Hollow at the Core
Ila, Spirits Within
Ila is a religion in an unusual state. It is solely worshipped by the gnomes, yet they no longer worship it. Its situation is best explained by its history:
In the deserts and the fields, the gnomes were tribal, disparaged as tricksters and thieves. Most of their bad name came from how tales spread by the elves, who saw them as underfoot and untrustworthy. The gnomes saw themselves as simply finding ways to survive amongst the Hordes using craft and cleverness rather than force, which they lacked.
Ila was born from their need. The gnomish shaman learned to commune with their ancestors even after death. The gnomes wrote out their history, their heroes, their ideas, anything they thought could teach them a way to survive their environment.
Ila is all of this. It is the reading of a goat’s teeth to interpret the message from a long-dead Zaim (wise leader). It is the anniversary of when 37 gnomes held out against a vast army through the clever subterfuge of 1 gnomish child. For the gnomes, Ila is faith, way of life, and, in fact, their internal name for their language. Ila is truth.
But when the great expulsion happened, Ila did not stop the elves. Now there are gnomes who claim Ila is what taught them enough to endure and survive and, now, thrive. Others believe their refusal to move past ancient traditions is why they were still too weak to fight back.
But most gnomes simply stopped caring about ‘the truth’. They follow the rules of Ila consistently, and would never skip a prayer or shorten a ritual. For many, it is the connection to the family they lost.
They are angry or resigned. ‘The truth may be unknowable’ or ‘The truth can hang’ could be said by the most devout. They no longer want the truth, they just fear what, if anything, could replace it.