It’s only natural that the Earth Mother kept the Stones running smoothly, her parents were Lillandra and Aerdran and they had experience with the ley lines from way back, before Nyllen got to them. I always had her on my list of top gods, but Tarik objected. He and I would argue about that often. I didn’t waste time debating his first choice, Harnor, as if that’s any surprise, but really, putting her in the bottom quartile? That was low, the Earth Mother deserved better. Tarik let his prejudices get the best of him. He would have made a terrible manager.
The Earth Mother was a true earth goddess, a Gaea if you will, who changed with the seasons. In the spring and early summer, she was the Maiden, young and beautiful.. As the year turned to fall, the Maiden gave way to the Lady (not to be confused with Celetran, the Lady of Esel, who was also called the Lady) and then the Crone for the barren winter. No matter what guise she wore, the Elder Races loved her and prayed to her.
The Earth Mother could appear at any of the Stones, and at more than one at a time, which is a great trick if you can manage it. Think how much you could get done if you could clone yourself. You could pick up your daughter at soccer and slip away to the neighborhood bar for a cool one. You could weed the yard and play a round of golf.
When she came to them, sometimes she’d make a grand entrance like Cher in a Vegas show, and other times she’d simply join her essence with whoever was channeling and let the scent of honeyed-musk give her away. Whether you could see her or not, she was always there, whenever they were praying.
The moment Erlik broke free, she came to Leyrantha and faced him, but she was no match for him. His touch withered her, transforming Maiden into Crone and she retreated to Ardilun, a fold in the Girdle. The Ravirs went with her, except Shandilar the Firstborn, who kept the Dark Lord at bay while they escaped. Kandol went to Ardilun once, he glowed when he talked about it, but after that one time, he couldn’t get back.
The Elder Days lasted a thousand years after the Battle of Unending Night, but the world wasn’t the same without the Full Radiance and the Stones. There was no reason to pray. The Earth Mother was dead or missing and the channelers couldn’t hear earthsong. Only the Earthmages could hear it now and they were few and far between.
When Man awoke, Kandol wanted them to know the Earth Mother and keep her memory alive. He came down from his mountain and taught those early men to love and honor the Maiden. The Earth Mother was dead, long live the Maiden! Through his teachings, she lived again in the villages along the coast of Fanar.
Long after Kandol had gone back to his mountain, a meteor crashed into one of those villages, only it wasn’t a meteor, it was a man. Raena, a girl from the village who daydreamed about the Elder Days, found him and named him Thar. Thar, who was really Umbar lord of sea and storm, had fallen all the way from heaven after battling his brother mad Rabyn and had a really bad concussion. He couldn’t remember a thing. Then, after looking into Raena’s eyes, he didn’t care if he ever remembered.
Raena nagged Thar into taking their daughters, Gwynna and Averanda, to see Kandol. He thought it was a waste of time, for all they knew the Elf Lord was dead, but she was dead set on it. The girls were special, she told him, and not to worry, the Fair Folk lived forever.
Kandol knew who Thar really was when they met, but never saw fit to tell him. That was just like Kandol. He did it without even thinking about it. He played with the truth like a Santa at Macy’s, always with the best intentions. He told Thar and Raena that that the girls and their descendants had important destinies and swore the sisters to the service of the Maiden.
Kandol was always stubborn. The goddess had been absent for close to three thousand years and still, he would not let her go. Talk about beating a dead horse, or in this case, a dead goddess.
When she was older, Gwynna returned to Kandol and leaned the Maiden’s lore. Honestly, I think Kandol made a lot of it up – the rituals, the prayers, the holy days, all of it – though he’d never admit it. Think about it, none of it existed in the Elder Days. Back then, it was all about the Stones and keeping the Dark Lord trapped. None of that mattered any more.
Gwynna’s descendants followed in her steps by coming to Pel Aesylle for remedial training. Elsewhere, the Earth Mother was a dead and forgotten goddess, but in Sangrithar she flourished as the Maiden, where the people loved her as much as they loved Umbar for more than four thousand years.
The curse put an end to it. Starting with Tormyn Blackheart, the God-Emperors persecuted the Maiden and her Devotees went into hiding. By Hali’s time, Torval, the most delusional God-Emperor of the bunch, believed himself Umbar reborn and crispy fried more than one unforunate dim-witted enough to speak out loud the name of another god.
Hali carried the Maiden’s memory south to Tyrnavalle, where she made a small comeback, but never attaining the five-star status she’d had at the height of the empire. As the settlers from Fanar spread south and founded new kingdoms, the Maiden was not forgotten. The legends of the Warrior, the Prince and the Priestess had crept into every religion over the millenia and all faiths claimed the Priestess, but those who remembered the Elder Days remembered the truth. At the end, when the Prophecies were fulfilled, her Priestess stood with the other heroes.