Section I: Gods and Goddesses
Section III: Myths and Religions of other Peoples
Father, Like Daughter,
Seram’s child strides the earth,
strife in Her eyes,
war in Her heart,
conquer and take.
Mother, Like Daughter,
Taurkémad’s child strides the earth,
pain in Her mind,
destruction in Her soul,
bereave and take.
dedication to a booklet on Middage,
She is by Her Divine father,
no noble thought of combat fills Her heart,
disease and ill mind She seeks Her victories to gather,
in night’s darkness, She stands apart,
by the pit’s stench, She flings Her dart,
not the mortal, but the soul of her father.
poem on Middage, attributed to Remohkreeg of Chazevo (12th
“’Disease is natural. Nay, ‘t is more than that. Disease is Divine!’
“The madman cackles, then laughs out loud as lightning rushes through the darkness, illuminates his face of scars, of pustules, the ill-blooded eyes. ‘And you, child,’ he continues, leans down to the girl cowering on the ground before him, ‘will do the Divine work for me now.’
“She does not cry. Her tears have dried hours before, when the madman dragged her from her bed, out in the stormy night. She fought him, yet his grip was inhumanly strong. Now her muscles are tired. She cannot move. With utmost effort she asks the one word. ‘Why?’
“The madman laughs. ‘Why? Because it is as the Goddess Middage commands! It is her work I have done, it is her work that is now yours!’
“Lightning flashes anew. It brightens his face, and she sees that the pustules are opening. Yellowish pus is flowing out. Blood drips from his eyes. He must be in pain, she thinks and wonders how the madman can ignore it. ‘Time, child, it is time,’ he says calmly. He kneels down. Rain washes over his face, opens wound upon wound, redoubling the flood of bodily fluids.
“’Do not touch me,’ the girl labors to say. She has seen fifteen winters this year, has seen her parents succumb to plague, has seen her brothers felled by influenza. She should be accustomed to sights as dire as this madman. She is not.
“The madman coughs. ‘I must, child,’ he says yet hesitates. ‘You must understand that ours is not evil work. We walk the earth, and we gather illness to us. We take the pain of the earth upon us. We contain it, we keep it from those who –‘ He coughs again. Blood flows freely from his mouth, and he cannot speak any longer.
“The girl stares at him. Is that his purpose? Is that what he intends for her? To be ill forevermore? She wants to run. Her legs do not follow her commands.
“But… She wonders. If she could take away disease, collect it, then – Would that not mean that less people would sicken? That, had she sacrificed herself for her family, her parents and brothers would still be alive and well?
“She still wonders when the madman embraces her and presses his body close to her. She cannot move, feels herself drenched with the rain, the blood, the pus. There is more, yet, there is pain. A pain unlike that which she has experienced before, and it is in her mind. So much hurt, so much darkness pours into her, and then –
“The madman falls back from her. His mouth is open, filled with blood. His eyes are blood, and like glass. He is dead.
“She finds there are tears left in her. She cries, while the rain washes off the madman’s fluids. The drops of fresh rain cannot sweep off what she knows is now harbored within her, the illness and disease. She raises her hand, turns it over to look at the palm. It’s itching, and she sees why. There is a brand on her palm, a sigil of an eye, a tear rolling out of one side, a drop of blood out of the other.
“The girl knows what the brand means. She belongs to Middage now. Her body has been corrupted by disease, and she faces all the ills imparted by sickness. She carries it all now. She is the container, and she will look for more disease to put inside her, to corrupt herself further.
“But will she keep the disease to herself, or will she spread it? She fears the answer. She does not wish to die, although death already churns within her. She stands up, walks over the fallen body of the madman – and then stops. Where did the strength come from? Where is her exhaustion?
“A gift of the Goddess, she understands. She walks on back home, to go back to bed, and in the morning she will speak with her aunt and remaining family.”
“What drives a man or woman to take up the mantle of Middage’s clergy? How can one decide that disease is holy and to be preserved, even spread, rather than contained?
“I am a priestess of Decalleigh. In my years of service I have seen the pain and suffering that comes with disease. I have done my best to lessen the pain, to cure and eradicate disease. There is nothing attractive about a boy spitting blood, crying red tears over the fallen body of his mother. So often have I witnessed scenes like that, I often fear that I grow callous over such. It hasn’t happened yet, thank the Great Healer for that.
“How can it be anything but insanity for anyone to choose the path of dispersing disease? It is the only answer I can find, and I am glad I am not beholden to the goddess Sykee. Were I in her service, it would be my duty to seek ways of healing the insanity. As it is, I am of Decalleigh, and I can wish the Middage clerics to fall dead from their own diseases, without ever infecting another soul.”
Erin, Decalleigh priestess,
“Middage priests’re the scum o’the earth. Literally, I mean, not just because of what they do.
“Y’see, there’re plenty of dark gods in the world. Gods that you wouldn’t wanna meet in a dark alley, if you catch my drift. But take Shenaumac, f’r instance – now that’s a bloody bastard of a god. A liar, a murderer. Killed his own brother and sister gods, f’r cryin’ out loud! And yet, take a good look at his followers. Some o’them’re your usual run of cutthroats and thugs, sure. But nonetheless, you’re likely to find some princes worshipping Shenaumac, some people who have all the riches in the world and wanna make sure their dastardly deeds buy them a good share o’land in the beyond.
“Or Taurkémad the Torturer. Guess who’s likely to have a statue of her around his place o’work. Reasonably decent people, if you look at their standin’ in society, and still worshippers o’dark gods. Just goes with their lines o’work, I’d say.
“And then there’s Seram – abyssal flames, most people hate war, don’t they? With plenty o’good reason, too. I’m a mercenary, and I bloody hate war. Plenty o’days I wish I’d learned me some good trade so I could go without killin’ and maimin’ f’r a coupla weeks. Still I do worship Seram – not as a priest o’course, but still… All right, do look at a Seram priest. You’ll hear all kindsa noble words about the importance o’Seram, and how His work is necessary. Sometimes even I could be convinced. (Prob’ly the reason I’m still in the game, chalk me up with th’other fools.)
“Middage’s the daughter of Taurkémad and Seram, but there’s nothing noble about her. Nothing whatsoever. Like she took the worst parts of her parents and combined them inside her.
“So I’m asking you: whoever would take up service with Middage? People who want power? Well, why not choose Shenaumac – a forthright murderer who has way too much power in the world. (Mind you, this is a mercenary speakin’.) Trouble is, you’ve gotta have some skill at killin’ or leastways stealin’ or lyin’ to qualify f’r those ranks. If you’re a gullible fool who’s lost everythin’ in the world, Shenaumac’s gonna look at you as prey, but surely not as a predator.
“Same with Taurkémad, same with Seram. You’ve gotta have some skill, you’ve gotta have some way of contributin’ t’their – eh – work. Seram, f’r instance, if you don’t have any skill, He won’t have you as a priest, He’ll make sure you’re put in the frontline of a skirmish, or as we call it, th’express road beyond.
“Now then, what’s left? Only the scum o’the earth. The ones who have no possible recourse. The ones who yearn to pay others back for their misfortunes, and who can’t wield a sword, or who can’t take directly hurtin’ people. Infect them? Oh, sure, that’s not so difficult. You don’t stab a blade o’metal into their guts. You don’t see the pain in their eyes. You don’t see yourself takin’ a life.
“Trust me, it’s not an easy one, that. I’ve killed me plenty o’people, and I won’t claim any desire to see those folks walkin’ the earth again. What desires I have in that regard is that it wasn’t me doin’ the killin’, or leastways the one who’s gotta remember the killin’. Takes some guts o’your own to do that, over and over again. If you’re a coward, though…
“How much bravery does it take to cough on someone, walk away and hear about that someone’s death a while later?”
Holass, Mercenary (ca. 3151 A.E.)
Read on in the second part on September 05 2003!