Orlanthi children become adults after a formal initiation ceremony, parts of which are the most closely held secrets of the clan. The adulthood initiation rites are offered to not‑adults between the ages of 15 and 19, depending upon local custom, the availability of initiators, and other on‑going circumstances. On the average, initiations occur every five years. The process includes a preparatory period of guidance and education, a period of time spent with only the initiators, a solemn test of the individual, and a final ceremony which transforms the not‑adult into a full member of society. In the old days, failure at a fierce wilderness initiation test resulted in the death of the youths who failed. Among the Sartarites of Argrath’s time, failure results only in the expulsion and outlawry of the child.
Adulthood confers full privileges and responsibilities. The welcoming of the reborn child is a true “initiation,” for it initiates a person’s life as a member of society.
The Initiation of Orlanth
When Orlanth and his brothers were young, just godlings without a hint of their natural powers, they were left alone in a spruce grove. Their father and mothers were elsewhere, busy with chores.
At that time some giants came upon them. They were all enemies of the children because their father had offended them. The giants did not waste a moment, but snatched them up and took them into the Mutable Forest. This woods, sometimes called the Marching Woods, did not have roots, and the plants roamed about. Sometimes, in those days, even the mountains moved, and so there were no known trails or paths there.
The giants were Genert, Lord of the Earth; Kalt, the Renewing God; Lodril, lord of Fire; Magasta, the Sea giant; Dehore, Darkness‑keeper; and some others whose names are not known now. These were all uncles of the children gods, so although they hated them they could not kill them. Instead, they decided to destroy them without having to take responsibility for the deed.
They lied to the children, and said that they had prepared tests for each of them, and that afterwards they would be gods. In truth, they took the children to various wicked places which they could not understand, and they put a child in each. They hoped that one would destroy the other, and thereby lessen the number of foes.
They took Vadrus and dropped him into the Deep Well, and then clapped the lid on. They were sure that he would be drowned by Water, an element which had no connection to air.
They took Urox, and threw him among the Animal Corral. They were sure he would be devoured by the hungry creatures.
They took the other one, and cast him into the Sex Pit. They hoped he would be driven mad by the demons.
They took Humakt, and threw him into the Fighting Pit. They were sure he would be destroyed by this frightening activity.
They took Orlanth, and put him among the Strange Gods. The giants were sure that the nest of alien powers would destroy the youngest child.
The uncles went to their hall, and prepared a great feast for their victory.
DESCRIPTION: Argrath is asleep in the stead. He is sleeping on a blanket draped over a low wooden bench. An alynx, a big cat domesticated by the Orlanthi, sleeps by his side. His spear and sword are leaned against a nearby wall. There is a fire pit in the foreground, its fire burnt down to embers. His other possessions are few and meagre. A curtain separates this room from the rest of the house.
DESCRIPTION: Five men silently enter Argrath’s room. They are dressed as the Giant Uncles from the myth of the Initiation of Orlanth. One of them is Argrath’s actual uncle.
DESCRIPTION: The procession of Uncles. Argrath’s uncle is dressed as Magasta the Sea Giant; his costume consists of a giant fish helmet and a cloak made to resemble blue scales. He watches the proceedings with a concerned look on his face. Before him are the rest of the uncles:
There is Genert, Lord of the Earth; his costume is a heavy fur cloak with a monstrous wooden face. His is the tallest costume. We can see the wearer’s eyes through a slit in the cloak.
There is Lodril, Lord of Fire; his costume is a mask with a lolling tongue and fiery orange hair. His body is painted black, and he carries a long spear.
There is Kalt, the Renewing God; his costume is a shambling mass of green and yellow grasses that totally obscures his features. He wears a crown of leaves and carries a wooden staff that resembles a tree with small branches.
There is Dehore, Darkness-Keeper; his costume resembles nothing less than a huge black cloak, devoid of any features or decorations. He is pulling a black sack over the sleeping Argrath.
DESCRIPTION: Total darkness.
TEXT: I awoke in Hell.
DESCRIPTION: The leering face of a demon. His skin is opaque black. He has a great fiery beard with hair and eyebrows to match. Tusks protrude from his red mouth. He has a third eye in his forehead. His ears have long earlobes. He wears his own heart on a necklace of human skulls. His face is the only thing we can see in a dark void.