This excerpt is from Greg Stafford’s unpublished Harmast Saga (1991)
Here are the times that Harmast went to the Hero Plane before he returned with Arkat.
First, for a glimpse, at his initiation into the cult of Orlanth, as everyone sees at the moment of bonding with a god. Thus, at age 17, Harmast saw Orlanth’s Hall.
Secondly, and most regularly, at every High Holy Day ceremony he attended, as do all initiates who participate in their rituals. Nine times Harmast visited the Hero Plane as an initiate, to aid his god in the creation of the world. Twice he fought the star warriors at the Battle of the Thrinbarri Clouds. Four times he stood upon the Lightbringers’ Path: at the Bridge of Scythes, at the Crucible Gate, at the Bridge Over Corpses, and Where Kaarg was Defeated. At age twenty-one he was a spectator at the wedding of Orlanth and Ernalda. That one was his favorite, he often said afterwards. Once he rode the Wild Winter Winds which covered the world with ice. And once he viewed the Palace of the Sky, from the distance, of course.
The seventh time was when he fought at the Battle of Daranstoro, when Elistivoros the Eye unleashed Arikalgor, the giant Night Wolf, which swallowed the entire defending army in one bit. Only Harmast found his way back to life from that because he hauled himself from the River of Corpses on a hawthorn bush, and woke later in his own home temple where he delivered the tragic news to the tribe.
The twelfth time was when he received the Second Initiation and became a Rune Priest. He traveled again to the Hall of Orlanth, but this time took a seat among the companions of the god and drank from the strong sweet divine drink. Donandar praised Harmast in a song full of such promise that two heroes of old came to him and promised they would fight beside him some day. And it was there that Alusu the Cockster saw him the first time.
The thirteenth was the first High Holy day at which he assisted. Again, the worshipers fought at the Battle of Thrinbarri Clouds, where Orlanth’s forces overthrew the assembled army of the heavens. But this was the Bad Year, when the Sun Bird passed through Alastan’s Mirror and a flock of them smothered the loyal assemblies of Orlanth initiates. Most priests survived that, and Harmast also lived through the onslaught of celestial archers who followed. Then he struck Palangio the Iron Vrok, master of the peoples of Dragon Pass, from his mount and Orlanth came and the clean wet winds cleared the sky of foes.
After such a disaster, Harmast could no long restrain himself. But he refused the position of Wind Lord, for he said that it was such a lord’s duty to serve the people, and he could not rightly accept the duty because he was planning to go into the exile of Heroquesting upon the Lightbringer’s Path.
The fourteenth time was when he went to the Nennorion Tower. He not only visited it and gained the Shield, but went hunting in the Blue Forest beyond.
The fifteenth time was the Hill of Gold, and afterwards, after his companions had returned, he stalked the trolls to the place where they departed, which Harmast called the Cave of Teeth.
The sixteenth was when he went to Lord Aranvark’s Cabin, in the Ironwoods, to seek advice for the travel over water. Here Harmast met Hyriam the Scribe, who returned with him to continue preparations.
The seventeenth was on the High Holy Day. Harmast found himself in the Firewoods, when Palangio the Iron Vrok drew him into an unfair fight with the Heroquest Draw. Thus Harmast learned of his unholy link with this nefarious foe.
The eighteenth time was the start of his Lightbringer’s Quest, when he undertook his dangerous journey to the Gates of Dusk. He departed from the Hill of Victory and ascended the Mountain Top. He descended to Hrelar Amali where disaster struck and then traveled to the Western Shore gathering new companions. He traveled Over the Waters on the great turtle and reached the Purple Shores of Luathela. After much bloodshed, he arrived at the Gates of the West.
The nineteenth time was his Journey to the Court of Silence. He entered the Castle of Rausa and descended into the Cellars of Dusk. At the feast he was betrayed and fled down the Bottler’s Stairway until he found reached the Place of Lost Souls. He escaped through Ironwood, which he already knew and found the Bridge Over Corpses, whose path he already knew which saved his existence. There he found the Mousehole and followed it to the Court of Silence.
The twentieth time was his journey through the Underworld. The Twin Child Gods showed him the path over the Styx and Harmast fought off the monsters of the deep until he was devoured by the Great Maw. His broken pieces were purified and he confronted and overcame his Others: his victims – demon lover, his father, his mother; his obsessions, his tyranny, and the destruction he brought. Then he passed through the flames of the Band of Gold and entered the Dead Gods’ Court.
The twenty-first time was at the Dead Gods’ Court. There he met with Arachne Solara, and what he said and what passed is not recorded. But it is known that he returned with Arkat.
These last few posts get us very near the magical heart of Glorantha. It is dangerous – and not for the faint of heart! Turn away unless you are mad, desperate, or a hero!
The 20th and the 21st are the most important, and the most dangerous.
Does the distinction means he returned to the Middle World between 19-20-21? Yes. Exactly!
How much of this is known by a circa 1625 Heortlander? That these are the specific quests of Harmast? Probably much of the list, but perhaps not all, are known by initiates of the Orlanth to have been performed by Harmast. But that is immaterial.What is known to and experienced by every Orlanth initiate are some of these events. Rune Masters experience even more. And a few folk seek out opportunities to interact with the God Time, just as Harmast did.And a VERY FEW folk have enough direct experience to start stringing things together and making connections like Harmast did. That’s a very short list. And perhaps they ask their Knowing Companion – what did Harmast do?
Remember, Harmast Barefoot is one of the great heroes of the Orlanthi. Every Orlanth initiate knows his name. His deeds were as great as Heort.
It also looks like the freeing of Arkat wasn’t his intention, more an [un]lucky side effect? It absolutely was not the goal. The goal of EVERY Lightbringers’ Quest is to restore the Grand Order. And that’s what EVERY successful Lightbringer’s Quest does.The mystery is what the Grand Order is, but the story contains hints.
One thing that this list clearly shows is how heroquesting can move from “participating in big mythic battles” – like Thrinbarri Clouds or fighting trolls, to dangerous contests with other hero questers, to events that are ultimately about the psyche of the quester (see 20 and 21). These last are likely the most dangerous – and most rewarding – but also the hardest to stage in a game.