Fenthira, Mother Swamp, Warden of the Srryn
|Home(s)||The Depths of a Verdant Swamp|
|Symbols||A clutch of eggs|
|Portfolio||Swamps, evolution, fertility, refuge, supremacy, gratification|
|Worshippers||Bodyguards, iconoclasts, mothers, upstarts, rivals, teachers|
History in Avendar
To the most ancient of srryn shamans, the Sundering cannot be articulated as the fallout of alatharyan hubris. Instead, they described its cataclysmic power as the hatching of the world egg. From its shell was born Fenthira, Mother Swamp, who claimed a portion of creation as Her own. This fetid, marshy plot would become Her nest; the swamp now called Sythtys. Here, She hatched the first reptiles gifted with the spark of magic. As Fenthira's hatchlings grew, they began to vie for supremacy, and the right to claim their Mother's elusive favor. She encouraged ever more lethal competition, knowing that these early trials would shape this young life into conquerors and warlords of the world without.
Two of Her sons eventually rose above all others, and the vicious competition of the swamps briefly lulled. These two, Sitheus and Sythrak, presented two starkly different futures. One favored overt power and dramatic acts of force; the other embraced cunning, and delighted in the paranoia it induced. Fenthiran cultists claim that Her elusive favor compelled both Sons to seek ever greater displays of their superiority; Her fondness was brief, and Her scorn great. According to legend, She claimed Sythrak as Her mate, subjugating His will to Her own. This stands in contrast to both Sythraki and Sithean belief, who both insist that the Son dominated the Mother, cowing Her to His whim.
Srryn traditionalists of all walks agree that it this divine union gave birth to the first clutch of true srryn. Much in the same manner as their reptilian predecessors, the young srryn battled amongst themselves. Their blood-thirst, cruelty, and will to dominate eclipsed their forebears, rapidly bringing the new race to new heights of strength, speed, and stamina. In time, they would reach the limit of their mortality, and sought to claim the immense power of Sythrak and Sitheus. Fenthira took great pride in the ever-expanding scale of this racial and deific competition, and Her attention spurred greater violence.
Fenthira's pride swiftly decayed. Glutted upon his newfound power, Sythrak began to grow complacent; He and His Sept became fat and lazy. The cunning Swamp-Mother, however, saw new opportunity on the northern horizon. She was aware of the weak, soft, warm-blooded creatures who had come to inhabit the grasslands of the river valley and their rapid spread through the wilds. Fenthira prompted Sythrak, telling Him that even in their weakness, these humans had already claimed more of the world than His disciples. This enraged Him, and in His fury He taught the first srryn the forgotten magics of the Flame. Sythraki warlords erupted from Sythtys onto the unsuspecting world, bringing with them the War of Fire.
The defeat of the srryn dealt a crippling blow to their pride, as well as their numbers. However, in it, Fenthira had revealed to them the new rival which would drive the race toward supremacy. In the following ages, the cults of Sythrak and Sitheus would persist, seeking to regain their prominence and overtake all things warm-blooded. Fenthiran worship has gone largely unnoticed in the modern age because of the closeness of Sythtys to human society. However, as always, She drives Her children to new challenges, and further steps toward their brutal destiny.
Goals and Methods
Fenthira is as close to an innovator as the srryn know. As Her primary goal is to prove the supremacy of Herself and the srryn, She encourages Her cultists to use any means available to them in the furtherance of this. Unlike Her sons, however, Fenthira's drive for the primacy of the srryn has little malice to it; She has no desire for the destruction of the other races. Indeed, their presence is ultimately beneficial, that they appreciate the might of Her children. It is always better to cow your enemies than to destroy them.
She encourages a sort of cunning in her followers-- the better to goad one's enemies to a fight with-- but she is not given over to long-term planning or subtlety. Her plots are entirely intended to produce a near-immediate result; a bird in the hand is always worth two in the bush. In this she stands directly between Sythrak, whose impulsivity is legend, and Sitheus, who will abide for centuries for only the most incremental gain.
While the swamps always remain a home to the followers of Fenthira, She urges that Her followers grow beyond the nest. She most favours those who strive to break moulds, to introduce new notions to the species. Those worth keeping will perpetuate themselves, and those of no value will fall aside, forgotten. In Fenthira's eyes, the only worthy tradition is a new one.
Organizations and Followings
Fenthira encourages her followers to form loose groups and alliances\; this allows them to share what they have learned and to spur each other into competition. While they have little formal organization, they can often be categorized into one of three types:
"Watch closely. I'm only doing this once."
Survival of the fittest might drive evolution, but children must be taught. The Clutch-Warden seeks to lead by example, taking in promising students and guiding them through dangerous lessons. While the Warden's charges are usually srryn, there is often benefit in grooming those of other species to serve and honour srryn concerns. Indeed, Wardens take much pride in showing those of other species the true power of the srryn. Wardens are frequently unreliable teachers, however: they are just as likely to concoct 'graduation' ceremonies that involve abandoning their charges to dangerous battles themselves, or to demand charges prove themselves by defeating their teacher in combat as they are to end the education gently. A Warden's tutelage is always temporary: all clutchlings must leave the nest one day.
The Sotuei Sept
"It serves the warmbloods well. Why?"
The hardest lesson of the War of Fire was that other civilizations do have valuable knowledge. Where the Ysthael subjugate and the Thissa proselytize, the Sotuei colonize in the hopes of gaining this awareness. Members of the Sotuei go out into the world to try and learn its ways and bring back what has proven value for the elders to judge. Their mission is not destructive: Sotuei Septlings are usually perfectly productive members of the societies they seek to learn from. Many a prominent merchant or scholar has been guarded by Sotuei, and more than a few guards in Var Bandor write letters home to their elders of what they have learned. Earendam is less accepting of Sotuei, not wishing to empower the srryn any further, but even there the gladiatorial pits are frequently dominated by battle-minded Sotuei.
"I do not bow to you!"
Fortune and Fenthira both favour the bold. She favours those who triumph against circumstances that would conspire against them. Be it a srryn who learns the hated magics of the cold, or a chaja who slaughters their master on the road to freedom, Fenthira honours those who use their individual might to carve out a place in the world. Pit-fighters in invoke her name before going into the ring-- even in Earendam, where a victory given in the name of a srryn goddess symbolizes much more than an individual's triumph. Unlike Dolgrael or Enirra, she is not interested by the underdog: she will far more favour one whose risks are calculated, who ensures victory through building strength. Those Vexatious who live to old age often themselves become Clutch-Wardens, teaching others to follow in their footsteps.
Above all else, Fenthira favours Her own children: the srryn. She heeds the prayers of all Her own, no matter where they dwell. She will not even turn away the calls of those who are sworn to Her sons-- though neither Sythrak nor Sitheus are liable to approve of what they would call disloyalty. She delights in naming powerful ring-fighters her own, who show the world their superiority, and those who harness the magic of the seas: this is power that should by rights have destroyed the srryn, being turned to increase their power. Her direct worship has waned in Sythtys in recent years, in favour of the more openly aggressive Sythraki sects, but even there few forget Her entirely. She is most-favoured by city-bound srryn, and the small but thriving community in Var Bandor honours her openly. Her faith is known elsewhere too: anywhere srryn gather in groups.
Among other species, few give Fenthira much due, but occasional ethron seek her out, wishing to protect the wetlands she holds dear. Fenthira will not turn away those who come to Her, so long as she deems them individually worthy. No longer venerating gods of their own, occasional freed chaja call out to Fenthira as well, and she welcomes them openly. There is much for Her to favour in those who forge lives for themselves in a world that would deny it to them.
Fenthira marks those She deems worthy with the sign of a clutch of eggs.
Fenthira's relation to Sythrak and Sitheus is the stuff of legend; their twisted dynamic bears no resemblance to the other major species' concepts of family. Beyond them, her rivalry with Dolgrael is as close to friendly as any deific competition gets: They both enjoy seeing Their agents pitted against each other. Enirra She has little but contempt for; to devote all eternity to raising up those who have unequivocally lost is the saddest possible existence. She is too stable for Girikha and too fickle for Iandir for either to trust very far, but neither is She considered a threat by either of them. Most goodly gods are wary at best of Her: She offers no inherent threat to righteousness, but Her agents have no qualms with working for dark causes. Jalassa is far too didactic for Fenthira's tastes; the Swamp-mother is frequently irritated by the Arbiter's ways.
Rveyelhi openly despises Fenthira and Her naturalist bent, often leading to conflict between guardsmen-- many of whom have lived their lives never seeing a swamp. She has little use for either Bayyal or Khanval, who offer little more than destruction for its own sake; there are no lessons to be taken from it. Fenthira's worship is not welcome in Earendam, which demands that its srryn underclasses integrate into more acceptable religions, but that has never stopped Her dedicated from keeping the faith.