We Need to Talk: Religion 1/6 – Humans and Polytheism

I present to you, from left to right: Barne the Fabulous, Unna of the Cycle of Dawn, Egotheist Nilla, Marc Smith and Fursula Bloodaxe.

This is written as an in-character insight into the lore of Guild Wars, therefore it’s informative but yet still subjective. I won’t use quotes from the Guild Wars Wikipedia, these characters will have to explain everything with their own words. 

You shouldn’t take it too serious, I certainly don’t.

  • Part I: Humans and Polytheism
  • Part II: Charr and Atheism
  • Part III: Norn and Spirits of the Wild
  • Part IV: Asura, Eternal Alchemy and Egotheism
  • Part V: Sylvari and the Teachings of Ventari
  • Part VI: What else?

“Tell me about it.”

That was how it all started, that discussion that went on all night. Unna, the Sylvari of their little guild, wanted to know everything about faith. Literally. So, they had sat down in the small hut they were allowed to occupy for the night, a fire softly cracking, a pot of water getting heated for tea and another one for hot, spiced wine Barne insisted on drinking.

“Yes, Marc, come on, tell us.” Fursula said, grinning intimidatingly.

Marc, a human from a small village in Kryta, sighed. “Why do I have to start?”

The Charr woman shrugged. “You have the most to tell.”

Scratching the back of his neck, Marc looked into the expecting eyes of Unna. “Alright, where to start. There are the Six True Gods–”

“The number varies.” pointed Nilla out while filling her cup with steaming tea.

“Hey, he’s trying to tell a story!” Barne frowned at the asura. “It could be le-gen-da-ry!” He stretched the word to emphasize its meaning, but with the opposite effect.

The smallest rolled her eyes. “Sure it is. Go on.”

“Thank you.” Marc said, being skeptical about how long he’d be able to talk without getting interrupted again. “Six Gods. Balthazar, Dwayna, Melandru, Grenth, Lyssa and Kormir.”

“Why six?” Unna asked, her leaf like hair rustling as she tilted her head.

“Why? Well… they just are.” The human put a hand on his bearded chin. “I assume it was the best way to equally split up the powers they use.”

Instantly, Unna asked. “What powers?”

He knew that this was going to be frustrating. “Barne, I think I’ll try that wine of yours after all.”

“You’ll love it, I promise!” The Norn jumped to his feet to fetch a drink for his friend.

“You see, Unna, every god has their distinct powers, pretty much everyone believes all of them are omnipotent, but I believe they are as a group, yes, not when alone.”

Nilla made a disapproving sound. “If you ask me, one omnipotent god would suffice. Too many scientists spoil the experiment. Look at this world, it’s a wreck.”

Marc chose to ignore her. “Balthazar is the god of war, fire and courage. He’s wears shining armor and a huge two-handed sword. It’s said he’s accompanied by battle hounds, even though in Cantha they believe it to be drakes.”

“I like him!” Pointed Barne out, smiling widely, handing Marc his drink in an oversized cup.

“Of course you do.” Said Fursula, snickering.

“He’s the patron god of warriors, protectors, commanders, leaders and those who fight with fire.  We pray to him when we fear to fight, when hesitation leaves us weak. He gives us the courage to seize weapons and face our enemies with bravery.”

Barne raised his cup. “I really like him!”

Fursula laughed. “So it’s true, humans are too cowardly to fight without praying to their oh so dear gods.”

“We pray because it gives us strength, Fursy.” He scowled at the red Charr.

“I told you not to call me that!”

“Guys, truce, remember?” Nilla said, hands hitting the table.

“We pray for morale, it gives us hope.” The human threw his hands in exasperation. “There’s nothing wrong with hope! It’s faith in our gods that led us to where we are now.”

This made Nilla laugh. “Really? Think about that, will you.” She narrowed her eyes.

Marc shook his head and sighed. Don’t get into a fight with Nilla; you’ll get dirty and she’ll love it. “Dwayna is the goddess of air, life and healing. It’s said that she’s the leader of the gods.”

“Leader? Didn’t you say they were equals?” Unna frowned, her bright green brows creasing.

“Hmm.” Marc scratched his beard. “I think it’s just in every being’s nature to seek a leader.”

“I don’t.” Nilla said matter of factly.

Fursula shrugged. “If you ask me, you Asura have nothing to do with nature anyway whatsoever.”

“Dwayna”, Marc started again, putting some strength into his voice. “is a tall and beautiful woman with blue wings. She’s a kindhearted and compassionate goddess, watching us from the heavens.”

“Seriously?” Nilla perked a non-existant brow.

“Shh!” Barne shushed the Asura.

“She speeds travelers by giving them tailwind. Those in need of healing, who fear for their lives in times of plagues or war, pray to her to receive aid. I doubt that there is any human who whispered her name not even once.”

Fursula snarled. “You make it so easy, humans. Want to kill somebody? Let’s pray to Balthazar. Someone is trying to kill you? Dwayna is your god of choice!”

“Could you please stop making fun of my beliefs?”

The Charr held her hands up in a pacifying manner. “Just stating the obvious here. Go on.”

Marc eyed his friend suspiciously. “Good.” He took another gulp from the spiced wine, which was, as he had to admit, delicious. “As you can guess, she’s the patroness of healers and those who help people in need in one way or another. Giving shelter to an orphan, for example. Wind elementalists follow her, too.”

“What a mindblowing goddess she must be.” Nilla mumbled, just dodging a nudging elbow of Barne that would have shoved her off her chair.

“Sarcasm, how useful.” Marc returned with spite.

“Oh, that was sarcasm?” Unna smiled like a child finding a piece of candy. “Was it funny?”

“That depends on your height.” Barne threw in before drinking his wine out of a bowl in one go, leaving  Fursula in a fit of laughter.

“Melandru!” Marc announced. “Now, Melandru, the goddess of earth and nature, you’d like her. The Sylvari remind me of her. Her lower body is similar to a tree, roots and branches and trunk. Her upper body is like a winged and beautiful dryad. I heard some people talking about how the Sylvari could be her doing, that she created the Tree and therefore you, in her own image.”

“But I don’t have wings.” Unna tried to look over her own shoulders.

Fursula growled with irritation. “You’re carnivorous plants and now you want to fly, too?”

“Why not?” The Sylvari looked at Fursula, her curious eyes glowing golden.

“Because!” The Charr gestured widely.

“The ingenious rhetoric of the Charr, hear hear!” Nilla seemed amused.

“Maybe their seeds can fly.” Barne added smugly.

“Please, don’t mention that ever again. Just don’t.” Marc shook himself, trying to get the mental images out of his head. “Melandru stands for the respect for nature, to not waste what it offers to all of us. It’s said she turned an entire tribe into trees and thus bound them to the earth, because they destroyed whatever was in their way. They would feel the pain whenever the earth itself would feel it.”

“She doesn’t sound quite as nice as Dwayna, rather fierce.” Barne mused. “But she definitely is legendary.”

“Travelers and hunters pray to her, seeking fresh water and food in the wilderness. Her shrines often provide both as well as shelter from harsh weather.” Without even asking Barne refilled his cup.

“Other travelers, though, could die of thirst if they come across a statue of Lyssa. They stop and stare at the twin goddesses of beauty and illusion. One god in two bodies.” Marc scratched the back of his neck, hoping no one would ask for details how this worked. “People in Vabbi – a place in Elona – actually believe she shaped their homeland and even the Vabbian people themselves in her own image, making them the most beautiful of Tyria.”

The Asura rolled her eyes, not for the first time that night. “Clearly exaggeration and myth.”

Fursula grunted disapprovingly. “Lyssa sounds shifty.”

Barne, on the other hand, was all ears. “Beautiful, giant twins? Awesome!”

“Who said anything about gods being giants?” Nilla put her forehead into her small hand, elbow propped up on the wooden table. “Prejudice distorts your every perception, Barne.”

The Norn pursed his lips, thinking of a witty response, but looking into the Asura’s eyes told him he was already taking too long.

Marc smiled at his friend. “But she’s not all about the beauty on the outside; the inside matters as well. A pretty facade isn’t worth anything if you’re cruel and heartless on the inside. All that glitters is not gold.”

“At least one of your gods gets it right.” Nilla crossed her arms and nodded.

Marc felt a little relieved. “Her followers tend to use illusionary magic, like mesmers; or tricks, like assassins to achieve their goals. They believe her to represent good and bad luck at the same time in Canta. She’s a bit mysterious to everyone.” He smiled to cover up his lack of words to describe the goddess.

Unna beamed at Marc. “Maybe this god isn’t female. It could be a male god imposing as a women.”

“Two women. Twins.” Barne pointed out, holding up two fingers.

“Yes. Wouldn’t it fit perfectly with Lyssa’s concept?” The Sylvari tipped a finger on her pointy chin.

“I… I…” Marc didn’t know what to say, but the irritated frown on his face said everything.

“Now, look at this bookah, the thought is literally hurting his head.” Nilla couldn’t remember the last time she’d laughed this hard.

“Where did you get that idea from?” Fursula asked, claw pointing at the Sylvari.

“I met someone in Lion’s Arch, he wore the most beautiful dress. Despite his gender he really enjoyed being called a lady by me but I’m still wondering why, usually human men get upset.” Unna seemed to pout, which was, to be honest, quite adorable.

Fursula snickered and poured herself another cup of tea. Sylvari in Lions Arch were always fun to watch. From safe distance.

“Then there is the god of death and ice; he judges over the dead, deciding which afterlife they deserve. His name is Grenth and he’s followed by those who deal with death, meaning ritualists, assassins and of course necromancers. He wasn’t always the god of death–”

“What?” Barne’s brows went up.

“He defeated the god Dhuum, who was an unjust god of death in his eyes. He imprisoned him in the Hall of Judgment, a place in the Underworld. He took his place and allowed resurrection and undead to walk among the living, which his predecessor forbid.”

“So it’s Grenth’s fault the coast is covered in rotting, walking corpses!” Fursula growled.

“No, it’s not.” Nilla looked up at the angry Charr. “Necromancy is nothing but a tool used by someone who’s intentions predestine the outcome. It’s the dragon, not Grenth.”

“He’s awesome!” Barne sat up straight, his long blond hair cascading over his broad shoulders. “It’s possible to become a god yourself by defeating one? Oh! Let’s do this! It will be legendary!”

“Don’t you dare getting ideas!” Marc huffed.

“But it’s true, isn’t it?” Barne eyes were lit with curiosity.

“It is. About 250 years ago the god Abaddon was killed, destroyed, I don’t really know what to call it. He was the god of secrets and water, but he was true evil. He gave unlimited magic to the races of Tyria, which lead to a gruesome war. The other gods created the bloodstone to bind the magic… To be honest, I don’t really understand what exactly it was they did–”

Nilla laughed shortly. “How not surprising.”

“Why was he killed?” Unna asked, seeking answers as always.

“After the other five gods sealed away the magic he was angry and declared war on them. It ended with him being chained down and imprisoned in what is called the Realm of Torment, a place in the Mists. I don’t know how it was possible, but every living being in Tyria seemed to have forgotten about him; no statues, no shrines, he wasn’t even mentioned as god.” He fell silent for a moment. “He was down there for more than thousand years, trapped in darkness and solitude, growing madder and madder. He tried to free himself by corrupting  people. Some of you might have heard of the Vizir from Orr? Khilbron? Then there was Shiro Tagachi in Cantha and Varesh Ossa in Elona. He was the one behind the Searing that caused my ancestors, the people from Ascalon, to seek refuge in Kryta.”

Fursula swallowed her comment of ‘all of them were humans’. The Charr fell for him, too, all those years ago, not even knowing it was Abaddon.

“But he was defeated by heroes of Elona!” He raised his cup. “Kormir, a high rank sunspear, took Abaddon’s mantle as his powers were pouring out of his beaten form, preventing them from causing chaos in the world. She sacrificed her mortal life to become the new god of knowledge: the god of secrets became the goddess of truth.”

“Doesn’t sound like a sacrifice to me.” Nilla mumbled and crossed her arms.

Barne’s eyes grew wide. “That’s what I call legendary!” He gasped. “She became a god! What greater thing there is to achieve?”

“World peace, maybe?” Nilla looked up at the Norn. “A cure for idiocy?”

“She’s a god, she can do that!” Barne looked down at Marc. “She can do that, right?”

Nilla groaned. “Seriously, what world do you life in?”

“All of the gods could probably do that, but they won’t.” Marc said. “After Abaddon was gone, they left, knowing that we can now take care of this world by ourselves.”

“Don’t make me laugh.” There was a bitter sound to Asura’s voice. “They left because of the dragons.”

“But they aren’t really gone, they are in the Mists, watching us. They’ll be back if we need them.”

“You humans are so naive.” Nilla huffed.

“I say they left because they are scared of us.” Fursula leaned onto the table. “After Abaddon’s death and Kormir’s transformation into a god they knew others would come, hunting them down one after another. People’s greed for power shouldn’t be underestimated.” She snarled. “They are hiding like cowards, knowing that eventually someone will figure out how to pass their magic and kill them. They are no gods, they aren’t immortal, they are just some powerful beings boasting of fame, claiming glory for creating a world that was already there.”

Nilla nodded. “Exactly. If you ask me, they were just more powerful than others who were around when they ‘arrived’ from the Mists. Probably a guild that found a fountain of youth, a spell that makes you impenetrable by time, something curious indeed. They are nothing but bigger numbers in the big equation of this world, but gods? There is no such thing to me, nor to my people. To be precise we are all gods ourselves, micro-environmentally-wise. We all make decisions about the life or death of others, we shape our environment, we create, we help, we punish. Not with the same impact of what you call gods, but I see no difference; it’s all relative to the knowledge, strength or power we gain in life. Call it Egotheism, if you like.”

“I don’t care what you call them, they are gods to me, they give me hope. All the time, for hundreds of years, they were here when we needed them. They guided us to defeat Abaddon. So, maybe, they were humans themselves a long time ago–”

“Or Mursaat.” Nilla mused.

Marc gaped. “What? They weren’t Mursaat! How could you say that!”

“Most of them are pictured with wings? Declared to be almighty without proper proof? Can appear out of nowhere? Are unseen most of the time?” The Asura frowned at Marc. “Plus: Your people have worshiped the Mursaat as gods, haven’t they.”

“The Mursaat are all dead!” Marc looked angry. “They were no gods, they deceived us!”

“So you do get my point.” Nilla looked pleased.

Fursula sighed. It was her turn to keep truce going. “Even if they were Mursaat, didn’t Lyssa teach to not judge based on appearance?” She thought about that for a  second. “Oh, I forget you call us Charr beasts, based on the fact that we have fur unlike you naked lot.”

Unna folded her hands and smiled softly. “Even though I do not believe in your gods, I can understand why you do.  If your faith makes this world a better place I won’t talk you into believing otherwise. “

“I guess what Nilla and Fursy,” there was a growl from the Charr as Barne spoke, “are trying to say is that Marc shouldn’t get carried away by solely relying on his gods and that all of us should focus on what we, on our own, can do to save Tyria.” His hand cupped Marc’s shoulder, a reassuring smile on his lips.

To be continued.

Feel free to comment, discuss and throw in your two cents of whatever currency! 

Thank you for reading! 


About these ads

13 comments on “We Need to Talk: Religion 1/6 – Humans and Polytheism

  1. Third to last sentence is missing a word (probably “the”):

    “Fursula sighed. It was her turn to keep truce going. “Even if they were Mursaat, didn’t Lyssa teach to not judge based on appearance?” She thought about that for a second. “Oh, I forget you call us Charr beasts, based on the fact that we have fur unlike you naked lot.”

    Last paragraph, second to last sentence is also incorrect:

    “I guess what Nilla and Fursy,” there was a growl from the Charr as Barne spoke, “are trying to say is that Marc shouldn’t get carried away by solely relying on his gods and that all of us should focus on what we, on our own, can do to safe Tyria.”

    It should say save Tyria, no safe.

    Otherwise a good read.

  2. Pingback: We Need to Talk: Religion 1/6 – Humans and Polytheism | Angerina Warpride | Guild Wars 2 Universe

  3. tl;dr

    But from what I skimmed through I have to say that you have a bit of a wrong idea for what other races think of the Human gods. ANet have said that none of the other races doubt the existence and power of the Human gods, they just don’t worship them and pray to them. Which on a related makes me not sure that you can call the Charr Atheists exactly. Because they know that gods exists (not only Human) and they just prefer not to bow before anyone or anything.

    • There are some quests in Eye of the North that include an Asura talking about the gods similar to what I portrayed here. I know pretty much everyone in Tyria knows they exist(ed), but each individual has their own opinion about who or what they are.

  4. I enjoyed the post. I thought it really captured the wide varience of opinion our characters can have about these beings. Also it was way longer than 300 words :)

    only crittique would be on a few scattered word choice errors such as “recieve ailment” when “recieve aid” is what was meant. Thanks for the fun read.

    • Haha, yeah, it was longer because it had to be ;) Took me long enough to finish it without going crazy.
      Thanks for the tip about the choice of words! Changed that one already :D.

  5. Wow, this was a fantastic read. I’m definately going to be talking about it on this week’s Tales of Tyria (www.talesoftyria.com). I can’t wait to read the rest! I also went and checked out the murrsat on the wiki and now I want to go play GW1 >_<

  6. I love this religion, very cool stuff I hope you make more. Belief systems even in fantasy worlds is really entertaining to me and close to my character. I’ve subscribed via email.

  7. Pingback: Guild Wars Reporter Episode 8 – Please Forgive Me Europe

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s