The Twelve Gods, or merely the Twelve, are one of the central aspects of Salvagardian life and culture. They are venerated universally throughout the kingdom as the saviours of the people, who through the prophet guided them to their new homeland, then protected them in the many disasters that occurred over the years of toil and bloodshed. There are shrines to the gods throughout Salvagard for people to bring offerings, and many hunters dedicate their kills to the gods, most notably Ullir, Lord of the Hunt.
*Names of the Twelve
Although the Twelve are all considered omnipotent, it has been said that each one has a remit of influence over certain areas of the world which they dedicate their time to overseeing:
-Aldrin: Chief of the Twelve, God of Creation, Order, Knowledge, and Royalty
-Delingr: God of Light, Purity, Beauty and the Sun
-Yngvi: God of Fertility, Life and Water
-Setin: God of Law, Justice and the Afterlife
-Ullir: God of Luck, the Spear and the Hunt
-Nokin: God of Cunning, Music and Air
-Vali: God of Vengeance, Anger, Disorder and Storms
-Tir: God of War, Death, Tests and Fire
-Vidarr: God of the Moon, Darkness, Silence and Ice
-Vilin: God of Craftsmen, Journeys and Stone
-Milir: God of Love, Time and Stars.
*Vorgend: Home of the Gods
It is believed that the Gods preside over the people of Salvagard from the top of a great mountain known as Vorgend that sits alone at the very end of the world. The prophet Salvagard described it to the first of his clerics as he lay dying on the Mesa of their new Capitol. He described how they reside within a Palace made from the clearest obsidian, decorated in gold and silver, seated on thrones of volcanic glass covered in skins and furs of mythical beasts. From there Thrones they can look out over the land, observing the people beneath them and helping or hindering those who are observed.
Whilst they all have thrones there, Both Ullir and Tir spend most of their time in the afterlife, judging the worthiness of Salvagardian souls. The other ten come and go as they will, observing their realms of influence and overseeing the running of the world. Only Aldrin remains at all times, sitting and observing the land he created, his eyes weeping at the knowledge that he holds, of the end of time and the death of all things.
Earthly representatives of the Twelve, the Clerics live in seclusion from the rest of Salvagard. Most occupy temples dedicated to the Gods, although some have been known to rove the countryside, preaching the word of the Twelve in the distant hamlets who lack even a shrine to pray to.
Clerics are selected from the population at a young age, most being chosen before they can even walk on two legs. Although many are regular children, pups that were born as an only child are taken from the moment of their birth, the unusual circumstances seen as a sign from the twelve that their destiny is to preach the word to the people as the prophet did during the Long March, the reason being he was also an only child.
The Clerics are exempt from military service, and spend most of their lives trying to interpret the will of the Twelve and preaching it to the people. However, Clerics do know how to hunt, offering all their kills to the Twelve as a sign of their devotion. However, they have since stopped sacrificing animals to the twelve on holy days since the Great Strife, where it became a crime to waste food in such a way.
*The Silver Tokens
Once used to brand the heads of traitors who were about to be executed, the Silver tokens are now worn by every member of the Salvagardian population past the age of ascendance as a sign of devotion and protection against becoming enthralled. They were first used to combat the influence of the Blood Queen, and have been since used in rituals to prove that a Citizens heart is pure and devoted only to their gods and their Kingdom.
They are the size of a large Human coin, one side engraved with the bearer’s name, the other with an image of Delingr, God of purity.
Production of the tokens is very hazardous for Werewolves, as even the fume given off by silver being smelted is toxic to them. Since the arrival of Humans to Salvagard it is mainly they that forge the tokens now, although a priest is always needed to bless the tokens before they are issued.
* The Afterlife
-The Place of Judgment
It is believed that when a Citizen of Salvagard dies and his battle hymn is sung he is taken by Tir, God of Death, and brought before a great throne. Here sits Setin, who weighs the soul of the deceased and passes judgment over its worthiness. Those judged fit will be taken to The Hall of Ancestors. Those judged unworthy or blasphemous will be sent to the Abyss. Any who are not worthy, but have been judged redeemable, will be taken to the Land of Bone, and made to carry out the final tests.
-The Land of Bone
It is a desolate place where nothing grows and the sun never shines. Here is where Tir presides. He will then test the spirits of the Dead in a series of tasks. Each one is gruelling, and takes courage on the part of the soul to but itself in danger and proves its worthiness to enter the Hall of Ancestors. If they succeed they may proceed, but failure means being cast into the Abyss for all eternity.
-The Hall of Ancestors
A large wooden hall designed in the ancestral Salvagardian style, it is here that the souls of the worthy are housed. Beyond the hall is a blissful forested land filled with game, allowing the worthy souls to hunt for all eternity upon blissful meadows, lush forests and rolling hills. Every night is a feast honouring past achievements of each participant, and new souls are welcomed with open arms by those they lost long ago.
It is nothing, pure and simple. The soul that is cast here is destroyed, their essence lost forever to ensure others are not tainted by their failures. It is also believed that demons were first created here, although that is merely conjecture.
"You don't have to be mad here, but it helps."