The Dark Lands
Church of the Shades
The religion most commonly practised among the people in the Dark Lands is an animistic religion, focusing on the idea that for each and every thing there is a spirit. Certain things and their spirits, obviously, have more importance than others. Praying and sacrificing to the various spirits is done out of respect and reverence, though it is not, perhaps, usually done as fervently as it would if the religion believed in omnipotent divinity. The spirits have their lacks and flaws like any other entity- it’s only some that you have to always respect and fear. The spirits, more commonly known as Shades, are believed to have originated from the the Blackness, which spawns things not meant for mortal eyes…
While shades transcend mere human forms, they are said to be able to take whatever form they wish, so often their idols show them in their human aspects. The most powerful of the Shades are considered gods, though sometimes lesser shades will be called gods out of respect. The most common Shades are
Nocte- the Shade of darkness, night, and the Blackness. Nocte is a grim shade who cannot be controlled, and is only rarely appeased by offerings. Nocte is viewed as a force of nature- it does not hate humanity, but neither does it pay humanity any regard. Staying out of Nocte’s reach- especially the Blackness- is considered common sense. Those who revere or fear Nocte often wear small charms of blackened bone or other dark materials at night, or when they otherwise move in on his domain. Nocte is considered the progenitor of all other Shades, and the most powerful of them. Nocte has no set form for idols.
Mjod- the Shade of earth, stone, and plant life. Mjod is a stubborn and fickle shade whose blessings cannot be counted on- the fruit of the earth is difficult to obtain in the dark lands. Some believe that Mjod is angry with them for having left the dark lands, and perform various rituals (sometimes involving human sacrifice) to attempt to appease the Shade. They’ve gathered a fair following, considering the success they’ve had… Mjod is depicted as a short, stout man made of clay.
Eldr- the Shade of fire. Eldr is believed to reside in the shadows that dance near fire, and depictions of Eldr often show a madly dancing man or woman with varying numbers of limbs, often holding swords and torches. Eldr is believed to be quite mad, but very merry and willing to share power with the people- but when Eldr’s insanity or anger is provoked, typically consumes those around it.
Fleda- the shade of water, Fleda is depicted as a shy woman in noble dress. Fleda is believed to be the most kind and helpful of all the powerful shades, though she is the least powerful among them. The few deaths that are caused within rivers are typically cast in the light of her welcoming the unfortunate souls into her home. “Gone to dine with Fleda” is a common saying about death on the water.