Serphelorian men believe in
the twelve Gods of the Aviaria, as do all
Santharians. However, like all Santharian
tribes, the way in which they conceptualise the Twelve is unique to them.
Seyella is the most important God to the
Serphelorians, and they
believe that she is very active in guiding the tribe and creating good fortune
for them. Seyella is assisted in her work of looking
after the Serphelorians by
Armeros and Arvins, who
support the tribe to protect those who are weaker than themselves. Since the
tribe has settled, Jeyriall has become more popular
too, looking after those who are less warlike. Their strong faith in
Seyella’s guidance allows the
Serphelorians to have a
cheerful, nonchalant manner and an optimistic outlook in even the worst
Favoured Gods. The Serphelorians worship primarily the following Gods - above all stands Seyella, the Goddess of Destiny:
Seyella, Goddess of Destiny
The Serphelorians believe that Seyella guides the people of the tribe in a very direct manner. They believe that Seyella has a plan for them, and is able to intervene directly in their tribe’s history. This is contrary to canonical belief, which says that Seyella is only able to show the future.
Serphelorian clerics of Seyella tend to hedge upon the matter of whether the Goddess intervenes directly in the lives of ordinary folk – perhaps as a way of bringing their belief more in to line with general Santharian belief around Seyella – but the average Serphelorian has a belief in the Goddess’ omnipotence. They see her as able not only to direct the tribe as a whole, but able and likely to guide each person who looks to her toward their best possible future. This trust in Seyella’s power is probably the reason for the blithely carefree aspect of the typical Serphelorian character. Seyella also takes the place of Queprur in Serphelorian lore. Seyella meets the soul of the mortals in the Night of the Changing, that place which waits after death, and decides upon its fate.
The Serphelorians pray to Seyella for good fortune in all things, to set their path for the best as she did for their ancestors, to take care of them in times of seeming ill fortune. Some of the bravest Serphelorians will ask Seyella for her gift of foresight.
The Serphelorians identify Sophronia, the founder of their tribe, as being an incarnation of Seyella. She is said to have had the gift of future sight - hence her appellation the “Foresighted One”. This, combined with the fact that she is said to have had grey eyes, a regal bearing and and, critically, sporadic fits of blindness, has lent her credence as being, if not a personification of Seyella, at least much favoured by her.
Important Gods. Along with Seyella, the
Serphelorians also venerate
Armeros and Arven (known as
Arvins in most other areas), and
Jeyriall. These Aviaria are thought of as lesser
gods, compared to Seyella, in
Armeros and Arven are most
respected by those who live closer to the land, rather than those in bigger
towns and cities, or by those who are closely affiliated with the
Serphelorian Army. Both are
invoked as War Gods by those in the army, but their more traditional spheres of
influence are also observed on farms, and in the smaller towns and villages.
They are both respected as the Gods who help Seyella
to support the Serphelorians
in their moral code to always protect the weak. Jeyriall
appeals more to those who lead less martial, easier lives, and of course to
Armeros and Arven are represented as women sometimes (much to the horror of some clerics from other areas), and are almost always portrayed as much more androgynous than in other tribes’ representations. Given the strong features seen in the Serphelorian tribe, and the musculature which is prized in women, this step is less controversial than one might imagine. Also in respect to the matriarchal nature and history of the Serphelorian tribe, clerics will usually say "the God", or "the Aviar" rather than using a gendered pronoun in front of Serphelorians when referring to the two "Lesser Gods".
Armeros, God of War
Armeros is known by both that name and simply as “the Just One" in Serphelorian-predominant areas. The God is respected as the one who supports the Serphelorians to protect the weak through his love of justice and his ability to bolster one side in a battle.
Armeros is seen as having the ability to grant skill with melee weapons, strength, courage and the ruthlessness required to fight well. This God is called upon in battle in the hope that he will see that your cause is just, and therefore use his power to help you win. When pressed, Serphelorians will admit that they see Seyella as having already decided the outcome of any battle, but that Armeros can still give strength, courage, and skill to a combatant, which is to the woman’s benefit whether she survives or not.
Arven, God of the Hunt (Arvins)
Arven (spelled in as many different ways as can be imagined: Arven, Arvenn, Àven, Arvyn, Arvin) is also known as the Huntleader, or the Horned One. He is revered as both the God who grants success on hunts when they are necessary, and the protector of those who are unjustly hunted. He is seen as endorsing the Serphelorian principle that life must be taken to preserve life, and so lending his support to their crusade to protect those who cannot protect themselves.
In battle, Arven is often prayed to when you have become isolated, the odds have turned against you, or when you are relying on stealth. Arven is seen as having the ability to grant skill with the bow and arrow, stealth, speed and agility – whether those attributes are to be used to catch your prey, or to avoid being preyed upon. When a Serphelorian is about to die at the hands of another, it is seen as being ordained by Seyella, and therefore unavoidable. However, Arven controls the act of predation itself, so in this situation Serphelorians are told to say a prayer to Arven, asking that he will take you quickly to She Who Sees All.
Jeyriall, Goddess of Harvest
The harvest festival is celebrated by Serphelorians, but this is a comparatively recent addition to their worship. Having now settled in one place, Jeyriall has become much more important to the Serphelorians than to their predecessors the Sophronians, as crops can now be planted, as opposed to edible plants being gathered as and when it was possible, as was the case in nomadic times. Jeyriall is celebrated at harvest time, and is looked to to provide wealth, happiness and delight in families, particularly those in prosperous areas.
Other Gods. The role of the remaining Santharian Gods to Serphelorians is quite limited. Here are the most important details in this regard:
Nehtor, God of Healing
The Dancer has clerics in Serphelorian areas, but these are usually based with garrisons or in towns, and they usually see their role as subordinate to Seyella: their part is in healing and consoling the people when Seyella’s plan has taken a grim turn for them.
Baveras, Goddess of the Sea
The Serphelorians see Baveras as caring for the Avennorians in much the same way as Seyella looks after the Serphelorians. She is not seen as one who has a particular interest in the Serphelorians tribe, and, living in mainly inland areas, few Serphelorians see much need for her blessing. In times of drought in the Elverground, however, they have been known to call upon Avennorian clerics to intervene for them with the Lady of the Waters, leading to some having permanent residence there.
Queprur, Goddess of Death
The Goddess of the Scythe is little known in traditional Serphelorian belief: dead souls are thought to go to Seyella, after Arven has allowed the hunter to prevail. With a settled society, however, and the increase of other tribes in Sanguia, her role as harvester of souls has become more well known, especially when people die deaths which are not caused by others.
Etherus, Grothar, Urtengor, Eyasha and Foiros are not much thought of in the Serphelorian pantheon, except by those who have a particular interest in their spheres.
Religion in Daily Life.
Many commentators have noticed a certain happy ‘fatalism’ expressed by
some sour individuals have gone as far as calling them “oblivious to reality”!
Whether it is a good thing or not,
do show a remarkable sense that everything will turn out for the best. Phrases
like “Seyella’s plan is hidden”,
“Troubles lead to treasures”, or the ambiguous, seldom finished “Lose your
sword-hand…” illustrate this philosophy in
day-to-day life in Sanguia and its surrounds. This confident attitude allows
them to remain more or less carefree in situations that would upset or sadden
most members of other tribes, and to be as open and friendly as their
The Serphelorians are not given to regular, formal worship (excepting the three religious festivals), rather tending to spontaneous acts of religious piety. Members of this tribe may pray and give offerings to the appropriate God when they are in need, or are feeling particularly grateful for their fortune, but celebrations are more common than stately communion. Loud parades praising their Seyella, Armeros and Arven were common after battles in more warlike times. When battles are few, celebrations with one’s community are held at any occasion a person can invent. This can be things like reaching another year of life or marriage, regaining one’s health after an illness, or even having a particularly good crop in one’s kitchen-garden. These always include some tribute to Seyella, if not also one, or all of, the three ‘Lesser’ Gods.
Priestesses of Seyella play a similar role here to the role they play in other areas, being available to those who seek wisdom, or advice in difficult situations. However, Seyellans are also usually the clerics called upon to bless marriages (although a repected woman might well be the one who officiates) and to preside at funerals. Those who can afford it sometimes make a donation to the temple, and ask for a priestess to bless their child at the celebration of their birth in the hope that Seyella will look with favour upon their newborn. Most parents don’t see this as being necessary, and just sing some of the joyful Serphelorian prayers to Seyella with those who come to celebrate.
Clerics of Arvens, Armeros and Jeyriall are called upon mostly for things related to their spheres, like hunting, war or bravery, and crops and family happiness. Followers of these gods, or any others for that matter, can and do preside over marriages and funerals like Seyellans. However, this usually happens only when a person or couple feels a particular affinity for these Gods over Seyella, so it is relatively rare.
Different religious orders interact differently with the Serphelorian people; their behaviour here is usually much the same as it would be in other areas of Santharia. Serphelorians tend not to be particularly awed by anyone, and so even the most aloof Seyellan or Arvenean is viewed with more respect and esteem than fear. A certain aloofness is, however, viewed as only proper to a priestess’ (or priest’s) station, and is not taken as an affront to the lay person – although it is not seen as a necessary part of all clerics, particularly with reference to the merry Jeyriallans.
Holy Days and
Prayers to Seyella are a big part of the Festival of
the Foresighted One in the Turning Star, and festivals dedicated to
Armeros and Jeyriall are
celebrated in Awakening Earth and Sleeping Dreamress respectively.
Arven does not have a festival dedicated specifically
to him, but on Awendain a hunt is organised by the leaders of many towns. In
some northern settlements it is traditional for those young people who will
meet with the wise women during the Festival of the Warriors to spend the night
in the woods, away from home, with only a bonfire to keep them company. More
information about these festivals can be found in the main article on the
Myth/Lore. In the earliest days, at the point of leaving the last of the Mynians and striking out on their own, a speech was made by Sophronia, the leader of the tribe and the woman from whom they later took their name. This speech, re-enacted every year during the Festival of the Foresighted One, is very much the same in all areas apart from a few words here and there. This gives credence to the Serphelorian assertion that it is the same oration, somehow preserved in its entirety across the millennia. The speech is re-printed below.
The Address of Sophronia to her
People. "Welcome, all of you who have come to hear me speak. I
am Sophronia. You came with me because I have knowledge of the ways of war
and government, and because I believe that those who are weak must be
protected, not cast aside or used for others’ ends. Together we have
survived many things, and it is together that we will survive yet more.
This speech, along with the fact that
Sophronia is said to have had occasional short periods of blindness, seems to
be the basis (although by no means the whole) of the basis for the
semi-deification of Sophronia. The last part of the address is said to be a
prophecy – one that can now be said to have come true. The issue seems not
whether it was a prophecy or not; rather the question is whether Sophronia was
touched by She Who Sees All, or was actually an
incarnation of Seyella. This is an issue clerics of
Seyella seem unable to find agreement on at this
Origin. The Sophronians, the people who were the precursors of the Serphelorians, were born out of the fall of the Mynian Kingdom. It is told in the legends of the Serphelorians that they worshipped the Gods of that land, but no remembrance of who these were, or what they were like, is held by these people, or by their Kuglim cousins. Some think that the Mynians Gods might have been similar to the Kuglimz Gods Lier’tyan and Sur’tyan, but so far this is only conjecture.
The Serphelorians remember in their stories and performances, that at the Great Sundering and the fall of the Mynian Kingdom, their old Gods turned away from them. For many years they made offerings and spoke propitiatory prayers to these deities, but to no avail. First an orcish invasion, then raiding by other humans who had become barbarians unlike the Sophronians, then trouble with elves forced the tribe to move further and further south.
Some time after Sophronia’s death, the Sophronians crossed the Dragon’s Maw and came to meet the people they called the "Avariafael" – thought to be those who would one day become the Erpheronian tribe. These people already knew of the Twelve, and, in the little contact the two tribes had together, the Sophronians learnt of the gods who, they were told, ruled over this new land.
As the Sophronians learnt of the Gods, so the Avariafael learnt of the Sophronians. One night the story of Sophronia, the Foresighted One was told in a Sophronian camp. Some of the Avariafael had been invited to hear the story, and to see it enacted. The tale is told that, during the story, a female cleric jumped up and proclaimed that the Foresighted One was an incarnation of Seyella herself, and that they would be led to their destiny by the All-Seeing Mother. A fight ensued between the cleric, who is said to have been touched by the Gods, uncontrollably shouting her vision, and the other Avariafael. The Sophronians protected the cleric from her death for heresy, leading to conflict between the two tribes.
Hounded away from the lands of the Avariafael, the Sophronians travelled south once more, quickly, to escape the vengeance of that wrathful people. The cleric came with them and (after a quick recovery from her divinely inspired fit) through her teaching the Sophronians learnt of the other Aviaria. Some scholars believe that it was through the Sophronians that the Kyranians came to worship Arvins.
 This phrase, while the original ending seems to be lost, is sometimes finished in a novel way, to amusing effect. The endings always run along the lines of "gain a (something)" where the ‘something’ usually appeals to the ribald Serphelorian sense of humour. One example, heard in the Santhran’s Shield tavern in Vreesran went "Lose a sword-hand, gain a stable-hand", which may not seem particularly provocative without the accompanying winks and loud laughter – therefore making this particular version printable. [Back]