By Robin D. Laws
Copyright ©1999 A Sharp,LLC.
This month we present some myths all Heortlings know about a variety of deities. These are drawn from A Sharp’s computer game King of Dragon Pass. Initiates and devotees know more detailed versions of these myths.
How Things Began
Our world of Glorantha was created by great powers and the four Elements: Darkness, Water, Earth, and Fire. Smaller, more accessible gods like Yelm the Sun ruled Glorantha.
Umath, god of Air, made a place for himself in the world, and the Air gods stirred up the stale places. Then his son Orlanth challenged Yelm and changed Glorantha forever.
The Sword Story
A pathetic fellow called Eurmal finds a new weapon called Death, and uses it to slay Grandfather Mortal. He shows it to Orlanth’s brother, Humakt, who takes it from him. Despite Humakt’s attempts to control it, use of the weapon spreads, and soon killing becomes commonplace.
Orlanth challenges Yelm the Emperor to a series of contests: one of dancing, one of magic, and one of music. Each time he is denied by the conservative old gods, even though his performances are better than Yelm’s. Then the War of the Gods begins. In the final test, the test of battle, Orlanth takes the new weapon called Death and slays Yelm.
The Storm Age
The Storm Age was the perfect world, which Orlanth ruled with justice and glory. Orlanth’s kin worked together to increase the Storm Tribe’s majesty. Our enemies prostrated themselves as allies or ran and hid from Orlanth’s lightnings.
The Making of the Storm Tribe
Ernalda urges Orlanth, who is jealous of the Emperor and his Fire Tribe, to make a tribe to rival theirs. Orlanth overcomes various tests to convince rival clans to join together, and the Storm Tribe is born.
Humakt the Champion
When Humakt gains the weapon called Death, he uses it to sever his ties to the Storm Tribe. Orlanth and Humakt fight until Orlanth offers Humakt a place in the Storm Tribe which is honorable, and different from his old place — the position of the champion. Humakt lets Orlanth use the weapon.
Issaries The Conciliator
During the Great Darkness, Issaries starts the world back on the road to order and good trading by journeying to a distant place and bringing peace to two warring peoples, the Long-Noses and the Big-Teeth.
Lhankor Mhy Finds The Truth
During the Great Darkness, the Truth gets twisted into an unrecognizable shape and then lost. Lhankor Mhy journeys to a distant place to find it. He wins a contest with a forgotten god, and comes to a realization that enables him to untwist the thing he has found, so that it becomes the Truth again.
Orlanth and Aroka
Drought strikes the land, so Orlanth seeks out Aroka, a dragon summoned by the watery Blue Tribe. Orlanth slays Aroka, releasing the rain god Heler from the dragon’s belly. Heler then ends the drought.
Orlanth the Justice-Bringer
During the War of the Gods, even kinfolk fall to fighting amongst one another. To find a new law, Orlanth ascends into the sky and gains the Justice Wand, which he uses to settle a dispute between his people. The loser of the dispute joins with trolls to attack the winner, and Orlanth fights to defeat him.
Chalana Arroy Heals the Scars
Chalana Arroy performs four great acts of mercy, curing Orlanth of his bloodlust, healing a disease suffered by Kolat, convincing Urox not to slay a Chaos god, and bringing King Heort back to life over the protests of the death god, Humakt.
The Great Darkness
Chaos came into the world through gaps created by war between the gods, death, and kinstrife. Chaos and its champion, Wakboth the Devil, killed nearly everything good, and twisted most of what was left into perversion and despair. It took strength, self-sacrifice, and faith in Orlanth, the strongest god in creation, to survive.
Elmal Guards the Stead
Orlanth, about to leave on a great quest to repair a world shattered by Chaos, leaves his loyal thane, Elmal, to defend the stead of the Storm Tribe. Elmal is shattered many times by enemies, but remakes himself each time. Finally he is tempted by a being called the Teller of Lies. Elmal resists these temptations, discovers the creature’s secret, and destroys it from the inside.
Uralda, mother of cows, finds that her four-legged people are under attack by biting things, so she convinces them to give themselves over to the protection of Ernalda, earth mother of the two-legged people. The four-legs gain safety, and the two-legs are freed from hunger.
Ernalda Feeds the Tribe
The tribe was going hungry because Ernalda’s children were missing. She travelled beneath the earth, and rescued her children from the dread goddesses of the Underworld.
The Lightbringers Quest
One day Orlanth finds his mother dead, and sees that his father is suffering, chained between the earth and sky. He embarks on a quest to right this terrible wrong, traveling west. On his land journey, he bests many enemies, and gathers together his companions: Lhankor Mhy, Issaries, Chalana Arroy, Flesh Man, and Ginna Jar. Orlanth even rescues the trickster, Eurmal, from people who want to kill him, and makes him pledge his loyalty.
The sea is very dangerous because it has been damaged by the forces of Chaos. Orlanth is aided by Sofala, the ancient Turtle Grandmother, who owes him a favor. She ferries Orlanth and his companions across the ocean as they use their unique talents to ward off various foes.
They reach the western land of Luathela, where Orlanth summons warriors to fight its purple-skinned people. Their queen, Rausa, asks to negotiate with him, and Orlanth demands the right to pass through the Western Gate to the Underworld. Rausa, who hates Orlanth, happily grants this wish, for it means that Orlanth will die.
The companions begin their long descent into the Underworld. Each of them is tested in turn, and each uses a special talent to save the others. Flesh Man is killed, but is not freed from the quest. Eurmal is unreliable and betrays the others, but unites them when all seems lost.
Finally Orlanth and his companions reach the Hall of the Dead, where they find the other gods, wretched, withered, and bleeding. Even Ernalda, Orlanth’s wife and goddess of the earth, is but a sorry and broken slave. Orlanth reaches an accord with his old enemy, the sun god Yelm, one which will make the world work again.
The agreement of Orlanth and Yelm is called The Cosmic Compromise. It brings into being a new goddess, Arachne Solara, who weaves a net and shows the gods how to use it. With her net, they bind the Devil, and she drains it of its force, until it is just a husk.
The dead gods return to life, and the sun god Yelm reascends to his rightful place in the sky. Amid much celebration, Orlanth and Ernalda are reunited; the Great Darkness is ended. So long as people obey the strictures of the Cosmic Compromise, Chaos will not return.