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Post last updated: Dec 11, 2016 12:54 AM
Matters of Faith
Ellayania in Numenor
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A tangle of light catches a god's attention. She did not know light could tangle. Ellayania scans through her library. No references except for one mediocre poet who apparently liked the metaphor.

Her avatar is nearby. It reaches out to touch the tangle, stepping closer-

And then it disappears, along with the light.

Gah! Now she's wet!

An ocean? Not Varkalosix's domain, at least.

It is an ocean. A very wide, very quiet ocean. The horizon, if she's looking closely, does not curve.

Quiet means she can stand on its surface. She does so.

No curve is wrong. The world is known to be round, she read of that quite ingenious experiment with measuring the shadows of the sticks.

She tries to orient her body in relation to her domain. It is very far away, but not in any particular direction. Or rather, in a direction that is perpendicular to all others at once. What an odd sensation.

So is this some other world? A flat one? That seems the conclusion to drawn. This avatar may be unrecoverable. She could sacrifice it and remake one at home. But it would not do to be hasty. There may be people here. Potential believers.

There might be! There's an island on the horizon.

It's worth investigation. She strides off towards it.

Then it'll very slowly get larger. There are ports. There are ships in the ports. There are buildings on the shore, eight or ten floors high, a bit shabby, and then farther away from the port there are cliffs with nicer houses.

Signs of habitation and activity, very promising. This accident may turn out to be a net benefit.

She walks quickly, and does not tire. She makes for the docks, as a convenient place to leave the water, with people presumably already around.

Yep! Screaming and pointing and shouting, actually.

It is always nice to be noticed. She smiles. What sort of things are they saying? What information can she glean about this perpendicular world?

There's a person walking on the water! Is it Uinen? No, it's not Uinen, you idiot, how would you know, I'd know better than you, it might be Uinen, it might be someone else, who else, doesn't look like an Elf - and Elves can't walk on water - maybe they have a song for it - you idiot - someone should tell someone, unload the ships in case she wrecks them, is she going to wreck them? No, that'd be rude, leave the ships. That's all fine and well for you, you have insurance. Uinen could sink ships any time, she doesn't have to be around for it. It might not be Uinen.

Hm. Uinen a local sea goddess equivalent? She has not felt as though she is in anyone's domain. They must work differently. And Elves. With song magic, apparently. She reaches the docks and jumps ashore from the surface of the water. Still not in a domain, good.

"Hello, and greetings," she says, in a voice layered with all the languages a listener knows and perfectly comprehensible to all present. "I am Ellayania, of Library and Fen. I come from a far distant realm, and am uncertain of my present location. Might one of you be able to enlighten me?"

This causes excitement. And confusion. 

 

They mostly back away, a little bit. 

A couple people shout warily back that she is in Rómenna, of Númenor ("Anadûne!" someone else disagrees, and there is a scuffle).

Two names for the same place, and this is worthy of a quarrel? Curious. Something to look into, if she is to stay. She smiles.

"A new land indeed, then. In celebration of this occasion, I would offer a blessing to you each, one of waterwalking, resistance to chill and damp, improved memory, improved vision, improved speed, or improved stamina." She holds out a hand. "If you wish it, step forward and state which you desire."

There's a minute of confusion. Then she is mobbed. ...improved vision is by far the most popular, for some reason.

As long as people are clearing way for their fellows once they've received their own blessing. She would have expected more waterwalking, but it's not like any are more expensive than the others.

Some people want to know why they can't have two! Waterwalking's popular enough, but improved vision makes you almost like an Elf! Elves have excellent vision.

They can't have two because not everyone has gotten their first yet! Later, when she is more established here, they can come back and she'll see about getting them another. Elves sound quite interesting, she's never met one.

No one's met one, they're all in the West.

Across the ocean? They have all these ships that look seaworthy enough. Why not sail to see them?

Not allowed. 

 

(This provokes a lot of muttering.)

Who has set this rule?

The gods.

Well, one mustn't defy the gods, of course.

Though, personally, she has always found it more convenient to place fewer rather than more restrictions on her followers.

They're kind of confused that she's a god. They were pretty sure they knew all the gods.

She's new. Only recently arrived to the world. Speaking of which, where is the library? She would like to catch up on what history and local knowledge there is to be had.

She can definitely get an escort to a library. They are confused about the new god thing. They are pretty sure all gods start at the beginning of time.

Books! Excellent.

Where she's from, new gods show up from time to time. Not often, mind you, but it happens.

The books will be extraordinarily informative on, among other things, Elves and the local gods.

It's been a long time since she's had so many new books at once. She keeps her body busy flicking through books continuously, taking in each page with a single glance and moving on to the next. Being a god is quite convenient.

These Valar seem somewhat useless. Why take five hundred years to intervene against the evil one, when they were able to end it so handily? And cursing the only people willing to actually do something? Tsk. Foolishness. She likes the Elves. That Fëanor, she would have liked to meet him.

And local culture? Government, modern history, et cetera?

Lots on that, too! After the war the Valar raised this island from the sea for the humans who'd helped them in the war, and Elros, heir of Beren and Lúthien and also of the other tribes of men through a long series of marriages that she'd have no hope of remembering if she weren't a god, and it's been an absolute monarchy under Elros's descendants ever since. They eventually started travelling east and found the humans there horribly uncivilized, and have devotedly set to civilizing them. 

Civilizing... how?

Setting up governments and teaching them literacy and building kingdoms and things. The books are vague on what things.

Hm. Once she's more invested here, she can look into that.

First she must at least establish a temple. Best to secure the local monarchy's permission. What's written about the current ruler, and protocol for getting an audience?

A great deal, all of it complimentary, and there are a lot of processes for getting an audience none of which seem designed for gods from across the sea and all of which require substantial waiting. The capital city, Armenelos, is a ways north of here.

All complimentary? That's a sure sign she ought not believe everything written.

She goes back outside. Can anyone direct her to the capital and/or a means of transportation thereto?

She could take a stagecoach! They depart from thereabouts.

Ah, excellent. Will she be having any company on this trip?

There're lots of people on the stagecoaches. If she waits a bit for news to get around there'll probably be scholars or something who want to meet her? Her interlocutor isn't really clear what kind of person should be keeping gods company.

Gods keep company with any who would wish it, high or low. Certainly if scholars would like to talk she will be happy to. As she understands it, the wait to see the king can be quite lengthy. She would be glad to fill those hours with conversation.

...does she want them to go ...make an announcement, or something?

If it would not be too much of an imposition on their time, she would certainly appreciate such a service.

They'd - be honored?

 

 

They scurry off.

 

And then she gets another crowd of people wanting blessings.

She will distribute blessings until the coach departs.

And be surrounded by scholars who would love to know where she's from!

The world is called Arabek, and it similar to this one in many respects, so far as she can tell. Without Elves or Valar, and it is round instead of flat, as she infers this world to be.

...round, huh? That's interesting, how does it work, does anyone fall off? No Valar? Then who made the world?

It's large enough that is effectively flat on a human scale. Down points towards the ground no matter one's position upon the sphere. The creation of the world is a mystery. Some speculate it has always existed, but she puts no stock in such theories. All things have beginnings and endings. Others talk of a primordial god who brought forth the world as his domain from the formless void, but that is equally unlikely. Certainly no such god has survived to the modern era.

Gods die? Is she sure? How sure? Is it possible they just vanish for thousands of years and then come back, that happens here a lot.

At this point, a distinction should be made between her sort of god and the local Valar and Maiar. Her sort of god is sustained by belief, people thinking thoughts about them. If no one believes in a god, they fade away and eventually disappear entirely. From what she's read here so far, that is not a thing that happens to Ainur.

...no, it's not. That'd be terrible, Melkor and Sauron would totally rule the world, there being far more orcs than people.


If orcs are relevantly capable of belief, then they count as people. Not necessarily good people, but people nonetheless.

Well. They're not people in any other relevant sense. Belief? So she gets more powerful if they believe her about being a god?

Yes, though somewhat indirectly. The more people who think of her, and the more often they do so, the larger her store of divine energy will be. With more energy, she can maintain a larger domain, and make more and larger-scale changes within it.

...can anyone become a god that way?

Short answer, no. Gods are not the same sort of being as mortals, and getting lots of people to think that you are a god will not cause you to become one.

That's disappointing. Do gods live forever -

Barring unfortunate circumstances such as loss of all their worshippers, yes.

Can they make worshippers live forever.

She cannot, nor can most others. There is a goddess of preservation near to her domain in Arabek who does a sort of immortality-with-upkeep, that is as close as she has heard of.

...how do they get that?

Figure out how to travel between worlds. It is not something gods can do, her presence here is an accident.

How did the accident happen? Are there records of other such accidents?

There was a curious tangle of light in the air. It disappeared when she touched it, and there has been no sign of it since. There are no written references to such tangles in any books she's read (she's the goddess of libraries, the set of books she's read is all of them). She can share the memory of it, if they'd like?

Oooooooh cool yes they would.

She touches them, and shares the avatar's viewpoint.

A tangle of light, draped just so, resting lightly almost as if it is physically tangible across her landscape, the hand reaches up and out as the body moves closer, into the light- And then there is an ocean, and it is wet.

How does that work, exactly? Can she do it again? Does she have a way back home?

It is her special blessing, a mind palace for the storage and organization of memories, shareable in parts. Usage is not limited.

The larger part of her is still back home, only this avatar was transported.

They want to see more memories!

She shares a brief moment of her overall perspective when nothing especially interesting was happening. There is still quite a lot of information, total awareness of 1600 square miles of land, the movement of wind and the passage of animals, swirling fog thicker here and bring down a drizzle of rain there, the fields require a day of sunshine, clear the clouds away, rebalance the soil composition, a visitor to the port makes an offering at the temple, accept it graciously with thanks, run through her sum of knowledge on his homeland-

The stagecoach is rather paralyzed with awe.

That is a characteristic sample of her memories. Further questions?

It takes them a minute. But then, yes. Immortality, they are definitely obsessed with immortality. Can she talk to the Valar, does her world have Elves or Dwarves -

No Elves, no Dwarves. There is no reason she could not talk with the Valar, except for the problem of getting their attention.

If she's a god she could probably just go to Valinor.

This is true. And she likely will, after establishing a sufficient presence here that loss of this avatar will not be as significant a blow as it might otherwise be.

Wow. Will she show them what it's like?

Certainly.

What does establishing a base entail? Is it going to interfere with how the country is run or anything?

Not necessarily, but claiming some or all of this island as her domain would mean it becomes essentially part of her body. This is the main reason why she wants to talk to the King.

What if he disapproves?

She'd still like to establish a small temple here, but in that case she would go to the mainland and talk to people there.

That makes sense. The people on the mainland are terrible, they need someone looking out for them.


Quite. She thinks she will expand out that way eventually in any case.

Can she communicate instantly between parts of her domain?

Yes. It is all her. Communications lag would make that a much fuzzier category.

That'd be amazingly useful for corresponding with the colonies.

Indeed it would. What sorts of messages usually get relayed?

You can send them on ships, but they're not the most reliable and it takes months, is that what she means?

More the contents than the medium.

Oh, people have relatives in the colonies, they write about relative sorts of things. And business ventures. Lots of money to be made out there.

Doing what?

Shipping exotic materials, spices, rubber, that sort of thing. One of the scholars has an interest in this and can list off the manifests she already read in the library.

She can create many of those things herself, in slightly limited quantities. Or even transport them, if they are given as an offering. Though that would involve the owners acknowledging her claim on the items well enough that it counts.

How long has she been - in existence, do her kinds of gods get born?

They do not. She has been around for nearly two hundred years.

Some of them have been around that long! The King's older than that. It's a weird thought. They were imagining she was like Elves. Elves have mostly been around forever.

That's interesting. Humans on her world don't tend to live much past seventy or eighty.

It's partially the gift of the Valar and partially the Elven blood.

That would explain the difference.

But they still die, and three hundred is still nothing compared to forever.

This is true. She will certainly promote the issue to the attention of the Valar when she visits.

That'd be - interesting.

But first she will be meeting with the King.

He's taken a name in a different language than previous rulers, can they shed any light on reasons why?

...yes but wow is it complicated. They immediately all start talking at once.

So - no one speaks Quenya, it's strictly a ceremonial language - 

- well, someone corrects, some Elves speak Quenya -

- sure, but not on this side of the sea - 

- see, there were some, they all died and the language was banned, their children never learned it or at least wouldn't admit knowing it -

- and it's not held in disrepute these days but no one speaks it -

- but the nobility do all speak Sindarin, and the commoners mostly don't -

- some regions they learn it in school. 

So his name is in the more commonly spoken language?

Yep - 

- he objected to the court being run in a language most people didn't speak - 

- it's more that he objects to trying to emulate the Elves - 

- his name means 'Lord of the West', which is a direct insult to the Valar -

So it is a somewhat fraught issue. Populism and defiance against history and authority figures perceived as uncaring.

Everyone is very emphatic that no, it's not fraught, it is obvious and their perspective on it is the correct one. There are more opinions than people present.

Of course, of course. She appreciates each of their uniquely obvious and correct perspectives.

The Valar don't know about the King's name, they don't think. They're a little worried what they might do.

Are there any historical incidences of them being insulted in such a manner?

They were mad at the Noldor about the Kinslaying and Doomed them but that was a bit more than just an insult.

She can phrase that little bit of information so as to soften the impact, when it arises.

Oh, good. It's nice to have a god who is, uh. More involved.

She aims to please.

And they reach Armenelos! Word has preceded them and they are met by some sort of very glittery honor guard.

She is quite honored, of course. Are they a general escort, or do they have a destination in mind?

Palace, if that works for her.

That is where she was going.

Would anyone care for a blessing?

The honor guard looks very torn. They clearly have instructions not to harass the deity for blessings. Everyone else would like a blessing and the scholars would like to know why they're only one a person.

It's hardly harassment if she offers unprompted, surely?

It's only one per person right now so that everyone can still have something to look forward to.

That's a good answer! They will all have blessings.

She can distribute them as they make their way to the palace.

It's a magic palace. Designed by the Maiar, way back, and still held up by their lingering magic rather than any particular skill with stoneworking, which the new arrivals did not possess. There is a very formal reception with hundreds of people. They are very pleased to meet her.

She is pleased to meet them all as well. The palace is interesting, she may see if some of those structural tricks are reproducible in the absence of Maiar magic.

That'd be great! They would kind of really like to be able to do all the magic stuff Elves and Valar can do, if it wasn't obvious.

She had picked up on that. Would they like the vision blessing, as a step towards that goal?

They would love it!

Multiple boops!

And would she like to meet the King, he would be delighted to meet her.

In fact she would.

The King looks barely past middle-age. The books mentioned he's two hundred. His eyes are grey and flat and very sharp. "Ellayania. It has been a long time since this kingdom played hostess to gods."

"Since the founding, I understand," she agrees. "Which seems quite shockingly inattentive of them."

"They do not seem to gain anything from our attention, and it is unclear how much we gained from theirs. I take it where you are from gods have different incentives."

"Indeed we do. To the benefit of our followers."

"So I have been told. I doubt the Valar would agree, but they are in fact inattentive enough it might not matter."

"Their opinion should hardly be relevant, even if they cared to venture one."

"They have on occasion been inspired to intervention outside their paradise."

"With a five hundred year delay."

"Indeed. Are you confident that by then it would be irrelevant?"

"This body," she gestures at herself, "is only an avatar. My true form is the land of my domain, which I can mold as is fitting. Five hundred years would be more than long enough for me to spread deeply and widely here, such that I would indeed feel confident in ignoring them."

He nods. "What effects would that have on the land?"

"Every god has a specific type of terrain associated with them, and their domain is necessarily of that sort. My own is wetlands, as might be gathered from my title."

"This would be - fairly detrimental to agriculture. Is there a way around that -"

"I can adjust soil quality as necessary. And the weather, as well."