Following on from a discussion elsewhere about the relationships between the gods, I’ve managed to hunt down the following Tilean folktale, which purports to describe the circumstances of Morr’s marriage to Verena.
The tale is typically Tilean, and Durchdenwald’s translation leaves something to be desired. (I am, of course, referring to his rather prudish translation of Grandmother Death’s appetites, which were more ambiguous in the original Classical, to avoid offending Sigmarite morals). Nonetheless, I have presented the tale as he recounts it.
Comments and criticism welcome.
The marriage of Morr and Verena
- Translated from the original Classical by Lothar Durchdenwald
‘This is a story of the first times, when the world was young. Before the fall of the amphibians,* and the coming of Law and Chaos into the world, Grandmother Death dwelt high in the Apuccini Mountains with her two sons, whose names were Morr and Khaine.
Now, Grandmother Death had a voracious appetite, and she ranged far and wide throughout the lands of men, snatching up whomsoever took her fancy. Some she simply gobbled up, and others she took back with her to toil her fields, and others she simply seized and stole away for no reason at all. And her mouth was as wide as the yawning grave, and her hunger was so great that she stripped entire countries bare.
And so the mortals cried aloud to the gods, and begged them for deliverance.
And so the First Gods of Man sent their envoys and heralds to Grandmother Death. And they entreated her with fine words and lavish gifts that she would moderate her appetite and take none before his allotted time. But Grandmother Death would not relent, but instead gobbled up all that those the First Gods had sent her, for her hunger was great.
And so at last the First Gods took Grandmother Death, and they flung her into a great chasm at the end of the world, where there was fire and the gnashing of teeth.**
And for a time none could die, and the land was overwhelmed with the children of men. And they had no meat, but starved and sickened and suffered greatly. And some flung themselves from high cliffs or into deep waters so as to bring an end to their misery, but still could not perish.
And so the First Gods sent for Morr, who had been living wild in the mountains with his brother and plotting his vendetta against the gods.
And the First Gods had Morr brought before them, and told him, “Let there be no more strife between us. For we shall restore you to your mother’s demesne, and you shall have all her lands. But you shall take none before the hour we have decreed for their death. And you shall not devour them as she was wont to do, but they shall dwell with you in her gardens and work the land for your sustenance.”
And Morr thought long on this and answered them, “How can that be? For is there not a blood feud between us for the great wrong that you have done to my mother? And honour dictates that I must seek vengeance against you.”
And the First Gods replied, “We shall put an end to the vendetta between us, for you shall be married to the Skyfather’s daughter, whose name is Verena, which means justice. And justice shall temper death, for you shall take none before their allotted hour. And death shall also safeguard justice, for none shall dare disdain justice but they shall meet with the headsman’s axe or hangman’s noose.”
And so Morr and Verena were married, and the match was a fine one. And they knew each other as man and wife, and between them begat the goddess Shallya, whose name means mercy. For death can be a great mercy, as it brings an end to pain. And in time mercy tempered justice, even as justice had tempered death.
Now Khaine saw all this, and bitterness consumed him. For his heart was a jealous one, and the First Gods had given him nothing. And he longed to roam loose in the world, as his mother had done, and gobble up whomsoever he willed. And so Khaine plotted vengeance against his brother, and his family, and the First Gods. But the tale of that vengeance is a long and bloody one, and I shall not recount it here.’
*The translation “amphibians” is uncertain here. Lohmeyer suggests that the original Classical might refer to the inhabitants of Tylos, in the region now known as the Blighted Marshes.
** Göttling suggests a possible connection between the fate of the voracious Grandmother Death and the “Great Maw” depicted in Ogre folklore.
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