The Story of Nohjo Alvar is a strange one.. After his adventures he retired, and after many more years he joined a cult who worshipped The Great Earth Mother. They believed that certain places in this world are focus sites of Her powers. They went to one such a place, and the head priest killed them all there. That happened around 1135 AE. Those where desperate times, and the motive of the headpriest is still obscure and clouded. The bodies where eventually found by a Norn hunting party.
The priest, who was still present at the scene, had become deranged and used his dead disciples as minions to fight the Norn. The Norn fought off the undead Men, Woman and Children of all ages and races, and managed to capture the priest. Before any awnsers could be extraced from him, he died. Muttering: "She knows.. Darkness.. She knows...".
One of the present Norn in the hunting party was a young woman named Aldis. She was a shaman of the raven, and knew some about the ways of the spirit. One of the undead bodies caught her attention, and as she drew near, there was sudden flash. Temporaly blinded, she fell. And when she rose again, the world around her was frozen in its place, no man moved, no cave spider creeped on the walls. She found herself face to face with an old human male. He stood bend over, leaning on an old walking stick. His clothing was somewhat old fashioned, and a pistol hung on his belt. The man said nothing.
- 'Who are you?' demanded Aldis. 'What have you done?' Aldis knew from her training she was dealing with a spirit, and remained cautious. Spirits where known for their deceit, and some where delighted in tormenting the living with their tricks.
When she spoke, the spirit looked straight at her, and noticed his kind eyes. He opended and closed his mouth. At first, she heard nothing. Then, she could hear a voice. It was as if the cave spoke to her:
'Who I am is of no importance'. The voice boomed. 'What matters only is whom I serve. No man, no God or any other being can call me his servant. I serve only one, and that is Her. Her presence shines through us all. Through every rock, blade of grass and every eye in this universe. She is what makes us whole, and connected. No God is She, no divine being. She is only you, me and the rest of the world. Even the Six are aspects, or facets of Her. She is the sole creator and inhabitant of :this world. Some of my people call Her The Great Earth Mother, and build shrines holding beautiful natural and man made objects. We have no holy book, no doctrine. There are no extensive temple complexes or eunich priests. Our only law is; watch nature closely and She will teach. Be silent, and you can hear the trees whisper Her wisdom. This is one of her caves. This ancient cave deep inside the bowels of the mountain'.
- 'I do not know what you talk about spirit'. She replied. 'Our people follow the spirits of the wild for guidance. This Goddess you talk abou...' She was cut short by the spirit.
'When I was of the world, when I walked the plains of Ascalon, I studied the mesmeric arts. The living world is a world of Illusion, I know that now. Sometimes, the living feel that. A feeling that reality is playing tricks on them, that what they see is not what is. The material world is an illusion. The Goddess Lyssa represents this aspect of Her, being the 2 faced goddess: Reality, Illusion. Humans, Charr, Asura, any being that can think, is not capable of seeing through this illusion. They are part of it, they know no better than to live in ignorance.
The mesmers understand this. They force the ether, the lifeblood of Her, in such a way, that they are capable of bending the Great Illusion. Novice mesmers can cast simple illusion spells.. A rock turns to a butterfly, a hawk-nose becomes straight. But Master Mesmers, real disciples of chaos, they can do much more. Pain, dispair, love, happiness. Imagined diseases, great blows of energy. All achieved with a simple word or wick of the hand.
Oh, how I long to feel the ether run through my fingers again, to feel Her life blood course through my veines. No. No, I chose something different. I am no longer blinded by Her illusion. I can see now. My vision is unclouded, but no longer can I see the beauty of the shiverpeak mountains. No longer can I feel the warm morning breeze on my skin. I am one with the Goddess. She took me, and I am again part of the whole. I see how we never die, but are reborn eternally.. We return to Her, and from us, new life is born. I see everything that ever was, and will ever be.'
The spirit looked at something behind her and a smile crossed his face. He looked back at Aldis and walked to her, slowly. Aldis stepped back, suddenly a bit afraid of the strange spirit. He stood a few centimeters from her now, looking up to her. His hand moved to hers, and touched. She saw. She saw for the first time. It was blinding, but she understood now what the Mists was, where this world came from. And beyond, she saw Her. The Goddess the spirit told about, with a raven on Her shoulder. It opened its beak, and she heard 'mother, mother!'
- '... Aldis..?..Aldis are you okay?' Aldis opened her eyes. Blinking against the torchlight and the familiar faces hovering above her. 'Yes, yes I'm alright.'
- 'You blacked out woman. What happened?'
- 'I don't know Aki. This damp cave air has gotten to my brains I guess'. Aki laughed and helped her up. 'C'mon, lets get out of here. We need to bring this crazy human to Gunnar's Hold'.
Thorun, the head shaman of the Raven, sat cross legged before a small campfire in a small tent. Black feathers adorned his dark blue robes.
- 'I have never heard of such a thing.' He said. 'No Skaald speaks of this Goddess'.
- 'I saw her Thorun, I did. The human showed Her to me.' Aldis said, nearly shouting. 'I speak no lies'.
Thorun grumbled, folded his arms and closed his eyes. 'I shall ask the Havroun about this. Matters such as this are beyond my comprehension.'
- 'No, I want to speak to him, where can I find him Thorun?' Aldis demanded.
- 'Her, you mean' Thorun said. 'I do not know where she roams, or if she is indeed even alive. These are strange and hard times...'
- 'I shall find her' Aldis said, and stood up suddenly. 'I know the spirit was one of the man the priest had slain, and that the Raven calls this Goddess his mother..I Must know more, and Raven shall guide me!'
She stamped out the tent, and Thorun sighed. 'Raven give me strength... The youths these days...'
Today I went to the beach. Giants Basin has warm, beautiful blue waters, and a white shining beach. From Ascalon Settlement, (Where I live now, after the war in kryta) the walk isn't that long and not that dangerous. The Settlement Guards have had reinforcements several weeks ago, from the Queen. As a thank you to all the Acalonians who fought at her side agains the White Mantle. The valley's at both exits are relatively safe, exept for some wild hogs farmer dirk sometime looses. The ettins have been exterminated and the skales have been driven back to their swamps further south. The Tengu still pose a threat to caravans going to and from Lions Arch or Nebu Village, but if they see us with guards they tend to leave us alone.
Recently, the rice we imported from Cantha has yielded a reasonable harvest on our terraces. And in the valley south some people have started ploughing the land to make it ready for agriculture and livestock. Ascalon Settlement will prosper, I just know it. Sometimes people from Ascalon still come to make a home here. More and more people from our homeland are realizing that the Old Ascalon is no more. Here in Kryta, we can prosper, we can build a future. Only the naive stay in the ruins of our past. Kryta isn't Ascalon...
I remember, as a child how I played with the children in the streets of our little village. Roamed the fields and forest, sometimes with my father. The beautiful autumns, the soft rolling hills. Life was good. Kryta can offer the same here, for our children. It's warm climate, it's beautiful shores and lush forests and plains. Recently, I had visited the Norn territories for business, and they took me close to the borders of the Charr homeland. The sight brought tears to my eyes as I relived my entire childhood and the run to the west with my parents.
Aah, I'm loosing track of my story. As I went to the beach, making my way to the white cliffs, I was struck with the beauty of nature. Its hard to describe really.. It is as if time stops for just a few scant seconds. Birds chirping, a slight cool breeze rustles the leaves of the many bushes and tall grasses of the southern valley. You close your eyes and turn to the sun, the red light filtering through your eyelids. It all falls into place, I belong to this earth. I belong to the beauty of this magnificent creation. It is the Goddess Lyssa's way of communing with us. As Balthazar shows himself in the rush of a melee conflict, or Dwayna in the love we feel for others, Lyssa lets us feel the deep and mystical connection we feel for this world.
Being a Mesmer, I contemplated this thought.. Lyssa as a Goddess has always been one of the least noticeable in our daily lives. But sometimes, if we stop and think, she shows her brilliant self through the blandness of daily life. For me, she is therefore the wisest, most mystical Goddess of the entire pantheon. Could it be, that Lyssa is in fact the only God there? That, through her eluding and subtlety, she has created the illusion of the other Gods? Her dualty has always intrigued me. Reality, Illusion. The mystery that surrounds her. What is her true face? What is the true face of reality? Are there other Gods? What we see, feel, hear and thing even real? Our mesmeric magic is founded in these thoughts. Through the manipulation of ether, we mesmers bend the reality of others. We, with Lyssa's consent, take her place for a few moments. I've known some elders in mesmerism, living a quiet and simple life, reading the ether to find answers to these fundamental questions. These real masters of ether can read it so well, they don't need their eyes anymore. They blindfold them-selfs, like the ritualists, to shield their eyes from most of the Illusion. Finding their way by seeing with their minds eye. They say that what they see cannot be described with words. When I asked if what they saw was the Truth, their answer was: "Maybe... Never forget Lyssa has 2 faces, one speaking the Truth, one throwing up Illusions. You never know which face your are talking to..."
It has been some time since I wrote in my journal. For several weeks I traveled to the eastern part of the Northern Shiverpeaks, just north of Umbral Grotto. I went there with an expidition of the University of Lions Arch to record the wildlife and plants that occur in that region. For the study, we consulted some of the native people there, who have had little contact with the people down south.
The people there had build their litte stone village on the slopes on one of the foothills of the Shiverpeaks. On the highest point stood a simple open temple, with a tree growing out of the roof. Their homes predominantly had thatched roofs with stone walls. For clothing the people wore simple linnen and animal furs. Also, they were all quite big, even with my 1.96M. An anthropologist suggested they may have interbred with the Norn people more to the North-West. Making these people half-Norn. A possible explanation, seeing as they mostly had blond or reddish hair, and where overall quite muscular in build. Their culture too was more influenced by the Norn, we soon found out. At some point in the past, they must have revered the Old Gods, but now, these Gods had taken on more like aspects of Spirits. On top of that, they revered several Spirits who, according to them, lived in natural formations like rivers and mountains.
On one late night, we asked the Medicine woman of the village to tell us something about the local plants, and where we could find them, and if the plants possessed any kind of medicinal value. After our talk, she preformed a blessing for our journey. We thought this blessing was merely a superstitious ritual, since they don't actually follow the Old Gods or the Spirits of the Wild. But much to our amazement, the woman called forth an Avatar of one of their most revered Spirits, the Forest Spirit. The woman translated his message and blessings to us.
This entire ritual baffled us all, and it made me thinking. If this religion, that has evolved over several hundreds of years from our own religion, has power, what does this tell us about our own religion? Does it have as much worth, is it as true as the religion of the forest people? If so, what religion is right? While most people are very tolerant of the religions of others, they do feel that they worship the right Gods. But does this mean, there is essentially no difference between all religions on Tyria? I imagine it like this; we all worship a certain colouring picture, and every society has painted it in different colours. The picture stays the same, only the colours change.
If this assumption is true, does that mean I can create my own religion? That I can colour the picute in any colour I want? I revere Lyssa more than I revere the other Gods, and in earlier contemplations I suggested that maybe Lyssa is the one and only God. Now I see that Lyssa might also be a different kind of colouring of the same picture.
But what is the picture then? The most basic God? The most basic Divinity? Maybe The Mists. It is said the Mists brought forth everything, so maybe also the Gods. No... The Mists didn't brought forth the Gods, we humans did. Several of the Mystics I spoke with, back when I was young in Ascalon or here as a student on the steps of the university, told me we are all connected trough The Mists. That the entire creation is connected through The Mists. Couldn't that mean that maybe, with my thoughts, or actions, I can Influence The Mists in such a way, that Gods are born? And as long people pray, or believe and act the Gods are there, they are there? Yes.. yes, so long we people, or others, give power to certain Gods or Spirits, by worshiping and revering them, those Gods have power.
An interesting though, and quite possibly one I will never be able to test or in any way be able to validate. It is nice to think though, that through my actions, I give Lyssa power. Earlier I spoke about being a mesmer, about using the ether that flows through reality. We mesmers directly manipulate this ether, while elementalists or other spellcasters do the same, indirectly. I learned from my mesmerism trainers, that the Ether is something that is not quite understood, we do not know what it is. We can feel it, flowing through reality, but we do not know what it is. Many have suggested it actually is part of the Mists, that ether is the mortar that holds together the building blocks of reality.I agree with that, it definitely feels that way. By manipulating the mortar, we manipulate the way the wall looks. If we loosen our grip on the ether, it snaps back to its original form, showing what we think is reality in its original form.
As I sit here, back in the Ascalon Settlement, in my room, writing in my journal, I feel at ease. Thinking about the Gods and Spirits, and their possible connection to the world, I still feel Lyssa is watching me. She is what I see in nature, and as a student naturalist, I hold nature in very high regard. Lyssa is chaos and destruction, suffering and pain. War, and the harshness of nature. While her other face is one of beauty, love, creation. Happiness, and the beauty of nature. Lyssa represents the reality we live in, she represents nature, the closets we can come to reality. Even if she is just a fold in The Mists, a creation brought forth from humand minds, I still revere Her. She symbolises nature, and it is easier to worship a God, than the entire world.
As part of my study to become a Naturalist, I visited an the Library of Lions Arch. Most books have become lost or have been burned by the Charr, but several Ascalonian scholars and librarians managed to take some books with them in their flight to Kryta. The White Mantle likewise, in their attempt to eraticate the 'heretics', burned many books of the library. First I was busy gathering herbariums and zoological encyclopedia's. But as I looked into more and more books, my attention drifted to more philosophical matters.
One book in paticular caught my attention. It was about ancient mystical beliefs that were practiced by some people in Orr and Elona. These teachings told of the 'flawed material world brought forth by the chaotic aspect of Lyssa' and 'The attempt of the benevolent and fair aspect of the same Goddess to redeem man from her own illusion'. It also told that the Mists, as we already knew, is part of everything, including all sentient beings. Each spark of the Mists, residing within man, is always trying to return to it's source, but is trapped by the material world. The only possibility for man to trancend this flawed material world is to gain inner divine knowledge of the Mist within. Lyssa, in Her sorrow, is the main guide in helping man achieve this.
Of course, it is far more complex than I just told. For instance, the Chaotic part of Lyssa is actually something more distinct and goes by another name. On top of that, the mystics of that time far from agreed with one another, so many versions of this story excist.
These pasages helped me reaffirm my belief in the sacred and most divine being Lyssa. The mystery that surrounds her, the Great Illusion that is this world. I for one, see that Lyssa is also a representation of the internal conflict that is within man. Man often decieves himself, shielding his own eyes from the truth. And the other part of man always searching for the truth, for reality, for beauty. Lyssa's hand in creating this world is evident. Its unfathomable beauty, but also its suffering, its chaos...
Oh, I hear dinner is ready. I must leave this paper now and eat something. I will write more later this week, when summer festivals are over, and the sun hides behind the clouds.
A Different Name
Last time I wrote something in my journal was already several weeks ago. Some things have changed. For one, I started practicing my archery more, plus the use of animal companions to aid me in my travels. A smart little Moa I raised from one of the eggs I bought at the Settlement. Morja, I call her. She carries my packs, and when necessary, fights alongside me. People say the Moa fits me. Both the Moa and I have long legs and birdlike strides. Also, I use my real surname when I meet people out in the open. These changes have come about after long long ponderous walks thinking about Lyssa, and lately, Melandru. My love for nature is immense, I love it with all my heart. The plants, the animals, the whole ecosystems, everything! Earlier I spoke of the illusions of Lyssa, that what you see is not actually that what is. While this most probably is true, it does not mean that what you see is evil, and should be ignored. Nature is what is, and even though your senses are always deceived by yourself and ultimately Lyssa, it is still the reality that you create. I found that it is nearly impossible to look at things without illusion. So in short, why not make the best of it, and embrace the illusion? And try to imagine. What is the world without illusion? A world without emotion, without thought. That is the world without illusion. Even though it may be the truth, it is not something I wish to witness. So, I shielded away from using the magic of Lyssa, letting the illusion be what it is, and took up my bow, animal companion, and survival skills and approach life in a more practical way. While of course I won't denounce the use of magic, for at least some time I will try to live in harmony with the illusion, instead of manipulating and using it. Melandru, reflecting the bounty of nature, now receives most of my prayers. Lyssa will understand.
I've begun a big research project in the lands of the Kurzicks in Cantha. The ancient petrified forest is slowly starting to grow again, after the death of Shiro. So naturally, I've come here to study the successive stages of animal and plant life in the forest, keeping a record of which animals and plants first invade a new patch of unfrozen forest. The forest is beautiful and very soothing. For some of my fieldwork I have to collect data under a big tree with a monastery dedicated to Dwayna build into it. All through the day slow figures are moving behind the big yellow windows, and soft chanting can be heard. The monks treat us well, and try to aid us where they can. I've heard rumours among the priests that a new and powerful ministery has begun cleansing the city up north of the afflicted. Once I'm done here I will travel north with my companion and see what I can do to help.