Was looking through the old messages today, and in a message from me to Greg I found a bit about the Pharaoh and his history that I cannot recall if I ever actually shared here. I thought I had, but the DPD message I did find not only doesn't have the story, it has the bad taste to _mention_ that the story exists, without including it! If I did post it before, well, it was probably at least 10 years ago, and might have been on the Glorantha Digest anyway, so there are probably several people here who have never read it.
So, tra la, here is the story of how the Pharaoh conquered the Holy Country, as worked out by me and Nick Brooke in July of 1994 while we were still on speaking terms that week. (Anyone with any sense would have known that having me spend a full week staying with Nick Brooke was a baaaaad idea!)
Belintar washes ashore in southern Caladraland (probably -- one source says Caladraland, one says Rightarm Islands). Nick and I postulated that the people then were not the RQ Caladra and Aurelion, mostly-civilized culture that they are now. They were barbarians, the whol South Seas island "throw the sacrifice into the volcano" cliche. We also think they worship a sort of Sky Serpent, which is the sky aspect of Lodril. Originally, it was a Feathered Serpent/Phoenix, though it is not quite the same now.
Anyways, the natives take him and throw him into the volcano as a sacrifice to Caladra and Lodril. Instead of quieting the volcano, however, he somwhow survived, and married Caladra instead. The volcano erupted, and he flew out the top, the embodiment of their ancient god. They immediately worshiped him.
In Esrolia, he entered the Year Kings "contest", and he became the Year King. He ruled for the shortest term (1 year per Wyrms Footnotes 8), then was sacrificed to send the power/magic back into the earth. However, he returned/was resurrected, and still held the Earth Magics -- they had not been retruned to Ernalda. Thus, he now controlled Esrolia as well.
In Heortland, we think he infiltrated the Orlanth High Holy Day ceremony. When the Heortlanders summoned their enemy, he was already among them, because he had walked _inside_ the spiral of the Air Rune while they were summoning the magics of their god. He thus was able to defeat the High Priests and take Orlanth's power. Now he rules Heortland as well.
In the Rightarm Islands, the people were friendlier, since he was a sailor, and had survived the Closing. But, they were "loyal" to the Only Old One as well. Now, your old notes on the Holy Country say that the old capital was destroyed when Umath killed Faralinthor and Esrola; it is sometimes called the Brain Ruins. Anyways, the Rightarmers said they would follow him only if he ruled from the ancient capital. This showed their willingness to support him, but also gave him an impossible requirement to fill, thus keeping their ties with OOO.
Well, Belintar eventually raised this old ruin when he raised Loon Island, and he turned it into the City of Wonders. So, Rightarm is now his.
(This Rightarm bit I came up with myself, since Nick and I were stumped then).
God Forgot is even easiest -- Belintar is the Man who Broke the Bank at Casino Town (sung to the tune of "The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo"). God Forgot does not pay taxes -- they pay interest on the debt they owe Belintar for basically winning all of God Forgot while gambling.
As for Shadow Plateau, Belintar forced the Only Old One to go into his troll aspect to fight him. He then tricked him, and impaled him with an Iron Sword. With the troll powers in force, the troll vulnerability to iron also took effect, and OOO was slain. His body is still on the Shadow Plateau, with the Iron Sword stuck in it. Every few years, Belintar has to go back and push it back in, because every Only Old One holy day thousands of trolls go to the body and cast their Cure Iron Burn spells on the body (losing them as if they were one-use) in an effort to heal their god.
As an aside, because the Pharaoh is now gone, I think they will eventually be able to bring their god back to life, which is why he is available in the post-Pharaoh scenarios of the game.
Anyways, thay was Nick's and my take on the Holy Country. The only "known" facts are that Belintar died at least once during the struggle, but then came back to life when he should not have been able to. He washed ashore from the unpassable oceans either in Rightarm Islands or the shore of Caladraland (I think there are two mentions, which disagree). In a five-year struggle he defeated the Only Old One, killed a monster, and changed the course of the River (or OOO did). Did I miss anything?
This resurrection is, we think, his unprecedented return after being slain as Year King. It is also why he has outlawed the Year King ritual -- if someone else besides him were to succeed (and he goes back every few years to be the winner), they might steal Esrolia from him.
This is also, I think, how Jar-Eel was able to slay him. Whenever Belintar goes back to re-enact the Year King ritual, all the magical leaders of the Sixths come as well, hoping for a chance to kill him and take their power back. And every time he returns from death, still holding the strings on their gods' powers.
Now, Jar-Eel somehow got into the high ritual, probably using the earth connections of her ancestress, Hon-Eel. Because he holds the powers of the Sixths, none of the magical leaders present can harm him during his moment of vulnerability in the ritual. Jar-Eel was not so restricted, being a Lunar agent, and so she was able to slay him. The End.
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