Scales of War
Deity of the Oceans and Seas, Wilderness and Nature
Melora Eadro, also referred to as The Bitch Queen, is the true neutral sea goddess in the primary pantheon. She is most often worshiped by sailors or people traveling by sea, out of fear for her destructive powers. She controls the harshness of the sea and while reveling in her own power, is not hesitant to drown people, if she so pleases.
Ship crews toss her gems over the sides of their vessels to calm storm-tossed waters. She has a large number of shrines in coastal cities, and sailors often leave flowers, candies, small candies, or coins on her altars in hopes that Melora Eadro will spare them on the next voyage. Others who pay tribute to her include merchants sending goods by sea, port cities, and island nations and settlements who would be devastated by her wrath and have not a powerful patron deity to counter her menacing demands.
Meloran priests are a varied, disorganized lot, much given to dueling with hooked, sicklelike knives to settle differences of primacy and rank. (These dueling knives represent Melora Eadro’s reapings of those who sail the seas.) Meloran priests roam coastal cities, living primarily off the offerings left by fearful sailors. In addition to the traditional lit candles and small candies, Melorans are increasingly demanding more real coin be left on the altars. When there are no worshipers present, Meloran priests then remove the offerings from the stone block altars at Melora Eadro’s shrines and sluice the altars with buckets of sea water containing seaweed to signify that the Sea Queen has come for what is rightfully hers. Melorans are also paid handsomely to travel on ships from port to port, for their presence (it is thought) guarantees that Melora Eadro will not destroy a vessel.
There is little in the way of an organized clergy of Melora Eadro. Those who relish her power and potential become her specialty priests. Specialty priests make up most of Melora Eadro’s clergy, since the advantages of the faith prove to be quite handy when superstitious sailors want to dump a priest overboard at the first sign of a storm. A few clerics have made some progress in status in the faith, and most of them work in the adventuring order of the church. Novice priests are known as the Untaken, but once Melora Eadro has confirmed an individual as a priest, she or he is entitled to take offerings, lead prayers, and bestow blessings in her name. Full Meloran priests can adopt any of the following titles (regardless of true rank and powers): Flood Tide, Dark Breaker, Puissant Undertow, Wave of Fury, Savage Seawind, and Wavemistress or Wavelord. Specialty clergy are known as waveservants or true servants of the wave and use the same titles as other Melorans with the addition of the word “Dread” in front of them.
More folk fear Melora Eadro than revere her, but she cares not why they worship, only that they do so. She rarely comes to favor individual mortals, but she does do a little extra for those who faithfully make offerings. To gain favorable winds for a voyage or to deliver them alive from storms, sailors sacrifice valuable cargo to her by piping it overboard: playing tunes dedicated to Melora Eadro on mouthpipes while heaving the cargo over the side. They usually ensure that the cargo contains something alive if their peril is great. If a ship runs aground or founders and a Meloran priest is aboard, the furious sailors usually try en masse to murder the priest before they are themselves drowned. Corpses of Meloran priests have washed ashore transfixed by as many as 30 cutlasses.
Meloran clergy are charged to spread respect for Melora Eadro by preaching of the doom she has wrought in the past and the storms to come in all coastal cities and settlements. Along the way, they seek to build up favor enough to be teleported ashore by the goddess if they are ever in danger on the seas and to enrich themselves by accepting offerings, selling the safety of their own presence on shipboard, or by casting certain spells. For a long voyage a Meloran priest may charge as much as 500 gold pieces to an average merchant vessel or up to three times that to a large, new, well-armed cog or caravel carrying valuable cargo. If a priest on board has to use magic to defend or protect the ship, she or he charges by the spell and may well dicker over price on the spot!
The ceremonial garb of the priests of Melora Eadro consists of a skin-tight blue or green body stocking worn with a voluminous cape of blue or green trimmed with white fur (to represent foaming breakers). A tall collar, similarly trimmed, rises from the back of the cape’s neck.
Temples of Melora Eadro are few and far between, and the church is not well organized resting on Melora’s nature of chaos where disputes are ruled in favor of the strongest individual. There are, though, shrines dedicated to her predominantly located at port-cities of the southern isles. Here travelers by sea are sure to pay their tribute to her, and the preachings of her clerics are built upon the terrible fate that will fall upon any who do not bring a sacrifice to her. Clerics are available at these temples who, for a price, will travel with sailors to ensure no harm is inflicted.No one house of the Sea Queen has risen to unquestioned prominence, but contenders for this honor include Shipsgrave Tower where Wavelord Darjast Surnden rules a loyal complement of ex-pirate, battle-hardened clergy; the Cove of the Queen, a hidden harbor where pirates are led by Melorans who serve Wavemistress Royal Qalbess Frostyl; Stormhaven House, governed by High Trident Thaeryld Nornagul; and the Seacaves of the Roaring, a large and prosperous place adorned with gold where priests under the governance of Deep Wavemaster Ultho Maelatar sell small, smooth, stone storm tokens guaranteeing safety on a voyage (for the individual carrying them only) to mainlanders who are fearful or cannot swim.
Melora Eadro is to be worshiped daily with offerings, prayer, and self-anointing on the brow, hands, and feet with sea water. In addition, the faith has a few special rituals, most notably the Drowning, First Tide, and Stormcall.
- The Drowning is a private ritual, and only clergy members may witness it or take part. In the Drowning, an Untaken becomes a true priest of the goddess. The supplicant lies before an altar and is surrounded by candles lit to the goddess, each placed with an intoned prayer by a different Meloran priest. The attending clergy then withdraw, and a senior priest casts a spell that causes sea water to flood the room in a huge breaking wave and then flow away. Supplicants who survive are confirmed in the service of Melora Eadro and warned that if they should ever betray the Queen of the Deeps, drowning is the fate that awaits them. They were spared during the Drowning and so can be taken by the Sea Queen at any time to come. (Clergy whom the Sea Queen feels have failed her go to sleep one night never to awaken, dying during the night of drowning, their lungs mysteriously filled with sea water.)
- First Tide is celebrated by a flute-and-drum parade through the streets of a city by the clergy when the ice breaks up in a harbour. In a cold-hearted and brutal ritual, the clergy carry a live large animal down to the shore to be tied to a rock and hurled into the water. If the creature somehow washes or struggles ashore alive, it is freed, tended, and magically healed back to full health. It then becomes a sacred animal with the rank of a Meloran. (This custom began in ancient times when Melora Eadro often selected her clergy from among human sacrifices by unbinding them beneath the water.)
- Stormcall is a mass prayer in which worshipers call for Melora Eadro to send a storm to devastate a specific harbor or ship or to turn away an approaching storm or one that has already broken upon the worshipers. Worshipers kneel around pools in which lit candles float on fragments of driftwood that have been carefully collected and dried by Meloran priests for this purpose. Sacrifices of precious goods are thrown into the pools, but the priests must carefully levitate the candles through the magic of the ceremony as this is done to keep them alight, for a candle doused is a sign of Melora Eadro’s anger.
Myths and Legends
Melora Eadro’s avatar rarely appears. When she does, it is as a female blue-green torso with taloned hands, elbow fins, eyes of pale pearly death, and hair of kelp. In this form, rising above the waves, she aims to impress and usually towers above sailors on the decks of a doomed ship. She wears giant shell jewelry and a cape made from a million mauve jellyfish. Her voice hisses and booms like ocean breakers, and she laughs cruelly as she flings watery death and destruction on those who view her.
She dwells in the Blood Sea in Blood Tor, the 13th layer of the Abyss, a layer she sometimes shares with Beshaba. The Blood Sea is an expanse of saltwater constantly beaten by storms, gale-force winds, and torrential waves. Melora Eadro, the Queen of the Depths, swims in the reddish waters, accompanied by fiendish squids and myrmixicus demons. Petitioners, including weresharks and humanoids given the form of sharks and other beasts, also accompany Melora Eadro.
The Meloran faith has no set ethical outlook save that the sea is a savage place and those who travel it had best be willing to pay the price of challenging Melora Eadro’s domain. The doctrine of Melora Eadro declares that all should know Melora Eadro and fear her, for the wind and the wave can reach everywhere. Fair offerings bring fair winds to travelers over the waters, but for those who do not pay their respects, the sea is as cold as Melora Eadro’s heart. All who travel the seas are warned that the dead serve Melora Eadro most faithfully.