Hyla is the patron goddess of Humans.
According to mythology, Hyla is the wife of Vaku, and the two of them created Humans. Hyla is regarded as being skilled and wise; sometimes she is seen as the guardian of mages. Vaku and Hyla are strangely unconnected to the other gods.
Hyla is worshiped exclusively by Humans.
Depictions of Hyla show her as a human woman, usually young and beautiful; but occasionally as an older woman. Her hair color and complexion varies wildly.
Stories about Hyla
The Legend of Janina
Flame of Truth
In the time of the first king of Der’she, a girl was born in the nearby kingdom of Valhaven. She was born to farmers, but from the moment of her birth she was marked by Hyla; upon her right hand she bore the sigil of the goddess. The girl was given the name Janina. As she grew, it became apparent that she possessed the gift of magic, for she knew things before they occurred, and had an uncanny connection with animals and the elements. The village priest tutored her as he could, but he knew that she must be taught by true mages. So, when Janina was 10, she was sent away to the capital of Valhaven, to study magic in the temple of Hyla.
Though she was often shunned by the other students and acolytes, Janina learned quickly, and was praised by her teachers as having a clever mind. She was told that her talents were so great she would be granted a place at the side of the High Priestess, if she could pass the trials. But despite their encouragements, Janina was afraid, for her foresight gave to her terrifying dreams. The night before she was to take the trials Janina was sent to solitary prayer, and kneeling on the floor of her cell, she had a vision of Hyla. The goddess appeared to her as a white-haired old woman, sorrow etched into her face. “You whom I have marked, you are in great peril. My priesthood in this land has become corrupt, and the trials you have been set are a trap; the mages intend to ensnare you and steal your power for themselves. Even the woman who claims to serve me as High Priestess has turned to evil.” As the goddess spoke, Janina saw the truth of her words, and was afraid. “Fear not,” Hyla said, “for I shall guide you through these trials. You are destined to become my sword against evil, the candle against the night.” And Janina accepted the aid of the goddess.
When dawn came, she was led beneath the temple, to the place where the trails were held. She was sent into a room, and the door locked behind her. The room was marked with runes of power, and as Janina walked across the floor, she felt something reaching into her and through her, seeking the heart of her magic. She created a shield about herself, breaking the connection, and stood at the center of the room. “I am here!” She cried, knowing the mages who had betrayed her would hear, “Take me, if you can, or I shall destroy you!” And the power pressed upon her, the combined might of four great mages of the land. The force of it drove Janina to her knees, but she held her shield firm, and from within she whispered the words which Hyla had given to her. The walls of the room began to crack and warp, and the temple to shudder. Janina reached out with her own power, and one by one, the mages who attacked her fell, consumed by earth or flame. When they were dead, and the room destroyed, Janina sent her power up through the temple, shaking it as if there were an earthquake. The priests and acolytes fled, fearing the wrath of the goddess as the building tumbled down. Out of the wreckage, young Janina came, and before the crowd of the city, she spoke of the heresy of the mages and the corruption of the priesthood. The guilty found that they could speak only the truth, and so condemned themselves to death.
And so it was that Janina, at 12 years of age, became known as the Flame of Truth.
Hunter of Deception
When Janina was 16 years of age, war broke out between Valhaven and Der’she. The young prince of Der’she had been kidnapped, and Valhaven had been blamed. In turn, the king of Valhaven had narrowly survived an attack by assassins, who were believed to have been sent by Der’she. The two kingdoms fought each other with the ferocity of fear. At this time, Janina had been traveling the kingdom, performing deeds. She was resting along the road when a messenger from the king reached her, pleading that she fight alongside the army, that Valhaven might prevail. But Janina had been sent a vision, and knew the two kingdoms had been set at each others throats by someone else; someone with powerful magic of their own, for she could not see their face in her visions. She spoke to Hyla, asking for some sign or aid, but the goddess chose to be subtle. Janina traveled onward on the road, and within a day, she came upon a battlefield, upon which the forces of Valhaven and Der’she crashed. The carnage was terrible, and there were many dead and injured. The girl began to reach for her power, thinking to separate the armies, when she heard a pitiful whimper. A hound, wounded by an arrow, lay bleeding under a bush. Janina removed the arrow, and closed the wound with her power. When she was done, the hound gave her a lick, then turned towards the battlefield, sniffing deeply. The hound bayed, and dashed away, as if chasing some prey, and Janina knew she was meant to follow.
She ran after the hound, away from the battleground, up hills and across roads. The two wound through woodlands and forded streams, until they came upon an abandoned mill. Here, the hound bayed one last time, and from the mill a man appeared. He was clothed in red, and wreathed with dark magic, and Janina sensed that it was he who had caused this war, so that he might gain power from the bloodshed and death. She engaged the dark mage, and the two battled into the night, power clashing in flashes of light and fire. Through the battle, the hound remained at Janina’s side, snapping and growling at the dark mage, and when she began to falter, the hound leaned against her, and she felt her power refreshed. She smote the dark mage, and the hound led her inside the mill, where she found the missing prince. Janina returned him to his people, and a treaty of peace was signed between the two kingdoms.
And so it was that Janina became known as the Hunter of Deception.
Bearer of Justice
Janina traveled through many kingdoms, with her faithful hound Miri at her side. She traveled to the western sea, and walked along it’s rocky shores. She looked to the mountains, and saw them lit from within by fire, and she climbed to the city perched on it’s slopes. There, she met with great smiths and smith-mages, who forged weapons of power from the blood of the mountains. One of these, a young smith-mage named Adelan, left to travel with Janina. They traveled north together, until they came across a woman weeping at the roadside. The woman told them of raiders who prowled the lands, men who had murdered her husband, and taken her son and daughters captive as slaves.
Janina felt the rage of Hyla rush through her, and she knew that for the sake of these helpless, she must find these raiders. Led by the hound Miri, Janina and Adelan trailed the raiders, until they came across their camp. They watched the camp, noting the prison-wagon in which the taken children were kept, and when night fell, they crept into the camp. While Adelan held off the guards, Janina smote open the locks, and set the children free. She sent them running with the hound to guard, and returned to fight the rest of the raiders. As she descended upon them, flinging power as a whip, many raiders fell, and those who did not fell to their knees, begging for mercy. For they saw the goddess behind Janina, and knew they could not stand before Hyla. These ones, Janina spared, and sent to a nearby temple, where they served as laborers for the rest of their days to atone for their crimes.
And so it was that Janina became known as the Bearer of Justice.
The Final Summons
When Janina was 34, she received a vision from the goddess, and knew that she must return to Valhaven. She did not know why, only that some power worked it’s poison upon the people, and she and her companions traveled in haste. As soon as they crossed the borders, Janina felt the presence of Hyla fade, as though the power of the goddess were being blocked, as a curtain shades the sunlight. But despite her premonitions, the people seemed content, and she could see nothing out of place. Janina began to doubt herself, but Adelan reassured her; reminding her to trust in Hyla. They traveled throughout the kingdom, and everywhere they went, things seemed at peace, save that the clerics could no longer hear the voice of the gods.
One night, as they settled in to rest at an inn, the hound Miri began to whimper and cry; Janina flung open a window, and saw a great shape cross the sky, blotting out the full moon. It roared in mindless fury, and descended upon the town, breathing fire and crushing buildings with its claws. Janina and Adelan rushed out to meet the dragon, but when Janina strove to bring it down with her power, she found she could not summon the strength. To late, she recognized the power of the dark god; and Janina felt fear strike into her heart. But even in the grip of terror, she saw Adelan fighting the beast with his sword, and she took strength from his bravery. She raised her hands to the sky, shouting, “Hyla, my goddess, my power is your gift, and I have always belonged to you! Send me your strength once more, that I might destroy this bane in your name!” She felt some power return to her, and she rushed at the dragon, with her hound baying at her side. They attacked with fury, slicing through scale, blasting through hide, but the dragon was no natural dragon, but a were, and pain only made it more furious. With a twist of its tail it smashed Adelan against a wall, and turned to finish him off. With a howl of fury, Janina flung herself upon the face of the beast, and put out one of its eyes. The dragon roared and shook its head, flinging her high into the air. As she plummeted down, she called upon all the strength and power and faith she possessed. The dragon opened its maw, and she plunged between its jaws. As the teeth snapped shut, she lashed out with her magic, and shredded the beast apart.
When the dragon fell dead, the power of Hyla again shone brightly, and rain came, dousing the fires. The people searched, but found no trace of Janina, nor of her hound. Adelan was injured, but recovered under the care of healers, and when he could walk again, he traveled the lands, telling the story of his companion.
And so it was that Janina, the Flame of Truth, the Hunter of Deception and the Bearer of Justice, returned to the gods.
The Power of Corruption
There was a monastery in the high mountains of the north, where many books were written and copied. The monks who lived there kept careful guard on these treasures, and particularly upon one book, said to contain knowledge of creatures more powerful than mortals. The book was bound in iron, and a lock set upon it. None could open it, for the lock had no key, but the writings around the cover said that the book would open for the one for whom it was written. One day, the monastery was set upon by a pack of were. They cared not for knowledge or books, but wished to claim the monastery as a fortress. They slew many of the monks, but one took the book and fled, followed by his acolyte, a young human boy named Ekur. One of the were pursued them and attacked. The were and the monk struggled, and both fell down a cliff, leaving the book in the care of Ekur. Ekur fled the mountains, but he had known no life beyond the walls of the monastery, and soon he was weary with cold and hunger. When he collapsed into an exhausted sleep, Hyla came upon him, and seeing the book he carried, knew that he must be protected. She called forth an elemental of wind; an eagle that seemed made of the air itself, and whose name meant ‘The Lord of Air’. She charged him with guarding Ekur and ensuring his safety. When Ekur awoke, fruits and berries had been laid at his side, and he ate them. When he had eaten his full, he noticed the great elemental bird, and was afraid. But it told him to be calm, and led him to water.
The eagle told Ekur that he was to keep him safe, and lead him to a place where he and the book could live in peace and safety. They traveled through the woods, and were frequently beset upon by wild beasts and were, but the eagle fought them all off without difficulty. One day, while resting, Ekur stroked the lock of the book, and to his great surprise, it opened for him. Remembering the story the monks had told him, he opened it eagerly, but found he could not read the writings inside, for they were written in scripts he did not know. Ekur was disheartened, but traveled on, wondering if he would ever learn to read the book, and who might teach him its mysteries.
On a clear day, when the blue of the sky was tempered by not a single cloud, Ekur and the eagle came across a man. Though his shape was as a human, it was clear even to young Ekur that he was not as he seemed, for his eyes were as bright as stars and as cold as the peak of a mountain. He wore armor like dragonscale, and his voice was as the wind across ice. “Greetings, Ekur of the monastery,” he said, “I have come to you for wisdom.” Though Ekur felt a touch of gratitude at this gracious greeting, the eagle screamed defiance, and warned him to have caution. The strange man continued, “I have no wish to harm you, nor to take the book from you, but I desire greatly to look upon its pages, Ekur.” And though Ekur knew he should fear and flee this man, he felt compelled to do as he wished. He began to reach for the book, but the eagle flew at the man, driving him back with wing and talon. However, the strange man seemed to duck and evade each blow, and his retreat was one of convenience, not of need. Once more he spoke, “Let me see but the fifth page, that I might know what I require! Ekur, I beg of thee!” And so compelled was Ekur that he opened the book, and was holding it out for the man to see, when a mighty storm fell upon them, sent by Hyla. The wind and rain awoke Ekur to his senses, and he shut the book. The strange man howled like an avalanche, and vanished without a trace.
So tested, Ekur knew the book to be a thing of temptation and power in equal measure. With his guardian, he traveled on for many days, until they came upon a small temple, hardly worthy of the name; but inside the priests and priestesses knew of his coming, having been forewarned by the goddess. They provided him with food and shelter, and when he was rested, the high priest spoke with him. Ekur spoke of the dangers of the road, the strange man, and the book he carried. The priest knew only the most distant legends of the book, but when he saw Ekur open it, he knew the boy to have been given a great burden by Hyla. He knelt before Ekur, saying, “The knowledge of this text can be yours if you so wish it, but as it will sustain you, so it shall also poison you. You may lead all peoples towards a greater place, or you may curse all with its words.” Ekur knew the truth of his words, for he felt the desire for knowledge like a hot coal in his breast, but he also knew the cold knot of fear in his gut. He thought for many weeks on this, with much prayer and meditation, but even Hyla was silent. At last, he chose to learn, to see what was in the book. So the high priest trained him in one of the old languages, and Ekur began to understand what the book contained. The knowledge was great and terrible, and it was as a blade with no handle; cutting all equally, and Ekur was greatly tempted.
He wrote much into a journal, piecing together the riddles of the book, and though he remained at the temple, he withdrew from the others. One night, a stranger in the form of a hawk lek’re appeared outside his window, and as with the man on the road, this man was lek’re only barely in form; his feathers glowed with sunlight in the darkness and his eyes were as rays of sun. He was clothed in swirls of cloud, and said to Ekur, “I seek to know the words of the book, Ekur of the monastery.” But Ekur was wiser now, and knew the treachery this bright creature concealed. He used the knowledge of the book, and bid the man depart, but though he vanished, Ekur knew that more would come, until one at last saw the words of the book. Though it gave him great pain, Ekur closed the book and laid it to rest in the temple. He burned his journals, though the burning of each word lit fires in his own soul. All, except for one journal, in which were the least of the secrets of the book. This journal, Ekur took into the forest, and he buried it in a box of iron, and covered the hole with a cairn of rock.
This was Ekur’s gift and curse upon the world; the knowledge to do much good, and the power that would corrupt all but the purest of souls. Ekur returned to the temple, and for the remainder of his life, he never again crossed its threshold; this was his repentance for having witnessed that which he could not forget, and for his pains, Hyla gave him peace and blessed the temple which had given him shelter.