Religion #1: Usome

Because I am using this post very journalistic-ally, as a motivation for myself to keep writing and pretend people are actually reading it, I’ve decided to start a series on the religions of the Snow Mountains. So, here is Usome.

Pronounced oo-sohm, it is often criticized as the “party religion” due to it’s lack of written rules and sobriety. Usome is a religion that, publicly, is about actively praising and interacting with each other. Privately, within families, Usome is full of cultural traditions. It is a large religion, encompassing many countries, but much of the culture is the same between countries. Jerel, a military and strictly Usomian country directly north of Kana, uses the same calender and surname system as Usomites everywhere.

The naming system is as follows: children take their mother’s name as a middle name and their father’s as a last name, modifying the endings depending on their gender. Women exchange their father’s name for their husband’s when they marry.

Endings:

-il or -l if the name ends in a vowel–daughter of (maternal)

-im or -m–son of (maternal)

-is–daughter/son of (paternal)

-ez–wife of

Following this system:

Zena Alvisil Erykis is the

-daughter of Eryk Ilivim Genaris and Alvis Famial Erykez,

-sister of Arav Alvisim Erykis,

-sister-in-law to Kacela Marnil Aravez,

and aunt to Neo Kacelam Aravis.

Usomians believe in six gods, who once inhabited the world in Spareth, a holy city now in the southeast corner of Kana, but now live in a celestial city called Aolinma (said to mean “across the sky”) and that the sky, the wall between worlds, will dissolve when humanity is worthy of it. Their calendar has seven seasons, six for the gods and a seventh called the people’s season, when most of the colorful festivals take place. The six gods are:

Kurn–God of fire and battle. You want his aid when fighting and offensive battle, outside your borders. Special to Jerel.

Kedra–God of water and plants, also luck and poison. You want his aid if you farm or are engaged in subtle activities. He is the most versatile god.

Pedriga–Goddess of spirit. The most spiritually personal. If you have a vision, you will usually see Pedriga, the human-god messenger. Air is considered the perfect element, the combination of fire, water, and spirit, and it is the spirit that makes it so elusive and perfect.

Kyrine–Goddess of protection, both domestic and battle. You want her aid when being attacked or fighting inside your borders, but you also want her protection with you always. She is often invoked in blessings (see Here in chapter one) and has many talismans.

Calin and Talin–Twin god and goddess, of women and men respectively. Very abstract.

And that is it for Usome today.

Sections of the Colony

There are five sectors of the colony, each centered around a mountain-ish landmass. These are the same from the original, with a possible change regarding the Pass (formerly home of the Tangas; however I’m strongly considering relocating them to Mt. Yenin.)

Here is a map I made for the original story way back when:

 

orange=Nora's land (colony), blue=Tangas, purple=Irkas

Here is a new map, made from Nora’s perspective:

Grayish lines=official paths/section perimeters, solid lines=Nora's known shortcuts. Slang names used.

And here is the official council map:

Area numbers used. Non-offensive common names in quotations.

 

So. That is the basic layout of the Snow Mountains. (I’m finding myself with not much to say here…)

Religion

I’ve created several religions in the Snow Mountains world (which actually involves several other countries.) I wanted to use it as a conflict source between areas of the mountains because how much violence in our world is religion-caused? Lots. Something people care so much about will eventually cause conflict. Anyway, because the main characters all end up on the council and therefore from different areas, they are all from different religions. (With the exception of Jacques, who is from the non-religious area.) The areas are called by their slang names here.

Usome: This is what I’d call an evolved polytheism. There are six gods, and they all cover very broad areas. There are no little gods, just six. This is Zena’s religion, from the Ledges. Read more Here.

Mashomi: this is a spirit-based religion. The idea is that everything has a spirit. The actual form in Kana is called Kanosian, because it is slightly different. It is more ritualistic than other forms and has spirits which are more important than others. This is Nora’s religion, from Traveler’s Rest, (though Nora is fairly agnostic.)

Kenezai: This is a very order-based religion. There are thirteen gods, called holy ones, twelve lords and one lady. Members of this religion follow certain rules and rituals. They also believe in a fixed fate. This is Atkin’s religion, from the Pieshop. (So called because women are the most strictly defined by religious rules. Zena also faces much sexist prejudice, but that is more of a social tradition, as Usome has no written religious material.)

Sneak-elf: The sneak-elves are a separate race which originally inhabited the Hokfeal forest in western Kana, but they have since spread out. They do not actually have much of an organized religion, but as their skin tone and mannerisms are different, they face a lot of prejudice, often called “dirty sneak-elves.” They occupy the Dirty Hills.

Main Plot

The main plot of the original:

Nora and Petto live alone in their half of the Snow Mountains. Nora hears ominous sounds from the other half, belonging to the Irkas. Zena, Sheeno, Jhacks, and Bob the Scout all show up at some point. They spy on Irkas. Nora befriends one of the mysterious Tangas, who hide in a region right near hers, but the leader doesn’t trust her. Irkas attack. Petto speaks to one of them. Irkas are defeated. They attack again while everyone is sleeping and force a surrender due to holding Petto at spear-point. Nora surrenders. They are planning to kill Petto anyway when Bob, who has been working as a double agent for Nora’s group, jumps at the Irka to stop him and is killed. Horrified, the Irkas, who are, after all, middle-school age, start to retreat and have to go through a battle with the Tangas in the process. In the end, they sign a peace treaty and the one really evil Irka is kicked out after he protests. It ends with Petto preparing to move out because she wants to live in a tree on the nearby prairie and Nora still being sad about Bob but being hopeful about the future. (In a very cheesy ending line that I hated even as I wrote it.) Read the whole story Here.

I don’t quite know the ending of the re-imagined version yet, but I know the beginning. Kana, currently in a very long war, drafts all able adults from the ages of eighteen to fifty, leaving the young adults (ages fifteen to seventeen) of the household in charge. This seems like a big task, but all food is still supplied to the colony and being in charge of the household is really only keeping it running in terms of chores and such. The real problem, which all main characters will get involved with, is the running of the town council and keeping tension down between religious sects. (Each one occupies a different mini mountain, so town council members are almost always representing the religion of the area.) “Irkas” is a derogatory term for one group, which will be seduced into separating by the new version of the one really evil Irka. (An adult, not originally of the colony.)

Nora

Nora was me. My persona in the game the sparked the story. Originally she lived in the mountains with her little sister, having watched her parents die at about age six, lived in an orphanage for a while, and eventually brought herself and her sister (Petto) back home.

All by the age of eleven.

For Nora to pull that off, she was going to have to be either really gritty and closed or really messed up. (I’d already decided to make them all older.) She was acting like a strange combination of what I wished I could be and do in her place and what I would actually be and do in her place. (She was the only character with a crying scene and a weakness that didn’t make her stronger.) Either way, she was too close to me and had to be changed.

So now (keep in mind I am not very far into it) she is a pessimistic teenager who, having no idea what her purpose is or why they live where they do, gets pleasure out of life by thinking of smart-mouth answers constantly and cynically discussing life’s problems with her single friend. In other words, she’s lazy, arrogant, cynical, and equipped with a nice “whatever, it’s not like I can do anything to help” attitude.

Perfect.

Setting

I dubbed Snow Mountains “soft-core fantasy” because it is fantasy in the sense that I made up the place (The Snow Mountains are located in the fictional country of Kana) but there is no magic or anything totally inconceivable. What I call soft-core fantasy exists in a world that could be our own, where the physics and the people are familiar.

The names of the original places remain the same in the new version. The main difference is how they are used. In the original, the mountains got fairly warm but never melted. The people who inhabited them had for generations, despite several problems of violence and a few displacements. The current members of the families who were tied to the land were children, the last pieces of a feud between their parents. (More on that later.) It was all a bit melodramatic.

The first thing I changed was to add tons more people. The snow mountains became a colony, consisting of people of many religions and cultures. As in the original, Uto is the nearest Kanian town, which supplies the still-young colony with food and cast-off clothing. Oh, and the mountains are cold most of the time, as I couldn’t find a logical reason they wouldn’t be.