Part 8: Praxian GodsI have returned from being without a good computer just in time to be only a few days late of the latest Praxian raid! That makes this an excellent time to tell you stories of Prax. Let's talk about Praxian gods. The eldest god of Prax is Storm Bull.
Storm Bull, Destroyer of Chaos
Storm Bull, you see, is a manifestation of the god Umath, the primal Aer who tore the sky and earth apart to make room for himself and his children. Storm Bull contained all that was bestial: violence, raw strength, instinct. In the Golden Age, Storm Bull and his sons settled in Prax. The mother of the land was Ernalda, who gave unto Storm Bull her daughter, Eiritha, to be his wife.
Storm Bull was a great rival of the fire-god Lodril, wounding him in the War of Gods. Thus did Storm Bull aid the Lesser Darkness. When the Greater Dark came, and Fear and Death sought out victims, Storm Bull was first in combat. He brought Death to Prax himself, when he slew the god Ragnaglar, but even this could not stop the coming of the Devil, Wakboth. Wakboth and the Storm Bull fought in Prax, and all who entered the fight knew they could never win. But Storm Bull stood firm, facing the Devil. He should have died there, and one of his ears was torn off and hurled to the ground. Eiritha gave Storm Bull all her power, though the place where the ear fell remained dead forever after. Storm Bull rose again, and saw a piece of the world-mountain Spike, which had exploded. He took the mountainside and slammed it into the Devil, pinning him beneath the stone, which was made of solidified Law. It nearly killed Storm Bull, and he could not slay the Devil, so he hid in the Storm Hills, where Chalana Arroy healed him.
Storm Bull still lives in those hills. His thunder rolls across the desert, though he does not make himself present often. The cult of Storm Bull says that when you die, lay members become initiates, while initiates become preists. They will join in the Storm Bull's Eternal Battle, fighting Chaos forever. It is said that Storm Bull himself will take the souls of those slain by Chaos, ensuring they do not become nothingness. The runes of Storm Bull are Death, Storm and Beast.
Waha the Butcher, God of Prax
Storm Bull and Eiritha had a son: Waha. Waha was born at the end of the Gods War, after the Devil Wakboth was slain and Eiritha hid beneath the Earth. He emerged from the earth to find darkness and disorder. People wandered through the blasted land, dying of their own stupidity. Some followed lesser spirits or even dark gods, but Waha taught them the new way to live. He freed Eiritha's Daughters, who were imprisoned by Kyger Litor. Thus he returned to the world the Protectresses, the goddess-daughters. Thus did the women of Prax begin to worship Eiritha and the people began to herd.
Waha taught the people the secrets of death. He showed them the PEaceful Cut, that they might return their sister-animals to the womb of Eiritha and thus ensure there was always food. Waha taught them to fight, that their foes might be sent to the dark hells. He fought the Wild Fire and tamed it, giving it to man. He cleansed the desert of the Devil's power, using the power of Eiritha to dig a great pass, diverting a river to the place where the Devil lay. Waha ordered the river to devour the Devil, so it did, and many souls were thus released from bondage. Waha took these, giving them solace.
The cult of Waha promises that those who die will be born again, after a certain amount of time, into the land of Prax. Initiates of Waha will spend their time dead in the Land of the Wondrous Dead, where Waha and his mother rule. Those even greater will spend years there, watching over Waha's herds and unable to die again. Still, even they will once more become mortal - only true heroes may remain forever in Waha's realm. Waha's runes are Death, Beast and Man.
How The Beasts Were Given Out
This is a myth of the Sable Tribe, but each tribe has its own variant. When Waha came to the people, there was no food to eat, for the Old Food had been burned in the war of Chaos by the spirit Oakfed, the Wild Fire. Waha found a magic which would let people eat the New Food, but it made them Stupid. At that time, there were many people - four-leg people and two-leg people of all kinds. Most were so hungry that they didn't care - only a few wanted to keep their wits. These were the ancestors of the Sable Tribe, who saw that those who became Stupid would need protection from the Broos and the Dark Men and other evils. Thus, they were willing to starve rather than let everyone die. This is the way of the Sable Riders.
Waha was going to give everyone their wish, but he realized that there were too few Sable Riders to protect all those willing to become Stupid. He also saw that if the Four-Leg People stayed smart, they would be at a disadvantage, for they had no hands. Fighting Chaos would be harder, and Waha's people might not win. Waha, naturally, could not allow this.
Waha decided to tell the people that he lacked the magic to make everyone able to eat the New Food. He divided the two-legs people into tribes, pairing each with one type of his mother's children, the four-legs people. He then said there would be a contest to see which half of each group would stay smart. To make sure everyone tried to win, he said the winners would eat the best food, for he feared that the two-legs people might try to fail because of their hunger.
Waha set the ancestors of the Sable Riders against the Sables, for he knew that the Sables were too clever for any other tribe. The Founder of the Sable Riders prepared his people, though, and won the contest. Thus did they become the Sable Rider tribe.
Waha took the Haughty Ones and paired them with the High Llama. When the Haughty Ones saw they might lose to those taller than themselves, they gave up their pride for a moment and resorted to dirty tricks to win. Waha intended this, for otherwise they would lose to any beast due to their arrogance.
Waha took the pygmy people and put them against the Impala, for he feared that their small brains would make them lose against any other four-legs people. Even then, it was a close contest, but the Impala Riders won by tie-breaker.
Waha put the Brutes against the Bison, for no other people were strong enough to match them. To ensure the Brutes won, he drugged the Bisons with fermented mushrooms made in the Land of Dark Men. Even so, the Brutes barely won, though Waha helped them all he could and reminded them five times that they would get the best food if they won. (The Sable Riders do not have high opinions of most Bison Riders.)
Many other contests were held, and at last the Morocanth came forward to be paired off. They had watched hte other contests with alarm, for they wanted to stay smart and keep the taste of cooked meat. They knew Waha did not know them very well, so they hung out their tongues and drooled, staggering as they walked, even glazing their eyes to make the two-legs people think they suffered Brain Fever.
Waha was pleased, for he had not known who to pair against the Dumb Ones, who were dazed by the destruction of their forests. He paired them up, but the Morocanth dropped their act and defeated the Dumb Ones easily. Waha would have helped the Dumb Ones, but he had used up all his tricks against the Visons. This made him angry, for he would have chosen the Dumb Ones over the Brutes - at least the Dumb Ones were not stupid!
The Morokanth were smug and boastful, which angered Waha further, but in the end he had to uphold his results, for he had not taken the wits of the four-legs people yet and he feared they might suspect trickery and cause trouble if he redid the contest or changed the rules. That is how the Morocanth cheated and were not made Stupid like other beasts. This is why Chaos and invaders sitll come to Prax, for the Morocanth can never be as good as men.
(Naturally, the Morocanth have their own stories, but all humans say they cheated.)
Eiritha, Mother of Herds
Eiritha was one of many animal goddesses in the Dawn Age, a daughter of Ernalda, the Mother Earth, and Hykim, the Father of Beasts. She loved Prax best of all, where she lived with her daughters, the goddesses of the herds. When the Storm Bull came to the land, Eiritha married him over her old lovers, but their wedded bliss was short, as the War of the Gods came and Death took to the world.
Death came for Eiritha one day, but he (for the Praxians say Death was not a sword but a man) was baffled, for he could not find her. One of Storm Bull's sons, Orani, fought with Death and delayed him, though he died for it. The great hero-god Tada led his people during the fight to dig a great pit, hiding their goddess in the womb of the earth. Thus was Death fooled, but since that time, Eiritha may never again walk free, or he will know he was tricked.
During hte Great Darkness, Eiritha's children suffered. Waha was born to her, and he salvaged her magics along with those of his father, Storm Bull, teaching them to the survivors. Neither Storm Bull nor Eiritha could return to Prax directly, so instead, the people worshipped Eiritha's daughters, the Herd Protectresses, and Waha. Eiritha's cult, however, remained strong, through her daughters.
There are two cults of Eiritha: the cult of Herd Eiritha, who is worshipped via her daughters. To the Sable Riders, she is Sable Eiritha. To the Impala Riders, she is Impala Eiritha. The other is the Cult of Eiritha of the Paps, or Paps Eiritha, for the ancient site Paps is home to the remnants of the once-great cult of Ernalda, before the Darkness came. Both cults, however, promise the same afterlife: that all worshippers who are observant and respectful should be recognized by Eiritha, who will reincarnate them much as Waha does for his worshippers. Like Waha's worshippers, only heroes are spared reincarnation, becoming aids to the goddess in the afterlife.
Animals may be considered part of Eiritha's cult. Eiritha's runes are Beast and Fertility.
Daka Fal, Judge of the Dead
There are no tales of Daka Fal before the Great Darkness, and it is believed that he is the same being as Grandfather Mortal, called Wanderer in the ancient days. He had many adventurers, but the most important was his encounter with the infant god Death, who at the time was a sharp thing in the hand of Humakt. Grandfather Mortal agreed to test Death's powers, and he was the first to know Death. Thus were all men destined to die, for Grandfather Mortal was their ancestor.
When the Darkness came, Daka Fal appeared among the men, who resisted their own mortality. He taught them how to seperate living from dead, how to test if something was truly alive or if it was a ghost. He taught the first burial rites and the first spells to communicate with the dead. Thus did some people survive the dark, with the aid of their fallen ancestors.
Daka Fal was named by the gods to be Judge of the Dead, for it was he who first knew Death's power and who holds all its secrets. In Prax, his worship has no real power...but in times of crisis, when the gods fail, Daka Fal becomes quite popular. (Other nations may worship Daka Fal and the ancesotrs more, of course. But in Prax, it is for times of crisis.)
Daka Fal teaches his cult that they will continue to exist after death. It may not be a good existence, and it may end some day, but they will not lose their personalities, and they ensure that the dead cannot bother the living. Much. Daka Fal's runes are Man and Spirit.
All other major gods in Prax are invaders. Humakt, Yelmalio, the Seven Mothers (a cult of Lunar hero-gods) and the hero-cult of Pavis are counted among these, as are the Lightbringer gods: Issaries, Chalana Arroy, Lhankor Mhy and Orlanth.