As part of a project, I have put together a deep background history of the Sun Dome Temple in Sartar that is likely mostly unknown even to the Yelmalio cult. So this stands outside of Glorantha as a secret (but correct) history – but I think it might be of use to folk trying to make sense of the history of the Yelmalio cult in Sartar.
A History of the Sun Dome Temple in Dragon Pass
At the Dawn (1600 years ago) this was the center of solar worship in Dragon Pass, where Lightfore and the restored Sun were worshiped together by the Heortlings under the name of Elmal.
Later in the First Age, the Sons of the Sun and later the Dara Happans proved that the returned Sun was a separate god – the Golden Age Imperial Sun Yelm. The Elmal cult acknowledged this (they had to because the Dara Happans proved they were right in magical contests and challenges). The Elmal cult shifted its focus to Lightfore who remains even when the Sun is dead. The Cold Sun, the Frontier Sun, etc – but the most popular name was the Little Sun – Yelmalio. During the Broken Council, Yelmalio was largely loyal to the Broken Council and aided Nysalor in fighting the Heortlings and Trolls at the battle of Night and Day.
The Broken Council built a great golden sun dome here after the Battle of Night and Day. Yelmalio was given rule over the former Heortling tribal lands and fought against Arkat and his trolls in the Gbaji Wars. The great golden sun dome was destroyed, but if you look right and squint, you can sometimes still see its mirage.
Fast forward a few centuries. The Orlanthi overthrew the troll Arkat placed as overlords of Dragon Pass with the aid of the Yelmalio cult and gave this site to the cult, who built a new Sun Dome temple (think the Second Temple in Jerusalem). The Yelmalio cult were important allies of the Empire of the Wyrms Friends, and Sun Dome Temples were built along the frontier of the Empire (this is the origin of the temple in Prax as an aside). A network of temples extended from Fronela to Ralios to Garsting and Prax. The temple in Dragon Pass was one of the two main temples (the other was at what is now Mirin’s Cross).
But the Empire of the Wyrms Friends collapsed, and the Yelmalio cult suffered. Sun Dome Temples lost contact with each (this is the beginning of the Testing of Solitude in Prax). Some temples allied with the True Golden Horde to assault the Dragon’s Nest, resulting in the Dragonkill War. The Sun Dome Temple in Dragon Pass was razed – like every other human settlement in Dragon Pass.
One of the two central temples lost, and the cult in turmoil, the Yelmalio cult in South Peloria persisted but continued its decline and disunity. In Kethaela, a small cult in Heortland continued to worship in the Dawn Age style, protected by the Only Old One and the Hendriki Tribe. They worshiped Lightfore and the Sun together as Elmal (but drew their magic from Lightfore). After Belintar killed the Only Old One in 1318, many of these cultists migrated into Dragon Pass to practice in their traditional ways rather than accept Belintar’s magical changes. This is the same impulse that caused many Orlanthi to migrate into Dragon Pass.
The Elmali found the ruins of “their” temple and it became an important cult center, although they lacked the resources to rebuild the dome or much else (another cult center was Runegate). The temple was thus rebuilt as a Sun Temple, without a dome. As the settlers formed into tribes, the Elmal cult began to take on extra-tribal characteristics. Initiates from different tribes would gather at the Sun Temple to worship together instead of worshiping merely at the tribal level (a similar thing was happening with some of the other Lightbringer cults, but they resolved it differently).
For about two centuries this slow change continued. But during the reign of Saronil, the Elmal cult came under increasing influence from the Yelm cult of the lowlands. Lunar missionaries were sent to reveal the secrets that had been hidden from the Elmal cult by the Orlanthi and the Only Old One. This resulted in rapid changes and social explosion, Some switched their worship to Yelm the Sun (although continuing to call the subject of their worship Elmal) and fought with the House of Sartar. Monrogh Lanterns was convinced that Elmal was NOT the imperial Sun, but was the light that remained after Yelm was killed. He brought back Yelmalio, and his movement spread like wildfire through the remaining Elmali and to the surviving Sun Dome Temples of the Yelmalio cult.
At the same time the trolls of the Troll Woods were raiding throughout southern Sartar and Hendrikiland. They blocked off the trade route between Karse and Wilmskirk, collecting high tolls from those who wanted to pass to the south – this diminished the wealth of the Sartarite princes, who were locked in increasingly external conflict with the Lunar Empire and internal dissension with the Elmal cultists.
Tarkalor solved both problems. He allied with the Yelmalio cult and together they defeated the trolls of the Troll Woods. When Tarkalor became Prince of Sartar, he granted possession of the Sun Temple to Monrogh Lantern and built them the grand Sun Dome Temple using Sartarite stonemasons. Tarkalor paid for a gold dome and other signs of his support. After Tarkalor died in 1582, the Yelmalio cult was independent (their loyalty was to Tarkalor personally) but remained friendly with Terarsarin and Salinarg, although I doubt they got huge endowments from the increasingly beleaguered princes.
This is a canonical text that I just gave to a writer working on this material.
Was the EWF-period Yelmalio cult draconized, or still basically worshiping Yelmalio? (Rather than Sun Dragon or something.)? They worshiped Yelmalio.
His history has been a ping pong between the Orlanthi and the Dara Happans.
So as of 1625, it makes sense to speak of the Yelmalio cult in Sartar, most of which is focused on the Sun Dome Temple as their religious center. This cult is inter-tribal. There is a small group centred on Runegate that still puts Yelmalio into a tribal cult structure, but otherwise, most Yelmalio cultists that live outside of Sun Dome County look to the Sun Dome temple for militia duties, religious ceremonies, etc.
The bulk of the 250 Yelmalio cultists around Runegate belong to the Enyhli Clan, but the Narri have a fair number as well. The cultists around Runegate worship Yelmalio as an associate of Orlanth Rex. They don’t use the pike, they ride horses, etc. As described in the cult writeup.
The Yelm cultists were a faction that reached its peak probably around 1565. I think their numbers ceased to grow after Monrogh’s movement was embraced by the rest of the Elmali, and eventually they mostly died out.
The Pol-Joni and Dundealos worship Yelmalio, but in the Praxian manner. (I expect that Derik Pol-Joni is worshiped as an ancestral spirit in conjunction with Orlanth Rex.)
The Cults of Prax Yelmalio writeup is a fair overview from the perspective of the “modern” Praxian Yelmalio cult.