Myth of the Month: Clouds (2000)

By Greg Stafford; illustrated by Juha Harju

Regular Types of Clouds

The Orlanthi have several stories about where clouds come from. As usual, these are different ways of interpreting the physical phenomena which often seem to be contradictory. For instance, are there seven winds or four? Is Heler the source of clouds, or did Orlanth make them? Three types standard types of clouds are known, hawks, alynx and sheep. The hawks appear in the high and medium air and are thin cirrus clouds. The Tolings appear in the high and medium altitude. They are the thicker high cumulus clouds. The sheep appear in the low sky, and are the fluffy cumulus clouds.

We resort to extra-Gloranthan terms to explain this. We start with the Ten Standard Cloud Types, as designed by *name. Photographs of these are available in most encyclopedias and online.

  1. Cirrus. The hawks
  2. Cirrostratus. Flock of hawks.
  3. Cirrocumulus. High alynx.
  4. Altocumulus. The Tolings .
  5. Altostratus. A flock of alynx.
  6. Cumulus. The sheep.
  7. Stratocumulus. Herd of sheep.
  8. Cumulonimbus. Ram Storm.
  9. Stratus. Seagull, also
  10. Nimbostratus. Heler.

Where Our Animals Came From

An Orlanthi Story

Orlanth made three types of normal, common clouds, the hawks, the Tolings, and the sheep. They lived in the air, as natural to that realm as a fish is to water.
Once Orlanth came down from his celestial home and impregnated the goddess Tarena, who was the Blue Woman in hawk shape. Their children were the Cloudhawks, called Tarenings. They are a type of cloud.
The Tarenings are the highest of the clouds and never come below five miles in altitude. The Tarenings are also the weakest of the clouds. Sometimes they gather in a flock that spreads across the entire sky. But even gathered in such a flock their collective density is not enough to block out the sun, moon or Shargash, which may appear to have rings around them. They are so high that only the Vanganth flyers can get up there among them.
One time Yinkin was on the prowl, calling himself Tol (an erotic term) and he came across Tarhelera, a beautiful goddess as seductive as the Tolings. Their children were the Cloudcats, that are called the Tolings. The Tolings could climb as high as the hawk, but were as weak as a hawk there, and could never gather into flocks. In the middle air the Tolings were strong. They romped and ruled from five miles down to two.
Urotha was a goddess who looked for a way to serve Ernalda. Heler convinced her he knew the way and turned himself into a ram and seduced her. Their children were the Cloudsheep, called Urothtrorol or Urothings. They were the most abundant of all the clouds, and fathered at altitudes from a half mile to two miles high.
Heler another time performed this same shape change and seduction upon another goddess. He was skilled at it now, and even though she was a creature of the earth they had hundreds of children. She was Nevala, and their children are the thousands of sheep that the Orlanthi tend.
Yinkin too continued to perfect his methods, and he begat several lineages of more substantial alynx upon various mothers. These became the breeds of alynx that are loyal to Orlanth in his home of Dragon Pass.
Tarena too bred children of more mortal shape. She herself never landed landed from her endless flight until the Golden Archer brought her down with a magical arrow, a magical friend and a curse. But the earth where she landed had pity instead of destroying her, and he took shape just like hers, built a nest atop a tall tree and helped raise the first brood of the Wind Hawks that are the birds of Orlanth. They are in a continual war for him to destroy all eagles.

Irregular types of Clouds

Urox Clouds
Urox clouds are a sand storm. The wind is always strong and dry, always carrying some sort of particulate. It is often invisible, but has the “smell of Urox” on it.

Seagull Clouds
Seagull clouds blow in from the south, usually on a sluggish wind and without either raining or shielding the sun completely. They hover around, then disappear. They are low strata clouds from the south

Orlanth Cloud
Often a huge cloud stands still around the top of Kero Fin. This is the Orlanth Cloud. In formal terms, it is a lenticular cloud. It can appear at any season, and is there for the first half of Sacred Time, but disappears when Orlanth descends to the Underworld.

Fog
Fog upon and from the sea is Iphara, the murderer. She is described elsewhere. Fog from lakes is called *name. She is not a daimone, but is a spirit within the Kolati tradition.

Molanni Wind
Molanni is another still air, but different from Brastalos in that Molanni is malevolent and bears cruel intentions against human beings. Her child is Daga, the Drought. He lover is Huru, Famine. She has a water jug, but it is full of the bitterly burning potion of suffering.

Latest revision: 30 Nov 2000

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