|the All-Mother, Heart of Nature
|The Heart of Nature
|A leaf, a tree
|Nature, symbiosis, renewal, family, druidic magic, growth
|Druids, settlers, guides, horticulturists
Once Iandir had fashioned the Prime and its physical laws, it existed without purpose. Setting Himself to the task, Jolinn designed the mechanisms of life, and soon the primordial seas were teeming with the tiniest of creatures. It was then that a new deific influence was attracted to Avendar and its potential. She envisioned Her own permutation of what Jolinn had wrought; one which filled the sandy earth with green and brown, drinking its life from the sun. To make it manifest, She sculpted the seed of Firiel, the Tree of Life, and imbued it with divine essence. Over the course of millennia, She dutifully tended it, nourishing it with water, and the seaborne life within began to transform into a myriad of primal plants. In time, a grove of rare and wondrous things grew beneath the outstretched boughs of Firiel, untouched by the passing of ages.
This ended with the Sundering, when magical storms tore across the surface of Avendar. Even the remote grove did not go unchanged. Its rich, varied flora grew ever larger and ever stranger, ultimately yielding an unimagined race of hearty, green-skinned sapients: the ethron. Their early incarnation was less animal than plant; less humanoid than golemic. While She had not molded them as She had Firiel, She knew that these unexpected children were a reflection of Her own heart. She doted on them, plying the infant species with a sculptor’s touch. Under Her watchful gaze, they grew beautiful, wise, and strong, and came to love all She had wrought with the same conviction. It was She who gave them language, and they named Her Elar, All-Mother.
In the age that followed, Elar encouraged their undeniable affinity for nature. However, knowing the folly of those who had come before, she instructed the ethron in a different manner of magic; one in which they might borrow only what was in abundance. This mysterious power allowed them to traverse the Prime without fear, and restore the forests which towered before the depredations of the alatharya. The ethron divided themselves into clans, settling into regions near and far for the centuries-long work of recreating the All-Mother’s arboreal majesty. She watched from Firiel, teaching the most influential personally. However, the aelin empire had claimed the great disc of Ilodaiya as their own; humans settled themselves into the fertile coastlines and floodplains; and the srryn were driven outward in a relentless quest for dominance. Elar knew that conflict was inevitable, and with Her divine power, She bound all living forests to Her grove.
As a result, the terror of the War of Fire largely left the ethron unscathed. As sword and flame laid waste to great swaths of Avendar, Elar again provided refuge and comfort to Her children. They moved silently between Firiel and the far reaches of the Prime, avoiding much of the violence and bloodshed that devoured mortal lives. With the War’s end, the ethron were sought by the aelin and human empires, both hoping they could restore their ravaged lands to fertility. Elar, in turn, tasked Her children with renewing the wartorn earth. One of Her chosen, a matriarch named Eqiril, came from the mountains to the fallen kingdom of Caal. With the blessing of the All-Mother, she saw the rise of a great forest where the kingdom once stood. This place would become Qilarn, a permanent stronghold of the ethron race.
The worship of Elar was overshadowed by the growing power of other gods and goddesses. The veneration of the Overgods, as well as the famous exploits of demigods such as Marlax, drew the attention of most of Avendar’s sapients. As ethron societies became less insular, so spread their beliefs; however, this process was cut short by the coming of the War of Night. The dread power of the shuddeni, and their glorious defeat at the hands of Rystaia Lightbringer, captured the global imagination. In the modern era, Elar’s worship has spread more substantially than ever. The growth of ethron involvement in world affairs, as well as the inclusion of new races into the druidic order, has given Her a foothold in many hearts. The blessings of the All-Mother wait for those who would sense Her great love, and delight in the treasures of the wild.
Goals and Methods
Elar’s most important consideration is maintaining the integrity of Her creation: nature. To Her, plant life is of particular value; not only is it Her cherished design, but it acts as a facilitator to animals, insects, and bipeds of all stripes. Secondarily, She intends for mortals to guide and nurture one another, forming strong bonds with both Her creation and each other. This leads to a curious paradox, in which Elar maintains an implicit separation between Herself and sapient life, but desires their collective and productive growth. This allows Her to not necessarily view the natural world as inherently superior to mortal civilizations. Instead, She maintains an optimistic view of what societies they create, and considers their failures not altogether different than a hurricane, wildfire, or locust swarm. Elar views nature’s timeline in eons, allowing Her a generosity which other naturalist deities are not inclined to share.
Symbiosis is a foundational tenet to Elar. She encourages sapients to live in harmony with the natural world. While this can include a variety of naturalist lifestyles, such as secluded chaja hunters, it is primarily expressed by the ethron. The forest of Qilarn represents one of the classic expressions of Elar’s ideal; Eril, on the other hand, is a clear hybrid of human-style settlements and ethron sensibilities. Like Girikha, the transmission of Her beliefs is largely found in the oral tradition, typified by short parables or stylized historical tales. It should be noted, though, that while Elar often is distant, She can indeed be offended, especially where Her precious ethron are concerned. Her ire is fearful; while She is not trivially roused to action, She has been known to turn plant and animal alike into vicious messengers of Her displeasure.
Elar’s organizations tend to be loose ones, bound together by the love of what She has wrought. When sought after, they are often found amongst Her chosen people, the ethron. Her followings are often easily missed by the uninitiated, as they avoid drawing attention away from Her work, but occasionally yield individuals of such renown that others take notice.
The Circle of Firiel
“One cannot create a wasteland and call it peace.” Avendar’s oldest druidic order, the Circle of Firiel takes its name from Elar’s first design, the Tree of Life. Those who devote themselves to this group set themselves to revealing the power that coincides with Her philosophy. While not overtly aggressive, they do not always avoid combat, so long as it, too brings events or individuals to a state of homeostasis. This allows them the freedom to join in grand campaigns or meddle in the affairs of the Great Houses if they choose. While they might at times overlap with Knights of Enirra, the Circle differs in that they do not believe they are the focal point of a moral balance; they know that they, too, are part of a grander design, and their actions must be measured in turn. Only druids may join the Circle, making it one of the most exclusive factions in the known world.
The Wardens of the Spring
“The land cries out when it suffers, and I cannot ignore it.” Taking inspiration from Elar’s desire for renewal, the Wardens of the Spring are concerned with mending both the land and the people who live in it. Traditionally, such individuals travel to desolated regions and attempt to plant the seeds of new life, and halt whatever afflictions may be tormenting them. This points the more adventurous Wardens toward places devastated by wars, plagues, or curses, making them among the most battle-ready of Elar’s chosen. However, they temper that willingness to fight by providing important help to those who have suffered. Many take the opportunity to nurture those who are wounded or downtrodden to prepare them for the journeys ahead. As a result, Wardens tend to be favored by Water templars and scholars or the occasional Spirit mage, but may include almost any profession.
“Alone and silent, you reach the heart of the wild.” The most individualistic of Elar’s following, the Ralmahale take their name from the ancient ethron explorers who roamed the world during the War of Fire. They often travel alone, reveling in the great vastness of Avendar’s rugged mountains, forests, and seas. Their concern for greater conflicts is abstract at best; they tend to dismiss wars as transient, dwarfed by the long eons of the natural world. Instead, they focus almost solely on their personal journey into the wilderness, and praise the All-Mother for each new vista, sunrise, and meal. The long years spent in the wild make them fearless guides, and they are known to offer pleasant company when encountered on their trackless journeys. Rangers, barbarians, and druids are the most suited to the life of the Ralmahale, acclimated as they are to the intricacies of survival.
One who devotes herself to Elar embraces the power and majesty of the natural world. She sees it as the source from which mortal life springs; the rudiments of civilization can only germinate where Elar’s designs have first taken root. This belief often puts her at philosophical odds with Avendar’s city-centric population, many of whom are inclined to marginalize the role of nature in favor of that of magic. Here, too, does her presence challenge them, as Elar’s druidic arts starkly contrast specialized scholarship. This can make her path a precarious one, as she must trust in her inherent goodness and nurturing demeanor to fend off internal and external conflict. However, Elar’s power guides her, lending her the strength to sharply repudiate her detractors, and shielding her from the slings and arrows of cynicism and hubris.
Elar’s worship is traditionally ethron, who know Her as the sculptor of their race. Her devoted are nearly always found in ethron settlements, or wandering the majestic wildlands that She has helped to create. Larger Avendarian cities have few locations or individuals devoted to Elar, focused as they are on more law-based deities such as Iandir or Rveyelhi. Within adventuring circles, She is usually underrepresented, as Hers do not often lead crusades against evil or violently oppose law or chaos. However, when they are found, they are known for their quiet strength and steady resolve.
Those who find favor with the All-Mother are marked with the Leaf of Firiel.
Elar is among the softest voices in the Avendarian pantheon. This is in part because Her preference mutually beneficial coexistence, and in part because She so rarely directly intervenes in mortal affairs. This provides Her a natural alliance with the god-child, Alajial, whose desire for peace dovetails perfectly with Elar’s wishes. Her most striking contrast is to Fenthira, as they are both mothers to their respective races. However, Fenthira’s punishing form of evolution is quite dissimilar to Elar’s gentle guidance, putting the two functionally at odds with one another. Deities such as Rystaia or Calaera are content with Elar’s muted tones, as it gives Them a greater voice in how the concept of goodness in Avendar is generally expressed. Jolinn, in particular, appreciates Elar’s contributions to the variety of life, granting Her higher reverence within humanity than She might otherwise have gained. Gods of law largely consider Elar’s domain to be outside of Their own, and Her lack of animosity make Her less threatening than the likes of Girikha or Khanval. Gods of darkness despise Elar, in part for Her perceived weakness, and in part because She is aligned with Their enemies.
The most important relationships to Elar are with the rest of the ethron triad: Nariel and Lielqan. While Elar loves Nariel first amongst Her children, She does not always aid Her adventurous impulses. The friction between the two stems largely from Nariel gifting forbidden knowledge to the ethron as a whole, and Nariel’s desire to directly confront those who would displace the ethron race. Meanwhile, Elar appreciates the guiding hand that Lielqan offers to those who are at death’s door, but is conflicted by Her meddling in the physical nature of the ethron, as it is a step removed from what She might have chosen for them Herself.