“And then a river opened up from Spollnar and shining Vitale swam out from his mother’s womb. And lo, Spollnar cried, not from joy of her son, but at the thought of lying again in the arms of her beloved Garruth. And yet, had she spared a moment for Vitale, she may have been proud, for Vitale had the youthful vigor of the spring and, from his unnamed father, a reverence for all that lived.
Stronger of thews than even Pugnar was Vitale. Mighty enough to bear the weight of Esel upon his shoulders should the Girdle falter, the Shining One’s strength was a beacon to the hosts of Heaven and his glory lifted oppression from the backs of the weary. For he was a shield and a sword, an avenger, and a redeemer and no tyrant could stay his hand. Like unto a flame eternal, he shone with the brilliance of the Suns and gave hope to all who walked the earth. Spollnar had given Heaven a shining prince to lead the hosts against the legions of the night, but when she gazed upon him, all the deception overwhelmed her. She crumbled from the weight of it and ordered Vitale away.”
Vitale (vee-tah-lay), God of Victory, War, the Lifter of Oppression.
Vitale was what you might call a stud. Utterly handsome, with muscles upon muscles, he cut a figure that any maiden would swoon for, all bright and glittery and dripping with leadership. The nominal leader of the Vanara, though Glorianna might have objected to that characterization, Vitale was a god born to lead and inspire. Even his nicknames – the God of Victory, the Lifter of Oppression, the Shining One – spoke to the buoyant optimism oozing from his precious pores.
Lillandra gave credence to his claim of leadership. One of the mighty Craeylu, the Lady of the Hearth, she who had set the pattern of the seasons into the world, she who, with her brother Aerdran the Thunderer, brought the plants and animals of Sangrar to life. As old and wise as Lillandra was, she was also a woman and not without vanity. She thought herself the most beautiful of all the gods, though Celetran and Glorianna were rivals to her throne of pulchritude. The very sight of Vitale made her swoon like a barmaid at last call and she was determined to lure him in. She waited, like a lioness hiding in the tall grass, for the right opportunity to win his heart.
Surprisingly, Zara the Temptress, that dark goddess of lust, daughter of One-Eye, provided her that opportunity. Lust incarnate, Zara was not immune to Vitale’s allures. Indeed, she hungered for him like a South Beach dieter hungers for French Fries, but she knew that this bright god of the Blessed Kingdom could never open his heart to one such as her. Truth be known, Zara didn’t want his heart. She wanted a different part of his body and she was willing to do anything to satisfy her desire.
Vitale was known to frequent Sangrar, to dazzle the mortals with his brilliance, to inspire, and on occasion to dip his wick, for he was a god and had an insatiable appetite. Zara knew of his proclivities. She waited for one of his booty sojourns and then entrapped him. Disguised as a young maiden, she lay in the forest upon a bed of roses wearing only her birthday suit where Vitale was sure to spot her. Sure enough, the Shining One saw her and was entranced. He would have lain with her had Lillandra not intervened. The Ban of Zuras prevented her from coming down to Sangrar and interceding in person, but she was not without power. Everything in nature responded to her command and she bid the grass entwine the Temptress while her brother the Thunderer, who ever had her back, brought down a torrent upon the Temptress which washed away her disguise. When Vitale saw the truth, he jumped away in shame, knowing that he had come perilously close to giving in to Temptation.
He journeyed to the Outermost Heavens to offer Lillandra his thanks and that, as they say, was his undoing. In the Lady of the Hearth, Vitale beheld a wondrous vision of beauty. He lost his heart to her in that moment and they have been together ever since. It’s a bit of a May-December romance. You could say Lillandra was the world’s first cougar. The truth is, it’s even worse than that. Lillandra was Vitale’s grandmother, though relations among the gods was not the same as relations between men or even the Elder Races.
The lineage goes like this. Lillandra brought forth Shamran, Lord of Plants, as one of the Ealar. Shamran was a benign god, one who figured but little in the Tale of Ages save for one important role. When Celetran hatched her plot to bring forth the Vanara, she tapped Shamran to couple with Spollnar the River Goddess. The product of their union was Vitale the Lifter of Oppression. So, Lillandra was Vitale’s grandmother. Did this relationship factor into their love? I know, it sounds kinky, perhaps even perverse, but I think it did matter, if only on a subconscious level.
Vitale was a god meant to inspire. He inspired Men, filling them with hope and confidence to stand against the forces of evil. He inspired the gods, rallying the Heavenly Hosts to battle the legions of the night when the Dark Lord knocked upon the Gates of Heaven. He inspired the spirits of the dead, who sought to make the Blessed Kingdom bright, peaceful and tranquil.
And yet, he was a war god too, and so, like Deridean the Councilor, he inspired Men to become knights, warriors who upheld virtue, protected the weak and gave succor to the poor. Deridean gave Vitale tough competition when it came to knighthood. The Councilor was a god of truth and justice, or as I like to put it, a Superman god, who championed life, liberty, Chevrolet and apple pie, but Vitale gave him a run for his money. On Tyrnavalle, Deridean rose to pre-eminence in the latter part of the Age of Man, fueled in large part by the coming of Murtav the Avatar, but on Fanar, Vitale’s knight orders ran circles around the Councilor’s.
When I say the word knight, I suspect your mind conjures images of warriors dressed in mail, waving standards proclaiming their house, jousting and swinging swords, and saving maidens from peril. And you’d be right, that’s exactly what knights were on Sangrar, but Vitale was hardly the epitome of knighthood from a purist point of view. He didn’t even deign to wear armor, which medieval scholars such as your Chaucer would decry as heresy. Vitale felt no need to sheathe himself in metal, his very brilliance was armor and proof against injury. Those with evil in their hearts could barely stand to look upon him for fear his light would burn them to cinders.
Yet armor does not make one a knight. Noble purpose does and in this Vitale was unparalleled. They named him the Lifter of Oppression because of his ability to inspire, because he brought hope to those in need, because he gave those wallowing in fear the confidence to pick themselves up and persevere. More than any other god, Vitale inspired many knight orders across the world and across the ages. On Fanar, in the time of Hali, Endiron’s Knights of the Wreath, the Brotherhood of Victory in Jeheris, and the Bronze Order in Orland were examples of knight orders battling under Vitale’s banner, as was the Order of the Spring, a knight order dedicated to both Vitale and Lillandra, which was founded in the city of Renk centuries after Hali came to Tyrnavalle.
Vitale’s symbol was a wreath of laurel surrounding a morningstar of gilded bronze on a field of green. The laurel was a token of affection for his lady love, Lillandra of the Hearth. The Morningstar was his weapon of choice, another departure from the strict canon of knighthood which prized the sword over other weapons. The bronze came from his friendship with Langatorax, a bronze dragon he befriended on Sangrar when Man was just taking his first steps. Dragons were new to the world then, Norath’s Doom having recently concluded, and the great winged wyrms terrified the race of Man with their great claws, snapping tails and breath of fire, even though those who shared Dracorys’s noble spirit wanted only to befriend them. When Langatorax flew over the Harrowmeet, he was young and his scales had not yet hardened. A fortuitous spear hurled by a terrified villager struck the wyrmling and penetrated his heart. The dragon fell from the sky and would have perished, had not Vitale, fresh from a maiden conquest, stumbled upon him and healed the wound in his heart. So grateful was Langatorax that he offered to serve as a mount for the God of Victory, and the twain was evermore joined in friendship and in battle.