The Twilight of Man
Skelleftea, the Soul’s Guide: Goddess of the Moment of Death, Burial, the Soul, the Afterlife; the Guide of the Dead
Symbol: An open skeletal hand.
Sacred Places: Graveyards (especially at dusk), tombs, mausolea, at the site of a burial.
Worshippers: The dying, families of the dying and the recently deceased, gravediggers, morticians, mourners, those who pray for the redemption of another’s soul.
Favored Weapon: Quarterstaff.
Favored Colors: Black, dark violet, bone white.
Skelleftea appears as a bony, frail-looking older woman wrapped in dark rags and draped from head to toe in a dark, semitransparent burial shroud. The right half of her body is covered in skin and has the appearance of a human while the left half is completely skeletal. Skelleftea is responsible for the safeguarding of the souls of the human dead; as such her arrival is both dreaded and respected. She is generally only invoked when death is imminent or has recently occurred, and the human custom of dressing the deceased in their finest clothes and jewelry is said to entice the soul’s guide to spirit them away quickly to their eternal resting place.
Skelleftea is the daughter of Heshar and sister of Goltu. She is one of the most ancient deities, having existed as long as mankind itself. She has no consorts and no offspring.
Skelleftea represents the inevitable passage of mortals from the realm of the living to the afterlife and otherwise takes little to no interest in human affairs. As the impassible psychopomp she has little use for morality—good and evil, law and chaos mean little to the soul’s guide, whose only interest is ushering the newly deceased to the eternity that they have merited. Although the mindless undead are not particularly offensive to Skelleftea (the bodies of the dead are not her concern), intelligent undead which have maintained their human consciousness (vampires, lichs, etc.) are anathema to her—she sees them as humans who have arrogantly crossed the threshold of death without consigning their souls to the psychopomp. Humans who seek to extend their lives past their natural limits (through magic, medicine, or otherwise) are likewise offensive to the goddess. A devoted follower of Skelleftea respects the boundaries of life and death and helps to ease the passage from one realm to the next when possible.
Clergy and Temples
The clergy of Skelleftea is scant and lacks any central organization. Clerics operate singularly or, rarely, in small groups and are generally found near burial grounds or in the service of kings and other leaders—as servitors of the goddess of burial, Skellefteans are the most prized undertakers available and often find themselves occupying this role in local communities or for wealthy private patrons.
Temples of Skelleftea are unheard of, but small wayside shrines are often found on the roads leading to burial grounds and within burial grounds themselves. It is customary for a funerary procession to stop and leave some small offering at every shrine to the goddess that is passed en route to the cemetery. Shrines can also be found in the form of altars, wall niches, or even small chapels, inside crypts, mausolea, and other tombs.
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