Winter Solstice: the truth revealed!

This is a dark age, a bloody age, an age of daemons and of sorcery.

Winter Solstice: the truth revealed!

Postby Athelassan » Thu Dec 12, 2013 7:01 pm

Imperial spies have intercepted a letter from Ulthuan addressed to a senior Altdorf figure, purporting to reveal the truth behind the children's myth of "Father Mondstille":

Verspasian Kant wrote:Most honoured Loremaster,

A recent development I have observed in Altdorf at Mondstille is for children to hang up stockings in the hope of being given gifts by a mysterious visitor in the night, known to many as “Father Mondstille”. I am wary this could be an insidious plot by a Chaos cult to infiltrate the Empire, but have refrained from alerting the witch hunters to my suspicions before gathering more information. After all, it could be entirely benign. As your expertise in this area is so much greater than my own, have you any words of wisdom to confirm my suspicions one way or the other?

Yours most humbly and sincerely,

Magister Patriarch Verspasian Kant

My dear Magister Patriarch,

What you have encountered is in fact one of the most pernicious and persistent pieces of Dwarf propaganda to have found its way into human consciousness. It is not known among my people when the custom originated, but it appears to have been at some time after the War of the Beard which, despite their victory, the Dwarfs cannot resist prattling on about in a most tedious manner.

Examining the features of the mythology behind this cultural construct gives a clearer picture of its origins and intentions. In all myths associated with the figure, he always represents moral rectitude and goodness. Moreover he serves not only as an exemplar but also as a judge, categorising children as “naughty” or “nice” depending on their behaviour throughout the year. This serves to indoctrinate human children in the notion that there is a being, superior yet not divine, capable of standing in judgment on their actions. Father Mondstille is not human, so it further encourages the youth of the human population to abrogate responsibility for making their own moral and ethical judgments and to abide by the decisions of a non-human party. The rest of the features serve to identify that party.

Father Mondstille is universally portrayed as stout and bearded, fond of food and drink. I am sure I need not point out the obvious here, but the emphasis on his fulsome beard in particular serves to underline the importance of facial hirsuteness in a way that encourages humans to trust those who can, and distrust those who cannot, grow such beards. I recall a rather shabby Mondstille morality play from my time in the Empire which featured a character who inadvertently inherited the mantle of Father Mondstille, and one of the key features in this identification was that he was incapable of not growing a beard. It forms an essential part of the character.

Father Monstille is further always identified with his familial title, emphasising his patriarchal standing and identifying the parent – and, by extension, the elderly and ancestors in general – as a figure entitled to respect and authority. This is reminiscent of Dwarf ancestor worship; indeed, in Dwarf society all their gods are considered ancestors of the Dwarf people.

Delving into the details of the myth further illuminates some other disturbing details. Father Mondstille visits children and leaves each of them a gift depending on their moral qualities as I discussed earlier. In the case of those children deemed to be “good” - i.e. conforming most closely to those qualities desirable to him – he leaves them a hand-crafted toy, often made of wood and usually mechanical in nature. This conditions children to think of wood not as an organic, living tree, but as a mere material to be harvested and processed. Those children deemed to be “naughty” by contrast are given a lump of coal, an item useless by itself but which provides fuel for forges and furnaces. The implication is not only that the coal will give the child the necessary ability and extra motivation to become more industrious over the coming year, but that efforts are better directed in an industrial direction than an agrarian one.

The subject of Father Mondstile's assistants is one that causes much grief among our people when it is mentioned. His assistants – really, slaves – are consistently identified as Elves. These “Elves”, however, are not the proud, tall people of the continents of Ulthuan and Naggaroth or the forests of your Old World; they are stunted, wretched creatures, capable only of following the patterns laid out for them by Father Mondstille and apparently not possessed of any initiative of their own. They may be benign but only in the sense that livestock is benign – a tool to be used or exploited, rather than a people with which to entertain discourse. Moreover the stature and temperament of these “Elves”, while bearing little resemblance to the Asur and their kin, is more than a little reminiscent of Halflings. The implication on this point is that Elves and Halflings, the only two elder races beside the Dwarfs to be in a position to influence human affairs, are essentially subhuman in nature and worthy of little respect.

In short, my friend, you were indeed correct in your suspicions that this is not a question of a Chaos cult or the like. It is however something about which I have long believed the Empire should be concerned. I fear it may be too late, as generations of children have already been indoctrinated into this Dawi-ist mindset and the Dwarfs may already have an immovable foothold in Imperial affairs. I believe for instance it is common practice for the Grand Theogonist of your Sigmarite Church to take a Dwarf name upon accession.

I fear that is all the useful advice I can provide. Now you know the truth, and since the Dwarfs are naturally ill-disposed towards those of a magical nature, I would advise against making this knowledge public for fear that you will be targeted for reprisals. I did have some brief correspondence with a senior nobleman of Stirland, possibly the brother of the ruler there*, who had, like you, identified the Dwarf conspiracy: an intelligent man, though rather impulsive. I do not know what became of him, but I have not heard from him in some time. If he remains alive he may serve as an ally, but I fear the Dwarfs may already have silenced him.

I remain, as ever, your friend.

Loremaster Finreir

*His name may have been Rudolf Haupt-Anderssen, but I confess human names all sound the same to me.
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Re: Winter Solstice: the truth revealed!

Postby Vivia » Thu Dec 12, 2013 9:21 pm

For a moment I went "is Father Mondstille a vampire". :)
Great little vignette, I have a fondness for epistolary fiction, sometimes there is so much to read between the lines.
There is nothing gay about the Princeton fight song. "Oh, the men of Princeton are charging up the rear, holding all the balls..." Okay, I hear it now. – Jack, episode Queen of Jordan
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