The painting Religion in the Mother Countries is a work of oil on stretched canvas, depicting a still life. In a dimly lit room, three metal pieces and a dead moth have been placed on a countertop. Above them hangs an unlit lantern, one anchor point for a large and empty spiderweb that has intruded on the scene.
The Million Gods:
The desiccated corpse of a moon’s-heart moth occupies the lower right quadrant of the painting. It lies on its stomach, tilted at a rakish angle and partially supported by the dried and sticklike veins of a half-decomposed wing. The moth’s other wing, fixed perpendicular to the body, is likewise mostly gone. Only a few veins and three tiny scraps of iridescent wing have survived. The wing-fragments shine in a rainbow of colors, bright and translucent and transient.
The moth’s head is missing, and in its place there is a spider’s egg sac. Though the body of the insect is dry and lifeless, a faint liquid sheen can be detected through the translucent exoskeleton: the absent parent-spider first consumed the moth’s flesh, then filled its corpse with spider jelly for its infant children to consume.
The Pelagic Mysteries:
Three black obsidian octahedrons, their faces marked with occult symbols, balance the weight of the moth-corpse in the lower left quadrant of the painting. They are all at angles to one another, suggesting they have been carelessly tossed rather than placed. The first octahedron’s flat top is marked with the sigil of Untime, and on the faces visible in the painting are sigils of Luck, Altruism, and Effort. The second octahedron’s flat top is marked with the sigil of Giant, and on the faces visible in the painting are sigils of Verrik and Litorian. The third octahedron is partially obscured by the other two, and its flat top is marked with the sigil of Peace. On the faces visible in the painting are the sigils of Empire and (on the face which is partially occluded) either Plague or Slaughter; it cannot be determined from the portion of the sigil which may be seen. A shadow hangs over the three polyhedrons, cast by the lantern above.
The Dark Wells of Power:
Above the polyhedrons, dominating the upper half of the painting, hangs an unlit iron lantern of the bull’s-eye type, plainly disused. Its oil-spout has rusted away and it is held in place not by the decayed clips intended for the purpose but by catgut twine. The decorative hoop through which the catgut has been threaded has partially rusted away; a single hard blow to side of the lantern would send it crashing to the countertop below.
The lamp’s shutter is fully open and faces directly outwards the surface of the painting, appearing not unlike the pupil of some lidless eye. The underside of the lantern appears to be etched with lettering, but the shadows are sufficiently strong that anything written there cannot be read.
Connecting the lantern to the catgut and to parts unknown beyond the frame of the painting there is a luminous spiderweb. The web’s spinner is not visible, but there is no particular reason to think it is a different spider than that which produced the egg sac on the moth corpse. The painting lacks another apparent light source, and while the web is plainly only faintly phosphorescent, it nevertheless illuminates the octahedrons and moth corpse below. The strands of the web are faintly thicker along certain segments, which link together in such a manner to faintly spell out of the sigil of Renewal.Tags: sll