The Horse Lord
|Domain||Wilderness, Hunting, Nature, the Four Seasons|
|Ethos||By blade and bow and valiant steed, we stand strong with Threll’s blessing.|
|Typical Worshipers||Bathyns, elves, rangers, woodsmen, hunters, a few grumman farmers.|
|Head of the Church||None.|
|Demographics||90% Human (Bathyn), 5% Human (Other), 3% Elven, 1% Grum, 1% Other|
|Geographic Regions||Worshipped primarily in Bathynia. To a lesser extent, a few other neighboring western nations.|
|Holy Symbol||Stylized horse's head in profile.|
Threll is the god of the bathyns in the west. He is viewed as a benevolent god, the perfect bathyn. He is the creator of the world, the protector of the bathyn people, provider, teacher and father. He is the sworn enemy of Rexilar and all who serve him.
In wood carvings and statues, Threll is depicted as a giant sized human with a horse’s head. He wields a decorative bow fashioned from ironwood, antler and twine. It is called “Wind Piercer”. His blade is a massive two handed sword of iron, notched and ancient. It is called “Bough Breaker” and is a part of many of the legends about him.
Threll is the lord of the wilds. He is not the embodiment of nature. Rather, all things in nature obey his command. The waters of the river, every leaf in the forest, every animal great and small, will serve his every whim. His power is absolute.
Threll despises civilization and the corruption of city dwellers. Disease, corruption, greed, apathy and laziness have all flourished in the great cities to the east. Bathyns are above such moral failings.
Threll prefers the strength, chaos and spirit of the wilderness. There is no joy greater than the thrill of the hunt, the wind in one’s hair, cold river water quenching a parched throat or a sweet scent carried on a summer wind. The wilderness is where Threll, and all bathyns, belong.
Myths and Legends
The shamans of Threll hold this to be true… that the great god Threll did fashion the world from a lump of clay. All aspects of the world - wind and river, grass and tree, elk and wolf, man and woman – were created in their form because such forms were pleasing to Threll.
Other gods came into the world from other far places and brought their own people with them, but none were as content as the bathyns. Unfortunately, with these others came the phellysians and their god, Rexilar and the Nine Lords of Evil.
It was during this time that Threll decided to live amongst the people and so he took mortal form. He created a castle known as Kultec. A village grew around Kultec. All bathyns lived together in a golden age of peace and prosperity. During this time, Threll had sixteen sons who each had large families.
This golden age came to an end when Rexilar brought war and suffering to the realm of the bathyns. Threll made several overtures of friendship, but Rexilar wanted only bloodshed and chaos. It was inevitable that the bathyns found themselves on the battle field standing against Rexilar and his minions. Threll was victorious, of course, for his power is absolute.
Rexilar was defeated, but his minions, deformed creatures twisted by Rexilar’s foul magic into the likeness of cats, still live to the west. To this day, the phellysians still plot against the children of Threll and seek to resurrect their defeated god.
There are many stories from that war. Tales of battles and sacrifice. Some focus on the great battles between Threll and Rexilar themselves. These stories and fables and always include some moral teaching.
Shortly after Threll’s victory over Rexilar, the world shook and the mountains fell. Other gods were having a war beyond the sky and their war was affecting the world. Threll left this world and left the lands in the care of the Bathyns. Over the centuries, the descendants of the sixteen families drifted apart. They formed clans who chose to leave Kultec and live apart from each other. For many years, these sixteen clans fought over land or injured pride. The clans wars are the source of many of the moral fables of today.
The shamans of Threll have other stories as well. Many involve Threll punishing those who violate the sanctity of the wilderness with wanton destruction or carelessness. Such stories often show intruders (often phellysian, but sometimes strangers from the “civilized” world) intruding upon bathyn territory, much to their dismay. Those from the east are depicted as clueless city dwellers who are clumsy, noisy and arrogant. They often makes deals with Threll or the bathyns but then break their oaths and Threll must set things right. The phellysians are always depicted as evil, untrustworthy, belligerent, cruel and spiteful.
Threll has three wolves that serve him and travel with him on the hunt - a red wolf, a blue wolf and a green wolf. When not hunting, these three wolves live in the sky, they are the three moons. The waxing and waning of the moon is related to their activities. According to bathyn mythology, the three wolves watch over the bodies of fallen bathyns until Threll can collect their souls. The stars are the bright souls of those who have died and joined Threll in the afterlife.
Overview of the Church
The faith of Threll lacks the pomp and prestige of the great religions to the east. It has no towering cathedrals with ringing bells. There is no great hierarchy of bishops and clergy spanning across the lands. Rather it is a brotherhood of shamans bound by common tradition. All shamans are equal in status - brothers and sisters to all bathyns and children of Threll. The faith has simple ceremonies and beliefs. The worship of Threll is interwoven subtly into bathyn culture and the shamans have influence over clan politics and daily life. It is one of the smaller religions in the world, estimated to have fewer than seven million worshipers.
Threll is the chief deity of the Bathyns who populate the open grasslands of the west, in the realm of Bathynia. The worship of Threll is strongest there but is also found throughout the west, ranging as far north as Normidia and as far east as Jannerus.
History and Origins
Religious scholars have ancient texts which mention a wizard named Threll who ruled over the region of Ithria in ancient times. There is little doubt that the deity is a derivative of the historical figure and that much of the religious lore that has been passed down originated from stories of that man.
Little is known of the historical figure. It is known that he was a powerful wizard and lived during the Age of Dreams just prior to the Sundering. It is believed that he died shortly after the Sundering, possible as a result of mage sickness. It is also believed that he was the only thing keeping the clans united. It seems that after the Sundering, the clans began to war amongst each other.
The religion of Threll has no organized goals. Individual shamans seek only to protect their clan and maintain their position within the clan. All shamans are united in a desire to destroy the phellysians to the west.
Temples, Churches and Holy Sites
A Threll temple is a small circular amphitheater with two or three levels of tiered seating (enough to seat about 100 people) around a circular dirt floor. At the center is a small stone altar fashioned from uncut rocks.
Surrounding the edges of the amphitheatre is a circle of trees. The branches of the trees overlap and weave together forming a large domed roof of leaf and bough overhead which is dense enough to shelter rituals from rain.
Kultec, the once great home of Threll, is now nothing more than ruins. The shamans consider it holy ground. It is their most holy site. None may tread there. To venture there is an insult to Threll, for it is his and his alone.
Almost all bathyns worship Threll. It is a part of their culture. Threll is also worshiped by others throughout the west - rangers, woodsmen, some elves and a few grumman farmers. There are even hunters and warriors as far north as Normidia who pray to Threll.
Allied and Opposed Faiths
The elves of Cyrell worship Assytia and there is a great deal of mutual respect between these two faiths, as they are both primarily nature deities. Threll is adamantly opposed to Rexilar. Shamans of Threll and Rexilar will usually attack each other on sight.
The faith of Threll emphasizes living in harmony with nature. Nature provides everything that is needed and one must respect it and live by its rules. Humility before nature is an aspect of this. One respects the storm by seeking shelter. One respects prey animals by only hunting when there is hunger. One respects the tree by only felling it when there is need of wood. The faith has many basic rules regarding how the wilderness is to be treated and most of these deal with conservation and care.
Hunting is an important aspect of this faith. The bathyns hunt for meat, but they use almost every part of the animal - hide, antler, sinew, bone and hoof. Furthermore, they take great pride in their hunting skill. Unlike the Normidians, they do not hunt merely for sport.
Horses are considered holy in this religion. Horses and their riders share a special bond. Thus, a horse is much more than just a steed. It is a companion, friend and guardian. Bathyns also drink mare’s milk regularly and thus the horses of a village also provide nourishment.
To eat the flesh of a horse is a sin and the greatest offense to Threll. Such an act is unthinkable to a bathyn. Orcs sometimes eat the flesh of a horse (indeed, orcs will eat almost anything) and few things will spurn a bathyn to rage quicker than this.
The blade and bow are also important to this faith. They are considered the proper weapons for a warrior. Together with the horse, these three things are the most important possessions for a bathyn and they form a sort of “holy trinity”. Horse, blade and bow - every bathyn should have all three with them at all times.
The bathyns believe that Threll communicates to them through dreams, waking visions and omens. Indeed, any unusual event or abnormal occurrence will be interpreted by the shamans as an omen from Threll.
There are no holy books or scripture in this faith. The tales of Threll are meant to be spoken and heard. Thus, all lore is passed down orally.
Runes are a very important part of bathyn culture and religion. There are many important runes used by the horse warriors and these occur in many different places – tattoos, clothing, weapon, burial inscriptions, trailhead markers, boundry marker stones and so forth. Because of the dichotomy between the runes (which are permanently inscribed) and meaning (which is orally passed down), the runes have not changed in over a thousand years, but scholars believe the meanings of individual runes may have changed.
There is one important rune which appears as a simplified horses head, in profile and in silhouette. This rune represents the god Threll and is called threll-dah or “mark of Threll”.
Once each week, a village will gather at the temple to hear the words of the shaman. He will interpret dreams, visions and other signs for the faithful. He will recount the tales of Threll. Sometimes he will conduct ceremonies for the clan – marriages, coming of age rituals and so forth.
One particularly bloodthirsty ritual involves throwing a cat into a pit with three hungry wolves. The three wolves are each painted, red, green and blue, respectively, in honor of Threll’s three wolves.
When a baby is born, it is blessed by a shaman by bathing it in mare’s milk. The child’s first meal is mare’s milk. The father (or shaman) takes the child out on a horse ride within its first hour. And the first night, the child is swaddled in a blanket woven from horse hair.
When a bathyn dies, his horse is ritually slaughtered and buried with him. His blade and bow likewise are laid with him. In this way, he goes to the afterlife with his holy trinity. Often other personal items are also buried with him. The deceased and his possessions are buried in a stone cairn. This small subterranean crypt is usually only a single small chamber, shallow and covered over with dirt. The size and style of the cairn is proportionate to the wealth and status of the deceased and the family involved.
The bathyns celebrate spring and autumn each with a nature festival and these are often closely associated with Threll.
The spring festival is a celebration of renewal and rebirth. Flowers and youth are aspects of the spring festival. Children are given gifts and coming of age ceremonies are conducted during the spring festival.
The autumn festival is a celebration of the harvest and the hunt. Food and dance and contests of skill are common. The elderly are also celebrated during the autumn festival with gifts.
Overview of the Clergy
Shamans are learned in the way of runes. The sacred runes and their meanings are passed down from generation to generation. Their knowledge of the forest and nature is unequalled. With local herbs and berries and roots, they brew several different healing potions. In addition, shamans have many spells and abilities. They can communicate with animals, foretell the weather, sense the presence of creatures in the forest, fell trees with a word, sunder stone with a touch, heal sickness, mend bone and command plants to do their bidding.
The shamans act as shepherds to the community, healers, teachers and advisors. Each village is ruled by a “clan father”, the eldest male who is of the “true bloodline”. This ancient belief refers to one of the legendary sixteen sons of Threll. Each village has at least one shaman who acts as counselor to the clan father. In this way, the shamans are able to influence the clan. A clan father rules alone, but most will listen to their shamans on many matters. Towns may have a dozen shamans or more.
Shamans of Threll act as keepers of ancient lore and wisdom. As such, the shamans are also the historians of Bathynia and recorders of the culture. It is they who keep track of the accomplishments of their clan and of its individual members.
The shamans are also responsible for tattooing members of the clan. The tattoos are a record of a bathyn’s life – achievements, events and even their crimes and sins. Only a shaman of Threll may create these tattoos. Only the shamans are allowed the use of the sacred knives and dyes used in this cultural artform.
Shamans conduct a variety of other services and ceremonies for the community. Marriages, birth blessings, funeral rites and the divine sanctioning of the clan father are all duties of the shaman.
Each shaman adopts a “totem” animal spirit. This is their favored animal, usually a predator – typically a bear, wolf or hawk. Older shamans will adopt such an animal as an ally and can easily communicate with it. It is said that some of the oldest and most powerful shamans are able to see through the eyes of their animal companion, hear through its ears and taste its kills.
Shamans, like all bathyns, are excellent riders and hunters. Shamans will often accompany hunters into the wild.
As with all bathyns, shamans of Threll adorn themselves with tattoos. The tattoos of a Threll shaman include holy glyphs and words of power. As the shaman rises in power, their tattoos become more intricate, until the shaman eventually is a walking holy text of their lord.
Finally, the shamans are charged with opposing the evil done by Rexilar and his minions.
This website was last updated March 31, 2021. Copyright 1990-2021 David M. Roomes.