Today’s posting is a rare treat – a fragment of the Xeotam Dialogues, that proved so popular amongst the Western sorcerers in the later Third Age. The date of the original Dialogues are believed to be circa 1480, although this particular copy is dated from 1618. The Dialogues are between the master wizard Xeotam and his young Ralian apprentice Aanor. Three cities boast of being the site of the original Dialogues, as Xeotam resided in (or near) those cities in the late 15th century: Azilos, Dangk, and Arnlor. High Watcher Theoblanc is known to own a collection of these Dialogues (which first became popular in his youth).
The Xeotam Dialogues
Aamor first learned how to control his mind, how to focus the types of elements that comprised his body and then expand these to the macrocosm, then to keep control of these elements to do his bidding. Aamor found these tasks difficult, and even by the end of his training he still needed the help of amulets of Power to focus and hold the elements. It wasn’t until this phase had been completed that Aamor learned that the elements which he controlled were gods worshiped by lesser men. He learned of the Elementals, the gods whose makeup was the same as the elements: Himel, God of Cold; Nakala, Goddess of Darkness; Sramak, God of Waters; Gata, Goddess of Earth; Zrethus, God of the Sky; and Lodik, God of Fire.
Aamor later learned that no mortal could ever hope to control the Elements completely, since to do so would mean to become one with that element. His teacher said some barbarian sorcerers try to do just that, but end up only as slaves to the gods. Instead, a proper wizard controls one of the lesser gods of the elements, one of the Srvuali who actually are but portions of the Elementals themselves. It was just this fact that made the Srvuali more useful than their parent Elementals, for in being just a part of the whole, each Srvuali was specialized in some aspect. Thus, although Nakala was the Darkness above and below the Surface, a wizard would call upon Xentha, Srvuali of the Darkness of Night for some nocturnal service. By being specialized the Srvuali had the chance for independent actions which, although dependent upon their particular makeup, increased their usability. Thus although Vieltor was a fire Srvuali, he was also chief Smith of the gods. Each Elemental had its own Srvuali: the Dehori of Darkness; the Hollri of Cold; the Triolini of Water; the Likiti of Earth; the Wamboli of the Sky; and the Promalti of Fire.
But the Elementals would be inert masses, Aamor learned, except for the Powers. The Powers were the gods who controlled the different activities of the world. There were Tilnta, Goddess of Love and Fertility; Vamalm, God of War; Mesor, God of Vengeance; Gether, God of Death; and many others. The Powers had particular significance in that the more they were exercised, the more powerful they grew. Thus until the god Eurmal slew the god Flamal, there was no death in the world. In the great slaughter that followed during the War of the Gods, Gether gained power until his domain included all the beings in the world, gods and mortals alike.
“Then what is the difference between Men and Gods?” asked Aanor when he learned of this.
“Very little,” was his Master’s reply. “Those beings we call gods can suffer death like any mortal. But the gods are spared the death of Old Age and Disease which we mortals suffer.”
“But they can be slain?”
“By weapons of great power. Take for example Flamal, who was the first being in the world to die. He was a god, yet he fell and died under the hand of Eurmal.”
“But Flamal lives still, as all the legends tell.”
“True. Each year his body is reborn after his soul struggles to the surface world from the Underworld. Likewise does Ehilm become reborn each morning after his physical body dies at dusk.”
“Their souls, then, remain alive even after death?”
“Yes. Just as every living thing’s soul remains alive after its physical form dies.”
“Including we mortals?”
“Including we mortals.”
“Then what would happen if a Man’s soul were to battle its way again to the surface world? Would it too regain life and a physical form?”
“Yes. And upon regaining the surface after escaping Nakala these souls become yet another class of gods, the Kaelith. Jonat of the north and Harmast of the east are just such gods, as are Talor and Arkat.”
“Then after a person’s body dies, his soul may regain its physical form and become a god. What becomes of those who descend into the Underworld before their death and reemerge?”
“This is a matter of semantics more than substance. Upon descent into the World of Darkness, a man’s physical form leaves him and returns to its basic elements just as if he had died on the surface. Descent to Nakala is death. And re-emergence to the surface world would make the man a god even before his death on the Surface.”
“If a body returns to its basic elements at death, how can a person be reborn? Does he reenter the world as a child of some mortal mother?”
“Sometimes, as in the case of Zedei who lived twice before the War of the Gods. Usually, however, upon reemergence the Kaelith gains more than his former power. He has the ability to change his form into almost anything else, and then to completely disassociate his soul from any physical form without going to the Underworld.”
In addition to these types of gods, Aanor learned of those known as Burtae, or Cross-Breeds. The Burtae deities are the product of interbreeding between Elementals or their Srvuali. Humat, God of Air, is the most powerful of the Burtae, child of Gata and Zrathus. Others include Flamal and Hykim, twins of Sramak and Gata; Tolat and Anehilla, twins of Ehilm and Nakala. Since these gods, and others like them, are the product of the Elementals themselves, or of an Elemental and a First Degree Srvuali, they are more like the Elementals in their properties and functions. These are the Burtae who are able to give birth to their own Srvuali. Thus Humat’s many air gods, the Kolati, These Burtae are known as the Elemental Burtae, or, because of their restraints, the Lower Burtae.
The Higher Burtae are the children of other Burtae, either with each other or with Srvuali. The more intricate combinations of the elements allow these gods more range in their functions until their ancestry is almost unimportant. Their importance doesn’t depend on their physical properties, like the Srvuali, but instead on their functions. Eurmal, for instance, is more important as the cunning, clever, trickster than as a god of fertility, water, earth, or the sun-fire, all of which are included in his ancestry.
On the other hand, however, the Burtae often don’t develop greatly, despite their mixed ancestry. These Burtae live more like immortal Men than the gods which they are. Their magical powers, of course, are more developed than any man’s. They are often group into clans such as the Luatha or Altinae, act upon the Surface World under the instructions of the higher gods, such as the time the Luatha destroyed the Seshneg at the request of Seshna, Humat, and Sramak.
Another class of Burtae, known as the Ifaldor, is that which are the product of two types of Srvuali. Since the Srvuali are more specialized and less powerful than the Elementals or Burtae, the classes of Ifaldor are generally the weakest of any gods. In fact, they are so weak that this class is often the victim of death by disease or old age. In other worlds, the Ifaldor are mortals.
There are many kinds of Ifaldor. The Malkioni, a cross between a Kolat and Triolini, are better known by the name of Brithini after their birthplace in the land of Britha. The Tamali were a cross between a band of Dehori and Tilnti.
“Are all races of mortals or Men of the class of Ifaldor?” asked Aanor.
“Not all,” replied his Master. “Most inhabitants of the world are of the race known as Hsunchen. This is the reason for the similar dialects between the savage, animalistic races of the world. Only when the race is of the Ifaldori lineage does the language differ, for each type of Srvuali has its own tongue which it passes onto any which may be descended from it.”
“What’s the origin of the Hsunchen?”
“In the language of the Kralori, the word means Children-of-Animals. The various nations of the Hsunchen are all descended from some animal god or another, with one of the parents of the race being of another class of god.”
“Then that’s the reason the Jonatings of the north are called the Bear-People?”
“Yes. In fact, before the War of the Gods most of the Surface World was people by the pure races of the Hsunchen. There were Goat-People, Horse-People, Cat-People, Bull-People, and many others. But due to the influences of the War of the Gods and the War with Chaos the nations mingled, losing their brotherhoods with the animals. To my knowledge, the Jonatings of the north have lost most of their form communication with the bears; the Basmoli Lion-People of the Mislari Mountains to the south have retained their brotherhood with their beasts but have fallen in savagery; the Pralori of the south have retained their brotherhood with their beasts, but much less than they were; and the winged Vrimaki of the farthest east have retained their kinship with their bird king brothers; are the only remaining Hsunchen whose strains are unpolluted enough to claim direct blood relationship to the beasts, although there may be others in the world I have not heard of.”
“What advantage does this kinship have, other than that they may sometimes communicate directly with the animals? It would seem to me that the intermingling of the races would strengthen the races of men, just as cross-breeding between Elementals made a more powerful strain of god.”
“Not so. When the men could talk with the animals they could also talk more easily with their god ancestors, thus gain Power from these gods with ease. Their magic was strongest when they kept their lineages pure. This is evident now, for the Brithini and Tamali, whose blood has been kept relatively pure over the ages either through isolation, as with the Brithini, or fear of association by other races, as with the Tamali, are the most powerful races on earth as far as communication with their ancestors goes.”
“Then a wizard who knows his people’s history and origins is more likely to grow powerful than one who doesn’t?”
Aamor remained silent for a moment, then asked, “What is the origin of the inhabitants of Ralios?”
His master shook his head. “That I cannot answer. The wilderness people of that land are of many different origins, different parts of the world. Through generations the particular marriage customs in that land have brought about such a mingling of lineages that it is impossible to name any god being the founder of the present inhabitants.”
“Then for one such as me to become a powerful wizard would be difficult, if not impossible.”
“Not so. A man can compel the powers of deity even though he doesn’t know his lineage. And calling upon the Elements and Powers, when done correctly, is terribly effective. Items such as amulets, charts, talismans, and so on, are dedicated to either a god or a Power and help the sorcerer focus more easily. Of course, these have disadvantages as well.”