Mythology: Paths to Divinity

Section 3: Myths and Religions of other Peoples

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Mythology

Table of Contents

Preface

Section I: Gods and Goddesses

Section III: Myths and Religions of other Peoples

 

Myths of the Furrag

 - Page 2 -


Let us then consider another myth and see what information it yields to us:

 

The Bull Raid of Ralakûm

Krauvill the Charger sat brooding on the pile of bones he called his throne. “I have defended the Four Keeps that my father left me,” he said to his foster-father. “I have slain the beasts of the forest to feed my people. I have slain the foes who came in our territory, and we have feasted on their meat. Yet I feel as if I have failed my purpose.”

Houl, aged Second Eater, considered the words of his kéhal. “My liege,” he replied in the slow tones that Krauvill had grown accustomed to, “your rule has been enlightened, and the lands of the world have smiled on you. You have given meat. You have safeguarded the eaters of meat. What more is there to accomplish for a kéhal?”

Krauvill shifted his bulk on the bones. A single bone came undone, rolling off the pile and finishing its movement before the feet of Houl. The Second Eater picked it up, considered the white remains of a Man who had offended the Master of the Four Keeps. “What more, my liege, but that you have served your people?”

“Perhaps,” Krauvill said, his tones as grave and slow as Houl’s, “that he has done more than what is expected of him.”

“Yes,” Houl granted, “but what would exceed the bounds of expectation?”

To that the mighty Krauvill had no answer, and his brooding overtook him anew. He had done so much in his years – he had slain boars and deer, voles and bears; he had wrestled with Klaûm who wanted the Third Keep for himself; he had charged the dragon Isnarón and feasted on the dragon’s wings while giving of the richest meat to his brethren; he had fought and fed; he had journeyed far and wide, to the edge of the world where the icy bridge led to the Unmen of the North.

For a day, Krauvill stayed on his bones, not taking of the meat that the Second Eater offered, not taking of the meat that his wives offered. In brooding he fed himself, of the sight of the land around the Second Keep, of the demands that the land and its people put on him, and in thoughts of what more he could give. For it was in giving that a kéhal fulfilled himself, in repaying the coin of loyalty that was given him. Of this Krauvill knew, of this Krauvill had benefitted.

When Drúol’s smile at the feast gleamed on the horizon, he rose and announced that he would leave the Second Keep to go forth to another. Houl wrapped the waymeat for his liege and himself, yet Krauvill stayed his hand. “No, it shall be I alone who goes forth. Within five days I will return, and I will bring meat for five days of feasting.”

Without wait for the Second Eater’s words, the kéhal strode out of the keep, down the mound of grassy dirt, along the rows of well-fed, gleaming white-furred Men and Women. When he reached the channel of running [akin to the roads we know, but Furrag dig grooves into the soft ground – perhaps a heritage from a time when their ancestors lived underground?], he turned not his head but he charged ahead, towards the plains of Ralakûm.

For it was there that he had always turned back before, where he had shied away from the sight of the cattle of Ralakûm, and their herder, Great Kondill, with the wit of two Men, taller than three Men, stronger than four Men. Kondill had defeated warriors since the beginning of memory. He had torn their limbs from each other and fed them to his bulls who were the biggest and fattest in all the lands. Always there were Men on the borders of Ralakûm, staring with hunger and desire at the cattle of the plains, yet rarely did any dare cross into the realm of Kondill. Those who did were crowned with wreaths of hilga [a kind of moss that can be plaited] on their horns, and the champions challenged Kondill, only to feed the bulls.

“They were great Men,” Krauvill said to himself when he stood on the border, “but they took the wrong channel in their fight.” So Krauvill the Charger turned back once more, for the last time, and searched the lands for a bull tall enough to come near to those of Ralakûm. The bull he slew, feasted on its meat, but took care to spare the hide.

Returning to the border of Ralakûm, he put the hide on his shoulders and became a bull. Roaring his bull’s cry, Krauvill charged across the border and waited for Kondill to come and fight him. Yet Kondill did not come.

Anew the Charger roared and went in search of the cattle of Ralakûm. For half a day he searched before he found them, and there was Kondill also. Krauvill’s heart froze at the sight of mighty Kondill, the Walking Keep. Then the herder saw Krauvill, shook his head and said, “You I do not know. Belong you here, or are you to feed my pets?”

Krauvill roared.

Kondill said, “I will see. Come with me, newling.” The Walking Keep led Krauvill back to the border of Ralakûm where a new champion of Man stood to challenge Kondill in battle. Kondill accepted the challenge, and he rent the Man apart, and he laid the carcass before Krauvill. “Feed you of this, newling.”

The Charger did as he was asked and ate of the meat. And Kondill was pleased with this, and so Krauvill was accepted into the herd of Ralakûm. For a day he walked with the cattle, for a day he grazed, waiting for Drúol to swallow the sun.

Then Kondill laid down to sleep, and Krauvill the Charger did as his name foretold. He charged the Walking Keep and tore the herder of Ralakûm apart with his bull’s horns. Of the meat he feasted, then shed the bull’s hide to become a Man anew.

“Now Kondill has fallen, and so has Ralakûm!” he cried to the Men beyond the border. “Behold this, for this is a new keep of mine, and I am now Krauvill, Master of the Five Keeps!”

The kéhal charged a selection of Men to take on the task of herding the cattle of Ralakûm before leading a dozen of the mighty cattles off himself, towards the Second Keep which he reached on the eve of the fifth day after his departure, to tell the tale to Houl the Second Eater and the warriors of Man.

 

There are several items of interest in this tale.

One is that we have another case of patricide (more or less) here when Krauvill murders Kondill, that ancient godlike being. [We might also note the similarity of the names. Spoken in a Furrag tongue, the two are nearly indistinguishable.] As the Charger murdered his physical father Balash earlier to become ruler of the Four Keeps, he now kills the Walking Keep to take the cattle and expand his realm. Throughout this tale and the other myths about Krauvill, Houl remains alive – no matter how much time passes. The foster-father is considered the true nurturer of the Furrag tales, he is the actual father figure in our sense. [That is not as strongly represented in actual modern-day Furrag society.]

Also there is a transformation when Krauvill becomes a bull, proving how close he is to nature. There is no representation of Mother Nature, which is somewhat unusual in these tales. [One variant has a maiden come to Krauvill and tell him about Ralakûm, but this appears a later addition.] Yet we have cases of feeding interchanging between the realm of beasts and “Men”.

Perhaps more important is that we see here a case of crossing a border into a place beyond the ordinary world. Ralakûm (akin to the maiden’s cave in the above story) is apart from the land of “Men”. To cross into it is to die for the ordinary person, but Krauvill does so through guile, taking on a deity-like role.

He becomes a “trickster god” who relies on his wits rather than his brawns. In that he can be likened to a child confronting a parent, which is explained in the story through Kondill’s extraordinary size and strength. [A necessary part of the tale since Krauvill otherwise is the pinnacle of Furrag power.] We must also see that the Walking Keep is said to be very smart and wise, which raises Krauvill’s guile by a great measure.

What does this tell us now about the Furrag gods?

They have fixed personalities and names [though they change from one tribal sub-language to another], yet they do not act personally on events. They enfuse the characters of legend with their specific power and character, much as the various transformations we see here. It is not like the priests we know who are granted the power of blessing and curses, nor like wizards who access the magical flows in our world; it is a nearly complete transformation from mortal to deity.

That is in fact the strongest idea that Furrag have about their gods. The world-apart where the deities are “themselves” – and not a merged being part mortal and part god – is something of little concern; it is a matter for the occasional prayer but not a clearly seen element of their life. Having a person become a part-god on the other hand is how they view their deities: any Furrag can become a god for a limited time, to fulfill a special purpose.