The Onland Campaign V
The Onnic religion is a thriving facet of life in every part of the continent, but by no means is it the only religion of Onland. Within the regions of Karolan, the southern hills of Drambor and the Eyir-Canide’ region of Onland the practice of Orlecism is frequently recognized as an alternate to Onnism. A pantheon of ten gods is acknowledged, while one deity is revered above all others. Outside of these regions (most commonly in the central plains, Brill, Vestgate and eastern Alsace), the religious traditions become more fractured and unique. Though often dismissed as a “pagan” religion, Orlecism, has as much complexity and history as any other of the Onlandian faiths.
Orlecs acknowledge the existence of multiple gods, goddesses, spirits and demons, but revere one entity above all others: Deord. So strongly is their culture and identity entwined with the worship of Deord, that many Onlanders have the misguided belief that they are monotheists. Actually, Orlecs envision all spiritual beings and deities as an extended family; in essence not very different from themselves. Deord is the ‘Duordach’ (High King) to whom all other spiritual beings submit. He is the eldest among them, the father of many of them, and the strongest in combat and willpower. He is the perfect leader: fearless in battle, unforgiving to his enemies, generous to strangers, protective of his kin, wise but weighing the council of others.
Orlecism was once carried from generation to generation through oral communication. In 560, the tales and parables of Deord and his “family” were collected and codified into a body of work by Uuritan, an Uuthi Shaman. This work has come to be known as ‘the Orlecnadach. Physically, the Orlecnadach is said to be a chain composed of over 15,000 scrimshaw bones. The ‘great temples’ (at Sarand, Dreyfing and Karolan) keep written copies of the The Orlecnadach in their possessions, all of which date back hundreds of years, but the Orlecnadach itself has been missing for centuries.
Central to the Orlecnadach is a set of credo that have been ingrained into Orlec culture. They are known as ‘the Six Teeth of the Duordach’ and are as follows: honor, charity, respect, purity, self-reliance and intolerance. A common saying is: “Construct your hearth upon a foundation of six teeth, and though the evils of the world surround your home all will be free from harm.” ‘The Orlecnadach also delineates the roles of the other deities, and through them, the entire society. The religion is firmly rooted in the patriarchal structures of Orlec families and clans. Though there are a number of female deities within the culture, very few Orlec hold them in high regard.
Anthropomorphic representation of Deord is strictly forbidden. By extension, many familys also forbid any representation of the human form through the argument that as humans are creations of Deord, drawing or sculpting of a human figure is placing oneself above the level of the Creator.
There are only three known temples of the Orlec faith; one in Dreyfing, one in Karolan and one in Sarand. These are known as the great temples and are centers of learning for those who wish to enter the priesthood.
As priests are often few and far between, or concentrated around the three great temples, upholding the faith often falls upon the hands of the clans and families. Each family designates a “The Orlecnadachi” whose role is to recite passages of ‘The Orlecnadach at set times, usually sunrise, high noon and sunset. While most family’s men (or rarely, women) perform this ceremony from rote, reciting the same lines day after day, some go further. A ‘tantric’ is a person who has, of their own will, memorized all the verses of ‘the Orlecnadach’ (Priests are expected to have ‘the Orlecnadach memorized, therefore they do not gain the honorific). Each clan will have at least one, though most have a number of such “holy men,” to whom others look for spiritual guidance.
Even further than the tantrics are the Darlecs. Darlec means “holy one,” and the lack of gender identification, plus the singular and plural nature of the word, give a good indication of what they mean to Orlecs. Darlecs are aesthetics, men or women of great piety who take it upon themselves to become closer to Deord. Severe to the point of masochism, Darlecs often dwell in caves or barren mountain huts far away from caravan trails and oases. They are held in great esteem, having sacrificed everything (comfort, family and clans) to praise the God. Darlec can wield immense power in Orlec society, either as advocates of change, or defenders of culture.
Faith is measured differently in Orlec society. Orlecs measure faith in terms of piety, an aura that surrounds a person of great devotion, reverence and learning. “It is not enough to have ‘the Orlecnadach memorized, unless the fire of its words dwells in the breast,” says one proverb. All believing Orlec have some degree (however small) of piety. Tantrics will hold a little more by virtue of their learning, while Darlecs carry an abundance of piety. Orlecs believe that piety is tangible, and can be disseminated through proximity. Merely standing next to a Darlec can insure more blessings. Similarly, a cave in which a Darlec has lived will retain his or her piety indefinitely if properly cared for, becoming a shrine of sorts. Some Darlecs will accept pupils to pass on their piety for further generations, while others shun all souls to greater reflect their devotion to Deord.
“Sun That Kindles Fire in the Hearts of the Faithful” “Scourge of the Unrighteous” Deord is the all-powerful deity of Orlecs. He is commonly associated with the sun. As the oldest of his ‘family,’ he is the undisputed leader, and is the paragon of Orlecs ‘Duordach.’ Though most of the tales mentioning him dwell on his vindictive, unforgiving aspects, in the words of one tantric: “He it is who sends the winds as glad tidings before His mercy, then they carry a heavy cloud, which He drives to a dead country and causes the water to descend from it and with it We make all the fruits come out.” Orlecs both fear and revere Deord, who can see into the hearts of all men.
“Gentle Sister Of The Hearth”
The eldest sister of Deord, and the keeper of his hearth. Deratha is spoken of as a quiet, gentle woman, wise in the ways of tending wounds and healing livestock. She is non-violent, and the protector of non-combatants, especially children. She is also revered by the slave caste. Not surprisingly, Orlec women offer many prayers to this deity.
“Brother Moon” “The Dreamer”
Deord’s brother, though it is a matter of debate whether he is the elder or younger sibling. Some claim they are twins. Derel is associated with the moon and with wise council. However, the means of his wisdom (dreams) are commonly held to be somewhat untrustworthy. An old Orlec saying goes: “A wise leader tempers the gauzy visions of Derel with the clear sight Deord reveals.”
“Steadfast Companion of the Sun”
Deord’s wife. In the tales Ach arrived from “over the sand, following the light of Deord.” She represents the city and/or the role foreigners play in Orlec society. She is of the desert, but is beautiful and very willful. Their relationship is full of turmoil and sparks, but Deord always wins in the end.
“The Counselor” “Mouth of Deord”
Uurd is the eldest of Deord’s three sons. He long ago departed from his family in favor of a solitary mystical life. Most Orlec believe that he lives amongst mortals and in his wanderings gathers intelligence for his father. It’s also a common assumption that one who becomes a Priests of Orlec has been ” touched by Uurd,” momentarily possessed or inspired. There is one sect that beilives that Uuritan was a manifestation of Uurd rather than a mortal Darlec.
Another one of Deord’s brothers, Bantrain was sent down to teach Orlecs the secrets of artifice. As the craftsman of the family, he has forged Deord’s sword and all the other items Orlec use in daily life, from saddles to scabbards and brass pots. His mention in the The Orlecnadach is limited, but always complimentary. He is the patron of craftsman, and artisans.
“The Harvester of the Faithful” “the Silent One”
Moch is the son of Deord, and given the never-ending task of collecting the souls of the departed. He is said to be totally silent and diligent in his duties, standing over the shoulder of all who die, so that no Orlec can ever shirk death’s call. Orlec afterlife is presented as living in a permanent stasis. Upon death, Moch guides the soul as it returns to a place or time of joy and happiness where it then remains for all of eternity.
Agnot is the personification of evil for Orlecs, everything that they hold in contempt. He is a coward who prefers to the backstab to the fair fight, desires more power than he can wield, and lusts for comforts and wealth not worthy of a man. His fall from grace is a common cautionary tale. At one time Agnot was entrusted with the position now given to his brother Moch. But he was an indifferent caretaker, greedy for wealth, and he accepted bribes from those meant to die, and allowed them to live. He also spent his time enjoying the fruits of his wealth, rather than tending to the dying. Thus many souls were cursed to remain at the place or time of their death, or worse, to spend eternity roaming the world in search of their time and place of joy. For his laziness and greed, Deord cast him out of the family. It is said that Agnot stalks the night to steal away the souls of those whose time has not come, a further perversion of what his proper place was.
Derelei is the most recent addition to the Orlec pantheon, and for many Orlecs the most troubling. Representing the corruption of foreign ideas and morals. Older written copies of the The Orlecnadach have no mention of her until the mid-eighth century, when Pynok influence was beginning to spread. According to the ‘new’ Orlecnadach (at Sarand): “Derelei sailed from over the Endless Waters with the followers of the flame demon, and came amongst the family of Deord to sow confusion and discord by wooing all the men with her beguiling ways. But Deord was too wise to be fooled by a woman, and recognized her danger, so he took Derelei and presented her to his sternest and most loyal son, Moch, in marriage. Moch guided Derelei to her time and place of joy. Now content amidst the gardens and fountains of paradise, and eternally guarded by the solemn Moch, she tempts the faithful no more, and we are glad.”
In the beginning there was nothing but darkness. Then Deord awoke, and from him radiated the light. He partook of the earth, roaming freely over the land. When he came to the endless sea, he took flight to see what lay beyond, and spied below him a desert land. Pleased with what he saw, he drew from the earth its essence and created a man. Man fell to his knees to thank his creator, and Deord was pleased. As a reward, he made a woman to keep man company, and serve him. When this union produced children, and the children offered prayers to Deord, he summoned the family and then He summoned a great wind that drew the waters from the endless ocean, and bade them fall on the land and lo! the desert became green and fertile, and replete with beasts.
Under counseling from his brother Derel, He sent his brother Bantrain down to the earth to train a child in the crafts; He sent his sister Deratha to the women, to teach them the ways of the hearth; and He sent his brother Uurd to one of the children to teach them the inner mysteries so as to keep the worship of Deord correct. The family grew in size, and traveled over the breadth of the lands, taking the horse and elephant, and keeping the goat and sheep for food and wool. Then one day over the endless ocean came another with fire in his hair, and he spoke of a demon, claiming this creature was greater than our lord. And many abandoned Deord, to spread the false promises of this outland demon. And the people cried, repented and returned to the fold, but Deord would not forgive. The proof of this is man’s continued weakness. Though Deord wishes to keep his children strong, those that turn from him will never be accepted back. We all are the children of Deord, and as long as we draw breath must give thanks and prayers to our Creator. Those who do not are the weak and worthless and must be shunned.
RELATIONS WITH OTHER FAITHS
This is the god of the Pynok. He is a shallow and depraved being, relishing in mayhem and warfare for it’s own sake. He slays the innocent, not respecting the weaker members of the family, and his followers are without honor or piety. His warriors fight like cowards. And his holy men try to tell us that Deord, the All-Powerful, is merely one of eight faces of this twisted deity. Remember that it was the false prophets of this demon who seduced our people generations back, and led to our trials of today. For these blasphemies alone you shall not let an Azugan live.
Doralozh? Oh, you mean to say Derelei, the harlot from the Endless Desert. She is a danger to all whose hearts are not fully with Deord, for she promises the fruits of soft living. But never forget that her husband, Moch, lurks not far from her, and I doubt you would want to attract his baleful gaze.
A hateful demon. He will try to seduce the weak with promises of easy power, yet keep them forever sundered from their reward in a pall of everlasting misery. Agnot uses this demon to chip at the faith of the righteous.
Her followers do no harm, and thus are not to be feared for violence. But beware their actions! For they seek to tie our people to the land through crops, turning our blades into plows, and our steeds to oxen. They do not understand the ways of Orlec, and the will of Deord. Pity them, and do not follow their simple path.
This entity must be the brother of the one called Azug, for they fight like two hotheaded siblings. His followers can be trusted to some extent, for they are not bloodthirsty like the misguided Azugans. But beware, they, too seek to undermine the faith of our people. Blasphemy! Do not listen to such insanity.
This god of the deep sea folk controls the water and wave. He is nothing.
A god of paper and inks, and dark rooms without light. What use is a book? All we need to know is recorded in the minds of the lorekeepers and priests. This being wishes to absorb our knowledge and keep it for himself, not sharing as is proper. Do not speak when they are present.