Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Creation Myths

This is something I did last year as a world-building exercise.  Essentially, fictional creation myths of various tribes.  I purposely made there some overlap between the stories to kind of imply at shared origins and the development of the tribes.

1. The Imei (Sons of Im): A hearty but rapidly shrinking tribe of people who live in the mountains and forests of the cold northern continent Ikai (they call it Iatai, which means Ia's land). They're one of the few remaining tribal folk in the area and, despite their numbers decreasing, still stand strong.

In the beginning there was only wind and gray ocean.

  One day, Il, the Worldwalker, the Great Creator, came across this land of endless ocean and he saw what it could be. Using some of his own being, he formed the world. A flat, dark land. Il knew something was missing, but he could not think of what, so the Worldwalker laid down by the ocean and slept for five hundred days and five hundred nights.

When Il awoke, he was very lonely and so he, from his very being, he created Ia, The Worldmother, to be his wife. The Worldmother bore many children, and they spread through the world. However, Im The Forgotten, Il’s brother was jealous. He wanted a world for his own and, one night while his brother was sleeping, he took the world and split it in two. One side of the world for Il’s children, one for Im’s, and the great gray ocean between them.

Il was not pleased and he commanded his children to attack Im’s and a great war was raged across the ocean. Il and Im’s children were immortals themselves, and thus the battle was never-ending. The gods fought for thousands of years, splintering the world into many pieces, raising mountains and making valleys. Finally, the fighting could go on for no longer. Il created a new world next to his own and trapped Im in it, however as Im was forced in, he took hold of Il and Il’s children and his own children and pulled them. Il was pulled into his own prison as was the immortal aspect of his children. Without it, his children lost their form and became the plants and beasts of the world. Im’s children also lost their immortality and became the first humans, the ancestors of all the men of the world.

Il and Im and their children’s spirits remain trapped in Il’s spirit world for all eternity, able to see us and to welcome especially virtuous leaders into their realm, but never to directly communicate except through our wise Conduits.

And all that was left was Ia and she laid down and her body became the great hills of our land and her pure white skin became the eternal snow and her hair became the mighty forests and her breath the warm southern winds and she holds us all in her protective embrace.

2. The Skald (Snow Men): The other main tribe of Ikai (Skaldin, Skald Home, in their language). They’ve assimilated into the Empire (more on that later) more than the Imei, and they struggle to strike a balance between modernity and tradition. They’re culturally related to the Imei, but it’s unknown who came first. The Skald consider the Imei an early offshoot of their tribe, but the Imei claim that they were around first.

Once the world was filled with snow.

Sheil, the Lord of Lords, his brother Sheim, his wife Sheia and Sheil’s three children: Kora the Brave, Thia the Conniving, and Bora the Industrious lived in the world during this time, as they always had. One day, Sheim was bored and so he took Thia and convinced her to take her father’s Golden Scepter from him and bring it to Sheim and while her father was sleeping, she snuck into his room and took the Scepter from its resting place and brought it to Sheim.

With the Scepter, Sheim had control over some of his brother's powers and he began to wreak mischief on the world, splitting it into the continents, creating mountains, valleys, and plains, and melting the snow except on the northern continent where Sheia lay sleeping. When Sheil learned of this, he sought out Sheim and they dueled to a standstill until the brothers finally killed each other and their bodies fell into the ocean and were broken up and washed in many different directions.

With her father dead, Thia took up the Scepter, but Bora and Kora joined together and defeated their corrupt sister. They used the Scepter to turn her into a beast and she went on to sire all the animals of the world. They crept up to their sleeping mother and split her in two, a wife for each of them and then destroyed the Scepter. They then decided that they would split up. Kora remained in the snowy north and sired the mighty tribes of the Skald, while Bora went to the southern continents and sired the many southern tribes and so has the world remained split between Kora’s snowy north and Bora’s warm south since.

3. The Shixin-Soroon (Old men): The Shixin-Soroon are the primary denizens of the continent Te-Soroon (Old home). They’re somewhat of an anthropological mystery as their culture is wildly different from the rest of the world’s, as is the environment of their forested home.

The world egg was eternal.

The egg of the world in all its colors, brown, and blue and green, had existed for as long as anybody could remember. For, you see, there were people living on the egg at that time, the ancestors of you and me. They lived on the great multi-colored shell of the egg in peace and harmony and never questioned what was inside the egg.

One day, a particularly attentive leader heard a great rumbling and saw the shell beneath his very feet begin to crack. The egg cracked into many pieces as it hatched, each floating off onto a different part of the leftover water from inside the egg with a portion of the tribes of the world.

Finally, the egg was finished hatching and all the population of the world watched as a mighty blazing red phoenix lifted up into the air and hung there for a day before dying and falling to the earth, but then, as the mourners gathered, the phoenix raised again and brought light to the world again and the cycle continues to this day, the phoenix sacrificing itself to light the world for one day before dying and being brought back the next.

4. The Empire of Arnhol: A massive continent-spanning empire, the Empire of Arnhol has many variations of its official religion, Maraim (after the seven maidens, or Marai, who are central to their religion) and is relatively new (it morphed out of a combination of several seperate traditions). Their creation myth stays more or less the same between denominations, though.

In the beginning was darkness.

  Out of the darkness came a great light, the shifting powerful form of the great God Lugh. Lugh came into the darkness and he decided he would make something there and so he did. Lugh divided himself into thirteen pieces. Seven of the pieces became the Holy Maidens of Light, the Marai, whose statues we hold in our temples. The eighth piece became the watery orb of our planet. The ninth became all the varied lands of our world and the tenth became all the plants, the eleventh the beasts, and the twelfth all the intelligent races.

The thirteenth piece of Lugh, however, formed into all of the demons and monsters of the world and these beings of Evil tried to destroy all the people of Lugh’s world. The Marai stopped them before they could and sealed them away, deep under the earth. At certain mountains you can still see the demons trying to break out of their prisons, lava spewing as they do.

Satisfied that the world was safe, the Marai ascended into the heavens that they may better watch us and protect us. They regularly manifest to aid those in trouble, as they have many times through history and as they have for every emperor of our great nation.

  In addition, The Marai watch for the demons. They know the prison cannot hold the demons forever and must be prepared to fight when the demons emerge from their hellish underground complex. When this day comes, the world may be destroyed, but the Marai promise us that they will rebuild it in even more resplendent form.

5. The Morian (Together, in their language) of Skar: The Morian of Skar are the “original” Morian and live in the wasteland continent of Skar. Skar was formerly a beautiful place, as reflected in many of their myths. They worship many demi-gods, especially Ilai (Leadership), Imai (Intelligence), and Iai (nurturing) and a single nameless Creator who's not around anymore. Guilt is a big part of the religion, as they essentially believe they destroyed the world.

In the beginning was the Creator.

The Creator was nameless and great, too great to be perceived by any single man. The Creator created the world and he held it on his back to protect it and watched as his children lived in this world.

Over time however, The Creator realized his children were flawed. Far from the peace he had wanted in his creation, his children fought constantly over the smallest things. To attempt to fix this, the Creator took three aspects of himself, his leadership in the form of a powerful chieftain named Ilai, his intelligence in the form of a cunning advisor named Imai, and his kindness in the form of a great matron named Iai. He sent each of his three demi-gods to a different part of his body to rule over his children and calm them.

Many of The Creator’s children did not appreciate being ruled by the demi-gods and they began to fight back and a great war was waged between those loyal to The Creator and those not. The loyal eventually won, but The Creator had been torn into pieces during the battle and all that was left of him were the small islands of his back, floating in void.

  And so we worship at temple and at home, to ask forgiveness for the great destruction we caused and to summon back The Creator who will bring us together into his embrace that we may become part of him again.

6. The Morian of West Talim: At an unknown point in the distant past, a sizable portion of Morian left Skar and headed eastwards to West Talim. Since then, the Morian of West Talim have developed mostly independently from their originators, and even their mythology is pretty different, although plenty of similarities remain. The Morian tend to be pretty insular in general, but the denizens of West Talim are even more so.

In the beginning was Iliam.

Iliam is the Great All, The Creator, the progenitor. Iliam created the world as one large round plate, which he carried on his back everywhere he went.

  Iliam’s brother Imim was jealous of Iliam’s world and attempted to create his own world, but Imim was a poor artisan and his world was only a shadow of the majesty of Iliam’s. The jealous Imim attempted to steal Iliam’s world and the brothers began to fight and it ignited a war of the gods and the children. Iliam and Imim each took hold of the world and began to pull as their children fought until finally the world was pulled apart into many pieces. Those on Imim’s side formed the eastern continents and those on Iliam’s the west.

Angered by the war of their gods, many of the people of the world rebelled against their gods and divided the world up even more. It is the duty of the remaining faithful to maintain the strength of the mighty Iliam, hold on to belief, and stop the unfaithful.

7. The Mizay (Middlemen): The Mizay are the natives of the island of Meztalim, between West and East Talim. Unlike many of the other indigenous tribes of the world, there are still many Mizay around and they've more or less accepted modernity while still affectively holding onto their culture. Part of the reason is that their religion places great importance on oneness and acceptance, so they’re less resistant to change than some tribes. Their worship primarily centers on ancestors and light.

The world has always existed, a bright light in a sea of infinite darkness.

Every single thing of the world, men and beasts and plants and all the rocks and dirt of the land and all the water of the sea, is part of this light. The light has always existed, but it was once small.

Once, the world-light was just the size of a campfire and a single man, called Breyum, stood there. He was lonely and sad and he wished that he had someone else to be with him. As Breyum wished and wished, he found the light beneath him begin to grow and strengthen until it was the size of a town and from the light came other people and animals.

These new people all gathered together and wished as well and the world grew and more people came until the world was as big as it is now and even more populated. However, the darkness that the world floated in saw an opening as the world expanded and it seeped in. It cut pieces of the world off, dividing the world into many islands and it turned brother against brother and war broke out.

But the light won out in the end, as it always did. Those corrupted by the darkness were brought to light by our ancestors such as it has always been. Those held by darkness merely needed the aid of the light to break them out and they saw the light. The world changes as the darkness moves and pulls, but the light is eternal and it is in all things.

8. The Arnoel (Warriors) of East Talim: The Arnoel are the indigenous tribe that the Imperials of Arnhol are descended from. There are very few pure-blooded Arnoel left, but they often hold high-ranking positions in the Empire and tend to be well respected.

In the beginning, there was darkness and light.

Luz, the spirit of light, and Dru the spirit of darkness embodied the light and darkness respectively and were of such equal power that the light and dark was always kept perfectly balanced. In addition, each spirit had seven children, Luz’s Marai and Dru’s Sharim. They also often warred, but were completely equal in power just like their progenitors.

One day, one of the Sharim got an idea. He tore himself into many little pieces and populated the world with them and these dark people fought the Marai and tipped the balance towards darkness. In response, one of the Marai tore herself up and created people of light and again they fought.

Yet again at a stalemate, the Marai and Sharim discovered that the people they had created were mortal and could die and be reborn again and again and so the battle waged on. Sometimes darkness got the upper-hand, sometimes light, but it never tipped significantly in either direction.

Finally, the Sharim formed a concentrated effort to attack Luz and they succeeded, ripping him into millions of pieces. Everywhere he fell on the earth, some sort of life appeared.

And so the world was overcome by darkness, and it has been since, the only hope being the light of Luz within every person.

9. The Mik-met-tet (Homeward-facing people) of Shol: Shol is one of the larger islands of The Crescent Isles, and The Mik-met-tet are a very big tribe on the island, although far from the only one. Evidence shows that they are not natives of Shol and arrived there at some point in the distant past, possibly driven out of their home by invaders.. Their legends tend to support this.

Once we had a home.

  A long time ago, our ancestors lived in our majestic homeland Tet. But one day, the great demons, the homestealers, the Yoz-iz Isaz attacked us. They wore clothes made of the sacred birds and weapons of flame and they drove our ancestors out of Tet.

Our ancestors escaped the Yoz-iz Izaz and traveled through space but they could find nowhere to live. So, they made one. Their great priestess took up a large stone she had brought with her and she weaved her magic and it became bigger and blue and green and brown and the continents appeared on it and our ancestors went there and they went to an island to live.

Over time, our ancestors’ tribes spread all across the world, from their little island, siring all the people of the world. But still, something was missing and every Mik-met-tet dreams of the day when the ancestral home will be taken back and the Yoz-iz Izaz defeated.

10. The Mnemenimen (Scale men): The tongue-twistingly named Mnemenimen are residents of The Crescent Isles’ second largest island, Oliander. Like the Shixin-Soroon, their culture is a fair bit different than most other tribes. Mice are holy in their religion, but pretty much all other animals are looked down upon. They mostly keep to themselves.

In the beginning was the lizard.

The lizard was great, far bigger than anybody could possibly imagine and it was covered in trillions of billions of shining scales. Some of its scales made up certain patterns, continents and seas and worlds. Our world is one of the many on the back of the lizard.

Each of these worlds had its own creatures, but none had creatures as special as the humans of our world. The humans were new, compared to the beasts of the world, and were forged straight out of the lizard’s scales.

After a while, the other animals got jealous of all that the humans could do and they convened a meeting and decided to kill the humans and take back “their” world. However, the little mouse was worried by this and he left the meeting and warned the humans.

When the animals came to attack the humans, the humans were ready and they slaughtered most of the attacking animals. And so it was that the humans became masters of the world and secured dominion over all the animals, except the lowly mouse who we still thank for aiding our ancestors.

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