Perhaps the perennial debate that most mystifies me is the ongoing Elmal-Yelmalio-Yelm jeremiad. Peter Larsen writes:
>>Dragon Pass and Dara Happa are a long way from each other
>>to such an extent that the Orlanthi and the Pelorians are
>>completely different people. As far as can be seen from
>>Dara Happan maps, Yelm never ruled over Dragon Pass in the
>So why did Orlanth need to rebel? Or is Elmal a remnant of the
>Emperor's court, the stiching on the graft job from the 1st Council? Which,
>now that I think about it, could go a long way towards reconciling this
>Elmal thing in my mind. It raises other questions, but they are not
>questions I have any great interest in answering.
An odd assumption in this line of thought is that somehow Orlanthi myth and Dara Happan myths should be boiled down to a single Truth. That, gentlemen, is pure God Learning and in a just world, anyone proposing such deviancy ought to be stoned, drawn and quartered, and their remains burnt to prevent their souless corpse from haunting the living.
Elmal is the old Orlanthi sun god. According to the Heortlings, Elmal was visible even during the height of the Darkness, in his palace atop Kero Fin. During the Darkness, the remnants of the Vingkotlings worshipped him as the last light in the sky - as Orlanth's last remaining thane. Elmal offered protection from the forces that raged across the world during the Darkness - although he was not strong enough to defeat these forces and grew ever-more-injured each time he fought to defend those Vingkotlings who still worshipped him. Importantly, the Orlanthi claim that Elmal never died during the Darkness.
At Elmal's core is this "protection in darkness" theme. When Orlanth and the Lightbringers returned from Hell with brought with them the bright Sun, this myth becomes complicated. Is this bright Sun a reinvigorated Elmal (who no longer lives atop Kero Fin) or is it something else? The Pelorian warlords and their subjects, the Dara Happans, claimed that the bright Sun was something else other than Elmal - when the Dara Happans cast off the warlords and announced the return of their ancient empire, they told the Orlanthi that the Bright Sun was none other than Yelm - whom the Orlanthi identified with the Evil Emperor.
This Orlanthi uncertainty and ambivalence regarding the nature of the Bright Sun is the root of the uncertainty and ambivalence regaring the whole [Y]elmal[io] mystery. The sun is Elmal, but the bright Sun is also identified with the Evil Emperor. Complicated. Yes. Confusing. Yes. But why shouldn't important "things" be given multiple identifications and meanings? In our own Western mythologies, "things" like God, the US President, movie stars and capitalism are assigned a wide array of conflict and contradictory meanings and interpretations. Why should meaning be easier for the Orlanthi?
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