The First Soul in the Ground



While Athelstan loved nothing more than bringing pain and suffering to those who followed Estereal and his allies, Othniel derived greater satisfaction from stealing their souls, a far more permanent gain. Sadly for the Soultaker, the sleeping gods, Sunube and Akodi, had great respect for the souls of the humans they had created, and placed many protections upon them before sinking into their eternal slumber. The only souls not protected were the souls of mortals who worshipped none of the gods, and these Othniel was able to take in addition to the souls of his own followers.

But Othniel wanted more. He wanted to take the souls of good mortals who worshipped The One and his supporters, and to corrupt those souls. Othniel went to Bittor, god of Corruption, his second child by Wajen, with whom the Othniel had long shared a secret passion. Othniel persuaded Bittor to spread a miasma of evil over all the burial grounds in the world, thus allowing Soultaker to claim possession of these areas.

The other gods were furious when all the souls of departed mortals, even those of their most beloved priests, were delivered by Declan, god of death, to Othniel. When challenged, Declan insisted that Othniel had rightfully claimed these souls, and he had no choice but to deliver them where they belonged.

Bewildered, the gods went to Oghma, god of knowledge. Oghma informed that, in order to take the burial grounds away from Othniel, the miasma of corruption that infected them must first be purified. Sending Azkal to the Abyss to distract Othniel and Athelstan with a great battle, Estereal ordered Wajen to put all living things in the world to sleep. He then instructed Torodin to transport them all to the top of Mount Vexus. While they were thus protected, he directed Jvelto to flood the world with his purifying waters. When the waters receded, Bittor´s miasma of corruption would be gone forever.

Estereal´s plan would have worked perfectly. But Siwili, Torodin´s son by Wajen and the Shadowlord´s favorite child, found Othniel´s soul stealing amusing, and he decided to intervene. Just before the last of the waters seceded from the earth, he transformed into a raven and flew to the Abyss, where Othniel was observing Athelstan and Azkal pummeling each other with great joy. Siwili landed on Othniel´s shoulder and told him what the good gods were up to.

Othniel was enraged. He summoned the god of poison, Txomin, Othniel´s son by Thecla, goddess of fear. At once, Txomin went to spread poison among Jvelto´s purifying waters. But, by the time he did so, almost all of the purifying water had already receded. Only a few drops of corrupted water remained. Txomin did the best he could, bending them to his will and concentrating the poisoned water on the world´s graveyards.

As a result, a taint of evil remained in every burial ground. The gods soon discovered that some of the souls buried in every graveyard would belong to Othniel. Thanks to Txomin´s intervention, Othniel was able to claim the soul of the first mortal buried in any graveyard, and the souls of all those buried by the light of Reeba´s moon. The gods quickly spread word among their faithful that the only mortals to be buried at such times where those who had committed terrible crimes, and this has been the tradition ever since.