as Holurblodbad.
All of the new gods, excluding Holza the Spinstress, are called Holurs in the great myths and sagas.
Svefnibrann is the Sleeping God, Sleeping Flame, or just Svefnii. He is the Hammerer, the Napping One and the Slumberer, the Hammerheaded, the Treeshaker, the Master, the Hammer Master, called Akhneh-Hootga or Akhneh by the Khoors.
Those who would insult him call him the Snorer.
He is the chief deity of Sparksvaard.
He was created by the Ancient Gods, the Wisest Ones, the Ehrideity, and was second of the Young Gods, created as a helper to make sure the heavenly sphere. He is the strongest of all the Holurs. He is the warrior god, the blacksmith god and the patron of blacksmiths, the bearer of the inner creative Flame given to him by the Ehrideity. Thus, like them, he has creative power, albeit limited.
He is worshiped by the Gottlungs and the Slavards.
After the Godmassacre, known as Godernblodbad, when nearly all of the Ancient Gods were destroyed, he became the first of the Holurs. He shared the Creative Flame given him by the Ehrideity with his brothers and sisters, and then he was betrayed and bound.
Holurblodbad was the second war of the gods. After this war, the number of the new gods, the Holurs, was severely reduced, and Svefnii was imprisoned in the roots of the World Tree by the Holurs.
Now his only goal is to create a Sword of Vengeance from the Sparks of humans, break free, and exact his revenge.
Svefnii can still act on the world of humans, Sparksvaard, through his dreams, affecting material reality when he does so. He can also manifest himself in the dreams of his chosen ones.
Through his dreams, Svefnii is gradually changing the world, filling it with war and pain. Blacksmiths and a number of warriors are under his special patronage. It is believed that blacksmiths can see the reflections of his dreams more often than ordinary mortals can and are able to, whether consciously, unconsciously, or in a state of insanity, be conduits of his will.
The first Holur created by the Wisest Ones and imbued with the Flame, allowing him to create.
The Master, who at the order of the Ereborns, the Ehrideity the Wisest Ones, created the silver braces of the world of Sparksvaard and made sure the heavenly dome dividing the worlds of Elgverden from the world outside, the world of the Creator.
From ancient tales, it is known that Aori destroyed one of these braces at a crucial moment during the Godmassacre, thus creating a breach in the heavenly sphere and blinding the Ereborns. He was cast out through the breach by the dying Ereborns, banished to the realm of Light.
He is the only one who could have fully restored the dome of worlds.
It is believed that, before he was cast by the Ereborns into the outside world, he managed to pronounce some ‘words of power’. The words, and the echoes of the words, flew throughout all worlds, and according to the understanding of the Gottlungs, they are what seal the mastery of the expert craftsmen and leaders of this world. They are thus a blessing, and good fortune.
The Gottlungs believe that this ’seal of Aori’ is set upon all people in authority.
These beliefs are not popular among the Slavards, however, and for them the seal of his words guarantees success in matters of commerce and the upkeep of property. This seal is more fitting for women than men.
But having the patronage of another god, even if a dead god, cannot hurt.
Symbolic attributes: gloves thickly decorated in gold, golden bracelets, gold bracers, gilded sleeves (for women) – the marks of people of power - worn by kings, princes, dukes, and barons.
Lesser nobles may simply apply a gold-colored paint.
Means of worship: none.
Patron of: any profession in which a person has achieved mastery.
World: beyond the boundaries of our world.
A neutral deity.
The Jester, the Slacker, the Aspid, the Horny One, the Thief, called the Khoohalday by the Khoors.
One of the Holurs, created by the Ereborns without any impartation of the Creative Flame. A piece of this flame was, however, given to Gloom by Svefnii.
Gloom persuaded his sister Alglemy to lie with Svefnii and to embed in him the idea of mutiny against the Ereborns. He then stole the living Sword, Vallum Tussenrost, from his creators, for only that sword could cut down an Ereborn, but he could not wield it. And Svefnii took up the sword.
After the Godmassacre, Gloom tried to mend the hole in the heavenly dome, but he could not seal it.
And as some frivolous Slavard sagas recount, he told a filthy joke about this failure, like ‘many former virgins will forthtell, that the strength of Gloom the Horny One, is clearly not in sealing holes.’
Indeed, ‘Gloom could not’ is a common Slavard proverb.
One of the swords of the Godmassacre, Vallum Tussenrost, was hidden by Gloom in a tiny microworld; a space within space that he divided out, a place where there is nothing but the sword and darkness.
Gloom named it Anbhearn, and thus he sealed it. The sagas of the Northerners say that whoever can truly pronounce this key word in the language of the gods shall be able to return the sword of the Last Battle to Svefnii the Sleeping One.
In the tales of the Gottlungs, before the second battle of the gods, Gloom created a sword with his own hands, a sword he could wield, and named it Ormslanger.
But in his battle with the Sleeper, he dropped it, and so the sword fell into the world of the humans, bringing forth firestorms and earthquakes. Gottlungs swords are called by the same name. They are light swords with short, wide, wavy blades.
The Slavards are certain that the Gottlungs have simply mistranslated the ancient texts, and that the word Ormslanger is simply referring to Gloom's manliness. This manliness fell down to Sparksvaard, specifically to the part of the world where the Gottlungs live.
The Gottlungs do not agree with this interpretation. Though, granted, it is a less debated point.
The legends say that Gloom lives in his own world, in unbelievably rich mansions overflowing with luxury – all alone. There he busies himself with political intrigue and sumptuous feasts among his "dummies," creations without a Spark, created solely to comfort him in his boredom and loneliness. Sometimes in fits of madness he kills them all, filling their palaces with their cold, transparent blood.
When this happens, powerful rains and floods fill Sparksvaard. Pieces of human bodies, fish, coins, and more fall down from the sky.
Gloom is the deity of mean jokes, deception, conniving, and manifestations of traditional feudal ‘creativity’ (such as torture methods). Gloom's mark is a cut mouth, with scars on the cheeks. A slit throat is called "Gloom's smile."
Gloom is depicted as a grinning god, along with one of his symbolic attributes.
Symbolic attributes: crooked knife, snake, tambourine and pipe, red codpiece.
Means of worship: torture, debauchery, drunkenness, smoking.
An evil deity.
The Mother of Time, Mistress of Fate, and Old Holza, called Erthnii by the Khoors.
She weaves the threads of human destinies into the great tapestry of reality.
She is barely paid any attention in myths and ancient texts, but we can assume that Holza was one of the Ereborns destroyed by the Holurs. No one has ever seen Holza's face, but Old Holza is one of her nicknames nonetheless. This is likely a reference to how ancient she is, and how she is among the "old gods," the Ancestors, the Ehrideity. She was left alive because she holds the widening breach in the heavenly sphere, weaving and spinning the fabric of time. Thus the infiltration of the Ancestral Light into the world of Elgverden is slowed.
Time is a part of the fabric of the universe, and Holza made herself a part of this fabric.
Time has the most influence in the world of people. Its effect is slowed in the Upper and Lower Worlds. The Holurs hate that time exists, and thus hate Holza.
Time did not exist before Godernblodbad.
All Northerners know how Gloom the Horny brags at the heavenly feasts that he has seen the face of Holza. He did see her, certainly, in the midst of a passionate battle. Actually, her face looked so much like another part of her body that he was mixed up at first.
But of course he later realized his error.
’Seeing the face of Holza the Spinstress’ means looking into the face of eternity or having the gift of prophecy.
She does not have her own world, but she does have a hole in space: the "Home of Holza" in Izenlen. Her home is spun of time itself, and no other deities can enter there.
She is depicted with one of her symbolic attributes and wearing a closed, hooded cloak that obscures her face completely.
Symbolic attributes: ball of thread, spindle, spinning wheel, braid (several weaving lines in an ornament may be used to indicate a desire for Holza's patronage).
Patroness of: Time. Occupations associated with rivers and flowing water, since it is one of the things that symbolize time.
A neutral deity.
Kalle, as the northerners call her
Kallente is the goddess of beauty, motherhood, and fertility. She is patroness of the hearth and home. She does not have her own world but does have a place in space, a sort of world called the House of Kallente.
No other deities can enter this house.
In the merry sagas of the northerners, Gloom never ceases his attempts to get into Kalle's house, with specific intentions.
Kallente is young, and generally depicted as beautiful, loving, and stupidly naive in the tales that circulate throughout the world.
In the sagas and tales of Sparksvaard, we find hints that Kallente is one of the embodiments of the clever Holza, and that through her, the goddess of time wanders the worlds and keeps an eye on the gods. The ostensible stupidity and effusiveness exhibited by Kallente, then, is just a way to divert the eyes of the Holurs who were victorious in Godernblodbad.
But then again, who knows what tales can be trusted?
Symbolic attributes: Wreath, female breasts, a woman's figure with a wreathed head and a braid wrapped around its body. Depicted in the nude.
Patroness of: childbirth, home and hearth, homemaking and agriculture.
A neutral deity.
Called Amate by the Gottlungs , Amate-Maksha by the Slavards, and Amati by the Khoors.
Amate the Sun is the deity of light and heavenly fire for the Gottlungs, and the deity of beauty (though Kalle fights for this title in the Slavards' faith) and renewal.
She is eternally young and unspeakably beautiful. The Gottlungs believe that any beautiful woman is but a reflection of the Sunmaiden. White or blond hair is the mark of this goddess's patronage.
The Gottlungs ballads say that at the beginning of time, when none of the gods particularly wished to burn up, Amate was beset by loneliness and promised herself to her chosen mortal heroes — if they could prove themselves worthy and look upon her. Worthy heroes were found.
The bodies of those who beheld the beauty of Amate were instantly turned to ash. After some time had passed, these ashes filled up half of the heavens. From those ashes, the Dark Halls of her sister Velent were built.
The Sparks of the chosen ones who had beheld the beauty of Amate were locked up in Isenbrusts, magical heavenly pieces of ice. Since then, they have decorated the night sky, as well as the Dark Halls of Velent. The Sparks also adorn the cloak of Velent the Hasty.
Amate the Sun and Velent the Hasty are sisters. And so the two of them are often called the Sisters. The high priests of the Gottlungs, the Culds, say that the Sisters meet when eclipses come and decide matters of life and death for the chosen ones, those who bear the seal of the Sleeping God, their brother – apart from his will. So the Accurs have written in the tablets of Risterverden.
Amate the Sun has no interest in the affairs of mortals, and barely any interest in the affairs of the gods.
She only has interest in herself.
She is depicted nude, wearing a cloak, her hair spreading out as sunbeams. Her face is either not depicted or bears removable masks – or, when she is depicted in the form of a statue or stained glass window, her face is positioned so that the sun shines through it when sunrise comes.
She bears a golden scythe in her hand.
Amate collects the Sparks of those who perish during the day.
Symbolic attributes: golden scythe, sun, tongues of fire.
Swirling vertical lines of warm colors ornament her symbolic attributes.
Patroness of: agriculture.
An evil deity.
Mother-Night, Velent the Hasty, Velent-Ellyanae, Velent the Dark, Velent-An-Maksha, called Kharanhoo by the Khoors.
‘Velent-An-Maksha, the Dark One, hurries after the Dawn, on her chariot of silver, Aori wolf-howl bound thereon, bearing with her darkness and silence! She whose cloak covers the heavens, bringing darkness like that of the edge of worlds. She whose cloak is adorned with the Sparks of heroes, whose luminous scythe is as sharp as the scythes of the Sisters of the Reaping!
She whose bow did bend and slay her own father and brothers, taking their voices from them!
You show your shining face to your servants. Your dark eyes gaze upon us from the heavens, awaiting our service and our sacrifice. And we say to you, Elianne, the Dark One,
Our blades are sharp, and sworn to you!
Let blood flow in your name!
To you we say, FELLYMAE!’
Excerpt from a manuscript called the Killers' Prayer.’
The 3rd Corps of the Watchful and Devoted Order of His Flameness, Culd Accur Gaston Sixtus the Fifth
"...and Her name long ago was Silence, for she was born unable to speak, or so was thought by all... In those days there was no shadow over the world, and the heavenly sphere was divided in twain. One part was ruled by Tolki the Lightbringer, the other by his sons, the Northern Winds, who traveled the expanse of the heavens under a shining sail woven for them by Braetila... Tolki then also did own a bow, one made for him by the heavenly master Aori... And Velent saw the power of the bow of Tolki, her father the Lightbringer, and she was secretly envious of that power. Then Velent did persuade to her sister Amate... And Velent took her father's bow and uttered a secret word, and the bow became her servant... And she slew her father, and also did defeat her brothers. And the lightbringing crown of Tolki did fall from his head, and roll across the heavens, where it did approach the world of men and become enflamed. But Amate seized the crown and said the Word, and placed it on her head, and thus did become the master of the Day. Velent could not hold the shining sail of the heavenly gavran, and where Velent was, there was darkness. And so Velent did become An-Maksha, which being interpreted is the Dark One."
from the tales of the Slavards
The patroness of killers and dark deeds.
She is only called Mother Night by the Slavards from the distant North, who live under the cover of her dark cloak year-round. Archeress. Killer.
She killed her father with her own bow and arrow. When her younger brothers, the Northern Winds, were seized by their grief, they became wolves, and she killed them, stealing their voices.
She is depicted in the nude but wearing a cloak, like her sister but with her face visible.
She bears a silver scythe.
Amate's twin sister.
Dark brown or black hair is the mark of this goddess's patronage.
She is the deity of night and gathers the Sparks of those who die during the night.
Symbolic attributes: silver scythe, crescent, scattering arrows, bow.
Patroness of: burglary, murder, and other dark deeds.
An evil deity.
Terskel is the one-armed warrior who keeps eternal vigil over the walls of Terrskellen, the ring world, the wall world barring access to the world of the Sleeper, Risterverden.
It is a cold, icy world, isolating the fiery Risterverden from the other worlds.
In the Godmassacre, Terskel blew a great alarm on his horn Rivelim, signaling Aori to smash the silver brace of the heavenly sphere. Terskel's other arm, severed by the Ereborns, still grasps the bellowing horn Rivelim and ever floats throughout space, circling the world of humanity. As the elders will tell you, that horn still sounds forth. Sometimes, when the night is especially dark and quiet, you can hear it.
Along with Terskel, eternal vigil on the wall is kept by the Three Nameless Ice Knezi.
Symbolic attributes: horn and an arm.
A neutral deity.
The Dead Maiden, the Deathbreather, the Cold Goddess (or so the Gottlungs call her), Iceeyed, called Amghooy by the Khoors, and Lei by the northerners.
The maiden of death.
Her world, Smertverden, lies between the world of men, Sparksvaard, and the world of the Sleeper, Risterverden.
The Slavards are certain that all who die of old age and all who lose their sword or shame themselves on the field of battle are sent to the place of Jodenande. There, she extinguishes their Spark once and for all with her ‘embrace of love.’ When Jodenande embraces something, nothing remains.
But true warriors – godlike heroes inflamed with fury who give their lives in battle – fly through the world of Iceeyed, blazing holes through her ensnaring bedsheets.
Beyond lies the Sleeper's Forge, and then his Hammer and his Anvil, awaiting all true heroes.
For the Sleeping God is forging the souls of the dead into a great blade of Vengeance.
But not all who pass beyond Jodenande are worthy of this, and so not all make it through the Forge.
She regularly manifests herself in the world of humans, summoning to herself three of the Twelve Nameless Ice Knezi – three of which keep vigil on the walls of Terskellen, and nine of which guard the breach in the heavenly dome. She summons them, for she knows their names, and this means she has authority over them. When she does this, winter comes to Sparksvaard. It is believed that if Jode calls all of the Ice Princes at once, eternal winter and the kingdom of death shall dawn in the world of humans.
Collective name of her and her sisters: Sisters of the Reaping
Symbolic attributes: net, red scythe.
Patroness of: death.
Key phrases: ‘Raised on Jode's milk’: a natural-born killer.
‘His eyes shown with the twilight snows of Smertverden…’
The northerners call swords by a word meaning ‘senders to the twilight snows.’
An evil deity.
Iceeyed's younger sister.
The messenger of death who personally comes to collect the Sparks of the dead. She spends nearly all her time in the human world. Sometimes she appears to mortals to make deals with them: their Spark in exchange for some mortal desire.
For mortal desires often lead to even more Sparks, to Jomfru's great advantage.
Sometimes, though, she will offer her aid without explanation.
People often confuse Jodenande and Jomfrutotte – indeed, as far as humans are concerned, there is no special difference between them, but the elder feeds on human Sparks, and the younger feeds on pain and on the desire to survive that grips each mortal who comes to death's door.
Perhaps she has assumed some aspects of the mortals whose world she is almost always present in. She takes an interest in mortals.
Collective name of her and her sisters: Sisters of the Reaping.
Smbolic attributesy: red scythe.
Patroness of: death.
A neutral deity.
The warrior of the Throne of Wisdom, he is considered the god of knowledge and wise council.
He reclines on his soft bench with its soft back – and his eyes, burned out in Godernblodbad, see through the whole realm of existence.
Patron of: council, debates, seeking the truth
The Transporter, The Ferryman
The Ferryman is a greedy Holur, taking all the Sparks the other Holurs have been unable to divide amongst themselves to the threshold of the Gods, the purgatory world. Under no circumstances will the ferry someone back.
This purgatory world is built to determine which God will receive each of the Sparks that arrive there.
As payment, the ferryman takes the two coins, the so-called "divine mercy," placed on the dead person's eyes. Actually, though, he takes a part of the Spark which becomes tangible in his hands and takes the form of coins, so called the God’s Favor.
He is depicted as a gloomy old man, clad in rags. He does not use an oar but instead a wide-headed spear.
‘God’s Favor’ refers to the Spark particles transmuted into tangible matter in the hands off the Ferryman and the other Holurs.