Section I: Gods and Goddesses
Section III: Myths and Religions of other Peoples
“What is a god without a temple of worship, one might ask. Well, if that were the case, then Nash’Geo would be no deity at all. As unlikely as it might seem, there are no temples devoted to him in the entirety of this world.
“Some readers might disagree on this and claim that it is merely a matter of semantics, since they have been to a ‘temple’ of The Great Wanderer themselves. I must disappoint these readers, for they have only visited a shrine.
“No matter how large the building may have been, no matter how uniquely it was devoted to the service to Nash’Geo, it is only a shrine. Also, there are very few of those solitary buildings in the world. (Most commonly they are found in Kraznyczar. The readers from that nation are most likely to mistake the shrines for temples; indeed the shrines are colloquially known as temples, sometimes even by the clerics themselves. Believe me that the superiors of their clergy frown upon such habits.)
“It may only be that words are chosen differently, yet this is of great importance to the followers of Nash’Geo. They have no temples of their own, since their deity is a roving god, not the sedentary kind. Shrines, by definition minor places of worship, are the only kind allowed to the clergy.
“Most often, a shrine will be located within a Darawk temple – consisting of little more than the place of worship itself and the quarters of the priest encharged with the shrine. The latter belongs always to the caste of ‘patrons’, the ones whom the ordinary person might call a banker or the financier of the ‘real’ Nash’Geo priests’ excursions. It is here that a supplicant can hire the services of a guard, or learn of the places currently explored by the patron’s charges.
“As an architect, the shrines bear little of note. Most of the time they are part of what was designed as a temple to Darawk, wherefore those principles of spartanic simplicity apply. The patron priest may furnish his rooms much as he likes, yet most of the times there is a wealth of images and sculptures from exotic places. It is a curious fact what is considered exotic here. A shrine in Kraznyczar might harbor images of the Tonomai empire, or the oases of the Elfadil Desert – whereas a shrine in Chazevo would hardly bother with paintings of a place as near and familiar as those. Rather, a Chazevo shrine might feature imagery from Kraznyczar – the wide, empty expanses, or the snowy, wintery villages.
“Now and then, these displays can bring cheer to an architect’s heart, when they are arranged artfully. Unfortunately, that is rarely the case. Though these paintings and sculptures may conjure up successfully the spirit of distant lands, they often do so through their sheer mass rather than the effect proper and subtle placement may have.
“I should note that those shrines which are not situated in Darawk temples also bear almost no interest for an architect. The Nash’Geo clergy rarely bothers to build a shrine for themselves; instead they buy or rent a house already erected. Therefore the design varies widely.”
Keristopheras, Elven Master Architect,
“Oh, I love the Nash’Geo shrine in my home. Cursed as I am by my profession – an accountant has a boring life indeed, filled only with numbers and dry papers -, it’s an incredible relief that I know how to make my vacation time something worthwhile. Look at some of the other fellows in my office; when they have time off, they spend it at home, resting all the while.
“Not for me, oh, no! It’s bad enough that I have almost the entire year to suffer the same old sights, the dreary same-ness of the familiar sights. During my vacation, I want to see something new! I want to look at the fantastic buildings of the Tonomai Empire, those curled spires and everything. Or the Arrufat peninsula, with all those ruins of ancient greatness. My, oh my, there are so many things in this world that I want to see!
“Alas, I am not really the adventuring type. In stories, it is very fine to hear of people assailed by monsters and creatures of the dark. Keep them away from me, hear? I’d rather live than be murdered by their ilk.
“That is where I know to rely on the Nash’Geo priestess. In her shrine, she can always tell me of the places I wish to visit, and more often than not, she can also offer me a way to travel there with a minimum of danger to myself. Granted, it costs a lot, and the time a journey consumes is often more than two year’s vacation time. But it’s worth it. I have seen those ruins in Arrufat, have climbed down the caves of the Pertolav, and several other places that I would never have dared dream of, if it hadn’t been for the shrine.
“Happily the cost has not been prohibitive. Of course, if I had traveled alone, I could never afford any such journey. But the Nash’Geo priestess always arranges for a group to travel together so that we can share the expenses for the guards (and ourselves, obviously).
“Still, it is so dreary and hard to last for a year or two or three without any vacation, to save up those days so that I can travel to places far away. Thank the Great Wanderer for his priestess! She always has exciting tales to keep my heart warm and make the waiting time less troublesome.”
Blessing of Proper Direction
This is an intriguing blessing, one that has brought a good deal of money into the coffers of the patron priests of the Nash’Geo clergy, ever since an ingenuous cleric found a way to manufacture appliances which contain this blessing, commonly called “direction finders”.
That name is both apt and a misnomer, I believe. Most of these appliances are cone-shaped, with a crystal embedded at the top, while the cone’s bottom is fitted with grooves to make grip. The crystal glows permanently, but its color changes depending on the direction it is pointed at. If pointed straight north, it glows in a powerful, rich red, but runs through the colors of the rainbow when turned around. The only direction that one can identify clearly is north. West, south and east are mixtures of other colors, although there are people who have learned to read the shadings of the crystal easily. These experienced travelers can also define more precise directions than only the four major directions. (I have heard some speak of heading towards, say, the fourth shade of blue, which is somewhere between east and south.)
The ordinary person will turn the device around until its crystal glows in the strongest red, which is the northern direction. By common sense, he can deduce which way he now should head.
A Nash’Geo priest does not require a tool, of course. The blessing creates the vision of the colors in his very eyes, obscuring his sight little. That vision lasts about half an hour, then it has to be renewed.
Blessing of Seeing What Lies Ahead
“The traveler is often confounded by the question of where a road leads to, the wondering if there shall be danger or a brook to chance upon, mayhaps an inn to rest one’s body at the end of the day’s wandering, or a matter of which direction shall pose the least problem to cross. A good priest should employ his blessing to alter his vision momentarily, to range his gaze beyond the normal range, to reveal what lies beyond.”
Saound, Nash’Geo Priest,
I have found this blessing an interesting affair. A few years ago, on a mission as ambassador of the Imperium, I was charged to journey to the capital of Kraznyczar. (The goal of my mission is of no concern here; as so many of my country’s dealings with our western neighbors, it succeeded partially and failed in other respects.) A priest who claimed to follow Apollo accompanied me, yet I quickly learned that he was more beholden to the Gushémal pantheon, specifically Nash’Geo. Since it turned out to be the better for our journey, I did not see it fit to challenge the priest’s claim at the time. (Later I did and found that in his own mind he saw no problem with serving both the Roman and the Gushémal deity, since some of Apollo’s aspects match those of Nash’Geo closely. Further questioning of his ideas I have left to the Pontifex Maximus at Eboracum Novum to resolve.)
Our journey led us through the thick woods separating the Imperium from Kraznyczar. There are no official passages, no roads that are protected by the soldiers of either side, and as such I soon grew grateful of my priest’s ability to farsee. He apparently was quite experienced in this, for he could call the vision several times a day, sometimes seeing as far as several miles ahead, through the seemingly solid armies of trees around us. Once his sight wandered straight through a mountain, and he noted with a smile that a mining operation would prove very profitable, since gold and silver reserves were rich within the mountain. Clearly he could see straight into the rock.
Yet this blessing can also be a curse. While it is in effect, the priest is incapable of noting what is immediately around him; his eyes only see the blessing’s vision. The cleric on my journey had no unhappy surprises, not least of all because the sudden appearance of a horde of wild dwarves, for instance, would have been taken care of by my legionaries and myself (who at the time was still young enough to hold a gladius). Imagine, though, a solitary cleric wandering through a forest such as this. Can he permit himself to farsee what lies a mile away, yet have only his ears to tell him what is a few yards off?
Blessing of Levitation (Minor)
I have not heard of Nash’Geo clerics able to perform great feats of levitation. The priest I mentioned in the preceding paragraphs assured me that there was no true limit to their abilities in this regard, yet unlike some other clerics (most notably those of Sayguel), it requires an enormous amount of strength to effect this blessing.
Most priests only lift themselves – and their party, if one is present – a few inches above the ground, commonly to cover untractable territory. Clearly few kinds of territory can be crossed in this manner, for their obstacles to travel must be close to the ground, and their reach must not be long.
A bog or a brook is the most likely opportunity to levitate, but I have also known of priests crossing a stream of steaming lava in this manner, or a treacherous place in an icy mountain, lest they fall into a chasm hidden underneath brittle ice.
The Split River’s Blessing
One of the most common obstacles a journeyman can find is a river without a bridge or a ford available. Sometimes, of course, it is an easy matter to swim across the stream, but often the problem will be how to get a wagon across, or the matter that the river is too wild – yet to walk along its length to find a better place to traverse it promises a loss of much time.
At these points the blessing to “split a river” becomes a most welcome alternative. It works in such a way that a ford is magically created, by pushing the water out of the path that the priest wishes cleared. To the unaccustomed eye it seems as if two watery walls slowly form in the river, sometimes causing such wonderments as fish finding themselves placed in mid-air where moments earlier had been their life-giving water. (Few travelers dare pass up an opportunity such as this, I would say. Fishing is never easier than only having to bend over and pick up your evening’s meal.)
Once the travelers have crossed the river, the priest withdraws his blessing, and the stream returns to its natural configuration.
As so often, it must be noted that not every cleric can split every river, it depends on the priest’s reserve of magical energy as well as his own experience in the matter. The young priests manage no more than a creek, one that could be waded across in any event, whereas those further along in their faith and craft might create a ford in a river as wild and mighty as the Orbé River of the Arrufat Peninsula.
Blessing of Quickened Boots
“I have seen a marvel this past day.
“The sun had been shining so warmly that the air in my shop had grown uncomfortable, and so I decided to rest on the porch, in a chair, with a table and a glass of lemonade beside me. By sheer coincidence I had looked to the south, when there was a queer sight. It looked much like a stormcloud, but the cloud was too small and contained to be a veritable storm. The reason for that I learned quickly, for only moments after I noticed the occurrence, it had already reached me.
“I’ll gladly admit that I was frightened. Who wouldn’t, after all? What had seemed a storm before now turned out to be a person, surrounded by clouds of dust kicked up by its boots – boots that moved at an incredible speed. (This I found out a bit later; at the time I had no idea what had caused the dust cloud.) The person herself (the fact that it was a woman I also learned shortly thereafter) was clad in a thick coat, buttoned up in front, and an odd helmet. The better part of the helmet was rather ordinary, albeit painted a bright orange, but instead of a normal slit visor, its front was made of a transparent screen, certainly a product of magic. [Note by G.A.Q.: From reliable sources I have learned that the shopkeeper was only partially correct. The translucent material does not seem to have any magical capabilities. It is quite hard and resistant, much like iron, yet it remains transparent all the time. But magic may have a part here since the material is exported from the famed land of Modayre which usually excels in producing magical appliances. Due to the Modayrean secrecy about themselves, nobody knows how exactly the material is produced.]
“The woman opened her helmet and looked around for a moment before settling her gaze on me. ‘Are you the proprietor of this shop?’ she asked, and when I confirmed this, she proceeded to ask me for some goods, pulling a bag of coins out from under her coat. I felt much dazed, handled the familiar task of selling items quickly before I regained my wits and dared ask her about how she had come here.
“She smiled casually and pointed to her boots. ‘These are blessed to move at much faster speeds than an ordinary being can. It is a blessing that a few priests of Nash’Geo can work. It should be no cause for worry, good man.’ I assured her I had not been worried, not very convincingly. ‘At any rate,’ she continued her explanation, ‘they allow me to cover a mile’s distance within a little over a minute. The wind gets rather fierce at that speed, so I need a visor which is completely closed. The same goes for my coat. I do not like to catch a cold.’ She grinned briefly, then put her items into a rucksack and stepped out of my shop. ‘Now I have to hurry on. Have a good day, Master Shopkeeper,’ she said, then she left, transformed – apparently – once more into a stormcloud. How she managed to walk normally for a while and then to command her boots to produce their marvelous speed, I have no idea.
“But a marvel it truly was!”