The Stone Doorway
The Triune of Lloth
A particular sect of the Church, the Sect of the Triune, is extremely popular in Thyn’vlek, and hardly to be seen elsewhere. The sect is so small that it could almost be called a cult, except that, according to legend, the Sect received the explicit blessing of Lloth long ago, prior to the coming of the Necromancer, in a Miracle known as the Night of Starshine.
The Miracle happened so long ago that the exact spot of its occurance has long since been lost to history. However, the story of this Miracle is as follows: Near the ruling city of Verenzoraean, there was a great earthquake. This earthquake was so great that the roof of a large cavern broke, and a large triangular piece fell away, to reveal sunshine! For one week, this sunshine remained. In spite of the fact that nothing had ever grown in this cave, mushrooms, ferns, and lichens were said to have instantly sprouted, and to have taken triangular growing patterns which followed the perfect triangular wedge that was now missing from the ceiling. These plants took an accelerated growth cycle, sprouting and dying within the seven-day period. On the Seventh day of this Miracle, it is said that Lloth herself appeared, standing with two others – a man and a woman. Lloth stated that the Miracle was a sign, and gave instructions that Her followers were dedicate a following to the Triune, which would consist of herself and of these two precious Drow. After these instructions were given, the cave collapsed completely into rubble. Its location has long since been lost.
The Church proclaimed this event as a Miracle, and dutifully established the Sect of the Triune, which has remained an officially sanctioned branch of the church ever since. However, in the more-populated sections of the kingdom, the Sect is a very minor player at best. Its main function there involves the accurate keeping of the calendar (a more difficult proposition underground than it first appears) and the guardianship of the church Holy Days. This ensures that these Holy Days are celebrated on the correct dates, lest Lloth or one of the other gods take offense that a Holy Day has been marginalized or forgotten. For the most part, the duties of the Sect of the Triune are obscure and somewhat geeky.
In Thyn’Vlek, however, the Sect of the Triune has a great deal more influence. The reason for this is because Thyn’Vlek has something which the rest of the community does not: the presence (indirectly) of sunlight, and a genuine farming season.
According to the dogma of the Sect, Lloth is in fact a member of a Triune, whose functions are vital to the correct functioning of the world. The members of the Triune are:
Lloth, herself – In the Triune view of Lloth, Lloth is the Goddess of Destruction, weaving, and spiders. She is, of course, considered to be the greatest of the Three. Her season is the autumn.
Zaknhrae – Lloth’s husband – yes, husband, and not concubine. Zaknhrae is the God of Renewal, spinning, and silkworms. His purvue lies in the secret workings behind the scenes, which result in large changes that are visible to everyone – even if no one really understands why. It is said that Lloth loves him above all things, and for his sake, will not destroy everything, lest such destruction affect him adversely. His season is the winter.
Qualnala – Zaknhrae’s sister, and Lloth’s sister-in-law. Qualnala is the goddess of Creation, Sensuality, and Cats. Her season is spring/summer. While Lloth and Qualnala would normally be the bitterest of enemies, the two goddesses hold an uneasy truce for the love of Zaknhrae.
The relationships of the Triune are complex, but are generally mapped as follows:
Lloth and Zaknhrae: The pairing of Lloth and Zaknhrae represents the exciting, tumultuous relationship of lovers. This is most often seen as the appropriate domination/submission relationship between woman (dominating) and man (submitting.) Also represented is the intricate relationship between pain/pleasure, and punishment/sex. However, the pairing can also be seen as the influence of a treasured male, who can persuade his female to do something for his sake that she would not normally consider.
Lloth and Qualnala: The pairing of Lloth and Qualnala represents those awkward, political family relationships that are so common among the Drow. Common concepts include enemies setting aside their emnity to work for some common goal: also, enemies who have come to know each other so well that they have become friends (who occasionally try to kill each other.) However, the most common relationship represented is that of political intrigue.
Qualnala and Zaknhrae: The relationship of Qualnala and Zaknhrae represent the ties that can occur among blood siblings, and most especially represent the inseperable relationship of twins. While Drow do not generally encourage or foster love of siblings for each other, and such siblings often grow to be enemies, they can also grow to be allies – and no alliance is so strong as one forged in blood.
The farmers of Thyn’Vlek work very closely with the Temple of the Blue Lady (the Temple is one of the very few which are dedicated entirely to the Sect of the Triune.) The calendar of the Drow is divided into three, not four, seasons (Spring and Summer are almost indistinguishable underground, and are considered to be the same season.) The changing of each of these seasons is marked by a Holy Day, which corresponds roughly to the changing needs of the farming community.
The highest of the three High Holy Days is the Day of Destruction. This Day occurs at the end of the growing season, and marks the day after which no more spores will be harvested for the year. This Holy Day marks the end of summer and the beginning of fall, when the temperature drops drastically, and the mushrooms all die and rot. The rotting mushrooms, of course, entice scores of bugs to eat the soggy flesh, which themselves draw in countless spiders. If a great many spiders are seen, it is considered a good omen for the following year’s growing season.
The next High Holy Day is the Day of Renewal. This Day occurs at the end of fall, and marks the transition from Autumn to Winter. By this time, the mushrooms are all dead and rotted, and the bugs and spiders have all left. This Day occurs just before frost turns into actual ice. The Academy of Arcane Science and the Temple of the Blue Lady send apprentices to the farmers, and they and a small army of slaves all get together to cut down the remaining stems, mulch everything, and turn the soil for the following year. This is very hard work, and one of the few ceremonies in which the entire town participates. After the last field has been prepared to sleep for the winter, there is an enormous communal feast, and much revelry.
The final High Holy day is the day of Creation. This day occurs at the beginning of spring, and marks the opening of the nine-week period in which various mushroom spores are planted. The scattering of spores is serious business, and they are often planted in patterns obtained by various forms of divination. Particular care is taken with those caves that are coming off of a “resting” year, and planting of these caves takes more time than all other caves combined.
By tradition, a mushroom cave may be cultivated for three consecutive years: one year to represent each of the three members of the Triune. However, religious observance demands that the fourth year be reserved as a year of thanks for the crops of the prior years, and thus the cave is “rested.” During this sacred year, no hands may work in the cave. Mushrooms are allowed to grow exactly as they will and are not harvested or trimmed in any way. At the end of the year, all of the rotted vegetation – not just the leftover stems – is mulched and turned over in the usual fashion.
Farmers are not fond of the resting period, but there are certain compensations. Chief among these is the observation that certain species of mushrooms will grow only in a cave that has been rested in the prior year. These mushrooms tend to be rare and expensive varieties, and a farmer who plants carefully can make up for the year of rest with the profits from the more desirable crop of the following season. Also, superstition holds that farmers that do not rest their caves risk the wrath of Lloth herself. In addition to all of this, House Tal Mal’Edge has come out in strong support of the custom, making it impractical to refuse. Caves are rested on a rotational schedule, so that no individual farmer has to bear too much of a financial burden from unworked fields, and caves at rest are exempt from taxes for the season.
When all crops have been planted, a celebration is held to greet the oncoming season of growth. The celebration doesn’t exactly feature fireworks, but does employ the use of colored fires, as well as the recreational use of many different sorts of spores. Poisonings and hangovers are common occurances during the Festival of Flames.