The final chapter of the four-part divinity series, where we share the mythologies behind some of the Gods, Goddesses and their folklore in Mortalissar, is finally here. If you've missed Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3, just click on their respective links and they'll open up new windows for you. For our final part, we'll look at the deities, their folklore and myths from the continents of Djasandur, the Iosian Peninsula and the Bridgelands of Iorensia.
This map of the world helps you navigate and find the nations/continents to cross-correspond with the deities they worship in the divinity map guide above.
The Paladin Gods guarded the seven Light Bridges in Idgea honorably but failed to protect their own when one of them was threatened. In their desperation to defeat the invincible enemy, they drowned their land with acid rain and fire for years, submerging much of Idgea into a watery land-locked sea known as the Bridgelands thereafter.
The Paladin Gods of Idgea (Order)
There was a time when the Bridgelands of Iorensia were part of the mainland and the peninsula of Iosia was part of the larger landmass. Before its lands became a series of interlocking islands, swamps and lakes, Iorensia was only known by its ancient name, Idegio, or Idgea. The land was known to harbor seven bridges, each made out of a spectrum of light, allowing denizens of the land to move from one bridge to another within Idgea. The Light Bridges had healing properties and granted wisdom to anyone who traversed it and prayed on it, giving the people within Idgea heightened insight to maintaining a rare peace and harmony among themselves over many centuries.
The Light Bridges were also guarded by seven God-like protectors, all of whom wore armor, wielded shields, swords (or weapons that smite) and sprouted wings that allowed them to fly and survey the areas around their respective "bridge-lands". They were seen as guardians of the bridges, keepers of order and executors of the law. When a denizen of Idgea had a dispute or concern, they will go to the nearest bridge and consult the protector for advice or guidance.
The one thing the Guardians adhered to was a code of conformity, so they chose to remain faceless and unrecognizable, their mortal visages always hidden behind their helms and their bodies within suits of armor. They didn't need to leave their bridges or their surrounding domains, eat, sleep or clean. When their bridges were threatened, they will remove the threat by any means necessary, usually using their mighty weapons and shield, or divine power filled with sunlight and fire.
The Guardians were given names, based on the Light Bridges they protected, with unique crests on their shields - Calandra (Giant Squid and Whale symbol), Arghemir (Tree Root and Sun symbol), Eltissa (Mandolin and Flute symbol), Chydor (Seabird Tern symbol), Nidyako (Spirit Dream symbol), Healdur (Mountain and Rivers symbol) and Rywen (Warrior with Three Blades and opposing Shields symbol).
The story of their downfall began when Soseikyo, the Goddess of Death, heard about the seven bridges and the Guardians who gate-kept them. She envied the fulfilling longer lifespans the Idgeans were having, for she herself detested anyone who defied death, even if it meant living a little longer than usual.
So she challenged each Guardian to a duel with the following condition: if all seven of them can defeat her one-on-one, she will extend the lives of the people of their land as a reward. If any one of them lost, they will have to sacrifice and give up their bridges to her. So she fought each of the Guardian on each of their bridges, using trickery and manipulation to fool them, using entropy and decay against their sword, shield, light and fire.
Yet, she was not able to defeat even one Guardian, succumbing to each one through different forms of death. When she resurrected herself for the sixth time and finally fought the last of the seven - Rywen - she used what she had learned from her first six deaths and used them against Rywen. She managed to repel Rywen's attacks with her knowledge of the other Guardians' tactics and powers, to finally force Rywen into a stalemate. In the end, Rywen had no choice but to admit defeat, and the Light Bridge of Rywen was at risk of being transplanted to Soseikyo's land in Iosia, becoming a Bridge of Death.
Angered by this threat, the six Guardians abandoned their bridges and rallied to Rywen's aid. Unbeknownst to all seven of them, with the Light Bridges unguarded, Soseikyo's undead army invaded the bridges and assaulted many of the Idgeans on these bridges, transforming them into vampires (which in turn granted Soseikyo greater power). The seven Guardians, realizing that they had been fooled and were on the verge of losing all seven Light Bridges, tore the skies above Idgea and summoned acid rain and holy fire on Soseikyo's vampire horde, killing many of their own as well.
After years of rain and fire, and a war fought in the most unrelenting conditions, Soseikyo's army was decimated, but the land of Idgea was irreversibly transformed. The landmass that was once Idgea had become a watery grave with interlocking islands and sandbars. The few Idgeans who had survived the war were no longer the same, becoming reclusive, distrustful and toughened, even among each other and especially towards their Guardians.
The Guardians, having seen the devastation that had been wrought, collapsed all seven Light Bridges into one, forming a rainbow. It became a symbol of their promise that all seven Idgean domains must stick together no matter what and never falter to become the weakest link in the chain. Much to their disappointment, many years later and soon after they departed the mortal realm, the seven domains plunged into a civil war.
By the end of the civil war, seven different "Bridgelands" were formed. With the knowledge and secrets of warfare, order and strength passed on from each of their Guardians, the Bridgelands became "crossing nations" for their neighbors. The Guardians were given a new name - the Paladin Gods of Idgea. Out of respect of the seven Paladin Gods, all seven Bridgelands worshiped all seven Gods. However, each Bridgeland - Calandaria, Craghmeer, Keltiss, Chydon, Vo Kaydin, Sheald and Rowne - bore a crest and symbol of each God respectively.
Goddess Soseikyo (Death) & God Azaewa (Life)
The general story about Soseikyo was that she was the first 'vampire' ever known from folklore. The story on how that happened began when she wanted to save her unborn child badly and sought the help of Azaewa, the God of Life. In the early days of Iosia, when it was still a landmass connected to the mainland (prior to becoming a peninsula), Soseikyo was a mortal peasant woman who worshiped the God Azaewa.
Azaewa was, at the time, the God of Life and Death; able to bring back the dead and cure those in pain, but also take away life and inflict pain and suffering on those who deserved them. When Soseikyo got married and was pregnant with her firstborn, she devoted much of her life, her time and beliefs to Azaewa, in honor of the goodness of his blessings and the bountiful harvest from the field. Azaewa himself, seeing the gratitude and devotion from Soseikyo and her village, showed her the possibility of immortality if one showed true goodness in life and death - exemplified from life-long lessons through remembrance and memories.
When Soseikyo felt a persistent pain in her belly that haunted her dreams, she went to see Azaewa, fearing something might have happened to her unborn child. Azaewa initially resisted the urge to help her, citing the harmony of death will restore order when life is not meant to be - her unborn child's fate should rest with this balance, not by his hand.
Soseikyo refused to accept his wisdom, but instead begged him not to deny her the death of her firstborn, vowing that he could take all of her subsequent children, but not her first. Azaewa, in his benevolent goodness, with no intention of taking her children at all, told her that he will do all he can but she must accept the consequences of this imbalance. Soseikyo agreed but did not understand what it had meant at the time. Azaewa then touched her belly to gleam at her unborn child and saw what was wrong and corrected any deformities and impurities from it. He went deep into its mind to remove all negative thoughts and stresses, then absorbed and purged all undernourishment and sickness from its flesh, bones and blood. After several days, Soseikyo no longer felt the pain and she thanked him.
On the day she gave birth, the baby was born neither living nor dead. He grew like any other child, but was unable to see, hear and speak. He did not breathe like any other human, felt no hunger, thirst nor human desires. He did not feel cold in winter, nor pain when he stepped into fire. He did not bleed when injured and did not need to sleep from exhaustion. Worse of all, as he grew to become an adult, he had no desire to pursue anything of value, preferring to live the rest of his days without motivation nor purpose. Due to his handicaps and lackadaisical worldview, he was constantly bullied, abused and ridiculed, turning Soseikyo and her family into outcasts. In her despair, Soseikyo changed her firstborn son's name to Kaewan, or The Lifeloss, a man devoid of any hope or future.
Soseikyo visited Azaewa many times to question him about her son, first when he was a baby, then when he was a teenager and later when he was an adult. All he said was that Kaewan was special and his painful ordeals in this life were worldly examples that will become inspirations to many around him, even after his eventual death.
However, a day after Kaewan's death due to constant bullying, Azaewa visited Soseikyo, now withering with old age and unable to walk. He finally revealed the truth to her: to save Kaewan from death as an unborn child, he had to take away his life in some form. It was part of the balance that governed all things - something she must accept and take with her to the grave. Azaewa shared that he was unable to tell her the truth while Kaewan was alive as it would be unfair to him to know that his mother was the cause of his worldly suffering.
Soseikyo was furious. If she had known the details of the penalty for her firstborn's life, she would have let her son die in her womb to spare him the suffering both she and him had to endure. Of course, Azaewa reasoned with her. She was a widow and besides Kaewan, she already had eight other children - all healthy adult men and women with children and grandchildren. Despite their enmity towards her firstborn son when he was alive, she should carry on with the remainder of her life in peace knowing that generations after her would continue her legacy.
That night, Soseikyo could not sleep. She could not forget her firstborn and the suffering he had. She felt aggrieved and guilty for what she had done as a mother. In her fury, and madness, she crawled out of her home and dug up her son's rotting corpse from his grave. As rain pounded the soil and lightning flashed in the sky, she ate his flesh and powdered bones out of shame and regret. However, upon consuming her son's remains, something inside her changed. Her withered age began to reverse and she regained her youthfulness once more, becoming the beautiful Soseikyo when she was in her late teens.
Not only that, she became hungry, thirsting for the blood of the living - knowing that each drop contained knowledge, emotions and memories of its vessel - things her firstborn son never had the chance to experience when he lived. Her mind warped and became utterly impure and angry, years of anguish bottled up inside suddenly exploding through her. All she wanted was to see many die for the suffering they had inflicted on her firstborn son, for the ridicule and judgement they had passed on his terrible affliction. Transformed, Soseikyo murdered all eight of her children and their grandchildren, drinking their blood and learning much about their disgust towards Kaewan. She began to terrorize the villages, forcing many to flee.
Upon hearing of her misdeeds, Azaewa confronted Soseikyo, only to realize that the reason her unborn son was sick in the first place was because Azaewa himself was part of the imbalance. In his attempt to make use of her son as an example to all around him, he had now unleashed a counter-balance against himself and the world.
To his horror, he learned that Soseikyo's eight children and their grandchildren had returned as undead creatures, becoming the first coterie of Soseikyo's vampiric legacy (the first vampire-lords of Sosei). They began to terrorize his people, turning more of them into the undead.
Desperate and unable to counter this imbalance he had started, Azaewa negotiated with Soseikyo - end the bloodletting and retreat into the world where the sun does not shine where her brood will be protected for all eternity. Soseikyo countered - give her a taste of his blood first, and she will do as he requested. Azaewa, on the verge of seeing his world collapsed, relented.
The blood that Soseikyo drank from him bestowed her with the power of Death, transforming her into an otherworldly being capable of putting his over-bearing virtues in check. Yet, it also tempered her anger and anguish somewhat, putting a much needed balance to her bloodlust and desires. Azaewa, in his despair and disappointment, understood this as a necessary balance and a reminder that would forever haunt him, becoming his eternal punishment.
By the time the immortals no longer walked the earth, Soseikyo's vampire brood resided mainly in the land known as Soseizaki, or the Wasteland of the Undead, in the north-western parts of the Iosian Peninsula. Azaewa was worshiped mainly in Issanto and Kazaewa, blessed by an abundance of wildlife, harvest and favorable weather.
Up till Tae 4329, Soseizaki's neighbors - the Kazaewans and Taragewans (who worshiped the Nameless Gods of the Aessar) - would cart hundreds, if not thousands of their dead to the borders of Soseizaki as an offering to the vampire-lords. This practice happened sometime in either the end of the Mer Age or the beginning of the Tae Age, after a long-drawn war between the three nations to protect the living from the dead.
The story was that as long as the vampire-lords were fed and they saw much of the world from the blood they drank, they shall hunger no more for the rest of the world. It was the balance that had to be upheld and carefully maintained, a legacy and curse brought about by the Gods of their land.
God Utzaeyo (Present)
Utzaeyo was a six-legged God-like creature who lived in the moment, never bothering about his future nor remembering his past. His reasoning for this stemmed from an argument he had with the Gods of the Aessar and Arryasul, the God-Prince of Wind. The argument began when Utzaeyo, himself being one of the Gods of the Aessar at the time (before they were Nameless), believed that it was possible to see the entire landmass of Mer Taelysae in one day. His Aessari brethren and Arryasul laughed and mocked him, saying he can only do so by being omnipotent, he had wings or he cheated.
Utzaeyo, who didn't have wings, wanted to prove them wrong. So he began his marathon early in the morning, when the moon was still high in the sky and the sun was asleep. He ran as quickly as he could, soaking in the air, soil, wind and breaths of people he met and passed during his run, exposed to their joy, pain and sorrow through scent, pheromones and conversations.
By midday, he had already conquered the top quarter of the world, his legs continuing to run despite difficult terrain and unyielding weather. Utzaeyo knew his Aessari brethren and Arryasul, after ridiculing him for his nonsensical lofty idea, had boosted his run in secret, by slowing down his surroundings based on their early knowledge of time, and boosting his running speed with winds - to prove that he could not achieve the feat on his own without cheating.
By early evening, Utzaeyo had reached the other end - standing by the shores of The Ghadiru Sea. The run had helped him gain perspective, from the many sorrows and woes of the people and wildlife he encountered. He knew that by focusing on what needed to be done in the here and now, the past and future didn't matter. Things got done faster, unencumbered by histories, without the pressures of expectations of things to come. As the Aessari and Arryasul's divine aid expired, Utzaeyo gained an insight from his journey and decided to prove them wrong even more.
The next morning, when the rest of his Aessari brethren and Arryasul assembled at a giant tree on a hill to continue their debates, they saw, much to their surprise, that Utzaeyo had returned. They had not expected him to be back so soon.
As their time and wind powers had expired the night before, it would not have been possible for Utzaeyo to make the run back in record time (and see the world, in all her remarkable nightly view, for a second time). The Aessari and Arryasul were amazed and wanted to know how he did the return - running across Mer Taelysae not once but twice in a single day, despite being aided by their divine powers on the first leg.
Utzaeyo told them to remove all of their encumbrances, valuables and attachments. Only by doing so, can they truly see the secret of how he did it. Alas, the Aessari and Arryasul were unable to relinquish what they loved, and in the end, never learned the secret of Utzaeyo's record run. The general folklore believed that Utzaeyo's focus on his ever-present goal, his destination, was so powerful, his mind blocked out all other distractions, overtook his body and became omnipotent across the land all at once. It was a split second awareness, as if Utzaeyo's mind melded with Mer Taelysae the land itself, giving him a snapshot of his presence in all places at once. Another belief was that he ran so fast (at the speed of sound or light) that he somehow sprouted wings and made the distance in record time.
Whatever the conclusion, depending on who's telling the story, by Tae 4329, the land of Shenzaiki in the Iosian Peninsula became known as Utzaeyo's land, or the land where the God of the Present (or Unencumbered Attachments) was worshiped. His worshipers were mostly beggars and monks, who had given up the worldly life of desires and dreams, to focus on the current and the present day. While poverty was rife, the people of Shenzaiki were mostly happy and contented. Many of them became unnaturally strong and disciplined, perhaps privy to a secret that had become the envy of her more emotional and worldly encumbered neighbors.
Utzaeyo, a six-legged dog- or horse-like creature and God of the Present, crossed Mer Taelysae from one end to the other, and back, in one day, to prove to his detractors that focus on the present was all it took. He believed that by removing all memories of the past and pressures of the future, one can achieve optimum efficiency in whatever one needed to do without the weight of worldly attachments. (Reference image sourced from https://www.artstation.com/artwork/PJdQ1)
God-Princes Arryasul (Wind) & Astrakhan (Sand) and the Sand-Gods of Myrrhagad (Memories)
In the great desert empires of Djasandur, the old Sand-Gods of Myyrhagad once ruled over all. No one knew their individual names or how many there were, but the story went that they had two generals - demigod princes they were called - who did their bidding while they remained anonymous and hidden.
The princes - Arryasul and Astrakhan - were tasked with guarding the precious sand of Djasandur, ensuring that their unique magical properties were always shrouded in secrecy and never revealed to the outside world. Arryasul guarded the winds from sweeping sand off course from where they meant to land, while Astrakhan guarded the sand to ensure their properties were always available and valued. They were like brothers, always laughing and joking together and never thought they would part.
But they soon did. Something happened that forced Arryasul and Astrakhan to accuse each other of tempering with the quality of the sand they were meant to protect. Many of their people who ate the sand to cast their magic fell ill and were cursed by an unknown force. Suspecting that they were sabotaging each other, Arryasul and Astrakhan went to war with each other, bringing their loyal armies against one another on the sands of Djasandur.
The war they fought was bloody and timeless, soaking Djasandur's sand-scapes in a terrible red. Towards the end, when Arryasul and Astrakhan faced off at one another, they realized that they had been tricked by none other than the Sand-Gods themselves. Rightly so, as they both laid on the sand bleeding to death under the sun, the Sand-Gods finally appeared, seemingly saving the people of Djasandur by purifying the sand once more.
The Sand-Gods had seen the growing popularity of Arryasul and Astrakhan, saw the mark of hubris and arrogance in them as their powers grew stronger and the people worshiped them more. By tainting the purity of the sand, and forcing Arryasul and Astrakhan to fight each other to the death, the Sand-Gods succeeded in removing their positions once and for all.
Unfortunately, Arryasul and Astrakhan, while on the verge of death, summoned a final spell that would change the face of Djasandur forever. The spell was a sandstorm so large, it enveloped the entire continent for years, plunging their world into howling winds, turbulent cyclones of sand and darkness. Anyone who consumed particles of sand from the storm would go blind and lose all of their memories. The Sand-Gods of Myrrhagad tried to stop the sandstorm, but to no avail, they too became blind and lost all of their memories.
Towards the end, the Sand-Gods surrendered, pledging never again to taint the purity of the sand and hurting the people of Djasandur. Arryasul and Astrakhan ended the sandstorm, realizing much damage had been done in the continent. The Sand-Gods retreated to the corner of the continent, an empire now known as Urugand, while Arryasul was worshiped in Yarrsul and Mykral, and Astrakhan in Sunthar, Djasan and Barakhan.
Pagan Gods and Pagan Kingdoms
While most of the kingdoms, empires, provinces and realms of Mortalissar had their Gods and Goddesses, Demons and Dragons, a few places remained atheist (and for some agnostic). These pagan kingdoms or lands may have suffered as a result of past conflict involving the divine or demonic, resulting in many disbelieving in the old ways and preferring to trust themselves. Others preferred to pray to an unknown deity, uncharted and unnamed, with the hope for a better life and passage.
The Island of Dessan was one such example of a pagan land. Situated between the earldom of Dassentry and the Principality of Essan, it cuts the mouth of the Sea of Aramyss leading into The Kaeosis Span right at the center. According to stories, the island was created by the Dragon-Gods Essura and Dassura, in memory of a feud that should never have happened. The citizens of Dessan chose to worship neither. Instead, once or twice a year, a crew and a ship would set sail to the Northriss Isles to inspect the old underground vaults to ensure the monstrosities of the old ages remain asleep. Their pagan ways had toughened them for the job and they remained ever capable till today.
The pagan ways of Dessan trickled to the adjacent shores of Amyssan, which used to be ruled by the Warlord Assanthar. The Amyssani had their fair share of battles and wars with their neighbors over their pagan ways, but their choice of worship was to unknown gods - some might say demons in the form of ghosts and spirits.
Then we have the province of Illanto, which sat between the borders of a few Iosian provinces (Taragewa and Shenzaiki being a few) with the seven Bridgeland nations. To the south, it had to contend with the Djasanduri empires of Urugand, Yarrsul and Sunthar. Illanto had suffered much in the intervening years after the Bridgelands sundered the Iosian provinces into a peninsula.
It became a sort of bridge between the Iosian provinces and the greater world to the east, especially the Bridgelands, Praemos and the Oeren lands. The citizens of Illanto had turned the province into a commercialized and mercantile hub, open to all races and species, especially the oddball Primoerial races from Lakhtia (lizard-men), Xerpathia (snake-men) and Anura (frog-men). Their nobility had to forge relationships (sometimes corruptions or gift-giving ceremonies known as Yweiro) with the administrators in the Bridgeland nations in how they manage the migration and traffic of creatures moving across its various border points. The industrious nature of these crossings had made Illanto very different from her other provincial neighbors and their belief systems became a mish-mash of different deities, demons and even pagan gods no one had ever thought existed.
Beyond the mainland, there are the three main islands and smaller ones along the coastlines. Most of these islands were uninhabited so it's harder to determine if any of its denizens even believed or worshiped a deity. The Sutharii Island Kingdoms, populated by indigenous tribes of shamanic people, worshiped different pagan gods - with their famous one, Tharii, in the main island of Suthar - being their sacrificial God. Of course, the Mortharii Isles in the south-west had no denizens but most pirates and sea-men believed the ghosts of the place worshiped the Great Nielth, whose broken fingers formed much of the islands.
So there you are, the religions, myths and deities of Mortalissar, shared over four parts. As different kingdoms rose and fell, so too did the significance of the deities they worshiped, albeit scattered and resurfaced many years later. Over time, as mortals fought for their lands and titles, an underlying war among the Gods and Goddesses, Demons and Dragons, was fought in a spiritual war for belief and praise, for recognition and immortality.
Temples and churches may rise and fall, altars and sanctums may crumble and rebuild, but in the world of Mer Taelysae, it was what's in the minds and hearts of their worshipers that really made these deities and their myths what they were, through the stories they tell their children, then their grandchildren, written in books and parchments, and sung like poetry in courts, courtyards and squares.
About the World
This section highlights the world of Mortalissar in greater detail, especially her territories, countries, races, magic, calendar and belief systems. Occasionally, I will write short fiction stories relevant to a particular realm to define its unique characteristics set against a larger canvas. Hopefully, over time, the collection gives you, the reader, a greater appreciation of the uniqueness of this world, and her many qualities and flaws.