The Quest for the Silver Fleece

A myth describing how, during the Great Darkness, Heler saved his people from the trolls.

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Everyone knows the Blue Boy. Oh, the tales we tell about him!

The children laugh at the story of how he saved the flock by riding the Bear God until it was exhausted.

The fathers laugh at the story of how he charmed the clothes off the goddess Orane, without her noticing.

The mothers laugh at the story of how he lost his head, and had to change into a woman to gain the good sense to find it again.

But here is a tale of how the Blue Boy rescued the Silver Fleece from the trolls.

Blue Boy was as changeable as the clouds and rain and could appear as a great ram, with a blue fleece and brass hooves. He would leap from mountaintop to mountaintop, and upon the goddess Tarena he fathered clouds and a great flock of sky sheep. He protected his flock during the tumult of the Great Darkness, fighting off raiders, thieves and Chaos.

The ever-hungry darkness tribe coveted the flock, particularly a silver ewe the Blue Boy prized above all others. It gave milk that never went sour and its lambs were strong, with pure white fleeces. One day, as the flock grazed amongst the clouds, the trolls attacked, riding great flying monsters. Blue Boy blew his great horn, Tarunoram, and summoned his companions to him. These were Stepping Blade, who came puffing across the sky, his sword the Killer Rain Gale in hand, and the lady Dolmal, who carried a flaming brand to light the dark.

The companions arrived just in time to save Blue Boy from being overwhelmed by the Uz, but could not prevent the darkness tribe from stealing away the entire flock, including the beloved silver ewe.

Blue Boy was inconsolable at the loss and in his despair he wept a great deluge that flooded the lands below. How could he find his flock again in the great dark? Dolmal comforted the god and said she would light the way. Stepping Blade offered his sword and made an oath to Blue Boy that could only end with victory or death.

In the great darkness the trolls held mastery of the surface and Underworld. With Dolmal’s small light keeping back the oppressive dark, the companions could follow the trail of the flock down to the Trembling Shore.

There, at the Howling Hollow, Blue Boy, Stepping Blade and the Fire Woman found they could not pursue the trolls past the Gates of Life into the Underworld. Only by tricking the Guardian of the Threshold could they follow the dark men down to the halls of the dead. However, the companions had to accept a terrible price for their victory, and once past the gates they began their journey into Hell.

In the caverns of the Inverted Mountain, Blue Boy found his flock, guarded by a horde of fierce berserks. The sheep were being prepared for a feast for the army of Uz. With a great cry the companions leaped into battle and fought the trolls, Dolmal’s light blinding the creatures as Stepping Blade carved their limbs off. As his friends held off the dark men, Blue Boy rescued the flock and made them safe, but the silver ewe was not amongst them. After a search he found the ewe being served to the ravenous Troll Queen, and by ruse and guile he spirited the animal away.

In a rage at the Blue Boy’s audacity, the Queen raised an army of howling demons and pursued the companions back to the surface. There, at the Obsidian Sea, the Blue Boy did a clever thing that allowed his band to escape to safety.

The Blue Boy restored his flock to their pastures in the clouds. As he did so the silver ewe revealed herself not only as the greatest of the Blue Boy’s children, but as the spirit of his people, ever true to him and keeping faith even in the direst peril. She slipped off her precious fleece and gave it to him as a gift. She said that he had gone into Hell to save his people. The fleece was a symbol of the unseverable bonds of loyalty between he and his tribe.

At this, the Blue Boy wept tears of joy, a gentle rain that made the sterile world beneath grow florid like a garden and created a new land in the darkness for his people to live.

For their help, their courage and companionship, Blue Boy gifted Stepping Blade and Dolmal each a great boon; powers of change with which they could shape the world against the dark. They gave him great honour as their captain and pledged to help protect his people.

Notes

  1. The Blue Boy is an aspect of the rain god Heler. He is worshipped by a few Kendring, but more often appears in clan tales as a hero, a refugee from the Water Tribe who pledged loyalty to Orlanth. He may be a syncretic amalgam of several aspects of Heler, such as Uroth the Blue Ram and Young Heler the Backboy.
  2. Heler, as befits a changeable water deity, is an androgynous shapeshifter who often changes sex. The goddess Tarena, mother of clouds, is treated by the Kendring as a separate deity, though some Helerings, particularly in other clans, worship her as the feminine aspect of Heler.
  3. Stepping Blade is another name for Helamakt, the warrior wind of Orlanth, who has four storms who fight for him: the Swordthane Killer Gale Rain; the Shieldthane Blinding Shadow; the Spearthane Searing Bolt and the Backboy Falling Wind.
  4. Dolmal is a lesser-known fire goddess who receives little or no worship. She is one of the lowfires, often identified as Rigsdal the Watchman’s camp fire. She illuminates the dark and warns away enemies. In the Blue Boy stories of the Quivini, she manifests as the protector of camp and stead. Elmali claim that Dolmal’s lineage descends from the fire god Elmal. Paradoxically she also seems to be another face of the Earth goddess Enferalda, the strength and support of Orlanth. Most war women of the Earth Tribe claim she is, indeed, Enferalda.

Variant Stories

This story has similarities to the legend of “Orlanth and the Silver Ewe”: http://www.poppyware.com/dunham/glorantha/todp/kerenath07.html

The Quest for the Silver Fleece

The Book of Kendring Percyprune