Oliver D. Bernuetz's Stories
Whitewall - Orlanth and the Bats
Orlanth and his thanes were relaxing on a summer evening. They were sampling Minlister's latest brew and bragging about their exploits. After a heated, but good natured dispute as to who was the best marksmen they decided that they needed a contest. They deferred to Orlanth to choose what the contest would be. Looking around him through the haze of a light alcoholic buzz Orlanth spied some Little Bats flitting through the air. Pointing at the Little Bats he declared that the one who brought down the most Little Bats would be gifted with his golden torc. But, he held up a hand neither weapons nor magic could be used. After some good natured grumbling about this condition the thanes all agreed to this condition and they started gathering pebbles, rocks, sticks, nuts and the like. Odayla frowned at the thought of such a wasteful slaughter and declined to participate. The others though were keen to take part. Each armed him or herself in this fashion and prepared themselves. They waited for more of the Little Bats to leave their roosts. When they did the slaughter began. Stones, sticks, pebbles, nuts and such were flung and the Little Bats fell like leaves in the autumn. Odayla shook his head and stalked off in disgust. The ground was littered with the corpses of the Little Bats and after an account was taken Orlanth was judged the winner. The thanes good naturedly congratulated their chief on his success and left the clearing little realizing what they had begun.
Their acts meant war. The chiefs of the Little Bats knew they could do nothing against the Storm Tribe so they went to their cousins the Big Bats. The Rockwoods were infested by them. They had been shunned by their cousins the Birds and had fled to the Underworld in shame only to return bearing Death. They had unleashed Death on their enemies among the birds and had won themselves a place in the Night. Now their cousins the Little Bats implored them to turn Death upon the members of the Storm Tribe. They were not at all loath to do so. Soon cottars and shepherds were coming to Orlanth's stead with reports of children and calves being borne off by the Bats. Using the night as cover they swooped down and carried people and animals off with impunity. Orlanth could not let this stand so filling his quiver with winds, Thunderstones and lightning he set off to hunt the Big Bats. A long time he wandered the Rockwoods looking for the Big Bats. He searched high and low but he could not find them. He was about to return to his stead in defeat when he heard a tiny voice. He looked around and saw a tiny moth. The moth addressed him saying, "I know of your great quest to seek the Big Bats and I can help you." It paused. "But, you must grant me one boon no matter what in return." Orlanth frowned at this request but finally swore an oath in agreement. The moth led Orlanth down into the mountains where he had hesitated to go before and led him to the cavern where the Big Bats were hiding deep within the mountain. High on the walls they hung and laughed at Orlanth down below. They chattered and mocked him thinking themselves safe up high where they were. But Orlanth was not amused. He threw lightning bolts at the Big Bats which dazzled their weak eyes. He hurled Thunderstones to deafen their ears and silence their ceaseless chattering. He sent winds against them to knock them from their perches. As they lay stunned on the cavern floors he walked among them preparing to kill them. As he reached down to kill the first a tiny voice spoke up saying, "I will take my boon now. I ask for you to spare the Big Bat's lives." Orlanth protested at this and demanded that the moth choose another boon but the moth was insistent. Orlanth would not break this oath. So instead of killing them he just stooped over each Big Bat tearing the mighty sinews from their chests. Thus were the once mighty Big Bats left too weak to carry off anything but the smallest of prey. Satisfied Orlanth returned to his stead.
The Big Bats however were not happy. They went to their Mother to complain and asked for vengeance. She was fearful of Orlanth though and instead went to one of her kin, Mighty Artia. Black Artia heard her pleas and descended from the heavens where she lived. She swore to do as much damage to the Storm Tribe. She fell upon the Storm Tula and wreaked mighty havoc wherever she went. No one saw her coming in the dark and she was strong enough to carry off even the heaviest bull or warrior. No warrior seemed to be able to even find the Bat until Vinga the Defender Storm met the Monstrous Bat in battle. Despite all her skills the Monstrous Bat vanquished darting Vinga. Vinga managed to escape and the Monstrous Bat and continued to wreak havoc. Next the Monstrous Bat met Ohorlanth in battle. He too was defeated but not destroyed. Next in turn Monstrous Bat met and defeated in turn Icy Valind, Mighty Urox, Heler the Downpour, Odayla the Storm Bear and even grim Humakt, God of the Dead.
During these defeats Orlanth was not sitting still. He had girt himself for war and had been out seeking the Bat. He had wandered throughout the Storm Stead and neighbouring lands but he could not find the black monster anywhere. He returned in anger to the Stead where he brooded on his throne. No one could find Artia anywhere, neither Ormayla, nor Odayla. It seemed that the Monstrous Bat could not be found unless she wanted to be found. Fuming he sat upon his throne. Reports were coming in of entire longhouses being destroyed and all the inhabitants being carried off by the monster. In fury he swore a mighty oath. "Can no one find this Bat for me? I will grant them whatever boon they wish if only they can find me this monster." And a small voice was again heard whispering that he could lead Orlanth to Artia. Orlanth looked down and saw the tiny moth again. He was determined not to take the moth's help this time but Ernalda whispered in his ear and he was forced to agree. Orlanth armed himself, calling upon all the Winds to join him. He even took the Six Winds that had already been defeated plus a secret Seventh Wind that was as yet untested. This he felt would be mighty enough to defeat the Monster.
Once armed he set off following the moth. The tiny moth led Orlanth to a small stead that was still undamaged. There the moth told him to disguise himself as a cottar and wait for his return. Orlanth did as the moth said and waited for her to return. Soon he saw the distant thrones of the Sky Princes obscured by something. Down swooped Artia to destroy the stead, before her fluttering the moth. Orlanth stood there in his cottar guise and the Monstrous Bat laughed to see such easy prey assuming that he was paralyzed by fright. Orlanth laughed at her mistake and casting off his disguise he hurled his weapons. As they had with her smaller kin the lightning blinded the monster, the Thunderstones deafened it and the winds battered her. But Artia was no ordinary Bat. She rallied from these attacks and attacked Orlanth. She battered him with her wing flaps and deafened him with her shrieks. Orlanth shook his head and unleashed the Defeated Six Winds at the Bat. The Six Winds knocked her from the sky but she was still prepared to fight. So Orlanth unleashed the Seventh Wind, the Secret One - Hurricane and Artia was defeated.
Orlanth was poised to leap upon her and finish her off when the moth interceded for Artia's life. Orlanth was outraged but again he had no choice. Grabbing Artia by the snout he tore her skin off saying. "Never again shall you attack unseen out of the darkness." Saying this he then took Crimson Artia and fixed her in the sky using the sinews he had ripped from the Big Bats and strips of her own hide. This was so people would always now where she was. But every Sacred Time the bonds holding Artia in place weaken and she manages to escape their bonds and travels unseen paths. Once Orlanth was finished with the monster he turned to the moth. "Twice you have helped me and twice you have thwarted me. Now it is time for your reward." Moving quicker than thought he snatched the moth from the air. He pressed his thumb into the moth's body leaving the mark of Death there so all would know how treacherous the moth had been. Having done this he threw the moth into the air and went back home to his wife.
Last updated October 07, 2016
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