Myth of the Month: Orlanth makes a Ring (1998)

Everyone was fighting each other. The two rules of Umath were the only laws:

  1. Violence is always an option.
  2. No one can make you do anything.

Orlanth was displeased with this. He found Justice to be in his own breast, and he brought it forth and placed it in a torque about his neck.

Then Orlanth raised his banner and sent word to all the corners of the world, inviting every god and goddess to join with him and be honored in his tribe. He asked everyone, and promised them all their rightful place, as would be determined by their actions in the war.

He did not even know the names of some that came, but he welcomed them. They had all been together in the Prison of the Strange Gods. Some of them did not even know their own genealogy.

Orlanth welcomed them all. He said, “Solitude is for outlaws, holy women, and mad men. None of us can live alone. No one is more important than those with whom you live. I invite you to live with me.”

“No, I can’t agree with this,” said Vadrus, a great troublemaker. “I have to be the ruler.”

“Stop and listen to Orlanth,” said Humakt, “Or I’ll cut your head off again.”

“Try it!” snarled Vadrus, and drew his pointed hammer, named Rammer, and stepped forward to meet his foe.

“Stop,” commanded Orlanth. “The first thing for us to do is to agree to speak before we fight.”

“Up yours,” said Vadrus, and leapt at Humakt, who parried and began to fight.

“This is the old way,” said Orlanth. “Peace among friends is maintained by speaking first. Come my friends, we will go to the speaking place, and leave all who would fight here.”

So they travelled then, and they went to the Speaking Rock, which was a sage old mineral where many people would meet at different times.

“We will sit in a circle,” he said, “And all who sit in this circle agree to listen to each other before acting. That is the first rule to keep peace among us.”

He also said, “I shall create a sacred Ring by selecting the most suitable from among you.” He spoke with them, conferring to learn each of their strengths and fitness for various tasks. However, his feast was interrupted when his brothers came crashing in.

“You can’t do this,” they all said. “We’re your brothers, and we’re the ones that you should give these magical gifts to. You already made a mistake with the Death Sword, and we won’t let you do it again. We are your blood and your breath, and it would be unjust and against nature to not give them to us.” Such an argument, of course, is the most powerful one which anyone can give to their kin.

“Well,” said Orlanth, who was always hospitable, “first put your swords away and sit among us and drink some strong mead, brothers. This house is not a place for fighting, and certainly not for fighting among us kinsmen. Meat will be served, cooked or raw for you Wild One. Shall I send for cloaks to put upon your broad shoulders?”

All of the best men and gods were there in his hall. However, they all stepped down from the high table and sat among the commoners, the followers of Orlanth. The storm gods then all sat at the high table.

“Dishthane,” he said, addressing the man in charge of his treasure, “bring forth the tools which we will distribute today.” And so they were all brought forth.

Laid out before them were six wonderful items, each unique. First was a marking bone, which could mark signs of power upon anything. Second was the staff called Scorch, which left its burnt marks upon everything that it touched, and which could kill a foe. Third was the great thunderstone named Great Weighty, which had laid waste to a race of giants which were now just a mountain range. It always returned to its caster’s hand. Fourth

was a green basket of plenty which always served enough at the feast, even when Orlanth’s brothers came by unannounced. Fifth was the Baby Cauldron, which produced a healthy young child for whomever came to it and properly devoted herself to it. Finally, sixth was a loom, with weights of gold and shuttles of silver.

“Each of these,” said Orlanth, “is a treasure beyond our understanding. They were all taken in a raids from great gods. I have determined by reading runes that they shall serve as gifts for my first ring.

“But just as the greater powers have provided these gifts to us, and just as the greater powers have cast the runes to read, then so shall the greater powers decide to whom they rightfully belong.”

“That is sheep shit,” said the worst brother, Vadrus. He leapt up and flew right to green basket and laid his hands upon it. “I’ll just take this and go.” And with it he flew right out the window.

“I’ll get him back,” said Vingkot, and leapt to go, but Orlanth calmed the great warrior.

“Sit back down. Come off that window sill. Look by the fire pit.”

There was the green basket once again.

“These are true instruments, with power of their own, and a life like our own which is subject to the higher powers. They shall choose for themselves their owners, who will be endowed by their blessings.”

And so it went, and their first Ring was formed thereby. And here were the recipients of the gifts:

Lhankor Mhy the Lawspeaker, received the ivory marking bone. His parents were named Mostal and Orenoar, two of the old gods.

Issaries the Translator received the staff called Scorch. He used it to mark his followers with his magic, to keep them safe, and thereby began the tattooing of power.

Hedkoranth the Adventurer, the leader of the Thunder Brothers, received Great Weighty. This thunderstone rumbled whenever enemies approached, and it would leap into its owner’s hand for combat.

Esra, the Food Keeper, received the green basket which she had woven. It is she who feed us.

Kero Fin, mother of Orlanth, received the Baby Cauldron. She is who to pray for children now, and ever since then.

Ernalda the Stead Mother, the wife of Orlanth, received the wonderful loom of silver and gold.

Since then this has been the membership of the Orlanth Ring.

Greg Stafford

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