Monday, March 14, 2011

The Mountain of the Father of Wine

This mountain lies beyond a great desert. It is so high that any climber would feel drunk from the lack of air (unless they wore a 'climbing suit', a modified diving suit which allows one to carry their own air). But no climber comes, so far is it from any habitation. It is known only as the place of exile of the Father of Wine.

The Father of Wine is the god of wine, as well as comical theatre and carnivals. He is married to, but estranged from, the Ale-Mother. He is accompanied by a retinue of various creatures, who in days past roamed the land in a permanent state of drunken revelry, which could erupt into murderous violence at any moment. Centaurs of the wilderness often exile those of their number who go mad, and these are said to find and join the god. Dryads and fauns are also said to be found among the god's followers.

The most distinctive worshippers of the god, however, are the Snake-Wearers, also called the Howling Ones or Iron-Fingers. These are women who work themselves into a state of madness through dancing and wine. They are said to have a variety of magical arts, the most feared of which is a frenzy similar to the Viking berserkers or 'shield-chewers'. In this frenzy their fingernails are said to grow and harden until they are more like the claws of lionesses. It is not known whether their fingernails become literal iron, or whether the name Iron-Fingers simply indicates that they are as deadly as forged weapons. When livestock is found mutilated, it is said that it must have been one of these witches, on her way to the mountain to join the god.

The reason for the god's exile is as follows:

At one time lived Man-With-A-God-In-His-Mouth, the greatest singer, poet, and actor the world has seen, beloved by all. One day he happened upon the Father of Wine and his attendants in one of their ecstatic frenzies, and the Snake-Wearers fell on him in their madness and tore him apart. Out of spite, or perhaps from superstitious fear that this greatest of orators would denounce his murderers even after death, they cut off his head and sewed his mouth shut before burning it. Both god and witches went into exile to escape just retribution. On the way they formed the wine-lakes of The Desolation of Ozymandias. They now live in miserable poverty, which has reportedly not reduced their debauchery.

The witches claim that Man-With-A-God-In-His-Mouth was about to suggest a great crime, and his fame and grace were such that all would follow him. They refuse to say what the crime was, lest it be given the glamour of martyrdom. This is generally believed to be one of their many pointless lies.

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