The opening of Harmast’s Narrative is well-known to every Orlanthi, and is at the same time strange and troubling. Here’s is how it reads:
“In the thirty‑third year of my life, because of the many wrongs which I had done to women, and because of the savage oppression delivered upon my people, and because of my desire to heal the errors of my life, this humble herdsman undertook a pilgrimage. I vowed to travel to Redemption Edge, where God had righted the errors of his own life.
No one had made this entire journey before, but with the assistance of my servants and my friends, I determined to attempt it, or die trying.
I am Harmast, of the stormcat clan. I am the second son of Hardrinor, son of Eringulf, son of Brolarulf, son of Rastalulf, son of Harang, called the Great Father, son of Vesten the Bull‑wrestler, who was a bastard son of King Venef the Stallion, of the Berenneth Tribe.
I did not choose this, but had it thrust upon me. I leave this document, which I relate to my friend Belorden the Librarian, with the hope that it will guide those who would come after me. The trip to the edge of the world is lengthly and difficult. It took many years for many people to prepare for it, and even then I thought myself ill equipped. After Lokamayadon named the Iron Vrok to be governor of Dragon Pass, my leaders chose me to journey into the realm of myth. I agreed out of loyalty.
Urgency drove us to undertake it this way, and I believe that greater preparations would ensure easier success if this is attempted again.“
Now that bit about the “many wrongs which I had done to women” has troubled or confused commentators since the beginning. Some context is needed. Harmast had many wives and even more lovers. Several met terrible ends, such as his wives Rayena, Farain, Indelli, and Sesanne – all killed by Harmast’s many enemies and all later appeared as ghosts at the start of his Lightbringers Quest. Some died as a result of his early battles and heroquests – such as at the Battle of Daranstoro or when the Sun Bird passed through Alastan’s Mirror. Harmast failed to provide them with the protection and loyalty they deserved, let alone anything resembling marital fidelity. Others he abandoned fleeing from enemies, in several cases leaving children behind as well.
At the nadir of his Lightbringers Quest, Harmast confronted and reconciled with his own obsession – his “demon lover” – as well as with Father Tyrant and Mother Destruction in order to heal the errors of his life. Only doing this could he pass through the flames of the Band of Gold.
Harmast is known to have had two foes linked to him. The first was Angorsk Ig, who was the son of a troll god and a supporter of the Broken Council. Angorsk Ig was a constant obstacle during Harmast’s Westfaring.
The second foe was more dangerous – Palangio the Iron Vrok. Palangio killed several of Harmast’s lovers and more of his friends and companion. When Palangio was named governor of Dragon Pass, Harmast was chosen to lead the Lightbringers Quest.
Now to me this passage is part of the wonders of Glorantha – how very different it is from the Tolkien-inspired fantasy that is so often associated with TTRPGs. It ties it more with Pendragon and Call of Cthulhu than anything else.