The Religion of Alwold
The Alundic people originated in the country of Alwold, which is now Northern Atharia. Today, they are to be found in Fraen Taer and Tevland, and though these lands are far apart, they still share their religion, which is at least as old as that of the Old Faith.
The First Age
The age before the darkness began long before the creation of the mortal world, and indeed before many of the gods, who by the Alundic peoples were known as the Tur-Durin. Of the realms there was only Tenim-Taer, the Bright Lands, in which dwelt the greatest and first of the Tur-Durin. The first was Celumdorith, who was to become the king and father of the others, and at his side was Faemya, Mother of all, and his wife.
Celumdorith caused into being a great hall at the centre of Tenim-Taer, which he named Caers Deryth, which would stand until the end of time.
In time, Faemya gave birth to many children, the chief of which were their sons Auringaen, Dunadar and Taegar, and the daughters Braegwin, Nyvillis and Salidrael.
Between Auringaen and Salidrael there was a great bond, for they both loved the forests of Tenim-Taer, and spent much of their time hunting together. Auringaen was himself a mighty warrior, of great fury, and often took the form of a great beast. Salidrael was light of foot and steady of aim, and few could ever know of her coming until she so desired it, and none could match her prowess with the bow.
Dunadar was the greatest of the sons, and he stood by his fathers right side. He was quick to anger though, and had a love for rule and power.
Taegar was a traveller, uncaring for the ties of either power or friends. Later, he was to be known as the Lord of Travels by mortals, but for now he roamed Tenim-Taer between its ends.
Braegwin was the favoured daughter of Celumdorith, and she had a love for the birds and the skies. She was to be known as the Lady of the Light, Mistress of the Skies, and by many other names besides. Her favourites were the eagles, who became the guardians of Caers Deryth. It is said that long before the coming of Man, she often took the form of her eagles and mated with them, mothering a race of eagle men who were loyal only to their mother. Other tales tell not of this mortal race though, except that they will make themselves known at the Last Battle.
The last of the daughters was Nyvillis, who loved the seas and rivers. Her spirit runs in all waters that feed the lakes and seas of the mortal world, and she was to be honoured by sailors and fisher folk.
The Forging of the World
After many years had past, Celumdorith and Faemya brought together the greatest of their sons and daughters, and together they forged the world which was to be home to Men, Endor. After the last forests had been planted, and the final rivers and seas had been carved out of the landscape, the Tur-Durin created the animals.
Finally, the gods made man. They were seen to be humble before the gods, and so the gods saw that man spread across the world, and became proliferous. Each of the Tur-Durin gave Man part of themselves, the most notable of which was Dunadar, who gave Man the lust for wealth and power, and planted in them the seeds of evil.
The others though swayed Men from the paths of darkness, and they followed Celumdorith through their own will. But Dunadar wanted to rule Men himself, so he went amongst them and spread lies, converting many to his will. Faemya though uncovered his lies, and confronted him with them. Dunadar became angry, and then violent, and unleashed his wrath upon his mother, maiming her, but Celumdorith saw what was happening and intervened, and Dunadar fled.
The First Battle
Hunted by his brothers and father, he fled to Endor, where he called those Men he had swayed to his side to arms, and together they marched against the rest of the Tur-Durin. But Dunadar was defeated, and his hosts destroyed. Surrounded by his brothers, he was tied and bound, and brought to the feet of his father, were out of fear he begged for forgiveness. Maybe he would of been granted it, but Celumdorith remembered his wife, whose body was now burnt and scarred, and whose beauty was now lost to Tenim-Taer and Endor both, So Celumdorith proclaimed punishment for his son, which would be death.
Fear left Dunadar with these words, and anger took him, and taking the form of a terrible beast he broke his bonds, and sprouting wings of darkness battled free of his brothers and fled, not to Endor, but passed it, to the third Realm that was below it, to Angwen-Taer, the Dark Lands, out of sight of those who hunted him.
The Second Age
Dunadar cowered in his new lands for many ages. He had been weakened greatly in his escape from the Tur-Durin, of whom he no longer considered himself a part, and the form he had taken in his flight became fixed. In later times his old name was forgotten, and he became Cthumah, the Beast, or the Dragon.
While he hid, he created his own beings from the few Men who had fled with him. He created his servants into beings of evil and cruelty, and all semblance of humanity left them. These were the Naegbor, the cursed slaves of Cthumah.
Other dark creatures he made also, the greatest of which were the Spiders, corrupted beasts made from their lesser mortal namesakes. They were huge, made of darkness and a poison flowed in their veins which would kill any mortal thing, animal or plant, which it touched. And these were his principle servants of this time, who went abroad in Endor, spinning webs of deceit and lies amongst Men.
Cthumah wanted further power though, but alone he could not create anything that would match the strength of the Tur-Durin, though many of his creatures were unaffected by the weapons of mortals. So Cthumah sent the most powerful and skilled of his Spiders to Tenim-Taer, to ensnare for himself a wife to rule with him.
Of all the Tur-Durin, Cthumah chose Salidrael, for she was often alone far from the watchful gaze of his father, with only Auringaen who would be near enough to aid her if any got the chance.
And so the Spiders spun a trap for Salidrael, and ensnared her within it, binding her with their black webs which sapped her strength and brought her near death. But Auringaen heard her feeble cries, and rushed to free her, but though he slew many of the great Spiders, he could not reach her before she was taken to Angwen-Taer. Since the entrance to this realm was hidden from even the view of the Tur-Durin, Auringaen could not follow, though he slew all of Cthumah‘s servants that were sent to delay him.
And so Auringaen returned to Tenim-Taer, and called a council of war, and the rest of the Tur Durin massed their armies and marched on Cthumah, and the Second War of the Tur-Durin was begun.
This time though, Cthumah was ready, and he defended his realms in Angwen-Taer, and even those on Endor, though most of his great spiders were destroyed, and he lost more than half of his Naegbor. So the Second Age drew to a close with the ending of the War. Cthumah was left with control of his realms on Endor, and had Salidrael as his wife. The Tur-Durin retreated back to Tenim-Taer, and mourned the loss of their dead, and in particular, the loss of Salidrael.
The Third Age
It was the beginning of the Third Age, when the servants of Cthumah spread far and wide across Endor, converting Men to his side. Many battles were fought between those that stayed with the Tur-Durin, and those that converted. Over time, Salidrael gave birth to several children, who were as dark and twisted as their father. She herself was hidden away in a great tower at the centre of Cthumah‘s realm, chained and blinded to prevent her escape.
The children who she bore, though not as powerful as the gods, were more powerful than anything Cthumah had been able to create himself. There was Balar, who became lord of fire, Muthemni, the lord of ice, Tarlravin, lord of sickness and death, and also Celiscian, the Lady of Deception. All of these Cthumah gave the control of his great armies, and they became his generals.
Towards the end of this time, Cthumah built a great fortress on Endor, from which he could start another war against the Tur-Durin. This was to be called the Broch el Cthumah, the Tower of the Dragon, or more recently, the Halls of the Dragon king.
And so finally Cthumah began the Third War, and he and his generals led their armies against the Tur-Durin, marching into Tenim-Taer, destroying all that stood in their path.
The Tur-Durin though had not been inactive during this time, and their own armies had been prepared, and they met on the field of battle, which was at the end of the Rainbow Bridge, where it alighted at Tenim-Taer.
The War was long and bloody, and was the greatest fought at that time, and it will only ever be exceeded by the Fourth War, when Cthumah will at last succeed.
Here though, he was beaten, and his great armies were forced back across the Rainbow Bridge, and the whole of Endor rained with the blood of the dead. Cthumah was pushed back to Endor, and finally back to Angwen-Taer, his great fortress being destroyed and left in ruins.
And so Cthumah was beaten, and his generals with him. The entrance to Angwen-Taer was sealed, and they were trapped in their realm. So the Third War ended, and with it the Third Age. Cthumah was defeated, but not destroyed, and his servants amongst mankind were hunted and slain.
The Fourth Age
The Fourth Age is now, when mankind spreads across the world, and the power of the gods wanes. Eventually, evil and darkness will rise again, and Cthumah will be released.
When this happens, he and his followers will make war on the Tur-Durin for the fourth and last time, and will finally win. Tenim-Taer will be left as a wasteland, awash with the blood of the gods that lived there. The Rainbow Bridge will fall, and crash onto the Land. Storms will ravage the Land, the mountains will fall and the sun will die, and so will end the Fourth War — the Last War of the gods, and the Fifth Age will dawn. Those that survive will be made the slaves of the Dragon God, and he will reign supreme.
The gods are split into two distinct camps — the Tur-Durin, and the Ganedd-Durin. The former dwell in the Bright Lands of Tenim Taer, while the latter are imprisoned beneath Endor (the world of mortals) in Angwen Taer — the Dark Lands.
Auringaen is a warrior of fearsome proportions. He is not fully sane, being easily filled with blood lust and anger, bringing down destruction on anything that doesn‘t please him. He is a blood thirsty god of war, rape and destruction, especially worshipped by berserkers and raiders.
His priesthood is far more powerful in Tevland than it is in Fraen Taer, mainly because of the former cultures penchants for crazed warfare and violence. In Fraen Taer though he is still quite powerful, especially so since the Crusades started.
From his worshippers he often demands blood sacrifice, sometimes demanding human sacrifice as well, but only ever of his worshippers enemies. Followers of Auringaen will often dedicate a battle to his honour. When this is done, it becomes a battle to the death. If his followers win, then the opposition is wiped out to the last man, woman and child. Prisoners are slaughtered, often by hanging. If his followers loose, then those that make the mistake of being taken prisoner commit ritual suicide to appease their god.
By far, Auringaen is the most bloodthirsty of the Tur-Durin, rivalling (if not exceeding) some of the Ganedd-Durin in this.
Balar is one of the children of Cthumah. He is as strong as Auringaen, delighting in war and destruction. His great weapon is a seven thonged whip of flame, which burns the body and torments the souls of those it strikes.
Balar is overbearing and unsubtle, violent and oppressive. He is the overlord of all the slaves in Angwen Taer, and delights in their torture and punishment.
Braegwin is the daughter of Celumdorith and Faemya, and is a gentle, peace loving goddess. She is goddess of the skies — of the birds and weather. She is often opposed to Auringaen, whom she considers barbaric and little better than Cthumah.
Occasionally she is ousted from her position as Sky Goddess by either Auringaen or Celumdorth, who like to take charge to bring on a really big thunder storm.
She has close ties to Nyvillis, for the two have often helped each other. Her priesthoods are most often found either in the open country, or more preferably, on high mountain slopes, amongst the skies which are her domain.
Most of the larger temples of Braegwin contain a seer, who is able to tell of distant events, both those far off across land, and sometimes those far off in time as well. Braegwin, from her position high above Endor, is able to see most of that which goes on, and will sometimes impart this knowledge to those who are especially devout. This information is never given away free though, a donation, its size based on the wealth of the individual, must always be made.
Braegwin is also the guardian of the Rainbow Bridge, for her servants watch that link between Endor and Tenim-Taer with great care.
Celiscian is the daughter of Cthumah and Salidrael. She is arguably the most powerful of their children, though her ways are cloaked in secrecy and subtlety. She is known as the Queen of Deception, the Mistress of Lies, the Temptress and the Dark Moon — the latter for that moon is named for her, for she escaped to here and hid their when the rest of the Ganedd-Durin were imprisoned in Angwen Taer. As such, she is the only one of them to still be free.
Her priesthoods are never open, instead they hide behind secrecy and deceit so none others may know about them. Assassins and spies are common amongst them, spreading disharmony and fear amongst those who follow the Bright Gods.
He is the father of the gods, and ruler of the Tur-Durin. Celumdorith is a warrior god, though much less violent and somewhat more refined than his son Auringaen. He is patron of rulers and leaders everywhere, for he represents law and order, devotion to responsibilities and skill of wit and arms.
The priests of Celumdorith are always the advisors of the local political ruler, and as such wield a great deal of temporal power, as well as representing the strongest of the gods in the Alundic faith. Temples to him can be found in every major town and city in Fraen Taer and Tevland (though the latter admittedly is rather lacking in these places). The other priesthoods (save those of the Ganedd-Durin) accept the fact that those that represent Celumdorith are their superiors, though this is not quite as smooth as it could be.
Cthumah is the Dragon God, Lord of the Ganedd-Durin, and once son of Celumdorith and Faemya. His form is of a great black serpent, with huge wings of darkness, and a saurial like head larger than a man.
Cthumah is hungry for power, corrupting men whenever possible, adding to his armies of Telwig and Naegbor while he is imprisoned in his realm of Angwen Taer. He has taken Salidrael as his wife, much against her wishes, and has fathered several children which serve him and lead his armies to war when necessary.
His priesthoods are rare, and persecuted by the others. They practice human sacrifice of both their own kind and those that fall into their grasp. They are subtle and devious though in their actions against the followers of the Tur-Durin. They are also patient, for they know that one day their Lord will escape from his realm, and make war on the Tur-Durin, and will win, and they will become the favoured of him.
Dunadar was the original name of Cthumah, the Dragon God. It is no longer used since he was thrown out of Tenim-Taer.
Faemya is the mother goddess, protector of the home, mothers and children. She is also principally a nature goddess, and has a strong following of druids. She is seen as both the goddess of birth and also death — for after death comes birth and new life. Without death, life cannot be.
Within urban areas, the followers of Faemya are somewhat disorganised, with no real structure, They will often be found incorporated into the structure of those of Celumdorith, mainly for want of a better place. In rural regions, the Druids are quite strongly structured, though tend to represent all the gods, not just Faemya, though she is their principle deity, followed closely by Braegwin and Nyvillis.
It is Muthemni who is known as the Lord of Winter. As one of the Ganedd-Durin, he delights in despair, sadness, failure and all else where mortals hopes are destroyed, and brightness and light die and come to an end.
His form is much like his fathers, though he is smaller, and has scales of white, and claws and teeth of ice. It is foretold that at the end of the Fourth Age, Muthemni will devour the sun, and bring darkness down on the world forever, and the final Winter of the World will ensue.
Sacrifices to him are by slow death — animals or humans left to starve or freeze in a pit or cage. His priests suffered the most during the Third War, and very few remain to carry on the old traditions. Temples to him are in desolate areas, far from the rest of humanity.
Nyvillis is goddess of the waters and the sea, and is worshipped by many sailors and fishermen, for it is only by her will that the fish allow themselves to be caught by man. She is very close with Braegwin, and the priests of both goddesses have exceedingly good relations.
Temples to Nyvillis are most often found on the coast, or on the shores of lakes — anywhere where there is a large body of water nearby. Rituals are often held either in or on the water — often on small, specially constructed, rafts, from which gifts are thrown to the sea.
Nyvillis is depicted as either a human woman, or as half-fish half woman. The relphan are viewed as her messengers, and are sacred. To kill a relphan, even accidentally, is to incite bad luck for the rest of your life.
Salidrael was once the huntress, beautiful even amongst the Tur-Durin, full of laughter and love. Until that is, she was ensnared by the servants of Cthumah and forced to become his wife.
Since the time of the Second War, she has been imprisoned in a great tower in Angwen Taer, bound by chains and blinded to prevent her escape. Since her imprisonment she has born four children for Cthumah. Each of these have inherited their father‘s characteristics, and none of their mother‘s.
Few worship Salidrael. Most of those that do tend to be followers of the Ganedd-Durin, who hold ceremonies in her name, worshipping her as the wife of Cthumah, and mocking her gentle nature. The few who sincerely follow her gain no answers to their prayers, but honour her sorrow and pain, and look forward to the day when she will be released. Whether this will ever come about the stories do not say.
The bright moon is named for her, for her brother Auringaen set it there so none would forget her after she had been lost to Cthumah. When that moon is full, so it is said to be a time of sorrow.
Taegar is the weakest of the Tur-Durin, and also the youngest. He is a bard and a traveller by nature, and stories about him depict him as a rogue and a scoundrel, never doing an honest day‘s work and using trickery and guile to win his way out of situations, often winning the favours of a human woman on the way.
He has few worshippers, though travellers and entertainers venerate him on occasion. There is no organised priesthood to worship him, and though there may well be priests to him, they are very rare, and almost unheard of. Generally, they make their living as storytellers and by other less sociable pursuits.
Tarlravin is the weakest of the Ganedd-Durin. He has never been popular, save amongst the most depraved of men, since his worship soon leads to the death of those that follow him. He is the Lord of Sickness and Decay, the bringer of disease and plague.
He is mad it is thought, and works often against the other Ganedd-Durin. Even Muthemni, who strives for stagnation does not like him, for Tarlravin wishes the death of all things, the final collapse of everything into chaos.
The Lesser Gods
As well as the Tur-Durin and the Ganedd-Durin, there are plenty of other immortal beings who crop up in the Alundic religion. Mostly, they are the offspring of the gods and men, though not always. Sometimes, they are merely mortal heroes who have achieved immortal status by great deeds and favours bestowed on them by the gods.
It is said that all faeries come ultimately from the offspring of gods and men. So in a sense, all those listed here are faeries of one kind or another, though they are far more powerful than the majority of the sidhe.
Du-Culan is the Guardian, who stands at the gates of Angwen-Taer, in lieu of the time the Ganedd-Durin will break free and start the Fourth War. It is his task to give warning of this time.
The nature of Giawin is uncertain. She is the spirit of a young girl who died very young in a great act of self sacrifice. She is the protector of children, and represents innocence and kindness.
Gwenaby is twin sister of Hurin, and daughter it is said of Taegar, though their definite parents are not known. Gwenaby is a powerful sorceress, who resides in the Realm of Dreams. It is said she knows the desires of all men and women, for she can watch their dreams unfold at will. Occasionally part of her realm can be found in the physical world. The Isle of Dreams as it is called sometimes appears off the coast of Fraen Taer, and traps many a mortal ship in its grasp before vanishing back again.
Gwenaby is the Queen of the Sidhe — or so she claims. Hurin claims a similar title, and both have their own factions amongst the Sidhe. They occasionally war with each other, though an all out war has yet to be declared.
Hurin is the twin brother of Gwenaby. He is a druid of great power, and it is he who taught the ways of magic to men. He is mistrusted though, for he has betrayed those that sought his aid on several occasions.
Kalaine is a great hero from legend, who achieved immortality during the Third War. He is the patron of warriors who seek danger and excitement for the sake of glory and naught else. He is irresponsible and not too bright, easily tricked and led astray. He is a skilled warrior though, and gifted with incredible amounts of luck.
The Vaylard is a smith of great skill, a craftsman who wanders Endor in search of tasks to test his skills. Obviously he is the patron of craftsman of all kinds, for it is said he can turn his hand to any material or style which he needs to.