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How Orlanth Wooed the Dark Woman

- by Wesley Quadros

From the Orlanth and Aroka Saga

8. The Place of Strangers

As he traveled, Orlanth reached the Place of Strangers. There he found many people he had not met before. Most were clustered about a dark woman and were vying for her favours.

Orlanth espied a man with a burning spear and wrapped about with a golden aura. From this man's light, the Dark Woman cringed and it looked like he would strike her down. Orlanth made his way through the crowd and stepped between the two, like a storm cloud blocking the sun. "Thy presence is offensive to the lady and I would that you went elsewhere," the Storm Lord said. The man-of-fire shook his spear at Orlanth and named him Rebel-son and No-goodling.

Now Orlanth isn't known for his patience and his brow quickly grew dark like Ohorlanth. His eyes flashed like Yavor's and his Fighting Winds grew restless. "You will eat those words Sun-spawn." With that, they fought and Orlanth extinguished the goldman's fires and drove him from the Place of Strangers.

The Dark Woman thanked Orlanth for his deeds but wouldn't speak with him further.

Frustrated at the snub, Umath's son called out seeking a challenger for a sharing of tales. A blue boy with wavy hair and a curious, tinkling voice responded. "I am Pitter-Pat and I would exchange tales with you." In his voice one could hear the patter of rain on a pond. Orlanth smiled and drew forth his drinking horn. "Come all, and share of my horn for Minlinster never grows empty and has enough for all." The strangers gathered eagerly and were greatly impressed with Orlanth's generosity. For a time the two skalds traded tales of the gods and demons of the world. In time though, the crowd acknowledged Orlanth as a most masterful teller and Pitter-Pat but an apprentice in his shadow.

Again, the Dark Woman acknowledged Orlanth's success but would say naught else to him. She wished the assembled crowd well and turned to leave the Place of Strangers. Orlanth moved to stop her but a stony hand reached forth and fastened upon his arm. "The Dark Woman is mine," grated the Golem. "Then surely you would engage in a test of magic to keep her," Orlanth asked. The Golem agreed. "You will not move me Windman," he said. Orlanth unleashed Heler on Golem and the warm summer rains melted the clayman away to nothing. Orlanth gently breathed on the puddle of mud and it dried into dust that he then blew away with another breath.

Then the Dark Woman spoke to Orlanth. "You have shown you valour and strength of arms. You have proven your generosity and smoothness of tongue. You have proven the power of your magic. But would you play for me?"

Orlanth smiled at her and spoke thusly, "am I not Drogarsi?" Then he played on his horn and danced a war dance for her. She was unimpressed. "That is not music, but this is," and she sat down and beat out a thundering song on her drums. Together they played and made their music one.

The child of their union was called Crushing Noise and it is he that one hears when the Thunderbolt slashes across the sky and children cringe under their mother's skirts.


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April 10, 2002

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