Worship of Vilathera is fairly uncommon in Antaron, though virtually all hunters will at least mutter a prayer to her before going out to look for game. Her devotees are a solitary lot, which suits the Huntress just fine; rangers, woodsmen, and the like tend to be her staunchest followers.
Vilathera teaches her followers to understand and respect their place in nature. Although she smiles upon the exhiliration of the hunt, she does not sanction wholesale slaughter of wildlife, and takes a very dim view of those who exploit nature overmuch.
Temples are not the way of this goddess, and few permenant shrines exist. the ones that do, most often consist of large stone or some such, which serves as an altar or centerpiece. Her worship is much more practical, and carried out daily in the struggle for survival.
Joining the Pantheon
Vilathera was born to loving parents near the wyld forests of what later became Drannon. They took their lovely daughter with them into the dark forests to hunt for food and gather herbs. Their neighbors and friends waved them goodbye as they entered. But they never saw them again. When they entered to finally hunt them down, they found a beautiful stag with great antlers and soft colors. At first, they considered killing it. As they gave chase, they realized the stag was leading them somewhere. What they found were the torn and bloody remains of the couple and a squalling, hungry baby pulling at a shorn braid of her mother's hair.
Fearful for her life and what could have done this, they took the child and raised her like their own. Over the years, the child was quiet amongst the others, never speaking, never communicating. Her eyes held a wild, intelligent look, like the stag they had seen so many years previously. She traveled out into the forests whenever she could, hiding away from the villagers. Her adoptive parents worried for her continued trips away from them. Finally, torn between their love and fear, they entered the woods to follow her.
The woods were cold and dark, damp with a recent rain. Each step took them farther into a place they had never seen so wild and overgrown. As they turned and twisted, seeking the girl, they heard voices. When they finally got close enough, they could see their daughter not of their own sitting and speaking with a man of glowing light. Green and gold motes filled the air with a heat and love they had never experienced before. A twig snapped. He turned to them. And they saw a flaring anger and love in his green-gold eyes. Blinded for a moment, when next they looked, they saw a dark, damp grotto by a small creek and Vilathera. Gathering her to them, they could only wonder what had happened and what they saw.
As the years progressed, she left for longer and longer journeys until she never returned. But always their hunts were successful, the wylds blessed, and the lands fertile. Over the years, certain children were born who showed an affinity for the woods and the hunt. And when they returned, they held with them the horns of stags, wild looks, and the name Vilathera upon their lips.
Our steps silent, our aim steady, our arrows true. We follow the dance of life as it is intended to be, and honor our prey by partaking of its flesh. So it has always been, and so shall it ever be. - Kilathius Is'indaril, Warder of the Wyld
Vilathera appears as a strong, somewhat feral woman, with a mane of tight brown curls. She carries a simple curved wooden bow, and moves with amazing grace and silence.
Take what you need, for the purpose of the prey is to feed the predator. Drink deeply of thrill of the hunt, but do not kill wastefully, lest the game become needlessly scarce. Kill your prey swiftly and cleanly; do not allow them to suffer needlessly, for such would be shameful and disrespectul to it.
Followers and clerics of Vilathera tend to shy away from large settlements. They prefer magics that enhance their ability to interact with nature and weather.
The fellowships of Vilathera include the following:
Hunters of the Stag: The largest group of Vilathera's factions are the Hunters. They follow Vilathera as keepers of nature, teachers of hunters, and protectors of prey. Many followers of this faction include rangers and druids. They join this group through a hunt in which they cannot kill, but must capture, a stag. Priests and followers of the Huntress gather to test the skills of the quester. First they question their knowledge of the wilderness. Next they ask them to identify tracks. And finally they take part in the hunt. Once completed, they pray over the captured stag, killing it in ritualistic fashion for the feast. Once completed, the new priest or follower takes one of its horns as their symbol of the Huntress. During their days, they hunt according to her laws, teach others, and protect the sanctity of the hunt.
Regents of the Hunt: The Regents are a small group of Vilthera's followers who are formed of noble lords and chieftans, typically of human and elven nations. Hunters without compare, they can track birds in flight across country. They follow the hunt for the tradition of leadership, prowess, and ability. Each kill is made in honor for Vilathera. The practices of these hunts are kept secret amongst themselves. Heavily ritualized, nobles and their descendents take part in formal hunts, the eating of the first kill, and the blooding of descendents new to the order. For every kill they make, they help the birth and survival of new prey by patrolling their hunting grounds, setting laws against poaching, and keeping stocks of breeding prey. Followers and priests of this group are found primarily in Pardinal, Drannon, and the Chindari Plains.
Warders of the Wyld: The Warders take care of the wyld places of beasts and nature. They are the protectors, keeping the encrouchment of settlements and poachers from destroying all nature. This group has been praised and feared by many villages and towns seeking prosperity. Warders sometimes employ terrible tactics, warfare, and punishments against those they deem destoryers of nature, be it through the land or hunting. They once worked alongside the Eyes of Creation, a faction of Kith-Jora. Together they roamed and took care of the wyld and urban places, but those of the urban soon found themselves on the receiving end of spears and arrows for their "transgressions." Although considered largely a nuissance, without their efforts, most of the hunting grounds and beasts of prey would have long since disappeared. Lately, the lumbering communities near Bayris have been suffering their wrath for overhunting and destruction of hunting grounds.