Religion and Belief of Lovat

Faiths and Creeds of Lovat

Welcome to Wild Territories, the series where I delve into the expanded lore and explore the inspiration behind small little details scattered throughout my Lovecraftian urban fantasy series, The Bell Forging Cycle. These posts will be spoiler-free, but you’ll probably appreciate them more if you have read any of books in the series. You can buy them here.

In the last entry, we explored The Mysterious Shamblers of the Scablands, and I asked everyone to vote on what topic they would like me to explore in this entry. The votes are in, and in this piece ,we’re going to examine something a bit different. Please join me as we explore part three of Wild Territories: Faiths and Creeds of Lovat.

There is a lot of ground to cover and this is going to be a long article, so if there is a particular religion you’re interested in, use one of the links below to jump to that specific entry. At the end of each feature there will be a link to bring you back to this menu.


The Reunified ChurchThe Reunified Church

Mentioned In: The Stars Were Right, Old Broken Road, Red Litten World
Known Members: Priestess Samantha Dubois, Hagen Dubois, Bishop Dubois
Places of Worship: Saint Mark’s (The Stars Were Right) (Pictured)

“The Reunified Church is as old as anything in our ancient world.”

—Waldo Bell, The Stars Were Right

Shortly after the Aligning, most of the fragmented denominations of earth’s former faiths were destroyed or significantly reduce in number. Under the caring and watchful leadership of Ebenezer Alvord, the dispersed congregations were eventually reunited under a single banner, The Reunified Church, eventually establishing a hierarchy of bishops, priests, monks, and nuns. Over the years, their influence widened as congregations began to crop up across the Territories. Missionaries, called Road Priests/Priestesses, crisscross the trails and highways riding small chapelwains pulled by teams of oxen. From these mobile churches, missionaries lead simple services, serve out rust wine, and hear confessions for small communities scattered throughout the Territories.

St. Mark's — Broadway Hill, Broadway Isle, Lovat
St. Mark’s — Broadway Hill, Broadway Isle, Lovat

Historically the Church had existed in Lovat since its rebirth. During the city’s tumultuous early years the Reunifieds were more militaristic and fought an extended religious war against the Hasturian Faith. These ‘Doctrine Wars’ lasted half a century, and as a result, many of the Reunified churches and cathedrals developed a fortress-like appearance. Walls and battlements ring the buildings and armed guards have been seen walking the walls, ever vigilant. While the church has become more peaceful in recent years, it still retains a small but powerful standing army, and Priest and Priestess alike are required to take self-defense classes.

Much of the Reunified faith is a continuation of its ancient Abrahamic religious heritage with a belief centered on a single divine deity. Since the Doctrine Wars, several splinter denominations have eventually spun away from the faith, notably the Reformed Movement, Salamshalla, Reunified Orthodoxy, and the Brethren. While core beliefs in each sect remain similar, overall, the church is considerably different from its pre-Aligning roots. Many of its post-Aligning practices, holidays, traditions, and saints would be unrecognizable to early pre-Aligning practitioners.

Today, many Lovatines respect the church, but Reunified history is not without controversy. While all sects of The Reunified Church openly welcome all species, that has not always been the case. Early in its formation, the church held to a strict human-only policy and banned non-human species from its services. The Purity Movement, a splinter sect of Reunified Brethren led by the charismatic Conrad O’Conner, claim to trace their roots back to the early Reunified Church and continues to preach human superiority and exclusion. Something the church and its sub-sects have vehemently disavowed.

An estimated 28.7% of Lovatines claim some connection with the Reunified Church making it the largest religious organization in the Territories.

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The Hasturian FaithThe Hasturian Faith

Mentioned In: The Stars Were Right, Old Broken Road, Red Litten World
Known Members:
 Peter Black, August Nickel
Know Places of Worship: Carcosa Grove (The Stars Were Right)

“It’s all deplorable. Folks worshiping monsters, fish gods, squid, and then there’s those Hasturians.”

—Jeremiah Norry, Old Broken Road

Arriving with the emergence of the dauger sometime after the Aligning, The Followers of the Cold Shepherd, more commonly known as the Hasturian Faith, is structured similarity to the early Reunified Church. However, it is ‘Ministers’ not Priests or Priestesses who lead congregations and church members refer to one another as ‘sister,’ ‘brother,’ or the gender neutral ‘sibling.’

The faith centers on the worship of Hastur, a deity of some mystery. Hastur’s origins are strange, and the church’s religious text—The Pallidon—isn’t clear on the subject. Congregations are divided into two wings that teach two separate origins for their god; Monarchists preach that Hastur was once a king of a great golden city while the more Continue reading → Faiths and Creeds of Lovat

Wild Territories: The Mysterious Shamblers of the High Country

The Mysterious Shamblers Of The Scablands

Welcome to Wild Territories, the series where I delve into the lore and inspiration behind small little details scattered throughout my Lovecraftian urban fantasy novels, The Bell Forging Cycle. These posts will be spoiler-free, but you’ll probably appreciate them more if you have the read books in the series. Now, with that out of the way, please join me as we explore part two of Wild Territories: The Mysterious Shamblers of the Scablands.

They move in packs, making little noise and shuffling along in the high grass of the open plains. They are the shamblers, the bizarre humanoid animals that live in the backcountry of the Territories. But what are they? What was their inspiration and what is their connection to the Lovecraftian mythos? What could they mean for the future? Let’s answer all these questions and take a closer look at these mysterious creatures.

Shamblers make their first and most prominent appearance in Old Broken Road, but they do crop up once in my latest novel, Red Litten World. The first mention of these strange creatures comes from the perspective of the character in the Old Broken Road prologue:

“She expected to see a wild dog, or one of those shuffling shamblers who were fearful to look upon but as docile as one of her father’s sheep.”

Those of you with extensive knowledge of Lovecraftian lore know about shamblers, or dimensional shamblers as ol’ Howie calls them. They first appear in Lovecraft’s The Horror at the Museum and later show up in a Clark Ashton Smith tale, The Hunters from Beyond. But they’re not major players. Shamblers, like many creatures within first wave mythos, make only one appearance. Dimensional shamblers are aggressive and dangerous and powerful. They have a strange animal head that is said to be part ape and part canine, tiny yellow eyes, large fangs, and massive claws. In the mythos, they hop from dimension to dimension and kidnap people. It’s creepy stuff, and they’re clearly not as docile as sheep.

If you have sat in on any of my panels or talked to me at cons, I am pretty adamant that I am not writing mythos. I’m writing urban fantasy, heavily influenced by the mythos. Like Stephen King and Neil Gaiman, I am playing with the bones and erecting my own monsters. So how are my monsters different? What influenced my version of shamblers?

To start, let’s look at their appearance. Later in Old Broken Road, Wal goes into a lot more detail:

“Shamblers are a strange animal. They look like naked humanoid figures: neckless with malformed heads, sightless bulging eyes, and pallid gray skin. Solitary and slow, they were more nuisance than threat, occasionally stumbling through a laager or running into the side of a cargowain. They were usually herbivorous, wandering the high desert looking for scrub brush, but occasionally they would find a prairie bird or small mammal to munch on.”

Dimensional Shambler by Michael Bukowski
Dimensional Shambler by Michael Bukowski

This description is the biggest reveal of shamblers to date and established differences right away. Gone are the fangs and claws and small yellow eyes. After Lovecraft, much of my inspiration came from two specific sources. The first is an illustrator. Michael Bukowski runs Yog-Blogsoth a Lovecraftian bestiary of sorts. I’m a big fan. His fantastic (and usually disturbing, consider yourself warned) illustrations are always my first destination whenever I am looking for inspiration in dreaming up monsters. (His take on the various aspects of Nyarlathotep are a favorite of mine.) There was something about his shambler (pictured left) that I loved, and something that inspired me further. The strange tilt of its head, the bizarre shape of its body. I could imagine it lurching, almost zombie-like, across the high deserts and channel scablands. While mine eventually looked different, I think when comparing Wal’s description to Michael’s illustration you can see the similarities.

Creepypasta: The Rake
The Rake is coming – via Reddit user jimjam1308

My second source of inspiration is The Rake a monster that comes from the depths of Creepypasta. A strange naked humanoid creature whose origins started from an unusual photo taken by a hunter’s game camera. In the original story The Rake looks fearsome, the light reflecting in its eyes, the same way light reflects in the eyes of game animals. That strange connection is what led me to toy with the idea of making my shamblers animal-esque humanoids. They might look disturbing, but something has changed. In the world of The Bell Forging Cycle, the monsters who destroyed Earth during the Aligning have disappeared but many, like the shamblers, were left behind. In this series, I am exploring is what has happened to them. Some, like the Cephel and Anur, have shifted from servitors species to become productive members of Territorial society. Others have faded into new legends, and some, like the shamblers, have become simple beast-like creatures.

The distinction is unique, and something I enjoy exploring. Other mentions of these rare and elusive animals are minor. In the first three books, they are another bizarre element in the background, a part of trail life. They serve the purpose to remind us that we aren’t in the world we know anymore, the Territories have been fundamentally changed. Earth is different.

When I set out to write this series I wanted the influence of Lovecraft on everything, and it’s there. It plays a part in everything from religions to major holidays, even slang. I also wanted to shift enough things to keep enthusiasts guessing. I think the shamblers are a great example of that. Where will they go and what part will these bizarre creatures play? Can they still travel between dimensions? Are they as docile as they seem? Only time will tell. For now, the mysterious shamblers shuffle along, wandering the roads between cities and reminding us that the Territories are truly wild.

Thanks for reading the second Wild Territories entry. The idea is to continue this series and reveal little more behind the scenes information about The Bell Forging Cycle. To do that, I need your help. Vote below and decided where we go next time we visit the Wild Territories:

Wild Territories: JazzSaints of the Bell Forging Cycle

The Jazz Saints Of The Bell Forging Cycle

Red Litten World is out the door. The third adventure of Waldo Bell is now in the hands of you, my incredible readers. This puts us halfway in what I currently expect to be a six book series. (You can find out more at – hints abound.)

Since many of you have been asking, I thought it’d be fun to start a series of blog posts where delve into some of the decisions I made with the world building of The Bell Forging Cycle. It’ll be a space to offer a little more insight into places, people, and cultures of the Territories and share a little more of my process.

First up… the jazz saints.

If you’re a longtime reader, there is no doubt that you have noticed that Jazz often plays a subtle role in each book. It’s the background notes of Lovat. It’s the sound emanating from the radios, it’s the crackly voice behind the static. Film noir is often punctuated by Jazz, and I wanted that same feeling of noir to punctuate The Bell Forging Cycle.

Throughout the series, you’ll find that the jazz musicians of our yesteryears are treated like saints within the Territories. (How Jazz came to fulfill this role is an ongoing mystery.) They carry titles with their names, often born of religious themes. Over the generations since the Aligning their songs have shifted from that of entertainment and are treated as something closer resembling today’s hymns or canticles.

I thought it would be fun to chronologically explore some of the songs that show up within the books. As I do, I’ll go into more details explain why I chose them, and why I thought they fit in the world. First up…

Billie HolidayGloomy SundayBillie Holiday

Mentioned: The Stars Were Right – Chapter Two

Of course, it’s Billie Holiday who get’s the distinction of being first. Early in The Stars Were Right Wal hears the noodle cart vendor whistling the first few bars from this iconic ballad when he’s on his way to meet Thad. In a lot of ways I picked this because it sat the mood, Lovat is a damp gloomy place most of the time and especially in the lower levels. I figured it’d be fun to use a song as haunting as this like this to really amp up that feeling.

Miles DavisI Waited for YouMiles Davis

Mentioned: The Stars Were Right – Chapter Eleven

I’m a big fan of cool jazz, and there’s no one cooler than Miles Davis. Referred to as “Brother Miles” by Wal, I wanted to have a song that worked for the scene where Wal waits to meet Hagen. The fact that Wal recognizes the song also hints at his inner workings. He’s not someone who goes on at length about Jazz and its musicians, but he clearly is able to recognize particular songs even instrumentals. I liked that, it was a little detail about his personality that wasn’t too overt.

Duke EllingtonTake the A TrainDuke Ellington

Mentioned: The Stars Were Right  – Chapter Nineteen

Okay, I am cheating here a bit. I don’t actually mention the title of this track, Wal just hears a maero whistling a tune he recognizes as coming from “Saint Ellington”. In my mind those that song will always be Take the A Train, or in Wal and Hagen’s case I guess the A-monorail.

Count BasieA Hard Day’s NightCount Basie

Mentioned: Old Broken Road – Chapter One… sorta.

Okay, so I’m kind of cheating twice. In the bar scene during the opening of Old Broken Road. Wal mentions very briefly that an old jazz number is playing on the piano. In early manuscripts, I had called it out as a “W. J. Bassy number” but ended up cutting it. Look, let me have this one, it’s the only Jazz mentioned in Old Broken Road. (Basie also gets a brief mention in Red Litten World chapter six as well.)

[!] Note: The next few numbers are mentioned in Red Litten World. While they’re not exactly spoilery, you might want to hold off reading further until you’ve finished the novel.

Continue reading → The Jazz Saints Of The Bell Forging Cycle