The Mascoliri Tribesmen of Forest Hallow can be divided into a number of smaller tribal groups, which do not always share pleasant relations. While some Mascolirimen live in villages and towns, most dwell in loose communities scattered throughout the Hallow. The forest is considered sacred to their priests, and extensive cutting for the clearance of land is strictly prohibited save in those few religious centers where they worship monoliths of unworked stone.
Comprehension of the Mascoliri requires one to familiarize oneself with the tribal federations that comprise their social landscape. These are the Algoloti, Feres, Varomor, Tevest, Cambriş, Turoşin, and Velorgi tribes. While they share some kinship with the Caledoni, Cuervi, and Vulganti peoples, the linguistic isolation of the Forest Hallow appears to me to resemble the Urothi tongue more than any other.
Algoloti dwell in the far west of Forest Hallow and tend to gravitate towards the coast. They are a large federation of a number of clans. They construct cairns to their dead and worship the Skyfather primarily, but also a chthonic goddess called Amer. Algoloti hold no stock in the influence of the stars, unlike the rest of their kin.
The Feres dwell in the south-west of the Forest and their tribe provide many of the young men who eventually ascend to the trans-tribal priesthood that dominates Forest Hallow. The Feres language is the least isolated of the Mascoliri tongues, having liberally mingled with that of the Caledoni and Cuervi. Those Feres who do not join the vile priesthood of the Wood generally keep to hunting or fishing in the forest’s many rivers.
The Varomor have the most holdings in the eastern stretches of Forest Hallow. Unlike many of the other tribes, Varomor are mostly well-settled and tend to dislike conflict with their neighbors. The Varomor founded the few non-priestly towns in the Forest and appear to be the only Mascoliri unafraid to cross their clerical caste.
Tevest and Cambriş tribes live in close contact with one another. There are few distinguishing features between them, save the Tevest frenzy for the use of the art of tattooing. They believe the future can be written in the tattoos given to young men and women, and so do what they can far earlier than most other Mascoliri, who only achieve their first tattoos upon the slaying of a mannish enemy.
Turoşin live deep in the wood and rarely leave it. I have never seen one in a marketing village outside the Forest, nor have I had an extended conversation with one.
The Velorgi are a trader-people of the Forest, often coming forth and traveling many miles to deal with Wyrithi. They are the most likely to be converted to the Confession and indeed, significant numbers of the Velorgi were once settled in Crowstone and converted in the 8th century YF.
The Mascoliri worship the same pantheon of gods as the rest of the islanders and many of the Urothi [ed. Note: and Skathi] people of the mainland. These are, of course, the ubiquitous Skyfather, Mortai, his wife, the Seamaid Comraia, the Warlord Escalath, and the other gods of that nature. However, the island-folk also have a strange veneration for the oak and rowan trees and the entire vast woodland known as Forest Hallow is considered by them to be holy ground where the gods themselves may walk. Their most beloved object of worship is the forest itself and its patron daimon, Oroslan, the Spirit of the Wood.
The Oroline Priesthood controls these people politically and religiously, often demanding human sacrifice at their cult-center of Maldáthonin or Greatstones.
The Oroline Priesthood
Mascoliri priests generally dress in hoods of any color. When performing rituals or ceremonies they are expected to wear a mask depicting one of the aspects of Oroslan the Forestfather. These are made of different materials depending on the priest’s status: progressing from bronze up through gold.
PIETY GAIN TABLE
PRAYER [10%/1PP] Praying to Oroslan requires the sacrifice of an animal. Sacrifice requires approximately 1 hour to prepare and make. Prayer performed on non-consecrated ground (e.g., outside of Forest Hallow) has only a 5% chance of granting piety. The number of Piety Points awarded depends on the size of the sacrifice. A chicken or other small fowl is worth 1PP. Owls are worth 3PP. Swine of all sizes are worth 5PP. Cattle are worth 8PP. Bulls are worth 12PP. If the prayer is performed in a sanctified portion of Forest Hallow (by an altar, in a holy site), the chance for piety gain is increased to 20%.
FASTING [50%/2PP] As per the Hârn fasting rules for priests only. Laymen cannot fast for piety in the Mascoliri faith.
WEEKLY CELEBRATION [40%/3PP] The Oroline priests perform a weekly lunar celebration at their local standing stones. Attendance of layfolk is rare.
FEAST OF THE NEW MOON [80%/3PP] This feast may only be attended by Mascoliri priests and involves a lavish sacrifice and the ritual consumption of the animal carcass.
THE CELEBRATION OF THE FOREST [90%/5PP] This is a yearly celebration that occurs on the 4th day of the new year. It is always followed by a secretive prayer held only for the clergy (which operates as an additional Feast of the New Moon for piety gain). This increase of piety is increased to 8PP if the celebrants perform the mass at Maldáthonin.
NINTH YEAR CELEBRATION [90%/12PP] Every nine years the Mascoliri hold a massive Celebration of the Forest at Maldáthonin. This celebration requires the sacrifice of human and horse lives as well as a bevy of owls to be effective. All participants are intoxicated during this orgy-mass.
SACRIFICE [90%/variable] Sacrifices must be performed by priests; otherwise they are exactly like prayers. The PP gained goes to the celebrant, not the priest performing the sacrifice.
PILGRIMAGE [90%/2PP] Traveling to Maldáthonin for the purposes of communion with Orosland grants 2PP but can only be done once each year. Usually, this is in conjunction with the Celebration of the Forest.
The Oroslani priests once covered the island of Wyranth and performed sacrifices at all of the major holy sites across the isle. The island itself is said to be sacred to the Forestfather and the Oroline clergy often speak of the days when men could walk from the North Sea to the Skathi Channel beneath the boughs of the Forestfather. However, with the coming of the Dominion in the south-eastern corners of the isle, Orolite worship fell back. The oncoming tide of Old Spyran Paganism recognized most faiths—but not those that performed human sacrifice. Dominion authorities suppressed the Oroline priesthood brutally, executing Oroline priests by live burial.
The coming of the Confession and the re-conquering forces of the New Dominion resulted in further outrages against the priesthood. The northern tribes of the island all developed their own native clergy in the wake of the Great Executions, which is the term used for the drowning or stoning of the entire High Circle of Priests (and, as a result, the Oroline priests now have no High Circle nor indeed any cleric that can be said to transcend the Hârnic 4th Circle).
Teachings of Oroslan
Where did the world come from?
This world was born of the Skyfather’s incest with his mother, which produced Asgir, the Great Giant. Mortai slew the giant and this became the world itself. From the giant’s bones he fashioned the earth, and from its blood the sea. Oroslan, his brother, went down into the world to people it with children and discovered the Lesser Giants there. He lived among them for many centuries before he came to Wyranth, which he called holy. There he consecrated the forests and blessed the little children of the Lesser Giants that are men.
Oroslan has many spirit-servants that walk Forest Hallow. The chiefest of them are the Covuur, which wear the face of ancient oaks and rowanwood trees but are also in the shape of men. There are ten of them, and their names are secrets known only to the priesthood. It is said if Forest Hallow is ever invaded by the servants of the Confession, the Covuur will rise from the barrows and hollows to confront them and drive them back.
All disputes of law are solved by duel. Duels between members of the same circle are until one can no longer stand. Duels between hierarchs and regular priests are to the death.
What of the other Gods and Faiths?
Tell me the Truth about…
Mortai is stained by his primal incest. Others worship him under other names. We all know him as the Skyfather. Caledoni love him, as do the Skathi. His iron-wheeled chariot rules the heavens, but he is short-sighted in his schemes.
Comraia agreed to be Mortai’s wife and her temper is tempestuous as the sea. She is respected, and all the rivers of the world are her daughters. Her followers are few on Wyranth, but secretive. We should always ally with them when we can.
Escalath is insane, the second product of Mortai’s incest with the Allmother. He is an elk-headed madman who revels in bloodshed and sin. Avoid him and his followers in Caledon and Dunland at all costs.
The Confession is an upstart religion newly come to Wyranth in the geological time. They believe in a nonsense-god who is not present in the world and cannot affect it. Their faith is a weak one, but their kingdom of Yewland is strong, both in itself and its far-away allies. Never trust a Confessional.
The Father of Fire is an eastern abomination. Mistrust follows in its wake.
Oroline priests may wear whatever they want. However, their classical and ceremonial garb is that of long green robes with high green hoods. The most easily identifiable feature of the priesthood is the Mask, which represents one of the aspects of Oroslan, depending on the choice of the priest. These masks are Bronze (2nd circle), Silver (3rd Circle), and Gold (4th Circle) and they must be worn during all sacred celebrations. Additionally, the favored weapon of Oroline priests is the club, which Oroslan himself is said to carry.
Araş – red
Ahwe – white
Brellin – axe, blade
Cantos – bearer, carrier
Cantobrel – chief (lit. axe-carrier)
Covuu – rowan tree
Los – dog
Oras – large
Escal – stag
Hidat – hide, fur, skin
Malda – well, good
Mora – sky
mascas – tree, oak
Tais – father
Thon – stone
laya – small, -aya diminuative