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Tonight on Unsolved Arkati Mysteries: The Unbreakable Sword (... or was it?)


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I think the mother of Zzabur's kid is...

                                                            ...Uleria.

There's a mythlet in Revealed Mythologies p12 about the Five Secret Assassins of which Uleria is specifically named.  Coupled that with a mythlet in Cults of Terror p13 about Uleria impregnating herself and it seems to me that Zzabur is warring against the surviving members of the Celestial Court.  Judgment is specially mentioned as one of the Five Emotions that Zzabur overcame with his logic which seems rather odd until one remembers that Acos made a ruling and found himself to be unjust.  

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The Unbreakable Sword is like Chekhov's Gun. You don't introduce an Unbreakable Sword into a story if you aren't going to break it in the third act.

Well perhaps the Unbreakable Sword was unbreakable only because it hadn't yet fullfilled its destiny, which was to kill Gbaji, so that's why it broke down in pieces right afterwards. The Sword was the

literally this is not only hilarious but incredibly accurate, if you were a player who showed up with Unbreakable Sword on your character sheet you'd be telling me what kinds of conflicts you wanted t

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There is one possible explanation. After the battle with Gbaji, Arkat was no longer an illuminate, at least in the sense of being able to escape the consequences of his actions.

The sword broke because he was a dishonourable Humakti.

This in turn implies the final battle was won when Arkat rejected temptation and chose to atone and accept responsibility - something no dark side illuminate ever does.

If Arkat had failed to atone, the being which walked out of the tower would have been Wakboth.

Gbaji didn’t attack Arkat, he tempted Arkat, by offering to surrender all his power, making Arkat the most powerful being in Glorantha. Arkat wrestled with his own inner darkness.

Edited by EricW
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Finally, atop the Tower of Justice in the City of Miracles, the two opponents met in single combat as all existence trembled. The city was turned to dust and poison, and most surviving companions of the great foes were slain. From the ruins only Arkat emerged.; the downfall of Nysalor was complete, and all of his works were denounced as the schemes of Chaji the Deceiver. The defamed god was then dismembered, and his parts buried in many different places sealed beneath many tons of rocks and powerful arcane wardings. 

[...]

At Arkat's bidding the very mountains groaned and rolled over, and in the great heat of the battle the earth was melted in places, and in other spots her flesh crept away from the horrid fighting it witnessed. So the terrain was changed forever from what it used to be, and not a single building from the old age was left standing.

Dorastor Land of Doom (AH 1993)

 

26 minutes ago, EricW said:

There is one possible explanation. After the battle with Gbaji, Arkat was no longer an illuminate, at least in the sense of being able to escape the consequences of his actions.

Or he never had those illumination powers.

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The sword broke because he was a dishonourable Humakti.

Or the sword broke as a the height of the battle he plunged the unbreakable sword into the god Gbaji causing a huge rupture through layers of the cosmos. The resulting magical imp/explosion shattered both Gbaji and the sword. His soul being sucked into chaos never to be seen again, his viscera scattered across the landscape and rubble of the tower.

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This in turn implies the final battle was won when Arkat when

See above.

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rejected temptation and chose to atone and accept responsibility - something no dark side illuminate ever does.

Personally, I don't believe there was any temptation, nothing to atone for, and he'd carried out his responsibility (at great cost to all)

Quote

If Arkat had failed to atone, the being which walked out of the tower would have been Wakboth.

As an illuminate, the fundamental truth is:

Quote

The illuminated one will know as truth that Chaos is, in itself, neither evil nor inimical. This secret knowledge is the source of the other benefits of Initiation. It makes a person free from automatic fear of Chaos and the obsession to destroy it.

 

Quote

Gbaji didn’t attack Arkat, he tempted Arkat, by offering to surrender all his power, making Arkat the most powerful being in Glorantha. Arkat wrestled with his own inner darkness.

Where does this temptation of Arkat by Gbaji come from?

Quote

In the last stages of the conflict, tradition holds that both Arkat and Nysalor were reduced to a small group of boon companions, and that each invoked the supernatural aid of mighty heroes and demigods for support in their last contest. Finally, atop the Tower of Justice in the City of Miracles, the two opponents met in single combat as all existence trembled..

 

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20 hours ago, David Scott said:

In this case the woman was (IIRC Amilla), daughter of a Duke of Lokawal and a barbarian hero (likely Humakt or his avatar), called Truesword. His father leaves him behind some cool treasure that he can recover when he's the right age (ten) - from under a rock by passing some tests (very sword in the stone), one of the many items is the Unbreakable Sword. It's a standard tale of destiny, and accepting who your father is, and why he abandoned you.

There are details there I didn't know.

In one version I have seen (don't ask me where - I can't remember - one of the RQ2 Kickstarter books?), his mother was named Anila (typo for Amilla?) who was one of the chaste Brithini warrior maidens named the Silver Shields, captured and seduced by a rough barbarian Orlanthi warlord who attacked Brithos, and for the shame of this, he and his mother lived in seclusion in the forests sheltered by the Aldryami until he came of age. 

These stories are, I believe, from very early treatments, and now serve to provide mythic doubt and uncertainty. 

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8 hours ago, Joerg said:

Damol Aerlitsson . . . descendants from Malkion's maternal kin, the Yggites . . . the runes taking shapes as humans wandering about

I think these options converge in an Ancient West Thread. We can think of Arkat as a kind of unplanned Damol (DML for those keeping track). There were undoubtedly others in the early colony cities like Neleswal (triolini facing) and the north (Ygg's homeland and maybe HMKT's as well) where records are especially fragmentary. 

It's interesting about these particular runic encounters because "the ancestral Malkion" is codified as the burta of water and cold wind, which someone could read as a unifying symbol or collective representation of a synthetic confederation of once-separate tribes drawn from across the coast. The records reveal that the waertagite monopoly on western travel (much less the rest of the world) was not uniformly enforced in the Dawn Age . . . who can say how many sea peoples like "Helerites" pursued their own sea lanes in this era before ultimately getting caught on one losing side of history or another?

Ygg is of course a god of ships. Even so, about 3 centuries separate Damol's creation from Arkat. Plenty of time for experimentation and failure on all sides of the sea, not to mention the multiplication of "demi-birth" success stories we don't hear about today because so many expired with the Age that spawned them.

As a tangent it's interesting that there are no Mostalites known to be native to the island so interactions with that inhuman logic system would be a little estranged . . . but there were always elves in those days, not quite "krjalk" in any sense the word would ultimately accrue. On Jrustel it was the opposite.

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34 minutes ago, M Helsdon said:

Amilla

It does look like Greg's long cursive "m" there, although Dumb Theoreticians can productively leap to a suppressed connection between imperial Arkat's family cults and the garbled tale of the zaranistangi. I think David is interpreting from the pages you have. I like it because to me the important thing here is the answer to the riddle of the rock and what that means for Law as a rune.

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2 hours ago, David Scott said:

 

Or he never had those illumination powers.

Arkat was an illuminate according to Cults of Terror.

2 hours ago, David Scott said:

Or the sword broke as a the height of the battle he plunged the unbreakable sword into the god Gbaji causing a huge rupture through layers of the cosmos. The resulting magical imp/explosion shattered both Gbaji and the sword. His soul being sucked into chaos never to be seen again, his viscera scattered across the landscape and rubble of the tower.

See above.

All possible - though it was unbreakable. I proposed a sudden application of the sword breaker curse as a reason why the sword might have broken.

2 hours ago, David Scott said:

Personally, I don't believe there was any temptation, nothing to atone for, and he'd carried out his responsibility (at great cost to all)

As an illuminate, the fundamental truth is:

 

Where does this temptation of Arkat by Gbaji come from?

 

Speculation. Gbaji was about temptation, seducing people to embrace chaos of their own free will. He certainly would have attempted to talk Arkat out of attacking him. 

Sorry maybe I should have made it clearer that some of what I said was speculative, but it seems a neat explanation.

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2 hours ago, David Scott said:

As an illuminate, the fundamental truth is:

Quote

The illuminated one will know as truth that Chaos is, in itself, neither evil nor inimical. This secret knowledge is the source of the other benefits of Initiation. It makes a person free from automatic fear of Chaos and the obsession to destroy it.

 

It makes a person free from automatic passion about chaos, I understand it

But does that mean that an illuminate cannot have any passion like hate chaos or fear chaos ?

I am pretty sure that irl, people can understand some community is, in itself, neither evil nor inimical, but want to destroy it for any reason (business, power, personal revenge, etc...)

Does it make sense ? Or am I wrong about illumination ?

And is this truth shared by all illumination types ? like draconic illumination for example ?

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, scott-martin said:

It does look like Greg's long cursive "m" there, although Dumb Theoreticians can productively leap to a suppressed connection between imperial Arkat's family cults and the garbled tale of the zaranistangi. I think David is interpreting from the pages you have. I like it because to me the important thing here is the answer to the riddle of the rock and what that means for Law as a rune.

I believe my source was typed - will have to try to find it - but from the limited number of ancient texts I have access to, Greg's spellings were fairly variable, some doubtless intentionally. This sort of thing happens in real ancient texts all the time...

Some still exist, as regional variants: Seshnegi Aerlit, Ralian Erulat, Dragon Pass Orlanth, all phonetically similar.

ADDITIONAL: There are several versions of Arkat's upbringing in the RQ Kickstarter 'Dragon Pass and the Wilds'. There's a little more in the Sorcery and the West book. The former names his mother as Amilla (did I read this as Anila or was this another text or did I mistype?). On the previous page his unbreakable sword is called Deathson. There's also a fragment where Arkat and his two sons Talor and Gerlant, are crossing over the mountains after the final victory.

Edited by M Helsdon
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2 hours ago, EricW said:

Arkat was an illuminate according to Cults of Terror.

I'm not disputing that he wasn't illuminated. Just that, our knowledge of illumination has moved on. Illuminates no longer automatically get all eight of the powers. Not all automatically have the "Power to Ignore Cult Restrictions". As you move down the list of abilities they get less common. Everyone gets 1, most get 2 and 3. You can use your illumination skill to work them. There are also abilities not listed.

 

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  1. Secret Knowledge
  2. Overcome Runes or Passions
  3. Embrace Runic Opposites
  4. Sense Illumination in Others
  5. Immunity to Detect Chaos/Law Skills or Spells
  6. Power to Ignore Cult Restrictions Cult
  7. Immunity to Spirits of Reprisal
  8. The Ability to Illuminate Others

Cults Book, Gen Con Draft, 2019.

 

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On 5/29/2021 at 7:14 AM, Thoror said:

So yeah, when did he win that stupid sword? Why had something so... breakable the name "Unbreakable"? Where is Arkat's Saga when a guy needs it? So many questions! Only in Glorantha, folks.

Rumor has it that the Unbreakable Sword was made of enchanted adamant and may have actually been the original death rune that trickster stole from the underworld.

Other rumors suggest that the Unbreakable Sword might have actually just been a Humakti lottery blade, but one carried west by Arkat's daddy, who was a devout and widely travelled Humakti mercenary and adventurer whom the parochial Brithini mistook for the actual deity of death due to his skill with a blade.

Then there is the rumor that Ironbreaker, the sword of Hahgrim, was actually Arkat's sword, not just the sword of his general Distan as is alleged.  The clue being in the name of the weapon.  What breaks iron?

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1 hour ago, Darius West said:

What breaks iron?

Many things. Iron is tough but can bend and break, and depending on its manufacture can be brittle. Ironbreaker suggests a superior steel sword, perhaps forged by Mostali.

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8 hours ago, M Helsdon said:

Many things. Iron is tough but can bend and break, and depending on its manufacture can be brittle. Ironbreaker suggests a superior steel sword, perhaps forged by Mostali.

 When we say iron, we really mean hu-metal, and hu metal derives from Humakt.  Talk about adding carbon to iron is not part of Gloranthan reality.  Fundamentally, IRL, any wrought iron weapon with no carbon alloying is weaker than any bronze alloy, so if we go down that track, we don't really mean iron, we mean steel.

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1 hour ago, Darius West said:

 When we say iron, we really mean hu-metal, and hu metal derives from Humakt. 

Hu-metal is bronze, Umath’s metal. (The name is Ralian in origin - see https://wellofdaliath.chaosium.com/home/catalogue/websites/moondesign-com/jeffs-old-blogs/xeotam-dialogues/)

Iron is ur-metal, created through alchemy by the dwarves.

Edited by M Helsdon
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On 6/1/2021 at 9:10 PM, EricW said:

The sword broke because he was a dishonourable Humakti.

This begs a number of questions.

Firstly, given that Humakt is a known illuminate himself via Rashoran, he can tell who among his worshippers are illuminates, but that is not the same as judging their conduct.

Second, I don't think that the Death Rune can break, or that it cares about the honor of its wielder.  It's the old irresistible force/unmovable object problem.

In Soviet Dorastor, unbreakable sword breaks you and your faulty moral categories.

16 hours ago, M Helsdon said:

Hu-metal is bronze, Umath’s metal. (The name is Ralian in origin - see https://wellofdaliath.chaosium.com/home/catalogue/websites/moondesign-com/jeffs-old-blogs/xeotam-dialogues/)

Iron is ur-metal, created through alchemy by the dwarves.

Yes, you're right in the detail, but the original point stands.

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33 minutes ago, Darius West said:

Yes, you're right in the detail, but the original point stands.

This is the moral of the story of the sword: the foundation of "ur" is "hu." There's probably a metallurgical mystery here as well.

No dwarves on Brithos.

EDIT and even humble "hu" is scary when you're the Dawn Age civilization who built its native munitions technology around "lo/sa" instead. While "lo/sa" can be hardened beyond conventional "ur" in intense alchemical environments normally you're going to get crushed.

Edited by scott-martin
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6 hours ago, Darius West said:

Yes, you're right in the detail, but the original point stands.

Given that we don't know the details of Iron Dwarf alchemy, using elf to improve ur-metal seems entirely possible.

 

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47 minutes ago, M Helsdon said:

using elf to improve ur-metal seems entirely possible.

Compressed elf turned into firebone (IIRC what it was called in the Caladra & Aurelion cult writeup).

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10 hours ago, Darius West said:

This begs a number of questions.

Firstly, given that Humakt is a known illuminate himself via Rashoran, he can tell who among his worshippers are illuminates, but that is not the same as judging their conduct.

Second, I don't think that the Death Rune can break, or that it cares about the honor of its wielder.  It's the old irresistible force/unmovable object problem.

In Soviet Dorastor, unbreakable sword breaks you and your faulty moral categories.

Yes, you're right in the detail, but the original point stands.

I don’t think there is evidence Humakt can tell which of his followers is illuminated. Illuminates can identify other illuminates, but nobody can use divine magic to identify another illuminate. If Humakt could identify illuminated followers, he could pass this information on via divination.

As for the death rune shattering, nobody who suffers the sword breaker oath can wield a sword, even the unbreakable sword. And the destruction of the unbreakable sword clearly did not end Humakt’s mastery of death. Maybe by breaking, the unbreakable sword died and returned to the hand of its master.

My suggestion that Arkat suffering all the spirits of reprisal for all his misdeeds all at once, by atoning and accepting responsibility rather than embracing Gbaji’s path of spiritual parasitism, seemed a neat explanation, but obviously highly speculative. I mean you can’t defeat Gbaji and embrace his gift at the same time, surely.

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On 6/1/2021 at 4:32 PM, PhilHibbs said:

The Unbreakable Sword is like Chekhov's Gun. You don't introduce an Unbreakable Sword into a story if you aren't going to break it in the third act.

literally this is not only hilarious but incredibly accurate, if you were a player who showed up with Unbreakable Sword on your character sheet you'd be telling me what kinds of conflicts you wanted to have (i.e. see One Punch Man) and that you eventually wanted to have a huge crisis involving this item

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On 6/1/2021 at 7:10 PM, EricW said:

There is one possible explanation. After the battle with Gbaji, Arkat was no longer an illuminate, at least in the sense of being able to escape the consequences of his actions.

Or he chose to accept those consequences, despite being capable of avoiding them if he wished. He may have had a good reason to do so. 

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23 minutes ago, davecake said:

Or he chose to accept those consequences, despite being capable of avoiding them if he wished. He may have had a good reason to do so. 

Exactly my point. You cannot defeat Gbaji by becoming Gbaji. My theory is Arkat defeated Gbaji by renouncing Gbaji’s magical parasitism, by owning up to his personal misdeeds and accepting punishment from the gods for his transgressions. 

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13 hours ago, EricW said:

I don’t think there is evidence Humakt can tell which of his followers is illuminated. Illuminates can identify other illuminates, but nobody can use divine magic to identify another illuminate. If Humakt could identify illuminated followers, he could pass this information on via divination.

I think Humakt can do exactly that, but perhaps chooses not to.  I also think that Humakt, as he is illuminated, and is his own spirit of retribution, can and will break the sword of an illuminate who breaks Humakt's teachings, unlike every other deity.  Humakt is an illuminate, and he knows when his illuminated initiates are sleeping, and when they are awake, and whether they've been good or bad.

13 hours ago, EricW said:

As for the death rune shattering, nobody who suffers the sword breaker oath can wield a sword, even the unbreakable sword. And the destruction of the unbreakable sword clearly did not end Humakt’s mastery of death. Maybe by breaking, the unbreakable sword died and returned to the hand of its master.

TBH I think Humakt just sever spirits them at that point.  Admittedly, we don't know what became of the invisible sword after that, though some say that his general Distan became its owner.  As for death dying like that, hmm, I don't know how strange the aeon was.

13 hours ago, EricW said:

My suggestion that Arkat suffering all the spirits of reprisal for all his misdeeds all at once, by atoning and accepting responsibility rather than embracing Gbaji’s path of spiritual parasitism, seemed a neat explanation, but obviously highly speculative. I mean you can’t defeat Gbaji and embrace his gift at the same time, surely.

 Well, the fact is, he didn't actually need to do that.  The general story is that he simply left Dorastor and became ruler of the Dark Empire of Ralios, and generally exerting a benign neglect on his subjects.  

My take is that Arkat set himself up as the complete counter-argument to Nysalor's whole philosophy by showing how exactly heinously it could be exploited and sparing nothing in doing so.  Then the God Learners come along and wreck everything and copy everything he did wrong, so ultimately the Arkati set up a "conspiracy of heroes" to guard the hero plane from similar exploitation in the future, and in the third age find themselves doing battle with the Lunars.

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1 hour ago, Darius West said:

The general story is that he simply left Dorastor and became ruler of the Dark Empire of Ralios, and generally exerting a benign neglect on his subjects.  

The general story is that simply left Dorastor and lived on a farm for 50 years, with his Archons running the proto-empire. See GtG 374.

 

 

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