Eldath is the guardian of groves, and her presence is felt wherever there is calm. She is also regarded as a goddess of serenity, comfort, and healing. Any waters blessed by her are known to cure sickness and madness. They can also calm the dying, giving them peace and a natural passing.
Eldath is a pacifist who avoids hostile action, even if threatened. Although she, quiet, and enigmatic, Eldath is possessed of unknown depths of character and unexpressed resolve that cannot be broken. She meets challenges by strategically withdrawing, a course of action that in time always leads opponents to overextend into an untenable position in which their reinforcements have been converted to her side. Recently she has been suffering many attacks from Malar and his followers, with the People of the Black Blood despoiling several of her sacred pools.
In a world brimming with evil deities and their servants, ogres, goblins, warring nations, and other hostile forces, it is not surprising that Eldath's philosophy of peace and calm has failed to catch on. Still, legends speak of heroes who embraced the cause of Eldath and abandoned warfare forever. One race of beings who travel against the tide of war with Eldath are the ondonti, a pacifistic orcish race.
Pacifists and lovers-of-nature cleave to the Green Goddess. Many are vegetarians and herbalists who desire to take no life, but the ranks of the Eldathyn are studded with hardy adventurer-priests who serve as envoys to other faiths, act as go-betweens with urban worshipers (often guiding them to and from forest fastness temples), and carry items and messages from priest to priest within the faith. Although it is part of the making of a priest of Eldath that an individual must travel the lands widely enough to pray in at least nine sacred fastnesses (temple groves) dedicated to the goddess. Most Eldathyn settle in one grove or one forest and live their lives thereabouts.
Eldath's clerics rarely resort to any sort of open confrontation, instead working subtly. It is a mark of skill among Eldathyn (especially adventurer-priests, known as "Freewalkers") to defeat foes with defensive spells, making an enemy defeat himself through misdirection and manipulation.
Eldathyn usually spend their lives tending unspoiled places to ensure that they survive and even flourish in the face of human and other depredations. Priests of Eldath replant burned areas, purge areas of plant diseases, construct boulder firebreaks, irrigate wooded areas, and clear streambeds to make rivulets flow more swiftly or create dams to slow runoff and encourage the life created by small pools. They even make bargains with nearby foresters to cut only in certain areas and leave other woodlands alone.
Eldath has a hatred of indiscriminate and greedy woodcutters, those who use fire as a weapon, and avaricious millers and careless beings who foul rivers and other waters. Her clergy are pledged to work against such individuals by whatever means seem most prudent for long-term success. They rarely resort lo any sort of open confrontation for as long as possible as it tends to bring attacks down on the clergy - but hidden priests can work in opposition unhindered.
Eldathyn are also charged with observing and recording what sort of birds, beasts, and plants dwell in what places and the changes in the amounts and locations of such flora and fauna over the years. They are to report such things to their superiors on a regular basis so that the senior clergy members, working with those of Silvanus and Mielikki, can interpret long-term trends in regional ecologies.
To raise funds for personal and church support, priests of Eldath may act as water-dowsers by employing an infallible water divination spell known to the church, as herbalists, gardeners, or as potion-makers.
Few Eldathyn live-in large settlements, but many dwelt in springside cottages-often with trained guard animals-within an easy ride of cities or large towns so as to be able to serve the local populace as sources of medicines and potions. Many people come to Eldath for desperate healing, or else for help in overcoming memories of a violent past: a single event that affected them, or an accumulation of violent experiences.
Clergy of Eldath are all taught to swim, and often teach this skill to nonbelievers in return for small offerings of food and coins.
VestmentsPriests of Eldath dress simply in green and blue robes decorated with water-colored (blue, green, translucent, and opalescent) semiprecious gems and embroidery in water patterns. Specialty priests don a series of sheer robes, each in different shades of blue and green. The sleeves and hems of the garments are artfully cut to look ragged like tossing waves or water ripples. All clergy wear Eldath's symbol as a holy symbol; the sky-blue disk is fashioned of painted wood and fresh fern fronds are planted or affixed over the painted ones on the symbol whenever possible.
Eldathyn priests dress practically in the field, though some like to accent their dress with blue and green and allow the sleeves and hems of their garments to become ragged to simulate frothing water. Most wear leaf-green robes with moss-green accents, gray sashes, and brown overcloaks. Peacemen and peacewomen wear no armor and sport garb similar to their ceremonial dress made up of multiple layers of semi-transparent robes and tabards over an opaque foundation robe or dress. Sightings of Eldathyn in the deep woods have given rise to many legends of wild folk of the woods.
HierarchyEldathyn are organized in a simple hierarchy where a dozen or so priests, each of whom may have up to 14 underpriests dwelling with him or her, report to a senior priest who in turn reports to a grand priest responsible for a realm or larger region. Clergy of senior years, many accomplishments, or higher rank are styled Exalted, and traveling Freewalkers rank between full priests and senior priests. From the ranks of the Exalted come the leaders of temples to Eldath, most of whom preside over forest communities with open-air sacred places of worship known as fastnesses. As the leader of a fastness, they are entitled use the title Keeper of the Fastness.
TemplesPriests tend to worship and make pilgrimages to one of Eldath's nine sacred temple groves (also called fastnesses). However, small temples exist in or near great forests, and clerics tend to the surrounding community and woodlands.
RitualsClerics and druids of Eldath pray for their spells once per day at a time selected after great personal reflection. Prayers are usually made when bathing or floating in ponds or streams, when standing under waterfalls, and in small chambers, caves, or forest bowers given over to regular meditation. Many forest paths in woods dwelt in by Eldathyn cross streams by means of log bridges bearing tiny huts with holes or nap doors in their floors, permitting modest clergy to immerse themselves for prayer or bathing. These arc the most favored meditation spots for Eldathyn.
Prayers must he performed upon awakening, at sunset, and at least once during the dark hours, and may be performed at any other rime as personally desired. In woodlands and remote wilderness areas, worship of the Green Goddess should be done unclad or as close to it as is possible in a given circumstance. Startled woodsmen tell of certain adventurer-priests standing in pools to pray with their weapons drifting in midair around them in slow, enspelled orbits so as to be ready at hand if danger came upon the scene.
The only calendar-related ritual of Eldath, the Greening (Greengrass) is also the only regular gathering and festival of the priesthood. It is preceded by Firstflow, a festival held at different times in different locales as the ice-breaks up and the waters begin to flow. The only other occasions upon which Eldathyn gather in large numbers are consecrations of new places as open-air temples or shrines of the goddess. At such consecrations, the assembled clergy perform the Chant of the Fastness. An avatar of Eldath always appears to bless her worshipers' efforts, though she may not always speak or work magic other than making any spring or water in her new sacred place into water of Eldath for a tenday thereafter and giving it the power to regenerate and heal all creatures immersed in it until the dawn following the day other appearance.
OrdersThe Eldathyn church and the revitalized Mielikkian faith have grown extremely close recently. Eldathyn provide quiet sanctuary and supply to the Shadoweirs of the Mielikkian faith when they cannot receive support from those of their own religion. The Eldathyn faith also has close ties with Those Who Harp (the Harpers), an organization working throughout Faerun for good and against the rise of great powers, which tend to endanger all natural life.
The church of Eldath has a circle of a few peacewomen and peacemen who have formed a group known as the Arbitrators of the Quiet One. They freely go to areas of conflict and attempt to serve as mediators in longstanding disagreements that have led lo violent acts. They listen to both sides and try to find a middle ground without polarizing the issues through overt statements of moral judgment. They prefer to find resolutions that get at the heart of a problem so that once dealt with it does not flare up again in months or years.
The monastic order of Eldath is the Disciples of the Yielding Way, sometimes known as the Brothers and Sisters of the Open Palm. These monks guard sacred sites where many peacemen and peacewomen dwell and travel the countryside gathering information for isolated groves and fastnesses. They do not ever seek to provoke violence, hut arc quite deceptively deadly when defending themselves, their charges, and their holy sites.
Peace can only come from within and cannot be taught or imposed. Seek stillness and thereby find peace. Plant trees and green-leafed things and tend such things when they need it, wherever they may be. Nurture and aid, and do not to restrict or punish. Work violence only to defend, and slay no thing of the forest except to prevent it from slaying themselves or another under their protection.
Swear to take no thinking life except in direst need. Share with all beings the beneficial things that grow in or come from running water that all may know of and praise Eldath.
Eldath prefers not to appear in avatar form often; she seems almost shy. When she does appear, it is usually to wounded beings who have found their way into one of her sacred places or to her worshipers. Eldath takes the form of a tall, thin, yet graceful and beautiful translucent female human, nereid, or aquatic elf; she can be seen through at all times. Her feet are bare, her hair looks like spun glass or flowing ice and is colorless like water, and her eyes are deep green. Eldath's green silken garments flow clingily around her, yet the sight of her soothes lustful thoughts rather than arousing them. She radiates stillness and peace.
Eldath considered Mielikki a sister and together with her she served Silvanus loyally, even if she did find him at times intimidating. She had close relationships with Chauntea, Selûne, and Lathander, as they shared some common interests. Eldath and Mielikki were known to kill people who led fire in the High Forest.
Although Eldath opposed all that Tempus stood for, she did not consider him a personal foe. He in turn considered her naïve, but generally ignored her. However Tempus forbade his followers from harming Eldath's faithful, upon pain of punishment in the afterlife in his divine realm, Warrior's Rest. The punishments of Tempus always involved stripping the guilty party of the immortality normally granted to his petitioners before turning the soul loose upon the eternal battlefield of the plane, to be killed by his fellows, so this commandment was strictly adhered to. Malar and his followers recently made intrusions on the goddess' sacred pools, Eldath responded to this with her usual calm manner, and simply withdrew, certain that the Beastlord would over-extend himself soon enough.