The Hunter, Lord of the Wilds, Storm God, The Crowned Lord
|Domain||The Wilderness, Nature, Hunting, Freedom, Forest, Weather, Independence|
Freedom is more valuable than gold or jewels. Without freedom, life is not worth living.
|Typical Worshipers||Hunters, Woodsmen, Trappers, Explorers, Travellers, Pilgrims, Rangers, Scouts and Farmers|
|Head of the Church||None.|
|Demographics||47% Human, 19% Dwarven, 15% Borrellian, 11% Ogre, 4% Grum, 4% Other|
|Geographic Regions||Northern and western Ithria.|
|Opposed Faiths||Imarus, Assytia, the Dark Lords.|
|Holy Symbol||A pair of antlers and a skull.|
Erylon is one of the Celestial Lords of Ithria. He is the God of Hunting, Wilderness, Weather and Freedom worshiped widely in the northern Ithrian lands. His followers are all those who hunt, fight, live and die in the wild lands. He is not the essence of Nature… rather he is the spirit of the ranger who explores new lands, the woodsman who conquers the forest, the wanderer who survives the storm, the hunter who outwits his prey, the climber who summits the mountain, the fugitive who eludes his jailors and the hermit who turns his back on the world. Erylon is known for strength, speed, cunning and fury in battle. He is also known for his disdain for other immortals, his contempt for civilization and his indifference toward the world. Erylon is utterly without equal in the wilds, unmatched in tracking, stalking and all skills involved with the hunt. There is no quarry he cannot track, no prey he cannot kill, no predator he cannot elude.
In tales, Erylon is depicted as a powerfully built man whose head his crowned by a huge pair of antlers. A featureless wooden mask conceals his face, revealing only his eyes. His hair is worn loose and long. He wears armor made from boiled leather and bones, a broad belt and a kilt of animal skins. A heavy green cloak made of dragon scales is slung over one shoulder and he wears a two handed sword and a long bow are strapped to his back.
It is said that he sometimes takes the form of a black wolf or a black raven and prowls the forest in these forms on occasion.
Myths and Legends
The priests of Erylon tell many tales of their lord. They say that he was one of the first mortals created by Imarus in distant ages past. Imarus gave him his life and free will, which Erylon took with pride. However, Imarus, being a jealous and petty god, demanded that mortals kneel before him and glorify him with sacrifice and prayer. He taught them to build cities and temples, but then demanded that they beg for mercy and worship him. Others fell to the knees and thanked Imarus for the gift of civilization. But Erylon refused. He would kneel to no one, mortal or god. Erylon walked out of the city, out of civilization, and never looked back. Erylon chose to live among the wild lands. The priests say that Imarus searched for him, but to no avail. Erylon was too stealthy. Even Death could not find him and so Erylon became immortal. As the world filled with monsters and gods, giants and legends, Erylon watched and waited and grew in power. He hunted them, feasted on their flesh, used their hides to make clothes. While Imarus focused on civilization, the wilderness was left untouched and Erylon became its master. Over the eons, he has had many adventures. He has hunted every creature that lives in this world. He has battled dragons, dined with giants and slain every monster imaginable.
When the Great War came, he guided many who fled the cities and gathered refugees who chose to live in the wilds. These he called the children of the wild. He taught them the wild ways - to hunt and fish, to survive in the wilds, to bend nature to your will, to harvest and craft. Together they traveled the realms, to mountain tops and festering swamps, to grassland, desert and snow. All of the world was theirs and it was a time of great joy. But then there came a great schism. A great many of the children of the wild became infatuated with a false idol. They departed from Erylon, traveled west and took the false idol with them, choosing to dwell in distant forests. Indifferent to their fate, Erylon let them go. The true believers, say the priests of Erylon, remained with the one true god... learning, living, hunting and crafting. They become the first priests of Erylon. Those who had departed became the first elves.
Overview of the Church
The faith surrounding Erylon is loosely organized. It has no city temples. Only country shrines that exist in border villages or wilderness lands. Each shrine is tended to by a single priest, who lives there and tends the hearth and maintains the altar. Priests of this religion refer to themselves as "wild priests". This faith tends to appeal to loners. But in some areas, the faithful organize themselves into hunting groups and small brotherhoods.
The faithful often come to these wilderness shrines to pray before the altar, asking Erylon for a good hunt or strength in battle. When one prays to Erylon, he writes down his prayer upon a scrap of the hide of an animal he has killed and casts it into the fire. The message can be a written request or, for those who cannot read and write, a crude drawing of their desire will suffice.
The faithful will return after the hunt and the wild priest will help them dress the animal, smoke the meat, clean the bones and so forth.
At least once each month, a wild priest will led a group hunt into the wild. Such hunts may last only a few hours or may be several days. Most of those who join the hunt are followers of Erylon. Afterwards, there is a great feast held where the hunters dine on the flesh of their kill, drink honey mead and recount their tales from the hunt. The skins of their kill are dried and tanned to be fashioned into various garments, armor or prayer scraps. The heads of trophy animals are mounted on the wall.
Wild priests do what they can to promote hunting in their area and to safeguard the natural habitat of hunting animals and prey animals.
Because of the tales told by the priests, this faith does not allow elves to be priests or even to worship. Elves are forbidden to enter the shrines of Erylon. Priests of Erylon are particularly opposed to priestesses of Assytia and will attack them on sight.
Erylon is primarily worshiped in the far north and the far west. His worshipers can be found from Borrell to Normidia and in many western places as far south as Bathynia. The faith of Erylon is particularly popular in Normidia, where hunting is a major part of the culture. His priests are shrines tend to be found in frontier towns, small villages and in the wilds. He has no city temples.
History and Origins
Scholars disagree over the origins of this faith and there are multiple theories. There are several historical records which mention an ancient Darzek cult based upon the worship of wolves during the Age of Dawning. This cult worshiped one of the major Darzek tribal deities named Fherili'an. After the Four Kingdom Wars, the cult lived on in the Myratz Empire. After the death of the empire, the rise of other religions drove the cult to retreat into the wilderness where it survived in borderland villages and remote regions.
By the time the Thullian Empire had risen to power, this cult had evolved and was now based around a figure called Herilan the Wild. This being was described in one text as “a tall man with the head of a wolf and two great antlers". Through the centuries afterwards, Herilan (sometimes written as Erilan) persisted as a figure in folklore and folk religion, notably as a hunter in the wild. Tales are inconsistent and his form changes between wolf and human and hybrid. One enduring characteristic is the great horn antlers that crown his head, which seems to have remained as a part of him from the earliest Darzek tales.
Due to the decentralized nature of this faith and the lack of texts, it has undergone a gradual but continuous evolution. This evolution was punctuated by several outspoken priests who introduced their ideas and shaped the legends. Throughout the Age of Sorrow, the faith became more focused on survival, hunting and wilderness skills with an emphasis on personal freedom and the idea of the individual following Erilan into the wild. By the beginning of the Age of Rebirth, the name of the god had become Erylon and the animosity toward elvenkind was slowly interwoven into their stories and culture. The followers of Erylon and Assytia have gradually grown more belligerent to each other over the centuries.
Due to the fiercely independent nature of its priests and followers, this faith forms no large or lasting groups and thus has no far reaching goals. For some, there is little planning beyond the next hunt. But small hunting groups and individual wild priests often have very specific goals.
Temples, Churches and Holy Sites
The religion of Erylon does not have grand stone cathedrals. Instead, it is a faith of small wilderness shrines. Each shrine is typically a long hall fashioned of rough hewn timber and a broad sloped roof of stone or wooden shingles. It may be a single large chamber or may have several rooms. Such “shrine lodges” are always constructed from local timber and rock. A shrine lodge is home and safe haven for any follower of Erylon. The shrine lodges are built very strong to withstand landquake and windstorm. The priests say that Erylon sends storms to test us and our homes. Any shrine lodge found lacking is cast down by his wrath.
The central chamber of a typical shrine lodge contains a stone and wooden altar at one end and a large central fire pit flanked by wooden benches. Each shrine hall is tended to by a single priest, who lives there and tends the hearth and maintains the altar. The altar is based around a carved wooden statue of Erylon. The fire pit is used for rituals, for burning sacrifices and also for cooking during feasts.
Only men may serve Erylon as wild priests. The vast majority of worshipers are men also, although a woman may, from time to time, prove herself worthy to join in the hunt and the feast. Most worshipers are hunters, woodsmen, trappers and others who make their living in the wild lands. Each true worshiper of Erylon is required to hunt and to adopt a specific game animal as his favored prey. This may be any animal from a fox to a torgat and usually has some significance for that particular worshiper.
Even farmers occasionally pray to the Crowned Lord for fair weather, soft rain and a good harvest. Many pray to him to keep the wolves at bay and protect their life stock. Often a farmer plagued by wolf attacks will bolster their prayers by sacrificing a lamb upon the altar of Erylon.
Allied and Opposed Faiths
Erylon is neutral toward most other faiths with a few exceptions. There is great enmity between the faiths of Erylon (god of the wilds) and Imarus (god of civilization). The wild priests says that this is because of Imarus’ arrogant demands of worship that led to Erylon's self imposed exile to the wilds. While priests of either faith will not attack each other outright, there is great tension and distrust between them. Fortunately, due to their polar opposite natures and geographic separation, the wild priests and the clergy of Imarus rarely interact.
One might expect the faiths of Erylon and Assytia to be allies. However, there is distrust and tension here as well. Assytia represents nature and Erylon is the conquest of nature. In this regard, these two faiths are forever opposing each other. While the faithful of Assytia tend to live and stay in the forests, the followers of Erylon range all over from coast to mountain top. However, they two do occasionally encounter each other in the woodlands. Battles between the priests of both gods are infrequent, but bloody.
Erylon is generally opposed to the Dark Lords because their faiths often involve the perversion of nature, the destruction of wildlands and the enslavement of people.
Freedom is more valuable than gold or jewels. Without freedom, life is not worth living.
Take from nature what you need. Not more, not less. The majestic forest, the babbling brook, the proud elk, the bright berry and the shadowed mushroom... all belong to you. Take what is yours.
Kill quickly and with mercy, be it man or beast.
Civilization makes one weak. Too long in the city and you become slow and fat. Only by living in the wild, where every day is a fight for survival, can you stay strong.
This faith has no holy books or scripture. It is an oral tradition of songs and stories told about the camp fire or in the hunting lodge.
Erylon's symbol is a human skull with a pair of antlers. This is sometimes a silhouette and sometimes a detailed representation. Wild priests are able to use magic to fuse a pair of deer antlers to the bone of an actual human skull and these become full scale holy symbols for their shrine.
Once each month, a wild priest will venture forth on a great hunt and followers are welcome to join him.
The wild priests of Erylon celebrate only one holy day, the Forsaking. According to the priests, it is to honor the anniversary of the day that Erylon turned his back on Imarus and the civilized world. It is the day that Erylon departed and began his own quest. The Forsaking is celebrated on and it is celebrated on the 18th day of Magereign. Oft times, the faithful will come to the shrine lodge to worship together on this day. Such gatherings are small... usually less than a dozen individuals. Most wild priests will venture out into the deep wilderness alone for several days prior to the Forsaking. They will hunt a specific animal or commune with Erylon amidst the solitude of nature. They bring back with them tokens of their wandering which they share with those worshipers who come to their shrine. It is tradition that the wild priest bestow a small gift upon each of the followers present.
Several of Erylon's personal possessions have names and histories and feature prominently in his tales. They are are considered holy artifacts to the faith. His sword is called Finegraen, an ancient Darzek word, which means "storm sabre". He forged it from a rock that fell from the sky. His cloak is made from the scales of the great dragon Draxtanga, which Erylon fought for twelve days before finally slaying.
One of the greatest and most magically gifted wild priests was a human named Felchorian who lived in the fourteenth century, during the Age of Rebirth. He crafted an ironwood staff topped with the skull of a troll (his favored prey). This staff he ensorcelled with his most powerful magic. He gave it to his apprentice, Belster, before he died. The staff passed on, from priest to apprentice, many times. Many stories tell of its great power. It finally came to a young wild priest named Darmith who was carrying the staff when he died doing battle with a firedrake. The staff was lost for more than two centuries. It was finally discovered and recovered in 2219 CY from the firedrake's lair by the dwarven wild priest Gabellon Trier Redbeard Hargos. He carried the staff for more than fifty years before he vanished in the Mist Forest. It has not been seen since. The current whereabouts of Felchorian's Staff are unknown.
Overview of the Clergy
Wild priests are easily recognizable as each will have a small pair of horns protruding from their hair. These horns grow to become small antlers. A "gift" from their lord, so they say.
Wild priests are known by many names… the men of Normidia call them “stalkers”. The elves refer to them as “the hounds of the antler lord”. They are also sometimes referred to as wolf priests. They refer to themselves as “wild priests”.
Each wild priest is a master hunter, skilled forager and wilderness expert. Each tends to his own shrine hall. Each priest lives and works alone.
Wild priests wear light armor fashioned from leather and bone. They usually hunt with a long bow and various blades. They are excellent archers. Wild priests gain a variety of magical abilities as their experience and skill grows. Among their powers are: foretelling the weather, locating prey, sensing the approach of an enemy, reading the minds of animals, calming beasts, healing, moving silently through the forest, cloaking themselves in color and shadow so as to hide, controlling the wind and weather, summoning storms and shaping wood, stone and bone with a touch.
Each priest may take on one or several apprentices to whom they pass on all their wisdom and lore. In this way, new wild priests take up the faith. After several years of following their master, a young wild priest will venture off to claim his own territory and establish his own shrine.
This website was last updated October 5, 2021. Copyright 1990-2021 David M. Roomes.