|A view of the Vent of Veskarthan in Caladraland.|
Veskarthan is the Deep Lord, the Low Fire, the Great Devourer, and the Volcano God.
He was born when the golden sky, Aether; reached down in love to brush the yielding earth, Ga. He dwelt with his father in the heavens above the world, for it was the decree of the Old Gods that children of the sky must remain with their father, lest they burn the world with their brightness.
Veskarthan was appointed to guard the south of heaven from the forces of Predark, lest they invade the sky and corrupt it, but Veskarthan always kept one eye upon his mother, for he feared that without his spear, she would be easy prey for the Predark.
His watchfulness proved wise, when he saw a being squirming in the lands below him, which disturbed the Old Gods, and tainted the land around it. Taking up his spear, Veskarthan leapt from the heavens, and plunged down to the surface below him, uttering his terrible battle cry.
When he found the horror of Predark, he pierced it with his spear, and plunged still further down into the depths of the world. As they descended, Veskarthan released his inner brightness, burning the creature until it was no more than ash and char upon his spear point. He then rose once more, up to the surface, but found he could not rise further.
The Old Gods pointed that he had abandoned his post, and proven he had no honour; he had unleashed his brightness upon the world, and so scarred the earth; and he had touched the Predark, and they could not risk him contaminating heaven.
Veskarthan then laughed, and raised the Vent beneath him and cast off his brightness, declaring that if heaven would not welcome him, then it did not deserve him. He would stay on the earth, and defend it, and heaven would fend for itself.
When Umath the champion made his camp, Veskarthan greeted him as his brother, for they shared their parents, and both had been cast out by the Old Gods. They shared hospitality, and pledged to stand by each other in war and peace.
This peace lasted until Umath's first child the Storm Bull, quarrelled with Veskarthan. Both were proud warriors, who hated the Predark with a berserker rage, but their similarities made them enemies rather than allies, and Veskarthan left after Urox gored him, releasing a torrent of flame in the east, and weakening the volcano god.
When the darkness came, Veskarthan stood alone against it, unfearing of its might, and laughing at its monstrosity. He warred against them, and raised many sons to fight them as the trolls could not stand even their weak brightness. Unfortunately the king of the trolls, Argan Argar, outsmarted Veskarthan, striking at his wound from the Storm Bull, and defeated the Deep Lord. He bound him in chains of darkness, and seeing the Vent, and envying it, he commanded Veskarthan to build him his own volcano, one of darkness and cruelty.
Enslaved, Veskarthan could do nothing but obey, and raised the Palace of Black Glass for Argan Argar.
Here he remained, in chains and helpless, until Orlanth Umathson, visited the palace. Orlanth, recognizing his uncle, and hating to see someone in chains, had his trickster disguise Veskarthan as a burning brand in his mouth. The trickster carried him out of the Palace, and released him into his own Volcano. Veskarthan swore oaths of friendship and allegiance to Orlanth Windlord, and restored his brightness to the Vent.
Nature of the Cult
Veskarthan is the great Vent, an immense volcano and one of the great sacred peaks of the Orlanthi. The Vent stretches up seven thousand feet to reach the Lower Air, where its eternally smoking caldera is wrapped in clouds as the god meets with the Storm Tribe. To the people of the surrounding lands, he is the centre of the world, provider and ruler. To foreigners, such as the Esrolians and Rightarm Islanders, they know him mainly as the destructive god whose rampages at the end of the Second Age caused so much devastation.
Even amongst those peoples who fear him, Veskarthan still has a few followers, with even the trolls of the Shadow Plateau having a handful of scarred and cursed priests who worship him as the maker of the Palace of Black Glass.
|Veskarthan Wooing Esrola. Esrolian Red-figure Calyx|
Veskarthan is usually depicted as a grotesque and almost inhuman figure, with pointed ears, tusked mouth, sharp claws, and a hooked nose. This sets him apart from the more beautiful Orlanthi gods, but the Caladralanders say these are signs of his strength and inner fire. He wears little, usually only a loincloth or tunic for modesty's sake.
Veskarthan is associated with the Runes of Fire and Disorder.
Fire Rune Affinity
Veskarthan is the deep fire, the flame beneath the surface of the earth which heats, rather than illuminates. His initiates can use their Fire Rune when fighting with spears or javelins, and will often use this affinity to make their spear heads become red hot. They can also start and enhance fires, and even summon lesser volcanic gods. As the lover of Esrola, goddess of the fertile earth, Veskarthan's initiates can also use their affinity to warm the earth as a man warms his lover, protecting the ground and its crops from cold and darkness. Initiates who are strong in this Rune are proud, lustful, and brave.
Disorder Rune Affinity
Veskarthan's association with the Disorder Rune is with material destruction. His worshippers have been known to use their Disorder Rune affinity to shake the ground, cause eruptions of lava, devour anything, break non-living objects, go into an unstoppable rage, and break restraints. Initiates who are strong in this Rune are destructive, reckless, and spiteful.
Particular Likes and Dislikes
During the Godswar, Veskarthan gained many allies and enemies, including Umath the father of Orlanth. It is through this he has gained acceptance within the Storm Tribe, and his many children have married Orlanth's kin. Despite the friendship he shared with his father, Veskarthan and Urox the Storm Bull are rivals for the affection of the earth, with the Storm Bull's adamant horns once piercing the Volcano God's skin, releasing a torrent of flame which burned up the great wastes of Prax.
Amongst the Earth Tribe, Veskarthan has taken Esrola as his bride, earning him the hate of Maran, who views him as a defiler and betrayer. When the earth shakes Veskarthan and Maran have begun to fight, and few buildings are left standing from their rage.
The only true enemy of Veskarthan is Argan Argar. The trollish god enslaved Veskarthan with chains of shadow, stole his bride, and forced him to build the Palace of Black Glass. It was only at the dawn that Veskarthan was freed once more, and he has never forgiven the trolls or their black lord for the insult.
Like all right thinking beings, Veskarthan despises the forces of Chaos, and will ally with anyone, even Urox or Argan Argar to wipe out all traces of them from the world.
Outside of Caladraland and neighbouring regions, there are few worshippers of Veskarthan; at most but one in any tribe.
But in those lands surrounding the Vent, Veskarthan is worshipped as much, and even greater than Orlanth. For it is his volcanic ash which fertilizes the ground, and his sons who taught the people how to slash and burn the forests.
While Veskarthan has many shrines and temples dotting the landscape, the greatest temple to the god is located on the slopes of the Vent itself.
Named the High Temple, this is the home of the leaders of the Volcano God's cult, and even those who do not follow the High King of Caladraland, still pay their homage to the priests here.
The full-time priests of Veskarthan are aptly named Volcano Priests, and although they are few and far between outside of Caladraland, at least one can be found in each major city of the Holy Country. These fire-scarred men and women accept the locals' offerings, so that they may appease the hunger of the Great Devourer.
Holy Days and Sacrifices
Veskarthan's worshippers have only one regular holy day, instead the priesthood hold great festivals during times of high volcanic activity. Offering sacrifices of black boars, spears, and fish to the Deep Fire. Usually by throwing them directly into a volcanic hot spot, although any fire will do. When Veskarthan has been gravely insulted, human sacrifices are performed, with willing or unwilling sacrifices thrown directly into the vent to appease him.
On Fireday of Disorder Week in Fire Season, Veskarthan has his High Holy Day. On this day, sacrifices are given by all the Sixths of the Holy Country, and other nearby lands. Traditionally small fish are offered, in exchange for human souls and are thrown alive into great fires, set up by the Volcano Priests for this purpose. While many gifts are sent to the High Temple of the Vent for the priests, and their hungry god.
- All initiates of Veskarthan must possess the Fire Rune with a rating of at least 1W.
- Membership is open to both men and women, although men are by far the most common.
Veskarthan had many sons and daughters with goddesses of the earth. Many grew up to be mighty gods with their own cults, others are worshipped as subcults of their father. Several of the more common subcults are:
|Pothomekan pottery statue of Erdana.|
Erdana the Free Father
Erdana is the child of Esrola and Veskarthan, and partook of their natures of warmth and growth. He is the warmer of the earth, the father of life, and the grower of grapes. His worshippers may use their Fire Rune to protect crops from the cold.
The loyal spearman, Kalavan wields his father's flaming spear in battle, to destroy all foes of his father and mother, Esrola. Kalavan is even counted among the Noble Brothers of Esrolia, and his shrines can be found in many cities. His worshipers are much sought out across the holy country as great warriors, for they may use their Fire Rune to turn their spears and javelins into bolts of living flame.
Torabran was merely one of Veskarthan's many sons until his wife, the earth goddess Teka, was slain. Toarabran burned her body, to release her breath that it could return to her family, and taught others how to do the same for their beloved family members. In this way, he became the god of cremation. His worshippers use the Fire Rune to cremate the dead to prevent its return as an undead monster.
- A Veskarthan initiate with a rating of 11W or more in their Fire Rune may dedicate himself completely to Veskarthan and become a devotee of the volcano god.
- Veskarthan's devotees are subject to the normal restrictions.
Common Veskarthan Feats
Devotees of Veskarthan may perform magic feats; recreations of his ancient deeds in the godstime.
The Sky Spear
When Veskarthan saw a chaos monster crawling in the earth, he plunged from the heavens as the Sky Spear, giving a mighty war cry as he did so. He drove the chaos thing deep into the earth, creating a great pit. In the depths of this pit, Veskarthan unleashed his powers of heat and destruction, and slew the horror. He then burst forth from the earth, trailing lava and ash, exultant in his victory.
Lesser Volcano Gods
As the Deep Lord, Veskarthan rules over a tribe of often rowdy and violent gods called the Lowfires. These gods are often his children by one goddess or another, and many are powerful beings in their own right such as: Gustbran Bonesmith, Dagalobran Oakfed, and Mahome Hearthmother.
The least of the Lowfires are the Urzani (HeroQuest: Glorantha, page 217), who animate fires and volcanic vents. They are often called upon by Veskarthan's worshippers as spirit allies, or to carry sacrifices to their father, the Great Devourer.