Tales of Dung Boy



Send comments and/or criticism to Simon E. Phipp
Created On 26 April 2001
Last Updated On 26 April 2001
Copyright © 2001 Simon E. Phipp


Many great heroes and gods walked through the world in the Bad Times and we all know there names, but do we know the names of those lesser beings who also helped make the world good but were perhaps not so great or powerful? One of those lesser beings is known by many names - Dung Boy, Patty Boy, Walking Boy and so on. He is known by the Praxians, Pentians and Orlanthi, but few realise that he is known by anyone but the local people. Here are some of his tales.
 

Orlanthi

How Dung Boy Cleared the Land

The people had many blessing in the world, not least was the Cow Mother and her daughters. They provided milk for everyone, draught animals for the farmers, fresh meat for the people and leather for clothing. Everyone was pleased that the Cow Mother had promised to help the people, for life was better after she had come than it was beforehand. However, even the best honey contains flies, and the people soon had a problem. Cow Mother had many daughters and they wandered in great numbers and left behind them foul areas covered in dung. In many places, the land was turned into a marsh of soggy ground, foul smelling and unpleasant to the eye. The people did not know what to do. The Storm Gods came and blew the dung away, but this only served to spread it further. Ernalda and her daughters said to bury it, but that made the earth smell. Elmal said to burn it, but his torches were extinguished in the mire. Nobody could think of what to do, then a youth came and said that he thought he knew how to make the land clean, but in return he would own that which now fouled the earth and would be able to build castles wherever he wanted. Since the people were desperate, they agreed to let him try.

First he went to Orlanth and asked him for the secret of how to make spirals. Then he went to Ernalda and asked her for some healing earth. Finally, he went to the Cow Mother and fed her some new grass. He whispered some words to her and gave her the healing earth wrapped in the grass with the spiral at its heart. Cow Mother listened to what he said and agreed to his request. As she walked, something new happened. Whereas before she produced a constant slurry of dung now she dropped dung in a spiral shape and in a firmer form. Instead of a lake, she formed a number of pats. The youth followed Cow Mother wherever she went and picked up the patties when they had dried. Every so often, he would stack all the patties in a mound and call this his castle. In this way, the land was kept free of foulness and the youth was called Dung Boy. [1]
 

Blocking the Great Winds

When the world had gone crazy, many bad things happened to the people. One of these was the Great Winds, spirits and gods of great strength who would bring cold and hurt to the people. These Great Winds would roar in from the mountains and attack the people in their camps, in their farms and in their huts, taking what they wanted and leaving ruin behind. The people were afraid and called to their leaders for help, but even they were powerless against the Great Winds. Orlanth had gone to save the world, his wife and her kin had hidden themselves away and many of the remaining gods were busy fighting the Bad Things or were too weak to face the Great Winds.

The people called a meeting and all who were not fighting came. They asked the gods for help once again but were refused for they feared the Great Winds. They asked their friends, but they were powerless against the Great Winds. They looked at themselves but they had been beaten by the Great Winds. Finally, one youth stood up and addressed the meeting. "I am Dung Boy," he said, "and I clear up the dung from the Cow Mother and her daughters so that the land is made clean and fresh again. If you promise to remember me, I will help against the Great Wind." The people laughed at Dung Boy and threw stones at him, but one old woman rebuked them saying "If none of you are brave enough to stand against the Great Winds, how can you mock one who is?" Shamed, the people asked Dung Boy what to do. He showed them how to coat the walls of their huts with the fresh dung of the Cow Mother and her daughters, how to mix the dung with grass and use it to shore up the damaged walls of the farms and fields. The people filled in the holes in the walls that let in the Great Winds and sat and waited.

The Great Winds came and blew on the fields, but they could not blow through the freshly repaired walls. They moved to the farms and blew again. Enraged, they moved to the huts and blew on them, but even the tiniest holes had been filled and they could not get in to hurt the people, so they went away.

The people rejoiced and promised to always remember Dung Boy. Every year when Earth Season ends, the people call on Dung Boy and repair the walls of their huts, farms and fields with fresh dung or dung and grass, filling all the little holes so that the cold winds cannot enter. [2]
 

Pentians

The Yurt Fires


Once, the world was not as it is now. The Sun had gone and the Sky was dark. Winds roared through the Plains and the Clans were cold. Some of the Great Spirits had helped heat us, but most had gone. Even mighty Kargzant and his Star Horses had deserted us, leaving the Clans alone as he fought the Darkness. The Clans had burned the children of Aldrya, but her children had all gone and the Clans had forgotten that skill. They called on the Fires of Heaven to help them, but they were too far away and guarded by Angels who would not listen to the cries of mere men. At last, a youth volunteered to help. He was one of the Walking Slaves, not even of the Clans, but he was comely and clever with his tongue. This youth promised to help the Clans as long as the secret belonged to him and his descendants and the Clans agreed to this demand.

The comely youth asked the Horse Goddess for help and requested that she give him that which she and her daughters threw away in such great abundance and that was left on the ground and forgotten. The Horse Goddess agreed for she had no need of it. He then asked the Grass Goddess for a twist of dry grass and she agreed for she had an abundance of dry grass. Finally, he asked the Falling Stars for a little of their starlight for him to keep in his twist of grass and they agreed for a little starlight was not a great treasure. With all these things, the comely youth returned to the people and entered one of the yurts. He made a pile of dried horse dung and put the twist of grass under the pile, breathing his magic on it, and the starlight leapt out and embraced the dung above it, filling the yurt with a sweet smell and a forgotten sensation - warmth. The comely youth showed the people how to keep the fires going and how to collect the dung and they thanked him. From then on the Clans always had fires in their yurts and an inexhaustible supply of material to burn. [3]
 
 

Praxians


Dung Boy is known to the Praxians and it is he who collects the dung of the plains and uses it to make fires, using similar myths to the Orlanthi How Dung Boy Cleared the Land and the Pentian Yurt Fires, but their Dung Boy is simply a young child who does these things. The task of collecting and drying the dung is given to the children of the clans and there is no organized worship of Dung Boy.
 

Dung Boy and the Unicorns


The Unicorn Riders of Prax have a story where they capture a youth who had crept into their camp. As their law was strict, they were about to slay him when he fell onto his knees and begged to be forgiven and promised to reveal to them a secret that only he knew. The laws said that he could be spared if he taught them something new, so they listened to him. The comely youth whispered into the ears of the unicorns and asked them if he could have as a gift their dung, as they had simply thrown it away before. The unicorns agreed and watched with interest as to what he would do with it. The comely youth gathered all the dung together and showed the Unicorn Riders how it could be used to heal wounds and even cure some diseases if used when fresh, or could be used to grow healing herbs if used when dry, or could be burned to drive away the biting insects that plagued them on the plains. The Unicorn Riders were pleased with this and agreed to release the comely youth. Now, these abilities are gained through the Yelorna cult as Dung Boy taught them to Yelorna herself. Some say that the daughters of the comely youth were trained by Yelorna to do this task, but nobody knows for sure.
 

How Dung Boy helped Foundchild

When the world died and there was nothing to eat the tribes began to die of hunger. Waha had not yet been born and so we could not eat those of the Covenant. Eiritha had gone to sleep beneath the Hills and so we could not drink milk. Flamal had been killed so we could not eat roots and berries. Only Foundchild helped us, for he taught us how to eat the small creatures, those that scurried and flew and hid beneath the earth. But we had a problem for we sprang from the loins of Storm Bull and we carry his mark upon us and the small creatures that scurry and hide could smell us from afar and hid away from us. We did not know what to do, for we were being driven mad from hunger, but a youth helped us. This youth was Dung Boy and he had been given the task of cleaning the plains of the dung that our brothers and sisters had left behind. Dung Boy showed us how to use his gifts to cover ourselves in dried powder and to hide our scent. [4] This allowed us to catch those that scurried and tried to hide as we could come close enough to them without them scenting us. Even though they were small and thin themselves, we ate them and survived long enough for Waha to be born and to give us the Covenant.
 

Notes

1. Even now, many clans of Orlanthi give the task of picking up dried cow-pats to youths. In some areas it is considered demeaning to touch dung and the job is given to members of the Dung Boy cult who form a sub-class of serfs.

2. This was prompted by my wife telling me that whenever she goes back home to Bashkiria in the autumn, all the people in the little villages make sure the huts are warm for the Russian winter by covering the walls with dung so that there are no holes for the draughts to get through. I immediately thought of how this could be used for a peasant setting in Glorantha, which probably says a lot about me.

3. There is a vendref cult of the Walking Boy, or Dung Boy, that is known in the Praxian Tribes. Members of this cult have the duty to collect the dung of the horses and cattle, dry it out and use it as fuel for the fires in the yurts, for the Riders consider it unclean to handle dung. The cult teaches the skill of Firemaking, the Spirit Magic spell of Ignite and the Divine spell of Campfire (2 points, Reusable) that causes a fire to be lit and not to go out for the duration of one day or one night, although it must have enough fuel to be fed for the whole day/night.

4. The spirit cult of Dung Boy in Prax provides the Divine Spell of Disguise Scent (1 point, non-stackable, Reusable) that enables the user to disguise his scent for 15 minutes so that those smelling him will think that his scent is that of the creature whose dung he has covered himself with. It is often used by hunters to fool their prey.

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