Mera combs

As told by Beslyfle the gnome, matron of Fumaya's Tenders.   Before Turoch's corpse was done cooling, Maylar ripped out his heart and fashioned it into a spear.   Shortly after, the rest of the Nine followed suit and fashioned one of Turoch's body parts into their own Divine Trophies.   Mera, gentle soul that she is, wasn't exactly eager to play with the body of a dead primordial god, but eventually she opted to craft Turoch's liver into a comb. Mera's divine comb can remove poison and disease from anything.   My uncle was a butcher and I apprenticed to him a few years as child, so I'm not afraid to get my hands dirty with a dead hog or cow. I can cook up a plate of liver and onions fit for a king, but I have no idea how a mortal could make liver into a comb. But I guess Turoch did not have an ordinary liver and Mera is no mere mortal.   That's neither here nor there, none of the Divine Trophies origins make much sense but at least ordinary livers actually process ordinary toxins, so it makes sense in a way. When it comes to the Nine, things only have to make sense in a symbolic way for them to act, they are not as constrained by the laws of the natural world the way we mere mortals are.   It is telling to Mera's wisdom and compassion that Mera is only one of two of the Nine who chose to not make a weapon or piece or armor, (What? Nami made the other non-martial item, don't you know anything?).   Given that Mera's comb is a symbol of her power, it is not surprising that that Mera's faithful take their combs seriously.   Walchese priests and priestesses commonly wear ornate combs in their hair as part of their formal vestments. Their parishioners normally only use similar combs during especially important events such as weddings, funerals and name day rituals.   Terrawans use decorative combs a lot more often with a great many of our parishioners keeping a comb in their hair all day, every day as a sign of devotion. Our priests and priestesses often wear a comb in their hair for day-to-day work, not just when presiding over worship ceremonies.   I hear that in Umera, they use a lot of specific combs. There are blue combs worn for fasting and penance, and there are orange combs that pregnant women wear in their hair to invite Mera's blessings on their unborn child, and dead bodies are often buried with black combs.   Walchese combs tend to be very ornate, intricately carved and inlaid with precious materials or completely made of valuable materials. While Terrawan combs are lovingly crafted, but they are usually made from simple materials.   My comb? Yes, it is made of Silverwood and that is a rarified material. I am a Terrawan, not Walchese. So I am speaking generalities, not absolutes. Some Walchese use ceremonial combs made of simple materials. My comb is an indicator of my rank. Among the Walchese, lower ranking priestesses often have even more expensive and orante combs than mine, while the top ranking clergy might have Silverwood combs with gold plated handles inlaid with pearls.   Does my comb have magic healing powers? No, but also yes. I have magic healing powers and I can channel them through my comb, but the magic doesn't come from the comb, it comes from our Benevolent Mother above and my faith in her.   Like any theurgist of Mera, I can channel my lady's divine power through any of her holy symbols. I can channel magic through my ring or necklace just as well, both of which present my Lady's symbols prominently. I can swap holy symbols with any other Tender and still be able to cast magic. If I was stripped of my regalia, I could make a new holy symbol out of a discarded piece of firewood and it would still work, such is Mera's power. But I digress.   Some Mera combs do have magic power in and of themselves. The Tenders don't have as many theurgists capable of crafting magic items as other priesthoods, but we do have some. Instead of crafting healing wands like rest of the Nonagon commonly does, a Tender is more likely to infuse a comb with Healing or Purification magic. Since a lot of Tenders have our own healing magic, we don't need these magic combs, but we can give them to adventurers and warriors who we trust to fight for Mera's ideals.   Like most conventional wands and staffs, these combs are typically good for ten or twenty uses before they have to be reenchanted. Some crafters prefer ornate expensive magic combs because rarified materials are easier to enchant than ordinary materials, but innocuous combs made of ordinary materials are less conspicuous and some adventurers like their magic items to be secret weapons, both to surprise their enemies and to discourage thieves.   Not every comb in Scarterra is dedicated to Mera, but a lot are, even those that are used for casual grooming. There are no iron clad rules for what constitutes a Mera comb and what doesn't, at least not among the Terrawans. The Walchese like to consecrate their combs in a short ceremony. Most Mera combs involve her icon of a hearth fire enclosed by water and many are blue.   I once met a traveling Mondarian Tender. Mondert Tender's have developed their own rituals and traditions separate from the Terrawans and Walchese. They have an absolutely heartwarming custom of wedding combs. Before a wedding, the bride's family will craft a comb for the groom and the groom's family will craft a comb for the bride.   Wealthy family's often have their best craftsmen make combs out of rarified materials, but most of these combs are crafted by young children, complete with adorable childish imperfections. After the wedding, these combs go into the family wash room and are used like any other comb.

Elves and Mera Combs

  Mera combs are extremely ubiquitous throughout Scarterra even among cultures that don't hold Mera in a prominent role, but this seems to be a Third Age tradition, commonly seen among humans, dwarves, gnomes.   Even kalazotz have Mera combs. Though the batfolk's "combs" are more like a horse's grooming brush than our hair combs, and their symbol for Mera is different than ours. Their symbol is folded wings over a large drop of water rather than a large drop of water enclosing a hearth fire. The kalazotz customs are strange, but the Benevolent Mother adopted them fully so that is good enough for me.   Every race that venerates Mera and has enough hair to run a comb through.   Elves not so much. Grey elves sometimes keep Mera combs, but this seems to be a tradition they picked up from their human vassals somewhat reluctantly. Dark elves generally hold Mera in disdain, so of course they are not going to consecrate their combs. Wood elves hold Mera in high regard but they are not very materialistic and don't much stock in symbolic trinkets. They prefer to honor Mera and the rest of the Nine with songs rather than icons and I have no problem with this.   When relic seekers unearth Second Age ruins, there are a lot of combs which is hardly surprising since both elf men and elf women like to keep their silky shiny hair long. The surviving artwork from the Second Age shows this was always the case. What is surprising is that very few of these combs are Mera combs.   We're not sure why this is. Historical records indicate that Second Age elves did hold Mera in high regard, but they didn't seem to use ceremonial combs in her worship. The ancient Mera combs that relic hunters did find all seemed to be enchanted combs with their magic spent.   I guess an elf once explained to me that since Mera is the goddess of households and families that their veneration of Her should be private and in the home, rather in the community at large. I cannot agree with this interpretation of the Benevolent Mother's divine will because she wants us to treat our communities like family, but it's pretty pointless to argue with an elf.
Item type
Religious / Ritualistic
Current Location
Owning Organization
Very common

Cover image: Crude icon for Tenders of the Hearth by Me


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