Candlekeep Forum
Candlekeep Forum
Home | Profile | Register | Active Topics | Active Polls | Members | Private Messages | Search | FAQ
Username:
Password:
Save Password
Forgot your Password?

 All Forums
 Forgotten Realms Journals
 Running the Realms
 Ereshkigal of the undercity of Unthalass
 New Topic  New Poll New Poll
 Reply to Topic
 Printer Friendly
Author Previous Topic Topic Next Topic  

Icelander
Master of Realmslore

1313 Posts

Posted - 23 Mar 2018 :  09:26:34  Show Profile  Visit Icelander's Homepage Send Icelander a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
In my campaign, I'm featuring the undercity of Unthalass, which I've dubbed Tamtuthalass. One important aspect there is the 'lamia noble' Ereshkigal, who apparently rules it.

I started wondering how anyone could know that she was a lamia noble, if no one who encountered her returned alive...

quote:
Old Empires about Unthalass, in Unther

The undercity is said to be ruled by a tribe of lamia, led by the lamia noble Ereshkigal. None have encountered her and escaped alive, so the stories of the Queen of Tortures remain only hushed whispers that are usually spoken in barrooms.

Eres-ki-gal means 'Lady/Queen of the Big/Great Earth' in Sumerian, or as it is most often translated, 'Queen of the Underworld'. Nin-ki-gal is synonymous with Eres-ki-gal in Sumerian and was used in some sources.

Ereshkigal was a Babylonian chthonic power of the dead, the underworld and death. She was the ruler of Kur or Irkalla, the land of the dead, either alone or with a husband. Ereshkigal is, of course, most famous for her appearances in the two epic poems of Inanna-Ishtar's Descent into the Underworld, but the myth of Ereshkigal's imprisoning of Nergal, the god of wars and plagues, and the subsequent marriage between them, is also well known.

In other myths, Gugulanna, the Bull of Heaven, was sometimes viewed as Ereshkigal's subordinate husband. If the chronology is assumed to be that 'Inanna's Descent' happens before 'Nergal and Ereshkigal', i.e. that Ereshkigal was married to Gugulanna before Nergal, this works out, as Inanna claims to the doorkeeper of Kur (the Underworld), that she means to attend the funeral rites of Gugulanna.

In later, Hellenic syncretic religion, Ereshkigal was associated with Hecate. The connection is fairly obvious and there are indeed important similarities.

Of course, just because a character in the Old Empires is given the name of an ancient Babylonian goddess, that's no guarantee of a connection between the modern lamia and the ancient goddess. As several other names in Unther attest, naming people for gods and heroes is a cultural fashion there, as, indeed, in many other places.

In my campaign, the PCs have been assuming that the 'Wise Lady' frightened locals talk about and the 'Queen of Tortures' that some encountered lamias claimed to serve, was a slaver with with a gift for propaganda. Various rumours link her with legends of Dimme, Ereshkigal, Lahamu, Lamashtu and Lilitu either through the use of names, titles, mythological motifs or themes associated with these legendary, ancient beings.

Recent events might cause the PCs to upgrade their estimate. After all, anyone can use ancient names of mythological beings and claim that underbosses in their criminal/slaving organisations are their 'children', giving them titles that echo various legends. All the more so if that someone is a magic-user or some kind of monster with magical abilities.

It's a different thing entirely when one of these children appears to actually have frightening powers far beyond what one might expect from a slaver boss, even if that slaver boss might be a lamia or other monster.

The PCs now have reason to believe that tales of ancient mythological beings might have more truth to them than originally assumed and/or that some power active in the modern world, such as Set (Typhon), Tiamat or Cyric, might be trying to grab more divine power by playing on old legends.

After all, Shar isn't shy of using the old Untheri name of Anshar, not caring one whit that he was originally a male god and that he technically still exists in the Outer Planes. Nor do various dark gods and demon lords quibble at assuming the guises of other dead gods, especially as Untheri culture has been highly chauvinistic for a long time, with foreign cults being stigmatized far more than apparently indigenous ones, even if the local power was objectively horrible.

So it's entirely possible that any lamia using the name of an ancient goddess might be trying to do what Tchazzar did and/or represent some kind of demon lord. Or actually is a demon.

There is certainly a lot of serpentine imagery associated with the Queen of Tortures in my game and several of her 'children' have titles associated with snakes, dragons or other serpentine things.

Given that Sumerian and Akkadian terms for dragons and serpents tend to be conflated in the original sources and mythology, it makes sense that Tiamat would have had chthonic, snake-cult themes at some point in history. By contrast, various demon lords and powers behind beast cults associated with snakes, serpents and sea monsters might well dream of replacing Tiamat.

In my Realms (based on how actual mythology works), Typhon and Set might once have been different powers, with Set absorbing a minor power or demon lord called Typhon at some point in the distant past. This Typhon was, in some legends, the husband, lover, brother or son of Tiamat. In others, he was the mate of Dimme, Echidna, Lahamu, Lamashtu or Lamassu, who may be different powers/mythological figures or may be regional terms for the same primeval power / deity / mother of monsters.

A connection between the ancient mythological Ereshkigal and the Mother of Monsters figure in old legends does not appear to be advocated by mainstream sages of Theology in my Realms (several PCs have Bardic Lore and/or Theology (D&D equivalent would be Knowledge (Religion))). For a snake-like figure with many monstrous children who claims the mantle of the Queen of the Underworld, however, it would be a pretty natural connection to make.

Is anyone aware of Realmslore sources suggesting that the Babylogian Ereshkigal was ever an Untheri goddess, perhaps a demipower?

What about other Near Eastern chthonic and serpentine powers, are there any suggestions that they were worshipped in the distant past by Mulan people?

Za uspiekh nashevo beznadiozhnovo diela!

Forgotten Realms fans, please sign a petition to re-release the FR Interactive Atlas

sleyvas
Great Reader

USA
6915 Posts

Posted - 23 Mar 2018 :  23:09:41  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
To my knowledge, I know of only two sources right now in the realms that directly deal with the name Ereshkigal. The first is the one you mentioned, relating to a "lamia noble" surrounded by lamias in the underworld of Unthalass. The second is from complete necromancer, where there is a city on the isle of Sahu down in Zakhara, and this city is named Ereshkigal, and another nearby city is Uruk (which in real world was a city that Gilgamesh supposedly ruled). This island in old Kadari meant "Serene Eternity" or basically death, and it was the Capital of the Necromancer Kings. Thus, I would highly believe that Ereshkigal the "goddess" is tied to this city. Along these same lines, there is also an old 1st edition list of demon lords/ladies, and amongst that list is the name Ereshkigal.

There is also a reference to Cyric ruling in Erkalla (which is the name of the place that Ereshkigal ruled) in Complete Book of Necromancers, and Loviatar visiting him wanting her "dead sister" returned to her (its very similar to Inanna's descent to the Underworld, but different enough to be interesting). So, in this version, Loviatar demands her sister is freed of Cyric because she's found out that she's dead, and Cyric agrees to free her, but she must return every winter.

So... taking some options... what if Erkalla is a layer of the abyss or a whole separate divine domain? What if Ereshkigal is a demon much like Orcus with prime material worshippers that she grants divine power to? What if she also was once a goddess, who was cast out by her pantheon, much like Lolth/Araushnee and thus she was a "sister" to Inanna... Inanna who possibly handed over some of her power to Loviatar when she died in the orcgate wars.... Then just following the Avatar Crisis, Cyric kills Ereshkigal. But Loviatar wants to see her returned, so she gets Cyric to return her to life... in the form of a demon... a Marilith maybe... a demon who except for their number of arms looks like a lamia noble... a demon that can polymorph too. And this demoness comes to Unthalass, where she takes on the title "Queen of Tortures" (ironic since her "sister" Loviatar is a goddess of torture).

Now, throw in some other things we've been talking about around here regarding Ereshkigal, Kiaransalee, The Raven Queen, and Auril as the Queen of Air and Darkness, and factor in this part where Cyric wants the sister to return every year at winter (and the Raven Queen is related to Winter) and the whole concept of spells used to "erase your name and memory" and you could really throw together something regarding these beings being linked via some kind of greater entity.

Hmmmm, and if we throw Ereshkigal and Kiaransalee together as possibly linked aspects.... Kiaransalee and Orcus have a lot of enmity..... then we have dead Nergal and his entire family getting entombed just a little south of Dun-Tharos following the Orcgate wars.... then we have the Narfell empire rising up just a few decades later with a focus on undead, and Orcus showing a strong interest in the area. I wonder if there's actually a link between Orcus and Nergal, and that strange symmetry is playing out between them (i.e. Nergal/Ereshkigal and Orcus/Kiaransalee).


From the Wiki for Irkalla (Ereshkigal's realm)
In Mesopotamian mythology, Irkalla (Akkadian, also Ir-Kalla, Irkalia),[1] Kur (Sumerian) or Ersetu (Akkadian) is the underworld from which there is no return. It was also called earth of no return, Kurnugia in Sumerian and Erset la tari in Akkadian. Kur is ruled by the goddess Ereshkigal and her consort, the death god Nergal.
Irkalla was originally another name for Ereshkigal, who ruled the underworld alone until Nergal was sent to the underworld and seduced Ereshkigal (in Babylonian mythology). Both the deity and the location were called Irkalla, much like how Hades in Greek mythology is the name both of the underworld and of the god who ruled it.

From Complete Book of Necromancers in 2nd edition

The Iron Spires of Ereshkigal
Further north along the coast from Jinutt lies Ereshkigal, a largely deserted city of ruined metal towers, located about five miles inland so its appearance cannot easily be discerned from the sea without a telescope. The ruins are quite extensive, spreading out over a few square miles. The city encompasses hundreds of metal spires fashioned like giant mushrooms or fungi. The few intact specimens are hollow shells bereft of any kind of stairs, with only a few small entrances at the base (symmetrically arranged) and a central hole in the 120' high ceiling. Most of the outlying towers have already been stripped of anything interesting by explorers, but spires in the center of the city are filled with bizarre inscriptions in an unknown language (predating the Kadari tongue of the Necromancer Kings). Contrary to rumor, Ereshkigal's treasures are hardly unguarded, since the towers of the inner city serve as lairs for several packs of ghouls and ghasts. These lairs are clustered around a central spire that has been converted into a lofty cathedral to Thasmudyan, guarded by a powerful high priest with the powers of a greater mummy, who carries an ancient horn of the exalted dead. Concealed beneath the shrine's altar is a secret passage leading into a convoluted mazework of tunnels and subterranean corridors that stink of ghast breath. Ultimately, these caverns lead to the Garden of Eternity (detailed below), but they are filled with roving packs of armored undead soldiers, deadlyglyphs of warding, and ravening beasts of the Underdark.


Also from Complete Book of Necromancers
When Our Lady of Pain discovered her sister had left the Land of the Living and taken refuge in the World of the Dead, her wrath and fury were boundless. She descended to the Land of No Return, through the caverns and
lower regions known only to this spirits, until she reached the city of Erkalla itself, ruled by Cyric, the King of the Dead. And Loviatar approached the gate of the city, known as Ganzir, and pounded her Flail of Tears on the door, demanding to be let in, but her command was unanswered, and her screams resounded through the streets of Erkalla:

"Gatekeeper, I am here at Ganzir before the Walls of Erkalla. Open these gates for me! I am Loviatar, Maiden of Pain, Mistress of Sorrow, and I shall smash down this door if you do not open it! I shall crack open the
bolts with my Flail of Tears and sunder the iron with my Scourge of Despair. I shall release all the dead from city of Erkalla, and they shall climb up the stairs of the earth. I shall raise up the dead, and they shall eat the living: the dead shall outnumber the living!"

And the Gatekeeper appeared, and he opened the door, but he would not let Our Lady pass: "Mighty Loviatar, Maiden of Pain, you cannot enter Erkalla with your symbols of Power. Leave them with me, and then you may visit the King."

Our Lady of Pain saw the truth in his words, and at the gate of the city, she stripped off her talismans. She gave up the Flail of Tears, surrendered the Scourge of Despair. She unwrapped her Robe of Severed Hands, and
coiled up her Whip of Countless Afflictions. She unwrapped the spiked wire from her hair and plucked out the needles from her nails.

And at last Loviatar was finished, and the Gatekeeper escorted her into Cyric's dismal palace. And the King of the Dead saw Our Lady humbled, and in his throne room of glory, he heard her complaint. Cyric made his
voice heard like a gavel of thunder, and he spoke loudly his judgment, with the following words:

"I am Cyric, Lord of Erkalla, and I welcome you to my pale domain. You have no power here in my most ancient city: over the dead only I am King. I have heard your request and will honor it. When you leave, your sister
shall accompany you. But each winter she will come back and visit me, and I shall return her to your side in the summer."

Our Lady of Pain heard his pronouncement, and she left gladly with her sister beside her. Thus Loviatar ascended from the netherworld, resuming her just punishment of Man.
"Loviatar's Descent into the Netherworld,"


Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas
Go to Top of Page

Icelander
Master of Realmslore

1313 Posts

Posted - 24 Mar 2018 :  14:50:52  Show Profile  Visit Icelander's Homepage Send Icelander a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Wow, I completely forgot that there was Realmslore in the old 2nd Edition Complete Book of Necromancers!

Za uspiekh nashevo beznadiozhnovo diela!

Forgotten Realms fans, please sign a petition to re-release the FR Interactive Atlas
Go to Top of Page

LordofBones
Senior Scribe

654 Posts

Posted - 25 Mar 2018 :  02:10:32  Show Profile Send LordofBones a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'm fairly certain that story has to be an updated version of a previous myth. Cyric only ascended a few years ago.
Go to Top of Page

sleyvas
Great Reader

USA
6915 Posts

Posted - 25 Mar 2018 :  03:54:05  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by LordofBones

I'm fairly certain that story has to be an updated version of a previous myth. Cyric only ascended a few years ago.



That's one possibility. The other is as I said... Cyric kills Ereshkigal following the ToT, and he became lord of the dead in basically another pantheon with little influence. Loviatar shows up and wants her "sister" Ereshkigal released from the underworld. It should be noted that Loviatar is also the daughter of a lord & lady of the dead (Tuoni and Tuonetar of the Finnish). The story itself mirrors the story of Inanna / Ishtar's descent to the underworld, but in that story, Ereshkigal is Inanna's sister, and the reason for her descent is to attend the funeral of Ereshkigal's husband.

Of course, there's also ANOTHER spin we could place on that story. Nergal has been dead, but Ereshkigal maybe wasn't. However, when Cyric took over his portfolios, maybe somehow he took on Nergal's position as husband of Ereshkigal. So, Loviatar comes down and demands the release of her sister.... maybe Kiputytto? maybe Inanna? Maybe someone else entirely... but whoever it is, much like Persephone and/or Geshtinanna, she must spend winters in the underworld.

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas
Go to Top of Page

Icelander
Master of Realmslore

1313 Posts

Posted - 25 Mar 2018 :  10:37:27  Show Profile  Visit Icelander's Homepage Send Icelander a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by LordofBones

I'm fairly certain that story has to be an updated version of a previous myth. Cyric only ascended a few years ago.


Well, yes.

It's found in the Nycoptic Papers, written by a madman and noted for various inaccuracies. So mixing pantheons, using individual gods names to represent the position, even if another god technically occupied it, and similar errors would be completely in character.

While it's never explicitly stated when those papers were written, the fact that they are supposed to be famous worldwide as sources of ancient necromantic lore indicates that they probably were not written recently. One theory is that The Complete Book of Necromancers is set in the future of the Forgotten Realms. That would work better if one vignette did not include a date in the Year of the Bow.

On the other hand, the Nycoptic Papers are a book of prophecies, so there is little reason to expect that particular vignette to refer to any events in modern Toril.

Za uspiekh nashevo beznadiozhnovo diela!

Forgotten Realms fans, please sign a petition to re-release the FR Interactive Atlas
Go to Top of Page
  Previous Topic Topic Next Topic  
 New Topic  New Poll New Poll
 Reply to Topic
 Printer Friendly
Jump To:
Candlekeep Forum © 1999-2018 Candlekeep.com Go To Top Of Page
Snitz Forums 2000