Benthimus and the Birth of the World Myth in Teshelyn | World Anvil
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Benthimus and the Birth of the World

The Tesheli creator deity is a great and ancient leviathan known as the Benthimus. Each culture has slight variations on the tale, but the balaceti version seems to be the basis for the other versions. As the whalefolk tell it, the Benthimus was the first living being on Teshelyn, swimming the empty waters for ages before succumbing to loneliness. He opened his mouth and let out an anguished cry, but instead of sound, two other beings emerged from his mouth. These were to become his two sons, a great whale known as the Singer, and his brother the Serpent. Together, the brothers went about creating the denizens of Teshelyn - the balaceti, dolphins, and whales were the Singer's children, and the humans and merfolk the Serpent's. The brothers clashed occasionally, but their relationship was close and strong. When they finally fell to old age, the Singer's body became the underwater mountain ridge demarcating the eastern edge of the Balacen ocean known as the Singer's Spine, and the Serpent thrashed and carved a trench on the Balacen's western border that is known now as the Serpent's Scar.

Historical Basis

Though Tesheli leviathans are known to exist, it is unclear if any of them have the power attributed to the Benthimus. They are undoubtedly powerful, but not necessarily world-creating. The existence of a great whale on the scale of the Singer is doubtful, as is the existence of his brother. Their role in myth is likely attributable to the clear split in Tesheli culture between whale-like beings and other beings.

Variations & Mutation

Different Tesheli cultures of course lend different weights to the role of the three gods. The balaceti are perhaps the most balanced in their reverence of the gods, which has been understood by scholars as evidence of their version being the root variation. Humans, although viewing themselves as creations of the Serpent, tend to paint him in a somewhat negative and warlike light, most likely due to their frequent clashes with the merfolk clans that live off of the coast. The versions of the creation myth among the dolphins are many and varied. Silverfin dolphins revere the Singer as well as the Serpent while downplaying the importance of the Benthimus, where wavecrest dolphins align themselves with the Serpent. Roughtooth dolphins also worship the Serpent, but where the wavecrests interpret him as a trickster deity, the roughtooths paint him as a god of ferocity and power. Orca culture almost exclusively recognizes the Singer - unsurprising given their unrivaled prowess in understanding and interpreting whalesong. Conversely, the merfolk only follow the Serpent, given their belief that the field of cetalinguistics is a hoax. The whales themselves do not seem to lend much weight to any myths, at least not according to widely-accepted translations of whalesong.

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