Elmal is the original name of the Light god that came to Dragon Pass in the 1300s.
The Light worshipers among the Sartarites began offering sacrifices to Yelm quite early – likely even before Sartar even came to Dragon Pass. But thanks to increased trade with Peloria, this accelerated. The Light worshipers discovered their god Elmal was NOT Orlanth’s loyal thane – they learned of Orlanth’s theft of their god’s Fire powers, of his challenges to Yelm – and how their god was formed out of part of Yelm. And once this was seen, it could not be unseen.
By the 1550s and early 1560s, many Light worshipers in Sartar looked to Yelm (ie the Red Emperor) for leadership. There was kinstrife, murder, and the start of civil war in Sartar – and all taking place during a time when the Lunar Empire was on the upswing. King Phargentes was defeating Sartar and its allies, and the Sartarites could not afford the Light worshipers weakening them. Worst of all, Prince Jarosar was “murdered by a friend” in 1561 – this was by an “Elmal” cultist who had been a close friend of the Prince.
It was Monrogh who revealed the fullness of Yelmalio and brought peace back to Sartar. Yelmalio was not Orlanth’s friend, but he could be Orlanth’s ally against evil and Darkness. Yelmalio respect his father, but was independent of him. And so, Yelmalio aided Dorasar in founding New Pavis. Yelmalio aided Tarkalor in defeating the trolls of the Troll Woods and liberating the Volsaxi to become Sartar’s ally. Yelmalio fought alongside Tarkalor against the Chaos-using Lunar Empire at the Battle of Grizzly Peak.
There are still some places where the Light god is called by his old name (e.g., Runegate), but he is always also known as Yelmalio.
The old Elmal cult collapsed upon contact with the deeper solar mysteries of the Dara Happan elm cult. Yelmalio was the alternative to Yelm, rather than the alternative to Elmal. Interesting how we’ve gone from “some” to “many” to “much of” to “collapse” in the span of roughly 10 years. I’d say the process took from about 1450 to 1560. So over a century. But it really accelerated from 1540 on.
The old Elmal cult was pretty exclusive to northern Heortland and Sartar – it is a legacy of the Only Old One that survived thanks to the Dragonkill War.
But Yelmalio has been present in the Orlanthi lands since the First Age.
So the myths of Elmal guarding Orlanth’s stead are not true/not canon and couldn’t be reached in God Time? Or is it a question of two incompatible narratives, one of which proved more persuasive? Yelmalio defended everyone who needed his aid in the Greater Darkness. It wasn’t that he was guarding his lord’s house – he was defending US against darkness and Chaos.
Elmal was imagined as the loyal horse-warrior (that’s what a thane is – a warrior able to fight mounted) of Orlanth. As the cult was small, they didn’t exactly do much exploring of the god’s myths until they came into contact with the Yelm cult. A little exploration, and confining the Light god to being ORLANTH’s loyal horseman quickly falls apart and the brighter light of Yelmalio quickly comes into view. You’d have to put the Only Old One’s blinkers back on to not see it!
For most Orlanthi, this all happened in the First Age. The Hendriki managed to postpone this until the Third Age, when they resettled Dragon Pass.
It is the story that is told when you have only a narrow perspective. But once you go outside the confines of that story, you can see the broader story, and the narrow story falls apart.
You can directly interact with the realm of myth and magic through heroquesting. You use the stories of others as guides to help navigate your way. BUT your beliefs don’t control what you experience there. And what you experience is true.
Yelmalio pre-existed Monrogh. Monrogh sought to find the identity of Elmal – was he really just a servant of Yelm?
Monrogh wandered through secret paths to find the identity of his god, and he found Yelmalio, the Sun Dome god. He did not create Yelmalio – that cult had existed for more than a thousand years. He found that Elmal WAS Yelmalio.
it was likely Monrogh wandered unguided along the path of the hero until he found Elmal. He followed Elmal on his path to “the center of the world” where he defended the world, rather than show up just at the end. And he saw the Hill of Gold in its magnificence. There Monrogh aided Elmal in his lonely vigil. To his surprise, Monrogh was there when Orlanth took his weapons, when Elmal fought Inora to a standstill, and was ambushed by Zorak Zoran. And then familiar Chaos came and Monrogh bled out his heat and power upon the Hill of Gold, but did not abandon his oaths. He joined with High King Elf and others to fight Chaos. And in the end, even Orlanth accepted his aid and settled his feud. And when Orlanth departed, Yelmalio defended Orlanth’s people as well. And he persevered until the Long Night ended and then he greeted his father Yelm who returned from the World of the Dead with the the other gods.
Monrogh experienced the full myth – not just the abridged and truncated version. Monrogh was Yelmalio, and the experience was true.
And once experienced, it could not be forgotten. And others could and did experience it. That experience spread quickly – Elmal is a Truth god and his worshipers would have to lie to deny this truth. Elmal was Yelmalio.
1. experimental heroquesting is never commonplace. The Hendriki were Old Way Traditionalists, and survived the EWF by avoiding such things. The Yelmalio worshipers of the Hendriki were even less likely to do such things. Stay in your lane, don’t anger the guardians, and just follow the old rites.
2. The cult was tiny, isolated, and concentrated in one area. So even if we assume 1% of Rune Masters end up doing experimental heroquests despite themselves, centuries might pass before this happens.
3. Everything starts shaking up around 1320. Belintar defeated the Only Old One. The Tournament of the Masters of Luck and Death encouraged experimental heroquesting. Clans resettled in Dragon Pass. New cults and new secrets are encountered and things MUST change.