When we think of Esrolia, we need to remember that unlike Sartar or even Pavis, it is an ancient land. Esrolia has a consistent history of being a settled and civilized land that goes before Dawn. Its ancient mundane history is almost pointless, likely just a few story cycles between Ernaldela and the Silver Age Heroes.Ernaldela – that’s our real point of origin. Ernaldela is the home of the Earth Goddesses. It is a garden, populated by friendly reptiles and mammals, nymphs and dryads. Think yakshini beneath flowering trees.
On the Hero Plane, Nochet roughly corresponds to the location of the Earth Lady – the residence of the Earth Queen. Ezel strongly corresponds to the Womb of Gata – which is the source of Life. The Hearth (another location in mythic Ernaldela) corresponds to anything specific or it exists simultaneously at every sacred hearth fire. Flamal the Lord of Trees is not far away, and is associated with the Old Woods. There are plenty of other correspondences as well, but what really matters is that if we pierce the mundane veil in Esrolia we can see Ernaldela. Don’t worry or bother trying to name all the nymphs, dryads, and other godlings of Earth+Life+something else that reside here. What matters is that they are here and numerous.
So even though Esrolia is densely populated, it is not unusual for a dryad (without elves usually) to live in a grove near a village or town. Think like the sacred groves in India – small little enclaves of woods and flowers that are untouched by the local farmers, where logging and hunting are taboo. The villagers know her, offer her gifts and keep her happy so she might bless the fields or orchards. Other nymphs are the guardians of the treasures hidden in the earth, and so on. It is perhaps worthwhile to consult the list of thirty six yakshinis given in the Uddamareshvara Tantra for ideas about the various local nymphs and dryads in Esroia:
1. Vichitra (The Lovely One): She bestows all desires.
2. Vibhrama (Amorous One)
3. Hamsi (The one with Swan): She reveals the whereabouts of buried treasure, and grants an unguent with which one may see through solid objects.
4. Bhishani (The Terrifying): The ritual is to be performed at the junction of 3 paths. The mantra is to be recited 666,666 times. Camphor and ghee are to be used as the offering.
5. Janaranjika (Pleasuring Men): She gives great good fortune and happy endings.
6. Vishala (Large Eyed): She gives the alchemical elixir.
7. Madana (Lustful): She gives a cure-all pill.
8. Ghanta (Bell): She gives the ability to enchant the world.
9. Kalakarni (Ears Adorned with Kalas):
10. Mahabhaya (Greatly Fearful): She gives freedom from fear and the secret of alchemy, also freeing one from grey hair and signs of old age.
11. Mahendri (Greatly Powerful): Gives the person the ability to fly and go anywhere. One obtains Patala Siddhi.
12. Shankhini (Conch Girl ): Fulfilment of any desire.
13. Chandri (Moon Girl):
14. Shmashana (Cremation Ground Girl ): She gives treasure, destroys obstacles, and one is able to paralyse folk with a mere glance.
15, Vatayakshini: She also gives a divine and magical unguent.
16. Mekhala (Love Girdle):
17. Vikala: She yields the desired fruit.
18. Lakshmi (Wealth): She gives Lakshmi Siddhi, the secrets of alchemy, and heavenly treasure.
19. Malini (Flower Girl ): She gives Khadga Siddhi, which means being able to stop any weapon.
20. Shatapatrika (100 Flowers ):
21. Sulochana (Lovely Eyed): She gives Paduka Siddhi, enabling one to travel at great speed through the aethers.
22. Shobha: The Devi gives the power of full enjoyment and the appearance of great beauty.
23. Kapalini (Skull Girl): She gives Kapala Siddhi. She gives the power to go anywhere in the aethers in one’s sleep, and also to go to any great distance away.
25. Nati (Actress): The Nati gives hidden treasure, an alchemical unguent, and the power of mantra yoga.
27. Apsara (ugly)
29. Manohara (Fascinating):
30. Pramoda (Fragrant):
31. Anuragini (Very Passionate):
34. Padmini is said to be included in (35) below.
35. Svarnavati: She gives Anjana Siddhi.
36. Ratipriya (Fond of Love)
We obviously don’t use these names, but the titles give you an idea what they might be. Obviously many are very sex and pleasure oriented – these are fertility deities after all! Others are flowers, but some are skulls, and some are even terrifying – perhaps a “nymph” of the Gors!The Jolly Fat Man might appear at feasts and celebrations to bring intoxication to all. After all, wine, beer, and mead are all children of Ernalda and the Flowing Waters, or Ernalda and Flamal (in the case of wine). This proximity between Esrolia and Ernaldela has always been present, but it is nearer thanks to Belintar and the Tournament of the Masters of Luck and Death. The Hero Plane is easy to access throughout the Holy Country – hence the annual pilgrimage of the Dead from Necropolis to Nochet.
And so Ernaldela is the mythic realm just on the other side of Esrolia, and easiest to access from there. Many of the early stories in the Entekosiad can also found there, but deeper, broader, and with more paths. The Earth goddesses are a substrata throughout much of Gloranthan myth, but in Esrolia they remained visible and powerful enough for the husband-protectors to acknowledge their sovereignty (in contrast with the Pelandan Brightface story, the Esrolians have Orlanth’s murder of Yelm as the goddess-willed response to Brightface’s attempted usurpation of the goddesses’ rights).
Is there any hostility between different nymphs/lesser goddesses? of course – sister rivalry is likely all over the place. But it is rivalry and hostility within sustainable parameters. These are Earth goddesses and not Air gods after all!
This sort of huge numbers of nymphs, dryads, spirits of place, ancestors, etc is exactly how I picture the 10000 goddesses of Esrolia . That’s actually exactly the idea. Given that Esrolia has over 250 listed villages (probably more, I gave up counting at 150), some 22 cities, and numerous places of interest, we get up in numbers really fast. Throw in river nymphs, dryads, and more, and 10,000 might be ballpark.