Pilgrimage and Commentary: This is the most current version of the most influential text of the Orlanthi and a foundational text for Orlanthi literature (and influential far beyond). Harmast’s Narrative forms the core of the book. It relates the words of Harmast Barefoot, a cosmic pilgrim. It recounts an epic journey by the narrator to save or understand himself, his people, and his world. Harmast’s Narrative was compiled approximately 434 ST by Harmast’s friend Belorden the Knowing Priest, who had accompanied Harmast on some of his journey. At that time the veracity of the cult was impugned and we can be sure Belorden recounted his friend’s words faithfully.
After the manuscript was finished, Belorden added commentary to clarify many details for his contemporaries. Many of these are all-important genealogical records of the Heortlings and their gods, others are lists of gods and spirits well known to the Orlanthi, and well-known tales of the Orlanthi. There is no doubt that these commentaries have always appeared alongside the original Narrative.
Other commentaries explain some of the novel ideas which Harmast and his companions undertook at this time. Many of these practices, such as “dropping down” into the heroic landscape to travel overland became a well-known, though always risky, heroquesting practice.
The value of this text was tremendous, since Harmast was the first person to re-enact the Lightbringer’s Quest in its entirety, and this narrative describes his journey. We only wish it was more complete.
At first there was no need for more detailed elaboration to this handy “traveller’s guide.” The Orlanthi cultists were still alive and practicing these heroquests when Harmast’s Narrative was written and they were still discovering many of the details which were taken for granted later.
A new version of Harmast’s Narrative & Commentary was prepared around 550 ST. This edition was made by a scholar named Likstandros for a people who were unfamiliar with the history and customs of the Heortling people. Likstandros was a scholar in Slontos around the year 550. He gained a reputation as a teacher among his peers, and a greater one as a traitor to his religion among the Orlanthi whose secrets he revealed. Likstandros is named in many curses as the first of the God Learners hated by subsequent history.
During this era, the Orlanthi had enough problems of their own closer to home. The Heortlings no longer existed as political entities, having given way to the Kingdom of Dragon Pass (or Orlanthland) and their culture and traditions changed dramatically. Another transformation was developing among the Orlanthi of Dragon Pass with the rise of the Empire of the Wyrms Friends.
Around 1215 ST, nearly a century after the Dragonkill War, a third scribe anonymously produced a third version, complete with another set of commentaries. He claimed to have summoned Harmast, his ancestor, who directed him to discover another copy of Harmast’s words, called Harmast’s Saga, which had passages substantially different from Belorden’s. He prepared a text, called Pilgrimage and Commentary, and released it around 1215 ST in the city of Nochet.
That anonymous scribe has been accused of adding these passages, altering the words of the old sacred hero, and other defamations. However, it is known that the children of the House of Sartar and their companions were made to copy the text, and to memorize and recite it. It is widely known among literate Orlanthi.
So Pilgrimage and Commentary was written about four centuries ago, based on a text from eight centuries earlier, which in turn was the personal account of Harmast Barefoot of his Lighbringers Quest.
Educated Orlanthi would know Harmast’s Narrative, even cite from it, like educated Greeks or Romans might cite from Homer.
Could you please elaborate on “educated”? Songs based on HN are of course known. By educated I mean anyone whose family had the wealth to pay a LM initiate to teach them to read.
I suspect it was Harmast’s Narrative that Kallyr was trying to emulate after she became Prince. But like so many, she recalled the famous lines, the commentary and later additions more than core narrative itself. And without Minaryth around to push back, she approached the LBQ like so many other commentators did – as something to follow and repeat.