The Mandorlin (Old Exekian, "Holy Books') are the collective religious texts held sacred to believers in the god Akhen. They consist of three separate documents: the Beginning, the Histories, and the Law.
The first holy book and the oldest, the Beginning recounts the creation of the universe by the god Akhen.
In the original version used by both Akhenists and Vormundists, Akhen first creates the Exekians, beginning with Embal and Callidora, but is disappointed when their descendants pursue selfish desires and begin squabbling among themselves. After a difficult first birth, the once again pregnant Callidora flees into the sea, where she is transformed into a selkie; her son is allowed to choose his form, and so are his descendants. Later, Akhen transforms Monaxia, the firstborn son of Embal, and Monaxia's lover Lostris into the first humans, thus introducing death and mortality into the world.
The second holy book is a collection of legends and myths, telling the story of the Old Kingdoms and the foundations of Zantium and the Old Exekian Empire. It is split into several sections or chapters.
The Dark Queen and the Dreamwalker
Queen Skoga and her lover Arkady are lying in bed together. They get into an argument over which of them has more wealth. In the morning, they each survey their property, and it seems they are equals. But then Arkady remembers that, as an heir of the nearby kingdom of Sylarat, he can claim the mighty Ferdia, a flying dragon-like beast which protects Sylarat, among his belongings. To win the argument, Skoga assembles an army to take Sylarat by force, thereby gaining the rights to the Ferdia.
Sylarat is besieged for a brief time before the Ferdia arrives to defend the city. Skoga's armies scatter in terror, and many are blown away by the beast's breath, which is stronger than the wildest wind. One soldier manages to wound the Ferdia, which lands in the woods to escape.
Another of the soldiers, Edric, had deserted the field at the beginning of the battle and fled into the forest. He stumbles upon the Ferdia, feels compassion for it, and bandages its wounds. As a reward for helping the Ferdia, Akhen makes Edric the first aisling, or dreamwalker.
Edric is then captured by Skoga's men and thrown in a dungeon. For six nights, Edric dreamwalks with a human slave who disobeyed his master one too many times and was thrown in prison. Each night, Edric witnesses in the slave's dreams a different facet of love: unconditional love, friendship, sacrifice, eternal love, "love that wills the good of the other", and servitude.
At the end of the six days, Edric is due to be executed. However, in the aftermath of the failed raid, chaos breaks out among the petty kingdoms and Skoga is killed. Her prisoners are freed.
Edric later meets and falls in love with the shieldmaiden Zara. Their descendants inherit the powers of the aisling.
Peredur, a human slave who escaped captivity, wanders the earth. He has little purpose beyond avoiding his old master. Eventually, he stumbles upon a lake. Thirsty from traveling, he stoops to drink from it, only to see a crown inlaid with diamonds lying at the bottom. Believing it is a sign, he dives in to retrieve the crown and, placing it on his head, declares himself a king.
Eager to prove himself worthy, Peredur sets off on a series of adventures, culminating with him being declared king of a new nation. Peredur names his kingdom Zantium, marries Angharad, and has eleven children. Each of them inherit his gift, as do many of his more distant descendants.
Peredur's eldest, Gwydion, travels the world and helps many people with his powers, but grows increasingly disenchanted with the universe created by Akhen. Eventually he seeks to create a new one to his liking, the Arcane Realm. This other world, while "aesthetically pleasing", is unstable and lacks the internal, unseen logic which the real one possesses. As a result, Gwydion becomes trapped within his own creation. After he dies, his spirit remains in the Realm, unable to pass on. The text warns that Gwydion has nonetheless found ways of infiltrating the real world, and he has long sought to make himself into a god.
Romola, an Exekian seeking a cure for death, commissions the finest blacksmith in the land to fashion a dagger with the power to transfer life from the living to the dead. Akhen allows her to create this device, but then causes it to be stolen before she can use it to restore her lover. The dagger is subsequently lost, "not to be found again until it pleases the god".
The third holy book details various laws set in place by Akhen to govern the behaviors of Exekians and mortals. It is divided into three sections: the Divine Laws, the Social Laws, and the Moral Laws.
The Divine Laws include the right to life, liberty, and livelihood. It is sometimes known as the "Natural Rights" due to the obvious, inherent nature of the items listed, including punishments for murder, theft, assault, rape, and so on.
The Social Laws include guidelines on legal disputes, such as marriage, divorce, and trade deals. It is sometimes known as the "Practical Laws".
The Moral Laws present a code of ethics. These dictate how an individual should live. There are rules regarding the treatment of neighbors, sexual behaviors, vices and virtues, and the nature of the living. The Moral Laws were never officially integrated into any society, but both the Old Exekian Empire and the kingdom of Apicarta modeled social expectations on some variation of them.