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Modrobalia

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The Modrobalia[1] is a sacred collection of works, holy to the Church of Modroben. Said to date back several millennia, the Modrobalia consists of several poems, collections of proverbs, epistles and other forms, usually divided into chapters and verses. Authorship is heavily disputed, with some Modrobenians feverishly insisting that their Deity wrote every word. Most, however, realize that most of the Modrobalia was not only written by mortals, but edited and translated as well. Thus, there are a myriad of interpretations and understanding of the work, and some of the books that constitute the Modrobalia are of disputed canonicity, and there are sometimes widely-varying translations available. Most Modrobenians memorize the entire work, and will sometimes recite it, in whole or in part, as a tool in their meditative practices.

Contents

The First Book of Modroben

  1. Of Death
    1. And in the beginning there was life
    2. But not the mind of man or elf alike[2]
    3. All was beastly, untamed and ever-wild
    4. But then came thought, a gift from He
    5. The first of all, His word is We
    6. And for His ways we doth learn to be
    7. Then as now, as sure as death
    8. The end He blesses is as a birth
    9. And in His death is ever-lasting life.
  2. Of Time
    1. And He doth give the passage
    2. Of minutes and hours and years
    3. It is through His will
    4. That the joy of youth and
    5. The rigor of maturity and
    6. The rest of elder-time
    7. Stay and go, right and true
    8. And he doth tell us wise
    9. In oracle and prophesy.
  3. Of Hope
    1. And thus it was that
    2. He begat Velteris, the Beak
    3. His greatest of kin
    4. His face is crooked and doth shine in gold
    5. It grants us will to hope
    6. And continue when times lose faith
    7. It is our third eye when
    8. The value of His wisdom
    9. Is highest.
  4. Of Gray
    1. And thus it was that
    2. He begat Chabbi of the Dark
    3. Protector in shadow and night
    4. She of dusk and gray
    5. And the fading glory of day's twilight
    6. She the pale and huddled worm
    7. The wriggling lady brings his word
    8. Into the darkened caves of
    9. Death's final flight
  5. Of Tide
    1. And thus it was that
    2. He begat Nelktor, of the Sea
    3. Of water and the salty-spray
    4. Of surf and wave, everlapping
    5. Like heart's beat upon
    6. Arterial shores where his shell
    7. Does nip and bring pain
    8. But also rest and end and
    9. The tides go out
  6. Of Depth
    1. And thus it was that
    2. He begat Pashuxy, of abyssal
    3. Depths, to deep for land mortal
    4. Minds to fathom
    5. Whose weight keeps tight
    6. To hold on to deep sea life
    7. Until death descends yet more
    8. His shell glows with the light
    9. Of deep righteousness
  7. Of All
    1. And thus it was that
    2. He doth begat Bullyn of Lakes and Waters
    3. And Cabilim of the Great Wings
    4. And Sezeltain the Wise and Slow
    5. And Ulaelto of Wyrms and Mystery
    6. And Quincett in Heights of Canopy
    7. And Ciconii the Brave and Slight
    8. And Eskezyn the Dweller in Dirt
    9. And Zazil of Ships and Sails
    10. All He begat and more besides
    11. All to serve His will

The Second Book of Modroben

    1. And so Modroben did travel across the land, and saw that it teemed with life and He saw that this life[3] was good.
    2. He saw that there was a well-deserved rest, an end to life, but it was oft-upset by those who do evil.
    3. And He knew that death gave grief and guilt and gloom its own, and He saw that this was not good for the minds of man and elf alike, whom He loved as all He do.
    4. And so He begat His kin, of beaked glory and shells of surf and worms who crawl in the night. And He saw that His kin was good. For they brought the rest to death, the end to ending.
    5. And they did spread across the world, and they did bring His light into dark and fill the empty souls of gloom with his glory. And they did bring happiness and great joy upon the minds of those who suffered in toil and misery in life.
    1. And one of the number that they did save was a great lad of ruddy complexion. Abbrex[4] his name and he did love his own self, and his mind, for he was proud. And Abbrex said, "Let them not upon mine mind, and brain. Let that king of vultures to the swine and deer, and rats, and rodents of all kinds. But keep me to mine, lo, even unto death."
    2. And so he said it, and for in those days and in these, Modroben was merciful to those who are proud, and those who speak words that bear no truth,[5] and so Modroben did not strike him down in His great potency. "Nay," sayeth Modroben, "Let us tell him words that bear truth, and we shall hope he has ears to listen in this life."
    3. But Abbrex the lad of ruddy complexion listened not to the wise and plaintive words bearing truth that were brought to him. He went about, and there and there,[6] and he came to be not a lad any longer, but a man, mature and strong and wise in his own right and profession.
    4. And so Modroben came to him again, and spoke his words bearing truth in droves. "Let our gentle beaks ministrate in your time of need. Let us lay you down, and send you on, and make your eyes close tight, so you shall see no evil, and your kine shall know no grief, and your body shall know no toil forevermore."[7]
    5. But Abbrex the man of ruddy complexion shut his ears to the words bearing much truth, and Modroben went away. And Abbrex went about, and there and there, and he came to be not a young man, but a right husband.
    6. And so Modroben came to him again, and spoke his words bearing truth in droves. "Let our gentle beaks ministrate in your time of need, which even now crouches closer than it is far. Let us come to you, and lay you down to rest and sleep, and send you on, and carry you through the ever-time, so you shall see no evil, and your kine shall know no grief, and your body shall know no toil forevermore."
    7. But Abbrex the man of ruddy complexion shut his ears to the words bearing much truth, and Modroben went away. And Abbrex went about, and there and there, and he came to be not a right husband, but an elder man.
    8. And so Modroben came to him again, and spoke his words bearing truth in droves. "Let our gentle beaks kindly ministrate in your nearly-now time of need, which even now slips slyly ever closer, and your life is now well far. Let us come to you, and lay you down to rest and sleep and be, and send you on, and carry you through the ever-time, so you shall see no evil, and your kine shall know no grief, and your body shall know no toil forevermore."
    9. But Abbrex the man of ruddy complexion shut his ears to the words bearing much truth, and Modroben went away. And Abbrex went about, and there and there, and he came to be dead. And his gentle wife did wail, and his neighbors, and his sons and his daughters too. And his angry ghost did arise again, and tell to all he could see.
    10. "Death bears truth, and comes about. Be not proud of thine own's corpus, for it shall be gone soon or now. Let those gentle beaks ministrate kindly in your time of need. Let them come for you when you are there and there, and lay you down, and send you on, and carry you through. So you shall rest, and you shall sleep, and you shall see no evil, and your kind shall know no grief, and your body shall know no toil forevermore."
    1. And so in those days there were great beasts of untameable strength, and the elves and the others were not so numerous. The men were strong, and common, and Modroben did say that his word was for them all, and for the elves and the others just the same.[8]
    2. And there were those among the men, and even among the others all the same, who did say "But these are not like we are. They are different and we are fearful." And Modroben said that He was death, and time, and fate, and no beast or man, or elf or dwarf shall cheat His potent word.
    3. And Modroben did say that the dragon did die, and did weap and wail and gnash its teeth. And grief and blood did pour from the frog-men[9] and the gnomish kinds and the goblins and ogres, and the primitive tribes too. For all these did live, in time, and die, having fulfilled their purpose.
    4. All that is a gift from Him, a gift of equal love for all who live in time, and all who shall die. For it is him who says that time is harsh and ever-flowing, and says that none shall be a calendar upon themselves.
    5. For if clocks did run the other ways, death would turn to life, and life to unlife, and all that we would know would tear asunder. And though many did not listen, as many never do, His beneficience extended even to them, and they traveled forward on His constant command.
    6. By His glorious grace came freedom from the tyranny of fate, and the ever-promised liberty of death.
    1. And His gifts did spread across the land, and to the highest peaks, and deepest of earth corridors, and to the furthest reaches of the sea. And the kings of the day, and their queens and royal retinues, did see that His work was good. All did see.
    2. And it was good because there were those that practiced the words bearing truth, and those who did not bury their dead, or who did not burn their dead, or who did feed their dead to the sea, or who did not allow their dead to continue into the joyous bodies of his kin, were punished in those days for their heresy.[10]

The Book of Heritage

    1. On the first of spring in a certain year of rain and plenty, there was a wise king, and his subjects called him King Mazaad the Right[11] for he was. He did have a queen, and she was also wise, and very fair.
    2. And so King Mazaad did fight against his enemies, and vanquish them, for he was strong and his armies were brave, with sword-arms of greatness. Their plunder was great, and their victory was deserved, for their enemy was a people who did not have Soulclaine, who did reject Velterid.
    3. The pagans were blasted for their sins, and their dead were to be soulcleaved by the Mortiss brought to the battle by King Mazaad and his troops. But then a messenger came as the end of the battle still grew nigh, and the furor subsiding.
    4. The beautiful and loyal queen of Mazaad did die in birth, and with her the royal prince, first-born and great. Mazaad did have much pain in his heart, but he felt strong in his duty as king.
    5. He spoke to the Soulclaine who offered to travel back to the kingdom to attend to the royal queen and prince's cleaving, but King Mazaad did say: "Nay, let us not forsake our enemies, even in death. It is right to cleave first those who are closest, who have been dead the longest, not those who are greatest, or most beautiful. For we do soulcleave, not to show that we are right, but to prevent great horror, and that horror is greatest the longer that is waited, without regards for the nature of the victims. My beloved would be worse if torn limb from limb by this army of pagans raised by their cruel lords whilst Soulclaine do travel and make camp."
    6. And all who listened knew that it was right, and heard his words, and knew his mouth bore truth.
    7. And Mazaad did marry again, Frattlein of Vercia, and they did beget the great warrior Omeerzad.
    8. And Omeerzad beget Narria, and Narria beget Amerasatu, who beget Otao, who beget Berelldin the Proud
    9. Berelldin civilized the gentle folk of the highlands[12] and did bring wisdom to many
    10. And did Berelldin beget Haffel, and Noah, and Tirrimir, and a pair of daughters
    11. And Tirrimir beget Dashlin, who created a great city and brought to it death at its right moment
    12. Dashlin beget Zoiss, who begat Achab, who begat Famtro, who slew the Bugken of Instoll[13] and then beget Hemross
    13. And Hemross begat Odon, who begat Liko, who begat Fleyr, who begat Xadack the Mysterious
    14. And Xadack did beget only one child, a daughter of enflamed hair whose name is not recorded, and whose memory is shunned, for she was disloyal[14]
    15. And so ended the royal line of Mazaad, but yet his name and work live on.
  1. [15]
    1. Modroben did create a line of men with elven stature, and names of theirs ring true
    2. It was Undresallime, who begat Éttalskidalni, who beget Hedellepioli Onimbulata, who beget Pandrallasos of Idribillii
    3. Who begat Tiamionie the Bold, a great king who brought together many people, and he did beget a line of kings
    4. Starting with Serrealline the Handsome, who began Bandoinì, who begat Dervralos the Just, who begat Amarlas̩s̩ine
    5. Who begat Cļeredanilïǒmippǒse the Kind, who begat Yerrorillia'a, who beat Mizarhi the Cruel
    6. Who begat Herie the Smart, who begat Quashimio the Silent, who begat Dappendroné
    7. And so it came that Dappendroné left his kingdom, leaving behind his crown, and did take up service to death
    8. For he saw that it was all that could bend him to its will, for he was a powerful king, having no equal at that time
    9. He saw that only our lord and His domains were irreversible: death and fate and time did continue all the same
    10. And so Dappendroné searched far and wide for one who could teach him to overcome death and fate and time
    11. That he might be the most powerful king in all the land and sea and shadow, and he did talk to many people
    12. Sailors and wheelwrights, tailors and bandits and thieves, ogres and dragons, and dragon-slayers
    13. And midwives and dukes, and tramps and beggars, and children and idiots, the feeble of mind and of body,
    14. And gnomes and tanners, miners and sculptors, scholars and wizards, bards and singers of all kinds
    15. And scoundrels and knights, civilized and primitive, strong and weak, young and old, and all spoke the same
    16. Words that bear truth, and all told him that he was the most powerful king in the land and sea and shadow
    17. For our lord's fiefdoms are perfect and correct, they may not be altered
    18. And Dappendroné saw that these words bore truth, and did return to his kingdom
    19. And bid his people to show fidelity, and to die
    20. And in time he did perish, and he had begat Retrassime, who begat Elbaddor
    21. Who begat Xashablön the Lazy, who begat the infant-king Jaxabiliassintrin
    22. Who was overthrown, and that was the end of this line
    23. And all were wise and strong in truth

The Book of Rust

This is the first of the so-called Racial Books, meaning books that are targeted at a specific race. Only a handful of Racial Books are considered canonically necessary for all worshipers of Modroben. Other, more specific Racial Books are only known to the races who use them and certain scholars.
    1. Modroben did see the dwarves toil upon and underneath the land, where soil gave life and the stone surrounded like a mother's embrace.
    2. But there was danger there, and there around. Rocks did fall, and air did grow foul, choking life and bringing forth sickness and vomit
    3. Dwarves of many clans fretted and worried in those days, and they did wonder about life, and the nature of death
    4. And Modroben saw their pain, and how they scurried like ants digging tunnels and chatting about the end of time
    5. They were moles discussing free will, and their axes were strong and they turned rich ores into precious stones and metals
    6. And Modroben did bring forth Rust, who was one among them who was red in beard and hair, and strong in belly and chin
    7. And he sang of death, of tarnishing, of decay and rot, and he assured the dwarves that his words were struck with veins of truth
    8. And so Rust was the bringer of right to the dwarves of the mountains and of rock,[16] who live lives of solidity and stable strength
    9. Strumming stone in praise of death
    10. And so Rust was the bringer of right to the dwarves of the hills and heraldry,[17] whose rough faces and patterned lands
    11. Chanting rhythms that bear truth
    12. And so Rust was the bringer of right to the dwarves of the ice and pine,[18] endless night and infinite day, frozen beards cleave
    13. Speaking rhetoric of light and life
    14. And so Rust was the bringer of right to the dwarves of the caves and the shadow,[19] umber umbras concealing, in corners remote and frigid
    15. Declaring wisdom in forgotten crannies
    16. And Rust declared many laws, governing the transfer of metals, and said that scales must be honest, and coins not be shaved
    17. And sat down prices of items, and it was 43 shirrlet[20] for a horseshoe, and 57 for a shovel with a short handle, but if the handle be long
    18. It shall be worth 64 shirrlet, and let an able-bodied male dwarf in mines earn his part of half the share from the days catch[21]
    19. And he shall not steal, for he is a dwarf, sayeth Rust, and the lord of rock does demand it
    20. And more, sayeth Rust, let copper be less than gold, with silver between them. And place platinum on a place far high. Emeralds and rubies and topaz and sapphires are but gaudy trinkets, and can be sold at any price.
    21. Iron must never be sold except at rates of parity[22] and only when the recipient is true
    22. The tempering of steel is a noble art, and must not be taught to those who are not worthy of it
    23. Let each man among the dwarves decide which of the youth have the shoulder and arm who will bring the glory of death into their smithing, and forging
    24. And the women of the dwarves, a noble breed of home and hearth, sayeth Rust, whose bosom is flows with the ore of devotion
    25. They too shall suffer and perish, and for their weary rest, they shall thank Modroben, as they watch their clan flourish
    26. For the mountains are eternal, and the dwarves, sturdy in grace, are their heart and wisdom, infinite and great

The Book of Omtrallione

This is the first of the so-called Authored Books, meaning that it has a purported author who introduces herself in the text. Omtrallione is assumed to be a Mortiss of some kind, but there is no historical record of her. In this book, Modroben is referred to with the feminine terminology.
    1. Let this woman's words bear truth, and let our stomachs bear life
    2. Our burdens are great, and our duties are high, and vital
    3. Our service to Modroben is fraught with peril
    4. For there are men who would deem us and them unworthy of cleaving
    5. But as wives and mothers, and sisters and daughters, we shall say no
    6. And loud, and stand strong, arm in arm, against the tyranny of men
    7. But we also shall surely not accept one among us, for such a woman is anathema
    8. She is unclean and must be shunned, until she should learn to bear truth
    9. Redemption is clear for women, apportioning rightness for the next generation
    10. But questions are asked, for confusion reigns among women
    11. And women talk, and chatter, and knowing nothing, learn less
    12. When doth life commence? One wonders and waits, worrying
    13. But fate governs fecundity, and many children are simply not to be
    14. It is better to end now than watch a little one suffer to prevail for but a short time
    15. She does not dispense death so lightly; she doth choose with care and precision
    16. If the time is not right, then fate must step in
    17. But let all manner of life be soulcleaved, worry not about length or size
    18. For it is life, and its passing doth grieve us terribly
    19. This is right, and wise, for we are women, and must push on
    20. But cleave still, if yon life be but big enough to cleave
    21. Or cause pain. Let Modroben offer you succor and a mother's healing touch
    22. In death as in health, our mother is all-life

The Book of Sylvus

This is the second of the Racial Books. It is always considered canonical, and it is aimed at elves.
    1. The cities of elves began in time, and grew for many years
    2. In number and size and beauty, in adornments that glittered and glowed
    3. And they did pass on and remain in stillness[23]
    4. But elves did then live in forests and glens as well, and nature abounded
    5. Their fingers were long and their grip on life was strong
    6. They did mourn every loss, no matter how minor
    7. As was proper in those days, even for the deer they hunted, and the enemies they slew
    8. War did rage, and Sylvus came to the elves of the forests and glens[24]
    9. And said to them that the layer of rot under leaves and sticks
    10. Is the source of soil most fertile, if dark and musty, and crawling with worms and vermin
    11. And the elves of the forests and glens saw that Sylvus carried words that bore truth.
    12. And Sylvus did go to those cities, which towered with elves in those days
    13. In lands of plains and grass,[25] horizons that stretched to the infinite graces of our lord
    14. They cavorted in open baths of light, and darkness came as it comes to all
    15. And the elves of the plains and grass saw that Sylvus carried words that bore truth
    16. And Sylvus did go to the elves of the peaks and clouds[26]
    17. Those who reigned above all the others, and were most glorious[27]
    18. They were closest to the sun and moon, and swathed in shadow at night[28]
    19. And the elves of the peaks and clouds saw that Sylvus carried words that bore truth
    20. And Sylvus did go to the elves of the jungle and mystery[29]
    21. Whose naked bodies were marked with paint and items[30]
    22. They swam in life and draped themselves in fecundity, but Modroben gifted his blessed word
    23. They rested in canopies with grace
    24. And the elves of the jungle and mystery saw that Sylvus carried words that bore truth
    25. And Sylvus did go to the elves of the stream and wave[31]
    26. They died in turn, and washed away
    27. The light of life ebbed like tides, and they swam with glee
    28. And the elves of the stream and wave saw that Sylvus carried words that bore truth
    29. And thus it was that the elves did hear the words of our lord

Notes

  1. Modrobalia literally translates as The Celebration of Modroben
  2. "Man or elf alike" is an archaic, translated phrase meaning "all intelligent species".
  3. "This life" comes from a specific term whose meaning has been hotly debated, with some scholars equating it to all life, and others claiming it refers only to certain categories of intelligent life.
  4. The identity and location of Abbrex has been a subject of much scholarship.
  5. "Words that bear truth" is a common idea in Modrobenian philosophy, referring to speech that is true to Modroben's theology.
  6. "He went about, and there and there" comes from an untranslateable phrase meaning something like "He went about his business to and fro".
  7. Note that when Modroben, and then Abbrex, repeats this line each additional time the diction grows more complex and fanciful. This is an archaic poetic technique.
  8. There are small sects of Modrobenians who believe the original words of the Modrobalia claimed the exact opposite, positing that only humans, or only elves, were meant to receive Modroben's grace.
  9. This refers to rainids.
  10. This is one of the mostly-disputed passages in the Modrobalia. Many versions exist, some of which appear to condemn certain funerary practices. Though the official position of the Church is that the translation given here is correct, and all burial methods are acceptable as long as they follow a soulcleaving, many sects and traditionalist adhere to a version that allows only their local customs.
  11. This is assumed to be King Mazad of Resh.
  12. At least a hundred different civilizations have been put forth as the "gentle folk of the highlands"
  13. See Bugken
  14. There is much lore and many rumors about the infamous Daughter of Xadack, but no accepted facts attest to her existence at any point in time.
  15. This is the so-called Elven Verse, which is mostly famous for consisting of names difficult for non-elves to pronounce.
  16. Referring to rock dwarves
  17. Referring to herald dwarves
  18. Referring to white dwarves
  19. Referring to umber dwarves
  20. The shirrlet is an archaic coin from the kingdom of Fredacia
  21. This is the origin of the dwarven custom that the day's take should be split with half going to the mine's owner, and the other half being divided equally among all the miners.
  22. This is a hotly-debated term, generally interpreted as meaning that one mustn't flood the market for iron, presumably because most iron goes to weapon-manufacture, and a lower price for iron will make it too easy to arm an army.
  23. Elven scholars much debate this line. Some interpret it to mean that no elven city is ever truly destroyed, and others claim "they" refers to elves themselves; this latter interpretation is the basis for the widespread elven practice of embalming and interring their deceased in sealed mausoleums.
  24. Referring to forest elves.
  25. Referring to grain elves.
  26. Referring to the peak elves
  27. Some peak elves interpret this line to indicate their superiority.
  28. Some grain elves contrast this line to the previous line referring to them bathing in light, and interpret this to indicate their superiority over peak elves.
  29. Referring to jungle elves
  30. This refers to jungle elves' penchant for tattoos and piercings
  31. Referring to hydrine elves
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