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Myth: Artmal And Cathora


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The RQ:G campaign I run is exploring further an further into the myths of Artmal, the Blue Moon, and the Artmali people.  Today I unveiled the myth we'll be heroquesting next week, towards the end of Sea Season in 1627: Artmal and Cathora, the 'How I Met Your Mother' story of the Artmali people.  I've made a few suppositions going in to writing it.  One is that the myth takes place in the Late Golden Age, after Umath's fall but before the death of the Sun.  It needed to take place before the Artmali came to Earth in the Storm Age, but not too far before, and it felt right to have the story of Artmal finding love and starting a family come after his aiding Tolat/Shargash in defeating Umath.  I tried to echo the feel of the Wendelian phase of Pelandan myth, so the story has a pastoral, Arcadian feel tinged with the growing disruption of the age's end--the forces of Pre-Dark creep in at Stage 2, in the form of the Striped Gyre-Wolf.  Another is that I hypothesize a connection between Artmal and Heler, based on other myths describing Artmal and his people traveling on 'boats made of clouds, or clouds shaped like boats.'  It seems to me that Artmal and Heler have some sort of link that would be unknown to the Orlanthi of Dragon Pass and deliberately suppressed in Pamaltela by the Fonritian slavers.

I'll have some comments to add to the thread later but now, for whoever cares to read, I present:

Artmal and Cathora

A Myth of the Late Golden Age


In which Artmal Moonson courts Cathora, daughter of the King of Carnivores.

Stage 1: The Meeting.  Artmal sails the sky with his friend Heler on boats of cloud.  He glimpses Cathora running through the hills of Seshnela, and is moved by Love.  They descend to meet her, and join her in hunting.  After a timeless time in the chase, Artmal asks Cathora to be his.  She will agree, if he can meet her father's requirements, then her own.

Stage 2: The Test of Fralar.  The King of Carnivores scents the growing Love-bond between his daughter and Artmal, and chooses to test it by requiring a great task of Artmal.  He sets Artmal to prove that he can defend a pride from other predators, by stalking the Striped Gyre-Wolf, the Hobbler, which troubles the prey-herds of Seshnela.

Stage 3: The Test of Cathora.  Cathora would know how well Artmal can care for their family should they join.  She requires that he bring to them Basmol, who took himself into seclusion around Mt. Nida.  When Artmal discovers the Lion's lair he finds Basmol wounded by a dwarf-bolt, and too angry to think.  He lulls the Lion with music until he will allow the bolt to be drawn.  They return to Fralar and Cathora together.

Stage 4: The Joining.  On his return Artmal offers gifts to Cathora and her family from things acquired on his journeys.  The Carnivore King and his clan give back oaths of friendship, especially Basmol and his posterity.  Artmal asks Cathora again to be his, and she consents.  They ascend to the sky on his boat of cloud, and fly to meet Artmal's mother, the Moon.


Edited by dumuzid
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One of the core themes of my 'Quest for the Bones of Artmal' campaign is the mythic desolation left by the dismemberment of Artmal in the Storm Age, which was only exacerbated by the early 2nd Age heroquesting of Garangordos, the founding tyrant of Fonrit, and subsequent history.  The Storm and Darkness story of the original Artmali is a tragic spiral, as their gods and protectors are picked off by the Gods War and they reach into new, Chaotic places to replace the lost--until they were decisively overpowered by the past masters of that sort of thing, the Vadeli.  The subsequent fall of the Vadeli Empire(s) of the Darkness freed the Artmali, or Veldang, people of what is now Fonrit, but neither Artmal nor the Blue Moon were restored with the Dawn.  Based on the stories in Revealed Mythologies about Afidisa, the Veldang woman who negotiated their settling in Pamaltela with the household of Pamalt, I hypothesize that there was once a whole pantheon of Blue Moon Immortals not too dissimilar from the Lunar Immortals of the Third Age, memory of which was already mostly lost within Time before it was stamped out fully by the slavers of Fonrit.

Within Time, the Veldang people's ability to access their myths and bring power from them into the Middle World was always limited.  The Veldang people of the Dawn were peaceful fishers and hunter-gatherers, rather like how the early Artmali of Pamaltela seem from their myths.  They rejected the urban past of the Artmali and Vadeli, including whatever lore of their ancestors' gods could be gleaned from those ruins, but the oral traditions that might've otherwise transmitted knowledge of the Blue Moon gods and immortals seem to have been severely disrupted by the Vadeli conquest and the disasters of the late Darkness.  When Garangordos arrived from the south in the early Second Age, already brimful with power from long preparation, there was little the Veldang or their Aldryami neighbors could conceivably do to oppose him.

What Garangordos did was a feat of heroquesting at least equivalent to what the likes of Harmast Barefoot and Arkat achieved in Genertela at the end of the First Age, but accomplished towards comprehensively vile ends.  He structured his magic around the myth of Pamalt's Necklace, the rough Pamaltelan equivalent of the Unity Battle or I Fought, We Won.  In the myth Pamalt gathers together a great band of immortal followers, the metaphorical Necklace, with whose combined power he is able to overcome Vovosibor, the Filth-That-Walks, save Pamaltela from Chaos, and bring about the Dawn.  Garangordos did much the same, gathering followers to fill each place in Pamalt's Necklace into his hero band, the Glorious Ones, and by the combination of their personalities and arts he structured his Necklace to found the Fonritian dystopia.  Legend preserves a moment in that process where Garangordos could have allowed a Veldang woman to join his Necklace in the role of Afidisa, but he refused her.  This interaction of myth and policy put the Veldang into a new category of being within the society Garangordos was building: non-people, not recognized within the Necklace, without the rights of full people and so imminently exploitable.  Mythically, the Veldang become the 'great threat' the Necklace of Garangordos defeats; their defeat and servitude is the foundation upon which Fonritian society is built.  The Fonritian slavers regard rebellion against this order as an upwelling of Chaos, much like how the Dara Happans view insubordination to the Emperor.

Garangordos led his followers to conquer and enslave the Veldang, and part of that slavery meant erasing every link they could find between the Veldang and their gods.  The worship of Blue Moon entities is suppressed among Fonrit's slave population.  When relics of the old Artmali ages are unearthed, they tend to disrupt the enslaving magic that undergirds Fonritian society and lead to sudden, violent slave uprisings.  On this basis, I think it is reasonable to assume that the myth I shared above is probably unknown among modern Fonritian Veldang.  When their owners permit them to marry, I would expect that they must use the ceremonies of Agimori or Umathelan cults, lacking their own.  If the myth above were promulgated in Fonrit it would provide the Veldang a pattern on which to base their own courtship rituals--assuming they had the freedom to do so.

Part of my campaign is that my players are steadily unearthing long-lost Artmali myths through direct experience of the God Time, like good old-fashioned Travel & Journeyers.  Should they get all the way to Fonrit they'll be bringing Artmal and Cathora along with several other lost cultural treasures of the Veldang inheritance.

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My player characters are now heroquesting the myth, we covered ceremonial preparations and most of the first two stages of the myth in campaign today.


In their experience of the myth an enormous iron-headed bolt came winging out of the north in Stage 1, and destroyed Artmal's cloud boat.  Helera had to swoop her cloud ram low to the ground to save him.  While Artmal composed himself Helera shot a winning quip to Cathora that favored Artmal, and helped kindle her interest in him.

Artmal and Heler hunted with Cathora, and were taught by Cathora how to arrange the remains of their kills so that the beasts returned to life and health.  When they had enough meat for the banquet of Fralar they headed for his Cave, and in their journey found remains of animals slain without care taken to ensure they recovered.  At each such Cathora insisted that they halt their progress and repair the creatures as best they could.  Some animals were lacking bones, and some bones were shattered completely, and creatures with incomplete skeletons rose with lames and limps.  The Sun, looking down, saw tracks that showed the scattering of herds, but also footsteps surrounding the hooves, of two-legged folk guiding animals away.

At Fralar's Cave the gods presented their hunt, but the Carnivore King scoffed.  He blamed some of the hurts of his land on two-legged interlopers like them, and tasked Artmal and Heler to prove their good intent, and heal one of those ills: to hunt down the Striped Gyre-wolf, the Hobbler, render it incapable of recovery, and bring him proof of the deed.  Hawks of the Sun saw the work of the Hobbler: animals, not slain, but stripped of pieces of themselves, and left to crawl along in agony.  The Sun's hawks guided the gods to a wooded copse in the saddle between two hills, overgrown and crooked, and the Sun's Justice took shape in a body of Truth to accompany Artmal and Heler in the hunt for the Hobbler.  From afar off the gods heard the Gyre-wolf gnawing on bones.  Gorakiki was wake and moving in those woods, and no friend to the Hobbler; she spread Fear before the gods, and sank it deep into the Hobbler so that the Gyre-wolf peered beyond its den with its many eyes.

Artmal and the Sun's Justice readied javelins, while Helera took a position to gore the beast with her long spear should it break and run.  The first casts of the gods missed, or were dodged by the Gyre-wolf, but when Helera leaped out at it its effort to flee flopped it onto its back.  Then a weakness of the Hobbler was revealed: its backbone was not firm and strong but spongey and soft, and once on its back it struggled to right itself.  The Sun's Justice closed with the beast, and stabbed at it again with Heler, but its lashing limbs beat aside their weapons, and its wicked claws gored the Sun's leg cruelly.  Artmal drew back a second javelin, and his shaft flew perfectly, plunging into the gyrewolf's chest and transfixing its heart, slaying it instantly.  He invoked his mother's blessing to heal the Sun's leg, and the Sun cleft the Gyrewolf's heart from its body, preventing its recovery.  The same cut freed the bones of the creatures the Hobbler had maimed, and a great kettle of hawks descended into the copse to seize the bones and return them to the wounded animals.  Looking on from a hilltop in panther-form, Cathora saw everything, and her love for Artmal grew.


And that's where we left off.  We'll complete the heroquest during next week's session, which are sure to reveal further new twists to the myth.

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