Mythology: Paths to Divinity

Section 1: Gods and Goddesses

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Mythology

Table of Contents

Preface

Section I: Gods and Goddesses

Section III: Myths and Religions of other Peoples

 

Darawk, God of Knowledge

The Priesthood

How and who is chosen

Precepts of their Lives

Clothing

Blessings and Curses


The Priesthood

How and who is chosen

“Like everyone else, I went to the Darawk temple for school. My parents were poor people who made a living from odd jobs, hardly enough to put a good meal on the table in the evening – and certainly they didn’t have any money to give to the temple. Thank the Fountain of Wisdom, the Great Lord Darawk, that he has never required any stipend for schooling!

“It is of course common practice to pay the priests for their services, and a good thing this is for from what would a priest live otherwise? After all, spending an entire day teaching or researching leaves no time to work in another capacity. It is also common practice for Darawk priests to subtly reproach wealthy parents for not paying their stipends – never do the students receive any such reproach! It is not their fault if their parents are stingy without need.

“In my case there was no need for reproach. In fact Father Imahil offered my family five bronze coins every month, to outweigh what I might have earned in small jobs myself. My parents were too proud to accept such payment – and perhaps my father felt that I would have been much better off working. He had taken the earliest opportunity to leave school, at the age of twelve – probably with the cleric’s blessing. My mother, bless her!, had said that knowledge is important and could pave my way to a better future.

“How right she was! Learning my letters and numbers, I proved to be a quick study. Soon Father Imahil decided to move me up a class, and in his serious manner he instructed the older students to be kind to me. (I need not mention that even Father Imahil’s words did not stop them from teasing and taunting me continuously. That only spurred my desire to learn more, much to my fellow students’ dismay, as a few months later Father Imahil decided to move me beyond their class as well.)

“At that time I was rather smug about it. I had jumped two years in a matter of six months, and I was convinced this wouldn’t change. After all, I was so much smarter than everyone else. Oh, no, don’t get ahead of me! My smugness was dampened considerably a few days later when I found that I could barely keep up with my new fellows – and on the temple’s plaza I had to contend with the ridicule from not only them but those in the classes I had skipped.

“I secluded myself from everyone else, sought out Father Imahil for advice. His words were curt and direct when he told me that knowledge means work.

“The next years passed slowly. Fortunately memory has clouded them enough that I scarcely remember them. The temple served eight classes, from the age of seven onward. Although the parents can decide at any time to withdraw their child, the clergy considers five classes mandatory, roughly unto the age of twelve years. In that time the letters and numbers are intensively taught, a smattering of general knowledge about our world is provided, such as plant and animal lore, or the great nations, not to mention lessons about the gods who have created us all.

“At the age of twelve each student has decent enough knowledge that he or she can fend for her own life in the world, expand it at her own leisure. If the child has shown enough promise to continue study in the temple – and the parents can afford not to have one more pair of arms to earn money -, she is allowed to spend three more years in school. During that time the basic courses are expanded enormously, going into detail on every subject and introducing some new ones such as literature and magic. (Not courses in magic, naturally, but about it.)

“I was one of those chosen by Father Imahil to continue, and again he offered my parents money. Half a silver piece per month, it was now. I remember the sparkle of three silver coins that he proffered my father for half a year – and the disgusted look on my father’s face as he rejected it. ‘Let her work!’ he said.

“Father Imahil sternly said, ‘Your daughter works at the temple. She shows promise. Do not destroy her hopes.’

“I remember his words clearly, and the way my heart jolted when he said I showed promise. So I was smart after all! Hah, I was better than the fools in school!

“My father’s decision to withdraw me from school destroyed all the smug superiority in me. Without his consent there was no way I could possibly stay in school while the fools who did not show promise were allowed to stay. I had to work, and work I did. The very next day my father brought me to a nearby inn and had me hired to clean the kitchen and commons room.

“For that the innkeeper paid my father thirty copper coins a month. Twenty less than Father Imahil had offered. My father could count, of course, but he believed that work was a better teacher than a priest.

“How, then, did I become a priestess to Darawk? A future cleric not only has to pass successfully through the eight years such as my local temple offered, but she also has to attend several years at an academy and spend at least two years as teaching or research assistant. In the ordinary course of things, this means that one can only become ordained as a priest at the age of twenty-five.

“The answer is that I was thirty-seven when I received the brooch shaped like a scroll to pin on my tan vest. I had married a few years later, a brash warrior who caught my eye when I was some seventeen years old, and thus I passed from my father’s control into that of Helgvar. Helgvar was a good man, strong and handsome. I loved him dearly, but he was often gone from our home, on patrols or taking part in longer campaigns, leaving me behind with little to do aside from cleaning our home. I must admit, back then I rarely thought about the Darawk temple anymore. After my father withdrew me from school, I suppressed the memories and desires from that time.

“It took me several months before I realized that I might use the spare time to go back to the temple. Father Imahil had passed away by that time, replaced by a young cleric named Wallayn. She insisted on being called ‘sage’ rather than the honorific ‘mother’, a quirk that made me delay asking her for schooling. She seemed so young and inexperienced – well, it would have been odd calling her ‘mother’. When I came to that conclusion I did approach her, but her answer was curt and unpleasant. ‘What is the name of the current rule of Ibrollene?’ she barked.

“I didn’t know, and Wallayn snorted. ‘Do you expect me to waste my time on repeating lessons you have forgotten? How soon will you forget again?’ With that she stomped away, each footstep seeming to crush my dreams.

“To my fortune there is always a library at a temple, and a goodly number of them are freely available to the public, provided one paid a certain fee. As much as Sage Wallayn protested, she could not deny me the right to borrow books from her and read them at my leisure, at home. It was difficult to learn from the books, I found. First off, I had to get used to learning again; secondly, if there were questions unanswered in the books, I was too proud to ask Wallayn for help. So, to find the answers I borrowed other books, fought my way through them.

“For an entire year this went on. Wallayn’s frown deepened with every book I borrowed from her, but finally she realized that it was no delusional, brief idea of a bored housewife that brought me to the temple. So she assented to help me in my studies which eventually would bring me to a nearby academy of Darawk, and finally into the ranks of the clergy.

“I wish that Helgvar was still with us to see what I have become. About the same time as I went off to the academy, he died in a battle far away, never to see the youngest of his sons. He wrote me a letter, just the day before the battle, in which he said that he was looking forward to seeing his children again, and he wrily remarked that his friends were teasing him about being married to a priestess. Every day I pray to my lord, the great Darawk, to look after my husband in the world beyond.”

Rallagnaryn Livra,
Darawk Priestess,
Sacred Academy of Tervauld, Thousand Islands

 

 

Precepts of their Lives

“Being a priest of Darawk does not mean that you have to relinquish living your life. Yes, the work of a cleric consumes much of his day, yet that is true of so many who devote their lives to the service of their community. A priest can marry, have children, raise a family. He is not forbidden to travel – in fact, travel is encouraged. There is no food he may not touch, no drink. Alcoholic beverages are allowed (although several guidelines in the holy texts limit the consumption).

“As far as marriage is concerned, there are several clerics who say that in the days of yore, at least a millenium ago (probably longer), a Darawk priest was forced into celebacy. It was thought that having a wife and children would lessen the devotion of the cleric to his flock – but when the Great Lord of Knowledge himself took the goddess Atawn for his wife, such ideas were erased into ridicule.

“Today it is said that a Darawk priest should have children, so that the cleric better understands the minds of young people. It helps those who teach, and teaching is the primary occupation of the majority of priests devoted to Darawk.

“All in all, there are three different kinds of Darawk priests: the teachers, the researchers, and the travelers. (There is also a different distinction which is perhaps more obvious as it is displayed by the kinds of clothes worn. Let us reserve a discussion of this for a later time.)

“Oftentimes a priest falls into more than one category. For instance the traveler is interested in learning as much as possible, therefore he is a researcher; he is also interested in imparting his knowledge to others, wherefore he is also a teacher. Most academies demand that a newly ordained priest travel for at least two years before settling down to pursue a specific goal; thus one can assume every Darawk priest that one meets has been a traveler cleric at one point in her life.

“The researcher often – depending on the topic of her research – leaves the confines of her home to seek out new information abroad. Her goal is not to find knowledge for herself but to make it public. She generally does not teach children, probably only novices and higher students, but she will write books detailing her research.

“The teacher, on the other hand, commonly stays in one place for a long time. That place may be his hometown; it may also be that the teacher has traveled for several years and decided that a certain village or city or homestead is in need of a Darawk cleric. If it is a small place that holds only a shrine, with a single priest in attendance, said priest must also maintain a library which requires research. Surely he must provide a venue for others to research, and he will encourage his community to read and learn as much as possible.

“There are numerous ways for a Darawk cleric to earn money for her livelihood as well as for the temple. The fees and prices demanded are commonly low, but it is dearly expected that the customer leave an additional contribution in the hands of the cleric – if the customer could well afford to pay a higher price. (As Darawk priests value knowledge about all else, it is easy to see that most clerics know exactly about the wealth of their flock. They hold prices low to make sure that the poorer people have access to them as well – for those who could not even afford these prices, oftentimes the services are rendered for free. But if those who call many pounds of gold their own would try to exploit a Darawk priest, they ought to expect some kind of retribution to follow.)

“Primarily a temple earns money through schooling and the library. Some clerics waiver any kind of fee for students and accept only the contributions, some demand a price that is usually symbolic, such as a single copper coin per month. The library on the other hand always demands a fee when one asks for a book to take home; reading while at the library is free of charge.

“Then there is the magiscribe office which delivers messages via magical means to other temples – for a suitable fee. For a small amount of money one can subscribe as a regular customer at a temple.

“Clerics of Darawk also offer their services as writers and bookkeepers. If a peasant – who has not touched a quill for decades since leaving school – needs to write a letter to the landlord, he will ask a priest for assistance in crafting a readable and properly polite letter. Shop owners and merchants are often happy to rely on the skills of a cleric to make sure their business numbers are properly calculated. You can trust a priest of Darawk not to abuse that reliance – you can also expect him to uncover any impropriety on your part and, if serious enough, report it to the authorities. As a result of this truth, some traders publicize their association with a temple so none will reproach them for wrongdoing.

“Aside from that the temples and academies have their own papermills which produce paper that is sold – as much as isn’t required at the temple itself. Along with the papermill, the clerics also bind books, both their own and such collections of paper as others bring to them.

“Finally even the tiniest shrine is likely to boast a small flock of geese which produce the quills a priest is constantly in need of. These are sold as well, and occasionally one goose will find itself desired not for the feathers but for its meat as well, commonly at the time of a holiday when a feast is called for.”

Duchess Alanya Tesiraum,
“What you need to know about clerics”, 3088 A.E.

Clothing

“Darawk priests typically wear sedate and boring clothing. Well, they aren’t called the Scholars’ Order, for nothing, right? Oh, I don’t mind that. Me, I don’t really go in for all this reading and the holy search of knowledge. I’m just a simple man with a simple goal in life: money. Wealth, fortune, treasure, those are the precepts of my life.

“But, to get any of that, I suppose you need to know some things. Besides how to handle a sword and not to fret over killing someone else. (Particularly those who’re out to get you, too. Never need to worry about taking them out, after all.) Well, anyway, there’s always something else.

“Look, if you want to find some treasure – preferably one that’s unguarded -, you need to figure out where it is first of all. A guy like me usually doesn’t have a clue where to look for; otherwise, I’d have to hang out all the time in bars and try to snatch some piece of information, some clue that might seem silly… Well, it can happen, but you’re pretty dependant on luck. Way too dependant for my taste. So I’d rather check on the Darawk temple and try to lure the scholars into revealing some myth or legend that might have a kernel of truth to it.

“After a couple of years of doing this, and doing pretty well, if you want to know the truth. I’ve got me a nice place in Freeport, couple of servants who look after the house while I’m gone, and the merchants are lining up at my house whenever I’m home, hoping to get a piece of the valuables I’m bringing home. (Highest bidder, of course. You’d never get anywhere if you go with friendship or such like. ‘sides, I’m rarely enough home to have any friends among the weaselly merchants.)

“Oh, lost my train of thought. Where was I? Right… Well, you learn a few things about the Darawk priests. Especially important is the question whom you should approach. Look, they don’t all go for the same kind of knowledge, they’re specializing. Pretty much like your average warrior type; gotta decide whether you want to be a bodyguard, a mercenary, a solid soldier kind of guy, or whether you go into the freelancing business like me.

“So, there’s the folks who wear tan vests. They’re pretty good targets, for they usually look into geography, lay of the land, perhaps legends, too. All right, some are so boring that they drone your ears full of why some mud is important – and I mean mud, not a village or town that’s there! By the gods, I’ve spent way too many hours listening to self-important fools such as those!

“Find the right one, and you can learn about all the juicy little secrets some places hold.

“Then there’s the literary priests. Oh, yes, sure, all of them got their noses perpetually stuck in books. The ones I mean, they wear maroon robes, they read old books, stories, tales, old histories, that kind of thing. See what I’m getting at? They might not be good at telling you stuff about the nearby area, but you can uncover some ancient history, some legend from a faraway place that’s really profitable. (What? Oh, yes, not all of them are reliable. The stories, not the priests, I mean. One time, about two years ago, I followed up a very promising clue – and found that the place I’d been looking for had been looted a couple of decades earlier. Poor priestess who told me about it, she hadn’t known anything about that. I even came back to tell her, and… <Laughter> You know, she wasn’t unhappy at all! She started packing her bags while I was there and headed straight down to the place, to update her knowledge. My, those priests…)

“The regular teachers aren’t too shabby, either. They typically wear deep-brown jackets with some embroidery, like magical or holy symbols, I suppose. (Don’t ask me too closely, I couldn’t tell either apart – or say whether it’s just decoration. Hah, ask a priest!) The teachers are the people who specifically train the youth of their community, and that means they’ve been stuck in that place for a pretty long time, generally, which gives them a good awareness of the area – and certainly what the people are telling.

“You know, if you hang out in an inn to snatch onto some legend, that’s very time-consuming. Now think again, there’s always a Darawk priest around, a teacher who’s talked to pretty much everybody who lives there, including the ones who know those legends. So, why should you waste your time hoping to run across those people if you can go right to the cleric, talk nicely to her and have her deliver the whole stuff straight to you. She’ll probably be able to tell you how reliable the source is, whether there is some back-up – well, it’s just smarter, you know?

“(…)”

Terak ‘Dragonslayer’ Korbin,
warrior from Arrufat Peninsula
(recorded in a conversation in the “Orc’s Demise” inn at Inwarnez, Wild Coast,
printed in “The People of the Wild” by Deggar Bleyd, ed. 3162 A.E.)

 

Blessings and Curses

Note: Unfortunately I have not been able to find texts of proper briefness to describe the following blessings. As a result I have taken it upon myself to explain their functions. Should I have made any mistakes, I would gratefully accept a correction by a Darawk scholar.

G.A.Q.

 

Security Rune Blessing

This blessing is ordinarily used in every library of a Darawk temple. A “rune” – that is a magical symbol – is cast through the blessing onto an object and will then emit a signal that allows a Darawk priest to follow the resonance to the object.

The rune generally is invisible and does in no way damage the object.

Its purpose is rather obvious. Should a borrowed object be stolen (or forgotten), the cleric will always be able to track it down and return it to the library.

(By the same token, Darawk priests are often hired to cast these runes onto valuables in the possession of other people, be it rich merchants or perhaps state officials. In Cayaboré where the clergy is inducted into the state machinery, security runes are on nearly every official item – particularly the king’s crown!)

 

Detect Rune Blessing

This is the blessing by which a security rune can be detected. Each rune has a specific resonance (that was the word a priest used when describing the spell to me); a priest has to attune his mind magically to that resonance whereafter he can sense the origin of the signal.

 

Magicopy

For this blessing a priest needs an original scroll and a blank piece of paper, preferably of the same size. It does not matter how old the scroll is, how artful the text is arranged. The priest then links both sheets of paper magically, and the blank sheet will assume the likeness of the original paper.

Thus a perfect copy comes into being, indistinguishable by the appearance of the text. (If the types of paper differ, that is still noticeable.)

 

Magiscribe

This blessing is a variation of “Magicopy”, but it has taken on incredible importance in the past century since it was introduced. “Magiscribe” permits instant communication over many thousands of miles, without any loss of content.

In this blessing, two sheets of paper are again magically linked. But here, both sheets are empty. One remains at the Darawk temple while the other is carried away to some other place, no matter how far the distance. If someone writes on either of the sheets, the writing instantaneously appears on the other sheet through the magical blessing. A perfect copy is created over miles, a message is sent without having to use couriers.

A wonderful and marvelous invention, this spell! In my time as senator of the Imperium, I have oftentimes given thanks to Darawk and offered a sacrifice to him for this magnificent gift.

A note on practical use: Except for educational purposes, the priests never link only two pages by “Magiscribe”; instead one pile of sheets is linked to another pile. This is quite sensible since a single sheet of paper is quickly filled, and it would be rather tedious to continuously send new pages to the receiving or sending stations. (In the earliest days of this blessing, only a pair of sheets could ever be linked. The priests were busy for days collecting a sufficiently large amount of pairs to distribute.)

Today nearly all Darawk temples are connected via magiscribe and offer their services to the populace. For a relatively small fee you can register yourself as a regular customer at a temple, receive your proper magiscribe address, and from that point onward, everyone around Gushémal can send messages to you via the magiscribe system. (The fees demanded for the delivery of a message vary from temple to temple. They are always dictated by the question of how many letters there are in the message and to how many receiving stations they are sent.) 

 

Dictate Blessing

This blessing appears similar to “Magicopy” and “Magiscribe”, but apparently it demands an entirely different technique. The effect is that one or several sheets of paper (linked in sequence) are blessed so that the words spoken around them are immediately written down. The style of writing differs; for all I have been able to ascertain, it is the writing of the priest casting the spell.

Few Darawk priests use this spell themselves. Only the older ones are no longer nimble enough with their fingers to write themselves and require the usage of “Dictation”.

To the financial benefit of each temple, the blessing does not require that a Darawk priest dictates words onto the paper. It reacts to any understandable word – in all languages that the casting cleric herself knows. Therefore these pages are commonly sold at the temple, in a soundproof envelope. Once the sheet is removed from the envelope, it will immediately begin to record the words said around it.

One usage of course is the dictation of letters, but I personally find that there is an even better one. Taking notes during a discussion is often difficult when tempers flare and voices intermingle too fast to quickly and reliably write down their words. Senate sessions in particular have occasioned much questioning of the notes afterwards when senators complain that their contributions were forgotten.

Using the “Dictation” blessing, there is no such worry. The sheets hear everything and, with a proper variation on the spell, even attribute the correct names.

 

Improve Memory Blessing

This spell enhances the ability of a person to retain information from the point of casting onward. The person is then able to remember events or texts perfectly, to the smallest detail.

The effect of this spell is temporary – how long it lasts depends on the amount of magical energy used. (It should be noted that when a great deal of magic is expended on this spell, it remains temporary – but since the duration equals several centuries, it is virtually permanent memory.)

One alternate application of this blessing is to imprint a permanent memory. In this case, though, the memory must be a very small item, such as a single line of text. Again this depends on the amount of magic employed, and therefore on the power of the casting priest; the more energy is expended, the more can be remembered.

                  

Remember Blessing

This blessing is somewhat similar to “Improve Memory”, but it is not limited to what happens after the spell has been cast. “Remember” opens the venue to all the memories stored in the mind of the target of the blessing, allows the perfect recall of events decades ago.

One can imagine how powerful this spell must be. It is therefore not surprising that the blessing can only be cast by the stronger clerics, at a vast expenditure of magical energy. Even then it is rarely permanent; I know of only a single case in which a permanent spell was cast – and the cleric casting it was the Divine Speaker herself! (That happened about twenty years ago when Eyrolflyan, a priestess of Darawk, held the post of Divine Speaker.)

 

Implant Knowledge Blessing

Yet another variation of the memory blessings is this one which allows a priest to deliver knowledge directly into the mind of a person. To me who understands little of magic, it seems that this spell combines “Magicopy” and the memory blessings, since knowledge is copied from one mind to another.

The source does not have to be the priest casting the blessing. A second person who has the pertinent information can be used as a template from which to copy the knowledge into the destination mind.

There are of course many ways to employ this spell. Perhaps the most valid is the usage at court, when a testimony is in doubt. With this blessing a priest can extract the memories of the crime from the witness and deposit them in the mind of a trustworthy individual who will then relate the correct events.

Naturally this is an intense violation of the sanctity of a person’s mind, and therefore Darawk priests are very reticent applying this blessing to an unwilling participant. It commonly is used in cases of gruesome murder, and then only on the suspect. (If a witness of such a crime is unwilling to re-experience the terrible events consciously, she might agree to be part of the blessing, and the Darawk priest would be sure none of the memories touch her awareness.)