Sunday, April 24, 2011

[D20] U is for Unknown Gods and Fishes

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The Ashford Valley has some different theological views from the lowlands, many which change the whole cosmology of the gods. Point in fact is Pesce, the unknown god. The Ashford Valley tale of Pesce is as follows:

In the beginning, the gods, Angwish, Pesce, Lucky Tor, Azrael and Lamiel the Crafty created the world and it's peoples and wandered across it in the early timeless time. They supped with human and Bugbear alike, taught their lore to the greatest minds of the age and drank with the various tribes that formed. They helped their creations grow crops, learn skills and enjoy the pastoral world. 

At this point, Azrael was consumed with evil and thirst for power, but the other gods didn't recognize that because the Evil One had created those things in private. One day, Azrael invited Pesce to accompany him to a far-off valley. Once there, Azrael slew his brother god and decided to enact a fitting revenge on his other brother gods - he prepared a stew out of Pesce and invited the other gods, as well as the humans, to join in a feast.

At the feast, he planned to kill the other gods, being full of hubris at his ease with slaying Pesce. As the gods and humans ate the stew, the spirit of Pesce infused them with knowledge of Azrael's deeds and plans. The gods, sickened by their cannibalism and Azrael's crime, rose up as one and case the Evil One out of creation, into the darkness where he became a demon-prince.

The gods, lead by Angwish, and their human followers, fell then on their knees and begged Pesce for forgiveness. The spirit of Pesce came before them and smiled sadly - though he could forgive them for taking his body into them, they forever would carry that part of him as a reminder, thus creating in each one a conscience of good and evil. Since the symbol of Pesce was always the fish, the tale relates that the spirit form of Pesce in each and every person is a spiritual fish.

Priests in the Ashford Valley routinely reveal the personal fish spirit to children in a sacred ceremony when they are about ten years old. The whole community gathers as the child is taken to a local waterway (pond, lake, stream or river). The cleric intones to the gods for guidance as the child stands in the shallows. When a fish breaks the surface (and it always does, even if it takes a while), it is believed to be the spirit of the child.

Common Ashford Valley fish spirits include all varieties of trout (mountain, rainbow, golden, brook, silver, sea, salmon, biwa, char), carp (mud, goldfish, bream, tench, grass, common, black), sturgeon (starry, green, fringebarbel, pallid, dwarf), eels (short-finned, highlands, speckled, shrieking), and even some lowland fish (though these are less common).

Having a healthy spirit is believed to be true to your fish. Cruel and mean people are often said to have dead (or dying) fish spirits. The truly evil and the undead have skeletal fish spirits.

The lowlanders believe that this is a mild heresy in the worship of the gods, while those in the Ashford Valley believe they have the truth of the matter. Better to have a god-fish-shaped spirit within you than what those crazy things the lowlanders believe.

One does note that having a fish spirit doesn't prevent one from eating fish - after all, the local Ashford Valley fish is excellent and a common staple of the diet. Any possible confusion on this matter is dealt with by pointing to the story in the first place: eating fish is an act in memory of Pesce.


  1. I bet my fish spirit is probably on life support, given how cruel I can be at times. Thanks for sharing, and it's a pleasure to meet you via the A-Z Challenge!

  2. Maybe your fish is the shrieking eel (after all, they have a tendency to be cruel and bite-y).


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