Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Crafters of Old II

Those Skilled with the Hammer and Anvil

Fantasy equal: Moradin

Each of the races of fantasy realms excel at using a particular set of weapons and possibly a particular type of armour as well. The Elves, for example are formidable archers and aren’t too shabby with a long blade either. Therefore should you be in search of a quality bow, the master craftsmen you should seek out would be that of the Elven kin.

So yes, horsemen have mastered the crafting of spears, wizards the enchanting of staffs, but which race is truly the masters of the forge? The answer is the Dwarves. The pride of Dwarves originates from the length of their beards, their prowess in battle, but most of all from the great halls they build and the armour and weaponry they create.

The quality of an item is not only subject to the skill of its crafter, but to the materials used as well. Since the Dwarves dwell in great mines deep within the rocky crust of the earth, they are able to yield some of the greatest metals used for armour and weapons. Precious rocks and crystals they mine are used for enchanting purposes as well as the crafting of magical rings and amulets.

The fantasy connection for Craftsmen of Old II is Moradin, the Creator God of the Dwarves of the Forgotten Realms. He is the chief deity of the Dwarven pantheon and like all good fathers he is always inspiring his kin. He improves the race of Dwarves by encouraging prosperity, good nature and stimulating smithing, mining and Dwarven engineering.

Moradin is held by many Dwarven creation myths to have been incarnated from rock, stone, and metal, with his soul eternally present in the form of fire. That same fire fuelled the forge in which Moradin created the Stout Folk (Dwarves) and, in some myths, Moradin breathes fire over the first dwarves to bring them to life.

The building I work at is undergoing renovations. I’ve spent several moments watching the builders outside constructing a wall. The whole process of erecting a wall is no easy task. Laying down the foundation, the stacking of bricks, plastering; it all requires skill. I can’t help to wonder why these guys are paid so little here in South Africa. They all have tattered clothing (not so much due to the work they do, but more from poverty I’d say) and equipment. Builders (those who actually do the hard labour and not the lazy foremen) and all other kinds of craftsmen are very unappreciated, in my opinion. So craftsmen all over the world, this collection is dedicated to you and the great objects and constructs you have produced with your blood, sweat and tears....

"Moradin (MOAR-uh-din) is the creator god of the dwarven race and leader of the Morndinsamman. He is said to have created all dwarves, forging them from metals and gems in the fires that lie at the "heart of the world," and breathing life-the first dwarven souls-into the cooling forms. All dwarves appease Moradin, even if they do not wholeheartedly support him. Lawful good dwarves support and work openly to serve the Soul Forger, even if they also worship another deity. His name is invoked by dwarves involved in smithwork or craftsmanship of any sort, and they give him homage by doing their best work and seeking to emulate his stonework and craftsmanship. Moradin is said to inspire dwarven inventions and seeks constantly to improve the race-increasing dwarven good nature, intelligence, and ability to exist in harmony with other living things. At the same time, he battles the pride and isolationist tendencies that occur naturally in his elite creations."

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Dwellers of the Earth II

Those with Dominion over the Element of Earth

Fantasy equal: Geb

You’re one of many tourists making your way to some ancient tourist attraction in the Sahara desert. It’s still early morning and already the desert sun beats down on you with its scorching brilliance. Your camel sways left and right as it climbs and descends from the endless chain of golden sand dunes. You wish you had worn ten extra pairs of underwear since the sweat and bony back of the camel is eating away at your sensitive bits. And you don’t know who smells worse, your camel rider or his steed? When will you reach your destination so this torment can end?!

The camel rider dismounts his steed, leaving you on it alone. He inspects the camel’s hoof and you take notice of him trying to draw a nail from the hoof. The camel yelps from pain and suddenly it speeds off down the dune with you mounted between his two humps. You scream for help as the camel leads you into the Sahara Desert. You peer back and only see a towering sand dune behind you. You deem you are done for.

Finally, after an unending sprint, the camel comes to a halt. You dismount the wild camel and gaze over the scores of sand dunes that now surround you. You see nothing other than sands and skies.

"Mr. Camel, I hope you are now satisfied. Your little bitch fit has gotten us utterly lost," you say nervously.

You lead the camel back the way you came from, using him a as shield from the blazing sun. Soon you noticed the shifting sands have veiled the camel’s tracks. All you can do now is move straight ahead and hope for the best...

You feel as if you’ve been clumsily striding in the blistering sand for hours (even though it was only several minutes really). The camel changes direction and tugs you towards it. You remember your guide mentioning something about camels being able to sense water. Yes, maybe his water radar is flickering in his camel mind. You can certainly do with some water.

You do not travel long before you notice what seems to be an oasis in the distance... or would this be one of those mirages as told in Arabian tales? Your heart lifts none the less; you may just survive this horrible ordeal. You muster enough strength to carry yourself and even pull the camel towards the oasis. As you approach the oasis, you notice that it is surrounded by a crescent-shaped formation of rocks. The crescent shields a water spring below it, as well as large clumps of flora that grows around the water and even within. Water and possibly some fruit... you are saved!

You give out a sigh of relief as you tread shoes and all straight into the surprisingly cool waters of the oasis spring. The water’s edge is shallow where you quench your thirst doggy-style. You decide to kick off your shoes and one by one you remove all items of clothing. Ultimately you lie stark naked in the spring, absorbing its fresh embrace. Being utterly lost and the repercussions thereof have completely slipped your mind at this blissful moment in time.

You sense faint splashing sounds and ripples of water gently prickling your forehead. Is the camel thirsty again? Your glance falls onto a majestic brown speckled goose. Calmly it hovers on the water’s surface. You notice his attention is fixed on you, which you find rather intriguing. Wild animals usually retreat at the sight of humans. You push yourself onto all fours and then kneel in the water in front of the goose. You attempt to touch it, but before you lay your hand on it, something extraordinary happens...

A blinding light suddenly emanates from the enigmatic goose. It starts to grow larger... and is shifting its shape as well! In a matter of seconds the goose transforms into what seems to be a man! You think you must have a severe case of sunstroke and as a result your mind is playing tricks on you. How else would a bird shapeshift into a man? You should get your priorities straight by daydreaming of food instead of the handsome waiter from last night!

The light subsides and your gaze falls on his foundation. You are amazed at what you see... where the man’s sturdy feet rests on the flooded earth intricate shoots and foliage have sprouted up. Your eyes follow the green growth that has attached itself to the man’s ankles and shins. You notice a green tint to his coarse bronzed skin as you admire his tree stumps for legs. A piece of white cloth shrouds his waist and struggles to contain the immense swell of the man’s blade. He wears no other articles of clothing. His abdominal muscles are chiselled to perfection with either side in wonderful symmetry to each other. He boasts with a burly chest decorated with a magnificent golden necklace. To his sides two powerful arms attached to mountainous shoulders completes a glorious physique.

The man places his hand on your shoulder, demanding you to look him in the eye. He has masculine facial features; a hefty jaw, strong nose, is bald but what draws your attention the most are his eyes. They are dark green and smouldering, as if his eyes were windows to an eclipse of a black moon and a green sun. The outer corner of each eye is elongated with a black marking. These markings you have seen on illustrations of the ancient Egyptian pantheon and from hieroglyphics. The man speaks in a husky voice with a strong Middle-eastern accent...

"Welcome to my humble sanctuary, stranger. I am called Geb. You have stumbled into a sacred oasis that is very dear to me. It gives me great pleasure to see you find such peace and serenity here in your natural state. This secreted place is intended for exactly that. May I join you in your cleansing rite?" the man asks.

"Be my guest!" you answer your illusion without thinking twice. With a smile he takes a step towards your right hand side. As he lifts his foot, the growth immediately untangles itself, releases his foot from its hold and retains its position in the form of a green footstep. Geb next takes a seat in the shallow water by your side. Once again, where his flesh touches the earth, flora bursts from the soil and attaches its fine green strands to the flesh of this mysterious being. He extends his legs in front of him and as a result a mat of growth forms over his legs. He lifts his face and closes his eyes as he basks in the sun.

"So... how does it feel to be a goose?" you ask of Geb. You’re not quite sure how to react to the attractive mirage your mind has conjured up, but this is a question you would really like an answer for.

Geb smiles at you and responds, "Inhabiting the beings of any of the sacred creatures of Egypt is an honour and privilege. Many of them are considered the incarnation of a particular god and should therefore be revered by all. The goose is one of my favourite creatures, for he dwells on the earth, in the water, as well as the freedom provided by the sky. So dear he is to me that from all the creatures in Egypt I have made it my personal incarnation. Being at one with the goose invokes the temporary feelings of freedom; having no limits or cares. It is also an efficient way of being with your mortal followers, which isn’t always the case for some of the choices made by other gods and goddesses."

"It must be an enchanting experience!" you respond. "I would have imagined you would choose a more powerful creature however, like some bird of prey... a falcon or eagle, but I suppose having to hunt for food and eating raw critters would be a bit on the gross side."

"The Sun God, Ra and Horus are associated with the falcon and you do have a point there. I do rather enjoy feasting on the vegetation produced by the earth instead," says Geb.

"I wouldn’t mind some fruit right about now... the sweet gems from a pomegranate, plump strawberries, a succulent mango and also a banana would be good!" you exclaim as you think aloud.

"I can tempt you with a feast of fruit, but first I first need to work up a little appetite..." says Geb.

Suddenly, without warning, you notice movement from his crotch area. Like an enchanted cobra, Geb’s blade slowly and steadily rises from the entanglement of growth. It rises with so much strength, that the tight garment around his waist is pushed back and ultimately released to make way for his blade’s full glory. Glorious it is indeed. Your blade instinctively follows suit as you marvel at what he has conjured up.

Like the rest of his body, his blade glistens in a green tint. Bulging veins decorates his blade in the form of twirling vines. The ring formed by his foreskin veils the tip of his blade. The entangling foliage makes way as he wields his sturdy blade. He gently pulls down his foreskin. As a result the tip of his blade blooms in shades of maroon; a colourful feast for the eyes.

He looks at you with a smile as he gently starts to tug at his blade.

"I’ve never had a mortal here with me before. Not even one of my priests, let alone a mortal who is clearly not from this side of the earth. I am however intrigued by you; your pale skin, the unusual colour of your eyes, your calmness in the presence of greatness, but most of all your willingness to partake in my ritual," says Geb. "May I bless you with the fertility, which the river Nile bestows on the sacred earth at the banks of the Great River?"

"Hmm, okay," you respond, not really knowing what you agreed to now. You predict, however, that it should make your delusion even more interesting.

Geb moves closer and places his hand over your extended blade without touching it. Slowly the same vines that entangle his being rise from the submerged earth and entwine your blade and pommel gems. You notice where the vines touch your weapon a faint green light is emitted. With Geb so close to you now, you barely manage to resist the temptation of touching him, up until he finishes with what he's doing, at least. From deep within your pommel gems you sense a tingle. Not the usual tingle from the state you’re in currently, but a different kind of tingle. Before long you can feel your pommel gems becoming heavier... and larger? Your blade grows even harder from the wonderful sensation. You are overcome with the urge to wield it, but yet again you somehow resist. Geb gives a few vigorous tugs at his blade. From the opening at the tip a sparkling drop of nectar forces itself towards the outside world. Geb licks a finger and with that finger he sweeps the nectar from his bleeding blade. Next he smears his nectar onto the surface of your blade. The nectar also starts to emit a green glow. It penetrates your blade and merges with one of your veins to form a single decorative vine, very similar those on the surface of Geb’s blade.

"There. Now you have been blessed with the fertility and splendour of Geb. May you liberate your seeds with greater vigour and share it with the earth you hail from!" Geb exclaims.

Vigorous you now feel indeed. Finally your will allows you to wield your blade. You join Geb in his ritual as the both of you partake in the age old ceremony of swordplay. Now and again Geb splashes water over his body, which seems to enhance his enjoyment. As he progresses in the ceremony, his floral companions start to move. Slow twirls and whirls at first, but with every passing moment they dance with greater enthusiasm. Your illusion tugs at his blade with greater force, so much so that his movements causes water to splash at both of you. So hot is your body that you jolt from the chilling touch of the water as it spatters on your torso.

You reach your climax and sow your seeds across the water surface ahead of you. You are taken aback by the sheer volume of seeds you have produced with each spurt, not to mention the distance at which you sow them. Geb pants and the vines rejoice as he reaches his climax soon after. Vast volumes of seeds gush like missiles from his glorious blade. Each of the spurts plunge into the water and much to your amazement emerge as elegant, snow-white flowers after a short delay.

Soon a dozen lotus flowers float on the water’s surface between and around you and Geb. Geb smiles at you as you gaze at him with a clear admiration in your eyes.

"I hope you approve of your blessing?" Geb asks. "Now for that fruit I promised you, my mortal friend," Geb says without waiting for an answer to his question.

The next moment you find yourself surrounded by people. Slowly you regain consciousness and realize that these people are from your tour group. Some looked relieved, some worried and some (of which most are women) are giggling. You are helped to your feet. You feel water trickling down your legs. You look down and notice Geb’s white loin cloth around your waist. You are chuffed, for your blade almost looks as mean as his did in this very same piece of cloth. Maybe it’s just because it is wet? You realise what had happened moments earlier, which perplexes you even more so. All around you ask what had happened to you as you clothe yourself. You decide to keep it a secret by simply saying you must have passed out as soon as you’ve found the oasis and decided to bathe in it.

So you were left with memories of Geb and the great adventure you shared with him. The mark on your blade vanished and never again have you managed to sow your seeds with Geb’s vigour...

until the day you decided to take up gardening and save your garden from its dreadful, gloomy appearance. Your trip to Egypt and the encounter with the Egyptian God of the Earth has inspired you to do so. You’ve devised a design and got what you needed for the first bedding from your local nursery. You were crouching on the earth, sticking seedlings into the soil, when you started to experience the same tingle deep within your pommel gems as you had experienced when Geb blessed you. Hastily you stripped down to the bare necessities and released your swelling blade and pommel gems from their hold that is your pair of briefs. You were ecstatic at the sight of Geb’s sign on your blade. With immense pleasure you tugged at your blade. Whilst standing, you sow your seeds across the prepared earth.

Naked you lie down on the grass, basking in the sun and revelling the return of Geb’s blessing. Since then you have spent many a weekends in your garden. With the help of your green blade and pommel gems you have become the proud owner of the champion small garden in your area. Geb would be proud.

"The god of the earth, son of Shu and Tefnut, brother and husband of Nuit, and father of Osiris, Set, Isis, and Nephthys. In the earliest stages of Egyptian history his name was Geb; in later forms of the language it became Seb, but the old pronunciation has become so common in popular works on the subject that it is used herein. His sacred animal was the goose, and he was often referred to as the "Great Cackler". He is generally represented as a man with green or black skin - the color of living things, and the color of the fertile Nile mud, respectively. It was said that Seb would hold imprisoned the souls of the wicked, that they might not ascend to heaven. "