[Book] The Lily of Dibella

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[Book] The Lily of Dibella

Postby french ninja » Mon Jul 08, 2013 1:41 am

Hi all!

I've been working on this for about a month now and I would really appreciate feedback. I hope to have two other books done before my physical therapy internship two weeks from now. :mrgreen:
The Nordic religion is very different from that of the dunmer or even imperials. There's no real temple hierarchy, a codified set of rules and regulations, or even a creation story. Instead, nords heavily rely on stories to pass on traditions and tales about their gods. These stories can and often are contradictory to history or even previous tellings of the story but this is not important, as the enjoyment the story brings and what it teaches about the gods is what really matters.

http://www.imperial-library.info/conten ... ation-myth
"But I can see by the droop of your shoulders that none of this has met to your satisfaction. Let me show you then, the proper way to ask the Nords their proper place in history: ask them to tell you the oldest story they know that's also the best. That will get you as close to a creation myth as anything else, even if the next telling changes it a bit, but that's beside the point of being the point.

"Just because we hate to waste time in Skyrim, we have lots of it to use with nothing else to do, and there's no better way to use up time without wasting it than by telling a good story.

http://www.imperial-library.info/conten ... m-preamble
Indeed, the Nords freely admit their mythic haberdashery, and take great delight in mish-mashing their legends together (and the legends of others, even their historic enemies, the Aldmer and Orsimer) into “whatever just tells a good story at feast time.” As their Clever Men are fond of saying, “The snows melt and then freeze again and in the end it is all still so much water. Legends are the same.”

So that rules out a Nordic Lessons of Vivec. Instead, I thought about making a book dedicated to each Nordic god in the form of a folk tale that one would find in temples, barrows, homes, bookstores, etc. I decided to start with Dibella for two reasons: first, her temple is in Markarth and secondly, I wanted to help show a Dibella with a Nordic slant:


The Lily of Dibella

[The following is a popular tale amongst Nordic followers of Dibella, composed sometime in the later years of the First Empire of Man (1E 200- 1E 400)]. The following translation into modern Tamrielic was completed by members of the Hall of Culture in Winterhold, 3E 289]

It was in the days before Al-Esh cast down the southern elves and before Mori was [birthed] in Kyne's gale, a time that even I cannot say for certain, for that does not matter when telling a good story.
Dibella, the Pulchrimancer [Love-Magus?] of Creation, Bed-Wife of Shor, was going about her business in our land in a form of true Nordic beauty. Her hair was the color of Riften mead tightly woven in plaits with a crown of blue mountain flowers encircling her crown. The color of Atmora's shore were her eyes, the land Her skin, and She was dressed in a sky blue shift gorgeous in its stark simplicity. She wandered our beloved land, planted inspiration into the minds of hallskalds in Windhelm, coated the hills and vales of the Reach with wildflowers of a myriad of colors, and coaxed the intimate imaginations of youthful couples everywhere in between.

Our Maiden of Beauty was busy teaching the flowers the bee-dance in southern Haafingar Hold while a horrid creature spied upon Her with hatred in its heart. Feeling as if She were being watched, Dibella rose from Her work and gazed upward toward Mount Kilkreath.

From the top of the mountain, there came an elf.
But not just any elf
A Snow Elf.

Down from her mountain fastness did she tumble and hobble. Thud thud kerh strah thump! Thud thud kerh strah thump (you know of that funny way elves walk)! Skin the color of broth film, slivers of coal for eyes, chipped yellow teeth, and ears like a rabbit, she slid up to the goddess Dibella and glared with her malevolent gaze.

'Funny finding you here, Shor's harlot,' the elf sneered, 'Has your husband tired of you so soon that he sends you out to play in the dirt while he ruts with boars?'
Without flinching at the slovenly being's barb, Dibella straightened herself and smoothed the wrinkles from her dress. 'Good afternoon, elf,' said the goddess 'you seem quite ornery, even for a Snow Elf. Have I disturbed you from your slumber? I can remake your bed if you like. In fact, I believe I saw some [mammoth droppings] just down the road.'
The elf, upset with not getting a rile out of Dibella, stamped her feet and pointed accusingly at Her. 'Do NOT pretend that my words do not hurt you, for they are the truth! In fact, I am quite sure that even Shor himself would prefer even ME over you!'
Dibella, normally quite respectful, let out a bubbling cascade of giggling, of which twelve new kinds of mountain flowers were born. The snow elf just got angrier and angrier, her face becoming a bright shade of red while vainly grabbing at the newly born blossoms.
'I challenge you, Dibella, slattern of Men, to a contest of beauty! There will be no need for a judge, for even YOU will have to concede to my victory! That is, unless you are afraid of being unseated...'. The Falmer leered at our goddess with a most disgusting smile that could curdle vallagh milk. In response, Dibella looked long and hard at the [poor] creature. The elf's threat was ultimately without any real truth to it. Shor loved his wives dearly and He would never choose an elf as his bride. However, perhaps some good can come of this...

'I accept your challenge, elf,' said our goddess.
'Good! Good! Meet me here at the base of the mountain in one week time and we shall see who is the most beautiful in all of Mundus!'

With the details of the contest ironed out, the snow elf climbed back into her mountain fastness, cackling all the way. Dibella watched her go with a sigh. 'I suppose not everything has inherent beauty,' thought Dibella, 'but I believe I can teach her a lesson in humility'.

Skyward did Dibella look and shout, 'Sister Hawk! I require your aid in a most noble act! It involves humiliating an elf!' The clouds darkened and swirled. the veil parted and our deity looked upon a face both beautiful and [disquieting]. Dibella smiled. Her call was answered.

A week had passed and the elf had returned to the base of the mountain where she met Dibella. Her eyes were ringed with charcoal, her hair dyed a dark red with a substance better left unasked and a dress only slightly soiled by the detritus of her den. The falmer had an air of arrogance about her, the way a sabrecat trots around its wounded prey. 'There is absolutely no way that so called deity can beat me!' said the elf to herself. She spied Dibella just around the bend in the road, dressed in the same exact blue shift, although dirtier.

'Foolish goddess of Man, have you even bothered preparing? Just look at me!', boasted the falmer, striking a pose that she must have thought seductive.

'Yes you are quite lovely, but please tell me dear elf, what do you think of this flower of mine?' replied Dibella.

'Your...flower?!' exclaimed the elf.

'Yes, a flower.' Dibella pointed to a lily never before seen on Mundus. The petals were a shade of pink fading into a sky blue that reflected the light of Magnus. It's slender stem was peppered with broad leaves with the [texture of lamb's wool]. It was truly a magnificent plant, worthy of a hundred ballads. 'This past week I have toiled in this same spot, watering, weeding, and nurturing this plot of land. It's beautiful, isn't it?'

'I can't believe my ears. Even the Nord gods are dumb! This was a contest of beauty not agriculture!' cheered the elf. 'I win! I win! I win!'

The Falmer was cut off by a loud bang followed by a slow soft rumble, becoming ever louder and louder. The sky became dark and as Dibella and the elf looked up, the former smiled and the later formed a most comical grimace (well, to us anyway). A unfathomable horde of pale green moths, arrayed in an elaborate yet ever-changing formation, had arrived and formed a thunderous maelstrom above their heads.

'Is this some sort of nordic trickery? What in Auriel's name is THAT monstrosity?!' cried the Snow Elf.
'A lesson on what true beauty is, you poor thing' replied the goddess.

The moths, as if on cue, sharply dove to the pale blue lily encompassing the entire clearing in a tumultuous funnel cloud of moths. The elf fled for cover behind a nearby boulder and could not believe her eyes.

True, the moths were very enamored by the lily Dibella had worked so hard on over the last week, but that was not their only reason for collecting themselves in such a horde. The moths, after partaking of the lily's nectar, laid their eggs in piles the size of snow drifts, and then flew away.

However, it did not stop there! The eggs, blessed by Kyne herself, quickly hatched in the manner of seconds after the departure of the moths, and began to crawl towards Dibella. The goddess merely looked at the horrified elf, with a coy grin, threw back her head and arms. The worms covered every inch of the goddess, squirming and wriggling for what seemed like forever to the snow elf. Then, the worms curled into cocoons and dropped to the ground.

The falmer could barely believe her eyes. In what only minutes before was a mud-stained shift was now a beautiful pale green dress. The dress, upon closer inspection, was not a solid color, but a rainbow of different shades of green in a constant state of transition. Why, there was enough silk upon her body to make a nibenean nobleman keel over in a fit of rapture! Her hair was bound in a multitude of small interlinked silk ribbons. A plunging neckline, surrounded by white frills, and tight silk wrappings around her stomach, amplified her bosom and hips. The hem of her dress, trailed on the ground, but no clump of dirt dare sully it, as to do so would violate the will of Dibella's dear sister. Already some of the cocoons had begun to hatch and held up the bottom of her dress as tiny handmaidens. Truly the world had never seen such a vision before or ever since.

'I believe I have won, elf' stated Dibella.

'Cheat! Charlatan! Mannish mammoth humper!' bellowed the Falmer in a most unattractive fit. She was so caught up in her rage that she did not notice the wayward silkworm, which she crushed under her heel in her stomping.

Dibella's face darkened and the piles of cocoons hummed as they broke open and angered moths once again swarmed into a funnel and then exploded into an angry tidal wave directed at the murderer of their kin. The elf let out a shriek and fled up to her mountain fastness, prodded by the moth horde all the way, to bother neither man nor god ever again.

Dibella teaches us a very important lesson about true Nordic beauty. It isn't something you can just smear on your face or hang on your neck, for these are the tools of the deceitful and other elfkind. Beauty is earned through hard work and toil, which brings happiness, art, and love into Shor and Kyne's gift to all Nords.
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Re: [Book] The Lily of Dibella

Postby Worsas » Mon Jul 08, 2013 8:54 am

I'm not a literature professor, but to me this reads like a fantastic story, written in the spirit of our TES lore community.

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Re: [Book] The Lily of Dibella

Postby Luxray » Wed Jul 10, 2013 8:51 pm

I actually read this on Monday and forgot to write what I thought. Sorry. :)

I like it overall. The tone is good for the most part. I'm lacking the reason why it is in a book, though. I can imagine it being told around a fire as Nords pass around the mead, but I think it needs some sort of preface explaining the whole thing (this is an ancient nordic folktale, doesn't have a single author, passed down since 1E, etc, etc). I know introductions like this in TES-books are a bit cliched, but I feel it needs 'something' (especially if this is to be part of a series).

'nords' -> should probably capitalise the race names (like being an Englishman or American, you're a Nord, or a Breton, etc)
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Re: [Book] The Lily of Dibella

Postby Yeti » Thu Jul 11, 2013 9:00 pm

Overall I really like this piece, french ninja. You've shown good insight by researching outside lore sources to find the right tone for a Nord religious text. I can't wait to see what you end up writing for the other gods, though I'd also eventually like to see a continuation of your Reachmen creation story. The first two parts were so excellent, I've been itching for more. 8-)

As Luxray said, this piece could use a preface of some sort. If Nord folklore is as fluid as the quotes you posted suggest, I feel there should be some kind of introduction explaining why this particular tale was written down. It doesn't necessarily have to name an author for the text. In fact, I think it would be best to avoid naming authors for books like these. A short dedication that blends into the style of the main text would be best, I think.

Also, I noticed this one minor error while reading:

'Do NOT pretend that my words not hurt you, for they are the truth!

It should be "my words do not hurt you".
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Re: [Book] The Lily of Dibella

Postby french ninja » Thu Jul 18, 2013 4:55 am

Thanks everyone! :)

I went ahead and changed a few things (capitalizing race names, "my words do not hurt you") and I also added a forward to the book. I also added a few additions by translators that give the feeling that some meaning of words are lost in translation.

Is there a certain subject that we need looked at? The next two (besides the Reachman creation myth) coming up include a book on Nordic politics for Imperial visitors and a book similar in vein to "Ruins of Kemel-Ze", except its for Direnni ruins.
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Re: [Book] The Lily of Dibella

Postby Luxray » Thu Jul 18, 2013 11:40 am

roerich has suggested I write a book about the cultural ideas taken from the atmoran settlers in modern-day old holds, which I am working on currently. Sorry to interject in your thread, but I just thought I would mention in case you had a similar idea :)
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