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Three Curious Spirits, or “The Secret of the Light Within”


mfbrandi

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A comment by @scott-martin over on the Trollball thread sent me back to Trollpak, where I found this myth-I-cannot-believe-I-forgot in a sidebar:

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The struggle between Light and Darkness is said to have begun even before the birth of Light when the foetal Aether huddled helplessly in the womb of its mother. Unborn, it lay in [D]arkness, and there the creatures of the dark came to investigate it … For a time they viewed it from a distance and made up their minds about what they thought it was.
  There were three gods of Darkness viewing it. One was called Argan Argar, one was Xiola Umbar, and one was Zorak Zoran.
  “It is Friendship from afar,” said Xiola Umbar.
  “It is just another godling,” said Argan Argar.
  “It is an enemy,” said Zorak Zoran, “and I shall eat it to hide it away from us.” Then he lifted the bundle and uncovered its veil. Zorak Zoran was burned horribly by the intense light and heat and made ugly to the light ever afterwards. Argan Argar, further away, turned his back from the view and had no permanent damage. Xiola Umbar, furthest from the light, blinked rapidly but remembered what she saw.

This marks these darkness spirits as having a special relationship with Fire/Light/Sky and neatly prefigures XU’s friendship with Yelm and AA’s treatment of Lodril as just another godling, as well as explaining why ZZ is the screaming maniac we all know and love (and can best Yelmalio, having already faced the undiluted version).

The three are also liminal figures: Xiola Umbar is a midwife; Argan Argar is of the surface world and the underworld; Zorak Zoran is between life and death — presumably, if death had been invented/discovered at this point, ZZ would have died of his burns, but he goes on as a “zombie”.

Perhaps, it is also supposed to model responses to illumination — or to the stimuli that produce it. ZZ is driven mad by illumination; XU is illuminated but remains sane; AA just shrugs it off. Note that the three have already made up their minds before being exposed to the light; “set and setting” as the acid heads used to nag us. (Or “It is my nature,” said the scorpion.)

We are told that Arkat was illuminated when he was young, and it looks like it happened before the Sun was born.

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I think it is a really important myth.

It shows how Argan Argar could defect Lodril, and how Zorak Zoran could defect Yelmalio, and also shows the limited nature of their victories.

In terms of Illumination, I have always played that Xiola Umbar has a secret school of Illumination that preserves what she saw. Argan Argar probably doesn't, and Zorak Zoran is very anti-Illumination, due to being burned by the Light.

 

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Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

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43 minutes ago, soltakss said:

I have always played that Xiola Umbar has a secret school of Illumination that preserves what she saw. Argan Argar probably doesn't, and Zorak Zoran is very anti-Illumination, due to being burned by the Light.

That sounds right to me. But that is not to say ZZ isn’t illuminated, whether he likes it or not. He does look a lot like Arkat, these days.
 

ZZTop.jpeg

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1 minute ago, mfbrandi said:

He does look a lot like Arkat, these days.

A lot to say in this thread later but just for now I think there's a reason trolls are now considered staunch "chaos" fighters that might or might not intersect with the reason the historical Arkat joined the cult of getting ugly.

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4 hours ago, scott-martin said:

A lot to say in this thread later but just for now I think there's a reason trolls are now considered staunch "chaos" fighters that might or might not intersect with the reason the historical Arkat joined the cult of getting ugly.

The seven ancestors have two renowned chaos fighters, too, with Vaneekara possibly exhibiting the most effective feat.

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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On 9/23/2022 at 2:24 PM, Joerg said:

The seven ancestors have two renowned chaos fighters, too, with Vaneekara possibly exhibiting the most effective feat.

Why deal with your problems when you can just throw them far away?

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ROLAND VOLZ

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17 hours ago, AlHazred said:

Why deal with your problems when you can just throw them far away?

I love the lazy pragmatism of turning a local pain point into somebody else's problem. Out of sight, out of mind . . . and for the darkness peoples, "out of sight" isn't really all that far away. Reviewing how trollball works got me thinking harder about Vaneekara because the game revolves around completing a pass (or punt, either way you have to be able to catch the ball to make much yardage). Throwing and kicking are pretty easy. Catching is a more complex situation. But this is not a trollball thread!

One of the things I love about reading "Three Curious Spirits" in uh light of modern understanding is that we don't necessarily know which ancestral light is being born here. Yes, the story says "Aether," but this is one of the names driven by earthly elemental terminology that feels deprecated today, a placeholder for some entity unique to Glorantha and rooted in the Gloranthan religious experience. And we know now that some people remember a succession of suns, so this story could primarily refer to one of them or have been stitched together from multiple encounters. After all, we know ZZ primarily interacts with light/fire/sky in the form of the Theyalan sun god, whereas AA interacts with a local Lodril and XU is a little more nebulous unless you build out connections to "Umbarist" mysticism and/or Spolitism first. Three curious spirits.

Three encounters with three lights. It reminds me of the revelation of Night And Day where participants interpret a single event in three different ways and three different gods emerge. Maybe this is the troll version of that revelation, what three factions of darkness saw and how they responded. The story has to come from somewhere. It's definitely not a conventional Dara Happan story. Maybe it's what they tell in Guhan or Yolp where these three cults are roughly equally represented and they're relatively close to the intricacies of the syncretic solar pantheon. 

This question of origins is important to me because I am increasingly thinking what we now call the universal "uzko" type is an invention, the end product of centuries of cultural exchange and male migration between originally unique and isolated exile communities, each descended from a different pool of ancestral deities that historically converge into something like a unified KL with persistent local variations. (This is why the KL cult needs to be reprinted again and again.) In this model, various darkness peoples of the diaspora remember their origins in different ways and maintain different magical repertoires for coping with life in a sad bright world. Each has a favorite "curious spirit," in other words, who is forced to coexist with an unpleasant truth and finds a different way to do it. 

Some of these people were close to the uzko type when time begins. Others might have been uzhim or romal or muri or tamali or kitori or digijelm or the demons of Alkoth or the children of the blue moon or any of the other myriad apparently interfertile mutations along the dark/man continuum. Over time, most of the really exotic forms have either died out or been hybridized into the hegemonic uzko system . . . they've been either replaced or magically reshaped to conform. That conformation is a big part of what we call the universal Kyger Litor, the recognition that you and me may come from different shadows but "we are both uz." 

We can imagine a parallel missionary movement of "darkbringers" running from heath to heath "reminding" the local darkness cultures of their shared experience if not shared ancestry. Maybe these were AA people preaching a shadowy IFWW, combing local survival stories to find commonalities. I don't know enough about this era yet and all of this is still only a dumb theory. But I do think the Gbaji Wars catalyzed whatever convergent processes were already going on. A diversity of darkness peoples goes into the Council and come out as uzko bemoaning the curse of kin. Some, too distant or divergent to either attract the missionaries or suffer the curse, remain different. Dark Arkat, friend of the stygian teachings, is also a factor.

Arkat. Born in the shadow between suns, at the moment when some people say an archaic sun died and a more modern one was born. This is why the timing of his illumination relative to the three curious spirits is so interesting. He was clearly illuminated after a sun was born but while illumination can have weird retroactive impacts I doubt his story assumes he was enough of a prodigy to get his mortal third eye opened in infancy, which rules out his experience happening simultaneous with Night And Day. But this gets messy and breaks the compromise in key ways anyway, since one of the core tenets of the compromise is Time. Right now I like the idea that the people who illuminated Arkat were the inheritors of an older sun displaced in the God Project and that was why they filled his head with such vindictiveness. There are many pockets of "old sun" belief scattered around Glorantha. The Kingdom of Ignorance is of course one and you can find traces of it deeply buried in Pamaltelan mythology as well. We do not yet know what manner of sun Vith was.

We do know that Arkat gravitated toward the cult we now call ZZ because they were the best haters. Maybe back then they primarily hated what we now call "chaos." Maybe Arkat came to that cult bearing a larger notion of the enemy and a mutual recognition took place. Either way, ZZ now loathes light as he did in the Curious Spirits story but really hates "chaos." The Nysaloreans, on the other hand, identified what we now call "chaos" with light. Only one of these viewpoints really survived. However, ZZ is not the only chaos fighter the trolls know. They have at least two choices, one being Boztakang, who has receded to the fringes of the pantheon, presumably as ZZ's profile expanded under Arkat patronage. Boztakang is directly related to KL. ZZ is not. It looks like at least two dark god families have been somewhat imperfectly fused, leaving faint echoes of original duplication of entities behind.

(We also see this duplication with the two generations of blessed ancestors, one emerging directly from the entity now identified as Kyger Litor and the other emerging from another maternal ancestor figure, Korasting whose womb is blasted under contradictory circumstances and who is no longer really important except in matters of woe. Was there once a nation of prototrolls that adored KL and another nation that acknowledge Korasting as mistress of mistresses . . . only something happened to the Korasting people that fostered their integration / adoption into KL as a subordinate group? Likewise, were XU and ZZ originally siblings or were they brought together around a larger negotiation with the emergent KL hegemony that displaced Boztakang as primary chaos fighter in favor of ZZ? Who is XU really if not another variation on the KL theme pushed into a subordinate role, always the midwife never the momma? And where the hell are Gore and Gash in the ranks of Sacred Ancestors, while figures peripheral to Dagori Inkarth like Jeset appear instead?)

So what I think is going on in Curious Spirits is that the "darkness" constituency of the council was itself a relatively new and fluid coalition of cultures reflected in the discontinuities that haunt "Troll Legends & Natural History," another of Minaryth Purple's money laundering schemes. When the God Project reconstituted the light element, a new and artificial sense of the sun was born. Call it "aether" or some other theogonic placeholder name. The darkness seat has no syncretic way to negotiate this and so disintegrates into its own constituent principles, with AA, XU and ZZ leading the way. These are the primary ancestors of the darkness peoples who joined together and joined the council. Each in their way failed to address the problem satisfactorily. ZZ, the last to respond, is wounded in the encounter and his wounds make him angry as well as strong.

Korasting is crippled, again either at Night And Day or when the sun enters the womb of darkness. An old sun is murdered. A new sun gestates. Either way, this aspect of troll fertility breaks down and we get wretched enlo now if we didn't before. There may be links between Korasting and ZZ's mother or lover. I don't want to get out too far. XU survives as patron of enlo, other mothers' children. She doesn't coddle them but her maternal drive needs an outlet. AA cult focus wanders vaguely westward, up to Halikiv possibly seeking allies. 

And in the pain of these three incomplete responses to the challenge of Nysalor, an entity called Kyger Litor manifests in the world. Afterward, she is the majority cult of a unified people, the uzko. "Seven" disparate ancestors have united into an eighth. She can't heal the wounds that have already been suffered, but she offers a new covenant and a way for once-isolated shadows to start coming back together. And so it goes.



 

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1 hour ago, scott-martin said:

Out of sight, out of mind . . . and for the darkness peoples, "out of sight" isn't really all that far away.

Yeah, but, no, but … they are long-sighted, so out of sight is supposed to be further away than “out of darksense”. Looking at Trollpak the other day, I wasn’t clear where sight took over from darksense, but distance is a visual thing (if a bit grey and blurry — I bet they don’t see red a kilometer off), not a sonar thing.

Big yawn — it is really just a set-up for an old WF-type dark troll joke: “Out of sight, out of mind . . . and for the darkness peoples, ‘out of mind’ isn't really all that far away.”

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36 minutes ago, mfbrandi said:

Yeah, but, no, but … they are long-sighted, so out of sight is supposed to be further away than “out of darksense”. Looking at Trollpak the other day, I wasn’t clear where sight took over from darksense, but distance is a visual thing (if a bit grey and blurry — I bet they don’t see red a kilometer off), not a sonar thing.

I agree, the text is frustratingly vague how far their vision is really accurate despite the "farsighted" description. Apparently a human can only detect a candle in the dark 2.5 km out (thanks google) so do we want troll vision to be better than that? I don't recall whether they can see the stars, which are farther up but much brighter. If I were making a ruling, I'd say the index of their vision is encoded in the ritual dimensions of the trollball pitch, so at 10 meters the sensory focus needs to flip to favor darksense (and deal with the audio countermeasures getting thrown at you) while beyond 51 meters accuracy one way or the other is somehow impaired and details become irrelevant.

On the other hand, Vaneekara magic is stackable so a sling becomes accurate up to the normal limits of the weapon (400m? which isn't exactly a strong argument for more than two points stacked) or the caster's perception, whichever comes first. A kicked trollkin might go as far as 108m under normal conditions (strongest great troll possible), which would be out of bounds, at which point the game seems to deteriorate into full melee, the giants are swamped, etc. I don't think this counts as victory for the sponsors or they would simply kick the ball out as early as possible.

Edited by scott-martin
if we're enjoying the minutia, we'd might as well read the full spell description
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2 hours ago, scott-martin said:

the story says "Aether," but … that feels deprecated today, a placeholder for some entity … rooted in the Gloranthan religious experience. And we know now that some people remember a succession of suns, so this story could primarily refer to one of them or have been stitched together from multiple encounters. After all, we know ZZ primarily interacts with light/fire/sky in the form of the Theyalan sun god, whereas AA interacts with a local Lodril and XU is a little more nebulous

XU is friend of Yelm. Possibly, the midwife of Yelm; possibly, more than once.

Look at it this way: Light/Fire/Sky is born from Darkness. (I am going to keep “Aether” just to avoid some typing of slashes.)

One of the religious things Glorantha takes from Earth is devolution/successive generations of divine powers. On Earth, this is presumably a way to explain away the cults that your culture wiped out or absorbed: “Oh, them, they were the titans/the parents of my supergod; the story goes like this …” In Glorantha, we are supposed to literalize more stuff, but maybe it doesn’t make a great deal of difference to the myth. Given the devolutionary theme and the disintegration of Yelm, I think we can say that Aether contains all the potentialities of the element, including Rashoran/Nysalor/illumination in its most concentrated and potent form. In the devolution/disintegration of darkness, our trio of spirits is very close to the Ur-Darkness: theirs is the Ur-encounter with illumination (unless Aether had already illuminated itself in the womb).

But don’t ask which manifestation of Aether each bumped into: Darkness is the womb of Aether; each looked inside themself. The third eye is the light inside burning its way out. If you like, Zorak Zoran is the mother of Fire (and the rest): he didn’t steal fire powers, they were in him from the beginning: Aether is his firstborn. Of course, for PR reasons, neither trolls nor Sky cultists want to put it that way: “He stole fire from the big YO!” “Yeah … he stole it, that’s right. He wasn’t pregnant with it or nothin’ – nosirree, Bob!” AA the affectless father/birth partner protected by his shallowness — he is not called “the god of surface darkness” for nothing: he is two-dimensional. If ZZ is John Hurt, then maybe AA is Ian Holm.

The secret of the light within is that not only was Light within Darkness, but it still is — at least within XU and ZZ. Trollkin have better eyesight than Uzko: maybe that is one of the reasons they like XU and her gentle light. Maybe the reason XU feels responsible for ZZ is that she didn’t do such a good job midwifing the birth of Aether.

Argan Argar has no interior, but he managed to be reborn into the light — via Xentha — rather than carrying it within him, and he has done a pretty good job of adapting to the Hurtplace. In his way, he is as impressive as XU and ZZ, but possibly not as interesting, except geometrically.

Right, I had better read the rest of your post, now.

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22 minutes ago, scott-martin said:

I agree, the text is frustratingly vague how far their vision is really accurate despite the "farsighted" description.

Yeah, they can darksense a mountain(!) over kilometer away, but not a person (unless that person is Gonn Orta). Yes … but what can they see at that distance if the light isn’t too bright or too dim? I dunno. For the mistress race, nothing, I suppose. For trollkin? Darksense was the fun thing, so that got the wordage and the thought. I bet the Mostali have sonic countermeasures to “blind” Uz darksense.

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3 hours ago, scott-martin said:

Maybe this is the troll version of that revelation, what three factions of darkness saw and how they responded. The story has to come from somewhere. It's definitely not a conventional Dara Happan story.

Well, it is explicitly a Darkness myth but it is a secret, and I would be careful which trolls I told it to, unless I wanted to be eaten or beaten. I could imagine devotees of Xiola Umbar Yelmfriend telling it to Solar and Lunar mystery cultists of a shined-upon bent. In Uz country or Dara Happa, it is definitely NSFW. There are a lot of religious bigots in Glorantha more widely, and this could upset very many of them, I reckon.

(I am now imagining an “army” of illuminated trollkin with their password of Jai Bheem and their very own Ambedkar. Could they make common cause with White Moonies and a splinter group of Chalana Arroy?)

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3 hours ago, scott-martin said:

Some of these people were close to the uzko type when time begins. Others might have been

Call me a dirty stinking cladist, but I have no problem with a common ancestor for trolls. That is not to say that there was an ur-Kyger Litor cult — the Uz may have invented ancestor worship independently many times and then syncretized to get the modern KL cult/religion. Religion is definitely the Johnny-come-lately diabetes-inducing icing on the cultural cake, let’s get flint knapping and lead chewing sorted first.

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3 hours ago, scott-martin said:

We can imagine a parallel missionary movement of "darkbringers" running from heath to heath "reminding" the local darkness cultures of their shared experience if not shared ancestry. Maybe these were AA people preaching a shadowy IFWW

I Fought We Won is in Trollpak (Book 1, p. 8), so I think we are absolutely supposed to think that it is told in Uzland:

Quote

The world is renewed. Each person so promises himself, knowing that which was once can no longer be so, and that each of us should be grateful for it. There is a meeting between what Was and what Might Be in the now of Time. The world of Was is called Godtime. The what Might Be is the future. The Godtime houses the immortal deities who sit and wait in a timeless stasis. The future belongs to mortals, in the realm where change and death and hope all break the stasis of myth.

Sometimes, the Great Compromise is viewed as a gentleman’s agreement between the gods — think of the Olympians saying, “I won’t interfere in the Trojan war if you don’t” — doubtless all with their fingers crossed. But there has always been this other strand of Gloranthan myth where the gods really are beyond reach: thrown into the black hole and beyond the event horizon. According to this strand, Gloranthan religion is much like Earth religion: the gods don’t answer, because they cannot — although in both worlds there are still religious language games of petitioning the gods with prayer, even if no one really understands them. (That magic works in Glorantha proves nothing: see sorcery and mysticism.) That’s We Won — and it can be psychologised: I leave my disordered state/attachment to the impossible behind me and I accept the mundane world, the only world, for what it is. Damn, these are definitely some ’70s West Coast trolls! They’ll be doing cold yoga, next.

I Fought is clearly facing the chaos within oneself — or illumination by another name? — and not in a literal sense going beyond the event horizon and returning. So there is room for religious sophistication in Glorantha — “it is a category mistake, darling” — and the Westerners’ unreachable Invisible God and Mostali pantheism are responses to the same religious reality as beyond-the-event-horizon polytheism: you will not trip over your god sleeping off a bottle of meths — Orlanth won’t touch any other liquor; Vinga told me so — in the shopping mall.

In light of this [sorry], perhaps the light within is also a cautionary tale: XU is the chilled, sophisticated believer; AA shrugs off theology for the joys of the secular life; ZZ is the religious maniac who is too crazed or too literal-minded to stop beating up on the inhabitants of the mundane world — he didn’t read his Nietzsche, but he knows the Lord’s Prayer backwards.

Of course, you could play the gods’ “stasis” as that is not dead which can eternal lie, but I think our lords and masters have another game for that.

Or you could have things like the building/hatching of Nysalor and the apotheosis of the Red Goddess as putting cracks in the traditional faith of IFWWers: “THIS isn’t supposed to be able to happen.” Of course, I read that the Mesopotamians distinguished between (proper) gods and deified kings …

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4 hours ago, scott-martin said:

Arkat. Born in the shadow between suns, at the moment when some people say an archaic sun died and a more modern one was born. This is why the timing of his illumination relative to the three curious spirits is so interesting. He was clearly illuminated after a sun was born but while illumination can have weird retroactive impacts I doubt his story assumes he was enough of a prodigy to get his mortal third eye opened in infancy

If we have Arkat as a creature of myth, not history, I would just say that he is Zorak Zoran and the earliest manifestation of Nysalor burned its way out of him.

If we go the experimental heroquesting as Heinleinian/Gerroldian time travel, we can have Arkat as the well-and-truly bootstrapped man who folded himself: there will be no telling which came first the A or the ZZ — our boy will be all through everything. Never mind Arkati henotheism, the deep stuff is Arkati pantheism: I am Arkat and so is my wife, but we are all Uz. (Or we make that the myth and drop the metaphysics.)

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4 hours ago, scott-martin said:

The Nysaloreans, on the other hand, identified what we now call "chaos" with light.

But this isn’t mad: it is that thing inside you which you can benefit from, or you can fight it and it can burn you. IFWW locates chaos within, too. (If trolls don’t make a big distinction between chaos and light — they are agin them — for Yelmies, the Bad Thing is darkness. I thought GRoY was going to be “chaos”-free, but there was a single occurrence, disappointingly.)

In Earth traditions (I read somewhere), there are claims about the dangers of meditative practice: you get better at it, and then you reach the bad trip stage of being beset by demons; some people get past this and closer to enlightenment, but some get badly burned.

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4 hours ago, Joerg said:

The Light Within means Death Within to trolls.

Sure, but as with Yomat, Death is friend to men — even dark men. Illumination is stepping off the hamster wheel of rebirth/desire and facing finitude as a thing to be embraced. Unlike Chalana Arroy, Xiola Umbar is not hung up about death.

(And maybe there is a trollish King of Sartar in which the Fourth Age survivors are all Uz. After all, we are all Uz — or possibly Enlo. Haven’t seen any trolls lately? Haven’t looked in the mirror.)

Edited by mfbrandi
added note on XU
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4 hours ago, Joerg said:

In a way, the Three Curious Spirits is a reflection of the Sword Story.

Hmm … In that a gift enters the world, but it is a gift that can be frightening and can be abused? Yes, but Three Curious Spirits is cosmogonically earlier (Light precedes Death) and is also about what one brings to the gift and the consequences of one’s approach — it is a cautionary tale: forewarned is forearmed. (Airhead Orlanth thought it meant forewarned is four-armed. He is a natural blonde, he just hennas his hair.)

Is there a version of the Sword Story (discovery of Death, retold here (@soltakss), rather desultorily here (Robin Laws), and doubtless elsewhere ad nauseam) that brings out this tripleness of approach? Arguably, Orlanth is two-dimensional and unenlightened (AA), Eurmal is deep (XU), and Humakt is damaged/a warning to us all (ZZ). If not, perhaps you should write it, @Joerg.

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14 minutes ago, mfbrandi said:

Is there a version of the Sword Story (discovery of Death, retold here (@soltakss), rather desultorily here (Robin Laws), and doubtless elsewhere ad nauseam) that brings out this tripleness of approach? Arguably, Orlanth is two-dimensional and unenlightened (AA), Eurmal is deep (XU), and Humakt is damaged/a warning to us all (ZZ). If not, perhaps you should write it, @Joerg.

Depending on how you want to tell the Sword Story, Eurmal was alone and received the Sword, or brought the sword along and got it blessed with Death, or went down with Humakt Stormson, or the two of them and Nontraya conspired to get it out.

Nontraya Vivamort watched the progress of Death from afar before leading the accumulating Dead back to the World of the Living, Eurmal had his laugh, Humakt embraced the new power, and jealously guarded it after he got it back (never mind all those copies).

There is the Fronelan "Friend of Men" aspect for either Eurmal or his son Yomat. Eurmal is the Firebringer - the bringer of Death.

Humakt severs his storm, which remains as/reunites with Orlanth. Maybe it was Orlanth all the way?

 

There is of course a cosmic justice seeing Yelm Dismembered after Umath suffered the same fate at the hands of his opponent's son.

And maybe applying the Sword to Yelm only re-united the two powers?

 

From the troll perspective, the Three Curious Spirits did not break the containment of Death, but Eurmal carrying it out of Hell and allowing a part of dismembered Yelm to return did break the containment, and thus Wonderhome.

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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I would say the modern Zorak Zoran cult is Arkat's creation, and it will be impossible now to recreate how it was earlier, though I am sure it existed as a kind of opposite of Xiola Umbar. I would go so far as having Arkat choose Zorak Zoran based on this tale, that he learnt in Hell. I would expect that it is a classic arkati tale, and fairly popular where their influence is strong. I agree it is interesting that he chose the burnt out Light enemy for his new stage in anti Nysalor metamorphosis.

I also expect that cult of Kyger Litor adopts almost anyone, but the downside, as Scott says, is they all end up like Uzko. So the reason they are so similar in the Third Age is the dominion of KL's cult, as part of the cult's quest to recreate the Uzuz.

In areas where it is not so dominant (Blue Moon plateau, Kitori, Uztagors) alternate forms can persist.

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30 minutes ago, JRE said:

I would expect that it is a classic arkati tale

Yes, I would think so. Running with @Joerg’s joining of the myths of the discoveries of Fire/Light and Death, and my proposal that Zorak Zoran is the mother of Aether and a very old god — one of the first to emerge from the primal Darkness/Void, let’s see where we get …

The old write-up of Eurmal in Storm Tribe (pp. 59–74, including Harmast’s Lightbringer quest which brings back Arkat) — although it is distorted by being from the perspective of know-nothing Orlanthi — is suggestive.

In this version, Eurmal is the mother of Yomat (per Loki and doubtless other tricksters): “Eurmal seduced Sinjota at the Lower Gates, and later gave birth to the god Yomat.” If we buy @scott-martin’s Yomat=Humakt and if Humakt=Death (just as Mostal really is the World Machine, not its maker or machine minder), then Eurmal is the mother of Death — it is in this sense that Eurmal brought Death out of Darkness. So contra my previous suggestion, that would make Eurmal the Zorak Zoran figure in the myth (although doubt is certainly appropriate at this stage). That is OK: they are both crazy and they are both knowing, and it is what they know that drove them mad; they both have the Disorder rune; the Illusion is of course three eyes, as written across ZZ’s face; they are both hugely powerful and not to be trusted; they are both killers. Also, as we know, Gbaji=Arkat=Zorak Zoran. In Storm Tribe (p. 62), we read:

Quote

Since Time began … Twice Eurmal himself took human form and came among the people. The first time he came, people called him Gbaji, the Deceiver.

So it begins to look like Eurmal=Arkat=Zorak Zoran. We know Eurmal was sponsored by the Godlearners, too (see that other thread), and in Storm Tribe’s account of that, we learn that Eurmal is self-fertile (p. 62: “He even created a ruling family by mating with himself”). Add Argrath and the Devil and it begins to look like Eurmal is there at all the Age-ending thinning events that I so like to bang on about.

So Arkat Humaktsson is beginning to look like Arkat Humaktsmother, but if Arkat is the man who folded himself per my notional Arkati pantheists, that is just the sort of loopy nonsense we should expect to see. (But you know, parent, orI am become death, shatterer of worlds”?)

Should any doubts linger, let us take a look at some of Eurmal’s epithets (Storm Tribe, p. 70):

  • Deadeye the Death-Finder
    “opened Orlanth’s shadow-eye” — i.e. offered illumination,
    which Orlanth rejects, as he does not become a “Flesh Man” (admit his own mortality)
     
  • Downboy the Lightbringer
    Prometheus, friend of mortals (“men”) and possibly their creator (Arkat Arkatsmother)
     
  • Hisfault the Scapegoat
    Gbaji/the Devil: representing the externalisation of the chaos within by non-illuminates
     
  • Killer Boy the Destroyer
    Arkat and Shiva, the Supreme Lord who creates, protects and transforms the universe
    — and I always fancied Arkat had a bit of Ashoka in him

The names are lame — Orlanthi, eh? just look at their poetry! — but the rôles are about right.

But if Zorak Zoran is revealed to be one of the truly great gods and he is only the shadow of Xiola Umbar, his “sister”, where does that leave her? I know Aranea is still generations off, but we can posit the spider as a pre-existing Darkness form, as Arachne Solara is surely no daughter of Aranea. Arachne Solara, the sun spider. Xiola Umbar, Yelmfriend and keeper of the secret of the light within. It is hard to resist, really — a spider would make a great midwife: plenty of arms, and all that silk for sutures and swaddling. And if the baby cannot live? Suck the swaddled bundle dry and recycle — the Uz would approve.

So is Arachne Solara really the mother of Time, or is she the midwife of Time, Time being born from the body of a screaming Kajabor/Wakboth/Eurmal? It is not for mortals to know, perhaps, but in the dark the illuminati enlo whisper to each other that Zorak Zoran was Xiola Umbar’s shadow even before there was Light to cast it, so not even a trickster’s shears could separate those “two” — and they chuckle. (And if you cannot find Lunar themes in that tale of cosmic balance …)

Coda (Storm Tribe, p. 60):

Quote

At the Great Compromise, Eurmal held his strand of Arachne Solara’s web. Although he let go of his end when the Devil appeared, he still became part of the reconstructed world.

 

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What about Argan Argar? If you like trinities, Argrath and Argan Argar can be Arkat in his carnival aspect as Arkat the Stooge/Arkat the Shill — along with Eurmal the Geek and Arachne Solara the Puppeteer — who at least looks like he has no idea what is going on when Eurmal lets go the net, climbs on it and goes into labour.

Edited by mfbrandi
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I would go so far as saying that it was Arkat who identified the cruel enemy god in the Dara Happan Hill of Gold myth as Zorak Zoran, and then quested to make it so, in order to weaken the Emperors and specially the Daysenerus spearmen cult (antecessor of later days Yelmalio) against himself and his Zorak Zorani berserkers. That would be classic Arkat, and it fits. He also placed him in the God's Wall, and suddenly the troll god of boyish rebellion became a powerful fighting god, conqueror of fire and a staunch foe of Chaos, needed both for the fight in Dorastor but also so the Uroxi that came with him from Dragon Pass would be willing to fight along his new army.

I suppose XU keeps her secrets, and she still loves her new grown up brother as she loved the burnt out runt. Her brother still needs her, and he can help her better now. But at times ZZ still cries for his sister and she is the only one that can hold his fear away.

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On 9/25/2022 at 9:37 PM, mfbrandi said:

I am now imagining an “army” of illuminated trollkin with their password of Jai Bheem and their very own Ambedkar. Could they make common cause with White Moonies and a splinter group of Chalana Arroy?

I am sure that there are illuminated Trollkin who trace their ability to Gbaji's ripping of Korasting's Womb.

It probably doesn't help them much, but they recognise that Light and Dark, Law and Chaos are just different ways of hurting them.

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Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

www.soltakss.com/index.html

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