The Mountains of Morpheus
In a world of mysticism, mystery, and danger, a person needs guidance from others. Facts change, theories fail to map to reality, books are heavy anyway — but words, through proverbs, can sustain small morsels of wisdom. Proverbs aren’t just items of remote profundity; the people of Drau-Mura keep them alive because each one has its own use.
Words rarely mean one thing. Allusion isn’t just a chain of signifiers; it’s a bit more like a branching system of images, tropes, and references. Context is all-important in determining whether, say, a person is using a proverb as a warning or a threat.
Asha: To the believers of Ashoum, the god Asha is the creator of the world, and Asha can be alluded to by proverbs, piously or humorously, to comment on people’s inherent worth and telos. The Creator would not have given us necks if we were not to stick them out.
Dragon: To most humans, halflings, and dwarves, the dragon represents that which is beyond mortal power or morality. To the Sky-born “race” of humans, however, the dragon represents power, dignity, magic, intellect, and other attributes to which to aspire. Only the dragon deems itself worthy to soar alone.
Double negatives: Rather than proclaim things in positive absolutes, proverbs more slyly use double negatives to insist on their truth. There is no freedom that is not fought for.
Hierarchy: In a feudal world of lords, knights, merchants and peasants, of gods and mortals, the ideologies of hierarchy, status, and class are usually well understood. Those who refuse a relation of parent and child, ruler and subject, are often held in pity and contempt. Of course, that is not to say authority is also resisted, or imposed by force, or made more palatable to those who decry it. Hierarchy is often naturalized by allusion to nature. The master who cannot protect her servants cannot protect her own honor.
Sword: Almost universally among Drau-Mura’s humans, the sword above all other weapons represents violence, especially war and its consequences. The symbolism is unambiguous. A sharp sword will harden her master’s heart.
Upan: The cosmic Adversary in the religion of Ashoum, the demonic god of death and destruction, Upan is in proverbs most often portrayed as the source of seductive lies and self-deceptions. Mortals do murder; Upan gives counsel that it is right.
Witch: In proverbs, the word “witch” can variously (and ambiguously) refer to an evildoer, magician, murderer, liar, or a mere social pariah. God’s rain falls even on the witch.
Asha is a fire that consumes but does not burn, a transformative love.
Children will hate all those who give all things to them.
Every orphan inherits a witch’s power.
Only the dragon keeps all that it takes.
The injurer always forgets. The injured never does.
To be hated by a human being is not to be hated by the Creator.
When no one refuses to relinquish the sword, all must learn to love it.