The Songs of Neelam

Gather round young ones, for I shall tell you the story of Neelam the Brave.

Neelam was a young Sildaryn of barely ten cycles, when his adventures began; about the same age as some of you.

You see, he was always wandering about the woods near the hinta sites, as is common for young ones such as yourselves. That is until one day he wandered a bit farther than usual, and he couldn’t find the familiar trees, or any trail marks to guide him back to the hinta.

Neelam was not worried at first, for he knew that foresters and gatherers from the hinta often traveled quite a ways in search of food and other resources, which they brought back for the rest of the clan.

But as evening approached and the night creatures began to wake, long shadows darkened the forest. Unfamiliar hoots and howls erupted from the darkness, as beasts which only moved about at night began to search for food, or prey.

Neelam felt very small and alone, without the safety of the hinta homes. He had no fire to drive back the darkness, he had no spear, he had no club. In fact all he had was a small knife, and a karo fruit he had found to nibble on should he feel hungry.

Neelam thought to himself – What good would a tiny knife be if a night prowler decided to make a meal out of me? What good was a karo fruit against the great serpents which squeezed the life from prey before consuming them whole? Thinking such thoughts made Neelam nervous, and then scared.

As he became more and more afraid, Neelam felt the humid breath of the jungle pressing in on him from every direction. He could hear murmurs, and far off voices calling to him. His eyes beheld faint blue lights, which danced and weaved, inviting him to come join them.

Now, as you all know, there are things out in the woods; older than any Sildaryn; older than the forest itself. And when these ancient ones call out, their voice can be so inviting that none can resist their pull.

Neelam knew that he should not listen, but how could he not; They offered him a warm place to rest, fresh food for hunger he did not feel, drink to quench a thirst he did not have.

Suddenly tired, and hungry, and thirsty, Neelam stepped away from the roots of the tree he was cowering against. His feet slowly plodding forward through the ferns and moss. He began to follow the dancing blue lights which weaved amongst the trees, and vines. Though they were faint, he could still see the path they led him along.

Neelam wondered where they were taking him, if the comfortable bed, food, and drink they whispered about would satisfy his growing needs. He wondered so much that he decided to call back to the voices, and ask them.

“What is this bed? What is this food? What is this drink?” asked Neelam.

And the voices from the shadowed forest answered. “The bed is your grave. The food is your flesh. The drink is your blood.”

These answers were no comfort to Neelam; How could he wake from a grave? How could he eat of his own body? How could he drink from his own veins? As he pondered these questions he realized that he would get no rest, or food, or drink from the whispers. They were not offering him comfort, they were offering him death.

Now we Sildaryn do not fear death, for it comes for us all in time, but neither do we rush to seek it out. Neelam knew this, and he was not ready to die. Certainly not scared and alone, and so small in the night-black forest.

Neelam knew something else; He knew that our ancestors, the family that came before us, our departed loved ones, are never gone, but watch from the trees. They would not want him to listen to those voices, which offered only death. So he called out. “I need no grave, I need no food, and I need no drink. I am Neelam, and I am watched from the trees!”

He threw down the karo fruit from his hand, and stood defiantly, holding his knife out before him. Challenging the whispers, “Show yourselves, or be gone!”

This act of brave defiance of the night caught the attention of kindly spirits. Three came forth from the bushes, trees, and shadows.

A yellow eyed tomka knelt before Neelam, offering its songs of strength to stand beside one so brave.

A bird of the high canopy flew down to rest upon his shoulder, whispering in his ear the song of flight.

And thirdly the very karo fruit he had thrown to the ground burst forth sprouts, which grew up around him in a ring of tangled branches, and as it grew he heard its song in the shake of its leaves, and the creaking of its branches.

Neelam sat down, and the tomka curled around him providing warmth, and comfort. The bird kept watch, and the karo trees provided shelter from the night. Neelam felt safe, he was not alone, and he did not fear the night any longer.

In the morning foresters from the hinta found Neelam asleep in a forest clearing, still holding his knife and clutching a karo fruit to his chest. No tomka, or bird, or tree nearby.

Neelam told them of his night, but they did not believe him, for no tomka tracks or feathers were seen, and the earth about him was not disturbed by any newly grown karo trees.

Neelam said he would prove that his story was true. When they returned to the hinta, he gathered the whole clan together… and he sang.

He sung the song of the karo tree, and the fruit in his hand grew sprout after sprout, taking root at this very spot.

He sung the song of flight, and rose up to seat himself upon the branches we now gather upon.

Thirdly, he sung a song of the tomka, calling out to the beast that kept him warm through the night. And as the hinta watched in awe, a tomka with two cubs walked forth from the forest, to circle below him.

Because Neelam was so brave, and pushed away his fears, we learned new songs.

Now we know to plant food at our hinta sites, so we need not travel so far into the forests.

Now we make our homes up in the branches of the trees, safe from the creatures of the night.

And tomka live beside us, protecting our young, and helping our foresters on patrol.

Listen well young ones, for the forest is full of songs yet to be sung by Sildaryn. Perhaps you will be the first to learn and teach a new song to our people, that we may continue to prosper and live in harmony with the forest we call home.

This is a short tale about a legendary Sildaryn, who became one of the first Dalfyn (Druidic spell-singers) of the Sildaryn people.

The Tree of Faces

The Tree of Faces

There is a network of sacred groves in the Sildaryn forest; central to each grove is a great many branched tree from which are hung masks constructed from a variety of materials. When a hinta of Sildaryn passes through the grove during their annual migrations they add additional masks. These represent the Sildaryn from that hinta whom were lost during the previous year. Damaging the masks, or injuring the tree is a terrible crime to the Sildaryn.

With the annual pattern of migration there are always a few Sildaryn who are unable to travel. Such individuals will be left at this grove in the care of a few permenant resident dalfyn, whom tend to the grove year round. They provide palliative care for ailing Sildaryn whom remain in the grove in addition to their regular duties.

“I am old for any Sildaryn. Many do not see more than seventy summers. Most Dalfyn that are unable to continue the cycles will chose to remain at the groves to pass on their wisdom in their final years. The primary reason for my considering remaining at the grove at all is my health. I am getting old, and may not do well for another circuit of migration. Better to stay at the grove where I may be of service, and less of a burden. It is not retirement, I will remain a Dalfyn.” – Talir Sinto, Dalfyn of the Sun Piper Hinta.

Redditor /u/jsgunn shared this inspired comment (which still gives me shivers to read):

I can imagine a family traveling though, perhaps hanging a new mask and the father taking one of the older children to see the masks of the ancestors. “This is your great grandfather, who watches from the trees. He was a Bowyer, and loved the ash trees. This is his father, who watches from the trees. He was a proud warrior and fell in battle against a mighty foe. This is his father, who watches from the trees. He picked flowers for his wife every day and was known to be fiercely loyal. This is his mother, who watches from the trees. She was a medicine woman and loved peace, it was her words that stilled the anger between our tribe and the Thanna. There are others for you to meet, my son, but their faces are at another tree.”

Waejiran Festival of the Moons

Savannah Moons 2
Savannah Moons – © June Shepherd, 2017

As there are two moons in the sky of Entorais, they feature prominently in the folklore and the religions of the peoples.

The Red Moon

The red moon has a lunar month of 37 days. only a few calandars are based on its cycles, usually composed of an eleven month (407 day) year, which doesn’t match to the seasons.

Named Kodah, and associated with the goddess aspect Ryla in the Twin Goddess Religion. Mass is celebrated on the new moon (first of the month) and full moon (18th of the month). Every 3 months, the celebration on the new moon is considered a high mass (every 111 days).

Named after and associated with the mythological being Rae (one of Balfagor’s Stei) in Waejir. Rae is believed to deliver nightmares to sleepers, his power being strongest when Rae is full, and dreams had during these nights are deemed most prophetic.

The Silver Moon

The silver moon has a 30 day lunar month and most calandars are based on its twelve month (360 day) year which matches the seasons. This moon rotates once on it’s axis every ten days, which gives rise to the ten-day (week) timespan common throughout Entorais.

Named Say-noh and associated with the goddess aspect Peolu in the Twin Goddess Religion. A mass is celebrated on the new moon (first of the month) and full moon (15th of the month).

Named after and associated with the mythological being Nae (One of Balfagor’s Stei) in Waejir. Nae is believed to deliver pleasant dreams to sleepers. Her power being strongest when Nae is full, and dreams had during these nights are deemed most prophetic.

Festival of the Moons [Festival of Stei, Balfagor’s Night]

In Waejir, the nights when both Rae and Nae are full are considered unique times when the veil between the lands of the living, and the lands of the unclaimed dead are thinnest. Allowing ghosts of persons not given a proper funeral to visit people in the their dreams, or even possibly waking moments. During the three nights closest matching a double full moon festival, Waejirans will traipse about in elaborate masks depicting either Rae or Nae, sometimes a dual mask, or even full costumes are worn. A true conjuction of the full moons only occurs every 9 & 1/4 years (3330 days), and is cause for greater celebrations.

Devotees of Neithur, the Waejiran god of the dead, take these times to perform ceremonies intended to guide these wayward souls to the afterlife. It is considered a sacred duty to help all souls find redemption through Neithur and eventual rebirth through Silat. Their sombre bronze death masks and ashen robes provide a stark contrast finery of the other celebrants. Lesser Temple members may often dress ghosts, skeletons, and corpses following the preist about to encourage lost souls to join the parade and find salvation.

Sources of Inspiration

* Día de Muertos

* Samhain

* Carnevale di Venezia

* Walking the Dead

/u/Nevermore0714 Asks:

Q1: What if someone has not been given a proper funeral, will they only be able to partially have an influence on the world?

A1: This is a matter of debate amongst arcanists. Some believe that the manner of death, or the lack of resolved life issues can cause such a spirit to linger, and possibly impact the world more readily when circumstances mirror the time, or conditions of their death.

Q2: Is there any significance to the choice between ghost, skeleton, and corpse for how a Lesser Temple Member dresses?

A2: They are the three basic forms of undead believed to be lost in the world. And presumeably the three forms the dead can take; a person’s corpse, or bones, or ghostly spirit may be all that remains of their original body. So all three are depicted, to be inclusive, it wouldn’t do to round up the bones, and leave the fresher corpses to decay for longer.

Q3: Could I take out someone’s bones, leave the rest of their corpse somewhere else, and then have all three come from one person? A Ghost-Sally, a Skele-Sally, and a Corpse-Sally?

A3: Probably only Ghost-Sally would sally forth, as there is only one soul to gather. Actual walking corpses, or animated skeletons in this case are symbolic of the body states, but no one expects a real corpse to join the parade; at least that’s what they admit in public.

Q4: For the ghosts of those who have been properly buried, how do they interact with their families? How “earthly” are they during this time?

A4: Waejirans do not bury their dead, as they believe that leads to them being trapped in the material world. Those who have passed on are given a proper funeral pyre, so their spirit may make the journey back to Silat. As to the power of the properly mourned to interact with the living, they have moved on and have no concern for or with the living; it is only the dead who are stuck at some point on that journey that can interact.

Q5: What all could Ghost-Sally do?

A5: Well, assuming Ghost Sally is not too upset with you for the horrible manner in which you killed her, and defiled her remains, she might just move on. Assuming those who cared about her perform the appropriate funery rites in absentia she should pass from this realm into the next.

Now, if she wasn’t properly grieved, and/or bears a grudge towards her killer, there is no real way of knowing what she might do. Waejirans do believe that the restless dead can possess the living, or affect them in ways which bring about self-harm directly or indirectly.

Gods of the Waejiran Pantheon

Waejiran goddess of true love, sexuality, and marriage. The lover and twin sister of Baithur, Aesat is a known shape-shifter, as true love can take any form. Aesat was born directly of Silat.

Waejiran goddess of travelers, roads, and paths. She was born of Vorsha and fathered by Kaithur. It is Baileia who tricked Qeisar into stealing the secret of the wheel from Vorsha, which she then shared with the treahni.

Waejiran god of true love, sexuality, and marriage, a role he shares with Aesat. He is the shape-shifting twin brother and lover of Aesat. Baithur was born directly of Silat.

Waejiran god called “the Master of Dreams”, Balfagor is the god of night, shadows and darkness. He is believed to send out his stei, Rae and Nae, to deliver dreams to sleepers. Balfagor was fathered by Qeinor and born of Silat.

Waejiran god of storms, precipitation, and weather. Cothur was fathered by Dailor, and born of Saedeia

Waejiran elemental god of air, wind, and flight. He is said to have sprung directly from Silat.

Waejiran god and collector of all treahni lore, also called “the Thief of Time”. Son of Dailor and Vorsha. Haesur is believed to steal the knowledge of the treahni, and bring these secrets to his mother’s library. When someone dies with secrets, it is Haesur who spirits these away.
Haesur is attributed with knowing every story ever told, as well as the truth behind these stories.

Waejiran god of commerce and trade, the master of all caravans, merchants and shopkeepers. Kaithur is known to be a gambler, and is attributed with making wagers and undertaking risky endeavors; as such he is considered “the lucky god”.

Waejiran goddess of platonic love, friendship, and courtesans. She was fathered by Baithur and born to Aesat.

Waejiran mythic figure believed to deliver benign dreams to sleeping people. One of Balfagor’s stei, Nae is associated with the silver moon.

Waejiran god of death, the dead. Neithur is most often depicted as a figure robed in ash grey funeral shrouds wearing an expressionless full face mask of bronze. Neithur is said to escort the souls of the dead back to Silat. Born of Silat and fathered by Shaelar.

Waejiran goddess, and the patroness of thieves and conspirators. Called the “Daughter of Dusk”, Qaela was fathered by Balfagor and born of Saedeia.

Waejiran elemental god of earth. Qeinor is said to have sprung directly from Silat. He is attributed with teaching agriculture, and farming to the treahni.

Waejiran god of the seasons. Called “The Slave at the Wheel”, Qeisar is responsible for advancing the seasons. He was tricked by Baileia into stealing the secret of the wheel from Vorsha, and in punishment is forced to turn the seasons for the rest of eternity.
Qeisar is born of Kaithur and Sidaelia.

Waejiran mythic figure believed to deliver nightmares to sleeping people. One of Balfagor’s stei, associated with the Red moon.

Waejiran goddess of the beasts, instinct, and the purity of wild nature. She was born of Silat and fathered by Qeinor. Raitha is attributed with teaching treahni how to domesticate animals by working with their natures.

Waejiran elemental goddess of water, the sea, and all things aquatic. She is said to have sprung directly from Silat.
She is attributed with teaching the treahni the arts of brewing, distilling, and winemaking.

Waejiran elemental god of fire. He sprung forth from Silat directly.
Shaelar is responsible for war, strife, and general destruction.

Waejiran goddess of light, and daytime. Sidaelia was born of Silat and fathered by Shaelar.

The Goddess Silat, is rumoured to exist on the earthly plane in a Siladun, a timeless fortress surrounded by the vast salt flats in the Northern Waejiran Desert. She is the all mother, birther of the world, the embodiment of chaos and creation. She is said to be both forever formless and capable of taking any form. From her all life was born, first as the principle elements, and later her incestuous coupling with her own children produced the lesser gods, and so on. She is the great creator spirit whom existed before all else. All things are born of her flesh, and return to her flesh after death. No one who has braved to cross the seemingly endless salt in an attempt to discover her home has ever returned. Some say the great faceted dome of indestructible glass which caps the central chamber of the her temple in Waejiradur was brought forth from her fabled home at the conclusion of the God Wars millenia ago.

Nameless Waejiran god/dess, whose name was removed from history, for a great offense. Some believe this nameless one to still have some powers, but exactly what is left unsaid.

Waejiran god of forges, metal working, and smelting. The “Son of Dawn” was fathered by Shaelar and born of Sidaelia. Thanor is said to stoke the sun every morning, and the dawn’s glow is the heat of his forge.

Waejiran goddess of female strength. She was fathered by Qeinor and born to Raitha. Theila is most often portrayed as the virginal huntress. She is attributed with giving names to the stars, and teaching the secrets of navigation and astrology to the treahni.

Waejiran goddess of knowledge, invention, puzzles, secrets, and mystery. Vorsha was fathered by Shaelar and born of Silat.