The Spike held Glorantha together in the Gods Time. The Celestial Court were torn into pieces and the Spike was destroyed, leaving instead a gaping, howling Void.
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned.
With the Spike’s destruction, Glorantha died. Parts of the world simply vanished. Parts were isolated and set adrift in a shapeless continuation without hope. Nothing was tenable, and even change was hopeless.
As mentioned earlier, Wakboth and Kajabor turned on each other; moral evil and entropy began to devour each other. Endless suffering of evil and nihilism faced the survivors – existence was pointless, hope was impossible, and the howling black Void threatened to swallow everything.
This is the context of the Lightbringers Quest – the single greatest undertaking of the gods, which managed to unify other cosmic events enough to bring about the resurrection of a dead world. Many other deities had struggled as mightily and suffered as much, and the world would be a sorrier place without their extreme efforts. The Lightbringers Quest, though, was unique in that it moved through the realms, tying them together and making important links in a world falling apart. When the Great Compromise was reached and evil was devoured, the renewed energies of life flowed through the channels forged by the Lightbringers.
Orlanth always was a leader among the gods of storm. Like the rest, he was wild and unruly, powerful and violent. But each god grew differently in the Gods Age, and Orlanth is one who changed and held his own. When Orlanth realized the doom of the world, he seized his responsibility for its destruction, determined to forge a new means of righting the wrong. He cast aside his old bonds and sought new ones, voluntarily dooming himself for the good of the world. He gathered the Lightbringers together and began their Quest.
It is commonly believed that there were seven Lightbringers: Orlanth, Issaries, Lhankor Mhy, Chalana Arroy, Eurmal, Flesh Man, and Ginna Jar. Sometimes, however, other deities or people are mentioned as being with these greater gods. It is likely that most of these lesser beings were killed off during the quest. It is also known that some beings joined the expedition along the way and then left before it was over, voluntarily or not. These beings were generally helpers of various sorts.
The Lightbringers worked, fought, and suffered mightily for their labors, all of them losing parts of themselves forever. Yet they succeeded, entering live into the Underworld and found their way to the King of the Dead.
In Hell, then, Yelm the Emperor and Orlanth the King came to terms. Each swore great vows of truth and honor to bind themselves to the task. The goddess Arachne Solara laid great schemes and plans between them, and they swore to those plans also, joined by the other gods in death who yearned to survive. There came the most terrible test of Orlanth’s honor, in the Fire of Ehlim, and other gods found the key to life.
They stood fast as Chaos reached the land of the dead, to confront the empty powers of life for the last time. The Spider Woman constructed a great and magical web made of many things no longer found in the world, and then she gave the web to all the gods to hold ready between them, to use as a net. When Chaos entered their realm, the gods cast the net upon the Devil and held him tight. While the other deities had distracted the Devil, Arachne Solara leapt upon him with vengeance and a strength of desperation and mystical splendor. She enwrapped the Chaos god in her many legs and struggled mightily, eventually devouring the evil soul.
The great beings of the universe then held council in attempts to discover what their further course of action might be. The Seven Lightbringers proved that they could lead the way out of the Underworld, but they were not sure what world was left outside. Their Old Way was gone forever, replaced by empty void and Chaos. But they could no longer exist within the confines of the universe.
Arachne Solara proved capable of communicating with the Beingless Voice of Eternity. Through her, and with the Voice, the gods made unchangeable pacts and carved themselves into powerful spells. Arachne Solara led a great dance, reconstructing the shattered cosmic matrix, linking all the surviving gods within an immutable web of pacts and oaths, bonds and relationships, and conjurations and creations. The gods swore themselves into a Great Compromise with Chaos, wherein the Old World and the New World (of Death and Chaos) would co-exist, alternating their forces and powers along the myriads of weaves within the matrix of the universe. She revealed her child, born after she devoured the Devil. The child is Time, the Pledge of the Gods, and all existence swore by it to uphold their agreements. This is the Great Compromise—the oath that recreated the world.
The Lightbringers Religion is spread across Genertela and has strongholds in Pamatela. Its success is far more than merely Orlanth+Ernalda; the other Lightbringers – specifically Chalana Arroy, Eurmal, Issaries, and Lhankor Mhy – have cults found throughout the world, and are acknowledged even by those that do not recognize Orlanth as King of the Gods.
The Lighbringers are tied to a vast web of deities and spirits, far greater than just the Air and Earth deities. This is why Orlanth’s pantheon is more properly called the Lightbringers than anything else.
Are the terms “Storm Cults” and “Lightbringer Religion” synonymous? “Storm cults” would refer to the cults of storm gods – ie Orlanth, Storm Bull, Ygg, Valind, etc.
We should remember that Wakboth – moral evil – is inherent in the material world. And Time – the child of entropy and the Spider Woman – rules the Great Compromise. That is why the universe is able to continue to exist.
Is the Great Compromise with chaos, about accepting it’s right to exist? The Great Compromise is most definitely NOT about accepting Chaos’ right to exist. Chaos had triumphed. The world was destroyed. But thanks to the Lightbringers Quest (and Storm Bull’s impossible defiance), the dead were able to confront the Devil and the Spider Woman devour him. The gods then took this opportunity to weave a mighty spell that recreated the world but subject to the new power of Time (the child of Chaos and Cosmos).
Resistance and rejection of Chaos is what made this possible. And so we (and the cosmos) exist despite Chaos’ triumph.
With Chaos the impossible becomes possible. Chaos need not be feared, it need not be evil.
Chaos includes the greatest of moral evils, the world defiler, the eater of existence. This must be accepted and acknowledged.
Between these points is the narrow path the Red Goddess danced.
As an aside, I have made four posts regarding Chaos in the last three days. All of these posts should be read together, as they all complement each other.
Which parts of the various Lightbringers were lost forever on the LBQ? None know now because those parts were lost. Suffice to say that all who participated lost parts of themselves.