Nereia is the Sea Goddess, patron of sailors and fishermen. She is the eldest of Vodr's two daughters, her younger sister being Naia, the River Goddess. When Vodr saw fit to give dominions to his daughters, he shared that of the seas with Nereia, whereas that of rivers and lakes he gave to Naia. This upset Naia, who believed her father had always loved his eldest daughter best, and had snubbed her, his younger daughter, and so there is said to be a rivalry between the two goddesses.
Nereia is most often recognized as a patron of sailors and fishermen. Sailors pray to her for calm seas and fair winds in their voyages, and one can seldom spend time in a dockside district tavern without hearing tales of Nereia plucking a sailor from the water to save his life. The wives of seamen often pray and give offering daily to Nereia in hopes that it will secure their husbands a safe journey and a swift return home. Fishermen pray to Nereia for bounteous catches, and will often throw a portion of the fish back as a gesture of gratitude or tithe to Nereia.
The most common trait attributed to Nereia is her enchantingly beautiful voice. It is said that she can command men, beasts, and even the elements with the beauty and power of her song alone, causing stormy seas to calm for those who she favors, or to stir up massive waves, torrential rains, and lightning storms to afflict those who have offended her. Many legends speak of Nereia's voice being the only thing keeping Verungnr, the Abyssal Horror, in check within the deepest depths of the ocean.
Accounts of Nereia's mood and personality often differ, and it is often said that this is because her mood can change as quickly as the unpredictable Seas can go from placid calm to a thundering storm. She is most often seen as cheerful and kind, though she can have a quick temper against those who threaten or anger her, and is known to occasionally be stricken with melancholy due to the loss of her father and the rift between she and her sister, Naia.
Worship or Service
There are many ways in which one might show respect or attempt to gain favor with Nereia. One such way is to wander the beaches in search of sea life washed ashore (most often sea-stars) and throw it back into the ocean. Another similar method is to search the beach sands for particularly beautiful shells to throw into the waters with a prayer of offering to the Sea Goddess. Some other methods are to simply pray to her often and dedicate songs to her, as the Sea Goddess loves singing.
There are also ways to offend Nereia: To kill sea-birds, most notably the albatross, is said to be a way to offend the Sea Goddess, as they are often believed to be the souls of dead sailors and other seagoers in service to Nereia, and she depends on these creatures as her messengers out of the water.
There are a number of legends regarding sea-people who are in some way related or in service to Nereia. Whether these are just myths and legends or there is some truth to them is a frequent topic of debate.
Often believed to be either the children of Nereia or a people especially blessed by the sea goddess, the Nereids are said to be able to survive underwater without breathing or without any ill effects due to the crushing depths, but are otherwise indistinguishable from any other people, save for the occasional tale telling of their skin having a slightly blue or blue-green tint to it. Many tales speak of grand underwater palaces and courts where the Nereids dwell with Nereia herself.
Sea-maidens possessing an unearthly beauty surpassing that of any mortal, the Sirens were once a favored people of Nereia and were blessed by her with beautiful voices and the ability to breathe water. However, the Sirens managed to offend the sea-goddess (legends differ on how) and were cast out from her, forbidden to partake of any sustenance from the Sea or interact with any of Nereia's other sea-peoples. Unable to survive long out of the water, the Sirens often use their enchanting voices and haunting songs to lure ships into treacherous rocks and reefs, or to bewitch sailors and seagoers to hurl themselves overboard so that the Sirens can mate with them and eat their flesh. It is said that while female Siren offspring can only survive in water like their mothers, the male offspring are unable to live in water and are left on land, often at coastal communities so that they will be found and cared for.
Naturally, those favored by Nereia are believed to be spared from the bewitchment of the Sirens' songs.
A people who live in the sea with fish-tails in place of legs. Legends vary as to whether they can survive out of the water, and some speak of the fish-tails splitting and turning into legs when a merfolk is on dry land. This is perhaps the least-believed of these legends, though tales of merfolk (particularly mermaids) persist amongst sailors.