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Guide to Glorantha Group Read Week 14 - Holay

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  • 3 weeks later...

Still lots of reading to do!

Holay is interesting because it is not only 'a client state similar to Tarsh' (one of the original notes per Griffin Mountain), but contains most of Saird.  And per King of Sartar, Holay and its Queen are going to play a very significant and important part in the Hero Wars.  But that is still to come.

I did very little with Holay in my original Imther campaign, despite its proximity.  I really only began exploring it, or more precisely its background, when writing the Verenmars Saga.  The question that arose then was:  where did the name Holay come from?  The kingdom and name don't seem to appear until some point between the Dragonkill and the wars of the Conquering Daughter.  And there doesn't seem to be a specific named place ever, so it seemed most likely that it was named after a person.  In the Verenmars Saga, that is Holaya, the Red Woman and Priestess of Redaylda, who led her folk from the outskirts of Prax (one of the horse folk), through Dragon Pass, and into the region of Saird. 

I think the first story that I wrote about Holaya was the Saga of Holaya.  It's one of the many pieces of the Verenmars Saga which has never been presented before.  It is drawn from a common/familiar myth.

The Saga of Holaya

When the Goldtooth Demon arose amongst the foes of the Tessarae[1], the Starreaders came before the tribe and spoke.  They said that this was the long-awaited sign of the end of their exile from the land of the Heart.  But the Lawspeakers also spoke and they said that though the sign was true, they could not leave for the children of the Kargzant had called for their aid against the Goldtooth Demon.

Thus the Tessarae were torn between their desires and their word until the Eldest Mother spoke.  She said they must answer both calls or each and every soul would die forever.  So the Tessarae were divided.  The Sun Wheel gathered the warriors to his side and they marched to join the children of Kargzant against the Goldtooth Demon and its hordes.  But the Eldest Mother gathered the tribe’s elders and women and children and set out upon the Last Light trail to return to the Heart.

The Sun Wheel and his warriors fell in battle, devoured by the Goldtooth Demon.[2]  Only one man found the Last Light trail to bring news of this defeat to the tribe.  He told of beastmen who aided the Goldtooth Demon and the fall of the Giant’s Ring before the children of Kargzant betrayed the Sun Wheel and proved their cowardice.

When the elders and lawspeakers came before the Eldest Mother, they asked her to choose the next Sun Wheel.  But she refused.  She said that no Sun Wheel could be chosen until the Heart was found.  But she also said they would not be leaderless for they would have the Hazaripa[3] to lead them.  And the Eldest Mother also named the Hazaripa to be Holaya, first daughter of the serpent clan, though she had just seen her first blood.

Holaya then led the Tessarae onward, guided by the Starreaders and the Lawspeakers and the Eldest Mother.  When they came to the land of the Raging Storms, the Dragons stirred the hill tribes against them by calling the Tessarae spawn of the demons.

When the hill tribes attacked the Tessarae, Holaya called upon the Red River for aid.  Her call was answered by the thunders.  The hill tribes stopped to wait for the thunders to arrive for they still worshipped an aging bull in their hearts.  But it was not their bull which came, but the Red Man and he brought his spears amongst the hill tribes and slew them all until the rivers below them did indeed run red.

The Starreaders spoke against this place, though, and the Lawspeakers said that no laws could be made there.  So Holaya led her folk on into the heart of the Dragon.  There the Earth Dragon trapped the people of Holaya in land divided by great fissures.

When the Earth Dragon rose against them, Holaya called upon the Eldest Mother to act for her people.  The Eldest Mother responded and led forth her companions, bound by ancient yokes so that the Earth Dragon waited to consume them.  But the Eldest Mother knew more of the earth than the Earth Dragon and through her sacrifice she transformed the Earth Dragon into a bridge for her folk.

Though Holaya and her people mourned their loss, the Starreaders spoke against this place and the Lawspeakers said that no laws could be made there.  So Holaya turned her folk to the north to seek the Heart.

[1] one of the names for Holaya’s tribe, though there are others.

[2] one of Jaldon Goldentooth’s battles outside Pavis between 927 and 940, probably closer to the latter. (see River of Cradles p.12)

[3] possibly Red River Guide or River Horse Rider.

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For reference there's some other short discussion on Holay, Filichet, and the Daughter's Road here: http://www.glorantha.com/forums/topic/daughters-road-and-filichet/

Important to note that "Redaylda is not Vinga, since Redaylda is not Orlanth. She shares red-hair with Vinga, but Redaylda is a goddess of horses and a granter of sovereignty. She’s got much more to do with La-Ungariant and Ernalda, than with Orlanth".

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p.335 Black Eel River - "inhabited by an ancient tribe of river people called the Nogatendites, whose temples are large feathered boats."  p.711 tells of the Nogatend folk at the Dawn with their giant Loon boats.  Somewhere or other I think I still have the old email where Greg first described them to me.

I wrote this bit about the Black Eel nearly twenty years ago - posted on the old Glorantha Digest.

The Black Eel
It is said among the jadam (the dog servants) of Saird that Reladiva the Bountiful gave birth to the waters from within her well. The first water came forth and was Tugarath, the flowing. He traversed the many ways of Reladiva, sometimes flowing across her, sometimes through her or within her. He even tried to eat her, but she was then within him and he could not be within her. She withdrew from him and he became lonely and released her so that could mingle again. From this mingling came forth more children: the rivers and ponds, the wells and springs, the water horses and the fishes. The greatest of these children were three: Islara the Blue Woman, Murgadoth the Black Eel, and Imothan the Red Worm.

In the land called Reladivela or the Bowl of Reladiva there were many people. Some rode horses and these were the Hyalorings. Some were the brothers of dogs and these were the Jajalarings. Some rode the great Loon boat and these were the Nogtendos (or eelies). These last folk worshipped Jadarenasa, Mother Loon, and she taught her people how to ride upon her back across the waters, protecting them from the eels and the fish  and the turtles.

When the waters rose again to devour the land, the Nogtendos rose above the  waters upon Nogatend, the Feathered Boat. Islara tried to reach the Nogtendos, but no matter how high she climbed, the Feathered Boat climbed higher. Murgadoth though rose above the waters. He was so black he could not be seen from the shadows of the world. His jaws were so strong that he had crushed the shell of the Rock Crab. His teeth were so sharp that they had cut the Ice Shield of the Winter King. But when Murgadoth rose to eat Nogatend the Feathered Boat, the Nogtendos called upon Jadarenasa. Nogatend became a huge living loon which ate Murgadoth and all the little eels who accompanied him. Murgadoth  sued for peace and a pact was made between Jadarenasa and the Black Eel. Henceforth, the Nogtendos could ply the waters of the Black Eel without harm.

At the Dawning, only the Nogtendos travelled upon the Black Eel. This monster kept the folk of the north apart from the folk of the south. To the north, the peoples of  Vanch fished the banks of the waters, but always ran from the Black Eel for they were afraid of him and many were drowned in his wake. To the south, the Berenethtelli also fished the banks, though they did not fear the Black Eel for Orlanth had conquered the  waters. Ervana Flamehair was the first to find the low water crossing. She taught others how to use this path. When the missionaries came, Ervana showed them how to cross  by this path, though many used Nogatend to aid their passage.  Irekath Blackwave was the man who brought Orlanth to Lolon. He first followed the path of Ervana, but soon wanted greater powers to aid his folk. He called upon Orlanth and Orlanth showed him how to defeat the Black Eel. Irekath used the black waters to rise into the land of Vanch and defeat the treacherous folk there. He later  found the Mammoth Gate and settled his people north of the river. As more crossed over in Irekath's wake, the Black Eel hid in the deep grottoes of the river and the Nogtendos  dwindled.

In the wake of Arkat the Destroyer, shadows crept across the land and over the waters. The Black Eel rose again and devoured those who knew not the ways of the Loon. Those men who survived gathered around great champions who could fight off the demons who sought food. Helavath the Huge was the greatest of these warriors and he formed a ring at Mammoth Gate, calling upon the strength of the ancient beast to aid him. Helavath broke the legs and cut the teeth from the Four Fang Demon. He turned the Death Clouds aside with his breath. And he sang the song of the Mammoth to overcome the Drums of the Red Kings.

Helavath's son, Horgavuth, equaled their father in strength, though not in wisdom. Where Helavath sought unity, they sought goods of power. This led them on the quest to the dark river for the Ebony Tooth. The Black Eel was greater than they though and devoured Horgavuth, eldest of Helavath's sons. The other sons quarreled and soon lost what tools they held.

The Black Eel did not appear in prominence again until the river folk called upon it to aid them in stemming the Lunar tide. Then the Black Eel swam freely again and terrorized those who tried to cross. Hwarin Dalthippa was not terrorized, though. She knew  other secrets, ancient secrets. At the battle of Mirin's Cross, she turned the great monster and laid her crystal bridge across his back. The Orlanthi say that since Hwarin's victory, that the Black Eel merely rests, nursing his wounds, waiting for the day when he rises again and shatters his crystal bonds.

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p.335 Filichet. 

Here's my current map of the place.  It's not quite "on the shores of Lake Invaress", that being perhaps 5 miles upstream and to the east based on what you see in the Guide.  The Bell Temple is a huge complex.  It starts as a temple town around 1041 when a temple to Reladiva Holaya the Red Woman was built there.



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Thanks for this, Harald! I'm especially thankful for your tale about the Black Eel, which I'd completely missed. In my own Glorantha, I use the Slavewall Foot as a particularly enthusiastic antagonist in the Duck Hunts, with rumours of nasty Black Eel magics and all that. The loon connection gives some fascinating (and amusing) possibilities.

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As you read through the Holayan entries, one of the things I noted was the strong prevalence of Ernalda:

Dolmisk - small pantheon of agricultural goddesses, including Ernalda, Uralda, and Ornore. 

Dolsonin - great temple to Ernalda (worshiped in the form of a cow, or a woman with cow horns) and Barntar.

Dwernapple - famous and well-endowed temple of Dendara and Ernalda.

Lake Invaress - Ernalda came here to bath in its sacred waters

Riyestan - ruins are still a sacred place to the Earth cults of Terarir and Saird. They are the home of Riyesta Earth Mother and Kemar Seed Father, commonly associated with Ernalda and Flamal

Saird - Although the cults are not unified, the harmonious duality of Nature is widely held, especially in the myth of the competition between Orlanth and Yelm for the hand of Ernalda, the chief Earth goddess.

While the region has clearly been influenced by the back-and-forth waves of Orlanthi and DH, the Earth cults form the central and ongoing basis of society.  And the rival suitors, competing annually for Ernalda's hand, is a central religious theme.

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