The Mythos of Sommerstone
The world of Sommerstone has a rich mythology, with a pantheon of demi-gods known as Virtues. They are the manifestations of all the Virtues, courage, hope, mercy, faith, fidelity, and so on. Together, they represent what is known as the Face of God, and are, as a consequence referred to as the Faces of God. The Virtues were created to be an example to men, and teach them all the godly virtues so that men might come to know the faces of God, but one of the Virtues, Malasephus, whose aspect was artistry and beauty craved the worship of men.
Rather than exalt mankind, he sought to subvert it and compel them to worship him as a god. The story of his fall is related in the Fall of the Elan:
There is but one God who has many Faces which he hath made known to man through his Virtues. Here set forth are the names of the Faces of God, even the Chief Virtues.
Noss - whose aspect is Justice.
Korine - whose aspect is Courage.
Malasephus - whose aspect is Artistry.
Esuvar - whose aspect is Truth.
Tomalis - whose aspect is Wisdom.
Elarasum - whose aspect is Knowledge.
Ammon - whose aspect is Humility.
Tomb - whose aspect is Innocence.
Solace - Whose aspect is Mercy.
Now these are the chief Virtues or Faces of God. These he sent to inhabit the world, to bestow upon the races their aspects so that the world might become like unto God, having manifest in its people the many Faces, even the Virtues of God. But these are not all the Virtues, for they are many, but these are the chief Virtues. To them was given charge to impart of their aspects unto the world, and to teach the aspects of all the other Virtues who are not here named, but who are nevertheless the Many Faces of God.
And the Virtues went down into the word and built a city upon the face of the Earth that therein they might dwell; and Tomalis, whose aspect is wisdom said, ''Here we have the race of man, but he is reckless and will do what he will with the bounty of the land, and deplete it in his folly. Let us therefore petition our maker that we might bring forth another race, even the Elan, who shall be shepherds and keepers of the land and watch over all living things, that they may nurture the land and heal it of the hurts wheresoever man sets his hand to do harm.''
And Malasephus said unto the Virtues, ''Lo, I will make a form befitting such as the Elan, whose beauty will strike at the hearts of men, that he may have compassion upon the living things of the earth, and thus shall their work be made easier.''
And Sephim spoke, saying, ''Lo I will give unto the Elan that they may have the patience of long years, that they may labor with exceeding care and devotion that their works will be a blessing to the earth.''
And Tomb spoke, saying, ''I will bestow on them Innocence that they will have no want to hurt, for I perceive that unto the Elan will be given greatness of power, that they shall have power over all living things, whatsoever thing liveth the Elan shall have command over, and shall have affinity with; and the storms of heaven shall obey them, and the waters of the seas shall be made pure in their mouths, therefore will I give them innocence, that they might be preserved in their power.''
And Noss, whose aspect is justice said, ''Let it be that the Elan shall be made, and shall be a lesser people than the Virtues, though they shall be greater than man for they shall have all the Faces of God in their countenances. And we shall impart to them a power sufficient for their task, but this thing shall be denied them, though none other power shall be denied them so that they shall have power over all living things save it be the slaying of anything that liveth. And on the day that Elan shall take up sword against another, even to fight brother against brother, on that day shall I visit Justice upon them and the Elan shall be no more, destruction shall be their lot, and they shall pass from the earth to the great sorrow of all living things.
And there was consensus among the Faces of God, and they brought forth the Elan, and God breathed life into them, and they dwelt with them for a time in Sil Elan Elomir, the city of the Virtues.
But man had not yet come forth into the world, his time not having been appointed, yet there was a time appointed that he should come forth and it was for this time that the Elan were made. And the Elan dwelt with the Virtues, and there was peace in Sil Elan Elomir for there had not yet come anything into the world to place pride in the hearts of the Virtues.
But men came into the world, and when they beheld the Virtues, they fell down to worship them, but the Virtues forbade it, saying, ''We are but children also, though older and wiser than thee. God hath made us as he hath made man. Now behold doth the fox bow before the ox, or the ox before the eagle, wherefore man shall not bow before the Virtues to worship them, for it is not wisdom that the Virtues should accept the worship of men.''
Thus spoke Tomalis in his wisdom, and many of the Virtue heeded his words.
But Malasephus was pleased at the worship of man, and spoke privily saying, ''I know not if it is wisdom or folly but that men have a want to worship, and if they are not given that which is worthy of worship then they will worship wrongly; wherefore let them worship the Virtues, yea, let them think of us as gods for are we not the many Faces of God, and to worship one of the Faces of God is to worship him in part if not in whole, and to worship in part is better than to not worship at all.''
And there were many of the Virtues who heeded Malasephus’s words, for his aspect was Artistry, and this aspect he employed in his speaking, and he thus lead many astray, even many of the Virtues who went seeking glory and worship and servitude from men, whom they had been sent to serve. Thus they became as gods, receiving sacrifices from men and even a few of the Elan, but the Elan who worshiped the Virtue were few, for they were like unto the Virtues except that their power was a little less, and they knew that they themselves were not worthy of worship, therefore neither were the Virtues. And of the Virtues who sought worship there were not a few, and Malasephus was their chief, and he gloried in their servitude.
But only a few of the Elan turned their hearts to worship Malasephus, and while they lived they were a vexation to him, and Malasephus could not compel many of the Elan to worship him so that he must find another way to destroy them, for as long as the Elan dwelt in Sil Elan Elomir so would the Virtues, and this thing he feared, for great as he was he was not chief among the Faces of God.
Wherefore Malasephus sought a way by which he might destroy the Elan. And he remembered Noss’s words, saying that if the Elan should take up arms one against another that she would visit justice upon them and destruction would be their lot.
Thus Malasephus whispered cunningly to the Elan, and as many as would listen to him he lifted their hearts up in pride, saying ''lo, see how man labors to unmake the land which thou loveth, and taketh the bounty thereof, and wherefore is he grateful? Nay, but he is not.
''And see your brethren how they cater to man, like the cur follows a strong dog, but are the Elan not greater than men, wherefore why should the Elan bow themselves to his service, and why should the labor of your hands be trampled beneath his feet?
''But be not angry at man, he is simple and his ways are like to the cattle that would eat the land to dirt were it not for the Elan who call the grass of the fields, saying grow, and give seed, and spread forth upon the wind and take root so that the cattle shall not starve.
''But behold thy brethren, even thy own kin do nothing to curb men, or to chasten him when he exceeds the land’s bounty, but they bless him still. They do not value the work of thy hands, nor the joys of thy heart. They would make you slaves to cattle.''
And there were many who hearkened to Malasephus’s words and lifted their hearts in pride, and there began to be contention among the Elan.
And Malasephus said to others, ''Behold the work of thy hands, how marvelous it is, like unto the works of the Virtue, but thou art lowly before thy brethren, who esteem their works as greater than thine; but I say unto you it is not so, that thy works are mighty also, yea even mightier than theirs, but they esteem thee not.''
And many also heard Malasephus’s words and took them to heart, and there began to be jealousy among the Elan.
And Malasephus said to others, ''Behold thy heart desireth to do great works, but thou art set to the menial, and thy labor is for naught, while thy brethren set for themselves tasks that will give them glory and esteem before the many Faces of God.
''But I say unto you that thou art greater than this labor that is set for thee, and that thy brethren wish that thou should be chained to this labor in order that thy splendor may not outshine theirs.''
And many also heard Malasephus’s words and there began to be envy among the Elan.
So Malasephus spread contention among the Elan, saying lies and flattering words to all who would hearken, and Malasephus did ply his aspect in his words so that they were pleasing to the listener. Now because of his eloquence and cunning, many thought the words of Malasephus were true, and they did not know that he spoke contrarily to their brethren for all these things he did in secret, and because of the lies and flattering of Malasephus there came to be hatred in the hearts of the Elan.
And there arose bitterness and envy and strife and many contentions in the city of the Virtues, and the Faces of God were greatly troubled by this, but knew not that Malasephus was the architect of dissension. And the Faces of God wept, but knew not how they might turn the hearts of the Elan back to the Faces of God, for the Elan had become a people filled with jealousies, and envy, and strife and contentions, so that they held their hand from their tasks and drought and famine spread across the land.
And so cunning were Malasephus’s words that all the Elan were thus ensnared, save it were one. Not one escaped his cunning save it was the First Elan whom the Virtues had made, even the eldest, whose name is forgotten.
The First Elan spoke mightily to his people, persuading them with love and gentleness to forget their hatred for one another, for he rightly perceived that their doom was upon them unless they humbled themselves, and remembered their aspect which aspect had been given them by the Faces of God, which aspect is life.
But they heeded him not and their hatred grew until words were no longer sufficient and the Elan took up sword against one another, and called the lightening of the heavens to smite one another, and terrible was the war of the Elan which shook all the earth, so that men remember it as a time of great fear, and the Old Powers of the world will not speak of it, for it feign would have destroyed even them had it continued.
And the Virtues wept at the contest between the Elan, and the city of Sil Elan Elomir was destroyed, yea her white towers were laid low.
When the First Elan beheld the bloodshed of his people he fled to the great woods that lay to the north, and there he cried bitterly for he knew the destruction of his people was upon them. And he called to Noss, saying, ''Stay thy hand great one.''
And Noss came to him and said, ''Thou knowest I cannot, for justice must have its measure, and I said, ‘if ever the Elan lift sword against one another that they shall have gone against the law.’ Now how can there be a law if there is no justice?
''Behold, if this war between thy kin persists they shall destroy all the world, for unto the Elan was given great power, even the power of the Virtues, and this they turn against each other, and the world trembles and must pass away if justice is not done.''
And the First Elan, knowing the truth of Noss’s words hid his eyes, and said, ''Then let justice fall on me first that I may not witness the destruction of my people.'' And then Noss wept, saying, ''Justice is not mercy. Of all the Elan you alone have not raised your hand against your kin and so justice has no claim on you, but the Elan are forfeit, having become a thing they should not, for their aspect is life, and they have become death. How can a thing exist as it’s opposite?''
It is not written what form Noss’s justice took, only that the Elan passed forever from the earth, and their war ceased, and the earth was spared, yet many of the Old Ones perished, and the face of the land was changed, and the city of the Virtues, even Sil Elan Elomir was no more, so that the Faces of God turned from the earth and departed, save Malasephus and his followers.
Now Malasephus rejoiced for he had accomplished the desire of his heart and had struck the Elan from the face of the earth, and also the Faces of God who in their sorrow departed, but the last to leave was Noss.
Now when Malasephus saw that he had triumphed he rejoiced and called his kin to him, even those who had hearkened to his words, and he said unto them, ''Behold we are now become as gods, and there are none who shall oppose us, and men shall turn their hearts to us, and give unto us glory and sacrifice, and we have all become the true faces of god, wherefore let us go to men and call upon them that they might sing our praise, and offer up an offering to the faces of god who have remained, yea even their true gods.''
And the Virtues who had remained rejoiced and called Malasephus their king for it was by his cunning and artifice that they had triumphed.
But in the midst of their rejoicing they did not perceive that Noss had been among them, and she seeing the treachery of Malasephus stepped forward and rebuked them.
''Oh vain and fallen Virtues! Did you suppose that your treachery would go unnoticed? Did you not know that thou art fallen and are no more the Faces of God; that when he made you he imparted unto you virtue, and that you were but an aspect of his Virtue in order that men might learn from you? But that virtue has gone and you are no more the Faces of God. He hath seen thy deceits and thy treachery and thy betrayal, but notwithstanding God will allow men as they will, and will not deny them choice. If it is the desire of men to worship false gods, and deceivers and liars, than he will grant their desire.
''But what thou hast done is evil and the law has been broken, which law was given to us when our creator called us forth from the Void, saying ''Unto these will I impart my Virtues so that they may be unto the world as if they were the Faces of God, and I do this so that men might come to know my Faces a little at a time, so that he might learn my Virtues through these I send, wherefore I shall call them Virtues and send them forth to teach men so that he might himself become virtuous.’
''Behold, where there is law there must be justice or there can be no law; but behold there is a law and you have broken it.'' And the followers of Malasephus retreated before Noss as she proclaimed her judgment.
''This is the judgment of Noss, who is the Face of God’s justice: Verily you shall have the worship you crave, though you are liars and deceivers, yet men will worship you. But to each I appoint a place whose boundaries are set, and you may not leave the realm appointed you, and the place of your binding shall be small, so that your worshipers are few. And I bind you in that place that is the opposite of you, so that you shall have no joy in the worship of men. I bind you to prison and misery and sorrow so that if men shall worship you they shall come to misery and sorrow also. And I bind you each to his realm so that you may not leave, for in the hour that you depart then shall you become weak, like unto men, and shall be subject to death, like unto men. Thus your powers shall be bound lest ye walk all the land and contend one with another even as the Elan did contend one with another so that the whole world must tremble beneath your feet.''
And Noss turned to Malasephus, who had been the chief architect of the destruction of the Elan. ''Malasephus, thou art condemned to the dark places of the world, even the hidden places which are in the depths of the belly of the world, that thine eyes might never see again the works of your hands. Darkness is in your heart, and darkness shall be your companion forevermore.''
And Malasephus cried out in his wrath and despair, for he had made many of the beautiful things of the world, and loved them greatly.
And when she had finished binding the fallen Virtues, each to their own place, even a place of misery Noss departed, and God turned his Many Faces from the land, for notwithstanding their misery and the boundaries of the fallen virtues, yet men still worshiped them.