After the Storm
The Maiden of Mercy is goddess of healing and compassion. She is most frequently propitiated by women, for her aid in childbirth, and invoked by midwives. Childbirth is dangerous for mother and child, and every mother and child are Shallya’s concern.
However, injury and sickness may afflict anyone and thus there is no one who does not at some point pray to Shallya.
In classical mythology, Shallya is the daugher of Morr and Verena, and sister of Myrmidia. Like them, she is also widely worshipped in the southern nations of Tilea and Estalia. She is now one of the most widely worshipped of the Gods of the Empire
Shallya’s cult is on good terms with most other cults except Ulric’s, which is seen as too violent. There is tension with Ranald’s cult at times when it makes certain outrageous claims about Ranald gaining divinity by tricking Shallya.
Symbols and Clothing
Shallya is most often represented by a Dove, sometimes carrying a golden key in its beak, sometimes a Heart with a drop of blood falling from it.
Her clergy wear simple, hooded white robes, which they strive to keep clean. They are often unadorned, through a heart symbol may be stitched into the left breast-side.
Shallya’s temples are well organised, with clearly defined roles and chains of authority to ensure they can respond to crises, and deal with the endless demand for their aid.
In theory, every shrine or temple is under the oversight of larger temple, and these large temples the chief temple of a nation. The cult overall is overseen by the Matriarch of the temple in Couronne (Bretonnia). Every six years, as many of the chief priests and priestesses meet in Couronne as the governing body of the cult.
These chains of authority are largely nominal, and mostly represent the connections temples use to call on aid or when they need to bring someone in to settle a dispute.
The most common argument internally among Shallyans are the principles to use in rationing their limited sources – which poor to help?
The cult overall does not have policies, teaching that temples must act as best in their circumstances. Shallyans are typically concerned with relieving the individual distresses of the people. This makes Shallyan temples a popular charity as their resources to go help the poor and needy, and not to advocate for any political agenda on their behalf.
Shallyans run hospitals, soup kitchens, orphanages and asylums – most such institutions are administered by the cult. Almost every Shallyan temple is also little bit of each of these.
Much as ’extra sons" are sent into the military, extra daughters are often sent to serve Shallya. Finding a “calling to help the stricken” is also a way for a girl to avoid a marriage she disfavours. Shallyans are not forbidden to marry but few want a wife dedicated to doing everything she can to help others.
Young pretty Shallyans are popular characters in ribald songs, jokes and plays. The cult tolerates this, because the priestess is always portrayed positively, but all Shallyans are aware of, and quick to spot, a certain type of patient. Such men are never turned away, but find themselves treated by the oldest Shallyan available.
The Markovite Ukase (decree) is a typical example of radical Shallyan thought. It is a doctrinal tract published by Markov, a Kislevite Shallyan Priest-Scholar. Markov calls upon the cult to act on its objections to the poverty and squalor and recognize they are created by the Empire’s political system and its ruling class.
While many Shallyans are sympathetic to this view they are not prepared to challenge the Empire’s political system.
- You (kick) do not (punch) steal (kick) from the Shallyans (kick) [conversation in alley between a thief and several colleagues]
Shallyans are “like everyone’s mother” and only the most antisocial sorts target them for harm. In addition to being poor, Shallyans are also widely known to make bad witnesses in capital cases so even bandits will often not harm them, for while they would not interfere with a death sentence once passed they will usually seek to work against one being passed.
Nachexen the 1st is Shallya’s chief holy day.
Many Old Worlders honour Shallya on their birthday, to thank her for their survival of this first trial (this practice is less common in rural areas where many of Shallya’s roles are seen as Ryha’s.
Shallya accepts periods of self-denial and abstinence as a sacrifice (leading to penalties for being underfed as set out in Living Costs).
Up to three fortune dice may be granted to a Piety check with a well-received sacrifice.
Strictures and Customs
- Violence is the last resort and never kill.
- Ease the suffering of all in need
- Never halt a soul when Morr calls for it to depart
- Go through life unfettered by material needs
- Abhor the Fly Lord in all his forms
- Do not waste energy on your own pleasure
The Shallyan stricture against killing applies only to its clergy, others who honour her are simply required to treat violence as a last resort. Even among clergy, “killing” does not apply to creatures to which mercy is inapplicable, one way or another, such as beastmen, undead, daemons, greenskins, mutants and animals.
A Shallyan may use non-lethal violence in defence of themselves or their patients.
Never halting souls on their way to depart usually means not prolonging life without hope. Sometimes a Shallyan will see an omen they interpret meaning a soul is destined to depart and will not seek to aid the subject but most Shallyans believe that “if the soul is called our aid will not stop it departing and if our aid stops it departing, the soul was not called”.
Not halting souls destined to depart is also usually interpreted to mean not advocating mercy for those to be executed after a just trial, that said Shallyans generally believe that execution is used to excess in the Empire and advocate for alternatives such as a banishment or forced labour.
Shallyans never learn the use of weapons except the staff and do not wear armour.
There are some male Shallyan priests. Male Shallyans are encouraged to act as wandering priests, travel with caravans or accompany the military – roles more dangerous for a lone woman. The main objective is actually to remove the temptations that could arise if a male priest stayed in a mostly female temple.
Play a priest or priestess of Shallya if you want to heal the sick, prevent violence through diplomacy, oppose the Lord of Decay, have the gratitude of your companions for Shallya’s blessings on them.
Priests of Shallya may replace Education and Intuition on their Priest career skill lists with Medicine and Resilience.