Kit-Fox Gods

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The gods of Kit-Fox play an interesting part in the board.

Four main gods are worshipped by the fishing villages of the island in Kit-Fox: Carpa, the mother of the oceans, Cicely and Jextus, who together gave humanity nets, and Divant-por, king of the gods and master of storms. These four, out of an older, larger pantheon, have risen to prominence since arrival on the island (where people's survival depends on fishing and there's no metal to forge and precious little space for agriculture, etc).

In Fredrick/Jillis/Riccy's village they honour Cicely, Jextus and Carpa most. The other village favours Divant and Carpa.

1. Jextus
2. Cicely
3. Divant-por
4. Carpa
5. Origins of this pantheon
6. Avatars
7. Quotes from the board (spoilers)
7.1. Cicely and Jextus
7.2. Fleace and Palisande

1. Jextus

(aka Lord Jextus, The Fox, Lord of Nets)

Jextus has a problem with authority. He doesn't have any, and he doesn't respect anyone who has. This trickster god is often selfish and whimsical, sometimes destroying things apparently for the fun of it, and yet he surprisingly often shows compassion for the defenceless, whether remorse for mortals caught up in his pranks or solidarity for those harmed by the machinations of the more powerful gods.

Indeed, Jextus has a serious side to him and it manifests whenever there's oppression or tyranny going on. The primal example would be his theft of the Better Fire from a fellow god (not one of the island's main four) and giving it to mankind, though not before making the recipients pass several seemingly meaningless tests. Of course, just because he takes some things seriously, that's not to say he behaves seriously while dealing with it.

Jextus is both a trickster and a god of luck and fortune; his trickster aspect is more recent.

Jextus is associated with foxes for their cunning, even though there aren't any native foxes on the island. Other symbols of his include dice, coiled rope or snares, feathers and nets.

2. Cicely

(aka Cicely the Weaver, Queen of Silks, Lady of Nets - queen of the gods)

Cicely is trapped in a loveless marriage into which she entered for power and status. At times she seems to have little but contempt for her husband Divant. At other times they have cooperated quite well and created many inventions for the benefit of mankind, including sails. However, since most of those inventions are not fishing-related, on the island their disagreements are stressed far more than their mutual respect and affection.

Cicely's lover is Jextus, although judging by the stories he doesn't have such an easy time of it either. Cicely is impulsive, hot-tempered, vengeful and violent. When not kept amused, she can throw tantrums and turn on her fellow gods.

She is a goddess of contrasts, responsible for beautiful and intricate works of weaving as well as deeds of generosity and love to mankind. Cicely will lend an ear to any woman scorned or wronged by a man, exacting revenge upon the villain that brings tears to the eye. If a child is hurt, even accidentally, she is prone to flying into a fury.

Cicely keeps cats. She is associated with shuttles, spindles, fabrics of various sorts, fishing nets and combs. (Best not to ask about the comb. It's a violent story.)

3. Divant-por

(aka King of Storms, Thunderer - king of the gods)
(Pronounced "Divann (poor)". Por is an honorific from his original language, used only with him, similar to Hindi "Divant ji" or English "Lord Divant".)

Divant-por rules the skies as Carpa rules the seas, and rules the gods as though herding cats. Controlling and humourless, he is often cast as straight man to Jextus's irreverance. Divant has many positive characteristics, including bravery, concern for his fellow gods and nobility. He often provides aid to worshippers in need.

On the flipside, he can be arrogant, thoughtless or even violent towards the mortals who suffer his storms or whose lands are damaged while the gods battle various supernatural enemies. He is also overbearing towards Cicely. He even tried to have her temples converted into joint temples to both of them.

One suspects Divant must know his wife is not faithful. His jealous rages are sometimes described in texts; while bad news for humankind in general, they tend to humanise the stuffy god-figure. Storms in general equate to Divant's bad moods - either a row with Cicely, worshippers displeasing him, one of Jextus's pranks or something else going wrong.

4. Carpa

(aka Sea-Mother, Mother of Fishes)

Carpa, as well as ruling the seas, has an aspect as protector of marital love and children (particularly emphasised in the island culture). She is worshipped as a goddess of abundance and also of renewal.

Her animals are the octopus, the carp and the sea-horse. She carries a harpoon spear, though does not often use it in anger; she can control sea creatures and create healing waters with it.

5. Origins of this pantheon

The deities did not originate on the island, but arrived there with the ancestors of the current islanders.

These four gods come from three different traditions, merged into one pantheon relatively recently (a few centuries) when several states allied. (Many other gods were also brought together at this time, often combined or altered in the process, but they're not part of our focus on the island.)

Jextus was originally a figure quite like Divant, except a god of fortune rather than a warlord: he had authority in his own right as well as a consort of equal power. Cicely is a merge of this goddess and Divant's warlike queen Luksu-por and became married to Divant, leaving Jextus single.

The generally-accepted analysis of this merge is that Divant, having more numerous and influential clergy, won the popularity battle, becoming king of the gods and getting the girl in the process. The Jextus figure was downgraded practically to court jester; his clergy, though heretofore rather laid-back and benevolent, retaliated by preaching him as a trickster in the most anarchic sense.

Jextus seems to have made the trickster role his own, showing up the worst excesses of the powerful, foiling their best-laid schemes, siding with the weak and defenceless (mortals) and somehow, by sheer bald-faced luck and cheek, managing to avoid serious retribution. Divant is honoured as the lord and ruler - staid, powerful and self-important - but when the chips are down, the ordinary people pray to the god of fortune. In other words, Jextus's priests won the popularity war.

Perhaps it was inevitable that Cicely, a rebellious free spirit finding herself wedded to an overbearing figure of authority, should find her way back to Jextus. Their affairs and adventures, liberally laced with comedy and humanity, are a popular part of the folklore.

The Sea-Mother Carpa is from the third pantheon to be merged and is little changed from her original function.

6. Avatars

"An avatar is a representation of a god in the material world," Weft said. "There's a lot of theory and guff about 'dimensions' or 'planes', but mostly it boils down to a god incarnating in a human body for some purpose. Am I warm?" He looked to the elder, who grudgingly nodded. [1]
[Note to self; this needs changing a little in the light of what I've since written of Weft's religion. Namely, he's encountered avatars before and would be more respectful.]

One legend tells of Cicely and Jextus's incarnations as a queen (Palisande) and her king's favourite general (Fleace), with Divant once again playing the part of the cuckold king (Rojrick). After furtiveness, disgrace, mischief and many far-fetched adventures and excitements, Jextus's avatar was ultimately redeemed by returning to his king's side before being killed during the ongoing war. Cicely's avatar, devastated, walked away across the water, remained for four years grieving on a lone rock in the middle of the sea, then ascended to the sky, where it is hinted a joyful reunion took place before Divant's return. This is the most overtly supernatural section of the tale (water-walking, immortality, flying) and was probably added much later than the rest.

It could be that this is the only time any of the trio has incarnated as a human (rather than visiting the world as gods, which they do frequently), or the island's records may be incomplete. The form of the faith practiced by the islanders foretells further incarnations in the future.

7. Quotes from the board (spoilers)

7.1. Cicely and Jextus

"Interesting that you should be drawn to that episode. It's one of the most famous legends about the Weaver. The man there is a troubadour, and he wrote a rima - a long and very arty poem, that is - about the gods. The red-haired lady rearranging his entrails is Cicely herself, who is yourself, I suppose. Apparently the poem wasn't flattering, or it just didn't talk about her enough."

"I see," said Weft blandly. "Are all these things which are meant to have happened?"

"A bit hard to say," the elder admitted. "Some of them definitely happened, that we're sure of. We believe that parts of history happen in cycles, that certain events are fated to repeat themselves, so that some of these are both history and depictions of things to come. We also believe that the intrinsic nature of things is unchanged and will always make itself known, so for example, Jextus in all his forms is a chancer, the Weaver always weaves, and whether in the realm of gods or manifest in the latest pair of avatars, the Lady and Lord will alway..." The elder's rhetoric screeched to a halt, instantly worrying Weft.

"It wouldn't be too fair if we let you choose the test," the elder corrected, smart enough to cover the fact that he was startled by the man's enthusiasm.

But Sebastian's speech didn't falter, rhythm or tonewise. "But a test of chance needn't be fair, sage. Odds against me, tralala," Sebastian smirked. "So kind of you... so, if you insist, I choose dice. With five people, naturally, so I can only win or lose. No ties and such."

For a while, there was an incredulous silence from the elder. At least the Fox's way of expertly taking things for granted was preserved.

She quite often felt that she only understood a third of what Fox said. This, she had heard, was pretty standard.

"Although I thought all heroes, divine or not, often die in these epic sort of things," the swashbuckler said, as if he was okay with it. Goodness, anything but this place for the rest of eternity. He didn't want to get used to responsibility.

"Dying, ascension, just plain vanishing," Jillis commented, "that's the long and short of it. But it doesn't say when or what happens before. And believe me, I've looked."

And she had, she really had. Midnight oil had been burned until Fredrick woke up and threw things at the lamp. All to no avail. She'd spent most of her life reading the piecemeal archives, but then she'd spent most of her life thinking the Cicely-Jextus cycle was a metaphor.

...the halfie's calm response had managed to pull [Weft's] sting again (obviously Jextus in his various incarnations must have to be good at this)

7.2. Fleace and Palisande

"Very well then - you, I mean Lord Jextus and Cicely the Weaver, have both come to earth once before. My overpresumptious assistant mentioned that Cicely incarnated in a beautiful woman, a Queen in fact, called Palisande. Her particular favourite was one of her generals, a crafty old sod - excuse my language - called Fleace.

"We don't know what her husband thought about this. You can look at the old texts for yourselves, of course, if you promise to be careful and not paw them over with greasy fingers. And if Jillis has somehow refrained from scattering them everywhere, of course."

"Fleace and King Rojrick? Weren't they..."

"The Fox's previous avatar, yes. And that of Cicely's husband, the god Divant-por. Because all three of them always incarnate together, as you know. Cicely's avatar [Palisande] shows up in the next scene."
"Divant's incarnation[...] always shows up as Cicely's overbearing husband and Jextus steals her away" [2]

Worldsong: [post] "I mean to say... how is one meant to build a reputation if a single lamb does not return home to demoralise the rest of the sheep and their shepherd?" It occurred to him that this had probably been Jextus' line of reasoning, too. The thought startled him.
Mutt [in chat]: It was certainly Fleace's line of reasoning. (Jextus's previous incarnation, the military general.)
Worldsong: Kekeke!
Worldsong: This is exactly why I'm worried of what would happen if a Foxling ended up in an army...
Mut: Fleace was worse. He was an ur-Fox.
Worldsong: Dear me.
Mutt: Sort of, anyway. Luckily, his ambitions weren't political.
Mutt: He didn't live long enough to get bored of battle, but he hated politics.
Mutt: Palisande, the previous Cicely avatard, is just a ball of frustration.
Mutt: Actually, Palisande does remind me of Xan a bit. She's so... imprisoned by circumstances. And vicious.

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Last edited October 6, 2007 1:42 pm by Mutt