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A bit of updated Imther

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Prompted by Hervé Carteau's note in the G+ forum,

Quote

Harald, you should get the Imther material lined up for rebirth too: cheese, cranky mostali who speak shakespearian english, orlantio the trickster, the colonies on the elf sea - what's not to like?

I posted the following fragment in G+ from my reworked Imther reflecting GtG and other input from Jeff and others over the years.  I figure it might be more easily accessed here.  As it is the area of Imther closest to Balazar, it may be of interest to those running Griffin Mountain-derived campaigns, particularly around Elkoi and the Elf Sea. :)  Amber Fort is situated at the mouth of the Gap River (known to Balazarings as the West River - clearly a complete misnomer from the Imtherian and Lunar standpoint).  Most of the clans in the eastern wilds of Imther are descendants of Orlanthi who refused to accept the Lunar Way and followed ancient traditions of withdrawing into the wilds to wait for the Day When the Winds Return.

To:  Iridascius, Aide to Quinscion, His Most Excellent General of Procurement and Disbursement, Mirin’s Cross
Fr: Galacrustus, Geographer, Sage of Irripi Ontor, Imperial Survey Office, Hilltown
Dated: Crescent-Come, Stasis, Dark, 7/46

 
The bad weather continues to make the roads, aside from Hwarin’s Singing Trail, all but impassable; and merchants venturing along the latter report attacks by particularly hostile spirits of darkness.  With such news from the roads, it was difficult to even find a carrier for this report and impossible to find any caravan venturing out!  So I remain here at Hwarin’s temple where her most reverend priestess, Rasefala, has seen fit to open the temple archives to me.  I had not realized the Jannisor collection was so extensive!  Did you realize that despite so many stories of this great hero, that it’s impossible to discern amongst which tribe or clan he was actually born?
With this note you will find my survey of the eastern wilds, or as much as I could actually obtain given the hostility shown to all strangers!  Thankfully, the merchant Appchus, a garrulous old trader who claimed Jillaro as his place of birth and bemoaned the current state of Imther, accompanied me for much of the journey.  He is certainly well-versed and knows all the greetings of Alakarma, Khelmal, and Orlanth, and many of the knots of Gordaval; necessary he claimed if we wished to keep the clansmen peaceable.  And, yes, the region is still under the stormy grip of Orlanth, though the clans seem to spend all their time squabbling with each other – as I heard from many of them: “no one can make me do anything!”
 
Yours, Galacrustus.


Eastern Wilds Clans
Size: possibly 10,000
Clans: 13
Holy Sites: Old Oak, Skald’s Rock, Selkow’s First Tor, Wind Ridge Tor
Beyond the Daltach lands stretches vast forest clear to the Elf Sea.  It is a harsh, rugged, and broken land with wild untamed rivers, fields of tumbled stones said to be the broken limbs of ancient giants, and sharp rocky ridgelines.  The clans here favor Orlanth, the Lady of the Wild, and their unruly children and kin.  Once a great hero named Selkow formed a tribe here, and one clan still claims his name and his hills for their own, but the tribe is long gone and the current clans have formed from the dregs and refugees of other lands who fled here over the last wanes.  They live by the barbarous Orlanthi mottoes:  “No one can make me do anything” and “Violence is always an option”; and their blood feuds carry on from generation to generation.


Amber Fort
"The Amber Clan", "The New Clan", "The Sea Clan",
Chief:  Bulverius Ambereye
The Etyries merchant Bulverius sought for many years to gain a great trade venture.  After many ill-conceived schemes he finally convinced the Lunar Provincial Administration to grant him land upon the Elf Sea at the mouth of the Gap River at the close of the Civil War in Imther.  He brought with him Lunar army veterans looking for plots of land, disgruntled refugees from the Civil War lurking in both Imther and Vanch, and an assortment of craftsmen, workers, and slaves culled from Saird.  A great cache of amber has brought quick success to this wilderness outpost, as well as the envy and dislike of nearby Imtherian clans and Votanki tribesmen.  The inhabitants have embarked upon a ritual to establish a wyter and form a new clan.

Haylfang
"The Dawn Clan", "The Bearwalker Clan"
Chief:  Old Vangorl Velorlanthsson
Haylfang Vangonsson brought the Secret of the Bear, the Heart of Zardur, and the Horn of Last Mead to the Three Rivers land.  Haylfang sought Velhara and gave her the Five Great Trophies to claim the place of his clan in the rugged wilds.  His son, Umbarth, proved he was of the Bear when he slew the Moon Sakkar and took the great fangs for his own and placed them in the Great Hall.  His grandson, Grorth, proved he was of the Bear when he ripped apart the Tentacled Salmon that could swim on land and run in the water, and reclaimed the Gap Ferry.  His great-grandson, Torsoth the Grim, gained the Coonskin Cap and the Tooth of Wisdom and courted Orsahla of the Wild.  With her aid, the clan fought the demon steeds and the Fire hordes who sought to burn down the wild lands and slay all the beasts, whether divine or spirit or essence.  The great Bearwalkers are still feared by all the clans of the wild.

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Some time ago, Hervé had privately asked me about any bits about Imther that weren't published in my short-lived New Lolon Gospel fanzine.  This is one such bit that was originally planned for the never finished New Lolon Gospel 3, updated to align with the Guide and new thoughts and revelations about Imther.

 

Aegisthus Sevenfinger - military commander of Amber Fort (mouth of the Gap River by the Elf Sea)

Aegisthus is an Imtherian native who joined the Lunar Provincial Corps and is the first person new arrivals generally meet and he has put forth an effort to make all feel welcome and to provide work for all newcomers.  He is practical and efficient, but seems to have a natural dislike towards merchants, particularly Bulverius Ambereye.

Traits:  Honest, Just, Valorous, Suspicious (of merchants).

Passions:  Loyalty (Lunar Empire), Honor.

Interests: Military Engineering, Weapons.

 

The Words of Aegisthus Sevenfinger to new arrivals at Amber Fort, 1617 ST.

"Greetings!  And welcome to Amber Fort, which, though far beyond the Glowline, still bathes in the light of the Red Moon and receives her blessings.  I am Aegisthus Sevenfinger commander of Amber Fort until further notice per orders of Sir Petrusius, commander of Soldier’s Ferry and the Elf Sea March.  As you are all new to Amber Fort, you undoubtedly have many questions about life here. I hope to answer these as best as I can, though for certain matters other individuals can instruct you better.

Q: Where are we?

A: Amber Fort is located a mile up the Gap River from the mouth where it empties into the Elf Sea, or Amber Sea.  The primitive Balazarings, who you may encounter, call it the West River, rather a poor choice of names since it is the easternmost river of Imther.  You’ll hear of a second site, Amber or Yellow Mouth, located at the mouth of the river itself.  We are a good two days from the nearest fort at Soldier's Ferry if it hasn’t rained, and far beyond the aid of the Lunar Army or any other soldiers.  Don’t count on any merchant to get you out of the storm’s path.  We aim to be self-sufficient before the start of the next Darkseason, and all men and women will pull their weight or find themselves working as a dog for the local clans.

Q: What’s at each site?

A: The primary fortification is here at Amber Fort around Bare Hill.  We have a solid defensive perimeter consisting of:  outer earthworks, a ditch, and an inner wooden palisade.  Beside the river is a boat work and launch site.  Within the palisade is a stone storage building, a long house for the current patrol that Sir Petrusius sent down here, a long house for new arrivals like you, and a latrine.  Others have built their own stead halls.  Construction of a watch tower has commenced.  My word is that we must continue to develop our defenses and structures if we are to survive.

The site at Amber Mouth consists of the so-called “Trader's Quarters”, two long houses, and a statue to the Conquering Daughter.  The merchant Bulverius dreams of a grand temple to Etyries, but they can’t even build a defensive perimeter because they’re in a swamp.  My word is that if you encounter foes, you must retreat back to the fort.

Q: Who lives at Amber Fort?

A: Amber Fort now houses two squads of the Native Holay Corps, rotated through on a seasonal basis.  After the fort completes its first season, it is hoped that resident warriors will handle all defensive matters.  In addition, veterans of the Lunar army have come here to settle, as well as Imtherian refugees—former clansmen seeking a new home.  The merchant at Amber Mouth is Bulverius Ambereye. There is also a godtalker of the Conquering Daughter there.  My word is until matters are settled further, that I or my designate keeps peace and justice at the fort, and that Bulverius does likewise at Amber Mouth.

Q: Who lives nearby?

A: The Bearwalkers of the Haylfang clan are closest, and they are a mean and surly bunch.  If you think spouting about the word of the King of Imther or Queen of Holay will get you somewhere with them, guess again.  Best to stay on Alakarma’s Path if you should travel from Soldier’s Ferry to Cold Water Crossing – they’ll keep the rights of hospitality there, but if you step off the trail, they’ll hunt you down as like as not.  And once you’re past them, you’re in the hunting ground of the Zith clan.  Their new champion is devoted to Death itself – not one to mess around with.  If you curse the Forfang, though, they may look favorably on you and let you pass.  Once you get to the Heltver lands you’ll find friendlier folk who’ll offer water, blanket, and cheese to you.  My word is that you keep to your own business and not going stirring up the storm.

There are at least two clans of the native Balazarings who have visited the fort--those of the Summer Wind and those of the Greybelly Hare.  The first has been generally friendly, while the latter has been more hostile. It has been rumored that a Turtle clan is also travelling here.  Our proximity to a couple of their clan sites expose us far more to these spirit folk and their shamans than would be preferred.  My word is that caution and suspicion should prevail in all dealings with these folk.

Q: What dangers lurk upon the waters?

A: We have encountered large water dragons along the shore of the Amber Sea.  We have seen large worms far to sea.  We have heard rumor of frog people who carry barbed spears.  My word is that caution must be taken whenever travelling by boat.

Q: What is there to do here?

A: There is much work to be done.  New long houses and hearths must be created.  Food must be gathered from the land and the river to keep us fed. Land must be cleared and crops planted so that we may survive the dark seasons.  Defensive works must be established.  Vigils must be kept against the savage natives, their spirit-wielding shamans, and hostile demigods. Trade goods must be gained and prepared for their journey west.  My word is that there is plenty of work for all.

Q: What gods protect this fort?

A: The Conquering Daughter has blessed this fort and has established a temple at the river mouth.  The Scimitar of Yanafal Tarnils has bound this fort with oaths to protect it from our foes.  The Imtherian deities Khelmal and Nealda seek the spirits of the land to aid and nurture us.  My word is that the Red Goddess watches all our works and sends us comfort and protectors.

Q: What gods oppose this fort?

A: Valindum, demon lord of winter, has assailed us once already.  We expect his return at the end of the year.  The River Goddess, whom the natives call Espalende, has washed away and smashed three boats this Seaseason.  She is said to be a fickle demigod.  The Amber Sea, which some name Arkos or Azar, breeds the hostile sea serpents that can reach the Monsterstop.  He often allies with the storm lords.  We watch for signs of his work.  My word is that we must be vigilant and strengthen our gods so that our foes are weakened.

Q: Who can we see about other matters?

A: For matters of law or work, you may see me.  For matters of trade, you may see Bulverius.  For matters of the spirit, you may seek out the  priestess of the Conquering Daughter.  My word is that answers to all questions can be found.

I await your further questions."

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Might as well make this a triad!  This is a slightly updated piece that originally appeared in NLG #1 and is part of the report of Galacrustus on the eastern wilds of Imther.

Gordaval [GOR-dah-val] - Lord of the Chase, the Hunter, son of Orlanth and Norian.

Lord of hounds   runs prey down

Lord of knots   ties them taut

Lord of game   gains great fame

Lord of beasts   brings our feast

Gordaval is an acknowledged figure in every Imtherian clan, but his stories differ in each.  The most common tales say that Gordaval (also called Gordio) was a child god saved from the darkness by Orlanth or Khelmal (though certain stories claim it was Arahar, and some say he was one of the sons of Orlanth).  Subsequently, Norian, the Lady of the Wild, taught Gordaval how to hunt and trap and live by his wiles during the Darkness. Gordaval ensures that all men and animals can find and catch food.  He also ensures that the spirits of slain animals are released so that they may travel along the Knotted Trail to the Underworld.  Gordaval is sometimes called the guardian of youth.  He is usually depicted as a young man in hunting garb with a bow, a javelin, and a trap.

 

The Knots of Gordaval

The Master Hunters of Gordaval know the secrets of powerful, magical knots.  The better known knots include:

  • The Blood Nip:  this knot automatically stops the bleeding from any wound it is placed around.
  • The Flail Knot:  this knot is placed upon a short piece of rope twined around three other ropes and transforms the joined ropes into a magic flail which can strip away magical armor.
  • The Spirit Cord:  a knot made of wiregrass, milkweed, and the silk of the Four-eyed Moth.  When properly released, it can bind any spirit, great or small, including the fiery Oakfed spirit and the swirling Kolating spirit.
  • The Stasis Hitch:  this knot is placed around a rock or tree.  It will not slide or release from that rock or tree except by a voice command known only to the knot maker.
  • The Way Knot:  another knot that is placed upon trees and other markers.  When certain words are continuously chanted, the knots glow faintly and guide pathfinders towards the next Way Knot.

 

Edited by jajagappa
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Over on G+ thread, there was a little hint of an old map of Imther.  I'm not including that here since it's out-of-date and non-canonical, but have included a couple maps showing the rough arrangement of the Laramite tribe in the south of Imther and the eastern wilds stretching to Balazar (where much of my old campaign occurred).  Overlays done on top of relevant section of the Argan Argar Atlas. 

Imther-EasternWilds.JPG

Imther-LaramiteTribe.JPG

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A bit of Imtherian history:

The Founding of the Laramite Tribe

Sing silver-shielded Hwarin of horse-loving Laram

Sing of the hearts of heroes: bold hearts, brave hearts, broken hearts.

Sing of the Bridle of Beren, sing of red-maned Redalyde

Sing of clawed curses bought by the blackheart for base coin

Sing of the bone road, grey grasper and her resting rose bud

Sing of blood’s bounty: bright heads and broad striders.

 

Laram and his friend Erthek were born in 1118 ST in the hidden shelter of the Whispers where the old boar, Stormtusk, hunted for hidden heartroot.  They were but children when the news of the Dragonkill was brought back to the Hundred Widows.

In 1133 ST, they followed the Pilgrim's Way to Giant Top, avoiding the Stinking Giants, bargaining with Raven and gaining the Old Knot, and hunting down the Hundred Black Mice of Aga Raan.  At Giant Top, they flew to the top past the Stinging Wasps, met the Lost Ancestors, and slew the Hidden Broo who awoke during the rites.  Laram returned with the Trident of Mastery upon his brow, while Erthek held the Two-Fold Magics.

Erthek was first to reveal his new powers when he mastered the Five Old Winds, and freed Orlanth from the Dragonknot.  Laram found his way into the Nest of Debris in Vanch where he recovered the Golden Bridle of Beren.  With the bridle and the Old Knot, he tamed the Far-running Stallion and began his campaign against Withan Longwhisker.  Laram found the mouse hole and entered Underhill where he bargained for the Iron Box.  He found Daga then and bound the skeletal demon within the Iron Box, tied tight with the Old Knot, and cast the box into the depths of Lake Invaress.  Erthek called Heler back to refresh and renew the dried land.

Laram retreated to the mountains to seek counsel from Orlanth.  When he returned two years later, he gathered the old clan and the young clan, the clan of Erthek and the clan of Malus, the earth clan and the wind clan.  United, they formed a ring and fashioned a new tribe and Laram was chosen King. With the backing of his tribe, Laram wooed and won Redalyde Redhair. 

Angry Withan cursed them with the Three Foul Curses.  Kibrogar took the first curse to himself and fell to the Wasting.  Redalyde fell into the Deep Sleep of the second curse, but Laram and Erthek were born in the Whispers and the Whispers of the Night were no terror for them.  They found the Old Deep Path and took the Hope of Khelmal and journeyed deep into the Dreaming Palace.  Laram awoke his Queen and they returned to breathe life again into the tribe and land.  The Five Old Winds were freed and they hunted down Withan Longwhiskers and slew his champions before Sargreth Kibrogarsson gained vengeance for his father's death.

For his efforts, Redalyde offered Laram the Bounty of the Land - he could have accepted the Sovereignty of Saird or the Blessing of Sons, but chose only the Earthfirm Sandals that would protect his tribe after he was gone as long as someone of his line still wore them.  [And to this day, the Laramite tribe still stands firm though no one knows who wears the Sandals.]

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Completing another triad:

To: Galacrustus, Geographer, Sage of Irripi Ontor, Imperial Survey Office, Mirin's Cross

Fr:  Iridascius, Aide to Quinscion, His Most Excellent General of Procurement and Disbursement, Mirin’s Cross

Dated: Crescent-Come, Harmony, Fire, 7/46

In light of the recent complaints by a merchant named Bulverius, who styles himself "Ambereye", regarding clans of storm worshippers hostile to his association's venture at a site called Amber Fort beside the Elf Sea east of Imther, my most esteemed lord has determined that a current and correct assessment of the clan populations of Imther is in order, as well as a report on the presence of storm worshippers through these clans.

I have reviewed the filed report by Ludoxus of Jillaro entitled "A Catalogue of Imtherian Places", compiled in 7/39 per order of General Yugla-oor during the late and lamentable civil war.  It is my firm belief that said Ludoxus not only did not visit the sites noted in his report, but in all likelihood never ventured farther than Hilltown, and I suspect spent his entire time, and the general's coin, in one inn or another there.  His estimates of the populations of villages are wildly exaggerated as if they are in fact cities, and his estimate of Hortugarth would make it a rival of Filichet!  Further, he shows a complete ignorance of the tribes and clans of Imther, totally oblivious to the presence of the Laramite, Wilktar, and Afothae kings who were busy fighting each other under his own nose!  This needs immediate correction so that the tax collectors can attend to their tasks and ensure appropriate delivery of tribute.

Please complete your assessment before the snows close the mountains to travel!  And please do not consider this the time to assess the quality and quantity of marble or other stone, or the accuracy of the maps in the Survey Office, or engage in debates with the lawspeakers and wild sages of the clans.  Quinscion would be most displeased to hear of any delays, and you know where the dung would stick! 

Yours, Iridascius

 

I should note that receipt of sufficient wheels of Mountain Marble or well-aged Vakthan's Blue might please our most esteemed lord and reduce his ill humor, particularly if accompanied by some barrels of fire wine.  And you are well acquainted, of course, with my own tastes.  

 

 

To:  Iridascius, Aide to Quinscion, His Most Excellent General of Procurement and Disbursement, Mirin’s Cross

Fr: Galacrustus, Geographer, Sage of Irripi Ontor, Imperial Survey Office, Hilltown

Dated: Dying, Stasis, Dark, 7/46

Thank Hwarin for the beneficence of her temple!  For surely without it, and the grace of her most reverend priestess, Rasefala, I would be confined to some filthy hovel of an inn, or worse boarding in some flea-ridden, goat-stinking stead (of which I have had more than enough during this mission of yours!). 

The cheeses requested and the fire wine (a poor vintage this year I'm afraid - Lord Daltach claims that the visit of the bat several years ago had a detrimental effect upon the subsequent harvests) accompany this post, as well as three barrels of good cider (for yourself since you've noted previously that cider gives his most excellent general gas) and a wheel of rare Zarkoni Ice Rind, a goat's milk cheese they say is aged upon the high slopes of Giant Top Mountain (the Zarkon clan from which I obtained it also stated that it is one of the Three Finest Cheeses of Imther, known throughout in ancient tales).

Unfortunately, I do not accompany this post since the interminable bad weather has made the roads passable only to fish and fowl and I have still to complete the survey of the Wilktar tribe.  Hopefully, his most excellent general will find that satisfactory for the moment. 

This is only the preliminary survey of the Laramite clans as I found them; sufficient, I believe, for the needs of his most excellent general.  I will deliver further details to you as I have time to take advantage of the scribes of this most wondrous temple.  You really should see the marble work here!  The statue of Hwarin herself is stunning - the shield of the Empire yet she is open-handed in her blessings upon this land.  And the statue of Jannisor, though substantially smaller in scale, captures his commanding presence as well as the sadness of the wandering storm.

Yours, Galacrustus.

 

Laramite Tribe

Size: 12,500

Clans: 9

King: Arkarnax Erthex of the Sterneyes

Tribal Seat: ostensibly Kareiston's Temple, but King Arkarnax has made Sidherius his stronghold

Earth Temple: Hortugarth

This large and ancient tribe claims to have been the greatest and most powerful tribe in the aftermath of the Dragonkill, dominating the entire Black Eel valley until the defeat of the Kynnelfing Alliance.  Laram Redhorse was their founder and first king.  He came down from the mountains of Imther, sealed Daga in an Iron Box, recovered the Golden Bridle of Beren, married Redaylde Redmane, and formed the tribe.  Onstheus of the Mastine clan, the Shield of Imther was their next great king.  He wielded a spear, a sword, and a club to equal effect, mastered the Hound of the Ashen Hearth, and was friend and companion to Jannisor.  Raptor Marthorsson of the Mallust clan was the third great king, famous for proving his lineage to the dwarfs to become King of Imther, assaulting and slaying the Night-mantled Warlord, and unleashing the Lightning Spear and the Seven Winds to overcome the Lord of the Black Stallions.  Now, disputes and grudges from the Civil War and earlier grow more intense amongst the Laramite clans.  King Arkarnax' judgments grow harsher, often fueled by his own queen, Black Drastis.  Intrigues arise from the Queen of Holay, who promises rich rewards to those who join her tribes.  And King Margor of Imther promises revenge and retribution on any and all who betray him.

 

Clans of the Laramite Tribe

Argon

"The Golden Pear Clan"

Chief:  Harbus Argon Coin-counter

Centered around Apimara's Rest where the annual Festival of Life is held, this clan is known for its fine pears and perry (a pear-based cider).  They've held the rich and fertile Golden Fields south of Hortugarth since 1461 when the horse lords were driven out, though the Queen of Holay took part of the lands north of the Old Dog River for her own as her reward for helping 'end' the Civil War.  The clan is loyal to Khelmal and Ernalda, but is well known for its Issaries and Alakarma merchants.  Legend states that the Argon ancestors led the armies of Kareiston against the evil queen Balurga, and the clan and their ancestors still guard the border of the Plain of Stones.

Erthex

"The Holy Clan", "The Old Goat Clan"

Chief:  Arkarnax Sterneyes

The tribal king Arkarnax is also clan chief and holds the hill fort of Sidherius surrounding Old Bald Top in the Sidha Gap along the Pilgrim Road.  An ancient rock called King Goat Head sits in a large urn field here and is invoked in seasonal rituals to protect against disease and kinstrife or to aid in virility and herding.  The clan itself is most prevalent in the rugged foothills south of the mountains, and is consider the holiest of the ancient Laramite clans since they maintain the shrines of the Five Old Winds and Ernalda's Dreams.  The clan also claims close associations with the kingdom's founders, Imthus and Aidea, and has sworn to uphold the King's  line even now when it's reached it's end.  The tribal queen, Black Drastis, is a skilled witch who learned Three Secrets in Ernalda's Dreaming Palace and Three Curses in the Dark Halls of Asrelia.

Valusi

"The Two Waters Clan", "The Feuding Clan"

Chief: Corvoral Greenhand

A strongly conservative and traditionalist clan which descended to the Southlands in 1349 from near Central Mines when kinstrife led Valus to break from the Polan clan after the defeat of Irnath Winterking.  The feud between Valusi and Polan remains to this day and is considered one of the Three Great Feuds of Imther.  The clan seized the lands along the upper Isildon vale from the Erthex, Hallite, and Laramar clans and feuds and raids between them continue to this day.  The Valusi have notable shrines to Isildon and Heler, the Two Waters, and is thought to harbor a secret shrine to Orlanth somewhere deep in the Boar Run Woods.  Several Valusi legends indicate that the return of the Earthwielder will occur when the Stone Spear returns.  Though the meaning of this is obscure, members of the clan are always watching for such a relic to appear. 

...

Kareiston's Temple, small temple city

Size: 1000

Count: Erhamal Nightcrest, Upholder of the Torch of Truth

Said to be the most ancient of the Sun Dome Temples, it predates those second age temples and originated with Mahzanelm's march into these lands and culminated with the destruction of the Queendom of Balurga.  Not only is its temple layout distinct from other Sun Dome Temples, but it is dominated currently by the cult of Khelmal, though Yelmalions and even some Elmali are present.   Count Nightcrest claims this state of affairs to be natural as the Many Suns vied for the hand of Ernalda Reladiva after Yelm was slain.  Each Fireseason, a great fair and tribal council is held here.  The tribal king dispenses justice during this grand event, aided by his Lawspeaker and the Torch of Truth; the new men of the tribe are initiated through the Trials of the New Sons; and many marriage arrangements are made between clans.

Edited by jajagappa
added some clan information
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Sadly James Polk, one of my collaborators on New Lolon Gospel and original participant in my Imther Campaign, passed away last week.  In his honor, particularly with his love for music in mind, I thought I'd post one of the Imtherian songs he helped pen for NLG #1.

The Song of Hypasia

 

This sentimental (some say maudlin) song about the singer’s lost love, Hypasia, has become very popular around the hearth fires. It was supposedly brought to Imther fairly recently, but has spread rapidly since the civil war.  The tune itself, according to bards of the Valusi clan, is far older.

Verse:        When I was but a wee lad

                    I wandered far from home

                    I saw those men a’fightin’

                    And thought that I would roam

Chorus:     But*, my sweet Hypasia

                    I’ll never see you more.

                    I’ve gone across the Empire,

                    To fight a bloody war.

Verse:        I hear your name a’spoken

                    In distant southern lands

                    I wonder when I’ll have you

                    Again in my worn hands.

Chorus:     <as above>

   Verse:        I hear your voice a’speakin’

                    In wind-whipped battle cries

                    But where you are my darling

                    I cannot hope to ride.

Chorus:     <as above>

Verse:        I hear your name a’called

                    In distant northern climes

                    I cannot hope to see you

                    Where metal cakes with rime.

Chorus:     <as above>

Verse:        With Jannisor beside me

                    I never thought I’d fear

                    But now I’m lost and lonely

                    Without Hypasia dear.

Chorus:     <as above>

 

Verse:        Cross mountain peaks I ventured

                    With cliff toads at my heels

                    I stopped and prayed for mercy

                    And bright Lokarma’s wheels.

Chorus:     <as above>

Verse:        Along the river valley

                    I ride my tired steed

                    But were I headed north again

                    I’d ride with wond’rous speed.

Chorus:     <as above>

    Verse:        I often sit in tavern halls

                    They hold me in disdain

                    But when I think of your brown eyes

                    I drink up once again. **

Chorus:     <as above>

* The initial word in the chorus can also be ‘Oh’ or ‘So’.

  **This is the traditional last verse, sung when people are ready to end the song.

 

Edited by jajagappa
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A few thoughts on Yelmalio and his variations. We know that there are Little Sun cults popular throughout south Peloria and Dragon Pass. Most commonly associated with Yelmalio the Sun Dome Temple god, the god's myths are diverse and contradictory. Sometimes the Little Sun is a foe of Orlanth (as is common with Yelmalio), sometimes he is a friend of Orlanth (as is common with Elmal). Sometimes he is the husband of the Earth Goddess (Yelmalio), sometimes not. But a God Learner would say that Yelmalio, Khelmal, and Elmal are just variations of the same god.

Yelmalio is not alone in this. Orlanth has very diverse aspects (so much so that Thunderous, Adventurous, and Rex are effectively separate cults), although I'm pretty sure poets and priests have managed to create a corpus of stories dating back to the First Age that manages to be broad enough to encompass them all. Think the differences between Hesiod, Apollodorus, the Homeric Hymns - yet all were recognizably the "same" Olympian gods.

So in Imther, the Yelmalio cult of Kereiston's Temple preserves some interesting local variations in myth from the Yelmalio cults of Dragon Pass and the Mirin's Cross network of temples. We call that god "Khelmal" (likely just the local name of the god) to distinguish the variations, but it is unlikely cult members make the same distinction! Locals call him the "God of Kereiston's Temple" (or what-not), and give him lots of epithets including "Little Sun" or "Son of the Sun" or "God of the Sky Dome" or "Cold Sun". Outlanders likely find the Imtherite practices and stories as exotic (and perhaps as fascinating) as Pausanias found Zeus Lykaios. 

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19 hours ago, Jeff said:

So in Imther, the Yelmalio cult of Kereiston's Temple preserves some interesting local variations in myth from the Yelmalio cults of Dragon Pass and the Mirin's Cross network of temples. We call that god "Khelmal" (likely just the local name of the god) to distinguish the variations, but it is unlikely cult members make the same distinction! Locals call him the "God of Kereiston's Temple" (or what-not), and give him lots of epithets including "Little Sun" or "Son of the Sun" or "God of the Sky Dome" or "Cold Sun". Outlanders likely find the Imtherite practices and stories as exotic (and perhaps as fascinating)

Yes, very much so.  And added into the mix are ancient heroes of Kareiston's Temple, whether part of its founding, it's resurrection in the 2nd Age, or it's restoration post-Dragonkill, whose names and epithets may be conflated with or distinguished from the temple's deity.

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Just in time for the Holidays, a little throwback to the old Holiday: Glorantha articles!

Holiday Glorantha: Hilltown

Overview:

Situated at the end of the Second Daughter's Road, the famous Singing Trail, and the King’s Road leading into the high mountains of Imther, the trade center of Hilltown is a stark, rough, and imposing citadel built around three striking hills below Mount Remse.  Hilltown is home to the Kings of Imther, a position it’s held since the ancient times of Verenmars of Saird when Queen Aidea and King Imthus established their long-lived line.  Over the years, the Kings have used their relationship with the local dwarves to become quite wealthy, and converting their wealth of 600+ years into formidable and magical dwarf-wrought defenses and complex palaces.

The three hills that comprise Hilltown are known locally as:  Winter’s Fang (or the Wind Dagger), King’s Hill (also called High Hill), and Nealda’s Garden (or the Last Garden).  When Imthus and Aidea founded the kingdom, Imthus came down from Winter’s Fang, Aidea emerged from Nealda’s Garden, and they met and wed at the foot of King’s Hill.  The two then walked together up the Master’s Stair to the crest of the High Hill where they summoned the dwarves from Underhill to serve them.  The dwarfs came, marching up the Street of Bricks, to fulfill the ancient vows.  Imthus and Aidea proved their lineage and called for the dwarves to build them a palace on the High Hill and a mighty wall for their citadel.  More dwarves came forth and within a fortnight the citadel and palace of Hilltown emerged.  In subsequent years, other kings have added to the palace complex including the Counting House and Great Storehouse, two towers, and the Inner Wall.  The Outer Wall surrounds most of the three hills except for the highest point of Winter’s Fang, the ancient temple of the Winds.  The Inner Wall protects the great palace of Hilltown standing on King’s Hill.

When Hwarin finished her Daughter’s Road campaign, she built her second road only to the Outer Wall of Hilltown.  But she was subsequently invited by King Memnon V Moonwind to extend the road, with dwarven aid, through the Outer Wall and right to the lip of King’s Hill.  There the Singing Trail reached its eastern end and the famous temple to Hwarin, variously called Song’s End or Song of the New Dawn, was built atop the hill overlooking the city below.  The courtyard between the Singing Trail and the Temple of Hwarin is noted for the immense statue of Hwarin Victorious looking back down the road to Jillaro and beyond as well as statues of Verenmars, Imthus and Aidea, Jannisor, and other heroic Kings and Queens of Imther. 

 

Key to the Map of Hilltown:

1.       Daughter’s Road

The Singing Trail reaches its end at Hilltown as it reaches the edge of the Glowline.  The great, two-level road rises up a steady graded slope as it approaches the citadel, often substantially above the valley below as it bridges the nearby streams, until it reaches the Two Singers’ Gate.  The road levels briefly as it passes along Aidea’s Vale between Winter’s Fang and Nealda’s Garden before its final rise to the King’s Hill and the Court of Victory (more commonly called the Dwarf Market).

A rough-hewn mule trail called Khelmal’s Trace meanders beside the Singing Trail in its approach to the citadel gate and is used by local clans’ folk coming to market or the Clans’ Quarters.  It also serves as a path for Khelmali in their initiation rites.  The Two Singers’ Gate replaced the original Hounds Gate when Hwarin was welcomed into Hilltown.  The singers are the carved figures of Hwarin and King Memnon, she on the north side, he on the south, both looking west and down the Daughter’s Road.  The figure of Hwarin holds a lyre; that of Memnon holds a cithara.  On nights of the Full Moon, a faint song can be heard by those standing beside it – Hwarin’s 7th Victory Ode.

2.       Song’s End Temple to Hwarin

3.       Central Market & Issaries Temple

The Issaries temple of Hilltown runs both the central market and the dwarf market, though it has lost control of the tribute wagon train to the Etyries merchant Silenus.  Those in Imther who seek a life of trade, whether following the path of Issaries or his daughter and wagon driver, Alakarma, come here to initiate, learn the merchant’s craft and the Tradetalk speech.  A few lucky initiates find a position assisting a merchant of Hilltown.  Most return to their clans and steads to serve as bargainers for their chiefs.  Every Fireday, the Erenasaries, chief priest of Issaries opens the central market and one or more merchants of Alakarma ritually drive the first wagons up the road from Earthman Gate at dawn to call folk to come to market.  The Alakarma merchants then set up the first tents and are ritually blessed by Issaries.  When the market concludes, after all others have departed, the Alakarma merchant takes down her tent and heads off west, hands a copper coin each to two dog servants at the Two Singers’ Gate, and then passes out of the city.  She may not return to or reenter Hilltown until the next Fireday.

4.       Court of Victory & Dwarf Market

The great status of Hwarin Victorious stands at the end of the Daughter’s Road.  Statues of other famous and victorious heroes surround the courtyard including: Vingkot the Victorious, Khelmal holding the Spear of Hope, Perides wearing his famed helm, Verenmars with his massive war hound, Alakoring slaying the dragon, Imthus and Aidea bearing the Imtherian regalia, and Jannisor in the heroic imperial style.  Residents of Hilltown often come here to leave votive statues and pray for blessings from the heroes usually climbing via the King’s Stairs which wind back and forth to the top of the hill beside the Daughter’s Road.

On Wildday (the Full Moon) of each Stasisweek, the chief priest of Issaries opens and blesses the Dwarf Market within the confines of the Court of Victory.  The King of Imther must come forth from the palace to oversee the market and ring the Five Brass Bells to summon the dwarves from Underhill.  The Brass Gates then open and the dwarf procession advances led by the gold dwarf Targ the Trumpeter, announcing their arrival on his magical gold trumpet.  He is followed by a line of iron dwarves who flank and guard the Street of Bricks.  Finally, a small army of clay dwarfs push wagonloads of bronze up the Street of Bricks to the Court of Victory.  This tribute is left for the King.  Targ the Trumpeter then announces to all what goods he seeks.  Erenasaries, priest of Issaries, declares the market open.  Only the gold dwarf Targ will talk or bargain with humans during the market, his magic trumpet translating his words to ones the humans understand.  And Targ will only trade while the King of Imther is present.  At whatever point the King rises to depart, the priest of Issaries calls the market to close, and the dwarves file back down the Street of Bricks, pass through the Brass Gates, and close their doors until the next season.

5.       Earth Temple & Serpent Road

The Serpent Road winds up from Aidea’s Vale to the top of Nealda’s Garden, ending beside the old Earth Temple.  Seasonal ceremonies and rites are held here, including the annual initiation of girls to become women of the clans.  The Great Harvest Ceremony is the culmination of the year’s events and all clans of the Wilktar tribe as well as many mountain clans send representatives and offerings and receive blessings in return.  Even during the Civil War, Electreis Earthmother ensured that the Harvest Ceremony continued and that the temple remained open to all clans. 

Two special ceremonies are of note.  On Fireday, Deathweek, of Fireseason, is the Wedding of the Earth and Sun.  Khelmali and Yelmalions arrive to compete for the hand of the Earth Queen.  Competitions are held in Nealda’s Garden and include:  archery, music, poetry, running, and the javelin.  It is traditional for at least one Orlanthi to arrive unexpectedly by sneaking into the Garden.  The Orlanthi must always prove he is worthy to compete for the Earth Queen’s hand.

On Fireday, Illusionweek, of Darkseason, is the Quest of the Firebringer.  A Khelmali must find his way into Hilltown and up to Nealda’s Garden while avoiding, escaping from, or defeating the Three Dark Foes.  He must find his way into the Earth Temple to the place where Ernalda sleeps and bestow a kiss upon the goddess.  The Khelmali must then find the Spark of Hope in the darkness and carry it out from the temple and deliver it to the King in the Court of Victory.

6.       Urnfield

7.       Earth Queen’s Palace

8.       Mud & Blood Quarter

9.       Clans Quarter

10.    Crafters Quarter

11.    Street of Bricks & the Brass Gates

This is the dwarf road that leads to the Brass Gates and go beyond to Underhill, as the locals call the dwarf city.  No human since Imthus and Aidea has passed beyond the Entryway into the dwarf city itself.  The Brass Gates are etched with arcane dwarven symbols.  Each day and night different symbols glow softly and most folk believe the doors represent some sort of magical calendar.

12.    King’s Road [to Pilgrim’s Trail]

13.    Wind Dagger Crag

Sacred to the Storm Gods, the sharp and high crag has always been open to the wind and storm.  In older days, those boys of Hilltown initiating to Orlanth would come up here through the Winter Gate.  They would call the many winds to come and carry them up to Mount Remse and onto the spiral path to Giant Top Mountain and then to Karulinoran.  Now it is largely abandoned, the gate closed off and guarded daily by decree of the King who wants no upstart Storm Lord challenging his rule.  Yet there are persistent rumors of young clansmen coming here on Orlanth’s holy day, when the Dagger Winds of Plienal are strongest, daring to climb the crag and take the old secret path to Giant Top.

14.    New Moon Hall

15.    Old King’s Palace

This old stone palace was built by the dwarves for King Imthus and Queen Aidea as part of their pact.  Two great stone walls line lining the entryway detail many of the past Kings and Queens of Imther.  The throne room sits squarely in the center with the Feasting Hall and old storerooms to the right and the King’s Privy Hall as well as the royal apartments to the left.  Behind the throne room is the King’s Inner Hall where King Margor broods and plots.  The palace is heavily warded by dwarf-wrought spells against many threats, wards that have accumulated over the centuries.

16.    Daxus’ Tower

17.    The Royal Counting House

18.    The Great Storehouse

19.    Rhynon’s Palace

20.    King’s Hilltown Guard Barracks

21.    Hervor’s Ovens

22.    Dead King’s Palace

Iron Torgaard the Dreaded commanded the dwarves to build this palace dedicated to the Gods of War.  There is only one entrance, an iron door marked with the rune of Death and surrounded with other arcane symbols of war and conflict.  Iron Torgaard killed both his aunt and his cousin and entombed them within the palace.  When the clans rose against him, he led a muster of iron dwarves out of the palace and slaughtered all those who stood as foes including half the men of Hilltown.  Only one other man ever entered and escaped from the Iron Palace:  Torgaard’s own brother Torphaar who came back from Hell to slay Torgaard in hand-to-hand combat.  Torphaar the Grey King subsequently sealed the Dead King’s Palace.

23.    Mad Tower

Through the lower gardens of the citadel sits the Mad Tower, the creation of King Daxus II’s successor, King Bodeval of the Starbeck, usually just referred to by his epithet.  Starbeck was said to have been overcome by wonder for the Red Moon and caused this tower to be raised by the dwarves wherein the powers of Harmony and Illusion were balanced by the Moon.  Inside the Mad Tower are doors that lead nowhere, rooms that cannot be reached, strange red mists that coalesce when the moon is full, and small scuttling and skittering creatures that can be heard but never seen.  Two kings have notably disappeared within the tower, never to return.  The first was King Karsor II who followed the words of the Whispering Wind along with his entire family to escape the horse lords.  The second was King Harmachus who entered to find the Secret Book of King Starbeck.  Recently, there have been reports by servants of a woman carrying a candle seen by the windows within the Mad Tower.  Some think this may be Queen Abastis. 

24.    Firon’s Annex

25.    Pilgrim’s Quarter

26.    Dog’s Quarter

This quarter, tucked between Inner and Outer Walls of the palace complex, is home to many of the dog servants and dogs of Hilltown.  Most are thralls and serve the needs of the King and court.  Almost all worship Jajagappa and godtalkers among them maintain a shrine to the god.  There are various rumors through Hilltown and Imther that Jannisor was born amongst them or that a sacred relic of Jannisor’s is hidden there.

 

Hilltown.png

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