Ernalda and the Cleansing Earth

There are two known versions of this quest, the version known to Clearwine Temple and the version Tryggvi discovered in his Book of Myths. Many have attempted the Clearwine version but failed to come back, so it is considered a dangerous quest.

Tryggvi’s Version: In the Darkness, when evil roamed the world and corrupted everything it encountered, many things that were good and beautiful were tainted and lost because of it. And the many evils did not spare any mortal or divine being they found, but destroyed or corrupted them as well. Nor was there any hope for healing those who were taken by corruption.

When it was found that the Bright One, was sickened and tainted, all those who belonged to the Earth and Storm tribes gathered around her. But Chalana Arroy could not cure her of the corruption that was spreading in her, nor did Lhankor Mhy know any way to purify her. Orlanth wept, for the Bright One was fair and delightful, and he was powerless to help her. Humakt said that it would be better than she should die than live on as an abomination, and he began to draw his sword.

“No,” said Ernalda. “There is another way. I do not know it yet, but I will find it.” And so she gathered up supplies in her basket, dressed herself for a long journey, and departed to seek a way to cleanse the corruption.

First she traveled to Sacred Ezel, where Old Mother dwells. She woke Old Mother and spoke with her, because she knew many things that no one else knew. “Grandmother, corruption has taken the Bright One and the men say they must kill her. But there must be another way. Tell me, if you know, how may I save her from the corruption that seeks to claim her.”

Her mother told her, “I do not know how to answer that question. But there may be one who does. You must go to speak with Older Than Old. She may know how to cleanse the Bright One. If she does not know how to do it, than it cannot be done.”

Ernalda had never spoken with Older Than Old. “Grandmother, how do I go to Older Than Old? For she lives far away where I have never been.”

“I cannot tell you the way, for it has been so long since I spoke to her I no longer recall the path. But I will give you aid to find her.” And she gave her daughter a Small White One, and told her to follow it, for it knew the way. And she gave her daughter a torch, for the way was dark.

Ernalda followed the Small White One, who knew the way to find Older Than Old. It led her to a cave where may things from down below had come above. But the cave had a gate that was locked and guarded by Black Arnim, who refused to let her pass.

“Gave me something to eat,” her demanded, “for I am hungry.”

“If I feed you, will you allow me to pass?” she asked.

“If you can sate my hunger, I will let you pass.”

Ernalda gave him the food in her basket, and he ate it greedily. But it was not enough to satisfy him. He threatened to devour her, and she laughed. He tried to eat her, but she was the Bounty of the Earth and instead of being consumed, she filled him until he burst. She took his key, opened the gate, and entered.

She descended into the cave, following the Small White One, using the torch to light her way. And the Darkness shrank back as she went, for the darkness could not stand the light.

She came to the House of Many Doors, ruled over by the Mother of Rats, who refused to allow her to continue. “You have brought with you something that does not belong down her. Give it to me and I will allow you to choose which door you please.” Ernalda sought to bargain with and persuade her, but to no avail. She gave the Mother of Rats her torch, and the Small White One showed her which door to choose.

She continued on, deeper into the dark places of the earth, and saw things undreamed of. And then she saw That Which Has Neither Name Nor Form and she understood fear, but did not give way to it and it could not move her to flee or cry out and so it ceased to hinder her.

And at last she came to Older Than Old, and inquired how to cleanse the corruption from the Bright One. And Older Than Old showed her how such a thing could be done by using the 6 Cleansing Words.

And Ernalda returned with the knowledge of how to heal the Bright One. And she took the Bright One and held her within the fastness of the earth, and recited the 6 Cleansing Words that Older Than Old had taught her. And her daughter was made clean again, and did not have to die.

Yanioth Brandgorsdottir told them a different version of the myth, as follows: In the Darkness, when evil roamed the world and corrupted everything it encountered, many things that were good and beautiful were tainted and lost because of it. And the many evils did not spare any mortal or divine being they found, but destroyed or corrupted them as well. Nor was there any hope for healing those who were taken by corruption.

When it was found that one of Ernalda’s daughters was sickened and tainted, all those who belonged to the Earth and Storm tribes gathered around her. But Chalana Arroy could not cure her of the corruption that was spreading in her, nor did Lhankor Mhy know any way to purify her. Orlanth wept, for the Bright One was fair and delightful, and he was powerless to help her. Humakt said that it would be better than she should die than live on as an abomination, and he began to draw his sword.

“No,” said Ernalda. “There is another way. I do not know it yet, but I will find it.” Humakt did not want to sheath his sword, but he did. And so she gathered up supplies in her basket, dressed herself for a long journey, and departed to seek a way to cleanse the corruption.

First she traveled to Sacred Ezel, where Old Mother dwells. She woke Old Mother and spoke with her, because she knew many things that no one else knew. “Grandmother, corruption has taken my child and the men say they must kill her. But there must be another way. Tell me, if you know, how may I save her from the corruption that seeks to claim her.”

Her mother told her, “I do not know how to answer that question. But there may be one who does. You must go to speak with Older Than Old. She may know how to cleanse your daughter. If she does not know how to do it, than it cannot be done.”

Ernalda had never spoken with Older Than Old. “Grandmother, how do I go to Older Than Old? For she lives far away where I have never been.”

“I cannot tell you the way, for it has been so long since I spoke to her I no longer recall the path. But I will give you aid to find her.” And she gave her daughter a Small White One, and told her to follow it, for it knew the way.

Ernalda followed the Small White One, who knew the way to find Older Than Old. It led her to a cave where many things from down below had come above. But the cave had a gate that was locked and guarded by Black Arnim, who refused to let her pass. He was hungry and wished to eat her. But Ernalda sang him the song all mothers know, and he slept. She took his key, opened the gate, and entered.

She descended into the cave, following the Small White One. It showed her the way to the House of Many Doors, ruled over by the Mother of Rats, who refused to allow her to continue. “You have brought with you something that does not belong down her. Give it to me and I will allow you to choose which door your please.” Ernalda sought to bargain with and persuade her, but to no avail. She gave the Mother of Rats the Small White One, and choose the door she needed.

She encountered many things that had never been met before. And then she saw That Which Has Neither Name Nor Form and she understood fear, but did not give way to it and it could not move her to flee or cry out and so it ceased to hinder her.

And at last she came to Older Than Old, and inquired how to cleanse the corruption from her daughter. And Older Than Old showed her how such a thing could be done by using the 6 Cleansing Words.

And Ernalda returned with the knowledge of how to heal her child. And she took her daughter and held her within the fastness of the earth, and recited the 6 Cleansing Words that Older Than Old had taught her. And her daughter was made clean again, and did not have to die.

The PCs determined that their version of the quest was probably less dangerous.

Ernalda and the Cleansing Earth

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