originally published in Cults of Terror
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Table of Contents
- Before Creation
- The Celestial Court
- The Gods War
- The Storm Age
- The Birth of Chaos
- The Conspiracy of the Unholy Trio
- The Devil: Wakboth and Kajabor
- The Gods’ Last Stand
- The Age of Terror
- The Final Battle of Mortality
- The Lightbringers’ Quest
- Arachne Solara
In analyzing the mythos of Glorantha, four streams of belief prevail. They sometimes mingle and sometimes flow in separate channels, but they all flow in the same direction. Each is a preferred way to reach an understanding of the cosmos. In choosing one stream as a guide, a person finds a cohesive and unified view of reality useful to their individuals development. Though one might assume that a particular viewpoint or way of existence is correct and that the others are somehow wrong, as often happened in Gloranthan history, we must warn the reader. Such a limited point of view will only further confuse a difficult subject.
During the Second Age of Glorantha, a very powerful people came from the island of Jrustela. They managed to create a world-wide view combining all the popular philosophies which they encountered across the world. They were called the God Learners, and from their studies developed Jrusteli magicians and militarists to dominate the coastal lands of Glorantha for much of the Second Age, before nature sprang back and destroyed them. Despite their effective condemnation, the God Learners gave a coherency to the confusing cosmologies, and the Jrusteli understanding remained popular long after the Jrusteli demise. Their views underlie most of the discussion which follows in this chapter.
The four philosophies of Glorantha are the mystical (whereof the forces and the real knowledge of the world are unknowable except by unusual experiences normally beyond the ken of mortal people), the theistic (whereof the world was brought about by the actions of great and powerful entities known as gods and goddesses), the humanistic (whereof the world is a natural process conquerable and usable by conscious manipulation by the mortal races), and the naturalist (whereof the cosmos developed into the material and spiritual world).
The God Learners developed an order to these four modes. They insisted that they were, in fact, on non-understandable concept evolving from one form to another as part of the creation. They are presented here in order of evolution.
THE VOID is the mystic origin of the universe. This pre-existence is said to be indescribable. “It is less than Nothing, Formless beyond Emptiness,” says a Kralori poem. The mystics claim that the dragon-powers manifested themselves in the void by becoming committed and entangled with the world that was yet to come, and in those actions created the barrier shimmering between the perfect void and our understanding of it. The Kralori religion (which is based on Draconic belief) suggests that the void is a state of bliss which should be sought after in every way possible and that even the briefest experience of it will bring about belief, though not understanding, there-by incorporating the individual harmoniously with the cosmos. This unknowable force is nowhere presented as hostile. If a label must be attached, then it is neutral.
THE PRIME MOVER originates the humanist universe. Nowhere is it personified or otherwise given any attributes of being. This strictly impartial force can be tapped and/or exploited by the dominant mortal races of the world through manipulation of Knowledge and Power. The Malkioni religion primarily supports this belief, and since it further supports active human dominance in the universe there is a corresponding belief that the secrets of this prime mover were discovered by their god and passed on to his people. The Malkioni race founded the Wizards, who think they can shape the universe without consent from gods who are elsewhere believed to rule everything.
THE SILENCE is the origin of the theist universe. This is a great dormant and impersonal force which is said to contain “everything within it, still One, the wonder of the universe which would come after it.” The theists sometimes personify the silence and call the silence “it”, a being without beginning and without end who is credited as the mother of Glorantha, Queen of the Universe. Always seen as a wondrous and awesome being, this entity has intelligence and benevolence without limit. An anonymous Dragon Pass poet says, “the wondrous Source, the egg of life, the source of wonder.” After creation this is rarely mentioned as important; the intermediaries who stand between it and the worshippers both are closer and more likely to reply to worship.
THE PRIMAL PLASMA is the final source of the universe. It is popular with naturalists. Their paintings often depict the plasma as the Well of Wonder, producing the rest of the world. The Well contained a miraculous material which separated into those parts of the elements recognizable as the material world and those spirits which guard and tend them. The plasma is not claimed to be intelligent or to have done any active task.
The Jrusteli philosophers said that their research brought order and synthesis to this divergent origins, and that each was a finer or grosser representation of the umbilical cord stretched between the unknowable and the real. To quote a poet:
The Void, unknowable, never knew.
The Mover touched and made touching, but never knew.
Silence woke, and wished up the world, and hoped to know.
Plasma sang, and entered in, and knew the world at last.
Every tale or concept of origin was popular in the Dawn Ages among some population. The differences sometimes caused conflict, as they had in the Gods War, both before and after the God Learners. Mystics concentrated in the eastern lands, especially Kralorela. The theists dominated the central lands of Genertela and the oceans. The humanists began in the western lands of Genertela, while the naturalists were found wherever the others were not, especially among animals, savages, and in the lands of Palmaltela.
The Celestial Court
A body of deities, the Celestial Court, are said to have made the world. Mystics say that since the deities were the first misconceptions concerning reality, they set the pattern for misunderstanding existence. The humanists claim the powers presented as entities on the court were actually inert Runes which established the formats for further interactions between the emerging patterns of creation. The naturalists and theists agree that godly beings made up the Court.
The Celestial Court was made up of three distinct parts: the Council of Pairs, the Elemental Deities, and the Elder Gods.
The gods of the Council of Pairs also are called the deities of Power. Each of the eight gods were associated with one of the ancient Power Runes:
The Elemental deities provided the mundane stuff of the universe. The eldest Elementals are prodigious entities composed of much matter and little intelligence or spirit. These primal Elementals then entered into a self-exploration of potentials which was called devolution In this process the entities divided and subdivided themselves in a manner which isolated portions of their internalities as recognizably separate beings. Some of these lesser beings were mostly material, while others were highly spiritually developed. This process formed the elemental pantheons of the naturalists.
Although each of the elementals underwent the same devolutionary activity, their internal devolvement differentiated their natures. The humanists showed that some devolved upon mathematical lines, propounding that the divine genealogies are merely ignorant personifications of derivable mathematical formulae.
There are always at least four elementals, and a fifth usually is added:
Nakala, or Dame Darkness, Goddess of Dark and Cold
Zaramaka, or Sir Sea, God of all Waters
Ga, or Empress Earth, Goddess of all Earths
Lord Light, god of Light and Heat
Umath, or King Storm, God of Air and Storm.
The Elder Gods are impersonal entities whose existence is basic to Glorantha, but who failed to attain any personal status in the cosmos. The deities who came afterward absorbed or mimicked their attributes and functions. There are, for instance, entities called the Maker and Grower, or the Great Mother and Witness.
The Celestial Court combined their powers and together built the center of the world. This ‘center’ is called the Perfect Palace on its interior, and its exterior was called the Spike. The Spike was the cosmic mountain, and it got its name from Mostal the Maker, who engineered the mundane construction. Mostal loved tools, and so called the place the Spike because it was the thing which nailed together all of reality and held it in place. The Perfect Palace was a place of harmony, beauty, and singularity. It housed the firsts of everything in the world and maintained everything in perfect order. Within its fastness the powers of creation expanded until they spread beyond the protection of the mountain of the Spike. Younger deities left the unchanging mountain with its secrets and filled the universe with variants of the ancient schemes. Thus the world grew.
The Golden Age
The Golden Age of the gods was a time when dreams were true, then stored for later generations to use as they might. In those days there was nothing but peace and harmony, and all of the cosmos expanded in love. Innocence was everywhere. It was impossible for anything to go wrong.
This era saw new types of beings. The Form Runes were introduced and the Young Gods were born. Said to be creations of the Celestial Court, each deity made a Form Rune by contributing to it. All the elements then tested the Form, each by its own evolving nature. First made was the Dragonewt Rune, and all the world was trod by races now extinct, whose lives and kinds must be guessed. Then came the Green Age, when the world was covered by vast forests and fields as the gods experimented with the Plant Rune. Next the world knew creatures modeled upon the Animal Rune. Finally came the Man Rune, and humanoid races spread across the world.
These Form Runes cause lively debate between the humanists and the theists. The theists claim that there were entities or beings which embodied these Forms. Grandfather Mortal, also commonly called Old Man, is the best-known of these. The humanists call those explanations fairy tales, and suggest that the so-called Forms resulted from natural forces which developed impersonally. Both arguments depict the same result: the population of the world. The formation, or possibly recognition or usefulness, of the Spirit and Chaos forms did not come about in this era.
When the elemental deities and power gods grew to their limits of their fulfillment and filled their natural realms, the Young Gods were born. Here, at the borders of the elements, they discovered each other. There was such creative abundance in the world that the natural divisions of the world between elements did not hinder further expansions. The deities and spirits combined their beings and produced new entities.
At first only the least of the nature spirits engaged in this sort of breeding, and from these unions spring the least of the nature spirits. Joinings between more powerful entities produced increasingly powerful children. These Young Gods were the delight of the Celestial Court, who nurtured their strange powers and taught them ancient knowledge.
Many races and beings grew in the Golden Age, filling all of creation with their existence and bustle. All lived in peaceful harmony, overseen by a benevolent bureaucracy embodying the tranquillity of the age.
The Sun God, Yelm, is aid to have been the Emperor of the Universe when he ruled the world. He was advised by his elder brother, Dayzatar, and aided by his lusty younger brother, Lodril. Yelm wed Ernalda, the Earth Mother, and many other deities were counted in his pantheon.
During this time many cities and nations were made. There was no need to work, for the earth brought forth its own food, all water was pure and healthful to drink, and anything was willing to offer any aid or assistance. Peace was said to be Yelm’s Cloak, and so the world lived beyond Time.
The Gods’ War
The peace of the Golden Age slowly turned into the strife of the Gods’ War. The process was long, and came in small steps. Viewed with afterthought, the process seems inevitable. The birth of the god Umath started the Gods’ War. It was no fight or conflict, yet it immediately led to violence. Umath’s first recorded activity was to demand a realm of his own to be equal to those of his parents. When none was available, Umath made one for himself by ripping asunder his father and mother. Thus the sky was separated from the earth forever. This primal violence set the pattern for the children of Umath as well.
Umath devolved violently, producing a brood of unruly entities bent on taking or making their own realms of influence. They were joined by many other ambitious or frustrated Young Gods. A long period of growth, change, and movement followed in the cosmos, as these new forces found their places. The power of the Storm gods rose at the expense of other pantheons.
During this time the institution of worship spread as the lesser races sought protection and support from the greater entities. Sometimes the peoples could tame the violence of the gods, but more often not. As the fighting worsened, the races became more dependent for survival upon the gods.
When deities began competing for the worship of lesser races, the trouble spread rapidly. The Golden Age eroded. Imperial Yelm contested as an equal with barbarian Orlanth.
The power of Death was either the first of the New Powers or the last of the old. It came first to the hands of Humakt (who used it on Grandfather Mortal) and then to Orlanth (who used it on Yelm). The death of the Emperor of Light felled the last strongholds of the age, and instituted a new reign.
The Storm Age
Philosophers also call the Storm Age the Lesser Darkness. It began when Yelm was killed, and left the world of the living to follow Grandfather Mortal into the land of Death. Other gods of light also failed: Dayzatar the Sky God drew further away, Lodril was first buried and then imprisoned by a god of Darkness, and lesser gods (like Yelmalio) were wounded or hid themselves away.
More than Darkness spread across the age, for life followed the light into the lands of the dead. Spirits of plants, animals, and minerals took the path of the dead and were lost to the world. Without light the earth soon slept, and the world seemed barren when compared to the Golden Age.
The gods fought when they wished. The Storm gods dominated, but the Darkness pantheons and Sea deities also fielded powerful forces. Glorantha became a broad, barren land swept by angry storms, crushing ice, brutal volcanoes, and pieces of the sky tumbling dead to the earth.
During this time new races of humans were born in the world, and sometimes the old ones adapted or survived as slaves. Despite the hardships, cultures throve, and grandly barbaric societies gladly and grimly fought for existence.
Unchanged in all this was the Celestial Court. They had held aloof from the petty squabbles changing the face of their world and lent themselves impartially to anyone capable of wielding the powers, even remaining unattached when their powers were used in new ways by exploitive intelligences. As the crisis grew, the Court could not act to halt their own abuse. Instead they engaged in “immortal discourse, celestial debate, and the scribbling of scrolls.” The world disintegrated around them, at last straining the immortal strength of the Court beyond endurance. Imagine the dilemma of Kargan Tor, the god of war, when he was forced to face himself in battle, or when Uleria, goddess of love, impregnated herself, or when Acos, god of Law, made a ruling and found himself unjust. It was as if an illness came upon the gods. Tremors shook the immobile Spike, and the cosmos weakened.
The Birth Of Chaos
The growing instability worsened conditions for gods and men who craved peace and security. The initial disruptions were hastened by Ratslaf, god of Disorder, and his race of creatures called Boggles. Some blame everything on Ratslaf and his followers, but such blame only shifts attention from the real culprits, the gods themselves, who persisted in acting against their own welfare.
Gradually there came to be other things in the world. At first these creatures seem to have seeped through cracks in the world’s logic, oozing through and infecting the surface and the interior of reality.
One such creature is well-known in tales. Its true name is unknown but it is always called Krarsht. Krarsht may have been the creature which Larnste once saw, “a small squirming thing, foul to sight and smell, which lay on the ground and turned the dust to ash.” The god of Motion stamped upon it, hoping to destroy the thing with his divine trampling, but the slimey thing bit him and pierced the skin. Larnste was immediately infected and ever afterwards limped when he moved. Worse, his blood was infected. Wherever his blood dropped to the earth it left a foul cesspool. The place where the monster had been was drenched in polluted ichor, and never has healed itself. The place is called Foulblood Woods, in the Holy Country.
The Conspiracy of the Unholy Trio
One god who lived at this time is said to be the last born of the Young Gods. He was called Rashoran, and none know his parentage. At first Rashoran went about calming the frightened gods, teaching them to be unafraid. It is said that of all the cosmos only he did not fear what he did not know. He taught this knowledge to some of the other gods; most of them succumbed to the Darkness without a struggle after learning from Rashoran, though a few seem to have been fortified, such as Humakt and Uleria. Three others found that they were not afraid, and that they could use the fears of others to their own ends. One of the first things they did was to destroy Rashoran to keep his secret to themselves.
These murderers were the Unholy Trio. Hatred, selfishness, greed, and jealousy motivated them. These short-sighted emotions are now considered to be symptoms of chaos in the world, and they were originated by the three, who concentrated their forces and wills to create something new.
The first of the trio was Ragnaglar, whom some call kinsman to Storm Bull, driven to hatred by jealousy and dishonorable acts. The second was Thed, said to have been wife to Ragnaglar at one time. The third was Malia, another goddess, who had great properties to aid birth and growth. These three joined together and perverted their natures to make their weapon of hatred and vengeance.
The Unholy Trio made the end of the world. They wove a great magical ritual of potency far greater than anything before accomplished, for they had discovered the wonder and power of primal chaos, and used it magically to strengthen themselves for what was to come. They then engaged in their rituals of chaos-birth. When it was done, the world was changed, and new forces roamed the world.
The Devil: Wakboth and Kajabor
The product of the ritual was the Devil, the product of poisoned souls. Documents and oral memories from storm, darkness, and earth cults name the product Wakboth. After that, more deities and spirits of chaos and destruction were born into the world.
Wakboth the Devil is the moral evil of the world. This senseless and terrifying entity is caused by wanton disregard for life, and he supports continuous brutal destruction. Twisted and foul, Wakboth is the world defiler. His existence was pure insult, since the world was doomed anyway, and he worsened the pain for all involved.
The terror spread by such foulness gave the incentive for individuals to fight on and win the I Fought We Won battle and helped even gods (like the Lightbringers) to take heart and attempt the impossible, but in the short run Wakboth offered immense advantages to his followers, and in their fear many of the world joined him, swelling the strength of chaos and bringing all creation to a crisis.
Kajabor is another major enemy in this age. Kajabor is mistakenly called ‘the devil’ in some older documents, confusing him with Wakboth. They are similar, for both were great gods for a short time, and had many worshippers, and both turned on their followers. But you must know that Kajabor did it because he had to, and that Wakboth did it for delight.
Kajabor wields entropy in the world. Often called God-Killer or Black Hole or Great Fear, he destroys all vestiges of matter or energy, annihilating all possibilities of individuality or unity. Entities slain by Kajabor have never returned, and often even their names have been lost after being pulled from the universe.
Kajabor is the Great Fear, and this motivator was important to the actions of the gods. Some say the Great Fear drives people or gods to follow such corruption as Wakboth. For those reasons Kajabor is as much an enemy as true evil, even though it is utterly impersonal and, some say, as natural as the forces of creation.
The Gods’ Last Stand
Several locations are believed to be original sources for the chaotic armies which began overwhelming the world. Most of these places are on the far edges of Glorantha, where the forces of order were weakest. Genertelan legend says that the major chaos army approached from the north, and that Kajabor led it.
The survivors of the gods were notable warriors and leaders, and were inured to the rigors of war and death. A great alliance of deities met upon the Fields of Plenty to fight these new nemies.
Genert led the gods’ army. This earth god was the ranking spirit there, though not the greatest fighter. Others with him included Splendid Yamsur, who was a son of the Sun, and Seolinthur, river god for Genert’s realm. They were disappointed that others did not come, such as their allies Storm Bull and Tada, and their friends from the Celestial Court.
The forces of chaos fought to utter victory. The gods disappeared in a maelstrom of previously unknown forces. Their bodies were changed to gorp, and their souls were scoured by the Fatal Screaming. Forever polluted, the Fields of Plenty are now called the Krjalki Bog. The mortal races who sought to escape the rout were saved by Genert, who turned many into a stinging cloud of copper which protected the survivors. Their sacrifice is still visible in the wastes of Genert, when the Copper Sands are seen.
Though inured to death, the Storm Age was shocked the way the Golden Age had been shocked. True Death, divine entropy, sent some gods into flight, some into inertia, some into more rabid defense. Many gods sought refuge in the Spike, relying upon the ancient Celestial Court for protection.
From all sides the armies of chaos were drawn toward the Spike. The inhabitants prepared a spirited if hopeless defense. The once-impregnable Spike was rent by cracks, and it groaned with misuse. The most ancient powers of the cosmos were decrepit and indifferent. The Young Gods did their best and did it well, delaying chaos and learning some secrets to fight it. But Kargan Tor abandoned his post and the hordes of chaos slid through his faults and into the heart of stability. The gods fought fiercely, desperate in their fear, but the armies of chaos soon swept down the corridors and into the chambers where the Celestial Court prepared for their end. The chaos forces burst upon the powers of creation, smashing the ancient Runes and scattering them to the winds. The gods and goddesses collapsed and were hacked to pieces or otherwise abused by their foes.
The final struggle unbound anxious energies which had been bent and twisted by eons of divine misuse. A cosmic explosion freed the pressure, vaporizing the Spike and its inhabitants. A great vacuum opened in the center of the world, from which stepped the gods of chaos. This began the Greater Darkness.
The Age Of Terror
The Age of Terror is another name for the period known as the Greater Darkness. This was the end of the world for most Gloranthan entities, and a period of pain, fear, and misery for the rest. Parts of the world vanished. Parts were isolated and set adrift in a shapeless existence without hope. Nothing was tenable, and even change was unreliable.
The destruction of the Spike begins this era, for the explosion rocked the world to its foundations and determined the final struggles of many gods.
At first the vacuum at the center of the world threatened to swallow everything. However, many deities sacrificed themselves by leaping fanatically to combat the void, and their acts filled it, rather than leaving a hole into emptiness. The gods who sacrificed themselves that way were changed by it, though many of them managed to survive the death of their universe through their actions. Prominent was Magasta, a sea god who rallied almost all the waters of the world to aid him in filling the hole. From that time on, all rivers have flowed downhill, toward Magasta’s Pool, rather than continuing their creeping invasion of the land.
The struggles were rarely so successful. Death and entropy raged across the land, leaving it barren and rotting. Reigning Young Gods were now fugitives. Places became empty of air, water was broken or jelled, the earth began to lose solidity. Gods died. Races vanished. Life flickered.
Gods of terror in this age included Kajabor and Wakboth as leaders. The Unholy Trio continued their rampage, so that the names of Ragnaglar, Thed, and Malia became synonymous with fear. There were other invaders, too, such as Tien the Headhunter and Krarsht the Hungry One. Beings who had once been Gloranthan in nature, but had turned to Wakboth’s ways for their selfish ends (such as Vivamort) prowled the lands. Conquered areas were filled with slime by a giant malevolent ooze called Gorpgod. New races of creatures, born from chaos or mutated from traitorous things, crawled over the land. The wildlife once opposed to the invasion, such as the Crimson Bat, was overwhelmed and enslaved.
Resisters still held out. Where there was a fight there would be help, meager though it might be. Starcaptains fell from the sky and saved their tribes. The Lowfires were freed; Oakfed became a great weapon to scorch away all impurities. Found Child came then and taught people to hunt for food to sustain themselves.
The destruction of the world and its people left less and less for the gods and monsters to prey on, and they hungrily turned on each other. The ragged survivors eaked out a shakey existence amid the warring forces of their enemies; the awesome unity which had stormed the Spike was revealed to be either an accident or a misconception.
At one point the armies of Kajabor and Wakboth began to devour each other, but philosophers dispute which one was killed, for no one alive or sane could know such things.
Prevalent belief says that Kajabor was killed by Wakboth, leaving the world defiler to face the Storm Bull and the god of entropy to face the forces of the dead. This theory has much strength, since the mundane world (reconstructed later) was usually held to be the origin of immorality, while the combination of entropy and existence seem to synthesize into the god Time, who later rules the cosmos.
The Final Battle of Mortality
The tattered remains of the world seemed to have no chance for unified action against the forces of chaos. They were isolated by unbridgable gaps. For instance, though there was a staunch fortress of elves who doggedly defended their sterile forests, aided by Arroin and Yelmalio, they were unable to close the gulf of chaos between themselves and the trolls’ Castle of Lead, another redoubtable fortress.
There was a unity between them in their wish for survival, and this unquenchable desire brought individuals across time and space, order and chaos to confront the final dissolution of the world. It did not matter from whence they were drawn or where it occurred. They fought their last desperate fight against overwhelming odds, motivated by their survival and determined to do their utmost. In this way they combined forces and unconsciously aided each other against their own fears. They were alone, yet found themselves with others like themselves and gained strength. They also consciously aided each other, such as when Kyger Litor told Zzabur how to overcome the Silence which plagued him, and Zzabur showed High King Elf how to enchant away the gorp. The fight joined, the forces of chaos were destroyed, neutralized, or dispatched.
This is called the I Fought We Won, said to be responsible for the preservation of the world. Notable among those who claim this are Kyger Litor and the Darkness deities, and also Zzabur the Sorcerer Supreme. For instance, Zzabur says that he was able to create a great magical spell which harnessed the forces of anti-life (entropy) and sparked off a new reaction of Powers in the world to generate a new creation.
During the period following the death of Kajabor, the chaos forces dissipated and weakened. Some deities were still capable of action; foremost among them was the raging Storm Bull.
Storm Bull mustered its forces to fight the Devil in Prax. He was the destructive desert storm which leaves ruin in its wake and whose touch scours flesh from bone. He was backed by righteous outrage and strengthened by compassion, two things of which chaos has little. Though his kin and his friends were slain all about him, he still fought on, aided by all of the world. When he was thrown to earth, the earth gave him power, and when he was held in the air he drew power from his breath. Fire aided him and so did cold, and when he had run out of allies the cosmos responded to his cry. A massive block of Truestone, a piece of Law cast adrift when the Spike exploded, crashed to earth and struck the Devil, grinding him and spreading him and his strength about. Afterwards other forces and beings further lessened it and destroyed its unity in the world forever.
Without leadership, the forces of chaos further fell back. Gods, people, spirits attacked and began the arduous righting of their world. Daka Fal came, and taught people how to tell the living from the dead. Heroes appeared among the people, and taught survival and compassion. Slowly the world knitted into place. The survivors rebuilt, strong in their new-found hope.
The Lightbringers’ Quest
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 determined to seize his responsibility for its destruction and 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.
Orlanth had been a chieftain king among the storm gods, and the Lightbringers were his councilors. Once they had agreed to accompany Orlanth on his quest to Hell, each was pushed to the edge of his knowledge and endurance. and beyond into unknown challenges. They trod unlivable plains, forded rivers of acid and hatred, met their worst foes, their deadliest nightmares, and faced their own doomed selves who tried to bar the way before them.
The whole of their tale is beyond the scope of this essay (see Gods in Prax: Lightbringers). They worked, fought, and suffered mightily for their labors, all of them losing parts of themselves forever. Yet they succeeded, and they entered live into the lands of the dead, 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 Ehilm, and other gods found the key to life.
Arachne Solara is the nickname of an otherwise unnamed deity who may be the Goddess of Nature in Glorantha. Her origins are mysterious and subject to speculation, but there are strong indications that she is the ghost of Glorantha, the Mother of the Universe.
Arachne Solara first comes to notice in the tale of the Great Compromise, wherein Orlanth, Yelm and the other deities in the underworld swear pacts and oaths to preserve themselves. The plan upon which they agreed is said to have been created by Arachne Solara, based upon mutual support between all of the remaining world.
The goddess constructed a great and magical web made of many things no longer found in the world, and then she gave the web to all of the gods to hold ready between them. When chaos entered into their realm, the gods cast the net upon Kajabor and held him tight while the goddess leapt upon him with a vengeance and a strength of desperation and mystical splendour. She enwrapped the chaos god in her legs and struggled mightily, and at last devoured him alive.
Then the goddess carefully collected her net and used it to conceal the birth of her child. The child is the Pledge of the Gods, and all existence swore by it to uphold their agreements. This is also called the Great Compromise or the Immortal Pact, and it is the oath which recreated the world.
Yelm and Orlanth and the other deities prepared to leave their home of death. There was still a struggle for them, for they were held in the underworld against their will, and even the victory of Arachne Solara did not bind the Holders of Hell. But nothing could hope to stand against the liberated forces of Light and Life, and so they surged on into victory and beyond.
The reborn gods reached the edge of the world at the place now called Dawngate. There a star waited for them, and even the Darkness was glad to see them. The flush of Dawn, the rosy goddess, came. Arachne Solara stood upon the Gate of Time and cast her net across the universe, catching each surviving thing and binding it into the new world. Her child was born then, concealed by the net and protected by the strands. The child was called Time. The gods marched across the barren world, bringing warmth, light, and a flower to awed survivors.
The new world was created. Time reigned. History began.
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