Each of the civilizations of the world of which Aladagia is but one supercontinent tells a tale of the creation of the universe. These are a few of those tales.
In the beginning there was nothing of the world but a handful of earth that the gods had brought with them in their travels. The eldest traveled with them, leaving behind the place of beginnings, the dim mistiness of eternity. Soulforger said, Bring forth the soil of the garden of eternity, and set it before me. It was done, without misgiving, and where there was a handful Soulforger worked his craft and made into a pile, and then into a hill, from thence into a mountain, and from there into a world. Skydancer stepped forth, saying, Let me light your task. And she did.
Under the newly lit world the other gods began to work. Earthmother passed her hands along the world, and everywhere she touched became rich with the possibility of life. Rainweaver reached out her fingers and water began to fall, filling the low places and catalyzing the seeds of the earth. The plants began to grow. Oathbinder stepped forward, and created the competition of the strong, so that only the best of the crop would grow to spread their leaves to the sun. Wildstalker set down the sculptures he had made and brought them to life, creating animals to serve the Eldest as food and companions.
But something was still missing, and soon Earthmother was with child. From her womb was born Woundhealer. The bright goddess spread the knowledge of healing and storage, so that none would have to spend life merely hand to mouth. In like manner, the disciple gods were made, to help the greatest with the tasks that they did not have the focus to do. And so time passed. Eventually the other gods made more beings to mirror the Eldest, and to fill their world, and yet each held a bit of the god that had made them, and so they were different.
The Dwarves were the first made, forged by the hand of Oathbinder, and they knew honor and war. The Gnomes were then made by Skydancer, as they loved the ways of fire. Next came the people of Woundhealer, who lived underneath the waves. Then were born the people of Wildstalker, the Orcs were grim but fair hunters in those days. Afterwards came the brood of Earthmother, those who changed with the seasons. Finally were birthed the Humans, made of Rainweaver and as changeable as their mother. Soulforger looked on and saw that his arts had been learned well, and he taught the new races the ways of cities.
And yet dark days were coming. Inspired by jealousy, the gods of darkness followed the route taken by the gods of light. They slunk in and began to spread their words. Relkor strode forth and began to compete for power with Skydancer, creating the night that broke the formerly eternal light. Xalbrathe walked through the mortals in a thousand forms, teaching them to lie to one another. Atrahne spread as illness, introducing death, disease, and the withering age for the first time. Merrant strode the land and urged friendly competition into bloody war. Paovask ran through the trees and spread greed, so that the mortals became miserable in the things they could not have. Slowly one half of the mortals turned to join the dark gods, making things bleak.
And thus do things stand. The gods of darkness have forever tainted mortals with their flaws. There is nothing to be done but to leave once more and create another world, but the gods remain, patient that one day they might be able to heal the rot at the heart of their creations.
Listen and listen close, 'cause I'm not going to repeat myself. In the beginning there was a rock. Big, solid, warm, pristine. It was the best damn rock that's been seen before or since. Soulforger was walking along one day and he saw this perfect, perfect rock. But he figured that he could make it even more perfect. So he picks it up, and carts it back to his workshop to start working with it. Now first thing he does, see, is break the thing into a million pieces so's he can make it the shape he wants. He refits everything into the right position and solders it all together with all the metals of the earth.
Now about this time in come the other gods, all nosy and everything. Skydancer goes, "Hey, Soulforger, what do you have in there?" Now she comes running in, sunlight shining all over the place, when Soulforger was doing perfectly fine working by torchlight. He would've told her to get her rear out of there, but who's going to tell her that, so he let her stay. He realized his mistake when everyone else comes in there too. He'd barely got the finish on when Rainweaver's pouring water all over the place, getting the crannies of the rock all full of oceans. He pushes her off and turns around and there's Earthmother, sticking trees and flowers all over the bloody thing, trying to make it pretty. He turns to scold her and there's Wildstalker slipping in and putting animals all over the place. Finally, he shoves everyone out of the door and starts thinking about what to do about it. At this point in comes Oathbinder and his daugther Woundhealer, about the only two of the gods he can stand for more than half an hour. "My work's all wet and covered in gunk!" he says to them. Now Oathbinder, being a crafty lad, says "I've got an idea," and he takes some of his daughter's sculptures and starts 'em breathing. He sets 'em down on the world that Soulforger had made, and started 'em moving around and enjoying stuff. Now Soulforger goes, "what a right good idea!" And he starts working on more people to enjoy the world. Somebody's got to, after all. Those first people, though, he gave the best part of the rock, and let them tunnel down underground and use the solder for their own devices.
Now this big rock is sitting on Oathbinder's desk, and the other gods are in and out since they feel like they had something to do with it and he's too nice to tell them to scram until they give him a headache. Occassionally the nasty neighbors down the block come poking their heads in and trying to play with the people, but Soulforger usually catches them and kicks them out again right quick. And that's the way it is.
Hear me child, for I shall tell you of the origin of our world. In the beginning Soulforger created the firmament, a giant chalice upon his alter, worked in finest gold. Within the cup he built mountains. Skydancer came forth and lit the cup, and Rainweaver filled it with water up to just below the mountaintops, creating the land and seas. Earthmother planted the green and growing things, and Wildstalker placed the animals. Then, together, they all made the races upon the world.
Then came forth the pantheon of the Orcs, and Relkor spoke of challenge. They brought forth the pieces that they had made, the Orcish races, and placed them upon the world. And so the great game began, the Orcish against the allies of the Humans. The gods may direct and intervene, but they may not cheat and fight directly against the obviously weaker dieties of the Orcs. Instead, we will do battle for them, and it is our glory that greater glories our patrons. And when the game is over, when Humans are victorious, the world will belong solely to the children of light and all suffering will be left behind.
Humans think about death a lot, so the other races have pretty much followed along with the humans concepts of dying and the afterlife, since they're the most concerned with it. There are three doctrines of the pantheistic religion that concern death and the soul:
The Doctrine of Divisibility of the Soul - Souls are divisible and regenerative. Each child born receives a small piece of the co-mingled souls of its parents, this piece will recover quickly in the parents, and grow to fill the child quickly as well unless added to by reincarnates. This explains why children are often so much like their parents.
The Doctrine of Valorious Reward - In life any person may do something extremely virtuous in the eyes of one of the gods. If this merits reward, and nothing is done to counteract it later in life, on death the soul goes to paradise amongst the gods to await the End of Suffering and to at times return to the world to help those in dire need. This is referred to as achieving Destiny. However, those who worship the dark gods or do especially evil things might follow their Fate, and be taken to the torment which is eternity in the darkness.
The Doctrine of Rebirth - Those dead who do not achieve their Destiny or their Fate enter a period of stasis after death, lasting moments or years, and then find themselves born again into the world with no memory of their past, merged with the innocent soul of a newborn. The great majority of mortals follow this route, and will continue to reincarnate until the achieve Destiny, Fate, or the End of Suffering. Some have proposed that reincarnation follows family lines, but this has yet to be proven.
The End of Suffering is the time when the dark gods are defeated. Since the gods themselves have stated that they will drive away the Orcish gods when the mortals of light have driven away their minions, this is believed by many to occur after the Orcish empire has been routed completely, driving on Humans to fight. As the dark gods are the cause of all the bad things - Darkness, Hatred, Ambition, Deceit, Disease, Death, Violence, Hunger, Misery, and Greed - it follows that when they are driven away none of these things will trouble the races any further, and from then on will emerge an era of peace, prosperity, and contentment. In this era, the Destined souls will be incarnated back upon the mortal coil, as there will be no danger of overpopulation once the Orcish races are removed. This golden age will extend forever (or at least until the gods take up another game, some cynics point out).