Friday, 19 May 2017

Reassessing the Ovosto Dynasty

Part 2 of the Realist Papers
Reassessing the Ovosto Dynasty
As I discussed previously, the murder of Muharzarm was an actual period of warfare, involving the assassination of Emperor Murharzarm. I described it as involving a siege, which some of my fellows took umbrage at, claiming there would be evidence of such a thing.
To this I reply to merely look at the evidence again. In this case we must look to his immediate successor, Emperor Khorventos.
During his reign it is mentioned that the land of Dara Happa was besieged by the followers of the Rebel Gods, invading the cities and plundering what they could. Given my earlier discussion on the role of these Rebel Gods as representations of their peoples, we can conclude that this is a continuation of the same invasion which led to the death of Murharzarm.
Khorventos' reign would have thus been over a empire of one city, barricaded within Yuthubars while the great Empire started to fragment.
It is during this time that the Ovostans rise.
Khorventos and his successor Dendeneus are both recorded in legends as trading away the Imperial Treasures for food, specifically with Ovosto. Because of the foreign armies, this would have had to have taken place in Yuthubars.

The purported Death Mask of Ovosto
Ovosto is described as a child of Gerendetho, and as coming from the Jord Mountains. His government of the mythical city of Senthoros was described as misrule and he himself a Lodrilite, and thus not of noble birth. As such, his original occupation was likely that of dry farmer.
Here we have a peasant, given some measure of political power (his description of having governed Senthoros is likely a myth, given no trace of that city has ever been found) found within Yuthubars when there was no food. He was able to get some, and even provided for the Emperor in exchange for Imperial Treasures.
His seizure of power occurs after Khorventos' death, when his heir seeks the Imperial Treasures. Instead Ovosto uses them to become Emperor.
When Emperor he performs several actions described by Plentonius: he opens up the cities, letting his friends loot the nobles goods; he forced the nobility to mingle with the commoners; he made deals with those who came to invade Dara Happa and shared dinner with them.

I hold that Ovosto was a smuggler, bringing food into the city despite the besieging armies. He profited from this, and provided food to both the rich and poor. When the Emperor died, he seizes power, likely through a popular uprising by the hungry masses. (Their hue and cry are the origin of the howling found in the Ovosto Rites)
After this, he creates peace with the invaders, breaking the siege but giving up much of the riches of the nobility.
Without their riches, the nobility are reduced to living as commoners, working for a living. In this way, he created a new peace for Dara Happa, although one which was undesirable for the nobility.

Ovosto's death has been blamed on choking by a fish from Karasal. This was also where he had banished his rival, Dendeneus, making this an early form of assassination, like the dart wars which are conducted amongst our great Empire to this day.
Karasa and Orogoros, in the Navarian style of the Storm Age

Ovosto's successor, Orogoros was said to have been the son of Ovosto and the goddess of Karasal. He is also said to have come from near Mount Jernotius which lies relatively nearby. This origin points to the infamous lands of Darsen and Naveria, ancient lands of Karasal. He is commonly associated with a snake, also said to have been his father's spirit. This points to a connection with the hills' chthonic serpent cults, such as BernEel Arashagern or Ursturburn. These are ecstatic cults of life, in the form of a serpent (which also bears a connection to the progenitive organ of males. Something despaired at by more prudish Dara Happans)

Orogoros is famed for his iniquity. The Glorious Reascent of Yelm includes a tale of how he makes the people of Dara Happa bare their head and feet -- an obvious Dara Happan euphemism for the progenitive parts. He is similarly recorded as banning incest, prohibiting the Dara Happan tradition of ensuring that divine blood is not diluted by inter-family marriages.
The claim that Orogoros is the child of Ovosto is a spurious one. He has little in common with his supposed father, and dwelled in a separate realm. The claim of kinship is a way of covering up the truth.

During the reign of Orogoros, Dara Happa was ruled by foreign powers, the realms of Karasal, Naveria, and Darsen were the heartland of this kingdom, ruled by the serpent-worshipping King Orogoros. The iniquities and sins appointed to Orogoros are in fact the Lodrilli rites and traditions, vilified by later Dara Happans who seek to ignore this foreignness.

Orogoros' death is given in several different ways. His reign is said to end in the great Deluge of Anaxial, and sometimes he is said to have drowned in the flood itself. But the most important account of his death is in the Glorious Reascent of Yelm. Here he is described as being slain by Avivorus using the Sunspear.
The Sunspear is the divine weapon used later to slay another evil Emperor. And is almost certainly a justification for an uprising, for if Antirius blesses the action, how can it be wrong?

After Orogoros, came the reign of Oravinos.
This Emperor is only found in the Unity and Yelmgatha's Lists. He is described as an orchard god, and as the enemy of the bear. This bear is likely a reference to Arakang, the bear god of western Peloria. His feud with Oravinos is likely the same story as that which is told on the Gods Wall, the fight over the Yarm Tree. This figure is commonly said to be Orypsus, god of pleasure.
Because of this, Oravinos is likely the original figure behind the mythology of Orypsus. A former Emperor who is remembered only as a god of wine and plenty.

But this speaks of an even greater revelation. Arakang is likely a stand in for Western Peloria, the Kingdom of Orogoros. Oravinos, far from being his successor, is his usurper. This is the point where Dara Happa reclaims its independence from its occupiers, and becomes its own nation once again.

This Dynasty ends with the Deluge of Anaxial, the legendary flood which is said to have wiped away all that was unclean, and the return to righteous Emperors. But its legacy remains in several ways:
  • First, there are the Ovosto Rites, used over the centuries to become Emperor through popular approval, rather than by imperial descent.
  • Second, we see the great truism of the Dara Happans, that they would prefer to remember an unjust Emperor, than a foreign tyrant.
  • Finally, that even commoners can become Emperor. And that if necessary, Imperial Descent can be found.

But make no mistake, I do not write this to condemn the Ovostans, but instead to show what they can teach us about the truth behind the myths. That when we ignore the mortal origins, we miss out on the great history of our Empire.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

The Rise and Fall of the Vingkotlings

Part 1 of the Realist Papers

The Realist Papers are a blasphemous text kept in the Mirin's Cross knowledge temple. Other copies are said to lurk across the Lunar Empire.
The texts are the work of an Occluded sorcerer named Ormaliol the Denier, a former Sylilan scholar who became part of the perverse Dara Happan sect known as the Mundanists. These sorcerers claim that the gods were nothing more than humans, and that their miracles have a simple, and usually mundane origin. As such, they are not welcome in any land, and must hide their existence.
The Realist Papers would ordinarily be destroyed, but by the grace of the Red Goddess, the works of Illuminates are granted dispensation, and even heretical and blasphemous works are worthy of record -- even if simply to learn from their errors.

The Rise and Fall of the Vingkotlings - A reassessment on the Antediluvian Era

Conventional lore holds the opinion that Orlanth was a divine being, born from the winds and mountains themselves, and that Vingkot was his half-mortal son, who led Orlanth's people during the later Storm Age period of myth.
It is this scholar's assessment that they are in fact the same being, with Orlanth being a deification of Vingkot.

Many of my readers will ask how this can be so, when Vingkot only ruled after the flood? I would argue this fact, for maps from Second Age Heroquesters of the Early Storm Age show the Vingkotlings as a rising power when the sky was orange, before the rise of the waters. As well as this; Plentonius' great work, the Glorious Reascent of Yelm, describes Vinakotal the Barbarian as one of the rebel gods who united to bring down the sun. Other myths speak of Vingkot leading his people during the great Downward Migration from the Spike.

Vingkot was likely already an established ruler during this period.

Using this assumption, we can then take the established details of Vingkot's history, and determine the likely events of his reign.
Sylilan Bear vessel, showing Pelandan influence

Vingkot's first great deed as king was to defeat the Sky Bear, who interrupted his kingship rites. The Sky Bear is the title of Odayla, the Orlanthi god of bears and hunting, making this an obvious reference to the god; or more likely his people, the Sylilans.

Of note, in northern Aggar there is a peak known as Bear Mountain as part of the Autumn Mountain chain. This is sacred to the Sylilan bear god, and the Heortlings know of it as part of the gods' wall.

This is presumably the story of an invasion by the Odaylans to the north, who try to claim Vingkot's lands for their own. They are pushed back, and the invasion halted, proving the Vingkotling's right to existence. The Autumn Mountains become the border between the Sylilans to the north, and the Vingkotlings to the south.

After his northern border was secure, we then come to the matter of the south.

The Vingkotlings are said to have been one of three great tribes, one of the others being the Durevings. These were a peaceful agrarian people who worshipped a great earth goddess. They dwelled to the south of the Vingkotlings in a land named Envorela.

They would make useful allies for Vingkot.

Sources imported from Esrolia have described Orlanth's conquest of their mythic ancestors, who would be the Durevings (Although they call them Oraneo. The mythologies I have acquired also refer to Durev and Orane as husband and wife.)

These texts describe Kodig, who is elsewhere recorded as a son of Vingkot, attempting to invade Envorela's great city of Nochet, and when turned back calling upon his god Orlanth to do it. After destroying the defenders, Orlanth marries Ernalda, and a house is built to the god within Nochet. In comparison, the Heortling texts instead describe this as far more peaceable, but with them ruling Nochet.

While I have never visited that city, I have talked to traders who have. Their descriptions of Orlanth's house (called Storm Hill) fit with those Vingkotling hill forts I have seen. It is not too great a leap to imagine that Storm Hill is in fact a citadel, likely built there after the Durevings and Vingkotlings were united.

The Marriage of Vingkot and the Queen of Envorela (or his Summer Wife, or Ernalda) is a marriage of political convenience. It provides the right for Vingkot to take control of the Durevings, bringing them into his empire, and to build his hill fort as a citadel. It provides the Durevings with safety and protectors.

Astute readers may recall I mentioned three great tribes, but have only described two.

The third were known as the Helerings, and their history is one of great interest, even to the Pelorians.

At first, this tribe seems to have been an enemy of the Vingkotlings and Durevings, raiding their southern shores. They were a littoral people, ranging up and down the coasts on their great boats, and worshipping all number of sea entities. These include a great sea dragon known as Heler or Aroka.

Jrusteli depiction of Orlanth slaying Aroka and freeing Heler
The Helerings fought many battles against the Vingkotlings, but eventually peace was created. The circumstances of this varies by story. Some tell of a great battle known as Trembling Shore, where Vingkot slew their god. Others tell of the same battle, but instead Orlanth and Heler sat down to talk and negotiate peace. The most common tell of Orlanth slaying the great dragon Aroka and freeing Heler.

In either case, peace came between the two peoples, and the Helerings became part of Vingkot's empire.

But the stories do not end there. It is mentioned that after slaying Aroka, Orlanth sent part of it north to attack his enemies. We know of this serpent as Oslira.

What does this mean? It is this scholar's opinion that in the creation of peace, many the Helerings were assigned land which was not Vingkot's to give. He gave them the lands of his enemies and sent them north.

This matches up with Oslira' invasion of Dara Happa. She was tamed by the Emperor and  made to serve the Empire. In other words, the Helerings invade the Dara Happans, but are defeated.

The Helerings are therefore the ancestors of the Weeders and Feathered Boat people, who have long been slaves or servants to the Dara Happans.

This brings us back to the Dara Happan myth of the rebel gods, and what was one of the most influential periods of Vingkotling and Dara Happan histories.
Dara Happan Depiction of a Vingkotling

At this point, the Dara Happan and Vingkotling Empires (actually the latter was more of an amphictyony, see my forthcoming manuscript on the subject) were the predominant states of the age. With the Helering invasion having taken place, the two states were uneasy and needed little other reason for war.

What is seen as a conspiracy of various deities is in fact a series of wars. The inclusion of Sedenya the Changer indicates that Mernita rebelled against the rule of the Emperor, and likewise Kargzant's presence suggests that Nivorah had also broken away. Combined with the Naverian myth of the First Bad King (a concealed reference to Yelm) we can see the peaceful myth of the Golden Age as the fiction that it is.

With Dara Happa torn apart from within, it would be relatively easy for a barbarian army to invade, and further fragment the Empire.

Vingkot and his forces would lay siege to the Emperor's great city (recorded as Yuthubars) and eventually an attack would slay the Emperor, setting in motion the rise of the Ovosto Dynasty.

Glutted with the treasures of the Empire, Vingkot returned home. But this victory had given rise to his personal fall. His realm had become too great.

After Vingkot's death at the hands of the Devil, the Vingkotling Empire started to crumble into several smaller kingdoms. One in the south, and one in the north.

The sothern kingdom, the Kodigvarings, consisted of a Vingkotling nobility ruling over an increasingly turbulent Dureving subclass. As their kings became increasingly tyrannical, many smaller realms broke off. In Esrolia, for example, Kodig Vingkotson is remembered as the paragon of unjust rulers.

In the northern kingdom absorbed many of its former enemies; most notably the Nivorahns, fleeing from the collapsing Dara Happans. The Sylilans also joined this kingdom, which is most often called the Berenethteli, after the most important tribe within it. The Berenethteli became a stronghold of foreign gods, such as Elmalus, Odayla, and Oria.

In the end, neither kingdom lasted long, being brought down by their own hubris. They fractured still further, with new kingdoms and tribes forming. Thus did Vingkot's empire rise on his greatness, and fall by it too.

Monday, 6 March 2017

The House of Black Arkat

Mythos and History
When Arkat Liberated the Shadowlands, he revealed many previously unknown secrets.
Most could not grasp them, and viewed them as simply another facet of Arkat's greatness, but a few could understand what Arkat spoke of, and wanted to learn more.
Arkat brought these worthies together, both Uz and Man, and taught them the true nature of the cosmos.
All existence was born from the great darkness, Xentha, who is the mother of all. Here, everything was bliss: the Earth was nurturing, soft and warm; there was no hunger, pain, or strife.
And then came the Deceiver, Gbaji.
Arkat depicted as a Half-Troll
Arkat declared that Gbaji was known by many masks: Evil Emperor, Teller of Lies, Most Bad Man, and now Nysalor.
Gbaji was all that Xentha was not, he was still, barren, bright, hard and hollow. And he envied Xentha. He declared all that Xentha was as wrong, and that he was the only right. He led many of Xentha's children away, into a world of pain, sorrow, and harshness.
Arkat's followers were shocked to discover this was the world they now lived in.
Those who did not flee in horror, were taught by Arkat how they could manipulate this world of Gbaji, to break his deceptions and reveal the truth. He showed how everything was made from the raw darkness, allowing them to turn earth to air, and air to water, for all was originally darkness.
When Arkat went north, to take the fight to Gbaji, many of his followers remained, to teach the truth to those who would listen.
They wrote down his teachings, and kept them in a great temple they named Arkat's Hold after their teacher, and so in turn they became known as the House of Black Arkat.
Here they have remained.
Even when the God Learners invaded, they were never able to breach the walls of Arkat's Hold, and when they fell, the House of Black Arkat was opened once again.

Nature of the House
Arkat was the greatest hero ever to walk Glorantha. He was many things in his lifetime. Man, troll, knight, berserker, liberator, deceiver, king and devil. He betrayed his closest friends and allies in order to save the world.
His followers are sorcerers, mystics, and scholars.

Particular Likes and Dislikes
The House's oldest and greatest allies are the cults of darkness, especially the cults of Argan Argar -- who came before Arkat and was Xentha's son, and Zorak Zoran -- who is one of the greatest enemies of Chaos. The House is also friendly to most Esrolian cults, if for no other reason than to ensure the sanctity of Arkat's Hold.
The House is usually reviled by cults of light and sky, who view Arkat's message as blasphemy. Likewise, the House treats them with disdain, viewing them as those most wrapped up in Gbaji's Deceptions. Only against the cults of Chaos will the Arkati willingly ally with those who follow the sun.

House Organization
The House has no single authority. Each Mage has effective independence from the others, students are free to listen to whichever Mage they wish. The wizards of the House in truth have only one master, Arkat himself.
Unknown to most Gloranthans, a single chapter of the House has been established deep within the Troll Woods in Heortland. Here the near-human Kitori learn the Arkati arts, at the feet of a displaced Arkati Mage.

Holy Days
The House has no specific holy days or nights, but the cult acknowledges Freezeday as a naturally potent time to perform many of their rituals.

Sample Grimoires
The House of Black Arkat holds within its libraries many different ancient texts written by a multitude of sources, including the followers of Arkat, and even the Great Hero himself. Few Arkati will know even half of the hidden lore kept within their walls, but this pair of grimoires are those most commonly used by sorcerers of the House of Black Arkat:

The Lead Grimoire
This grimoire describes the metal of darkness, the bones of Xentha, the material form of the Darkness Rune, which was used to make the foundation of the world. By studying this grimoire, sorcerers can learn how to manipulate this substance, as well as the raw darkness itself. Sample spells include:
  • Enchant Lead: This spell summons the Darkness Rune to fill a leaden object, cleansing it of impurities, and turning it into enchanted form of the Rune Metal.
  • Project Senses: This spell combines the Darkness Rune with the Truth Rune, allowing the sorcerer to send their senses into a patch of shadow, allowing them to see and hear everything as if they were inside the shadows.
  • Sense Lead: This spell commands the Darkness Rune within all nearby sources of lead to make themselves known. The sorcerer can then find the lead through the supernatural inky patches created.
  • Shape Lead: This spell combines the Darkness Rune within lead with the Movement Rune, allowing the sorcerer to mould and form the metal is if it were clay, and then to set it into a new shape.
  • Solidify Darkness: This spell combines the Darkness Rune within a patch of shadow with the Stasis Rune, allowing the sorcerer to touch and manipulate the shadows as if they were a solid object.
  • Summon Shade: This spell summons the Darkness Rune into a shadow, animating it to perform the sorcerer's will.

The Hepherones Texts
This series of first age Rinliddi scrolls predates Arkat, and is said to have been war booty gained during his invasion of Peloria. The texts were cleansed, purified, and examined for Truth. The resulting documents and exegesis form a grimoire that the Arkati use to manipulate the connection between the Middle World and the Other Side. Spells derived from the text include:
  • Dominate Spirit: This spell commands the Magic Rune within a spirit, allowing the sorcerer to give it irresistible commands.
  • Enhance Spirit: This spell summons the Magic Rune into a spirit, strengthening and reinforcing them, granting them temporary extra power.
  • Mystic Vision: This spell combines the sorcerer's Magic Rune with the Truth Rune, connecting the sorcerer's own connection with the Other Side, allowing them to sense the magical abilities of living creatures and objects.
  • Neutralize Magic: This spell dismisses the Magic Rune within an existing spell or other magical effect, cutting off its connection with the Other Side, and causing it to fail.
  • Protective Circle: This spell combines the Magic Rune with the Stasis Rune, creating an invisible, intangible wall around the sorcerer. This wall resists all magic passing one way or another, creating a sanctuary for the sorcerer.
  • Summon Spirit: This spell summons the Magic Rune, creating a connection with a known and named spirit, allowing the sorcerer to call them into the world.

Although they would never use the term themselves, the House of Black Arkat is also a source of Illumination. Arkat's teachings of the original cosmos, before Gbaji's separation, provides the mystical awakening similar to Nysalorian Illumination. The House of Black Arkat prefers the terms gnosis, or wisdom, to refer to this state.
This allows members of the House to do many things others would regard as impossible, including uniting opposing powers and elements (as all things are merely a part of the original darkness; and joining cults normally opposed to each other, such as Argan Argar and Veskarthan (for the Illuminate knows that their feud is nothing before the cosmic truths.)
Most members who become Illuminated do so through their Darkness Rune, but other paths have occasionally occurred.

Esrolian Arkati, meditating on the Gods' War through the wisdom of Arkat.

A member of the House of Black Arkat with a rating of 11W or more in one of his grimoires, who has also become Illuminated may seek to become a Mage of the House.
Mages of the House of Black Arkat otherwise function as per the rules in HeroQuest: Glorantha, page 174.
Few Mages ever leave the walls of Arkat's Hold via its gates. Most spend their time in meditation and education, teaching the less learned of Arkat's secrets.
When they do leave Arkat's Hold, it is usually only to venture to the Other Side, to thwart Gbaji's deception and to seek the original world.
With the coming of the Hero Wars, this state of affairs will not be able to last, and the Mages of Arkat will be forced to refute Gbaji's deceptions directly.