How Orlanth's Sword was Stolen and Returned

From: Andrew Larsen <>
Date: Wed, 21 Feb 2001 19:07:13 -0600

This myth grew out of a need in my campaign for a heroquest for Eurmal and Issaries. I thought I'd share it with the list. The inspiration is the idea that after Orlanth slew Yelm/the Solar Emperor, Eurmal helped Zorak Zoran gain Death in order to slay Flamal. Although Babeester Gor takes Death from ZZ, Orlanth retains Death in the form of Humakt. So this story is sort of an explanation of how Death is recovered for the Storm Tribe. And there's a need for more heroquests for the other Lightbringers.

How Orlanth's Sword was Stolen and Returned     

    One day, during the Darkness, Orlanth saw that all the plants were dying, and that his wife had fallen asleep. Having wielded Death, he saw its signs, and was disturbed. He went to his treasure-hall, where he kept all his most valuable things, and looked for his sword. But while he found the scabbard hanging where it always hung, he saw that his sword was gone, and instead there was only a stick.

    In a great roaring fury, he stormed about the stead, searching for the Troublemaker, and found him lazing near the fire, drinking.

"Eurmal, " he bellowed, shaking the stick at the good for nothing god,
"what is this?"

    Eurmal looked up and said, "A stick."
"And where is my sword?"
"You weren't using it, so I gave it away."
"I need that sword. There is much evil in the world, and even my wife
has fallen asleep. I must have that sword to protect the Storm Tribe. Without it, we could all perish! And you will die, here and now, if you don't tell me where it is."

    But Eurmal, for all his faults, is cunning, and he said "But if I tell you, what's to keep you from killing me? Swear by the Seven Winds that you will not kill me if I recover it for you."

    Orlanth scowled and fumed, but saw no other option. "I swear it by the Seven Winds," he said, and the stead was shaken violents from all directions.

"Swear it by the Nine Clouds."

    Orlanth scowled and fumed, but saw no other option. "I swear it by the Nine Clouds, " he yelled, and the stead was shrouded in fogs.

    Swear it by Thunder and Lightning and Rain."     Orlanth scowled and fumed, but saw no other option. "I swear it by Thunder and Lightning and Rain," he roared, and the stead was rocked until it almost fell down. "And I also swear that if you require another oath, I will kill you right now."

    Eurmal, in his cunning, was silent. (And this is why, no matter how much they may deserve it, no Eurmali who has sworn the Bondsman's Oath may be slain. For Orlanth respects his word.)

"Now tell me where it is."
"I don't know," said Eurmal, trying to make himself a little smaller.
"You said you knew where it was!" "I know who I gave it to, but not
where he has gone. I gave to a mighty troll, named Zorak Zoran. If you can find him, I will get the sword back from him."

    Orlanth stormed and raged and would have slain Eurmal, had not Issaries the Farwalker spoken up. "My lord," said he, "in my travels I have journeyed farther than any other in the Storm Tribe, and I know many secrets to finding where others have gone. If you will let me, I will find this troll for you."

"Very well, Farwalker. And well it is for Eurmal that you are willing
to help him. Now go, and do not return unless you have my sword."

    So Eurmal took Issaries to where he had given away the sword. And Issaries studied the ground and everything else, looking for signs of the troll's passage. For the God of Hate is not a subtle god, but there had been much destruction since his passage. But at last, Issaries found the trail, and the two of them walked along it. They passed through the Blighted Forest, and saw the elves mourning over the body of Flamal. They crossed over the Plains of Destruction, where the god of hate had shattered all before him. They journeyed through the Fields of Unquiet Dead, where the god's victims still roamed, looking to vent their anger on others. But finally they came to the Cave of Skulls, where the black god held his lair.

    Issaries would have gone in to trade with Zorak Zoran, but Eurmal said, "Goldentongue, this troll is not one for trading, and you have little he would want. Let me go, and I will show you the way I trade." So Eurmal disguised himself as a servant and entered the Cave of Skulls.

    Within, he saw Zorak Zoran and many other trolls, rejoicing and wading in the blood of the fallen. And next to the god's throne lay Orlanth's sword. Eurmal took some of the blood and brewed a special beer from it, and gave this beer to one of the trolls, who drank it greedily. When another troll saw this, he demanded some (for the trolls have no manners, as anyone who has seen one knows), and soon all the trolls were drinking, even Zorak Zoran. And not long after, the trolls fell to boasting and quarrelling, and soon there was much fighting amongst them. (And this is why, when the trolls speak of Eurmal at all, they call him the Beerbringer, for until then, they had not known this secret.)

    And while the trolls were distracted, Eurmal snuck in and took Orlanth's sword. But as he left the cave, the god of Hate saw that the sword was missing, and with a great roar of fury he pursued Eurmal. Eurmal fled as fast as he could (Which was quite fast, for Eurmal has always understood the value of fleeing), and as he went, Issaries disguised their tracks, so Zorak Zoran could not find them. And so they passed over the Field of the Unquiet Dead, and the Plains of Destruction, and through the Blighted Forest. And as they travelled through the Forest, they met the king of the Elves, who asked them to trade the sword to him, that he might use its power to gain revenge on the god of hate. But Eurmal and Issaries refused (and that is why to this day, the Storm Tribe is not dear to the elves).

    And finally, they returned to Orlanth's stead. Eurmal boldly walked up to where Orlanth sat on his throne and returned his sword to him. As he turned to leave, Orlanth said, "Eurmal, since you have been so good as to return my sword to me, I have something I must return to you." With that, he brandished the stick and used it to beat Eurmal to within an inch of his life. (And that is why it is a sacred duty for all Orlanthi to beat their bondsmen at least once a year, to remind them of Orlanth's mercy.

    This myth can be done as either a Eurmali or Issarion heroquest, or even jointly. If the quester is a Eurmali, it can return something which has been lost or stolen, or to divert the full consequences of one's actions, or even to gain a magic sword. For an Issarion, it can be used to gain powers of tracking or fast travel. During the encounter with High King Elf, there is an opportunity to trade for elvan magic, but this sometimes has consequences, since Orlanth doesn't get his sword back.


Andrew E. Larsen

End of The Glorantha Digest V8 #271

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