[Written] On Death and Dying: The Perspectives of Phantera’s Lesser Races

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[Written] On Death and Dying: The Perspectives of Phantera’s Lesser Races

Post  Kiel Reid on Tue Mar 08, 2011 3:02 pm

On Death and Dying: The Perspectives of Phantera’s Lesser Races

The following Essay entitled On Death and Dying: The Perspectives of Phantera’s Lesser Races was writen by Tils Antor, sixth tomb of House Toevass. It is the only essay he wrote during his short career. Tils was killed in 978 p.e.w. just one week after his research on death was complete.

The one constant upon Phantera is death. The hold of fire tightening its grasp until we crumble and return to the earth. Every race and region has its own way of viewing death. Some feel that death is just a natural part of the cycle that keeps Phantera fresh and new; Others feel that death is a gateway to some other realm; but one thing is agread upon, death is what gives life its meaning. Without it, we would have no end, no motivation to accomplish our hopes and dreams. Without death, life would be a stagnant pool of routine with one decade blending into the next. This essay will examine the philosophy of death and funeral rites by race.

The races of Phantera tend to have beliefs on death that run the same throughout the race. They rarely change practice by region. Most feel that this is out of a sense of cultural pride and a yearning to be identified as there race rather than an inhabitant of an area. This essay goes into the practices of the Elves, Dwarves, Avyana, Valkin’vi, Gnomes, Guthries, Ga’vin, and Orcs.

The Elven people view death not as an end but a return to the cycle. They believe that when an Elf dies, his body decays and out of it springs new life in the form of plants which, in turn, nourish the fauna and the Elven people. Out of death comes life and because of death, the life of others is sustained. Perhaps, this philosophy is at the root of the Elven hatred for undead (And those who create and control them). The undead are not only a perversion of the cycle, they rob the nutrients from the soil that the plants need to survive. In the elven philosophy, the survival of the Elven people as a whole is tied directly to the survival of the plant life around them.

The Elven method of disposing of the dead is burial. When an Elf is born, a tree is planted in his name. Throughout his life, the Elf tends to this tree and visits it often as a means of solidifying the link between himself and nature. When an Elf dies, the body is buried at the base of the tree, thus completing the cycle. When an Elf dies of natural causes, the funeral ceremony is somewhat joyous. Story are told about the person, songs are sung, foods of all types are consumed in one giant feast, and the family revals in the fact that the deceased had lived a full life. When an Elf dies at a young age or of non-natural means, the funeral becomes very somber and sorrowful. The same sorts of activities are still carried out, however, the whole tone is one of mourning for a person who never received the opportunity to taste the full sweetness of life.

The Dwarven view on death is quite complex, however, as a whole death is seen as an unavoidable end to the life of a warrior, his last achievement of honor. The dwarves believe that when they die, they are judged by the first king and if they are found to be honorable and worthy, they are admitted into the hall of heroes for eons of drinking, brawling, and storytelling while they await the call for aid from the living Dwarves as they battle once and for all for total domination of Phantera. This dwarven view of death as a crowning achievement of honor is perhaps the reason Dwarves are so shocked when they see dwarven undead. Dwarves see it as a point of honor to destroy the undead form of other dwarves. They see it as releasing the person to be judged.

The dwarven funeral rites can be divided into three categories, honorable, dishonorable, and old age. Those who die with honor in combat or defending the homeland are given a tremendous funeral. The body is displayed in full battle gear on a pyre. The family and friends gather around the pyre and feast. When the meal is over, the pyre is lit and one by one, the friends and family tell a story about the deceased and add a log to the fire. In the case of a particularly popular dwarf, this ceremony can last days. The stories tend to be of how the deceased gained some amount of honor. There is much drinking involved in the ceremony and often times, the most revered brewers bring their best ales for consumption. Those Dwarves who die with dishonor are not afforded such luxurious ceremonies. They are burned and the ashes are buried outside of the homeland. Often times, the body is displayed tied to a post. The enemies of the deceased then spit on the body or stab and punch it. The body is then burned standing up with no weapons or armor. Those who die of old age, of which there are very few, are simply thrown off of a cliff and left to rot. It is a sign of great cowardice for a dwarf to die of old age.

The Avyana have a very up close and personal familiarization with death. They are warriors by nature and spend a lot of time in battle, however, they also spend alot of time fleeing from battle. This may account for the Avyanna’s tendency to view death as an animate predator that is constantly chasing them through life. An old Avyana saying is “Death can only catch you if you stand still”. The image of death, A large vulture like humanoid, is a favorite ornament for Avyana mercenaries and warriors. It is thought that by adorning weapons and armor with the symbol of death, they can convince him not to take them and to take their enemies instead.

The Avyana practice of burial is somewhat lackluster. If the body can be retrieved, the traditional means of burial is to place the deceased on a peak and call carrion birds to the area to devour the flesh of the fallen. The family would stand by and mourn the dead and watch the body until the eyes were consumed, the birds would then be scared off and the body buried under a pile of rocks. The family would then wear a light black cloth over their eyes until dawn the next day in mourning for the deceased. This is a symbolic gesture that links the living, veiled eyes, with the dead who no longer has his eyes. If the body cannot be retrieved without much risk to the living, it is left where it died.

The Valkin’vi, above any other race, view death as a transition. It is Valkin’vi legend that they came from another realm known as Mistrialla. The Valkin’vi feel that when they die, they simply shift forms and return to Mistrialla. The Valkin’vi are in no rush to die, however. They feel that in order to truly enjoy Mistrialla, they must complete what they were sent to Phantera to do. If they do not fulfill there own prophecy, given to them by a soothsayer at birth, they believe that their new life in Mistrialla will be one of poverty and misery.

When a Valkin’vi dies, the body is burned in an open air ceremony where the family joins together in fasting. By the light of the bodies flame, the deceased’s prophecy is recited and the family and friends cite examples of how the deceased has met it. After the fire has consumed the body, the ashes are scattered into the wind. The Valkin’vi feel that the deceased can communicate with the living through dreams. To incite these dreams, loved ones often place objects under their pillows as they sleep that remind them of the dead. Those particularly close to the deceased may do this every night whereas others may do so when they have news for the dead or wish to ask a question that the deceased may know the answer to.

Gnomes tend to view death the way they view life, with great curiosity. Gnomish philosophers have debated for centuries what is beyond death. The theories have run the gamut from re-incarnation to simply rotting in the ground, from eternal bliss in a paradise to eternal toil in a giant field that is ever in need of plowing. No one theory has been given more credit than any other for one simple reason, no proof can be gathered until death, then it is simply too late.

Gnomish funeral rites tend to be quite plain. The friends and family of the dead gnome gather and say a few words, then the body is lowered, in the finest clothes the deceased owned, into the earth where it remains to decay and become part of the soil. Monuments are erected at the grave site that commemorate the life of the deceased. These monuments vary in size depending on the importance and wealth of the deceased and the surviving family. Often times, gnomes with engineering or architectural backgrounds design their own monuments as a display of their abilities. These monuments are visited often by the family especially on the birth and death day of the deceased.

The Guthries believe death is the biggest adventure that exists. It is the ultimate in exploring the unknown.

The Ga’vin view death as a test, just as they view jumping in the fire during their rite of manhood. The Ga’vin feel that when they die, they are reborn into something different depending on how “Well” they died. Those with the most gruesome deaths or those who die defending the “Father” may have the chance to once again live as a Ga’vin. Those who die of old age or commit suicide may come back as a flee or tick. This creates a yearning in the Ga’vin to make their death have meaning and purpose. A senseless death may doom a Ga’vin to a life even lower than the one they already lived.

The Ga’vin view the body of the deceased as a shell. No special care is taken with it. Often times, out side of a Ga’vin village, there will be an area where the bodies of dead Ga’vin are thrown to decompose. The soil from these decomposition areas is very rich and is used to fertilize the village’s primary food production field. The bones of the deceased, however, are treated with some manor of respect. The bones of those Ga’vin who were high in social standing are placed in a pile with the bones of the others of the same social standing who have died. It is suggested that this symbolizes the unity of the people.

The Half-Orcs have little in the way of a philosophy concerning death. The most articulate half-orc I interviewed, an Orcish “Hero” named Ka, stated “Death is big sign of weakness”. This sentiment seems to be it in the way of thoughts on death. Most half-orcs, when asked, simply shrug their shoulders and say “Death Happens...Don’t Like But No Fear”. This lack of philosophy also carries over to their funeral rites. There is no one common rite amongst half-orcs. Some simply discard the dead, others eat the dead if they are hungry.

Kiel Reid

Posts : 47
Join date : 2011-02-01
Age : 31
Location : Naperville IL

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