“Her eyes were like pools of darkness and her hair was a dark cloud of perfume and as fine as silk. I saw her dance but once and knew she was a goddess for no mortal woman shines like all the stars in the heavens and moves with unearthly grace. I saw her but once and knew I must travel down every road and through every forest and over every mountain to see her just once more. Ah, Syeira Rartibal, I know not your name. But your eyes burned into my soul.” – From the Song of the Lungo Drom
Vanaria is the goddess of the Valzjenni people, dancing, dueling, diplomacy and love.
Titles: The Veiled Dancer, Vanaria Silver-Tongue, Queen of the Valzjenni, Princess Dark Hair
Holy Animal: Cats, as they capture Vanaria’s capriciousness, gracefulness, curiosity, playfulness, and temper.
Vanaria is the daughter of Aravel and Twiggle and sister of Teel. She takes after her father and is aligned under him as a Lord of Chaos, much to Aravel’s dismay. She is capricious and mischievous, though her silver-tongue and lovable nature help temper the Chaos she inherited from her father.
Vanaria is beautiful. She has long dark hair and striking dark eyes framed by long eyelashes. The sight of Vanaria is enough to make bards weep at her beauty and cause anyone who glimpses her to desire her and be filled with pangs of longing. Vanaria was the goddess of lust, not because of her behavior, but because she is cursed to inspire it in others. Belendor lusted after Vanaria in secret for many years and when Teel learned of this and mocked him with song Belendor became enraged. In his rage, he decided if Vanaria wouldn’t love him, she would never be loved. So he cursed her to inspire nothing but lust with her beauty, destroying any chance she would ever know true love. In one last act of love for his sister, Teel’s draconic servant used his mantle to shatter Belendor’s curse, freeing her. Vanaria is now the goddess of love, inspiring loyalty and love in those who know her rather than lust.
Vanaria’s love of dance, silver tongue, and carefree nature have caused the Valzjenni to claim her for their own. Some legends say that Teel, who loved many a fair maiden, is the father of the Valzjenni, and that they revere Vanaria because she taught them dancing, swordplay, and how to negotiate. And other legends tell of a lonely goddess who led a group of outcasts deep into the swampy wilds, helping them find a home of their own. Her true followers, most of them Valzjenni, are very protective of her, fighting duels whether with blade or with sharp wit and silver tongue, with any who besmirch her honor or say lewd things about her. This protectiveness and her own love of swordplay has made her the patroness of duelists, particularly those who are spellblades.
Vanaria is enigmatic and mysterious. She used to be good-spirited and kind, but she is drawn to her father and his capriciousness has tempered her gentleness with Chaos. She, unlike Twiggle, does not represent change for the sake of change. Instead, she uses her keen diplomatic skills to enact change in ways that benefit herself, her desires, and to bring harm to her foes.
Dancers, duelists, and diplomats all pay lip service to Vanaria hoping to curry her favor and gain some small measure of her talent for themselves. The Valzjenni are her most devout and loyal followers and many devote their lives to the worship of the Veiled Dancer. Some bards, particularly dancers, also are devoted to Vanaria as they feel she is the exemplar of their craft. Her clergy is active in governing Dranir. She prefers roadside shrines and small altars in homes to temples, but boasts a single grand temple hidden deep within Dranir.
Vanaria’s priests are often called whirling dervishes. They dance for enlightenment and for death. They never uttered a word of prayer in her name, they dance, spinning in endless circles with their arms held aloft seeking wisdom and a way to break Belendor’s curse. Now that the curse has been broken, they have a renewed vigor, and offer prayers of thanks to Teel for his princely gift to their lady. They are terrors on a battlefield, whirling with blades in hand delivering death with each strike. Many of them spent their lives hunting followers of Belendor and killing them, either in battle or by murdering them. To them, Belendor’s followers must pay for their Lord’s curses and transgressions against their beloved Queen and “fighting fair” or being honorable is out of the question. Vanaria has wisely instructed them to redirect their energies to teaching swordplay and showing her love to all of Azkon, though a few still hold grudges against Belendorians.
Approbation and Displeasure:
Actions/ideas that please Vanaria:
- Dance, whether skilled or unskilled, Vanaria appreciates those who are moved to dance by music
- Music that inspires dance. Truly blessed is the musician who weaves a tune that moves the Veiled Dancer to visit just so she can dance to the song.
- Duels, particularly those fought for to protect the honor of an innocent woman.
- Successful negotiations, whether small marketplace deals or treaties made between great nations.
- Minor mischief, nothing harmful, but simple playful mischief that causes laughter and delight
- Showing kindness to Valzjenni
- Fortune telling
Actions/ideas that displease Vanaria (and may result in loss of magical abilities):
- Destroying a happy, loving marriage or relationship
- Destructive lust, particularly after women who do not want the attention . Belendor’s curse was her one and only woe, and she still remembers it well.
- Intentional harm or murder of her followers and people Vanaria cares deeply for her people and is angered when they are harmed or suffer.
- Angry, miserable people who spread sadness and discord.
- Failing to properly care for a blade. Vanaria is not often remembered for her skill at swordplay but she holds swords to be amongst her sacred objects
- Failing to dance when moved by music to do so
- Showing kindness to a follower of Belendor.
- Stealing from temples of any kind. Vanaria is known to curse those who do.
Vanaria is mercurial and whimsical. Not all of the aforementioned actions always please or displease her. She is a difficult goddess to follow at times as her displeasure can be swift and confusing.
Holy Places and Holy Days
Every night is sacred to Vanaria as long as there is a fire to dance around and music being played for a gathering of people. And nowhere is more sacred than a raucous tavern with drink, music, and merriment. Her followers celebrate every occasion that provokes dance and every successful negotiation, duel, and the birth of every Valzjenni baby. Her followers once celebrated the death of every follower of Belendor that they slay with dance and and laughter, often spitting upon their fallen foes and mocking them with taunts of impotence and derisive scorn.
Vanarians also celebrate the day that Trimond was founded, as it is where her followers congregate. This was done in May, and is celebrated by dancing, feasting, dueling, and making deals. This day is known as “Reen Dzési.”
The Valzjennis are secretive about the history of their Queen. She is never referred to as “Mother” by any of them, though many outsiders think that the the Valzjennis are her children. They maintained that their beloved queen was chaste and pure, cursed never to find love by Belendor, and that their affinity for song comes from Teel who has loved many young Valzjenni women and that their affinity for dance comes from their Queen, who was moved to dance by the song that became Teel. New tales celebrating Darren, Teel’s dragon, as the breaker of curses and bringer of Teel’s blessings have grown in size and scope throughout Valzenn and Dranir.
Correct Worship and Rites/Rituals/Requirements
Followers of Vanaria typically engage in:
- Aiding Valzjennis in any way
- Performing a magic ritual using only dance and not speaking a word
- Offering thanks to Teel for the beautiful music that inspired your dance
- Overseeing negotiations or helping resolve minor conflict with words instead of blades
- Fighting duels
- Dancing endlessly, hoping to receive enlightenment or visions from Vanaria
- Perfecting one’s skills with a blade
- Showing one’s love in ostentatious and obvious ways– serenading, with lavish gifts, and proclaiming it loudly and publicly