We all know about Belintar’s first incarnation – from when he appeared off the shore of Kethaela in 1313 and his titanic struggle with the Only Old One that resulted in his apotheosis as the God-King of the Holy Country. We also all know that Belintar’s mortal shell expired many times, and that the Tournament of the Masters of Luck and Death was a great magical-mythical contest that selected the new incarnation of Belintar and kept the Divine Realm in close proximity to the Holy Country. Belintar had a cult and many priests in each of the Sixths who offered him magic points, incense, and other accoutrements of worship. This worship aided him in doing many miracles, such as extending the Magical Roads that connected the Sixths to the City of Wonders or indeed in maintaining the City of Wonders itself.
The prime function of each incarnation of Belintar was to maintain the proximity of the divine realm with the Holy Country. In some ways, Belintar can be thought of as a high priest of each of the gods whose job was to communicate between the gods and their worshipers AND between the gods and themselves. He reconciled the needs of the gods and their many different cults.
Now Belintar was rarely powerful enough to impose his will on the gods. Instead, he needed to work with the gods, and often interacted with them in the divine realm for the benefit of the people of the Holy Country. This involved near constant heroquesting. Like the time Belintar brought the Jolly Fat Man to Nochet so he might reside within the city. Or the time Belintar brought Heort to Stormwalk Mountain so they could both view the Holy Country. Or when Belintar got Argan Argar to invite him to share a meal with the Mistress Race Trolls beneath the Tarpit.
Each incarnation, regardless of their mortal identity, always appeared as Belintar in the Hero Plane. The gods recognized him regardless of incarnation and the many pacts and bargains he made were always upheld by the gods. Because of the proximity of the divine realm with the Holy Country, gods often manifested in the Holy Country, visiting their worshipers even outside of the worship ceremonies!
Belintar rarely got directly involved in governing the mundane affairs of the peoples of the Holy Country. Each of the Sixths more or less followed their traditional ways – of course those traditions were changed by the very presence and role of Belintar. When a cult’s leaders might refuse to accept Belintar or reject his advice, Belintar was known to bring the cult’s own god into the discussion! But Belintar’s demands were few and always reasonable, and it was usually quite easy for cults and tribes to accept what he had to say.
Increasingly I view Belintar as the mentor or godfather of the Sartar Dynasty and later the Sartar Magical Union. He is a big reason why the Orlanthi of Sartar really don’t resemble the Orlanthi of King of Dragon Pass or Thunder Rebels. Especially since a significant number of Sartars participated in the Tournament of the Masters of Luck and Death…
And Belintar was there for centuries. Not really a single individual, not really an office, but definitely a single soul that had many incarnations.
That’s the hardest thing to get around – that Belintar had many incarnations, each with their own personalities and appearances, but the same powerful soul. And each incarnation knew secrets that only Belintar could know.
How does that differ from the Moonson, the Red Emperor? Moonson is certainly similar. But if you dig you find some big differences. Moonson was created by the Red Goddess to manage her worldly affairs after she rose into the sky as the Red Moon. Belintar made himself through contests, pacts, and proofs that he made throughout the Holy Country and now must make anew roughly every generation through the Tournament of the Masters of Luck and Death.
And remember, every incarnation of Belintar has managed to succeed in the Tournament of the Masters of Luck and Death, which is a far more “experimental heroquest” than the Ten Tests of a Dara Happan Emperor (and much harder to rig in your favour). Politics plays much smaller role in selecting the new incarnation of Belintar (usually none at all) than it does in selecting a new Mask.
We modern Westerners tend to have a very egocentric sense of the self. Think of Belintar as a hero out of some young adult fantasy series. Belintar is dead, so now we have a big contest and tournament to choose the new Belintar. During this contest, our hero succeeds in making the pacts and winning the contests that are necessary to magical unify the six lands, including displaying the necessary temperament and self-discipline to serve as Belintar, and in the process starts to communicate with all the previous Belintars. Many Who Are One. In the end, our hero triumphs and becomes the new Belintar, aided by all those who came before.
And our new Belintar is capable of calling upon all their prior selfs. But is also their own self. And all share in that mighty soul called Belintar, which is recognized by the gods and spirits of the Holy Country.
Heroquesting can’t bring Belintar back, but can Heroquesting bring back Belintar’s secrets? To “bring back Belintar’s secrets” you have to experience what Belintar did, without the support of the Tournament (as it is now broken). Which is pretty hard to do without the Only Old One, with Dragon Pass resettled, with the Opening, etc.In short, if you want to bring unity to the Holy Country, you are going to need to find a new path. And meanwhile you have Wolf Pirates, the Lunar Empire, opened Seas, and a Prince of Sartar. I’d say the conditions are very much suboptimal for success.